Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fudgy Tallow Brownies

These ridiculously fudgy brownies are eggless thanks to silken tofu, and have a hint of "old fashioned doughnut" flavour from home-rendered tallow

Fudgy Tallow Brownies

It seems as though I can never make the same pan of brownies twice. Sure, I'll make similar ones (Squidgy Superfood Brownies and Chocolate Hazelnut Beet Brownies, for instance), but the ingredients and their proportions always vary enough to make them unique. It's not that I'm dissatisfied with any of them either - in fact, I would enjoy any of the brownies I've posted on here again - but it's boring to repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Call it culinary ADD.

Fudgy Tallow Brownies

Anyways, these brownies are perfect for the "old fashioned" doughnut lover, since they get their flavour nuances from tallow (used to fry doughnuts back in the day). I render my own from local beef fat and keep it in the fridge much like I do schmaltz from chickens broken down for curry, stews or stock. Aside from baking (it does make fantastic savoury pie crust), I use it to saute beef for stews or stir fry as well as caramelizing onions. However, in brownies, it adds just the right punch of savoury, old-world flavour and, since there's no water in it (or very little), it makes for the fudgiest brownies ever - 100% up my alley.

The rest of this brownie batter isn't overly "standard" either - silken tofu adds to the rich, dense texture and replaces the eggs in binding, while barley flour adds a hint of nuttiness and "toastiness" that chopped or ground nuts would lend, while keeping the mix nut free. Add to the ingredients my tried-and-true technique of flash-cooling the pan in the freezer straight from the oven, and you have a perfect treat for the lunchbox (yours or the kids'!) or for building a killer sundae (extra hot fudge, and a cherry on top, please!).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fudge Cookie Bites #CreativeCookieExchange

Celebrating the end of Summer with gluten free and vegan Fudge Cookie Bites! Made with a strawberry-pear sauce (or applesauce) they are a great two-bite treat for adults and kids alike!

Fudge Cookie Bites
Don't you just love how cute these are? 

For me, anything chocolate based is an easy sell. Hot, cold, drinkable or chew-worthy, you can essentially guarantee I'll enjoy at least a nibble. For a chocolate dessert to really stand out, though, I look for the "fudge factor". You know it, the toothsome, ever so slightly chewy, knock-you-out density that makes brownies and cookies crave-worthy, yet satisfying in small(ish) quantities.

Usually, though, that unctuous quality is synonymous with fat, fat, more fat and eggs. Don't get me wrong - I love an indulgent chocolate cake or brownie as much as the next person, but this girl needs her chocolate daily. When I saw a recipe for something called "fudge cookie bites" on Persnickety Plates - that used applesauce for the bulk of its moisture - you bet I was going to give it a go!

Since I was baking for a gluten, nut and dairy free audience, I swapped out the butter for coconut oil and used my go-to flour blend for the AP in the original. My cookies got a little extra flavour from the strawberry - pear puree I had in the freezer, but I wouldn't hesitate to use regular applesauce, pumpkin puree or even pureed zucchini (hey, we have a ton of it right now!). If nuts aren't a problem, I would 100% roll them in my Chocolate Hazelnut Crunchies for a Nutella-esque bite. These are definitely on the "re-make ASAP list for me!

Gluten free cookie recipes are a great idea to have on hand since you never know when you will encounter someone with a gluten allergy--and believe it or not there are tons of delicious gluten free cookies out there! Keep reading to discover the ones we’ve made this month.

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

If you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

KCC (Kinako Chocolate Chip) Cookies

Why not have a healthy (er) Kinako Chocolate Chip Cookie for dessert tonight? These melt in your mouth cookies get a nutty flavour and hit of protein from kinako - toasted soy flour.

Kinako Chocolate Chip Cookie

It's been a while since I wrote about using one of my "secret weapon" ingredients for baking - kinako. I love it for it's nutty flavour, it's great binding ability and of course it's nutritional profile. Now that we're into the latter half of the year, I'm starting to stock my freezer with cookie doughs for holiday baking (I know... sorry), and these babies are definitely on the roster.

I couldn't resist trying these out when I found the recipe in  Kyotofu by Nicole Bermensolo - after all, who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies? Okay, I know a few people too, but most of the world enjoys them. These ones, in particular, enticed me because they relied on chopped dark chocolate for ultimate gooeyness, and were easily veganized. I also added a touch of spelt flour to the mix (as written it was only kinako and AP) and upped the kinako a bit just for flavour and texture. The resulting biscuits were chewy, just crisp on the edges, packed with chocolate and perfectly sweet. The colour was fabulous too - the perfect "sun kissed" tan - and everyone who ate my first batch raved about them.

My favourite part about this dough is that it takes well to the "slice and bake" method too - simply form into a log and wrap in waxed paper, then foil, and stash in the freezer (follow my advice on this chocolate chip cookie post for the best shaped cookies). Slice and bake as needed / wanted / craved - but you'll want to make double batches just to eat the dough itself!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Asian Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps #SundaySupper

The filling for Asian Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps is packed with whole-grain brown rice, water chestnuts, baby corn and bamboo shoots and is mixed with a sweet and salty hoisin-orange-teriyaki sauce. 

The filling for Asian Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps is packed with #wholegrain brown #rice, water chestnuts, baby corn and bamboo shoots and is mixed with a sweet and salty hoisin-orange-teriyaki sauce.

When I think about football (or any) sport season that's upon us, I have to inwardly groan a bit. I am probably the furthest thing away from a sports fan out there, and personally, I'm not one for the rowdy, loud social brouhahas that seem to convalesce at our place during the hockey season. 

However, I am one for putting together the finger food trays for holiday and other get-togethers, and these lettuce wraps are just that. I originally write this recipe as an Asian-inspired "use up" for ingredients in my Home Economics class, and after getting good reviews from the kids (who as we all know are the ones to please) I refined it a bit more for a gathering we had at home. In it's essence, it's chicken-fried rice without the frying, and uses all pre-cooked ingredients so it's a breeze to put together. While it's perfectly good right after mixing, I personally think it makes the best tasting appetizer after a night in the fridge, when the rice, baby corn, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots have had a chance to soak up the tangy-spicy-sweet sauce. As a bonus, because it keeps so well in the fridge, you can pack a container of it for lunch along with some lettuce leaves (or a wrap) all week. My next test with it is to turn it into a warm, Napa-cabbage roll filling - kind of like a veggie-fied spring roll. 

This recipe is also rather variable in the actual components. Don't want rice? Try quinoa, millet or amaranth, or skip it all together and use riced cauliflower (the taste will change, but if you roast it it won't taste as "vegetal"). Don't eat chicken? Anything from shredded tofu to salmon or tuna works, probably jackfruit too. Hoisin can be replaced with a sweet BBQ sauce with a dash of hot sauce, or use more teriyaki. Swap out orange for lime, use all baby corn and no bamboo shoots, or swap in shredded or diced veggies to suit your tastes. This is really more of a formula rather than a cut-and-dry thing. After all, cooking is about enjoyment, not fussing over rules!

September is upon us, and you know what that means– Football Season! There is no better time of the year than Football Season for delicious party food. Wings, fries, sandwiches, chips and dip… when it comes to finger food, you’ve got a lot of firepower in your kitchen arsenal!
Break out the napkins and let’s celebrate Football Season’s exciting parties with equally exciting finger food! 

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce

Sweet, tangy with that last second flame... How can you resist? You bet I am licking the spoon!

Mango Habanero BBQ Sauce

When it comes to mangoes, I have to admit I don't eat very many. I like them all right - how can you not enjoy that tropical, honey-like sweetness? - but they're generally expensive around here and I can't eat a whole one in one go.Instead, I bide my time until the holiday season comes around, when occasionally a fruit platter will appear with mangoes alongside the strawberries, pineapple and honeydew. Then I get my fix.

However, a new Asian grocery store just opened by my gym, and their "grand opening" specials included - amongst other things - mangoes. They were surprisingly cheap for the quality compared to the "normal" supermarket, so I picked up a few. At the same time, the habaneros in the garden were perfectly ripe, and I had a jar of homemade apple juice in the fridge needing to be used up. Things fell into place when I found a promising-looking recipe on Serious Eats for barbecue sauce, of all things! Normally mango is either shoved into hot sauce or relegated to the sweet kitchen, but the mixture of the sweet fruit with the blow-your-head-off habs, molasses and tomatoes sounded ideal.

The best part about whipping up this (if you're a solo diner like me) is that it doesn't make a ton. Out of one big mango and a couple chilies, I got a pint and a half of sauce - which I wouldn't have bothered canning if I hadn't already had other things going for the waterbath swim. As soon as it was ready to put up, I quickly tasted it and was, for lack of a better word, floored. Right away I thought of the ribs from Swiss Chalet, which have a similar tangy-sweet baste, and was ruminating on that when - BAM - that habanero sparked just enough fire to keep things from being glorified ketchup.

Since I love BBQ sauce like this, I can't wait to try it slathered on eggplant planks or roasted cauliflower, but I bet this would be killer on pork or chicken too!