peanut butter chocolate chip fudge brownies

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How’s this for a weekend treat? Brownies without flour, oil, eggs, dairy, or added sugar. Yup, you heard me right. And they’re ooey gooey, full of chocolate-y goodness, creamy peanut butter, and a little bit of a kick since I added a dash of cayenne. I was skeptical when I first saw the recipe on Ambitious Kitchen. How could peanut butter, applesauce, and cocoa powder ever bake up into a brownie? I don’t know what kind of mad science is involved, but what I can tell you is that these things are pretty amazing. Drop everything and try them yourself!

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You can head on over to Ambitious Kitchen for the recipe. I used maple syrup instead of honey, and I added about 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper just to give it a bit of spice. If you have a peanut allergy, I’m sure you could substitute almond or cashew butter, or even sunflower butter to make it nut-free. I’m sure there are many things you could stir in to add or change the flavors–peppermint oil and chopped nuts come to mind. Well, what are you waiting for? Get baking!

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japanese sweet potato cakes

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An old friend of mine from my high school days in Japan asked me today if I could take an old and familiar Japanese dessert and make it healthier and plant-based. The dessert is what the Japanese call simply “sweet potato” or “su-i-to-po-te-to”, to be precise. It’s a sweet and savory dessert that is full of sugar and butter, and tastes so good! While trying to find examples of this dessert to show you, I stumbled upon this hilarious Japanese cooking demo for the dessert where this lady cooks with her poodle (not literally cooks her dog, but you know what I mean). You can watch it here:

I wish I had found this video earlier because I definitely would have added rum to my recipe when I was trying to make it! Anyway, I had two slightly different recipes my friend and I found and I decided to make both. I used a recipe from Hungry Note for version 1 and a recipe from Kyoto Foodie for version 2. In order to make them plant-based, I would need to make substitutions for the egg yolk, butter, milk, and cream. After much research (i.e. googling), I decided I would use silken tofu, avocado, coconut milk and coconut “cream” as my replacers, in that order.

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One thing I was a little uncertain of was how the texture and taste would differ since I wouldn’t be using Japanese sweet potatoes. I can’t find those locally here so I used the regular orange flesh “yams” that I found at the farmer’s market. Japanese sweet potato, or satsumaimo, has a purplish peel and light yellow flesh. It’s a little sweeter than what we call a sweet potato in the States. I found a great article in the Japan Times written by the author of one of my favorite Japanese blogs, Just Hungry, that talks about the history and uses of satsumaimo.

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The verdict — both versions of the sweet potato cakes were very good, taste-wise. Not too sweet, a little caramelized on top, and very creamy. Texture-wise, they were definitely too soft. It was a little softer than sweet potato pie filling, and while it did firm up a bit as it cooled, I still think it lacks the traditional texture. Next time, I will probably keep all the ingredients the same but increase the amount of sweet potato. I would definitely add at least one extra sweet potato, maybe even two. I think that would give it the more potato-y texture that is missing. However, this recipe as it stands has really great flavor, both cooked and uncooked. I could eat it raw as a sweet potato pudding as well. And it’s pretty healthy as far as desserts go, so you could use it as a side with your dinner, or even for breakfast if you wanted. I also think it would make a really great pie filling. I might experiment with baking one of these versions in a pie for Thanksgiving this year. I can’t vouch for how close it is to the original since it’s been over 15 years since I’ve eaten suitopoteto, but since I really enjoyed the flavor, I would definitely not call this experiment a failure!

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japanese sweet potato cakes “suito poteto”, version 1

ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup coconut “cream” (place can of coconut milk in fridge for 15-20 min. Use the thickened “cream” off the top of the can)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/8 cup silken tofu
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.  Bring a medium-sized pot of water to boil on the stove top.
  2. Cut the peeled sweet potatoes in 1/4-inch rounds and then halve and quarter them. Boil for 4-5 minutes until fork tender.
  3. Drain the sweet potatoes and return to the pot. Mash them in the pot over low heat to evaporate a bit of the moisture.
  4. Add the avocado, tofu, and maple syrup to the pot and blend with the potatoes using an immersion blender. (Can also spoon into a food processor or blender)
  5. Gradually add the coconut cream and blend until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.
  6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil. Spoon the mixture onto the tray in any shape you want. If it’s too runny, you can use line a muffin tray and use that instead. Mine made 9 little cakes.
  7. Brush the tops with a bit coconut cream.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes until set and golden brown. Place tray on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Place a sheet of wax paper on top of cooling rack and use a spatula to place the cakes on the paper. Cool for another 20-30 minutes. They will firm up more as they cool. Enjoy!

*Notes: Next time, besides increasing the amount of sweet potato, I will also try the following: mash the sweet potatoes by hand, blend everything else in a blender or food processor, then stir the mixture into the hand-mashed sweet potatoes. That may help solve the texture problem and make it less runny.

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japanese sweet potato cakes “suito poteto”, version 2 “kyoto-style”

ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk (may substitute other non-dairy milk)
  • 1/4 cup silken tofu
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt, optional
  • sesame seeds

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds and halve and quarter them. Steam for 10-20 minutes until fork tender.
  3. Place in a bowl and add the maple syrup and avocado and begin mashing.
  4. Add in the coconut milk, tofu, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Form into balls and place onto a lined baking sheet, or spoon into a lined mini-muffin tray as I did.
  6. Top with white or black sesame seeds and bake for 20-30 minutes until set and golden brown on top.
  7. Cool in muffin tray or on baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing. Allow to cool for 10 minutes more on a wire rack. They will firm up a bit as they cool. Enjoy!

*Notes: Next time, besides increasing the amount of sweet potato, I will also try the following: mash the sweet potatoes by hand, blend everything else in a blender or food processor, then stir the mixture into the hand-mashed sweet potatoes. That may help solve the texture problem and make it less runny.

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ginger peach muffins

This is the recipe I’ve been waiting for. As soon as I read this in the Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook the other night, I was chomping at the bit to make it. The only problem was that I didn’t have my grinder yet to grind up the flax seeds to make the flax egg. I’m not comfortable enough with baking yet, let alone vegan/plant-based baking, to make a substitution on my own. So I patiently bided my time until the UPS guy delivered my grinder. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I only had to wait two days, but it was a very long two days.

These muffins are amazing. Chock full of peaches, lots of spicy ginger, warm and gooey. I made one modification to the recipe, one that I was confident would improve upon these muffins. I grated a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger and folded it in with the peaches. I think it gives it an extra kick and takes these muffins over the edge. I might even like this better than the peach and ginger pie I made a few weeks ago — it’s a close call. The ginger-peach combination is really quite a perfect match!

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ginger peach muffins

from Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/4 cups spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup dry sweetener (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 medium peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated (optional)

 

directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with silicone liners or have ready a nonstick or silicone muffin pan. (Mine made 18 muffins, filled to the brim).

2. In a large measuring cup, use a fork to vigorously mix together the milk, flaxseed, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, or until it appears foamy. Set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, dry sweetener, baking powder, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Add the applesauce and vanilla and stir together with the milk mixture in the well. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the well just until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the peaches (and grated ginger, optional).

4. Fill each muffin cup all the way to the top. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center comes out clean.

5. Remove the pan from the oven. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove.

 

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banana bread, plant-based

It was back to school this week for me and I decided to try to find some plant-based baked goods that I could grab and go in the morning when I don’t have time to eat at home. I just finished reading through the Forks Over Knives cookbook and when I hit the dessert section, there were some fantastic baked goods in there that could easily be used as a breakfast. The first recipe I tried, since I had all the ingredients at hand, was the “Better-Than-Mom’s Banana Bread”. It’s made with whole wheat pastry flour so it’s a lot more bread-like than banana bread I’ve had in the past, which I think is closer to cake than bread. It was still very good and tasty, but I think I want to experiment with the recipe in the future to see if I can get it as moist as the banana bread I’m used to.

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better-than-mom’s banana bread

from Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Have ready an 8×4-inch nonstick or silicone baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana, maple syrup, applesauce, milk, and vanilla.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, mixing just until everything is evenly moistened.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Distribute the batter evenly along the length of the pan but don’t spread the batter to the edges; the batter will spread as it bakes. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. (Mine was done in 50 minutes). It’s hard to test for doneness with a knife because the banana tends to stay moist, so judge by the edges of bread. They should be golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan.

6. Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and carefully invert the loaf onto a cooling rack. Be sure it is fully cooled before slicing.

 

peach and ginger pie

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I’m not a baker. I rarely make desserts. The main reason for this is that most dessert/baking requires precision and measuring, things that I’m not really inclined to do when I cook. Many baked goods can go horribly wrong if you’re not exact with your measurements and it’s just not what I’m comfortable with. Tonight, my shepherding group at church was having a corn roast and everyone was asked to bring a fruit pie for an informal pie contest. (!!!!!!!) I was perturbed at first, then I thought maybe I would just buy a pie and not enter it in the contest, and finally decided I would attempt to make one. Continue reading