Friday, July 30, 2010

Two Kinds of Crunchy

I've come to the conclusion that, at a bakesale, there are two very distinct and very stubborn types of people present in any given sampling of people. There are the brownie and cake people, and there are the cookie people. I suppose if you want you can throw in the "tart" people too, but they generally will defer to one side or the other when forced to choose. Then of course, those two groups are subdivided further, forming those that like "crunchy things" in their treats and those who, like my sister and I, prefer their sweet noshings au naturel.

I used to think most people fell into my own camp - the cakey-pure-preferably chocolate group - but apparently I was quite mistaken! Especially when it came to pleasing my classmates, With few exceptions, I would get requests for "a banana cake, or something, with nuts", or a crispy cookie-like treat, over the most delicious plain brownies I could churn out. Even crunchy oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookies even went quickly, which is odd to a girl whose oatmeal cookies better be chewy and packed with chocolate chips and plump raisins. Dry raisins? Deal killer.

My mom's office is a little more "forgiving" in their clientele's palates, luckily. I know that generally, as long as it's not pie (apparently they are not pie people!) I can tote or send in anything with a decent dose of sugar and it will be decimated by the next morning. Like me, anything with chocolate is a bonus too, but they're equally happy with something new and potentially untried that appears in the break room. Apparently, they like being guinea pigs taste testers!

Well, fine then, I figured - let's test out the crunchy factor with both camps of people: cake and cookie! I had a small box of both Kashi's "honey almond flax" and "toasted berry crisp" granolas in my pantry, left over from the Food Show back in March (and no it wasn't 4 months old - these recipes were actually made in late April! Can you tell I'm a bit behind?), and it was mighty crunchy! I also had some shredded carrots taking up space in my freezer from last year's harvest, and with no requests for carrot cake in sight I figured I should probably find a way to use it too!

Since carrot cake always seems to have something crunchy in it - usually nuts of some kind or another - I figured that an almond cereal would fit right in! Looking for something "unique" to use everything in, I stumbled onto a RecipeZaar recipe for something called "Indian Carrot Bread" which was unlike any recipe I had ever seen before! This one had cooked carrot shreds and cornmeal in it to add texture and flavour, and though there weren't any nuts or crunch factors at all, I figured I'd chuck in some cereal and go with it!More modifications ensued, with more carrots and a good glug of almond milk instead of plain. The resulting  (and surprisingly low-fat) concoction was very much a cake - I would never have termed it a "bread" even though it's baked in a loaf pan - and was so insanely moist that I almost destroyed it when I turned it out onto it's cooling rack. I would say fork-eating this is essential, though frosting isn't - extra plus!

Crunchy "Indian" Carrot Loaf Cake
Serves 12
3 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 1/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup Kashi Honey Almond Flax granola (or your favourite granola)
  1. Preheat oven to 325F, grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a saucepan, combine carrots and water.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes - until the liquid has almost evaporated completely and carrots are falling apart.
  4. Reduce heat to low and mix in the honey, brown sugar, cornmeal and milk.
  5. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  6. Stir in the flours, baking soda and baking powder, then fold in the granola.
  7. Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake 1 hour 25 minutes - 1 1/2 hours, until a tester yields moist crumbs but not batter.
  8. Cool in the pan 15 minutes before gently unmoulding.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 140.0
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 51.1 mg
Total Carbs: 30.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.9 g
Protein: 3.6 g

For the cookie camp, I wound up defaulting to my mom's tried-and-true "crunchy" oatmeal cookie as a base recipe. Apparently she has a "chewy" version stashed somewhere too, but in all my searching I have been unable to find a trace of it... I'm starting to think it's a fable. At any rate, I halved the recipe, using the berry granola instead of the oats and Demerara sugar instead of her standard "golden". Still fresh off my nutrition-school high, I also added some currants, protein packed, dry-toasted soy "nuts" and a bit of textured vegetable protein crumbles.

Why? Well, honestly, I just wanted to see if they worked in a cookie application! Not adding any flavour of their own, they easily paired with the granola as a kind of "cereal", even toasting crispy in the oven while keeping the centre of the cookies from becoming rock hard. Since the nutrition profile of TVP was pretty rosy vitamin, iron, fibre and protein-wise (being formed out of de-fatted soy flour, after all) I would definitely try a half and half ratio with oats in "breakfast" cookies or power bars too (huh, would you look at that... I did that already!)! In fact, I know it's a great addition to oats for breakfast as well - the blandness really helps carry other flavours, and when you're battling with nausea or just not being hungry it's a great "sneak-in" - even when you know it's there!

So that was your nutritionist talking... now the baker in me takes over. Eat cookies, be happy, try new things, never apologize. Especially when the results disappear in a flash!

Crunchy Kashi Cookies
Makes 18
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup Demerara sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup Kashi Toasted Berry Crisp (or granola)
1/4 cup TVP granules, dry
1 1/2 cups currants, soaked in hot water and drained
1/2 cup toasted soynuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease two cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl cream shortening and sugars.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, pie spice and salt, stir in until just blended.
  5. Fold in the cereal, TVP, currants and soynuts.
  6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely on sheets.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 189.7
Total Fat: 7.3 g
Cholesterol: 11.8 mg
Sodium: 14.8 mg
Total Carbs: 27.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Protein: 4.1 g

1 comment :

David T. Macknet said...

Ooh, that cake sounds delicious! It's just ... carrot cake, but without all that nasty oil people usually add.

What spices did you add? I'd be tempted to add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and maybe cardamom. And black pepper, just a wee bit.