Thursday, June 13, 2019

Vegan Chocolate Protein Biscotti

These vegan biscotti are packed with protein from Happy Planet Clean Protein chocolate smoothie and a scoop of Nuzest chocolate protein. A handful of chocolate chips stud the oil free, brownie like dough for extra decadence.

    It's been a while for a lot of things - posting in general for one (that crazy life getting in the way), but also making and sharing one of my signature cookie styles - biscotti! As the summer gets ever closer (according to the calendar at least, outside may have other plans), most of the wonderful people who appreciate my baking are trying to slim down or at least maintain their figures for when the 47 sweaters come off.

    Luckily, I have a compromise, because a summer without sweets is absolutely unthinkable! For my biscotti loving bestie, I managed to transform a standard double-chocolate biscotti recipe into protein-enriched nibbles that can be packed for road trips or enjoyed as a post-workout reward. I am a huge fan of Nuzest's protein line as it serves as a meal replacement for days I don't want to look at food (the RA medications I'm on can make me nauseous) and it's free of all the stuff I can't eat (I'm looking at you, coconut oil!) while remaining vegan and maintaining a pure, rich chocolate taste. At 20 grams of protein per serving it's a great treat too! To up the chocolate flavour I poured in a hearty dose of a vegan chocolate protein smoothie as well. I had received the Happy Planet beverage to test but due to the coconut I couldn't partake, so baking it was! Even more chocolate via cocoa and two types of chips later and there was no guessing what flavour came through.

    Even without eggs, the dough was a dream to handle and sliced well. The whole grain flour added a hint of nuttiness that I thought would work well with the cocoa and according to the taste testers I was right! This also makes a relatively small batch of biscotti, because if you are anything like me cookies do not stand a chance in the household! Dunked in coffee or eaten on their own, they're a tasty way to indulge without blowing the whole diet.

    *Note: this is not a sponsored post. I just love Nuzest!

    Saturday, April 27, 2019

    Dozen Yolk Braided Bread

    This Dozen Yolk Braided Bread is sweetened with honey and made rich and tender with twelve egg yolks and a hint of soy milk (non traditional but tasty!). Whole wheat bread flour ups the nutrition and the flavour profile as well.

    After baking the delicious Angel Food Cake for my birthday, I was left with a lot of egg yolks. Seeing as how we already had enough cake to open a small bakery (between my cake, my sister's three-layer chocolate birthday cake and the vanilla cupcakes Mom always makes for special occasions), making pound cake or another dessert (like custard) wasn't practical. I spent an afternoon googling alternate uses, and soon I came across a recipe for Challah using eight yolks. That seemed like a good starting point, but I also had soy milk on hand that was about to turn, so I modified the Challah into a soft, rich braided bread sprinkled with sesame seeds and perfumed with orange zest, vanilla and honey.

    The recipe makes two huge loaves, which is great if you're my family who goes through bread like it's going out of style, and it freezes beautifully as well. Depending on the humidity and the type of flour you have on hand, you may need extra flour to get the dough come together - you want it tacky but not wet, and it should clear the sides of your mixing bowl. Once it was cool enough to slice (an agonizing wait for Mom) at least two pieces "disappeared" along with some homemade grape jam. The sweet, eggy flavour is primed for a fresh fruity Toast Topper, as well as a smear of butter. Since I've made the angel food cake once more, I have a feeling the freezer is about to get another round of this treat!

    Monday, April 8, 2019

    Gluten Free, Sugar Free Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake

    Made my first birthday cake in 10 years - a Gluten Free, Sugar Free Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake. Sweetened with a blend of monkfruit and stevia, its still light, fluffy and sweet. Perfect for topping with fresh fruit!

    Happy birthday to me! I typically have a blase attitude about my birthdays for a few reasons. Like most people, I'm usually working on the day itself, and if I'm not is often because it's Easter - a fact that my dad and sister also have to deal with (we're all super close date wise). Combined with the fact that birthday cake's heavy reliance on the two elements I don't digest well - fat and gluten - birthday cakes are also not really something I had to look forward to. However, that all changed this year, when I not only found a fat free and gluten free recipe that tasted fantastic, but a sugar free one too!

    I am a huge believer in taste coming to the forefront, and thankfully my history with baking gluten free served me well in preventing a cake that tasted like the stereotypical gluten free cardboard - especially in the absence of a ton of fat. For me, the secret lay in layers of vanilla - vanilla bean, vanilla extract and vanilla flavoured stevia, which made each bite perfumed with the flavour but not in an overwhelming or "fake" way. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to note that this angel food cake baked - and stayed - moister than "regular" angel food cake, even days later (it lasted a grand total of 4 days here before being demolished).

    That said, the batter is somewhat thicker than your standard angel food recipe, and the top of the pan will be somewhat bumpy... but since that becomes the bottom, nobody will see! Also, being sugar free, the cake will not brown very much, maintaining an angel white appearance. Again, appearance was trumped by taste here, especially when I drowned mine in melted cherry jam (my favourite). FH used homemade strawberry sauce and whipped cream to decorate his and proclaimed it a success, not even realizing it was gluten or sugar free. The dozen egg yolks left over? They became a decadent pair of braided loaves, which will appear on this blog soon!

    The best part of all this was that now, I have a cake option to enjoy and share with others no matter what the occasion - I've been asked to make it for Easter this year, and it is a top contender for my wedding cake a few years down the road too!

    Wednesday, March 27, 2019

    Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

    These Peanut Butter Cup Cookies are a trifecta of peanutty flavour - peanut butter in the batter, peanut butter cups mixed in and Reeses Pieces sprinkled on top! Beware who you make these for... They'll be back!

    I have always loved peanut butter, in any form. As a kid I would take to the jar of Kraft (smooth, always smooth!) with a spoon, smear it thickly on mom's Challah bread, or (my personal favourite) make sandwiches with honey or even corn syrup and enjoy with a tall glass of milk. However, every so often mom would break out the big guns and make peanut butter cookies. Studded with chocolate chips, hers melted away in your mouth and were scented ever so slightly with vanilla.

    When it came time to making cookies for my (now) fiance, I knew that peanut butter cookies were going to be number one because he waxed poetic about the grand combination of peanut butter and chocolate as well. I wanted a recipe that was peanut buttery but also chewy with almost a chocolate chipper texture. Once I stumbled onto the official Reese's website I knew I had hit the jackpot. A mixture of butter and peanut butter made for a rich cookie that still spread, and the brown sugar added extra chew. The only change I made was doubling the vanilla and swapping out the Reese's Pieces with chopped peanut butter cups. The secret to using the PB cups was freezing them post-chop, which kept them from falling apart during the folding process. A quick chill after mixing helps the dough keep from spreading too much, and allows the dry ingredients to fully hydrate. In the interest of texture, I did keep the original Reese's Pieces as decoration on the top, which not only added crunch but colour!

    In the end, the cookies have been devoured each and every time they've been made - and I will be making them for years to come! I can't wait to see how they hold up as ice cream sandwiches too... where's Summer?!

    Chopped up peanut butter cups can mean only one thing...  Peanut Butter Cup Cookies!

    Saturday, March 16, 2019

    Apple Whiskey (or Rum) Conserve - Toast Topper #83

    Apple Whiskey (or Rum) Raisin Conserve. Your morning toast never HAD it so good!

    Okay, so first things first - I cannot believe I didn't post a single Toast Topper in all of 2018! I really have no real excuse - I cooked and canned (albeit not as much as previous years) but I simply have lacked the time and energy to put together blog posts like I used to. As some of you know (if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram) 2018 was a pretty busy year for me - and things show no signs of slowing down! I'm now three terms away from graduating with my degree in Sociology and will be undertaking my Masters of Teaching in September of next year... then after all that I'm planning a wedding! So for those of you who have stayed with me throughout this shift, thanks! For those of you who are new to this blog, welcome and I hope you can find some inspiration in the 1958 posts I've written since 2007.

    The second thing I wanted to say is Happy St. Patty's Day! While it's unknown if I have any Irish in me at all (Grandma was adopted so she's a wild card) the fact remains that my ginger haired cousin and I have still been pegged as being from the Emerald Isle. Even if I'm not part leprechaun, I do enjoy the festivities around this holiday, especially the music and dancing! Of course, alcohol is a factor this time of year too (green beer, anyone?) but the Irish are also known for decent spirits, and after hearing my mom mention some Irish whiskey she had tried I remembered the apple whiskey I had bought last year but not opened. Why not give it a shot in a lovely, sticky-sweet preserve perfect for dolloping over butter on some hearty soda bread or scones?

    This conserve is originally from Best of Bridge Home Preserving, but (of course) I took several liberties when it came to specific ingredients. I kept the sugar ratio the same, but since I was out of brown sugar (yes, I'm a baking heathen) I dolloped in some molasses for flavour and a touch of honey too, because I love honey! I had no apple juice, but I did have an apple flavoured herbal tea, which when brewed triple strength tasted strikingly similar to apple juice, so in that went too. Apple whiskey made it's way in place of the rum and I nixed the walnuts because nobody here likes them. All in all, the mixture was rich, thick, spiced, and perfectly sweet, with just enough apple and raisin texture running through it. A perfect Toast Topper for St. Patty's Day if you ask me!