Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Listing: Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

Well, I finally won the battle with pumpkin! After much experimentation and trial-and-error, I was able to create a really yummy spiced pumpkin pecan cookie. I'm really proud of how they turned out! With the soft center, crunchy pecans, and warm spiced pumpkin flavor, these cookies will be great for the holiday season.
Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Cookies, available on Etsy.

I'm planning on serving them at my Halloween party, and hopefully will be making them again for Thanksgiving.

It's been a while since I've added something new to the site. I'm very happy about it! Hopefully there will be much more to come, especially with the holidays coming up. I love holiday cookies. What are your favorites?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Engagement Photoshoot!

My apologies in advance for the fact that this post is rather unrelated to the topic of vegan baking, but I would be remiss if I did not share our wonderful engagement photos with you! We worked with the lovely Teale Landstedt of Teale Photography, who did a wonderful job photographing us and editing the pictures. We also had the help of Krystel of Couture Events with the styling, and she did a wonderful job as always. You can check out both their blogs for more images, here and here.  I am so happy with how they turned out, and I hope you like them too.

There are many more where that came from! Be sure to visit Teale's blog to see the whole set. Let me know what you think!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thoughts on Pomegranate

This morning a very sweet co-worker of mine stopped by my desk with a little treat: a freshly-picked pomegranate from a tree in her yard (pictured below). It is probably one of the prettiest little pomegranates I've ever seen between its perfect shape and rich ruby coloring. How lovely! Unfortunately, I can't just rip in to it and devour the flavorful seeds inside due to a very sore tooth situation. I pretty much can't eat anything with more texture than oatmeal. So, I've been sitting here staring at it all morning, admiring it. I started to think... can I bake with this thing?

the home-grown beauty.
You know, due to the pomegranate's unique fruit, I never considered baking with it. I just assumed the little juicy kernels wouldn't hold up to the baking process, or that the seeds would be unpleasantly crunchy. But after some research and food-blog-perusing, I realized that baking with pomegranate is not taboo in the least! I found three examples of yummy ideas. Mind you, none of the below are vegan, so they will take some modification, but that's relatively easy. Also, I'd like to say that I haven't tried these recipes yet, but I plan to!

Pomegranate Pound Cake, from Gratineé

The first recipe I found comes from Gratineé, a blog written by a writer and food enthusiast named Darina. In her Pomegranate Pound Cake recipe, Darina uses pomegranate seeds, lemon zest, and buttermilk to create a "moist" and "surprisingly light" cake. I would veganize it by using soy yogurt in place of the buttermilk, and my usual butter and egg replacers. Darina describes this as a holiday treat, but I'm sure it would be yummy at any time of the year. Especially now, when pomegranates are about to drop off the trees on their own accord! 

The next yummy recipe I found comes from a blog called Coconut & Lime, written by Rachel Rappaport. She describes her pomegranate chocolate chunk cookies as "sweet + tart = delightful cookies." That sounds just about perfect to me! She also talks about how the pomegranate seeds stay in tact, providing moisture and texture. This recipe is super-easy to make vegan, just swap out Earth Balance for the butter. 

Finally, I found a very unique recipe for a pomegranate dessert pizza from The Baking Barrister. The Barrister's version combines pomegranate sauce, mascarpone cheese, and mint on a pizza crust for a tangy and sweet dessert. For a vegan version, I would use vegan cream cheese in place of the mascarpone, and skip the egg wash. Sounds yummy! 

I love searching for new ideas like this. My feeling is that the pomegranate seeds would be great with some vanilla bean flavor in a muffin or scone, and that pomegranate juice would be great in a vegan cream cheese-based frosting on top of a spiced tea cupcake. Got any other ideas?

Friday, October 8, 2010

BabyCakes at M Café

Last night, the fiancé and I met up with friends for dinner and visited one of our favorite spots, M Café in Culver City. If you haven't been, M Café serves up contemporary macrobiotic cuisine in a European-style café setting. They have some really yummy and super-healthy dishes on the menu, and because it's macrobiotic, they don't use any refined sugars, eggs, dairy, red meat or poultry. It's not entirely vegan, as they do serve fish, but as long as you stick to the non-fish menu options, you can be sure that what you get is vegan. They offer really beautiful and tasty seasonal deli salads, fun varieties of sushi, and decadent pastries and desserts. To top all this goodness, M Café recently started carrying sweets from the famous BabyCakes NYC, a vegan and (mostly) gluten-free bakery that I've been dying to try. Most exciting!

a winning combination!

After stuffing myself with the ridiculously scrumptious sweet potato fries, my absolute favorite bistro salad, and a lovely Malbec, I couldn't help it... I had to try a cupcake! It was Vegan Cupcake Thursday, after all. It was the end of the day, and the pickings were slim, but I managed to nab one of the last vanilla cupcakes. It had been in a refrigerated case, so it was a little cold, but the verdict remains positive! This gluten-free cutie had great flavor and was perfectly sweet! I loved the frosting the most. Yum! You can view the BabyCakes at M Café menu here

the vanilla cupcake

There have been rumors of BabyCakes opening a West Hollywood location, which I think would be a mighty fine choice. Currently, their only L.A. storefront is downtown, which for those of us who tend towards the West, is a bit of a drive. But for now, you can check out gluten-free yumminess at your local M Café: a double-win scenario, because you can chomp down on some delicious vegan food first (try the Big Macro Burger, trust me). What are you waiting for? Go!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Cupcakes!

Well, our engagement photo shoot went off without a hitch! If you read my post about upcoming projects, you know that I had a lot to do to prepare! One of the settings for the shoot was a picnic, and naturally we wanted to have some pretty baked goods as props. So, a few days before, I prepared two types of cupcakes to use. We wound up only using one (the chocolate), but I think they both turned out pretty. In the hulaballoo of it all, though, I didn't manage to snap pictures of the prettiest ones. I did take shots of some of the leftovers, though, so those'll have to do for now.

Cupcake Friends!
The first type of cupcake was a double chocolate buttercream with chocolate shavings on top. This flavor is based off a cake I enjoyed a little too often back in my pre-vegan days; Alcove Cafe's See's Chocolate Candy Cake. It was (and probably still is to non-vegans) ridiculously rich and delicious. Basically, it's a rich chocolate cake with pieces of See's chocolate in it, covered with rich buttercream frosting, and topped with melted chocolate and chocolate shavings. Sounds decadent, right? When I first went vegan, one of my first missions was to veganize this cake. It went very well. You can read all about that at my old blog, here. It only seemed natural to make this a cupcake, since I'm pretty sure I based the recipe off a cupcake recipe in the first place. I love it when things are cyclic. And so, the double chocolate buttercream cupcake was born! The double chocolate comes from the chocolate chips inside the cake, if you were wondering.

Double-Chocolate Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting
The second cupcake was a vanilla agave cupcake. I love the flavor of agave, it sort of reminds me of what the lovechild of maple syrup and honey would taste like. It's so warm and sweet! It blended really nicely with the vanilla flavors, too. This cake was moist and flavorful! For frosting, I did a repeat of the buttercream, as the recipe makes SO MUCH frosting. I think that next time, though, I might try a glaze of some sort, or something a little less sweet. The two tasted good together, but I think that a better pairing might remain to be seen.

Vanilla Agave Cupcake
All in all, I'm very pleased with how these turned out! The flavors were great, and everyone seemed to love them. With a few more trials, I'll be ready to add these and the pumpkin cupcakes to the Etsy shop! I just need to figure out how to ship that frosting...