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lazybird has gone vegan.

lazybird vegan cheesecake

ok, well…we haven’t become vegans (dang you delicious cheese!) but we are equal opportunity and can now confidently bake for vegans.

this challenge started with the offer to try tackling some vegan baked goods for a friend’s recent baby shower. i hit the internets right away and ordered two popular and highly recommended cookbooks: “flying apron’s gluten-free & vegan baking book,” by jennifer katzinger and “the joy of vegan baking,” by colleen patrick-goudreau. i read and read, and was inspired to order more books on veganism, nutrition, organics, factory farms etc, etc…and made a pretty significant life change….i gave up pop (or soda, or coke, or whatever you want to call it) i also feel a lot worse about milk, butter, eggs and meat….but….well…i gave up pop….lets take it one step at a time.

long story short, this challenge…was not so challenging (after i was able to track down egg replacer, that is). if you have a whole foods or sprouts or a specialty market nearby…you’re one step closer to whipping up a “cheese”cake of your own.

ingredients:
crust:
4 cups pretzels
1/2 cup melted non-dairy butter (i used earth balance)
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar

“cheese”cake (adapted from “the joy of vegan baking,” by colleen patrick-goudreau):
6 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/2 cup water
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
24 ounces non-dairy cream cheese, room temperature (i used the highly recommended tofutti)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

chocolate ganache:
1/2 cup soy creamer
12 oz dairy free chocolate chips

preheat your oven to 350º.

for your crust… combine pretzels, melted butter, peanut butter and sugar together in your food processor till finely chopped.

prepare your springform pan….generously butter the bottoms and side of a 9in springform pan. place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom of the pan and butter paper as well. coat the bottom of the pan with pretzel crumb mixture. coat sides of your pan as well, about an inch up. set aside.

in a medium size bowl whip together the egg replacer and water till you’ve achieved a thick cream mixture. your mixture will have doubled in size and become white and almost frothy. set aside.

in a heat safe bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt your chocolate chips. remove from heat and let cool to room temperature – still give it a stir here and there so it won’t harden back up.

in a large bowl, or your stand mixer beat together “egg” mixture, “cream cheese” and sugar (hah, like all the quotations?!) till smooth. pour in melted chocolate and vanilla and mix till thoroughly blended. (note: if your cream cheese mixture is colder than your chocolate, mixing the two might result in a chocolate chip cheesecake instead of a smooth, blended chocolate….i mean….it could be considered a happy accident, but if you disagree…you’ve been warned)

pour mixture into prepared crust/springform pan.

bake at 350º for 50 minutes. at this point your cheesecake should be set along the edges, but jiggle slightly in the middle. once the timer rings, turn your oven off and let your cheesecake stay put for another 50 minutes. do not open up the oven door during this whole process…lest you risk cheesecake cracks…dum dum dummm. remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to let cool to room temperature. at this point, run a knife around the edge of your springform pan to separate the pan from the cake – this also helps ward off cracks. once your cake has cooled, wrap up tightly and store in fridge overnight.

next morning, or at least a couple hours prior to serving the cheesecake, make your ganache. pour chocolate chips into a medium-sized heat safe bowl and set aside. in a small saucepan heat soy creamer over medium heat till bubbles start forming around the edges of the pan. remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. let sit for five minutes. slowly begin to stir your mixture, being careful not to incorporate too much air. once your chocolate has melted and you have a creamy texture, set aside and let cool till your ganache has thickened enough to pour out and spread over cheesecake – your ganache shouldn’t be runny, you should need to use either gravity (in tilting your cake back and forth) or a knife to spread out over cake.

add a garnish if you like.…i liked raspberries.

return to fridge till ready to serve.

as a non-vegan, i was nervous about the results. ESPECIALLY because, you can’t really take a sneak taste of a cheesecake….unless you go all cliff huxtable and cover up the bite with the ganache….shoot! why didn’t i think of that?!

i was relieved when the guest of honor took a bite and confirmed success…and even happier when all the non-vegans took to it with pleasure as well. the biggest success, however, was later that evening when i tricked a vegan-dessert-DETESTER into eating a slice (didn’t tell him it was vegan) and got a high-five for its deliciousness. after he demolished it and i told him of my trickery, i received another high-five for making the first vegan dessert he had tried and enjoyed.

if you’ve made it this far…i’m assuming you are vegan, or are at least toying with the idea. i promise, if you’re a cheesecake fan, this one is worth trying…and even tricking your friends into eating.

enjoy!

-L

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and….we’re back. well, we’re trying to be anyways.

i know it’s been a while, but life got a little hectic. a resolution of mine in the new year is to get back to my hobbies that have all been left on a back burner for the past few months. i realize our last post made it seem as though we were done blogging….but that’s not true. we’re still here and we may be separated but by no means does that mean we’re done baking and blogging.

birthday seasons always seem to bring me back to my senses. thanks to ricky….i got back into the kitchen to combine two of my favorite flavors….chocolate and mint. maybe it’s cause i haven’t baked in so long…..or maybe these little buddies were truly inspiring…but these brownies quickly moved into the top 5 ranking as far as lazy bird treats go. i say they are worth your time…..i say they were so good i had to set aside weight watchers points (6 points, btw) to eat one every day until they were gone….but that’s just me.

(adapted from the adorable, love and olive oil)
ingredients:

yields 32 brownies
(brownie)
3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder
5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(buttercream)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons creme de menthe
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon milk

(chocolate glaze)
6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

preheat your oven to 325º

very generously butter the bottoms and sides of a 9 x 13 inch glass pan. line the bottom with parchment paper (allowing excess paper on either side to use as leverage when removing the brownies), and butter the parchment paper as well. set aside

whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder in a medium sized bowl. set aside.

using a double boiler (or something resembling one, in my case) melt your chocolate and butter until smooth and glossy. turn off your heat source but leave your boiler in place and add in your sugars (white and brown). whisk until sugars are completely combined. remove from heat and let mixture come to room temperature.

add in eggs and whisk until just combined. add in vanilla and mix till combined. (overbeating at this stage will cause a cakey brownie)

fold in your flour/cocoa/salt mixture until the wet ingredients have absorbed the dry.

pour your batter into the glass pan you’ve already prepared. bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. try your hardest not to overbake these little buddies. test your brownies about a minute or two before your bake time is complete and if your toothpick comes out with a few more flecks of brownie than you’re comfortable with…don’t fret. fight your instincts and take them out a smidge early. they will continue to bake through on your counter as they cool down and taking them out early ensures a yummy gooey brownie. mmmmmm.

while your brownies are cooling lets get the buttercream going.

in your stand mixer beat your butter and powdered sugar on a medium-ish speed till it’s nice and fluffy. add in creme de menthe, peppermint extract, and milk and continue beating till mixed in. if you need to add in more sugar for consistency sake…feel free.

spread the buttercream over the brownies – smoothing with a rubber spatula and transfer to fridge for some chillin time. 45 minutes should do the trick.

time for the glaze. double broiler time again. combine your chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heat safe bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. whisk it up until your chocolate is silky smooth. remove from heat and whisk like crazy for about a minute so release excess heat.

pour melted chocolate over your chilled brownies and butter cream. spread the glaze, with an offset spatula to create an even layer from edge to edge of your brownies. transfer back to fridge for about an hour or until the glaze hardens.

remove pan from fridge and wait about 15 minutes for your glaze to soften slightly. remove the brownies from their pan by gently pulling up on the excess parchment paper. (this is why you went a little nuts with the butter in the first place) cut brownies into squares using a warm knife. for nice clean cuts, run your knife under hot water – dry off, make the cut, and repeat.

serve immediately. brownies are best cold…mmmm…memories.

enjoy and thanks for waiting so patiently :)

– L

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i mean….does it really get cuter than a bunny cake?! I think not! this build-a-bunny cake is thanks to the lessons of mama G. i tell the story like this, every Easter my brothers and i made this cake with our mom as kids. however, when i told mom we were making this for the blog, she said “i can’t believe you remember making that cake. i think we only made it one time.” needless to say, i was a little crushed to hear her say that. i guess when you’re a child your imagination really does run a little wild and you only remember life the way you want to. oh, well. maybe someday when i have my own children we’ll be sure to make this EVERY Easter! hehe :)

step one: bake your cakes.
Using your favorite cake recipe, prepare two cakes in 9″ round cake pans. bake, remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

step two: cut your cake
only one of your cakes will be cut to form the ears and the fancy bow tie! cut the cake as shown below:

step three: assemble your bunny
this should be self explanatory…ears at the top….bow tie at the bottom…i mean, there’s a picture if you really need it:

step four: frost your bunny

step five: decorate your bunny

(ears)

(bowtie)

(nose)

(eyes)

(whiskers)

while we decorated our bunny piece by piece….laura fell into the typical spindler pattern and gave the bunny a name: edward….my husband then gave edward a voice…oh dear, thank goodness this blog doesn’t have audio. :) please enjoy this adorable bunny cake, not only for easter, but for spring time and birthdays too! we love edward and hope that you too will want to create a new friend. (don’t get too attached though….cause then you might have trouble eating him)

– L & B

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“hmmm….they taste a lot like oreos….even better”

i was asked if nabisco would be mad if i started selling these. another coworkers said…it should be fine…just change the name. and then the brilliance followed….”laureos” :)

these really are quite tasty. i always think of my sister anna when i really love a treat i have made and have a hard time wanting to compliment them without sounding proud. she’ll say, “it’s the RECIPE that is so wonderful, not me”….and this recipe is thanks to smitten kitchen and retro desserts. (which i quickly found and bought off of amazon after reading her post)

not only are these super tasty, they are very simple, and you can start and finish them under an hour….and they really knock the socks off of the store bought version. my friend elaine said she could no longer justify buying these after she discovered the recipe…and i agree.

ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg

cream filling
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

preheat your oven to 375º

in your stand mixer, on low and with your paddle attachment, mix all your dry ingredients till well blended. (flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt)

continue mixing on low…cut your butter into cubes and add in one at a time. add in your egg and mix until all your ingredients come together and form a ball.

line about four cookie sheets with parchment paper.

break off small pieces of your dough and roll into balls. place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets about two inches apart. now…this is just me….but i used the back side of my 1/4 measuring cup to flatten the balls into discs…to about a quarter inch thick. the dough might be a bit on the sticky side so a tiny bit of flour on the back side of your measuring cup wouldn’t hurt.

bake for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through for even baking.

be careful with the baking time…depending on how small or large your cookies are…they don’t need to be in there the whole ten minutes. it’s just hard to tell when you’re burning chocolate cookies…so just be aware.

oh, and once you bake your first batch…you might realize that your cookies are coming out too large…which really isn’t a bad thing…but you may see you need to adjust the size of the balls.

once you remove from the oven, transfer your cookie sheet to a cooling rack till cookies are completely cooled.

while your cookies are baking you can make your cream. mix your butter and shortening together till well blended. add in your sugar slowly…followed by your vanilla. increase the speed of your mixer to medium high-ish and continue mixing till you have a light and fluffy cream.

i used a pastry bag and my large round tip to pipe out cream. just add a dollop of cream to center of your cookie and using another cookie, press down and in a circular motion till cream creeps out to the edges….and repeat till you run out of cookies!

milk required….as well as self discipline.

enjoy!

-L

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“take that, Girl Scouts of America.”

O.  M.  G. if you do not own a cookie press, stop what you are doing and run out to the store right now. they are sooo much fun. each press comes with these interchangeable discs that allow you to make different shaped cookies called spritz cookies. with so many different recipes out there, i decided to do a very simple, plain jane butter cookie.

ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup crisco

1 egg

1 1/2  teaspoon vanilla

equiptment

cookie press

cookie sheets

dipping chocolate to garnish

preheat your oven to 375 degrees

in a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together. cut your crisco into your mixture until it begins to create crumbles.

in a measuring cup, crack your egg and add water until you reach 1/4 cup. i didn’t have to add but probably a tablespoon. then add your vanilla to the egg/water and beat together. mix into your crumbles to form the dough.

now the fun part. put your dough into your cookie press, pick out the shape you want and apply the disc. in three clicks you will have the cutest little cookies! line up your cookie sheet with these and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

if you don’t already have a cookie press, check out Wilton‘s. i have Marha Stewart’s, but can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere. but, there are a lot of cookie presses out there, i don’t think you can really go wrong.

happy monday and happy baking!

b

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“i’d like to put in an order for THOSE once a month, please”

as girl scout season is in full force, the thin mint is an obvious choice. i mean, who doesn’t love chocolate and mint (besides my crazy brother-in-law). it’s a match made in heaven as far as i’m concerned. i saw this diy recipe on 101 cookbooks a couple of years ago and have been itching to try it since. the result:

…sorry girl scouts….it seems we’ve cut out the middle man. this recipe was a fan favorite…and considering they were eaten back to back with the real deal…i consider it a huge success.

(by all means….please, please continue to support your local girl scouts. just know that you can make these yourself in the off-season)

this recipe is simple….simple, simple, simple. if you’re a thin mint lover and a wait-a-whole-year-for-them hater then you simply must try this recipe out. in fact, you probably have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen right now.

ingredients:
(cookie)
1 cup butter – softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups flour

(coating)
16 oz semisweet chocolate (the better the quality the better the result)
peppermint extract to taste

preheat your oven to 350º.

in your stand mixer beat your butter until light and fluffy. add in powdered sugar, vanilla, cocoa and salt. mix till ingredients are well blended. scrape down the sides of the bowl and at a low-speed mix in flour a little at a time. (people complained that their dough was too crumbly so be careful with your flour here….you may not need the whole cup and a half…you should be able to handle the dough with your hands after adding flour, but it shouldn’t crumble to pieces.)

turn dough out onto a semi floured surface and give it a few kneads. roll into a ball and press down to form a disc. cover and transfer to freezer for about 20 minutes.

once dough is chilled, roll out on slightly floured surface till about 1/8 inch thick. cut out cookies with a biscuit cutter about 1 1/2″ in diameter. transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

bake at 350º for 10 minutes, turning the pan half way though for even baking.

transfer to a cookie sheet and let cool to room temperature.

either while your cookies are baking, or while they are cooling melt your chocolate. i always use a glass bowl that i sit on top of a saucepan with simmering water. once your chocolate is melted add in peppermint to taste. i think i ended up with about 2 teaspoons and still felt like that was a weak amount….but my taste testers said it was the perfect amount?!? just mix in as much as you like….little by little…as just a little too much will overpower your chocolate and you can’t work backwards :)

now for the dunking. i would imagine everyone has a system that works best for them. my system worked like this:

1. drop your cookie into the chocolate top side down – coating the top
2. just as soon as you drop it, use a fork to flip the cookie over – coating the bottom
3. lift the cookie out of the chocolate and lightly tap your fork (cookie on top) against the side of the bowl so that excess chocolate will run/drip off.
4. transfer cookie to parchment paper
5. pick up another cookie and repeat.

once you’re done dipping/coating, transfer cookies to freezer to set….or to your fridge….or just let them set at room temperature…..but if you’re one of those people who doesn’t prefer your thin mint cold…then you crazy!

that’s it…now, just try not to devour them all in one sitting.

seriously, because this recipe made about 60 cookies…..so be friendly and share with a friend or two or eight.

let me just say, on a personal note…that the amount of cocoa powder in these little buddies is pretty generous. i have some dark-chocolate-LOVING taste testers, so i knew it wouldn’t be a problem….but you could probably cut back on the cocoa a bit and be just fine.

oh yes….don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of milk as well.

-L

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“they look like dairy queen”

oh, if one of us birds knows about dairy queen…it would be me. the DQ was my very first job. i learned how to dip cones, fearlessly, years ago. the tricks are: don’t hesitate, don’t hold the cone at an angle and move smoothly and quickly. who knew these courageous skills would come in so handy later in life. (don’t worry julie and al…i steered clear of the trademark curl…even though it wants to come so naturally)

i saw these buddies months ago on bakerella and also on martha stewart….their beauty sold me…and their meringue stopped me. however, this years christmas brought me a new cupcake cookbook and low and behold….the top hat cupcakes were there….begging me to show them some attention. alright, alright….lets give it a go….

adapted from cupcakes, cupcakes, and more cupcakes

cupcakes:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

meringue:
8 egg whites
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

chocolate coating:
2 cups dark chocolate
3 tablespoons canola oil

*i only discovered vanilla bean paste a few weeks ago and have been dying to experiment with it. if you aren’t as excited to have it in your pantry as i was….it can be substituted with same amount of vanilla extract, no worries.

the only reason for this picture…is that i got cute little prep bowls for christmas…i wanted to use them….and i wanted you to be excited with me. pretty, huh?!

preheat your oven to 325. line your cupcake pan with wrappers. this recipe claimed to make 12 cakes, but for me it made that plus 24 mini cupcakes….so…maybe I was lucky…or maybe you should plan for extras as well.

in a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

in your stand mixer on medium speed, mix together butter, vanilla and sugar till light and fluffy. reduce speed and add in eggs one at a time.

gradually mix in sifted dry ingredients and buttermilk till all ingredients are well blended.

pour batter into cupcake liners to 3/4 full.

bake for 20-25 minutes or till cakes pass the toothpick test. cool on wire rack.

for the meringue – place a glass bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water. whisk together egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter for 5 minutes till mixture is well blended and hot. remove from heat and mix in vanilla. using an electric mixer, beat at a high speed for about 12 minutes till meringue forms stiff peaks.

transfer to pastry bag with a round tip. pipe meringue out in a circular motion….up and up and up till you have a pretty little “hat” of meringue on top of your cakes. transfer to freezer for 30 minutes.

while your cakes are in the freezer prepare your chocolate. again, in a glass bowl over simmering water, melt your chocolate and oil. whisk together till smooth and glossy. remove from heat and let cool.

are you ready for the dipping? are you scared?! oh, don’t be… time to be bold…you can do it!

i used one of those oversized coffee mugs for the dipping chocolate… so that it was deep enough for those top hats and wide enough for my fingers/hands.

without fear, flip over and dip your cupcake into the chocolate. lift him up….hold him there till he stops dripping….flip him back over set him down….pick up another and repeat! you did it! everything stayed in place!

keep you cupcakes chilled until ready to serve….and when you do….your guests will surely say, “ooOOoo pretty!”

i know you want to see the inside, don’t you.

everything you hoped for?! me too. enjoy!

wishing you a happy new year and many blessings to come!

-L

 

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