• Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Spiced Cranberry Apple Pie

    How did it get this late in the year guys?

    I don’t know, but I’m guessing those of you celebrating a holiday tomorrow and probably even many of you that aren’t, are busy doing lots of baking now that the holiday season is in full swing. This year has been quite a whirlwind for me but I’m really enjoying that things seem to be settling down a little bit for the end of it.

    I don’t typically bake that many pies throughout the year but I think there’s some unspoken law that says when the holidays roll around at least one or two pies are mandatory. Oh, and also when planning the dessert menu for Thanksgiving or Christmas a pie or two is almost always on the top of the list as nonnegotiable.

    So as strange as it is after so many years of baking for a blog, I’ve never used fresh cranberries before. Mostly it’s because when I started blogging in Chile I didn’t have them available to me, but it’s also because I generally prefer craisins for using in recipes just because they are sweet and taste good on their own so it’s a bit easier to get the right balance of sweet and tart.

    Some of my family prefer their pie on the sweeter side rather than tart so I will note that using craisins in place of the fresh cranberries is totally an option (but about half the amount), especially if you aren’t a big fan of the tartness in your pie. It really will just depend on your personal preference. Another thing I like to do when making fruit pies like this is to precook the filling before assembling the final pie for baking. I know many recipes will call for simply adding the fruit into the crust fresh, but I just feel like you get a better finished product and can have a little more control over it when you start with partially cooked fruit.

    Alright, so I hope your baking is going well and I’d love to know what you think if you decide to try this. Be sure to let me know in the comments what you think and if you share a picture on your socials be sure to tag me so I can share it!

    XOXO

     

    Spiced Cranberry Apple Pie

    A sweet and tart pie with a hint of orange zest and all the yummy spice. Perfect for the holidays!
    Prep Time 40 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
    Servings 1 9" pie

    Ingredients

    Filling:

    • 5 -6 medium apples peeled, cored, and chopped into cubes
    • 2 cups fresh cranberries *see note
    • 1 2/3 cup brown sugar packed
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 3 tablespoons almond milk
    • 2 tablespoons regular or course sugar

    Crust:

    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1 cup ice coconut oil cubed or organic vegetable shortening
    • 1/2 cup ice cold water

    Instructions

    Crust:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse. Add coconut oil and pulse a few times more until crumbly. Add water and process until the dough comes together adding a little more water if necessary. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and form into a ball, then divide in half and flatten each half into disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 1 hour or until ready to use.

    Filling:

    1. While pastry is chilling, make filling by combining coconut oil, apples, cranberries, brown sugar, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Cook the fruit over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Whisk the cornstarch with about 3 tablespoons water and add to the pan. Bring just to a boil then reduce to low and simmer until thickened, about 1 additional minute. Stir in vanilla and remove the filling from heat; set aside.

    Assemble:

    1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Roll out one half of pastry dough on lightly floured surface into a circle that is roughly 13 inches in diameter. Gently roll around rolling pin and lift over a 9-inch pie pan. Unroll over pan and press down then trim edges leaving 1 inch of overhang.
    2. Pour cooled cherry filling into crust, usin a rubber scraper to clean the bowl. Now roll second half of dough just like the first and either cut into strips for a lattice top or leave solid and simply cut slits for venting. Place on top of filling and trim and crimp edges (You can use the extra to make decorative pieces for top. I made cute little hearts and leaves!). Brush top with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar to make it sparkle!
    3. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 degrees F (180 C) and continue baking 25 - 30 minutes until crust is golden brown around edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

    Recipe Notes

    *If you prefer to use craisins instead of fresh cranberries use more like 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar.

  • Breakfast,  Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Snacks,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Almond Nog Vanilla Bean Streusel Muffins (Vegan)

    Hey again!

    How did your weekend go? I hope it was merry, bright, and filled with fresh memories that you’ll want to keep forever! I know that for a small few of you (the scrooges and grinches of the world) today might feel like a relief, but the rest of us this is sort of the saddest day of the year. Then add on top of that the fact that it’s also Monday again and I just think we all could use a muffin this morning, agreed?

    Okay, I should probably take back my accusation about you being a grinch if your relieved because I’m honestly feeling just a little bit of that now that the rush of planning and everything is past. Aside from that though, I’m still really sad it’s over. We still have New Year’s coming of course, but personally there’s just no comparison between the two holidays. Christmas is the best! Actually, it’s rare for my family to do much of anything for New Year’s aside from staying up late to ring in the new year. Haha, although this year we may end up doing our family Christmas photos on New Year’s because, following our recent custom, they totally never happened. It’s so hard to organize this big of a group to get photos, but hopefully we can get them done anyway.

    So these sweet crumbly muffins, I feel like they’re just the answer you need for all that nog you’ve probably got leftover in your fridge. I mean, if you share any of my enthusiasm for the holidays then maybe you’ll understand when I say how downright depressing it is for me to have it around more than a few days after the season ends. Well, and if you aren’t a fan of nog in the first place then maybe you can at least try to imagine feeling that way. Like I said, it’s depressing.

    Oh, and I guess there’s the possibility that you like it so much that there’s no way you’d ever have it leftover. In that case I bet you can catch a great discount now that the grocery stores will be clearing it out, or maybe you make it at home like I do so you can just whip up some more. Have you ever tried making it, it’s super easy? Here’s my recipe if you want to try it. I love doing it homemade because it’s so nice to be able to control the ingredients.

    So maybe you don’t need a muffin because you feel sad about the season coming to an end. The point is that these muffins are worth a try even if you don’t have any nog that is “leftover” per se. The flavor of the vanilla bean compliments the eggnog perfectly and the topping is probably the best part! I’ve said before that muffins without some kind of topping are like cupcakes’ sad cousins and I stand firm in that opinion. There simply has to be streusel on top or no deal.

    Okay, I hope you try them and if you do I’d love to know what you think. Have a great last week of the year guys!

    Almond Nog Vanilla Bean Streusel Muffins (Vegan)

    The holidays just wouldn't be the same without all of the flavors that go with them. Nog makes the perfect addition to these soft and crumbly muffins that go great with a mug of coffee or tea!
    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 50 minutes

    Ingredients

    Muffins:

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup oil any neutrally flavored oil should be fine
    • 1 1/4 cup almond milk nog or coconut
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • 1 1/4 cups flour

    Streusel:

    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil melted
    • 1/2 cup granular sugar
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 2 tablespoons almond milk nog or coconut
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease a 12-count muffin tin with oil (or line with paper cups if preferred).
    2. Stir the coconut oil and sugar for streusel in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the vanilla bean scrapings, nutmeg, salt, and flour and stir until combined into a crumbly mixture, then add the eggnog and mix until it comes together into a dough. Now scrape out the streusel into a separate bowl and set aside so you can reuse mixing bowl for muffin batter,
    3. Mix the oil and sugar in the bowl. Add the nog and beat on low until combined. Mix in soda, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean scrapings. Mix in flour last until your batter is smooth.
    4. Spoon batter into the slots in prepared pans and fill to the rim (you should get around 9 muffins). Crumble your streusel mixture over the top of each muffin then place in oven. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until tops are browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for at least 5 minutes then loosen from pan and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling or devour while still warm.
    5. Store in an air-tight container.

  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Gluten Free,  Holiday,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Toasted Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge (Vegan+GF)

    Alright, so are you ready for the weekend???

    Please tell me that I’m not the only one feeling like Christmas completely snuck up on them this year because I’m having a hard time grasping the fact that tomorrow’s Christmas Eve! It’s exciting though, and I feel pretty confident in saying that, when it comes to shopping, this was by far my most successful year since we moved here. I found some gifts that were absolutely perfect for who I want to give them to and I’m actually dealing with a little bit of childish impatience for the 25th to get here so I can give them away.

    Something else I’m excited about today is sharing this last minute recipe with you guys. Just like last year, I had a really hard time deciding which recipe to post today because it’s so close to Christmas. See, I wanted it to be something that might still have a chance at being useful as a gift or as something to add to your own table. Plus, I needed at least one fudge recipe before the year ended, don’t you think? I mean, fudge is one of my family’s favorites during the holidays so I felt like it was missing in my line-up.

    Anyway, do you remember recently how I told you about my love for toasting nuts? Well, obviously it didn’t fade at all ’cause I just couldn’t help toasting these lovely hazelnuts before adding them to the fudge. Ah, and speaking of the fudge, I wanted to tell you that it was inspired by something else I’ve been obsessed with lately, hazelnut coffee!

    It’s terrible you guys, like I can’t resist drinking a second cup (despite the fact that I’m a caffeine light-weight and it usually makes me anxious) when the delicious smell of it is floating in the air right after it perks in the morning. Yep, it’s good stuff. Hence the fact that I dreamed up a flavor of fudge to match.

    As I already said, I wanted this to be something you still had time for and I hope you do. It’s a great last-minute recipe because it’s pretty simple and you can have it ready to eat or give aways in about an hour and a half from start to finish. Not to mention, it’s like every coffee lover’s dream fudge. Light milk chocolate, crunchy toasted hazelnuts, and a good balance of coffee flavor to make it completely irresistible.

    Oh, and if you’re among the many novice candy makers who have had one too many fudge fails in the past, don’t let that stop you. You got this! Honestly, you don’t really even need a thermometer if you don’t have one, (I’m currently in the market for a new one as my adorable nephew was a bit too enthusiastic about my last one.) but feel free to use one for accuracy if you want.

    Okay, so I’m sure we’ve all got bunches to do today, but hopefully you have time to squeeze this in because it needs to be part of your holiday! Have a Merry Christmas you guys!

     

    Toasted Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge (Vegan+GF)

    Basic fudge is always a delicious treat to bring to a party, but show up with this and you'll be everyone's best friend.

    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 25 minutes
    Total Time 40 minutes
    Servings 24 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
    • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

    -

    • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
    • 2 cups white sugar

    -

    • 1 1/2 cups gelatin free marshmallows regular or mini
    • 1/4 cup black coffee

    -

    • 1/4 cup coconut cream
    • 1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut butter
    • 2 tablespoons vegan "butter" or coconut oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 75 g about 1/2 cup non-dairy milk chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
    • 225 g about 1 1/2 cups non-dairy white chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

    Instructions

    1. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat and add the chopped hazelnuts, Toast for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until lightly golden and fragrant. Immediately pour them onto a plate and set aside to cool.
    2. Line a 9x9 inch or 7x11 inch pan with wax paper or grease with oil; set aside. Combine the marshmallows and coffee in a microwave safe bowl or double boiler and melt together until smooth.
    3. Now add the white and dark chocolate, hazelnut butter, coconut cream, butter, and vanilla and also set aside.
    4. Add the sugar, milk, and salt, to the same saucepan you used to toast the nuts and bring to a boil while stirring gently. Once it starts to boil let it cook for about 5 minutes (until it reaches 238 degrees F or 115 C if using a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add the mixture of other ingredients and stir until it's evenly melted. Stir well to combine as the chocolate melts into the fudge then add about 1/4 cup of the toasted hazelnuts.
    5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the fudge out of bowl and pour into your prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top and let the fudge cool for about 5 minutes, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill until set, about 30 minutes. Cut into squares and store in an air-tight container.

     

  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Gluten Free,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    “Egg”nog Latte (Vegan Starbucks Copycat)

    Because what better way to start the week, right?

    And especially this time of year. I mean, it’s December, everything’s getting all Christmasy, and Baby, it’s cold outside. I know I’m in the mood for lattes! What about you? Ha, as if!

    Okay I admit it, I’ve slowly been becoming a coffee addict over the past year(ish) and now I think there is a distinct possibility that I’ll end up being one of those people who can’t function without it someday. This is something that would probably bother me more, depress me even, if I wasn’t currently buzzed on the Joe. Instead I’m rationalizing that I’d never want to exist in a world without it anyway so why worry about it? But yeah, I really love the stuff.

    I always feel a little lazy when I’m sharing recipes for lattes and things like this because they’re so fast and simple it hardly counts as a recipe. On the other hand, I used homemade eggnog so that adds a little bit more complexity if you wanna try that too. Otherwise though, these takes about 5 minutes once you’ve made them once or twice, but probably closer to 10 the first time.

    I honestly think even those of you who hate eggnog alone could still fall in love with a steaming hot mug of this ultimately festive morning sip! In the past I wasn’t a fan of actual eggnog myself, solely based on the name sounding gross. That was until I tried an almond milk nog and realized that it was basically nutmeg infused melted ice cream and I was 100% sold from then on. I’ve been making it myself and it’s an amazing thing to use as an ingredient? A fact proven by these pancakes and this cake, and this hot chocolate!

      

    "Egg"nog Latte (Vegan Starbucks Copycat)

    Try drinking this favorite holiday drink in a new way, with your coffee! This latte will have you humming Christmas Carols all day long!

    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 10 minutes
    Servings 2 lattes

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups strong black coffee
    • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus more for topping
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg plus more for topping
    • 3 tablespoons granular sugar
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • 1 1/2 cups dairy free nog I used homemade but there are many varieties available such as almond, soy, and coconut.
    • non-dairy whipped cream for topping optional

    Instructions

    1. Whisk together all the ingredients (minus the whipped cream) in a small saucepan or tea kettle and set over medium high heat until hot and steaming.
    2. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and/or a dash of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg


  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Candy Cane Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cake (Vegan)

    You know those times when you wake up and realize that it’s been way long since the last time you made a cake???

    No? Okay, so that probably only applies to a few of us, but maybe you can imagine it. Those are very sad moments for me personally because I sort of have a thing for making cakes. I attribute it to my childhood of watching both my mom and, more often, my grandma (“Meme” to us) decorating gorgeous cakes. She did it professionally for years. Have mentioned that before haven’t I?

    Yeah, Meme decorated cakes at Disneyland actually and she can still crank out these perfect roses of icing so fast it would blow your mind. Of course, Mom can decorate too, but where she really gets into it is the cake baking part. She used to make the most decadent and rich cakes and that made the two of them the perfect team. I can remember many occasions when they worked together by request on stunning cakes for different occasions like birthdays or friend’s weddings.

    This was in my pre-baking-addict lifetime so I proudly held the role of chief frosting taster, it’s a position that I refuse to ever step down from, just sayin’. But now I guess in some ways I’ve taken over the majority of family baking a little bit, fine a lot a bit. Like I said though, it’s been a while since I made a new flavor so I figured it was about time.

    So chocolate and peppermint, how do you feel about this match? I feel like it’s one of those flavor combos that you have to either love it or hate it because both are such bold flavors and when put together they form something very unique. I’m on the lover’s team but I understand for those of you who aren’t. One of the main reasons I was so inspired to make a cake from this combo was that Mom found real, honest to goodness, candy canes here, and by “real” I mean peppermint flavored ones.

    For anyone who just scoffed at that, you need to understand that for the longest time those have been on my list of items that are next to impossible to find here in Chile. Last Christmas I remember sharing with you about our lack of real candy canes. There are similar candies, yes, and the iconic shape and stripes of those candies promise you the nostalgic taste that we all associate with the holiday season only to disappoint you in a big big way when you find out the are completely the wrong flavor.

    For me it doesn’t count as a candy cane any other way except if it’s classic peppermint. Our stores here usually only sell strawberry flavored ones, come on, it’s like blasphemy! Okay, maybe that’s a little much, but I still feel like they should always be minty for the Christmas season. I mean, we can eat fruity candy all Spring and Summer long, right? Clearly I feel stronger about this issue than even I had realized. Alright, I’m ending this little rant I’ve gotten into and focusing back on this exciting cake!

    It’s truly a simple cake to make and I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe as the base because, ‘why fix what ain’t broke?’ Then as for the decorating part, I kept it very simple and quick. Honestly, I had wanted to do a way more elaborate decorating job for this, but, you get it, life happens and it’s December people. Sort of ended up finishing it a lot later than I’d planned. Ugh, why did I just go on and on about how I’ve got such talented cake decorators around? Ooops.

    Hey, but the taste is what really matters here right? Besides yours can be as lovely as you want to make it and I’m a firm believer in less is more anyway. No one’s going to have the time to care about appearances while devouring this yummy treat anyway.

    So, I hope you’re having a great time with your friends and family and that you can squeeze this recipe into your busy season at some point. Maybe right between your hall-decking and tree-trimming. I obviously can’t make guarantees but I’ve got a strong feeling that the peppermint+chocolate lovers in your life are going to love this!

    Candy Cane Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cake (Vegan)

    Chocolate and peppermint are a classic holiday combination that works wonderfully in this delicious cake.

    Prep Time 35 minutes
    Cook Time 35 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
    Servings 1 cake (about 18 servings)

    Ingredients

    Cake:

    • 1 cup aquafaba liquid from 2 cans cooked chickpeas
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup organic vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup coconut oil or organic vegetable shortening ,melted
    • 1/4 cup applesauce can sub pumpkin puree if you don't mind a little more golden color
    • 2 tablespoons baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
    • 150 g about 1 cup semi-sweet dark chocolate chips, or chunks
    • 3 cups flour

    Frosting:

    • 5 cups powdered sugar
    • 3/4 cup 1 1/2 sticks vegan butter, softened to room temp
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond milk
    • 1/2 cup broken candy cane or peppermint candy pieces

    Topping (Optional):

    • 150 g about 1 cup dairy free semi-sweet dark chocolate, roughly chopped
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup broken candy cane or peppermint candy pieces
    • Candy canes as desired for decorating

    Instructions

    Cake:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and line 3 (8-inch) cake pans with parchment paper. Pour aquafaba into bowl of stand mixer and beat until its begins to look light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Slowly drizzle in sugar while beating on high and continue until it forms stiff peaks (it should take about 5 more minutes).
    2. In separate large mixing bowl, stir together the lemon juice, applesauce, melted coconut oil, oil, and extracts. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and gently stir.
    3. Remove the mixer bowl from the mixer and use a large spatula to gently fold in the aquafaba into the other bowl of ingredients just until fairly combined. (It's actually better to leave some small lumps then to overmix and lose volume.) Then add the chocolate chips and fold in gently.
    4. Divide batter into the pans as evenly as possible. Bake for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and edges are lightly golden. Remove the cakes from oven and cool completely before frosting. (I prefer to cover them and place them in the freezer for at least an hour.)

    Frosting:

    1. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl until creamed. Add vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add almond milk beat until light and fluffy. Add more milk as needed for frosting consistency. Stir in the peppermint pieces (*see note) until combined.

    Assemble:

    1. Once cakes are cooled, use a sharp knife to loosen the sides and gently remove cakes from pans. Peel off the parchment and place one of the layers on your desired plate or tray.
    2. Spread a layer of the icing on top. Add another cake layer and again spread on a generous amount of frosting, then repeat once more and now spread frosting also on the sides of the cake until you have a smooth coat on the whole cake.
    3. Melt the chocolate with the coconut oil in a double boiler until smooth, then carefully pour it over the cake and spread just to the edges to allow it to drip down the sides a bit. Sprinkle the top with additional candy cane pieces and decorate as desired with candy canes or anything else you'd like.

    Recipe Notes

    If you'd prefer your icing to be smooth and creamy, feel free to skip the candy cane pieces and replace them with 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract

    -

    It's best to store the cake in something such as a cake dome to prevent it drying out.

     

  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Cream Cheese Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

    So tell me, how was your weekend? I hope it was the best, first weekend of December ever!!!

    And now I say it’s only fitting to make this the best, first Monday of December by baking up a storm of Christmas cookies. You with me????

    Okay, so this past week I was in the mood to decorate some Christmas cookies but I realized I don’t have a basic cut-out sugar cookie recipe on the blog and I was like “What!?!?” That’s unacceptable in my book, what an outrage. Of course, I think everyone has plenty of the very basic types of recipes for them so I thought I’d do a little variation and add cream cheese to mine this time.

    I tried a few different versions cuz the cream cheese gives them a different texture and, I’ll be honest here, the first batch were like cardboard. That’s part of the experimenting and recipe development process though. I think around batch number 3 they were pretty good and then by batch number 4 it was almost exactly what I was going for. I wanted enough cream cheese in them to taste it but not so much the it ruined them by making them dry. You’ll have to tell me what you think, but I think this recipe gets that balance just right. Alright, then after all the baking and boring stuff it’s time for the fun part, decorating them with anything and everything you see fit! Yay!

    Confession: I have a problem with getting overwhelmed by my own overload of inspiration in things like cookie decorating. I mean, do you have any idea how many ways you can do them, there are endless possibilities. You can make them round or cut them into shapes, you can add coloring to the dough or just to the frosting, you can coat them in sparkly sugar and call it good or leave them plain and add icing…. Oh, and don’t even get me started on things like slice and bake shapes and sprinkles! Do you see my problem here?

    Hopefully you’re more decisive in this than I am. As you can see I finally chose one of the most simplistic approaches and left them white on white with minimal icing to save myself the headache, but of course colors would be fun for the kiddos. It’s just that the older I get the more I appreciate plain, no-dye icing and a more rustic look. It’s the purist side of my personality. Call me a cookie snob, but it’s like I feel that they’re more sophisticated looking that way.

    Ah, speaking of that, question: how do you guys feel about colored Christmas lights? Yes, you love them, or no, not at all? Kinda, sorta? I’ve realized this Christmas season that I’ve allowed something to happen to me and I’m finding it pretty hilarious in fact. I’ve taken on one of my parent’s opinions (Haha, I know, the very thing we all promise ourselves never to do, right?) and I pretty much hate them. My dad always said that he thought they looked cheap so we never had them in our decor and now they just don’t seem right to me.

    Fine, I guess hate is a bit strong and I should clarify what I mean. I just don’t like them at all when mixed with classic white lights in the same room. Maybe they’re okay if it’s only colored lights in a room or on the outside of a house, but I still prefer the white over the colored ones all day long. For example, my sister wanted to decorate her son’s room this year since it’s his first Christmas that he’ll be old enough to really enjoy it, so she used the extra lights we had after putting up all the decorations and the only lights left were the colored. I actually like how she used them when they were on their own. Yeah, okay, I’m a weirdo and this probably doesn’t make much sense.

    Anyway thought, whether you like all the colors or not, you still should make these cookies and your Monday is gonna be awesome! Ooooooh, and, AND, don’t forget to weigh the options for your perfect accompanying drinks! Cocoa, nog, chai lattes, mugs of steaming hot coffee, or anything else you might see fit to drink with them! Have a great week!

    Cream Cheese Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

    The holiday season just wouldn't be complete without a day of cookie baking. These simple sugar cookies get their lovely flavor and texture from a few unexpected ingredients.

    Prep Time 25 minutes
    Cook Time 25 minutes
    Chilling Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 50 minutes
    Servings 24 cookies (about)

    Ingredients

    Cookies

    • 1/2 cup vegan butter softened or organic vegetable shortening
    • 1/2 cup vegan "cream cheese" (I used GoVeggie) softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour

    Icing:

    • 1/3 cup almond milk
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt

    Instructions

    Cookies:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar together until creamed (about 2 minutes). Mix in extracts and scrape the sides of bowl then sift in flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until the flour is combined, trying not to overmix. Scrape the dough out of bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a ball and flatten into a disc then place it on a large plate and cover with plastic wrap to seal. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.
    2. Once cold, divide the dough in half and roll out each half one at a time on a lightly floured surface into a layer about 1/2 inch thick. Use a sharp knife or cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. (For an easier option you can skip rolling them out and simply form the dough into 1 inch balls for round cookies. Another easy option is to form the dough into a, 2- inch in diameter log, and chill until hard enough to slice and bake.) 

    3. Place cookies at least 1-inch apart on a parchment lined baking tray and place tray in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill before baking. (This helps them to keep they're shapes perfectly and also helps them bake soft.

    4. Once chilled, bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly browned on edges. Remove from oven and cool completely. If desired, decorate with frosting and sprinkles. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

    Icing:

    1. Mix all ingredients for icing in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon it into a small tipped pastry bag and decorate the cookies as desired.
  • Breakfast,  Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Chestnut Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls

    Well, it’s already mid-week you guys so I was thinking by now it would be okay to share something slightly sinful………

    I was trying to wait since I know so many of us had our huge Thanksgiving feasts last week and some might have needed a few days to recover from it all. You know, like a grace period. But now I’d say it’s probably safe to share something on the indulgent side of things, and um, this definitely qualifies!

    So am I the only one feeling a little bit behind on Christmas shopping all of a sudden? I mean, December starts tomorrow and I seriously don’t know what happened to the year. Anyone want to become my personal shopper in trade for treats?

    Okay, so does anyone want a cinnamon roll? My idea was initially to make just chocolate cinnamon rolls because that’s something I make that I’ve been wanting to share with you anyway. When I make cinnamon rolls I like to do some all chocolate ones because I’ve got cinnamon haters in the house and I like to please everyone if possible. Besides, no one could ever complain about too much chocolate, so it’s a safe choice.

    The chestnuts were an afterthought because, as I just told you Monday, I’ve got lots of them on my hands they just seemed like they’d be the perfect festive touch that these sweets were missing. I love the combo of flavors when you put them with chocolate, and in this case I also added cinnamon for good measure. Super yum!

    Here’s the thing though, if you don’t want to, or don’t have access to, use chestnuts, I’ve done this recipe with other nuts too. I think almond flour is the perfect replacement but because chestnuts are a little bit starchier than other nuts I’ll add a bit of arrowroot starch. Just read the recipe notes, lol. Truth is, I actually prefer nuttier nuts because it ends up tasting like nutella!

    I’m picturing these on a crisp winter morning with a tall mug of coffee and some Christmas music in the background. Sounds perfect, no? Well, that’s a bit of a stretch for me right now when a white Christmas would on par with believing in flying reindeer, but I can dream can’t I? The fact is, these are something you can enjoy in any season, time, or place and I really think you should. I hope you love them!

    Chestnut Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls

    Surprise your loved ones on Christmas morning (or any morning) by making these delicious and oh-so-chocolatey cinnamon rolls!

    Prep Time 40 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Rising Time 1 hour
    Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
    Servings 12 rolls

    Ingredients

    Dough:

    • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
    • 1 3/4 cups full-fat coconut milk warm but not hot
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons oil plus more for greasing pan
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 4 1/4 cups flour plus more for work surface

    Filling:

    • 1/2 cup chestnut puree *see note
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
    • 1/4 coconut oil melted
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup about 150g semi-sweet dark chocolate chips or chunks
    • Fudge layer for pan:
    • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup 1/2 stick vegan butter, softened (or more coconut oil)
    • 1/4 coconut cream **see note
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

    Icing:

    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/3 cup coconut cream **see note
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • pinch of salt

    Instructions

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl), dissolve yeast in milk and allow to sit for about 5 minutes until bubbly. Stir in sugar, oil, and salt until combined. Add flour a cup at a time until your dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of bowl. Cover bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in warm place to rise until doubled in size. (Alternatively, you can refrigerate the dough overnight and have it ready for a quick breakfast. Just pull it out about an hour before you want to use it.)
    2. Meanwhile, make your filling and prep your pan. Combine chestnut puree, sugar, cinnamon, coconut oil, cocoa, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.
    3. Now in a separate small bowl, combine the brown sugar, melted coconut oil, cream and cocoa and stir until smooth. Pour into a 13x9 inch glass pan (alternatively you can use 2 8x8 inch or 2 10-inch round cake pans) and spread to coat the bottom of pan(s).
    4. Divide dough in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle, roughly 1/4 inch thick. Spread 1/2 of the chestnut filling in an even layer on top and sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Starting from the short end, roll it up until you have a log of sorts. Then using a sharp knife, cut into 6 (or 7 spirals if using a round pan) and place in prepared pan (spiral facing up). Repeat with other half of dough until you have 12 rolls. Cover pans and allow them to rise for about 1 hour until nearly doubled in size.
    5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Bake for 30 -40 minutes until edges start to brown. Remove pan(s) from oven and allow the to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

    6. For the icing, whisk ingredients together in a medium bowl until thick and smooth. Serve on top of the warm rolls.

    Recipe Notes

    *Chestnuts or chestnut can be purchased whole or canned in puree from at specialty and gourmet food markets. Most places that carry them also sell them in puree form. However, if you prefer to use an alternative, I've used different nuts in their place many times. Replace the 1/2 cup of chestnut puree with about 1/3 cup finely ground nuts (any kind, I like almonds) plus 1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch.
    **If you have trouble finding coconut cream at your local grocery store it's completely fine to use full-fat coconut milk and scrape the cream off of the top. Just be sure that it's cold enough to separate.