Vegan Date Squares

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This adapted Smitten Kitchen recipe is a great way to use dates in a dessert or breakfast square/bar. Dates are very sweet and therefore very little sugar is needed in this vegan recipe.

Ingredients:

Ingredients for the filling:

3 cups pitted dates, chopped
1 ½ cups water
Zest of a mandarin/clementine/orange

Ingredients for the crumbs:

4 tbsp. demerara brown sugar
½ cup raw or turbinado sugar
1 cup olive or coconut oil
1 ½ cups large flake oats
1 ½ cups plus 4 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. dried nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, combines dates, water and zest over low heat, simmering for 10 minutes, until liquid has absorbed and mixture has thickened.

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Set aside while you make the crumbs.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the sugar and oil together.

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Add the oats, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt and pulse until the mixture forms a coarse rubble.

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Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

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Dollop the date mixture over it and use a small offset spatula to spread the mixture smoothly over the crumbs.  Sprinkle remaining crumbs over date layer and press lightly to cover.

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Bake bars for 25 minutes, or until light brown at the edges.  Cool in pan and then cut into squares.  These freeze well.

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Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These delicious vegan chocolate chunk cookies are easy to make. Possibly one of the best tasting cookies I have ever made.

These are always a hit and disappear quickly.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
2 ½ sticks (10 oz.) unsalted pareve margarine softened at room temperature
4 tbsp. espresso powder
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips/chunks
¼ cup granulated sugar for dipping

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine, coffee, and sugars until well combined.

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Stir in the flour mixture about ½ cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

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Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the granulated sugar in a small, shallow bowl. Scoop out about 1 tbsp dough and flatten it slightly into a disk. Dip one side into the granulated sugar and then set the disk, sugar side up, on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the disks about 2 inches apart.

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Bake until the edges start to darken, 12 to 14 minutes.

IMG_2127.jpgLet the cookies cool for 1 to 2 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer them to paper-towel-lined cooling racks to cool completely.

Yield: 41 cookies.

Science Fact of the Week:

Packing the brown sugar means pushing it firmly into the measuring cup. This compacts the brown sugar to ensure the correct measurement. Otherwise people can end up utilizing incorrect measurements of sugar.

Raisin Bran Muffins

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These high fibre muffins were actually the first thing that I ever baked many years ago.  I was looking for a recipe that was “healthy” and tasted great without all of the preservatives and less nutritious ingredients that store bought muffins tend to have. Over the years I’ve modified the recipe, but these muffins are still lovingly referred to in our house as “Poo Muffins” because of their high fibre content.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup natural wheat bran
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup All-Bran Buds
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tbsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk/soy milk/buttermilk
1/2 cup orange/apple/pomegranate juice
1 egg and 1 egg white
1/2 cup demerara style brown sugar
1/4 cup olive/grapeseed/canola oil
1/8 cup fancy molasses
raw sugar/turbinado sugar and large flake oats (about 1/4 tsp. each per muffin), optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F.

1) In a large bowl, combine wheat bran, oat bran, All-Bran, flours, baking soda, salt and raisins
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2) In a separate bowl, stir together remaining ingredients and mix well.
3) Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir together until just mixed.
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4) Spoon mixture into paper lined muffin tins and sprinkle muffins with  raw sugar/turbinado sugar and large flake oats.
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6) Bake for 18 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly touched.   Makes 12 muffins.
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You can make extra batter and keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before baking off more muffins.  These freeze well in ziploc type bags.

Science Fact of the Week:

Dietary fibre has been shown to have numerous health benefits. There is a reason we call these “Poo Muffins”. Beyond keeping you regular, these muffins may decrease inflammation of the gut and help reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

Blueberry Peach Crisp

As the Patriarch of the family, I was told I should take the lead for this first post. I opted to post a staple in this household: Fruit Crisp.

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We make seasonal variations of this crisp year round. In the winter, apple-pear, and in the summer, blueberry-peach.

Always a crowd pleaser, this crisp is easy to throw together in a pinch.

Ingredients:

For the fruit base:

8 peaches, peeled and sliced into large chunks
2 dry pints (approximately 4 cups) fresh blueberries, washed
1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup large flake oats
3/4 cup demerara style brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 sticks vegan margarine, cold, cut into cubes (eg. Earth Balance)

Directions:

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Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix fruit base ingredients into large bowl and transfer to a 9×13-inch pyrex dish.

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Pulse the flour, oats, sugars, nutmeg and cinnamon in a food processor until well mixed.  Add the margarine and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

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Top the fruit with the mixture and bake for 45-50 minutes until fruit is bubbly.

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This is our family’s traditional Friday night/Shabbat dessert in the summer when peaches and blueberries are fresh.  The crisp can be kept covered with foil and warmed until it is time to serve.  It also is a great Sunday evening cottage finale.  The topping can be made up to 2 days before and refrigerated in a large ziploc type bag.

Recipe can also be adapted to be made in individual ramekins. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

To make this gluten-free: You may substitute the all-purpose flour with a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour and swap the oats for gluten-free oats.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for 2-3 days and served cold or reheated.

Science Fact of the Week:

Blueberries are rich with anthocyanins. In fact, anthocyanin levels are significantly higher in blueberries compared to other berries such as strawberries and raspberries. Anthocyanins can be considered antioxidants, and may be linked to a decreased risk of cancer and lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes.