Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies

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Oatmeal Cream Pies have a special place in my heart. As I child, I was sent to Tennessee on occasion to visit my grandparents in the summertime along with my younger brother. This wasn’t exactly a warm, happy time in my Huckleberry youth. Don’t get me wrong. My grandparents were wonderful people, but the Tennessee summers were humid and the town of retirees where they lived was boring and my grandfather would frequently complain that we wouldn’t feel so much like strangers if my parents could afford the airfare for visits more often… like my cousins enjoyed.

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Perhaps more trying than the humidity or the emotional distance that was then blamed on my parents was the food. While I was repeatedly assured that my grandmother was once a cook of notable talents, the unusual concoctions she set before us at every meal was a daily lesson in the many trials of the human condition. My brother and I would exchange glances over sandwiches made from Wonder Bread with cold, smushed-up hot dogs spread throughout the center, daring each other to take a bite while internally gauging our hunger to determine if we finally reached that point where we would actually “eat anything.”

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The one saving grace on those summer trips was a convenience store located behind a short stretch of woods at the edge of my grandparents’ yard. After canned milk and wheat bricks for breakfast, and before smushed-up hot dogs or plain soggy egg noodles churched up with a can of tuna fish arrived for dinner, we would sneak through the woods for glass bottles of orange soda and oatmeal cream pies.

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There was something very unifying for my brother and me in these summer jaunts. Despite all the bickering we engaged in back home, out here we were in this together. Together, we rationed the money our mom gave us before we got on the plane. Together, we would journey through the woods which, for two desert rats, was a spooky place of strange bugs and poison ivy and maybe even bats. Together, we would negotiate the strange accents of rural Tennessee to finalize our purchase of pop and oatmeal cream pies. And then we would head back, pausing under some picturesque tree or seated together on a felled tree long enough to enjoy the spoils of our adventure.

Oftentimes, it was just about twenty-four hours since the last food we both chewed and swallowed. The sun was warm but nothing like the blistering Arizona heat we were accustomed to as we devoured Orange Crush and Oatmeal Cream Pies. I can still call to mind that flavor combination during those sticky summers in Tennessee.vegan-oatmeal-cream-pie-3

I honestly thought nothing could supplant that perfect memory in my mind. Those thin disks of chewy oatmeal cookies encasing a rubbery layer of  sugary “cream”. Well, turns out, Dana has something even better. She managed to take that corner store classic and fancy it up for a dessert worthy of guests.

Fresh baked (vegan) oatmeal cookies sandwiched around a delicious layer of cinnamon cream. For her oatmeal cookie recipe, Dana modified an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe found in this awesome cookbook: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Then she added her special cinnamon cream to the middle to really make this treat pop.

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Dana prefers using Frontier’s Organic Vietnamese Cinnamon and suggests having some pastry bags on hand (always a good idea for bakers).

And, last but certainly not least, a special note from Dana: “One great thing about this recipe is that you can make these any size. Mini pies, giant pies, you name it.”

Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies

Ingredients

    For the Cookies:
  • 2/3 cups 'milk' (I used coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 cups canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • For the Cinnamon Cream Filling:
  • 1 3/4 - 2 cups shortening (I like Spectrum brand)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk milk and flax seeds together until well combined. Whisk in oil and brown sugar until it is caramel-like. This takes a few minutes, so don't give up! Once oil and sugar are well mixed, add in vanilla.
  3. Sift in dry ingredients and mix as you go. Once everything is well incorporated, fold in the oatmeal.
  4. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment and spray with non-stick spray of choice (if using). The cookie dough will be kind of sticky. I like to use gloves and try to form a ball (or something close to it), drop it onto the sheet and flatten it a bit. If you don't have gloves, just drop tablespoons of dough onto the sheet and flatten. (Flatten as much as you like to achieve the size you want, as these don't spread out much when baking.) Bake 10-12 minutes. Once out of the oven, let sit for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.
  5. While cookies are in the oven, you can begin to make the filling. (Of course, you can make this while cookies are cooling, too).
  6. Place room temperature shortening in a large bowl. With a hand mixer, whisk it up until it has a creamy consistency. Add powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Add cinnamon and vanilla. The filling should be the texture of what you might use as cupcake frosting. If it seems too dry, add a (very) small splash of 'milk'. You can adjust the amount of sugar and cinnamon to your liking. Over time, you'll figure out how to get it just right for YOU.
  7. Once the cinnamon filling is ready and cookies are cooled, you're ready to put these pies together. Spoon or pipe filling onto the bottom of one cookie, then top with another. Presto! You're done!
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Simple Vegan Chocolate Mousse – Only 5 Ingredients!!

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It seems like adulthood is defined by an endless litany of tasks. One must clean the floors and launder the clothes and prepare the food and pay the bills. And let’s not even get into the drudgery that can accompany the monetary requirements of bills. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

And, let me tell you, it’s been one of those weeks. It seems like every time I scratch on thing off my to-do list, I’m reminded of five more things that need to be added. Between work and blogging (more work) and family and household needs and trying to squeeze in a little time for my creative outlets, I’m feeling a bit tapped out. To top it all off, I agreed to entertain guests at my home this very same evening.

What on Earth was I thinking? Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my friends, both new and old. I’m a warm and fuzzy kind of gal underneath the veneer of smudgy eyeliner and self-depreciating jokes. And, as I’ve gotten older, my maternal side has started to stir. Not an actual desire to bear children (dear gods), but a need to nurture those that I love.

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Usually, this expresses itself in two ways. First, I mother-hen fully grown, and perfectly capable, adults. I do this by asking impertinent questions about the well-being of those around me. Sometimes, I apologize afterward when I see that I’ve crossed some invisible line in the sands that divide normative, friendly chitchat from full-blown, Jewish-mother interrogation. But, usually, I don’t. After all, if you are my friend, you’re going to have to learn, sooner or later, that I am a word garble of emotional transparency. Deal or distance. Those are your options.

The other form of expression this emerging maternal natures takes on is a need to feed. I recognize the irony in this because I do, in fact, hate to cook. I learned, however, that I love to feed. Give me a table full of people who have subsisted on Jack-in-the-Box for a week straight (aka, many of my friends) and I will do my best to fill them with nutrient-rich, home-cooked food. I enjoy doing it which is weird in that my sixteen-year-old self could never have anticipated this shift.

And, because I inherited a strong sense of propriety from my mother’s copy of Miss Manners which was prominently displayed on our coffee table for the first fourteen years of my life, I also feel that if you invite people over for dinner, you should serve dessert. Dessert takes a perfunctory meal and turns it into a social experience. After all, one must finish their meal, allow a reasonable amount of time for digestion, and only then is it time for dessert.simple-vegan-chocolate-mousse-1

Dessert gives your guest time to pause, to kibbitz, without feeling rushed to head back home once the feeding is done. But, if you’ll go back with me a few paragraphs, I’m swamped and I have to prepare dinner for a group. I don’t want to do something lame, like buy a box of Oreos from the grocery store, but who has time to prepare dessert? And yet, dessert is essential.

Once again, Dana swoops into rescue me. This handy dandy recipe for Simple Vegan Chocolate Mousse is one I plan on printing and keeping on hand from here to eternity. Just five ingredients and a few hands-on minutes can lead to a rich, decadent, VEGAN dessert that will impress your guests.

In fact, I’m going to make it this very same night for our dinnertime visitors. And that will still leave me enough time to prepare the meal, straighten up around the house, and maybe, just maybe, sneak in a twenty minute nap with my dog. Hell, I might even bathe just because, you know, company.

And, as per usual, Dana offered a few suggestions to make this dish your own. She says, “This tastes great topped with coconut whipped cream, fresh berries, or crunched up cookies. The cookies I used were found at an international market and are delicious!”

Ready to chill!

Ready to chill!

I’m going to take the baker’s advice and make a quick stop at the international grocer on the way home to snag some tasty cookies to crumble on top my Simple Vegan Chocolate Mousse. And, as an added touch, I happen to have some Vegan Coconut Whipped Cream ready for that final dollop on top.

Dessert, boom! Today, I’m winning at adulthood.

Simple Vegan Chocolate Mousse – Only 5 Ingredients

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Simple Vegan Chocolate Mousse – Only 5 Ingredients

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, blend tofu, milk, agave and vanilla. Blend until smooth and mixture does not have a 'grainy' look or texture. Be sure to scrape down the sides and get all those rogue tofu bits!
  2. Melt chocolate chips over medium heat. (A good nonstick pan and silicon spatula are really your friend here) I would suggest adding a tablespoon of non-dairy milk to help in the melting process. Sometimes the chocolate can really clump up and the milk will help keep it nice and smooth.
  3. Let melted chocolate cool for 5 minutes or so, then add to tofu mixture in processor and blend again. Blend until chocolate is well incorporated.
  4. Pour mousse into a bowl and cover. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Scoop and enjoy!

Notes

Cooling Time makes up most of the Total Time!!

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Vegan Honeycomb Candy

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I don’t know if you have a favorite holiday, but mine is Halloween. Hands down. The winter-gift-giving holidays are a little too much stress on the approach. And, although I enjoy the gluttony of the event, Thanksgiving requires a little too much prep time now that I’m an adult. As a child, it was all parades and naps and extra pie. Now, it’s dishes in the ovens and don’t forget the rolls.

Halloween, however, is simply a joyous event… especially for a coroner’s daughter. All the weird and creepy things I like – owls, witches, ghosts, strange creatures that lurk in the night – are celebrated. It’s a chance to step out of these mortal coils and assume a character of epic proportions. Or, at the very least, to get drunk with your friends while eating dubious amounts of candy and wearing devil horns.

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Gather your ingredients!

At this point in my life, I’m not much of a drinker and I really am not too keen to waste the calories on gorging myself on a pillowcase full of candy. But, I’m not going to allow my burgeoning adult tendencies to diminish my appreciation of Halloween.

No way. Thankfully, as per usual, Dana is ready to rush to my rescue. Her Vegan Honeycomb Candy satisfies my seasonal sweet tooth and it’s both Vegan (no honey) and Chocolate-Free. Best yet, you can whip up this recipe in virtually no time at all.

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Keep an eye on your thermometer!

Usually, I save my annual chocolate allotment for Halloween, but, if you remember from last week, I used my yearly dosage on Dana’s Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie so I might have to skip my Peanut Butter Snickers plan. TOTALLY WORTH IT. Now that I have this Vegan Honeycomb Candy recipe, I have no need for Mars, Inc. and their factory-produced riffraff.

And, now that candy is covered, all I have left to worry about is my costume. Usually, I try to come up with something different. That means, I usually go as something nobody gets. In case you didn’t follow that thought through to the end, that means I usually come up with dumb costumes. Dumb costumes seem to be my lot in life, but that doesn’t prevent me from throwing myself into the whole process with everything I’ve got.

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This candy looks ready to pour.

This year I think I’m going to go as a book fairy. When I told my 7-year-old nephew, he asked, rather poignantly, “Is that a costume you buy or a costume you make?” I told him I would be making my costume and he said, “Oh,” with as much disdain as you can pack into a single syllable.

Well, that tiny Storm Trooper is in for one hell of a surprise. I’m going to get to work on my wings this week and start tearing apart old Anne Rice novels for the construction process. Her books are, after all, the only ones I feel comfortable disemboweling for this costume project. It’s going to be the best dumb costume I’ve come up with yet.

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Transfer your candy from pot to pan. Some wax paper or parchment can save you on the clean-up side.

And, with an offering of Vegan Honeycomb Candy, my guests will be distracted from the piecemeal assemblage I will be inevitably wearing with excessive pride – flashing lights, pink hair, and all.

This candy is extra sweet and you can dress it up to suit your taste. Dana says, “If you break the candy into fairly big pieces, it can be dipped in melted chocolate for extra deliciousness. It can also be broken up in to small pieces and used as a topping for ice cream or for garnishing cakes, cupcakes, donuts… you name it!”

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The candy is ready to be broken into pieces… my favorite part.

Vegan Honeycomb Candy

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Vegan Honeycomb Candy

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP water
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda (be sure there are no clumps)

Instructions

  1. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray of choice.
  2. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT baking soda in a fairly deep saucepan,
  3. Heat ingredients over medium high heat until it reaches 270 degrees (approximately 12 minutes or so). The mixture should be golden brown. You can try to eyeball it, but this is where a candy thermometer is really useful. It's easy to take it off the heat too soon, in which case the candy won't set up properly. It's also easy to let it go for too long, in which case the candy will taste burned. Yuck!
  4. Once mixture has reached the appropriate temperature, remove from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. The baking soda will cause the mixture to foam up significantly (like your old science fair volcano), which is why you want to use a deep-ish pan for this.
  5. After the baking soda is incorporated into the mixture, pour into prepared 8x8 pan and let sit until candy hardens (usually about 30-45 minutes). Break into pieces and enjoy!
  6. This candy is pretty sweet, so be ready!
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Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie

05doneanddecorated2Guys, guys, guys… you know how last week, I told you that if you worked on that Coconut Whipped Cream, we’d find a way to put it to good use? Well, this is it! Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie! I still hope you’ve been enjoying that whipped cream in the meantime whether on top of your desserts or hot chocolate or spooned directly into your mouth.

Dana’s Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie will satisfy all the needs of your mortal being. Most of them, anyway. The name says it all. Vegan. Chocolate. Cream. Pie.

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Now, chocolate and I have a difficult past. I have a rare, and difficult to pronounce, seizure-related neurological condition. As a result, Chocolate is not my friend but I loved her in years past. Oh yes, I did. The breakup was traumatic – more for me than her, I’m afraid. We still meet up twice a year to remember old times: once on Halloween when I eat a mini Peanut Butter Snickers and once more at an arbitrarily selected time when I decide that I need chocolate.

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I try to postpone this Glorious Chocolate Moment for as long as I can during the year and usually can make it until June, at the very least. Perhaps it goes without saying that since I was introduced to Dana that everyone of these Glorious Chocolate Moments were brought on by items she prepared.

Don’t believe me? Allow me to recount them for you now…

2013: Dana’s salted chocolate chip cookie. (Oooh, I should definitely make her share this recipe.)

2014: Dana’s Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie

2015: Dana’s Chocolate Mint Cupcake (We need this recipe too.)

2016: Dana’s Raspberry Swirl Brownies (I think at this point we should, as a group, demand a chocolate-themed month of recipes.)

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And now, in a momentous turn of events, I decided I’m going to skip the Snickers entirely this year and just eat this pie. Maybe all of it. Probably not all of it. After all, I live with other people. I can’t just eat an entire pie in front of them in good conscious. No, I’ll share, but I’ll do so with resentment. And, as much as I hate to admit it, sharing might save me a trip to the hospital. So… there’s that too.

To make this pie, you’ll either need to procure or produce your pie crust. I suggest Dana’s Vegan Pie Dough for all your pie crust needs. This crust will add a rich and subtle flavor that won’t detract from the sweetness of your chocolate cream filling. And, of course, you can top your slice with a dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream for a desert that will make you write home. Best of all, everything is vegan!

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And Dana has some suggestions if you want to get sassy with your Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie. She says, and I quote, “This pie is really versatile if you like to mix it up with different flavors. Add orange zest for a tasty chocolate orange pie! Add cayenne and cinnamon for Mexican hot chocolate pie! Stir in fresh berries while pudding mixture is cooling for a super delicious, best-of-both-worlds kind of treat. It’s all delicious!”

Once you have the basics of this Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie down, you really can’t lose. You can change it up to suit your mood. And, right now, my mood says “Chocolate!”

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • Pie dough/crust for one 9" pie (Pie Dough Recipe Here)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Roll out dough and bake for 10-12 minutes. This is the only baking the crust will get, so be sure it's nice and golden!
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, whisk together dry ingredients. Once those are well mixed, whisk in both milks. Whisk well to get out any lumps.
  4. Heat to a boil, whisking frequently until mixture thickens. (Be sure to get in there and scrape along the bottom of the pan since the cornstarch likes to settle down there with the cocoa powder). Once is reaches the consistency of pudding, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla.
  5. Pour mixture into pre-baked crust, let cool 10 or so minutes, then put in fridge to cool. Give it a good 2 hours to set up for best results and easiest slicing.
  6. Once pie is cooled, top with coconut whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, fresh fruit, or nothing at all. Slice it up and enjoy!!
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Coconut Whipped Cream

Coconut Whipped Cream (1)

Oh sweet Jesus. There’s a vegan version of whipped cream?? Dana’s been opening my eyes to cruelty-free culinary wonders since we embarked on this little blogging adventure together. And, now, all those sweet treats can now can topped with a dollop of whipped cream! Or maybe I’ll just sit here and spoon it shamefully into my mouth before my fella gets home.

And, with the holiday season approaching, that dollop of Coconut Whip Cream on a slice of Thanksgiving pie or plopped into a steaming mug of hot chocolate can take your dessert from simple to stellar. The best part yet? It only takes minutes to whip up this Coconut Whip Cream.

There is, however, some chilling involved. The can of coconut cream should be left in the refrigerator overnight so it can reach the right consistency before you begin. These days canned coconut cream is becoming easier to find. I suggest looking in the Southeast Asian section of your local supermarket. Or the Thai section of your local Asian Market. Also, both Trader Joe’s and Sprouts offer their own brand.

Coconut Milk

And, just a quick note from Dana, “Most coconut whipped cream recipes call for chilling a can of coconut milk and scraping off the cream to use. I find using a can of straight up coconut cream eliminates a good amount of the frustration of trying to separate the cream and liquid of the coconut milk method. However, if you’d prefer to use the milk, that’ll work, too!”

The addition of vanilla is optional, but it adds a nice hint of flavor to your Coconut Whip Cream. This recipe is an excellent one to print out and keep on hand. Especially considering the recipe we have lined up for you next week (hint).

 

Coconut Whipped Cream

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • I can of coconut cream* (not milk)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (if desired)

Instructions

  1. Refrigerate can of coconut cream overnight. You want the cream to be as solid as possible.
  2. Chill a (preferably stainless steel bowl) in freezer for about 10-15 minutes prior to whipping the cream. Keeping everything as cold as possible is ideal.
  3. Empty solidified coconut cream into chilled bowl. Try to avoid getting any liquid in the bowl with the cream as the liquid will hinder the process.
  4. Using a hand mixer, give solidified cream a quick whisk. Add in powdered sugar (and vanilla, if using) a bit at a time. And mix with hand mixer for 5-8 minutes. Be sure to mix well and get some air in there to fluff it up! After about 5 minutes of mixing, cream should start to form peaks. Mix until cream holds relatively strong, soft peaks.
  5. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or overnight). After a couple of hours, the consistency should be fairly firm and... whipped creamy!
  6. Use within a day or two, this doesn't last too long in the fridge. Fortunately, it's delicious, so it probably won't be a problem to make it disappear.
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Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts

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Fall is coming. And I don’t know about you, but are few things I love more than curling up with a book and a cup of Earl Grey tea (with lemon) on those first chilly days of the season. Well, that is, there was nothing better until I discovered Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts.

Vegan Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts

Infused-milk is easy to make, but you have to wait for it to cool!

What is better than donuts? World peace, maybe? Probably nothing in actual existence, however. And, Dana’s Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts just about beat all. The embody Autumn. Just imagine curling up with a book, a steaming cup of coffee, and a freaking Earl Grey & Lemon Donut. Boom! It’s like a rain dance for sweater weather.

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Once your milk is properly infused, just strain it out and let it cool.

It is my not-so-secret desire to become a snowbird so that I might exist in a perpetual state of cardigans and tights. This Earl Grey & Lemon Donut allows me to to transcend the too-hot and too-cold. Through them, I can create an Eternal Autumn in my mind.

Vegan Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts4

Using a plastic bag or pastry bag to pour your batter into the pan helps reduce the mess and makes for some picturesque donuts!

And, these donuts are not nearly as difficult to make as you might think. The majority of the prep time comes from waiting for the milk-infusion to cool. After that, you’re pretty much home free. Dana also reminded us to be cautious when it comes time to make your Lemon Icing. The powdered sugar absorbs liquid quickly so you’ll want to add it slowly.

Vegan Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts5

While your donuts are in the oven, whip up some Lemon Icing!

Additionally, a microplaner will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to zesting lemons, if you don’t already have one. We suggest this one – Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater– but the choice is yours! Also, you’ll need some Agar Powder. We recommend this one – Telephone Brand Agar- Agar Powder 0.88 Oz. (pack of 6).. Agar is made from algae and provides a vegan alternative to gelatin so it’s good to have on hand.

Vegan Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts6

I know, I know. They look amazing, but you’re going to want to wait before eating the donuts because (a) they are hot and (b) you still need to ice them.

Hopefully, I’m not spilling any trade secrets but Dana also applies this Earl Grey & Lemon flavor combination to cupcakes which are oh-so-amazing. Maybe we can coerce her into sharing that recipe a little bit up the road. But I ask you, once again, what is better than a donut?

Vegan Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts7

Iced and ready to go!

Pair these Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts with a damn fine cup of coffee and start your day off right. Or, if you want to get self-referential with it, pair them with some Earl Grey tea. As long as a donut’s involved, you win. And, as ever, these Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts are baked and VEGAN so that negates the donut part, right? I hereby declare these donuts a health food! Besides, good for your soul is good all around.

 

Earl Grey & Lemon Donuts

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of Earl Grey-infused milk (ingredients included above & instructions included below)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP applesauce
  • For the Earl Grey-infused milk:
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used coconut, soy, almond or any other could be used, too)
  • 2-3 bags of Earl Grey tea, cut open
  • For the Lemon Icing:
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 1/2 - 2 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp agar powder*

Instructions

  1. To make the Earl Grey-infused milk, pour milk into a medium sized pot. Cut open tea bags and empty contents into the milk.
  2. Heat over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove tea 'grounds'. Allow milk to cool to room temperature or refrigerate for a bit to cool. Can take up to an hour so be prepared.
  4. In a small-ish bowl, combine Earl Grey infused milk, oil, acv and applesauce. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix with a whisk or a fork to be sure there are no lumps and everything is well incorporated.
  6. Add lemon zest to flour mixture and give another quick stir.
  7. Make a well in the center and add milk mixture. Using a spatula, stir to combine. Be sure there are no lumps and everything is well mixed while being careful not to OVERmix.
  8. Spray a donut pan with the non-stick spray of your choice. Pipe or spoon batter into prepared pan.
  9. Bake 8-10 minutes - Cool on a rack
  10. To make the Lemon Icing, combine powdered sugar, lemon zest, and agar powder in a large bowl while the donuts are cooling.
  11. Give it a quick stir to combine all ingredients.
  12. Add half of the lemon juice and combine with a fork. Powdered sugar absorbs liquid easily,so be careful not to add too much at once. Add remaining liquid a little bit at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Icing should be thick, but not like a paste. It is not necessary to use all of the lemon juice, adding too much will give you a runny glaze (which could also be delicious).
  13. The agar powder will give help set the icing and keep it from 'sweating'.
  14. Once donuts are cooled, dip the top into the icing to coat. I usually place some parchment paper under the cooling rack to catch any icing that drips off... easy clean-up!
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Orange Blossom Blueberry Pie

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It’s time for me to make a confession. I am the child of a weird eater. It’s true, my mother goes beyond picky to fully embodied food neurosis. When she served Tuna Helper (oh yeah) back in the 80s, she would be the one to push her peas and carrots to the perimeter of her plate. She didn’t try a strawberry until she was 59 years old. Think about that. Not a single strawberry until the close of her sixth decade. Other things she dislikes without having tried include corn dogs, macaroni and cheese, and 99% of the produce section at your nearby grocery store.

Blueberry-PIe_02

So it probably goes without saying that I didn’t really get a lot of exposure to exotic or, for that matter, even relatively mundane foods until I got a little older. I had my first slice of pumpkin pie when I was sixteen and it was a couple years later that I discovered, and fell in love with, blueberry pie.

This wasn’t just a fickle love affair. Our love has stood the test of time. Every Thanksgiving, I request blueberry pie. And, it’s a pie holiday and I’m a pie person, so that’s a serious commitment.

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If you fast forward several years from that initial bite, you’ll find me sitting in a diner in downtown Phoenix savoring the most perfect slice of blueberry pie in the history of blueberry pies. It had a rich, golden crust and a hauntingly familiar undertone I couldn’t quite name (but later learned was Orange Blossom Water). Sweet, but not too sweet. Perfect.

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Dana has mastered Blueberry Pie and, believe me, I am well-versed. The inclusion of Orange Blossom Water is, of course, optional, but I highly recommended procuring some for your pie. It works swell in other baked goods and beverages – two of our favorite things – so we like to keep it on hand.

If you want to be super cute, you can use Dana’s cookie cutter method to make the crust. Just make sure you you roll out the crust a little thick so the shape keeps in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden.

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This is the bee’s knees of Blueberry Pies. The Blueberry Pie. Dana’s own (no-longer-secret) Orange Blossom Blueberry Pie.

If you want to keep things Vegan, I recommend using our Pie Crust Recipe from last week (available here).  And, if you have trouble locating Orange Blossom Water, you can always find it here.

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Orange Blossom Blueberry Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cardamom or ginger
  • 1 TBSP Orange Blossom Water (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/4 Cup tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 1/4 Cup flour 1-2 TBSP turbinado sugar (granulated sugar is okay too)
  • 1 1/2 TBSP melted butter (Earth Balance preferred)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare and pre-bake bottom crust for 10 minutes, let cool.
  3. Combine blueberries, brown sugar, lemon juice, cardamom or ginger and orange blossom water (if using). Stir together.
  4. Stir in flour and tapioca starch or cornstarch. These will thicken the blueberry mixture so you don't end up with a soupy pie. Let sit for a few minutes.
  5. Add filling to pre-baked pie crust.
  6. Roll out dough for top crust and drape over pie (don't forget to cut some slits into the top so the steam can escape!) or cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. If you choose to cut out shapes, I find rolling the dough out a bit on the thick side will give you sturdy shapes that will be easy to place on top of the filling.
  7. Brush top crust with melted butter and sprinkle sugar over the top.
  8. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  9. Let cool completely, slice, and enjoy!
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http://smallfrypie.com/2016/08/07/orange-blossom-blueberry-pie/

Dana’s Vegan Pie Dough

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Well, folks, it’s been a busy month. We hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes we’ve brought you thus far. It was certainly exciting to see some bakers out there tackling Dana’s Strawberry Jalapeno Pie. Please feel free to post pictures of your completed projects in the comments below and don’t forget to tell us about your modifications. We love hearing about all the food fun!

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In hindsight, we probably should have started with this recipe. After all, Dana’s awesome Vegan Pie Crust is an elemental component in every pie she makes. And, in the interest of transparency, it was her pie crust that first sparked my foodie bond with this baker.

The crust is rich despite the lack of butter; melting in your mouth to fuse with the flavor of the filling. Dana limits the sugar so the pie crust isn’t overly sweet – that’s what the inside is all about!

The trick is to get a nice, pebbly texture when you’re mixing the dough. You can see that in the picture below. If you’re crust is too dry, add a little extra dollop of Earth Balance. Some flours are more absorbent than others.c4e04916-6c9d-4e13-95eb-5a244f2fa833

We have quite a few pie recipes lined up for you this year so this is a great recipe to print out and keep on hand. You can make this pie crust ahead of time and freeze it for future use. Or you can store it in your refrigerator for a few days.

Dana’s Vegan Pie Dough

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups flour
  • 3TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-6 TBSP vegan butter (Earth Balance is preferred), cold
  • 3/4 - 1 cup vegan shortening (Spectrum brand is preferred), cold
  • 1/4 Cup ice water
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. I like to give them a quick whisk.
  2. Add half of the cold butter and shortening, about a tablespoon at a time. Incorporate butter and shortening by cutting it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or with fingers. I prefer the hands on approach, so I use my hands for this part.
  3. Combine until the mixture is a bit sandy and pea sized bits of dough begin to form.
  4. Add remaining butter and shortening, and cut into the flour. Use cutter or fingers to work into flour mixture.
  5. At this point, the dough should be starting to come together. Drizzle in the ice water/apple cider vinegar and knead a bit until the dough begins to hold together. Use as much or as little as needed. Remember not to overwork the dough, or you will end up with a tough pie crust.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 balls. Wrap in plastic and flatten into discs.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  8. Take dough out of refrigerator about 15 minutes prior to use or rolling out. Don't let it get too warm, just warm enough to be pliable. Keep it as cool/cold as possible until it's ready to go into the oven.
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http://smallfrypie.com/2016/07/31/danas-vegan-pie-dough/

Hibiscus Lemonade

hibiscus lemonadeOneAs July nears its end, I have to continually remind myself that summer will steadily reach its conclusion. It’s almost in sight, but not yet within reach. Only the strong survive in Phoenix, the rest move to Portland. Hydration is essential for survival.

Thankfully, our resident baker Dana doesn’t draw the line at pies and cakes. She’s an expert on all things sweet and decided to tackle my summer woes with this refreshing Hibiscus Lemonade. Not only is it a delicious summer drink in its own right, but our Hibiscus Lemonade can be mixed with other beverages. The possibilities are endless.hibiscus lemonade3

And didn’t we promise you that we would put that Hibiscus Simple Syrup we made a couple weeks back to good use? We’re making good on that promise right now. Once you have your Hibiscus Simple Syrup, you can whip up this lemonade in no time. Well, the time it takes you to juice a few lemons. A Citrus Juicer or Lemon Juicer can help you along in that regard.

One of the things I like most about this recipe is that you can totally make it your own. Prefer your lemonade extra tart? Ease up on the Hibiscus Simple Syrup. Extra sweet? Go ahead and add the full cup of syrup. Unlike most baking recipes, you’ll find a lot of flexibility in this Hibiscus Lemonade. Have fun with it. Play around and remember to sample!hibiscus lemonade2

 

If you want to get crazy with it, you can use this Hibiscus Lemonade to jazz up drinks at your next summer party. You can create a tasty spritzer for the Under-21 crowd by adding sparkling water or you can use it as a mixer with gin or vodka for the grown-ups.

 

Hibiscus Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup lemon juice (about 6-7 lemons)
  • 4 Cups cold water
  • 1/2 - 1 Cup Hibiscus Simple Syrup

Instructions

  1. Juice lemons to make 1 cup of juice. You can do this with an electric juicer, or any of the cool manual juicers that are available out there. If you have a super secret citrus juicing method, feel free to use that, too.
  2. In the pitcher of your choice, combine all ingredients. Taste to determine if you'd like it to be sweeter, more tart, etc. Add more water, simple syrup or lemon juice accordingly.
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http://smallfrypie.com/2016/07/24/hibiscus-lemonade/