Vegan Apple Sage Fritters with Vanilla Maple Rum Glaze

Vegan Apple Sage Fritters with Vanilla Maple Rum Glaze

  There’s no better way to welcome apple season than to fry up a good batch of apple fritters. 

 The weather of late has evoked nostalgic feelings of autumn, putting me in the strange predicament of looking forward to the changing of seasons. If you knew me, you’d know I’m not one to welcome the fall season with open arms; I despise seeing pumpkins, bright orange and red decor of all sorts embellishing stores by the end of July. I would live in a world of perpetual summer if I could- I just really don’t like the cold. But this year is different. I’m actually looking forward to the switch from summer to fall. In fact, I made these fritters in slight excitement. It made me think of my younger self, back when I actually enjoyed the cool days of autumn and the cold, snowy days of winter.

  Drive North, South, East or West and you’re certain to see apple orchards dotted about every direction in the state of Virginia. I can count off my hand at least six apple orchards within a twenty-five-minute radius of me. You won’t find me complaining, though. I’m fortunate to live where I live; it’s a beautiful place, and beautiful places give me so much inspiration when I feel drained and ready to give in. I’m extremely thankful for that. So, I set off to my local orchard, a lovely ten-minute drive with scenic views of Virginia farmland and the Blueridge mountains, then came home with a paper bag full of crisp, red apples just waiting to be turned into these apple sage fritters.


Vegan Apple Sage Fritters with Vanilla Maple Rum Glaze

   dough:

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

3/4 cups cashew milk, hot

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 *flax eggs 

3 tablespoons coconut oil 

5 cups canola oil, for frying

   apples:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 medium sized apples

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup raw cane sugar

3 large sage leaves, minced

   glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon good rum

1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

    METHOD

  1. *Blend 2 tablespoons of flax seeds in a blender until finely ground. Pour into a small bowl and add 2 1/2 tablespoons water and stir. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer, add the yeast and hot cashew milk and give it a little stir. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, salt, and sugar. Add to the yeast mixture, along with the vanilla and flax egg and beat on medium-high speed with the dough-hook attachment until the dough comes together completely and wipes the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl clean- about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the coconut oil, 1 tablespoon at a time; making sure each tablespoon is incorporated into the dough before adding the next. It will seem like it doesn’t want to incorporate at first, but just give it a few seconds and it’ll come together. Once all the oil is in the dough, you should have a soft, smooth dough. lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside, cover with a thin cloth and let it rise in a warm, dry place for an hour or until it has doubled in size. Prepare the apples while the dough rises.
  3. Peel and core the apples and chop them into 1/2-inch long rectangular pieces that have a thickness of 1/4-inch. Add the sugar and cinnamon to the apples and toss until coated. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil and add the apples, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and minced sage. Cook the apples, stirring often, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy thick mixture and apples are somewhat soft, but the centers still somewhat firm(you don’t want them cooked soggy). Cool the apples until ready to use. If there happens to be a lot of liquid from the apples, strain it out. 
  4. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it onto a floured surface. Roll it into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Sprinkle the apples over one-half of the dough, then fold the other side over the apples. Pinch the sides shut and gently roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle again. Sprinkle the remaining apples all over the dough, then roll it into a tube. Seal the ends shut and flatten the tube with your hands slightly, then roll it out with a rolling pin into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. It’s OK if some apples pop out, just keep pushing them back in. The width should roughly be 5-6-inches wide. Using a knife, cut the rectangle down the center long ways, then cut 2-inch by 2-inch squares from the two strips. There should be about 9-10 squares in total. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet and lightly dust with flour. Space each dough piece about 3-inches apart from one another. Cover with a thin towel and let them rise for 25-30 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 5 cups of oil(about 2-inches deep) and heat to 350°F. I recommend using an oil or candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature. The oil to stay at or close to 350°F. Cook the fritters, just two at a time, for 2 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked fritters to a cooling rack(place paper towels under racks to catch oil). 
  5. To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar, then add the maple syrup, vanilla, and bourbon. Whisk until smooth, then drizzle onto the fritters once they have cooled until warm to touch and no longer hot. 

Classic Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Rum Frosting

classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting

  For many, carrot cake is a must-have on the dessert table after enjoying a fattening dinner on Easter Sunday. In my own family, it was actually quite rare. My Grandmother always made a banana pudding trifle or a layered coconut cake for Easter. I only recall eating carrot cake as a spring dessert served at church events or family get-togethers; but though it was scarcely served in my home, it has always been a family favorite when we had the pleasure of eating it.

  This recipe wasn’t specifically meant for Easter, though. I’ve been meaning to post a cake for the past week but they just haven’t worked out, so I decided on this classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting and well, it happens Easter is this weekend. The recipe for this cake was given to my mother by my Grandmother which she acquired from a friend (my, what a mouthful!) twenty-something years ago. It has always been a family favorite. Of course, I did adapt it slightly. Typically, walnuts or pecans are used, but instead, I used almonds.

 It’s a delicious, dense, and very moist cake. It uses a total four cups of carrots! The frosting has a very light and fluffy mouthfeel, with a slight rum flavor and vanilla bean speckled all about.

 

CLASSIC CARROT CAKE WITH VANILLA BEAN RUM FROSTING


 cake:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups raw cane sugar

4 large eggs, room temp.

seeds from (1) vanilla bean pod

1 1/4 cup organic canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk, room temp.

4 cups grated carrots

3/4 cups coarsely chopped almonds

   frosting:

seeds from (2) vanilla bean pods

1/4 cup dark rum

8 ounces cream cheese, room temp.

8 ounces butter, room temp.

4 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of sea salt

 method:

Before starting anything, split open two vanilla pods, scrape out the seeds and place the seeds and the pods in a small jar with a lid. Add the 1/4 cup of dark rum and close the jar. Let the ingredients sit for an hour or more. When ready to use, scrape remaining seeds from the bean and discard the pieces. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three, 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices- set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla bean seeds. Beat the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy; once they reach this stage, begin streaming in the oil. Add the buttermilk and then the flour in three batches, beating each addition until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the grated carrots and chopped almonds until combined. Divide the batter amongst the three prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. They’re done when the cake springs back up after being touched lightly, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the cake from around the edges of the pans. Invert onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

 for the frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula and add the powdered sugar and vanilla-infused rum. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy about3 minutes.

 assemble the cake:

 Place the first cake layer on a cake board/plate/stand and spoon about 3/4 cups of frosting on and spread around with an offset spatula. Repeat this with the second and then the third. Use any remaining frosting to frost around the edges. Or, you can use all the frosting on the first, second, and top layers and leave the sides naked. Decorate with fresh or edible flowers.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

  Monkey bread has long been a favorite recipe of mine, with its warm, gooey, cinnamon goodness.  It’s one of those foods you savor in your childhood and long crave into your adulthood and the rest of your life, but never find yourself enjoying it as often as you would like.  As a child, it was a rare treat; my mom didn’t really bake many things outside of muffins, cookies, or birthday cake.  Cinnamon rolls almost always came from a can and homemade doughnuts weren’t a thing until I began to bake for fun.  Although this pull-apart cinnamon grapefruit bread with earl grey lavender glaze isn’t monkey bread, it closely resembles it (sans the gooeyness) in way of the process.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

  I recently realized there aren’t any recipes on my site with grapefruit as an ingredient.  I thought it best I post at least one including grapefruit before the season runs out, which is when I decided on this pull-apart cinnamon grapefruit bread with earl grey lavender glaze.  When it comes to grapefruit Florida ruby red is the best(in my opinion) and it’s what I used for this recipe.  Though it’s only the zest you need for the bread, still, I’ve found that that variety is what holds the flavor in the peel the best.

  I wish this bread had lasted longer than it did.  It was taken rather well by my family, my mom especially.  Which is surprising because she doesn’t like lavender and this had dried lavender sprinkled all over the top to add more flavor.  In any case you don’t have lavender on hand, just make a trip to your local garden center.  Most stores where plants are sold have small pots of lavender growing as of now and you can find them rather cheap as I did.  Once you have one, pluck as many buds off as you can and set them out to dry, then use.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze


PULL-APART CINNAMON GRAPEFRUIT BREAD WITH EARL GREY LAVENDER GLAZE

 bread

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

3/4 cups whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

zest from 1 grapefruit

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

 sugar, cinnamon, and butter coating

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

 earl grey + lavender glaze

tea:

1 cup water

2 earl grey tea bags

1 sprig of fresh lavender

glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of the tea you made

dried lavender buds (optional)

 method:

 for the dough

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and heavy cream until warm.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the yeast and pour in 1/2 cup of the warm milk, stir slightly and let it sit until the yeast dissolves and is foamy(5-7 minutes).  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl, set aside.  Once the yeast has dissolved, add the egg yolk, sugar, and remaining milk and whisk until just combined.  Sprinkle in 1 cup of flour, the grapefruit zest, and the soften cubed butter; mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook attached and slowly pour in the remaining flour.  Continue to mix until the dough begins to wipe the sides of the mixing bowl clean.  It should be very soft, but not sticky.  Remove from mixing bowl and place in a lightly buttered bowl.  Cover with a thin towel and let it rise in warm, dry place until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  2. 10 minutes before the dough has finished its rising process, preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Butter well the sides and bottom of an 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, lightly buttering this as well.  Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and set aside.  On a plate, combine the sugar and cinnamon.  
  3. Once the dough has finished rising, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for 1 minute.  Begin to tear various sized pieces (medium to small sizes) of dough in your hands and roll into a ball.  Dip the dough ball into the melted butter and cover with the sugar mixture, lastly place the dough ball in the pan.  Continue this process until all the dough is used and is evenly distributed in the loaf pan.  Place the pan on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to an hour, until nicely browned.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan.  Using a sharp knife, carefully loosen the bread from around the edges of the pan.  Invert onto a plate and drizzle generously with the glaze.  Top with dried lavender and enjoy warm!

  for the glaze:

  1. Bring the water to a boil with the lavender sprig, then remove from heat and add the two tea bags.  Steep for 10 minutes then remove the lavender sprig and the tea bags.  Cool the tea completely before using.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar.  Add two tablespoons of the cooled tea to the sugar and whisk until smooth, it should drizzle thick and not runny.  If it’s runny, add a 1/4 more of powdered sugar.  if it is to thick, add 1/2 teaspoon more of tea.  Drizzle onto the bread when it’s still warm and top with dried lavender buds.

SPICY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

  Today’s recipe is a start to a new path, a path I’m really excited to journey down when it comes to baking.  I’m not switching over to a completely different baking method, mind you- I just wanted to start including the more alternative ways you can bake, whether it’s a completely plant-based recipe, a more traditional one, or somewhere in between.  I’m always looking to open my mind and try new things, well because that’s how you learn!

When I think of ginger molasses cookies, I think of round, flat, cracked tops(much like the ginger cookies I created last year); and their texture and taste just right.  I was prepared to be challenged as I’d never veered off the path of your usual ingredients: wheat flour, eggs, milk, and butter.  And I was, indeed, challenged by it.  I read so many different articles of what I should be pairing with what and to be honest, I was about to pull every hair off my scalp.  I now have a much higher reverence for those that must bake this way due to their health or conscious; you really do sacrifice a lot of things, one of them being your product won’t always look as dazzling as the original.  But, that doesn’t always mean the taste and texture aren’t delicious, they may even be better than the original!  “All that glisters is not gold”, as Shakespeare wrote, right?

  Anyway, I tried my hardest to get these cookies posted before New Year’s Eve(and I did!).  Originally, they were to be posted the beginning of this week, but I sat down and uploaded the photos I had taken before I left for Christmas, only to find I was very displeased at how they turned out.  I spent all of Thursday revising and testing the recipe I wrote out and finally, after the fourth baking attempt, they came out as I wanted- Slight crunch around the edges, but the middle soft, chocolatey and spicy.  You’re probably thinking what made me want to put chili pepper inside a cookie.  Well, I love spicy things and chocolate, so I thought I’d give the molasses cookie a slight twist.  Also because I picked a bunch of chili peppers out of the garden this summer and let them sit in the kitchen to dry and they looked so nice, so I crushed them up and threw them in.  It goes so well with the other spices!

  It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to an end, I feel it was just yesterday we were all celebrating the start!  A lot has happened in these twelve short months, but I’m ready for 2017.  I’m looking forward to trying new things, things that challenge me to think, see, and achieve differently.   Like many other’s, one of my goals in 2017 is to be healthier, happier, and more responsible in the way I’m eating.  Which of course, will affect what ingredients I use in the recipes I create and post.  Hoping you have a wonderful New Year!  One that’s hopeful(the next four years may look a bit bleak here in the United States), full of positive change, love, and happiness.  xo


SPICEY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili pepper, ground(I used 1 dry chili pepper blended in a food processor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), room temp.

3/4 cup demerara cane sugar

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons water, warm

5-ounces dark chocolate chopped into chunks

method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the ground flaxseed and water and set aside for five minutes(this is your substitute egg).  
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and whisk well; set aside.
  4.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and molasses and beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated.  Add the flaxseed and beat until combined, then add half the flour; beat until combined.  Add the remaining flour and beat until just combined.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate.  
  5. Using an ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place them 2-inches apart from each other on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar.  Bake for 11-18 minutes until the edges are slightly darker than the center.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

  I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving quickly crept up on me this year.  I feel that was 2016 in general as everything flew by so quickly; birthdays, the seasons, holidays.  It makes me somewhat sad, but happy at the same time.  I would say Thanksgiving is somewhat bittersweet for me.  I love the food and family time(even though it can be a bit crazy at times), but it pains me to say goodbye to autumn and hello to winter, which happens to be my least favorite time of the year due to the cold.

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  Anyway, this recipe was sort of a last minute idea and something I wanted to post before I hop on a plane and head south for Thanksgiving.  It’s a deliciously tart, cranberry tart with the addition of citrus and bittersweet chocolate- two, very complementary flavors to cranberry if I do say so.  It reminded me so much of my favorite chocolate bar: dark, not-so-sweet, with crunchy pieces of dried orange peel speckled throughout each bite.  The crust is crumbly with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.  It almost reminds me of cherry pie.

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  I will say I’ve never once liked cranberries.  Well, until recently.  The only time we’d eat them would be at Thanksgiving and they were in the form of the ever so popular canned cranberry sauce.  Incredibly sweet stuff and not at all of my liking.  But, like most things, you have to start with fresh ingredients and see if you truly like or dislike them.  I despise most anything that comes in a can now, so it’s my motto to always use fresh when possible.  I try to bake by the seasons.  And so, I found my love for cranberries when I decided to use them fresh.  The filling for this tart I could eat by the spoonful as it’s just so delicious!  While simmering away in the saucepan with the citrus, cloves, and cinnamon it lets out the most amazing scent as it floats about the house.

  Speaking of cloves, be sure to remove all of them before pouring the filling into the tart shell.  I accidently left two or three pieces inside and they made their way into my mouth.  Biting into cloves isn’t very appetizing, as they’re a bit potent, to say the least.

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CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ORANGE TART

crust:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup super-fine almond flour

4-ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

1 large egg (+ 2 tablespoons of a smaller, slightly beaten egg), room temp.

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

cranberry-orange filling:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 orange slices

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks 

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon cornstarch

 

chocolate topping:

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate; chopped finely

4-ounces heavy cream

sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

 

method:

  1. With an electric standing mixer, add the softened butter, vanilla, and salt.  Cream till smooth and just combined.  Add the confectioner’s sugar and almond flour and mix on medium until just combined.  Add the flour and large egg, mix until it comes together, and add the two tablespoons of the beaten egg.  Mix on medium until the dough comes together(don’t over beat).  It should be a very soft dough.  Once finished, tightly wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours(until firm).  Once firm, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a large rectangle or circle(depending on the tart pan you’re using).  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place into the tart pan.  carefully press the dough into the pan till it’s fitted, then using a fork, poke holes all around the bottom.  Place in the refrigerator until firm again; while it’s doing so, preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C.  Once preheated, brush the tart with egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten) and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges shine and are slightly golden and the bottom is cooked through.  Cool completely.
  2. Bump the oven heat up to 375° F.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, add the freshly squeezed orange juice, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, and then the cranberries.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cranberries have popped; remove the orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.  In a small bowl add two teaspoons of water to the cornstarch and stir until combined.  Add this mixture to the cranberries and cook, stirring over medium heat until somewhat thickened.  Pour the cranberries into the cooled tart shell and evenly spread around.  Sprinkle the orange zest over the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Once cooled, remove from tart pan. 
  4. Chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl that holds heat well.  In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to steam.  Pour over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Spread around the top of the tart and let it harden.  Garnish the top with flaked sea salt or orange zest and serve.