I’m going to be honest, I’m a little nervous. After my two year hiatus, I’m having to refamiliarize myself with the WordPress program, my food photography skills are rusty, and just in general, I feel like a rookie… I wonder if this is how Guy Lafleur felt when he came out of retirement… But enough of my bellyaching, I want to show you my tart!
We live near several antique shops, and enjoy browsing them on the occasional Sunday. Dave wanders off to find art inspiration, while I can be found scouring the books, in search of vintage cookbooks. I’ve found a couple, but mostly come across those mail in recipe booklets that company’s send out… My oldest find has been a Fleischman Yeast recipe booklet from 1926… For me, reading through these books is like being taught the old ways from a great-grandmother, and as much as I love having fun with recipes and putting my own spin on them, I believe in the importance of remembering our culinary roots.
During a recent conversation, I was surprised to learn that not everyone knows what Blondies are… I mean, Clafoutis, Lamington, Coyotas, or Mooncake I understand. But Blondies???… This led me to question if perhaps I know a little too much about desserts. But I digress… Naturally, I seized the opportunity to give (what I’m sure was) a riveting lecture on the topic of Blondies, and even baked up a tasty subject for them to “study” :-)
One of my favorite things about Blondies, is their versatility. Unlike their chocolate sister, they are a wonderful canvas for all sorts of add-ins. Chocolate chips are a popular choice (like I’ve done here), but they can easily be switched for pecans to create a whole new flavour. White chocolate, broken up cookie pieces, chopped up candy bars, or even dried fruit each bring a new and exciting personality to these bars. Or leave the add-ins out and enjoy the simple deliciousness that brown sugar can bring to the table.
So, what do you think, Blondie or Brownie?
Chocolate Chip Blondies
1 cup Margarine
2 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Plain Non-Dairy Yogurt (I used almond)
2 tbsp Instant Coffee Powder
2 tbsp Water
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 9×11-inch baking pan (I lined mine with foil before greasing).
Stir together the coffee powder, water, and vanilla until the granules have dissolved. Set aside.
Beat together the margarine, sugar, cinnamon, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add yogurt and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the coffee mixture and baking powder. Stir in the flour and then the chocolate chips.
Scrap batter into prepared pan, and smooth surface.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. A few clingy crumbs are ok, but be careful to not over bake, better they are slightly under baked than over.
Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.
Makes 12 – 16 squares.
I’ve attempted tassies only once before. They were amongst the goodies I baked for the first Christmas we were vegan. Everything (I’m sure) made Santa smile, except those tassies, which turned out to be disappointing, bland lumps. In retrospect, I was still a new vegan and, although I’d been a competent pre-vegan baker, the no butter/no eggs thing was proving to the a bigger (baking) challenged than I had anticipated. Perhaps if I had tried an other recipe, something less egg dependent, things would have turned out differently. As it happened, my failure left me very soured towards tassies.
So what happened?… Laziness happened… I bought some raspberries, intending to make tarts… Ya, I know, tarts=good, tassies=bad. Don’t try to reason with an irrational woman :-)… Anyway, when the time came, I really wasn’t in the mood to roll and cut tart shells. Tassies seemed like the logical compromise.
Maybe it was using a fruit filling. Maybe it was having a little vegan baking experience under my belt. Whatever it was, these tassies turned out way better than that first batch. And although I was still a little underwhelmed by them, several of my tasters disagreed, commenting on how good they were. So I figured, why not share them… And now, what kind of tassies to make next?
1 cup Margarine
2/3 cup Plain Non-Dairy Cream Cheese (I used Earth Island/Follow Your Heart)
1 tbsp Sugar
2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Cold Water
3 tbsp Corn Starch
3/4 cup Sugar
1 cup Fresh Raspberries
1 tsp Lemon Juice
3 tbsp Plain Non-Dairy Cream Cheese (I used Earth Island/Follow Your Heart)
2 tbsp Shortening
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
1/8 tsp Lemon Extract
1/2 cup Icing Sugar
To make the pastry:
Beat the margarine, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), then beat in the flour.
Refrigerate while making filling.
To make the filling:
Stir together the water and cornstarch, then combine with sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.
Over medium-low heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add raspberries and cook until thickened (about 10 – 15 minutes), stirring frequently.
Allow mixture to cool for about 10 minutes
Assembling and baking:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Retrieve the pastry dough from the refrigerator. Scoop enough dough to form a ball about the size of a ping pong ball (your ball may need to be slightly larger, depending on the size of your muffin tin), press into a well of a mini muffin pan (do not grease pan), creating a small tart shell (I just used my fingers to do this). Repeat until all dough is used (or all muffin wells are filled).
Fill each shell 2/3 full, with raspberry filling.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the pastry is a golden brown.
Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to rack. Remove the tassies carefully, the pastry is delicate. Cool completely before adding topping.
Beat together the cream cheese, shortening, zest, and extract, for 2 minutes.
Add Icing sugar (sift it if lumpy), and beat for another 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Refrigerate the topping until tassies have completely cooled.
Fit a piping bag with the tip of your choice, and pipe a dollop of topping on each tassie.
Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes approximately 30 tassies.
Hmm, I know what you’re thinking. That these are just plain, old, sugar cookies… But step a little closer, lean in, and let your nose tell you differently… Do you smell that? That delightful sweet/floral aroma? Know what it is?… Rose water and white chocolate… Now take a bite… Crisp edges and a soft, chewy centre. These cookies are bliss.
I came up with the idea earlier this month, when attending Victoria Vegan Fest. There, I took in a cooking demo, led by Diana Hassannia (aka Naughty Vegan), who was making donuts with a rose water glaze (which, by the way, were AMAZING!)… I had heard of rose water, I’d even seen it at the grocery store, but until then, I’d never tasted it. Have I been missing out! As soon as that glaze touched my taste buds, I knew this stuff had to be paired up with white chocolate!
A couple of notes regarding the recipe. First, to keep the moisture to a minimum, I used rose essence, which is far more concentrated than rose water. To get the same kind of flavour, I believe that you would need to use 3/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of rose water (but I have not tested this). It may seem like hardly any more liquid, but I do not know what effect it would have on the texture of the cookies. Second, I’ve called for white chocolate chips, because they’re the least work. However, because vegan white chocolate can be tricky enough to find, use whatever form you can get your hands on. If you have chips, great! If you have to chop up a chocolate bar (and lick your fingers clean), so be it. What I used was white chocolate buttons, which I roughly chopped to about the size of chips before measuring.
Rose Water & White Chocolate Cookies
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 cup Shortening
3 tbsp Margarine
1 tbsp Tahini
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Rose Water Essence
3 tbsp Non-Dairy Yogurt (I used almond)
1/2 cup Vegan White Chocolate Chips (I chopped up Weisse Schakalode Buttons)
Pink Sugar (optional, for decorating)
Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare cookie sheets (I used parchment paper).
Stir together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
Blend together the shortening, margarine, and tahini, until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla and rose water. Add yogurt and beat for another 2 minutes. Add flour mixture and blend until just combined. Stir in chocolate.
Using a tablespoon to measure, scoop dough and place on prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between dough to allow for spreading. Sprinkle with pink sugar, if using.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until cookie edges are golden (11 minutes is perfect for my oven).
Allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, before transferring to rack.
Makes about 24 cookies.