Week 6: Vegan Spice Loaf Cake with Orange “Cream Cheese” Frosting & Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie – Facebook Poll Question Winner – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

It’s the final week of my Thanksgiving recipe series, y’all! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it. Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes I’ve shared, be sure to post a pic on social media and tag it with the hashtag for this series (#aCITSIthanksgiving) so that I can see your beautiful Thanksgiving feasts. Okay now, it’s time to talk desserts!

No Thanksgiving menu is complete, in my mind, unless there’s a pie, which I’ll get to a little further down in this post however, I want to talk about another dessert first. You see, while I feel that a pie is obligatory, I also feel that a non-pie dessert is obligatory too. For the non-pie dessert this year, I decided to do a loaf cake. This gingerbread-esque cake is loaded with the spices of the season (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger) and is topped with a refreshing orange “cream cheese” frosting!

It all gets started with the combining of the wet ingredients. Once those have been thoroughly whisked together then the dry ingredients (including all of those lovely spices) get added. When the cake batter is smooth it gets poured into a greased and floured loaf pan then popped into a preheated oven where it will bake for about an hour.

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While the cake is baking up, you can make the orange “cream cheese” frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, equal parts of vegan “cream cheese” and vegan “butter” are combined with a little bit of fresh squeezed orange juice. Once smooth, turn the mixer down to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.

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When the cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. Over top of the frosted cake I like to sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon as well as some orange zest which, as you might notice, is missing from the final photo below as I accidentally tossed my orange zest down the sink! Hot tip: don’t toss your orange zest down the sink. (But do toss it on this cake!)

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Vegan Spice Loaf Cake With Orange 'Cream Cheese' Frosting

  • Servings: 8-10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray + flour for pan
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 (4-ounce) snack cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup vegan “butter,” melted + 2 1/2 tablespoons for frosting, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegan “cream cheese”
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • About 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange + cinnamon for dusting over frosted cake (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan for use in a moment by spraying the inside with nonstick cooking spray then coating it with a light dusting of flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, 1/4 cup melted “butter,” and the vanilla. When smooth, add in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until smooth again then pour cake batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  2. While cake is baking, make the frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl where you’ll use a hand mixer, combine 2 1/2 tablespoons softened “butter” with 2 1/2 tablespoons¬† “cream cheese” and 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice. Beat until smooth then reduce speed to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.
  3. When cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. After frosting the cake, lightly dust the top of it with some more cinnamon and the zest from 1 orange (optional). Finished cake can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days -just be sure to bring the cake back up to room temperature before serving.


And now, my dears, it’s time for pie!

I asked y’all in a poll on Facebook how you liked your pecan pie to be made, in pie form, in cake form, in cookie form, etc., and overwhelmingly people picked “in pie form.” I too love pecan pie as an actual pie but I wanted to do a slightly different take on this southern classic to make it something truly special for this series. What was that different take? Well, traditional pecan pie filling has a lot of corn syrup in it but I opted for a decent amount of maple syrup instead. The maple syrup offers up more flavor than the corn syrup and it also changes the texture of the pie. The normal texture of a pecan pie is kind of gelatinous and gloppy but the texture of this pecan pie is creamy, ooey, gooey, and caramel-like (see picture below). I’ve made and enjoyed a lot of pecan pies over the years but this is seriously the best and it couldn’t be easier to make!

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For this pie, you’re going to use your favorite premade (and vegan) pie crust or make your own using one of the many wonderful vegan pie crust recipes all over the internet! Pop your pie crust into a 9-inch glass pie pan (if not glass then the oven temperature will need to be increased by 25 degrees). Poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process then set the pie pan in the fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking -this allows for a flakier pie crust. Now, it’s time to make the filling for our pie.

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To make the filling for our pie you’ll combine egg replacer (Ener-G) with maple syrup, brown sugar, a little bit of corn syrup, some vegan “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer the pie filling for another 2 1/2 minutes -continue to whisk occasionally throughout this time. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment while we move on to the next step.

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Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because we’re dealing with hot stuff here) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into a preheated 325 degree oven and bake for an hour.

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When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving.

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Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie

  • Servings: 10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Pie crust of your choosing for a 9-inch pie pan
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 3 eggs, prepared according to instructions on Ener-G box
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, halves or chopped or a mixture of the two styles

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees if using a glass pie pan or 350 degrees if using any other pie pan. Prepare the Ener-G for 3 eggs, if you haven’t done so already, in accordance with the instructions on the box then set this mixture aside for a moment. Put the pie crust of your choosing into your 9-inch pie pan then trim it to fit and poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process. Place the pie pan in fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking. Move on to making the pie filling.
  2. To make the pie filling, combine in a saucepan over medium-high heat the Ener-G you prepared a moment ago with the maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer for another 2 1/2 minutes, still whisking occasionally. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment.
  3. Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because it’s hot) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into your preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving. Finished pie will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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Vegan Lunch Box Brownies – Facebook Poll Question Winner

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Way back in March of this year, on Facebook, I posed a poll question to y’all -should brownies be frosted or left naked? Surely, I thought, it would be nearly impossible to have a true winner because I, myself, think each are pretty tasty in their own right. But y’all knew what you loved and overwhelmingly so. Naked brownies won by a mile! Fast forward 7 months later and here I am with my recipe for just such brownies!

Now, of course, these brownies were greatly inspired by all of you who participated in my little poll but they were also inspired by the brownies of my childhood. It wasn’t every day when a brownie came along in my young life so, when one did, I savored it to the point of almost studying every delicious morsel. In doing this, I figured out that the perfect brownie is one that’s fudgy, but not crazily so, soft, decadently chocolatey, and there simply must be some kind of nut in it. For me, that nut is the pecan but of course you’re free to choose the nut you enjoy the most. When it all comes together it’s magic -and easy to do magic at that!

It all gets started by combining the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt get whisked together until smooth. Once smooth, some melted dairy-free chocolate gets added along with some applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and a little vanilla, and the whole thing gets whisked once more until smooth. Next, chopped pecans get folded in and with that our brownie batter is complete!

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Dump the batter out into a parchment lined 9×9 pan. Using a silicone spatula, pat the batter down and around so that it fills out the pan evenly, then use the spatula to smooth out the top a little. Pop the pan into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. When the brownies are done and out of the oven, keep them in their pan and let them rest there for 15 minutes before pulling them out to cut and serve.

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Vegan Lunch Box Brownies

  • Servings: 9-12
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free (vegan) chocolate chips or chunks, melted in a double boiler or in the microwave
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or whatever nut you would prefer)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×9 pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Once smooth, add in the melted dairy-free chocolate, applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla, and whisk once more until smooth. Fold in the chopped pecans.
  2. Dump the batter out into the prepared pan then, using a silicone spatula, pat the batter out so that it fills out the bottom of the pan evenly. Use the spatula to smooth out the top of the batter and then place the pan into your preheated oven for 25 minutes. When the brownies are done and out of the oven, keep in pan for 15 minutes before pulling them out to cut and serve. Brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

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When your mama asks you to make her birthday cake, you hit pause on your damn diet and you make your mama a birthday cake. #MamaDidntRaiseNoFool

What kind of cake did she want? Chocolate! And boy, did I ever deliver. This cake, my chocolate cake, is so light, fluffy, insanely moist, and decadently rich. If you’re a fan at all of chocolate cake then you simply must try this recipe. (If you don’t, they will revoke your “chocolate cake fan” card -of this I’m sure.) For my mom, I finished it off with some caramel frosting but you could use pretty much any frosting you’d like to top this bad boy. With that said however, you could also seriously just eat this cake naked -as in hey there, frosting haters, it’s perfect for you too!

Besides being delicioso, this cake is also very easy to make. The first step is to whisk together the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The wet ingredients for this little lovely include a heap load of sugar (always count sugar as a wet ingredient), almond milk, some of the deepest darkest coffee you can find, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce. Once all of that has been thoroughly combined, it’s time to add the dry ingredients in. The dry ingredients include flour, cocoa powder, some leavening agents, and a little salt. The batter should still be fairly liquidy upon whisking the dry ingredients in and that’s exactly what we want because liquid equals moisture.

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The next step is to pour the cake batter into a prepared pan -I used a 13×9 pan which I greased with a little “butter” and then lined with parchment paper. (The greasing helps keep the parchment paper down while you’re pouring the batter in.) Now, you could also use this batter to make cupcakes, or 2 (9-inch) rounds, instead of a 13×9 cake. Should you elect to make either of these I’d suggest that you start your timer with 30 minutes, rather than 45 minutes which is how long the 13×9 will bake for, and go from there.

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When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out nearly clean. And as with any cake, be sure to let it cool completely before applying frosting -if you’re frosting it, that is. Like I said, it’s moist enough that frosting is totally optional.

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Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: as a 13x9 cake, serves 12-16
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Vegan “butter” for greasing pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup dark coffee, brewed (Make sure this is measured as an actual cup rather than a coffee cup -I used my Keurig, made the largest cup size, then measured out 1 cup worth.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Burnt caramel frosting or the frosting of your choice (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare¬†a 13×9 pan by greasing it and then lining it with parchment paper. (The grease helps the parchment stay put when you’re pouring the batter in later.) If you’re not wanting to make a 13×9 cake but rather cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, prepare those pans as needed instead.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar with the almond milk, coffee, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce, and whisk until smooth. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk again until smooth. (The batter will still be pretty liquidy but that’s exactly how we want it to be!)
  3. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the 13×9 cake comes out nearly clean. If doing cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, start with 30 minutes on the timer and then check the cakes with a toothpick and see if more time is needed. When done, if frosting or decorating, let cake cool completely first.

Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

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Sweet, buttery, and a little toasty -that’s what this frosting is.

It was inspired by my mom who asked me to make her a chocolate cake with caramel frosting for her birthday. I knew that I could totally handle the chocolate cake part but the caramel frosting part? I hadn’t made vegan caramel before, let alone attempted a caramel frosting. Thrown for a loop, I decided to turn to that wonderful world of information that we call the internet where I learned that you can make vegan caramel using unsweetened, full fat coconut milk. With a little tweaking on the ideas I found online, I managed to come up with a recipe for a caramel frosting that has a slightly burnt, toasty flavor to it which contrasts nicely with the overall sweetness.

Now, it’s not the quickest frosting to make but it is pretty easy.

First things first, you’re gonna grab a small pot and pop it onto your stove over medium-high heat. Pour in a can of coconut milk and then add in some vegan “butter,” a little brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to simmer. Here’s where the time factor comes into play -you’re going to let this simmer for 1 hour, whisking it about every 8-10 minutes.

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When an hour has passed, add in a dash of vanilla then carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, slowly add in powdered sugar (scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed) until the desired consistency is reached.

Since I was frosting a 13×9 cake, which was remaining in it’s pan, I opted to kept the frosting on the softer side adding only 2 cups of powdered sugar to it. If you’re using this frosting for cupcakes or cookies though, where it needs to really stay in place, you’re going to want to add more powdered sugar. And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

  • Servings: enough to frost a 13x9 cake
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk with “butter,” brown sugar, and salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, whisking occasionally.
  2. Turn the heat off and add in the vanilla. Carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, add in the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. For a softer frosting, for a non-layered cake, add 2 cups of powdered sugar. For a more stiff frosting, for layered cakes, cupcakes, or cookies, add a little more powdered sugar until you reach the consistency desired. (And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)

Vegan “Sour Cream” Scones

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People always assume that because I have a food blog I must’ve be born with a God-given talent for cooking and baking. For most of my life however, I was actually seriously lacking in my culinary abilities and for that I blame my mom. #SorryMom

When I was growing up, my mom was like Sandra Lee -minus all the booze and tablescapes. (Oh but you know I was down for some tablescaping, girl.) When time allowed for a home cooked meal she would pull out the gravy mix, smack a can of biscuits against our apartment’s laminate counter, scramble up some eggs and pull a meal together the semi-homemade way. Very few things she made were ever from scratch but don’t get me wrong, they were still pretty tasty. Her recipes just really weren’t recipes though. There wasn’t much skill in what she was doing so there wasn’t much to be taught. Lacking proper skills and inspiration, I ended up just steering clear of the kitchen altogether -until I became an adult, that is.

Sometime in my early 20s, after spending way too many hours watching Food Network and Cooking Channel, I suddenly found myself quite enthralled with the idea of really learning how to cook and bake. I just couldn’t see myself not having such skills for the rest of my life so, one recipe at a time, I learned, and the very first recipe that I not only taught myself but actually mastered was a recipe for cream scones. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

Cream scones are just what their name implies -scones made using heavy cream for a rich, decadent flavor. They’re really good but they’re so not vegan. With the recipe being so near and dear to my heart though, of course it was destined to be veganized (and made healthier while I was at it) and that’s exactly what I just did. In this vegan version, which is just as rich and decadent as the original, I opted to use vegan “sour cream” in place of the heavy cream. The “sour cream” maintains the creamy, slightly tart flavor profile of the original while also giving the scones a good bit of moisture so that they’re not dry and crumbly. This recipe, just like the original, is a good base recipe should you want to add berries, fruit, nuts, chocolate, or whatever else to it -this time I added dried cherries.

It all gets started with you preparing some Ener-G egg replacer for use in a moment. You can also preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

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Next, in a large bowl, you’re going to combine the 2 flours with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

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To the dry ingredients you will now add in the “sour cream,” “butter,” sugar, Ener-G, and vanilla. Using two forks or a pastry cutter, blend the ingredients together until just combined.

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Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface -I love using a marble pastry board because it helps keep the “butter” cold which is important in pastries like this. Knead the dough a little to fully bring it together and incorporate any loose flour.

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Now, remember how I said that I made this batch with dried cherries? If you’re adding anything like that to your scones then this step is for you. If not, you can skip this step.

Pat the dough out to about a half an inch thick then press in whatever additional elements you want. I would recommend that you add in no more than 1 cup total of additional goodies so plan accordingly if you’re adding multiple things. Once everything has been pressed in, fold the dough sheet over onto itself sealing in all of the goodness.

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Add a little more flour to your surface to prevent sticking then form the dough into a flattened disk shape that is about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half thick. Using a large knife, slice the dough in halves until you get 8 even triangular pieces. Gently pick up each piece and place it onto a large sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake the scones in your preheated oven for 14 minutes.

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When they’re done they’ll have lightly golden tops and medium golden bottoms.

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Transfer your scones to a cooling rack to cool slightly before icing.

To make the icing, combine powdered sugar with coconut oil, water, and vanilla in a small bowl. Use a fork to drizzle the icing over the slightly cooled scones. (With the 4th being right around the corner, I chose to add star sprinkles to my scones before the icing set!)

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Vegan 'Sour Cream' Scones

  • Servings: 8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Ener-G egg replacer for 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour + more for board
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegan “sour cream”
  • 8 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla + an additional 1/8 teaspoon for icing
  • 1 cup of berries, fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. (optional)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Prepare the Ener-G egg replacer, in accordance with the instructions on the packaging, for 2 eggs. Set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare a large sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 flours with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the “sour cream,” “butter,” sugar, Ener-G prepared a moment ago, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Using two forks or a pastry cutter, blend the ingredients together until just combined.
  3. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a little to fully bring it together and incorporate any loose flour. If adding extra stuff like berries or nuts, pat the dough out to about a half an inch thick then press in whatever additional elements you want. Once everything has been pressed in, fold the dough sheet over onto itself sealing in all of the extras.
  4. Lift up the dough and add a little more flour to surface to prevent sticking. Re-form the dough into a flattened disk shape that is about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half thick. Using a large knife, slice the dough in halves until you get 8 even triangular pieces. Gently pick up each piece and place it onto the lined sheet pan. Bake the scones for 14 minutes. When done, let scones cool slightly before icing.
  5. To make icing, combine powdered sugar with coconut oil, water, and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Stir until smooth then use a fork to drizzle over the slightly cooled scones. Scones will keep fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry “Buttercream” Frosting

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Well, Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! (Or Galentine’s Day, or Singles Awareness Day, or whatever other name you have for February 14th!)

With the day o’ love coming up I decided to do a Valentine’s-inspired recipe this week. When I think of Valentine’s day, the first thing that comes to mind is that I’m single but, once I stop crying, the next thing, or rather things, that comes to mind are strawberries. Who doesn’t love a good fresh strawberry? I know I could eat them, and have eaten them, by the pint. Oh who am I kidding, I’ve eaten them by the pound before. #StrawberrySkank

So with strawberries in mind I decided to come up with a recipe for fresh and from scratch strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry “buttercream” frosting to go on top. Why did I take the time to let you know that they are not only fresh but also from scratch? Because 9 out of 10 strawberry cupcake/cake recipes you find out there are not fresh or from scratch. Most ask you to plop in some strawberry gelatin dessert mix and some just doctor up a box of strawberry cake mix -either way, no thank you. My recipe calls for real strawberries and that makes all the difference.

Oh look, here come some fresh, real strawberries right now…

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Beautiful, aren’t they?

The first step is to process the strawberries by hulling, halving, and then blending them up with some lemon juice until smooth and liquidy. My blender has an “extract” button which pulverizes whatever you put in there so I opted to use this feature with my strawberries to ensure that their tiny little seeds would not be floating around in my puree.

You will be using this puree in both the cupcakes and the frosting but you will have a little leftover to do something fun with or you know, you could just drink that leftover strawberry goodness right down, if you’re so inclined to do so. And I was.

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To get started on the cupcakes you’re going to whisk together the dry ingredients and then set them aside for a moment until they’re needed. (Pretty easy so far, right?!)

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Next you’re going to get the wet ingredients, including some of the strawberry puree, combined in a separate bowl.

One of the wet ingredients in this cupcake recipe is vegan strawberry yogurt. For this recipe I prefer a soy-based rather than nut-based yogurt and if your yogurt has bits of strawberries in it then you, like me, will have to scoop those out before you move on to the next step. We want out cupcakes to be light and lovely and not have little lumps in them so it’s important that you get those out. It’ll only take a minute, I promise.

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Once your wet ingredients are combined and the strawberry lumps from the yogurt have been removed, you can then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Should you desire a more pink-y cupcake you are more than welcome to add in a few drops of pink or red food coloring here but I personally wanted to keep my cupcakes au naturel.

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Fill your cupcake papers (12 to be precise) a smidge over halfway full then bake ’em for 20-25 minutes. When done, as with most cupcakes, a toothpick stuck in the center will come out clean.

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Transfer your little piggy pink beauties to a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.

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As for the frosting, it couldn’t be any easier to make a vegan “buttercream.” Simply combine the room temperature vegan butter, a little strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. With the mixer on low you’re going to slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer and whip a little air into your frosting for just a few seconds until it is light and fluffy. Again, if you’d prefer a more pink-y color you can add in some food coloring but as with the cupcakes, I went for the natural color which is a very pale shade of peachy pink.

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After you’ve allowed your cupcakes to cool fully you can then frost them with your strawberry “buttercream” frosting and add any little special touch you want to them -I added some itty bitty heart sprinkles because after all, these are Valentine’s cupcakes.

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Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes With Strawberry 'Buttercream' Frosting

  • Servings: 12
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the puree:
  • About 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegan strawberry yogurt (preferably soy-based)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, room temperature
  • About 1/3 cup strawberry puree
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • About 3 1/3 cups of powdered sugar

Directions

    For the puree:
  1. Combine both ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and liquidy.
  2. For the cupcakes:
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a muffin/cupcake pan by lining 12 cups with cupcake papers.
  4. In a medium or large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup mix the sugar, 1/2 cup of strawberry puree, melted vegan butter, almond milk, vegan strawberry yogurt, and vanilla together and stir to combine. If your strawberry yogurt has little bits of real strawberries in it then you’ll want to fish those out before you move on to the next step -we don’t want those in our cupcakes because they’ll make our cupcakes lumpy. If you desire a more pink-y cupcake you can add a couple drops of red or pink food coloring to the wet ingredients but this is completely optional.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake papers and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. When cupcakes are done, transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting. Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days and because of the fresh fruit in both them and the frosting they should be kept in the fridge when not being served.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. Combine the vegan butter, about 1/3 cup strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. If you desire a more pink-y frosting you can also add in a couple drops of red or pink food coloring but this is completely optional.
  9. With the mixer on low slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer to whip a little air into the frosting. Be sure to not overwork the frosting -it should only take a few seconds of mixing on a higher speed to get the frosting light and fluffy.

 

Vegan Double Chocolate Muffins

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Coffeehouses across the nation serve up a multitude of muffins each day and, while they are all damn tasty, one muffin reins supreme in my mind -the double chocolate muffin. This chocolatey delight is pretty much a chocolate cupcake left naked. In other words, it’s a socially acceptable way to eat a cupcake for breakfast. (Should you need that kind of approval.) But alas, I just can’t find these beauties (made vegan) anywhere near me so I’ve had to resort to making my own.

My super easy version of this coffeehouse classic includes 2 very special ingredients: black beans and instant espresso.

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Stay with me now. I swear, on the life of my stand mixer, that you can’t tell there are black beans in these muffins. So why even put them in there? Because they add a bunch of good stuff like iron, fiber, and protein, among other things. What about the espresso, why add that? The espresso amplifies the chocolate flavor, helps perk you up just a little, and adds a nice amount of bitterness to balance out the sweetness. These 2 ingredients make this recipe.

Whether for breakfast or for a snack, these deliciously decadent muffins are sure to satisfy your craving for chocolate while being a healthier alternative to traditional double chocolate muffins. And ladies, these are the best thing when you’re dealing with “girl flu.” #ChocolateAndIronForTheWinBitches

To begin with, I get the espresso powder doing its thing by mixing it with a some hot water. Then I set it aside until I’m ready for it.

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Next, I whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then set that aside until I need it. Be sure to whisk like you mean it and break down any clumps of cocoa powder you may have, otherwise your muffins won’t come together as nicely in the end.

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Now it’s time to get the wet ingredients, including the black beans and the espresso mixture, combined. For this I like to use my blender to get them all nice and smooth. Blending will especially be useful in helping to break down the black beans so that they become “hidden” in your muffins. If you don’t have a blender you could try using an immersion blender (aka stick blender), if you have one of those, otherwise perhaps plan to borrow someones blender and in return give them some of your muffins. (There’s enough to share and sharing is caring after all.)

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Once you’ve achieved liquidy goodness with the wet ingredients, you’re going to add them into the dry ingredients and stir just a little to start combining the two parts. Then, toss in the chocolate chips and fold everything together until fully combined.

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When fully combined, the batter will look heavenly. Seriously, if I could fill a bathtub with this mixture I would do it in a heartbeat. It’s so fluffy and luscious. I simply can’t stop looking at it. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

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After you’ve regained your composure, you can scoop the batter into your lined muffin pan. Be generous in filing the cups up -I fill them 3/4 of the way up, sometimes just a smidge more than that. The muffins will rise but up, not out, so don’t worry about them expanding onto the top of the pan and getting stuck or burning.

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Bake ’em for 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the tops are matte and firm to the touch. When they’re done, be sure to let them cool a little before serving.

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Vegan Double Chocolate Muffins

  • Servings: about 16 muffins
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Substitute for 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • About 3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a muffin pan by lining the cups.
  2. In a small bowl, combine espresso powder with hot water. Stir to combine then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour with cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk vigorously until no clumps remain then set aside.
  4. In a blender, combine espresso mixture with the black beans, almond milk, sugar, oil, egg substitute, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Once smooth, add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just a little to start combining them together. Add in the chocolate chips then fold everything together until completely combined.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes. When done, muffin tops will be matte and firm. Transfer muffins to cooling rack and let cool slightly before serving. Muffins will keep fresh on the counter in an airtight container for 2-3 days.