Mocha Toffee Crunch Vegan Ice Cream

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Happy summer! It’s past Solstice now, and alternates here between pouring rain and hot hot sunshine. Which is OK – Edmonton in the summertime is pretty nice. I must be adapting to the heat this year, as only a few times so far have I felt like I would melt if I didn’t watermelon or a popsicle or ice cream into me ASAP.

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If you only and up making ice cream rarely this summer, this flavour is definitely a good choice: cool chocolate perked up by a touch of coffee flavour, contrasting with bits of crunchy toffee.

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I’ve included a toffee recipe that results in a candy that may seem rather oily, as that acts as the candy’s “raincoat” and prevents it from softening or getting soggy when mixed in to the ice cream. It’s a nice mix of contrasts and a lovely treat on a hot (or cold!) day.

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Mocha Toffee Crunch Vegan Ice Cream

By Agent Minty.

Ingredients: 

Ice cream base:

  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1c white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk

Toffee Bits:

  • 1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds
  • 3 Tbsp Earth Balance or other hard margarine
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp golden syrup
  • 1.5 tsp water

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together corn starch, brown sugar, cocoa, 1 cup white sugar, salt, and 2/3 cup of the almond milk in a large saucepan. Heat on medium.
  2. Mix the instant coffee with about 3 Tbs of the remaining almond milk. Add to mixture in saucepan.
  3. Keep stirring mixture until sugar is dissolved and it starts to simmer. Turn down heat to medium-low.
  4. Keep stirring while slowly adding remaining almond milk, then coconut milk.
  5. Cook mixture until slightly thickened and glossy, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. after cooled slightly, refrigerate for at least three hours.
  7. Toast almonds in a ~350F oven for 2-5 minutes, until lightly golden, then remove to cool, and chop finely.
  8. Melt Earth Balance and oil in a small saucepan, then add sugar, syrup, water, and salt.
  9. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with aluminum foil and tossing chopped almonds onto an area approximately 12×12 inches.
  10. Stir syrup on medium heat until sugar starts to dissolve, then add a candy thermometer and cook, undisturbed, until the syrup reaches Hard Crack stage (300-309 Fahrenheit).
  11.  Give candy one quick stir with a spatula, then pour over the almonds on the cookie sheet. Use the spatula to sweep any extra almonds onto the toffee area. You will get a thin puddle of candy smaller than the cookie sheet itself.
  12. Allow the toffee to cool for at least one hour before breaking into slivers.
  13. Freeze ice cream base according to instructions for your ice cream machine. Add in toffee bits for the last minute of mixing.
  14. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze overnight before serving.
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Happy Easter! Chocolate Egg Inspiration!

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I guess that it’s been a rather long hiatus. Excuses, excuses abound, but you’re not here to read those. You’re here to see the goods! And in today’s case, they are totally worth it: vegan easter eggs filled with marshmallow or peanut butter fillings, or solid fruit-and-nut eggs.

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The first Easter after I went vegan was hard, because (as I think I mentioned before) I love seasonal candy. Take cheap jelly beans, make them egg shaped and speckled, and I’m sold. I loved Reese’s eggs and those malted-milk Robin Eggs, too. I’m still working on a malt ball substitute, but the eggs I present to you today are a huge hit with my family – I make several dozen to give away.

In order to make these, I had to use a mould, which I bought from Bulk Barn several years ago. As I wrap the completed chocolates in foil and store them in the refrigerator, I didn’t brother to temper the chocolate after melting it. I just used vegan semisweet chocolate chips and melted them in the microwave.

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The recipes below fall more into the “unrecipe” category, as the amounts are suggestions; the number of eggs will depend on the size and shape of moulds you use. Mine were the same general shape as a chicken’s egg (but halved).

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Finally, the marshmallow recipe that I used produces far more than the filling required for one dozen eggs (I moulded six chocolate shells, popped them out and moulded six more to fill all at the same time). I  experimented with making a vein version of Peeps, those chick shaped, sugar coated marshmallows. They are in some of my photos above, but they look more like chick-elephant hybrids. The rest of the marshmallows I made into traditional cylindrical mallows. To get the pastel fine sugar, I just pureed coloured sanding sugar in a spice grinder until it was a coarse powder.

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Ok, so here goes:

Chocolate Easter Eggs

A collection of original recipes by Agent Minty

Marshmallow Eggs (Vegan version of Russell Stover Eggs)

Makes 12 or more eggs, plus extra marshmallow filling

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Melt chocolate in microwave and use 1-2 tsp per cavity to line walls.Freeze for 5 minutes.
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  2. Check to see if chocolate is thick enough. If you can see light through, add another thin later and chill for another 5 minutes or more.
  3. Prepare marshmallow filling according to recipe and transfer 2 cups to a large piping bag with no tip.
  4. Dollop about 2 Tbsp of rolling per moulded egg.
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  5. Using a damp fingertip, smooth top of marshmallow down to better fill egg mould.
  6. Chill for at least 10 minutes.
  7. Re-melt chocolate and smooth chocolate over marshmallows, paying special attention to edges of the first half shell.
  8. Chill for at least 20 minutes before removing from mould and wrapping with foil.
  9. Optional: Pipe out remaining marshmallow mix onto sheets of parchment paper coated with fine sugar. Toss with more sugar. If cutting long tubes into short marshmallows, let cure for at least 30 minutes before cutting with scissors. Cure, uncovered, overnight for best texture.

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Peanut Butter Eggs (Vegan version of Reese Eggs)

Makes 20 or more eggs. Scale as needed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2-3 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cups + 1 Tbsp icing sugar
  • 3/8 tsp salt (if the peanut butter you use has salt, cut to 1/8 tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Melt chocolate in microwave and use 1-2 tsp per cavity to line walls.Freeze for 5 minutes. Coat a second time if needed.
  2. Mix together remaining ingredients until a smooth paste forms.
  3. Press 2-3 tsp of filling into each cavity and top with more melted chocolate.
  4. Store excess peanut butter filling in fridge between uses.
  5. Chill for at least 20 minutes before removing from mould and wrapping with foil.
  6. Repeat steps 1 and 3 to make more eggs as desired.

 

Fruit and Nut Eggs (Vegan version of Cadbury Fruit&Nut Bar)

Makes 8 or more eggs. Scale as needed.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbsp blanched, slivered almonds
  • 1/4 – 5Tbsp raisins

Instructions:

  1. Toast slivered almonds for about five minutes until light brown.
  2. Coarsely chop raisins and toasted almonds.
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  3. Melt chocolate and stir in chopped raisins and almonds.
  4. Fill moulds. Tap on a counter to remove air bubbles.
  5. Chill at least 30 minutes before removing from mould and wrapping with foil.
  6. Re-warm chocolate mixture briefly if needed to fill more moulds.

 

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Happy Easter!

OMG VEGAN MARSHMALLOWS!!!

This is what has been missing in your animal-free life:

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It isn’t an animal product, it’s a homemade marshmallow. Soft, fluffy, sweet. Toastable.

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Delicious for piping onto cupcakes and making, say, s’mores-themed desserts.

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You CAN make these at home. Some of the ingredients are slightly exotic, but easy enough to find at any organic or health food store. The magic ingredient is the juice from a can of chickpeas, known by many vegans as aqua faba. This whips up to fabulous, magical fluffy mock egg whites and serves as the base for the marshmallows, along with a few other ingredients.

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Next you beat in a hot syrup to make the candy, and then add in an agar-agar solution (instead of the traditional, animal-based gelatine). After a good amount of beating, the mixture will “vulcanize” and you’ll be ready to make marshmallows. Some recipes advise pouring it into a pan and cutting them into cubes, but I found that this makes a wet mess. Piping them into “kisses” provides more surface area, helping them dry properly.

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I found the recipe originally on Seitan Is my Motor, but made a few modifications. Please read their link for more information… the more you read in preparation, the more likely it is to go smoothly!

In addition, I’ve provided a recipe below for some crazy-good s’mores cupcakes. These have a graham cracker-flavoured cake with a soft chocolate ganache, topped with toasted marshmallow. I thought they would be best fresh, but they are even more delicious if assembled the night before and allowed to sit at room temperature overnight before serving. Pull these babies out when you want to seriously impress people.

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Vegan Marshmallows – Modified from Seitan is my Motor

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup golden cane or corn syrup (or half white corn syrup and half golden, but NOT ALL white corn syrup)
  • 1/2 cup juice from canned chickpeas
  • 1 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp agar powder
  • Icing sugar
Specialized equipment:
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment
  • Candy thermometer
  • Two small/medium saucepans
  • Large piping bag
  • Waxed paper
Instructions:
  1. Combine 1/2 cup water and sugar in a medium pot. Whisk until combined.
  2. Stir in cream of tartar and syrup.
  3. Heat on medium, stirring once or twice, until mixture comes to a boil.
  4. Continue to simmer without stirring, and place a candy thermometer in the pot to measure temperature.
  5. Occasionally rush down splattered syrup from sides of pot with a brush dipped in water, and allow syrup to cook until it reaches 248F/120C. This will take five to ten minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, combine chickpea juice, Xantham gum, and lemon juice in the bowl of your mixer with a whisk attachment.
  7. Whisk chickpea mixture until it is stiff, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add vanilla at beat for another two minutes.
  9. Whisk together agar powder and 1/4 water in a small saucepan, and turn heat to low.
  10. While still monitoring the syrup temperature, gently stir to agar mixture without letting it come to a simmer.
  11. Once the syrup has reached 248F/120C, turn on mixer with chickpea foam inside. Slowly pour hot syrup into the mixing foam.
  12. Beat on high speed for two-four minutes, while finishing the agar mixture.
  13. Bring the agar to a simmer. Stir in 1 tsp more water.
  14. Using your wet brush to wash any specks of agar the are on the sides of the pot while continuing to cook.
  15. To test whether agar is ready, dip a fork into the solution and wave in the air to slightly cool off. When you taste the mixture, it should be smooth and not gritty.
  16. Once the agar is ready, pour/scrape into the running mixer.
  17. After incorporating the agar, pause mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  18. Resume beating the mixture at high speed for at least five minutes, until the mixture is cooled to just above room temperature. You will notice that a bit of the mixture, when spooned out and waved around to cool, starts to get a bit rubbery.
  19. Scoop mixture into a large piping bag without a tip.
  20. Dust a sheet of waxed paper with icing sugar.
  21. Pipe dollops (about 1 Tbsp in size) of mixture onto the sheet; if you wish you can also pipe onto prepared cupcakes (see below).
  22. For loose marshmallows, sift with icing sugar and allow to cure at room temperature, uncovered, for at least a day.

S’mores cupcakes – An original recipe by Agent Minty

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

  • 70g graham crackers (about 4.5 large sheets)
  • 3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance/non-dairy hard margarine
  • 6 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 3 tsp egg replacer powder
  • 2 Tbsp (40g) creamed honey, melted
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk

Ganache

  • 1/4 cup coconut cream from a can
  • 2.3 cup chocolate chips

Prepared Marshmallow mix from above (Do not prepare until cupcakes and ganache have been assembled)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Process graham crackers in a food processor to get fine crumbs – This should make 1/2 cup +3 Tbsp.
  3. Combine crumbs with flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Cream together margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar in a stand mixer.
  5. Whisk together vanilla, water, and egg replacer until slightly frothy. Add to butter mixture.
  6. Mix honey, canola oil, and lemon juice to butter mixture, stirring until well combined.
  7. Add in half of flour mixture, stirring until evenly mixed.
  8. Scrape down bowl and add milk, mixing well.
  9. Mix in remaining dry mixture.
  10. Divide mixture between 12 lined muffin tins.
  11. Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted into cupcake come out dry.
  12. Remove to cooling rack and cool for at least an hour (prepare ganache at this time).

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  13. Heat coconut cream in a saucepan or in the microwave until hot but not boiling.
  14. Stir in chocolate chips until melted.
  15. Set aside to cool for at least one hour.

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  16. Scoop a tablespoonful of ganache onto the centre of each cupcake.
  17. Set cupcakes in the refrigerator to harden ganache for at least 20 minutes, while making marshmallow mixture.
  18. Pipe a generous amount of marshmallow on top of each cupcake.
  19. Allow to cure at room temperature for at least an hour.
  20. Using a torch, toast the surface of the marshmallows before serving.

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Pi Day

You all know March 14 is Pi day, right? 3/14 (to the part of the world that is crazy and writes dates backwards like that), similar to 3.14, the rounded-off value of Pi. Geeks celebrate by eating pies!

I was busy during the day, and didn’t get around to posting a picture of the pie I made on time yesterday, but here it is. Sorry about the lousy picture, but I was in a hurry to snap a picture before Mme. Minty started devouring it!

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I veganized this recipe I found online, and it was delicious… Chocolate Almond Strawberry Linzertorte. It is a variation on the classic german tart made with an almond-based crust and jam filling. The crust is closer to a cookie than pastry, and it has a dense, rich flavour.

I hope you all had a great 3/14/15 🙂

Dream Date Cookies

As the stores are already littered with Valentine’s Day displays, memories come to mind of my childhood ideas about what “romance” meant. Flowers, dinners in fancy restaurants, and, for some bizarre reason, having a date who would appreciate it when I wore pantyhose (I think I associated it with being grown up). And of course the mysterious lover would be attractive, sweet, think I was funny.

I did and up marrying someone I love, who is sweet, beautiful, and has a sense of humour. Sure, flowers and fancy dinners happen sometimes, but the love and romance stems from more than that. Coming home during a stressful week and her playing an album on the stereo that I told her I’ve been thinking of for a while. Picking up her favourite candy when I’m out running errands. Taking the time to learn about and become interested in each others’ hobbies. After nearly a decade, love still isn’t boring. Making cookies for each other helps, too.

Dream Date Cookies (4 of 5)

These cookies could be described as a cross between chocolate shortbread and a trail mix cookie, with lots of chocolate flavour. Share them with whomever you love.

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Double-Chocolate Dream Date Cookies – An original recipe by Agent Minty

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated coconut
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup soft margarine
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp egg replacer + 2.5 Tbsp water, mixed well
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (cheap ones are fine)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Process rolled oats in a blender or food processor until they are a coarse, uniform flour (think bran flake size).
  3. Combine oat flour in a bowl with salt, flour, coconut, cocoa, and baking powder.
  4. Cream together margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  5. Add in vanilla and “egg” and beat until fluffy.
  6. Mix in dry ingredients.
  7. Stir in chopped dates and chocolate chips.
  8. Drop in 2-Tbsp piles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes in the middle of the oven, rotating sheets halfway through.
  10. For best texture, cool completely before eating.

Dream Date Cookies (3 of 5)

Christmas Ice Cream – Candy Cane Crackle

Canadian readers will probably be familiar with President’s Choice Candy Cane ice cream. It came out in 1995 and was immediately my favourite ice cream ever. Rich vanilla ice cream with chunks of candy cane and ribbons of hard chocolate that crackled when you scooped some out. Our whole family looked forward to eating it for dessert in December. It underwent a redesign about five years ago and hasn’t been the same since – now the ice cream is minty, there are red and green globs of candy instead of broken candy canes, and the ice cream itself isn’t as rich. I don’t have a picture of the old version, but here’s what it looks like now:

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I have tweaked the recipe over the past two years until it is as creamy and crackly as I remember. It is with pride that I’m sharing it with you now… hopefully it will be a Christmas favourite with your family, too!

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Christmas Crackle Ice Cream

The vanilla base is modified from the French Vanilla ice cream in Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan a la Mode, but the rest of the ideas are my own. Note that this recipe makes a large batch of ice cream – lots to share!

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder (for whiter ice cream, use half custard powder and half corn starch)
  • 1 cup soy milk or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 can gold (high-fat) coconut milk, left in a cool place to separate
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla paste, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp vodka
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, or shortening
  • 6 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of crushed green and red candy canes (red only is fine, the addition of green is just prettier to me)

Instructions:

  1. Whisk the custard powder and 1 cup of milk in a saucepan until thoroughly dissolved.
  2. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Slowly warm the mixture on low to medium heat, whisking the whole time.
  4. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring heat to medium.
  5. Add in remaining almond milk and salt.
  6. Stir until the mixture thickens.
  7. Meanwhile, scoop out fatty portion of coconut milk (should be 1 1/4 to 1 2/3 cups) and microwave for 30 seconds to soften.
  8. Once the mixture on the stove is the consistency of a light pudding, take off the heat.
  9. Stir in coconut milk and vanilla.
  10. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  11. Add in vodka.
  12. Cool for at least two hours, stirring occasionally to break up the “skin” that forms.  If you forget to stir, just whiz the mixture for a few seconds with an immersion blender before freezing.IMG_2533
  13. Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze until the ice cream is quite stiff.
  14. Meanwhile, melt together the chocolate chips and coconut oil
  15. Add the crushed candy canes and mix in the ice cream maker for only about one minute. Adding the candy canes too early will allow them to bleed – you’ll get grey ice cream!
  16. Scoop out about half a cup of ice cream, drizzle melted chocolate in thin strings on top. Aim for thin layers!IMG_2543
  17. Repeat until all of the ice cream is used up. You’ll have a little chocolate left over.
  18. Freeze for at least two hours.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas!

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Nephew Cookies

I announce that I’m back to blogging, and then what happens?

I have a string of kitchen failures: VegNews’ vegan eclairs, after two tries, still end up mediocre; tortillas that stick and burn to the pan; mock chicken noodle soup that looks unmentionably unappetizing (but tasty).

I catch a raging cold/pinkeye from my wife and am out of commission for nearly two weeks.

But I’m mostly on the mend, and nothing makes me feel better than making something in the kitchen. As it is a long weekend, I have lots of time to play. I don’t feel like inventing something new, so I’m just sharing some old favourites. Today I made cookies invented by my wife with our nephew a while back. We had little of any particular baking ingredient left, so they combined them all to make something delicious. We actually refer to these as “_____’s cookies”, but since this nephew is now a pre-teen who spends way too much time online, we’ll keep him anonymous. Anyway, these are great with a mug of tea on an autumn afternoon, or shared with young chocolate-loving relatives.

Nephew cookies

Nephew Cookies 

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

If using powdered egg replacer, take the time to really beat the mixture until frothy.
If you prefer thin, chewy cookies, use the higher amount of margarine, if you prefer softer, puffy cookies, use the lower amount.

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegan margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly backed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 “egg”
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup +2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp grates nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup blanched, salted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • about 1/4 cup dark chocolate melting wafers
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together butter and both sugars.
  3. Whisk egg well and add to butter mixture, along with vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Add in flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Mix well.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips, peanuts, and almonds.
  6. Drop in 2-inch mounds on a greased cookie sheet. Press a melting wafer into the centre of each cookie.
  7. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through.
  8. Allow cookies to firm up for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.