Monday, January 26, 2015

French Silk Pie

A few days ago, More than a year ago, I posted about really wanting to make a  vegan French Silk Pie. I based mine on this recipe, and it was a bit of a rough (though delicious) experience. The recipe I used for inspiration suggested you could use silken or firm tofu -- which maybe is true if you have a fancy VitaMix blender (which I now have access to). I actually use a pretty strong blender and it was upset by the tofu I used (labeled as "soft" though where I live, the "soft" tofu is just as firm as extra firm a lot of times). Therefore, I had to add more liquid than what I'm going to list here to make it so the blender could blend the tofu until very smooth. I used a combination of water and soymilk. If you find yourself in a similar situation, add liquid about 2 tablespoons at a time until your blender can work with the tofu (and later, the tofu and chocolate mixture). You don't want it soupy -- it should be about the consistency of well-mixed natural peanut butter when you're done.
This picture was taken on my phone, and
unfortunately I messed up putting on the raspberries!

The fun part about this recipe is that you can eat a pudding-like version of it pretty much right away, or you can let it sit in the refrigerator and firm up. I think the flavors are actually best if it's had about 24 hours to rest, so if you can make this in advance, please do.

French Silk Pie (vegan, gluten-free)
1 gf vegan pie crust, pressed into a pie pan or 8x11 baking dish

For filling:
12 oz mori-nu Silken Extra Firm or water-packed soft tofu
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (Do not omit, it REALLY makes the difference, so chocolatey.)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons not-milk of choice*
scant 1/8 tsp salt
8 oz dairy-free chocolate chips (I used about 1 cup)
2-3 tablespoons agave or other sweetener

*You may need more not-milk or water, depending on how soft (or firm) your tofu really is.

Blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until it is very smooth (you may need to add liquid at this point, depending on the consistency of your tofu). Set aside. Melt the chocolate on the stove top over low heat, until the chips are just melted (careful not to scorch). All all remaining ingredients to the blender, and blend until very smooth (again, depending on the consistency of your mixture you should add more liquid a little bit at a time), about the consistency of unrefrigerated, natural peanut butter.

For whipped topping:
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Raspberries, optional

Remove the can from the fridge. Turn it upside down and open it. Spoon out the solids and place in a chilled bowl. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar (and cinnamon, if using) and using a hand or electric beater, beat until it begins to resemble whipped cream. Spread over the top of the pie and refrigerate the whole thing until ready to serve.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Product Review: Barney Butter Almond Butter Cocoa & Coconut

I bought Barney Butter Almond Butter Cocoa + Coconut recently, because it was on sale at a local grocery store. I also wanted to treat myself because I'd just accepted (and signed the papers for) a new job. Barney Butter comes in a variety of almond-y goodness, including vanilla bean + espresso, honey + flax, and raw + chia.

I selected the cocoa + coconut variety because, frankly, I wanted chocolate in my nut butter. I've been on a quest for a chocolate-y nut butter that could remind me of Nutella, but which wasn't, in fact, Nutella. The Barney Butter Almond Butter Cocoa + Coconut is the closest I've come, and while it's admittedly been years since I've eaten Nutella (for a number of reasons I won't go into here), I think
it's safe to say that I prefer the taste of the Cocoa + Coconut combination Barney Butter makes.

I like that it has a distinct chocolate flavor (from Enjoy Life Chocolate chips, which I've previously reviewed here), but that this doesn't overwhelm my mouth with omgchocolate the way some other chocolate nut butters do -- nor does it leave me wanting to eat more simply to avoid that icky after-taste of some cheaper chocolates (ugh)! It is distinctly coconut-y, which I don't mind, but I know some tasters probably don't care for, and at the room temperature of my house (pretty cool this winter), it's quite thick. It's also incredibly smooth.

This nut butter separates -- or at least my jar had -- despite what the website says. I stirring it a bit more difficult than with most natural (pea)nut butters, but worth it. Once I stirred it, there wasn't a problem with it separating again.

For me, this will stay a special occasion nut butter -- even the plain varieties are pretty expensive, but it's one I'd consider gifting to foodie friends or to people who don't want more things in their life. I imagine it's also a product I'd splurge on for myself once in a while.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tea "Biscuits"

Ah, one of the joys of being an American is that a "biscuit" brings to mind something that you use as a side dish -- to pretty much any meal. You can have gravy on it (sorry, not my thing) or wedge a sausage patty in it. You can put it as a side to a dinner of meat (or not) and greens. You can spread jam or honey on it. You can do a lot of things to a biscuit. And, depending on where in the country you live, biscuits might be fluffy (Southern influence) or thinner and crispier (Northern influence).


But, Americans don't usually hear biscuit and think "a sweet."

These tea biscuits are definitely more like cookies, if you're an American reader. They're sweet (yet have protein because of the g-bean flour!), and very versatile. The original recipe comes from the Flying Apron Bakery Cookbook, and calls for placing beautiful little berries in the center of each cookie. That's yummy (and frozen blueberries work great, btw). But you can also season these with sweet spices and create something that's (still) totally appropriate for eating with a mug of hot tea (or coffee), any time of day.

I make my tea biscuits much smaller than the original recipe recommends (it recommends baseball sized, mine are closer to golf-ball sized -- but then, I'm also not selling them in a bakery). A thought about this: If you're making them for a fundraiser or something along those lines, definitely make them big. I didn't have to make much of an adjustment to the baking time, so you should only need to leave them in for a few extra minutes. 

I like that these come together pretty quickly (though they do want to hang out in the refrigerator for a few hours -- you can make the dough in advance and just make a few at a time this way), but they will leave your hands sticky (something I'm less thrilled about). I recommend making the dough as listed below, and then modifying it however you'd like (suggestions also below, probably you don't want to try all the variations at the same time).

Tea Biscuits
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon garbanzo bean flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup canola oil
Scant 1 cup cane sugar
1 cup soy milk
Berries (optional)

Additions (probably only try 1-2 at a time, based on preference):
1/2-1 cup mini vegan gf chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)
4-5 drops pure orange oil (a little goes a long, long way -- and orange essence is not the same thing)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup minced, candied ginger

Combine the brown rice flour, garbanzo bean flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl (or if you have a stand mixer, in that), beat together the canola oil and cane sugar until well mixed. Stir in the flour mixture and the soy milk a little at a time, alternating, until well mixed. Chill* the dough at least three hours (it can go less, but believe me, you want that garbanzo bean flour to hydrate).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place golf ball sized balls of dough on a cookie sheet that has been greased or covered with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart (these don't spread much). Lightly flatten the balls with the palm of your hand. If you're using berries, press 2-3 into the top of each cookie.

Bake until golden and firm to the touch, about 20-24 minutes.

Stir in the mix-in to some (or all) of the dough before you let it rest in the refrigerator. If you're only making a few cookies and want to try out one of these options, I definitely recommend reducing the amount of ingredient you're choosing to mix in. You don't want to overpower the delicate flavors in these tea biscuits.