RECIPES

Girl Scout Cookie Time 2017


It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

I am guilty of peddling cases of those cookies all those years ago. I only made it as far as a Junior Girl Scout, as there were no troops for my age group in my area past the 6th grade. I still support the GSA at Cookie Time, though I usually do it in the form of a donation rather than buying a box of cookies that I won’t eat. Not because they aren’t delicious, but because I am a dedicated vegan.

As a vegan, there were no varieties that I could eat, up until recently. There was news on the radio the other day that Thin Mints are now vegan (!) I knew that there are only two companies in the US that make Girl Scout cookies, and one of them was proactive and offered several vegan varieties. Of course, that was the company that wasn’t the distributor in my area 😦 Now the other company has come on board and offer my favorite cookie, the Thin Mint , as a vegan option. (YAY!)

So now I can go track down a local troop selling cookies in my area . (There’s an app for that BTW) to buy some Thin Mints. The other varieties , sadly are not yet vegan.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t make my own (I could make Thin Mints too, but I want to support the Girl Scouts so while they are available and vegan, I will do that). Because it is Girl Scout Cookie Time, this entry is dedicated to the Samoa, the chocolatey, caramelized coconutty shortbread-like cookie that you can’t eat just one of. I made batch of these and took them into work and they were gone in a flash. (Yes, there were THAT good!)

There are several steps, but none are too difficult. They don’t even take all that long to make.

For the cookie:

2 c unsweetened coconut chips, lightly toasted
1/2 c unrefined coconut oil
2 TBSP vegan margarine
¾ c brown sugar
1/3 c nondairy milk
1 TBSP ground flax seeds
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c unbleached flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

For the caramel:

1 TBSP vegan margarine
1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ c brown rice syrup
1-14 oz can of full-fat coconut milk
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp tapioca starch/flour, dissolved in 2 TBSP water or coconut milk

For the chocolate:
1-10 oz bag of vegan semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper – this is necessary to keep the cookies from becoming permanently part of the baking sheet… it’s not a step that is worth skipping. Parchment paper is cheap. I had actually run out of it and made a special trip to the grocery store just to buy it.

There are many ways to toast coconut, including in the conventional oven, on the stovetop, or in a toaster oven. It is also an option to buy coconut that is already toasted if you don’t want to deal with this. I like the stovetop method best, using a dry cast iron skillet. It gets very hot very fast though, and it needs to be watched carefully so the coconut does not burn. Once the cast iron skillet is hot, remove it from the heat. Add the coconut chips to the skillet in a single layer so it cooks evenly. If it won’t all fit in there at the same time it’s OK. It can be toasted a little bit at a time. Give it a quick toss to lightly toast the coconut and then transfer it to a plate or bowl to stop the cooking process and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, vegan margarine, and brown sugar. Using a hand mixer, cream the sugar, coconut oil and vegan margarine together. Add nondairy milk of choice (I used plain, unsweetened almond milk) and pure vanilla extract and mix again until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine unbleached flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Fold coconut chips into the dough.

Scoop out a small amount of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten into small circles about 1/4”-1/2” thick. I like a crispy cookie, so I tend to make them thinner. These will not spread much, so you can place them close to each other on the baking sheet, just make sure they are not touching. Bake at 350ºF for 6-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to set for at least 5 minutes.

Remove 2 TBSP coconut milk from the can and mix with 1 tsp tapioca starch/flour and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt vegan margarine on medium low heat. Add brown sugar, brown rice syrup, salt and remaining coconut milk. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Increase heat to high and add dissolved tapioca starch/flour and bring to a boil. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens. Reduce heat to low, and add in pure vanilla extract. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler and set aside. To make the chocolate a little thinner, you can add a little bit of cocoa butter (available at most good culinary shops), but it isn’t necessary if you can’t find it in your area.

Once the cookies are baked and cool, turn all the cookies upside down and spread a small amount of melted chocolate on the bottom side. Allow the chocolate to set, which can be done by placing the whole baking sheet of cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or so. Once it is set, flip all the cookies over.

Spoon a small amount of caramel on the top side of each cookie, followed by a drizzle of chocolate on top of the caramel. Refrigerate again for 15-20 minutes to set the chocolate up, and enjoy any time of year, not just when it’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

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NEWSWORTHY, RECIPES

Good Things Utah Vegan Cooking Segment!


On Monday, 27 March 2017, I shared my recipes for vegan chocolates on ABC 4 Utah’s morning show, Good Things Utah.  Thanks to everyone on the show-I had a great time 🙂

http://www.good4utah.com/good-things-utah/gtu-recipes/vegan-chocolates-peanut-butter-cups-almond-delites-and-truffles/681234172

A few notes that I did not have time to talk about when doing the segment:

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups can be made gluten free by using gluten free Annie’s GF cinnamon sugar snickerdoodle cookies (pulse in a food processor to get crumbs) in place of a graham cracker pie crust shell (I use these in lieu of just buying graham crackers because almost all of them have honey in them, which is not vegan. It’s tough to find organic graham cracker pie crust shells in SLC this time of year, so you go with whatever you can find). You can buy GF graham crackers, but none I’ve seen are also vegan. If you have extra time, you can make your own GF graham crackers, using this recipe here: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/11/05/gluten-free-and-vegan-graham-crackers/

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups can be peanut free too (WHAT!!!) …. You can use one of my very favorite products, called SunButter. It tastes a lot like peanut butter but it is made with sunflower seeds! Make sure you buy the SunButter brand though, as it is the best tasting (not getting any kickbacks-just personal opinion). It’s kind of expensive, but SO worth it! Sometimes it’s on sale or you might get a manufacturer’s or store coupon for it in the mail (Got a $1 off coupon in the mail from Smith’s last week-it might also be on their website to load onto your Fresh Values Card it you have one-definitely check it out).

If you are out of powdered sugar or don’t want to pay $4 for a bag of organic vegan powdered sugar, you can make your own!  I use unbleached cane sugar/evaporated cane juice. Cane sugar is vegan if it is unbleached-pure white bleached sugar goes through a bone-char filter to get it to be so white. It doesn’t change its properties per se, but it is kind of like having something nonvegan sharing the same plate as your vegan meal. It’s a matter of principle…

For every 1 cup of unbleached sugar, use 1 TBSP non-GMO cornstarch. You can do it in a high speed blender (VitaMix, BlendTec or other blender-use dry canister). You want your unbleached sugar to be superfine in texture, so I actually run it through a clean coffee grinder (mixing the two in a bowl first, then in small batches, running it through the coffee grinder, then transfer to an airtight container for any unused portions).

For the vegan truffles, you can make these nut-free too. If you can’t use cashews (too expensive, sold out everywhere, allergies, whatever the reason), you can use tofu instead. It’s a mousse filling, so it also doubles as a pie filling! Though soy based, it gets a bad rap. Its health benefits outweigh any negative press it has gotten (it will not give you Moobs and medical studies have been inconclusive about causing cancer).

There’s no real measuring that needs to happen with any of these recipes-I never measure anything… But for those who need ratios:

PEANUT BUTTER CUPS/SUNBUTTER CUPS

1/2 jar peanut butter OR SunButter

1/2 c powdered sugar

1-9″ vegan graham cracker pie crust

ALMOND DELITES

1 part unsweetened coconut flakes

1 part sliced almonds

2 parts Brown Rice Syrup

Mix everything together in a bowl-let it sit for a bit for the coconut to rehydrate. I usually start with 1/4 c almonds, 1/4 c coconut flakes and 1/2 c Brown Rice Syrup. A little bit goes a LONG way. Adjust amounts of Brown Rice  Syrup if too dry, add more coconut or almonds if too wet. These are like an       Almond Joy-if you can’t eat almonds, you can leave them out and then it’s more like Mounds. When I started making these, I used Agave Nectar, which works too, but it’s not as thick as BrownRice Syrup, and I like the BRS version  much better. You can buy it at Sprouts and Whole Foods (and possibly other       places too).  Make sure to wipe down the lip of your jar of Brown Rice Syrup  because it is VERY sticky and if you put the lid on without doing this, it will be hard to open it the next time you want to use it.

TRUFFLES

Cashew Creme (soak cashews at least 2 hours, drain & rinse, then transfer to a blender and add just enough cold water to barely cover. Blend until smooth). Start with 1/4 c cashew creme and add 1/4 c melted chocolate chips and blend again until well incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides & blend again. Transfer to candy molds and refrigerated until solidified. These can have either a hard candy shell or you can just roll them in cocoa powder, nuts, coconut, etc. If choosing the hard candy shell, prepare in the same way as PB Cups & Almond Delites. (see video)