Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brownie Development

brownie 2.0

The time has come to create my own vegan brownie recipe, fed up as I am with oily, fruity, over-moist concoctions lovingly called "fudgey brownies". So, I've consulted several sources, vegan and non, and noted their recipes and methods on a notebook page. From them I've gleaned a working recipe on which I can improve to create a moist, chewy, chocolately brownie that resisted the pitfalls of its vegan brethren.

I'm close, very close to the perfect chewy/fudgey brownie recipe. When it is complete, Cakey will be up next, along with the elusive and delicious Blondie bar.

The Method

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Oil a 8 x 8-inch pan. Lay a wide strip of parchment accross pan so that it covers the bottom of the pan as well as two opposing sides. Lightly oil the parchment and set the pan aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and pepper and set aside.

Chop the unsweeted chocolate well and combine with oil and cocoa powder in a medium, microwave safe bowl. Nuke at high power in 20 second intervals, stirring well after each with a spatula, until almost melted and stir until smooth - the carryover heat with resolve any lumps. Set aside to cool slightly

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, salt, milk and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture in three batches, mixing until combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 40 minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool, in pan, 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

The Recipes

Brownies 1.0
3T oil
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
.25 C cocoa powder
.5 C non-dairy milk
.25 t salt
1.5 C sugar
2 t vanilla
1 C flour
.25 t powder
pinch white pepper

brownie 1.0

rich, chocolately, not oily

cons: too dark and dense, not sweet enough, poor mouth-feel

resolve: decrease unsweetened chocolate, melt more carefully to prevent burning, increase sugar content.

Brownies 2.0
.25 C oil
3.5 oz unsweetened chocolate
.25 C cocoa
.25 t salt
1.75 C sugar
.5 C non-dairy milk
1 T vanilla
.5 C unbleached AP flour
.5 C whole wheat white flour (or AP flour)
.5 t baking powder
pinch white pepper

brownie 2.0

pros: rich, moist verging on fudgey, not oily, a good balance of dark chocolate and sweetness

cons: an odd bottom crust, slightly too moist center – increased sugar content = candylike composition as opposed to cakelike? used foil rather than parchment - wonked the temperature?
resolve: improve creaming method, decrease milk slightly, use parchment

Brownies 3.0
.25 C oil
3.5 oz unsweetened chocolate
.25 C cocoa
.25 t salt
1.75 C sugar
6 T non-dairy milk
1 T vanilla
.5 C unbleached AP flour
.5 C whole wheat white flour (or AP flour)
.5 t baking powder
pinch white pepper


Deep Dish Vegetable Tart

makes one 10-inch tart

veggie tart

The dough for this tart is simple to make and the tart itself is just as delicious flat out and free-form as it is seated in the pan. Naturally, the filling is a matter of personal preference, and great liberties can and should be taken. Once baked, serve the tart warm or at room temperature, indoors or out – it makes great picnic fare.

Soft Tart Dough
This dough can be made a day or two ahead of time and refrigerated, or frozen for up to a month (defrost over night in the refrigerator before using).

.5 C water, heated to 100-110ºF
.5 t active dry yeast
1/8 t sugar

1.5 C unbleached AP flour
.5 C white whole wheat flour or additional AP flour
1 t kosher salt
2T olive oil
2-4 T water

flour and cornmeal, for dusting

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let stand 5-10 minutes, until foamy.

Add flours, salt, oil and 1 T of water to the yeast mixer and mix on low speed until combined; add more water as needed to create a uniform, slightly tacky dough. Increase speed to medium-low and mix 5-8 minutes to develop a smooth dough. It may be necessary to add a little more flour now and then to prevent the dough from sticking.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly before rounding. Place in a medium, oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

The dough is now ready to use.

The Filling

1 small head garlic
1 yellow onion
1 medium carrot
2 pattypan squash
.5 C fire-roasted diced tomatoes, well drained (about half a can)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Remove the papery outer skins and cut the tops from the garlic cloves. Place garlic in a medium square of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until very tender, 30-40 minutes. Unwrap and let cool slightly before squeezing the cloves from the skins and mashing with a fork.

Meanwhile, halve and finely slice the onion crosswise. Peel and trim the carrot and slice thinly into rounds. Halve the squash and remove the seedy center. Cut crosswise into 1/8-1/4-inch slices. Toss squash with a little bit of salt and set aside.

Preheat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add carrot, spreading slices into a single layer, and cook a minute or so without disturbing. Give the pan a shake to unseat and flip the carrots. Add the onion and a sprinkling of salt and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden brown and the carrot is tender. Remove onion and carrot mixture to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

Oil the pan very lightly. Arrange squash slices in pan in a single layer (two or three batches may be necessary). Cook, without disturbing, until the edged brown a bit. Flip slices and continue cooking until tender and nicely browned. Remove to a bowl or plate while preparing the remaining slices.

The Tart

Preheat oven to 450ºF

Lightly oil the sides of a 10-inch springform pan and dust the bottom with cornmeal.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 14-inch round. Fit the dough to the prepared pan, pressing the edges to the sides of the pan to create a lip about 1.5-inches tall all around.

Drizzle the center of the tart with about a tablespoon of olive oil and spread it around with a fork or your fingers. Spread the mashed roasted garlic evenly over dough. Arrange a single layer of squash slices over the garlic, and about half the diced tomatoes over that. Distribute half the onion-carrot mixture over the tart, followed by the remaining squash, the tomatoes, and the rest of the onions and carrots. Top it all off with some freshly ground black pepper.

Bake 20-30 minutes, until the edges are nicely browned. Cool slightly before slicing and serving.

veggie tart

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vanilla Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Dark Chocolate Ganache

Vanilla Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Dark Chocolate Ganache
“vegan kandy kake”

taskykake cake

The peanut-butter and chocolate flavor combination is indisputably delicious, and the addition of a light vanilla cake elevates this pairing from a sweet snack to a luscious dessert. Anyone who grew up in the Northeast United States should be familiar with the Tasty Baking Company’s classic snack cakes, KandyKakes – small rounds of vanilla cake with a peanut butter topping enrobed in milk chocolate. This is a vegan version of those sweet snacks, with a sliceable size that makes it much easier to share.

The Cake
Basic Vanilla Cake
makes two 8-inch rounds or two dozen cupcakes

3 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
.5 C oil
1 2/3 C sugar
.5 t salt
2 C non-dairy milk
1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

Lightly oil 2 8-inch round pans, line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper and lightly oil parchment; set aside.

Sift together the flours and baking powder into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together oil and sugar with paddle attachment until lighter in color and texture, about 5-10 minutes. Scrape the bowl before incorporating the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in 1 C of the milk. Stop and scrape the bowl completely. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low until just combined; scrape the bowl before returning to low speed to just incorporate the remaining milk. Add the remaining flour mixture, beating on low until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape with a spatula to ensure homogeneity.

Portion batter into prepared pans and bake, 30-50 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes before inverting onto rack; right the cakes to cool completely before icing and assembling.

The Filling
Peanut Butter Frosting
makes about 1.5 C

.25 C non-hydrogenated margarine
2 T non-hydrogenated shortening
.5 C creamy natural peanut butter
1 t vanilla extract
1/8 t salt
1.25 C confectioner’s sugar
1-2 T non-dairy milk

In a medium bowl, beat together the margarine and shortening until well combined. Beat in the peanut butter, molasses, vanilla, and salt on high for several minutes until well combined. With mixer on low, beat in sugar gradually; once sugar is fully incorporated, raise speed to high and beat 5-7 minutes, until lighter in color and texture. Add milk and beat until fluffy.

Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for 3 days. Allow frosting to come to room temperature and beat lightly before use.

The Coating
Basic Chocolate Ganache
makes 2 C

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate pieces
.5-2/3 C non-dairy milk
1 t vanilla extract

Combine chocolates in a heatproof bowl. Scald milk over high heat and pour over chocolate, reserving a few tablespoons for adjustment. Let mixture stand about half a minute before stirring with a rubber spatula until well combined, adding the remaining milk as needed to create a smooth ganache. It may be necessary to briefly microwave the mixture to melt the chocolate completely – do so with caution as you do not want to overheat the chocolate. Heat the bowl in 10-15 second intervals, stirring well after each, just until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Use the ganache immediately.

The Assembly

Slice the domed tops from cooled cakes. Place one cake, cut side up, on a cake round. Spread Peanut Butter Frosting over top of cake only, leaving the sides clean. Place second cake, cut side down, on top of frosted cake. Pour warm ganache onto the cake and spread with an offset spatula to create a smooth, even coat. Let cool at room temperature until ganache is set. Store at room temperature for up to one day or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

taskykake cake