Friday, February 19, 2010

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

I’ve always loved ginger cookies, as does my family. My mom tries to hoard some for herself when she thinks I’m not looking.

I chose this cookie as one of the cookies I would make for Chinese New Year because I wanted a chocolate cookie, but also wanted ginger, so this was a perfect combo.

While I was reading through the recipe, I noticed that there were no eggs in the recipe. I thought that was odd, but it resulted in a thin chewy cookie instead of a cakey one.  I was also surprised that it only called for a single TBSP of Dutch processed cocoa. I haven’t been able to find Dutch processed cocoa anywhere until I saw it at Whole Foods one day.

chocolate gingerbread cookies2

I did make a few alterations to the original recipe, some intentionally, some not so much. I unintentionally left out the extra TBSP of flour the recipe called for, although I don’t think it made much of a difference. I didn’t have dark brown sugar, so I used light brown instead; again, I probably don’t think it made much of a difference. As I was grating the ginger, there seemed to be excess liquid, so after I squeezed out the liquid, I ended up with a packed half TBSP of ginger. I’m not sure if this was the right way to measure fresh ginger, but that’s how I did it. I altered the ingredients list to show 2 TBSP of sugar for rolling the cookies instead of the 1/4 cup it called for since I had some leftover sugar remaining.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
adapted from: Martha Stewart’s Cookies
printable recipe

ingredients: 1 1/2 cups plus 1 TBSP flour
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 TBSP unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder 
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 – 1 TBSP freshly grated peeled ginger
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp boiling water
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 TBSP sugar for rolling

In a bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In your mixer using your paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger for 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar to combine well, then beat in molasses.

Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix well.

Combine baking soda with boiling water. Beat into batter. Add the remaining flour to the batter and beat to combine. Mix in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in the sugar and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes in preheated oven, rotating halfway through, until surface begins to crack.

Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Makes about 2 – 2 1/2 dozen.

chocolate gingerbread cookies
The strands you see are from the gingerroot. Maybe I should get a ginger grater to avoid this next time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons

One of the cookies I made over the weekend for Chinese New Year were these coconut macaroons. I originally wanted to try macaroons around Christmas time, but I didn’t get a chance to. I figured, this would be a good opportunity to make these since coconut is one of the candies in a traditional Chinese New Year candy tray.

I found these in Martha Stewart’s cookie book and it looked simple enough. It’s fairly easy for me to get unsweetened coconut flakes from the Asian supermarkets. However, Martha mentions that if you don’t have any, you can substitute sweetened coconut, but reduce the amount of sugar called for to 1 TBSP. The original recipe called for chocolate chunks, but I had lots of chocolate chips to use, so I used that instead.

chocolate chip coconut macaroons

Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons
adapted from: Martha Stewart’s Cookies

printable recipe

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl except for the chocolate chips. Mix well to combine. Stir in chocolate chips to combine.

Dampen your hands with cold water (repeat as necessary while forming cookies). Using a TBSP sized cookie scoop, scoop mixture into hands and mound into small haystacks. Place on cookie sheet.

Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, rotating the sheets 180° halfway through. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies (I got 22).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake

Now, that title is a mouthful!

This past weekend was Gary’s 30th birthday! I told him I would make a cake for him that would be dairy free. Who knows what store bought cake has in them, unless you specifically ask for something that is allergen free.

I thought up an ice cream cake with a chocolate peanut butter swirl ice cream sandwiched between two layers of chocolate cake, then topped off with a peanut butter frosting. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull it off, but it came out pretty good. It tasted amazing and you would not know it’s vegan unless I told you.

I’ve used the chocolate cake recipe previously when I made chocolate cupcakes for a coworker. Since it tasted great the first time, I decided to use it again for this cake. Since what I wanted to make didn’t come from one particular cookbook, I found recipes for each component of the cake from different sources. Each component tasted good on it’s own already, it was just a matter of everything tasting good together, and of course it did! This photo does not do justice to how amazing it tastes.


The cake was served after leaving it in the fridge for about an hour or so, so the ice cream was a little bit melty to a pudding like consistency. I suggest leaving it in the freezer until serving if you have space, because the leftovers tasted great straight from the freezer.


Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl ice cream adapted from: The Vegan Scoop
Chocolate cake adapted from:
Go Dairy Free
Peanut Buttercream frosting adapted from:
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
printable recipe


ice cream cake frosting
1 cup coconut milk, divided 3 cups all purpose flour 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter
2 TBSP arrowroot powder 2 cups sugar 4 TBSP shortening
1 cup dairy free cream 1/2 cup cocoa powder 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar 2 tsp baking soda 3 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder 1 tsp salt 2 - 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup chocolate chips scant 2/3 cup canola oil 2-4 TBSP dairy free milk or cream
1 TBSP vanilla extract 2 TBSP white vinegar  
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter 2 tsp vanilla extract  
  2 cups cold water  

at least a day before, make ice cream:
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup coconut milk with arrowroot and set aside. (I only had 3/4 cup coconut milk total, so I used the cream for this).

Mix cream, remaining coconut milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips in a saucepan and cook over low heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and mix in arrowroot cream. Add in vanilla extract.

Refrigerate mixture until chilled, at least 2-3 hours (I left it in the fridge for about 24 hours).

Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. In the last few minutes of freezing, add in peanut butter.

Line a cake pan the same size as one you’ll be baking the cake in with plastic wrap. Pour ice cream into pan, smooth out and cover with more plastic wrap. Freeze in freezer until solid. If you don’t have enough pans, you can remove the ice cream from the pan after it’s solid and leave it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.

at least 6 hours prior, bake the cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8 or 9” cake pan (I used pam baking spray on my 9” pans). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients: flour through salt.

Make 3 small wells in the flour mixture. Place oil in the first well, vinegar in the second, and vanilla extract in third.

Pour water all over and stir well to combine.

Divide batter evenly between the 2 pans. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Original recipe called for 30-35 minutes in an 8” square pan. I put both pans in the oven at the same time, and at 30 minutes the edges were a little overdone.)

Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pans before inverting them onto wire racks to cool.

After it’s cooled, you can cut off the top domed part to make a flat cake.

while cake is almost cooled, prepare the frosting:
In a large bowl, cream together butter and shortening at medium speed until smooth.

Add peanut butter and vanilla and beat until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in sifted sugar (make sure it’s sifted, or you’ll have lumps).

Set mixer to low speed and slowly pour in milk or cream until frosting is pale tan and very fluffy.

This makes just enough frosting to frost this entire cake.

On a 9 or 10” cake circle, line parchment paper along the edges and let hang off, leaving room in the center to place a little frosting. This is to keep the cake circle neat while frosting, so it will be removed later. Spread a dollop of frosting on the center of the circle. Place one layer of cake on the center of the circle.

Add a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake.

Remove ice cream from freezer. Place on top of the frosted cake layer. Remove plastic wrap.

Frost with another thin layer of frosting. At this point, you must work quick, or the ice cream will melt.

Place the last layer of cake on top. If you feel you need to place the cake back in the freezer, do so at this point.

Frost the cake on top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Place in freezer until ready to serve.

Store leftovers in a freezer tight container.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Crockpot Curry Chicken and Chickpea Stew

While I was browsing through a whole bunch of holiday magazines one day, I decided to start ripping out recipe pages I thought I would try.  This recipe stood out because it was a curry chicken recipe, and it was made in the crockpot!

I originally thought I wouldn’t like the chickpeas because I’ve tried them in salads, and I ended up picking them all out. I was wrong! I just don’t like them raw! I also love them mashed up in falafels. I guess I too can be picky with some vegetables.

The original recipe called for 1.5 lbs each of boneless chicken thighs and boneless chicken breast, cubed, but I used chicken wings instead, since I had some on hand. They were also frozen solid when I put it in the crockpot, so I cooked it for the 6 hours it needed. I followed the instructions to use 1 TBSP of curry powder, but I thought it was a bit mild, so I’ll probably add a little more next time. Gary also thought there were too many chickpeas, so I may also reduce that to 1 can next time.


Curry Chicken and Chickpea Stew
adapted from: All You December 2009
printable recipe

3 lbs chicken (wings, thighs, breasts, or any combo)  
1  tablespoon  olive oil 
1-2  tablespoon  curry powder (according to your taste)
1/2  teaspoon  salt 
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
4  cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
2  15-oz. cans beans (chickpeas, red kidney, black beans, or combo), rinsed and drained

Combine chicken, olive oil, curry powder and salt in slow cooker and toss to coat.

Sprinkle onions and garlic on top of chicken. Add tomatoes on top. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

During last hour of cooking, stir in chickpeas. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chicken Marsala

Whenever I have chicken (which is always) and baby bella mushrooms, I immediately think to make chicken marsala. It’s one of my favorite dishes to order from a restaurant, and it seems so fancy, yet so easy to make at home!

This tasted really good, and it will be in a regular rotation on our dinner menu. It’s a nice changed from the regular chicken dishes we usually make. Gary enjoyed this as well. We ate this over bowtie pasta, but any pasta or grain will do.

To keep this recipe dairy free, I used Earth Balance buttery spread. I also used chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts because it’s what we prefer to eat. However, I think it’s normally made with white meat. I didn’t have sherry, so I subbed with dry white wine.

chicken marsala

Chicken Marsala
adapted from: elly says opa!
printable recipe

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1.5 TBSP Earth Balance butter, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz fresh sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp dry white wine
1/2 cup marsala
salt and pepper to taste

Heat pan and melt .5 tbsp butter with olive oil over medium or medium-low heat.

Meanwhile, mix together flour, oregano and basil in a freezer bag. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Shake chicken in flour mixture to coat evenly, remove, shaking off excess flour. Cook in the oil/butter mix until fully cooked, flipping once. Remove and keep warm.

Add the remaining butter to the skillet. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté about 2 minutes.

Add wine and marsala. Turn heat up to medium-high and cook until liquid is reduced by about half.

Season to taste. Add chicken back in to warm through if necessary.

Serves 3-4