Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Earl Grey Banana Cake with Cashew Cream Frosting

I've previously posted dessert recipes with hints of Earl Grey tea such as thumbprint cookies and glazed donuts.  It's my favorite tea hands down and I love incorporating it into baked goods.   For this recipe, I added ground Earl Grey tea leaves to my favorite banana bread recipe and topped it with cashew cream frosting.  I guess the frosting makes this a 'cake' and not 'bread', but to-may-to, to-mah-to.  :)  The cake recipe is adapted from the banana chocolate chip muffin recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook.   I've used the recipe to make everything from cupcakes to bundt cakes.  It involves the simplest of ingredients and the results are super moist every time.    

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves from 5 teabags (I used Twinings)
1 cup sugar (I used Madhava coconut palm sugar)
1/3 cup canola oil
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan.
  2. In one bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the ground tea leaves to the dry ingredients.
  4. In another bowl, combine the sugar, oil, bananas, water, and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Spread the batter evenly in the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  7. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool before frosting.
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil (solid)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
  1. Drain and rinse the cashews and place them in a blender or food processor.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so before frosting the cake.
I was a little worried that the banana flavor would overpower the Earl Grey tea, so I went a little overboard and added leaves from 5 teabags (that's a lot to me!). I definitely tasted both the Earl Grey and the banana flavors in the finished product. On the other hand, some of my friends said they only tasted the banana. All palates are different.  If you really want to go Earl Grey crazy, you could use 1/4 cup of strongly brewed Earl Grey tea instead of water for the cake. And of course you should eat this while sipping a nice hot cup of Earl Grey tea. :)


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sweet Sesame Adzuki Bean Crumb Bars

This recipe features my favorite bean:  the adzuki bean!  As I mentioned in a previous post, I typically associate adzuki beans with dessert and figured they would make a unique substitute for the traditional fruit or jam used in crumb bars.  The inclusion of sesame seeds was inspired by jin deui (or sesame balls).  They aren't just used for garnish here.  I think the combined flavor of sesame seeds and adzuki beans is something really special.  If you're short on time, feel free to use store-bought sweet red bean bean paste such as Shirakiku's, which can be found in Asian grocery stores.  Just make sure that the only ingredients are adzuki beans, sugar, and water.  (Some may contain high fructose corn syrup...yuck)

Makes 16 squares

1/3 cup dry adzuki beans (soaked in water overnight) or 1 cup of canned adzuki beans
1/2 cup vegan granulated sugar (or your sweetener of choice; adjust based on your desired sweetness level)
A pinch of salt
  1. Cook the pre-soaked beans by boiling them in water for about an hour until tender, or with a pressure cooker. (3 minutes once pressure is reached; natural release)
  2. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add the sugar and salt and let simmer until the sugar is melted and the mixture has thickened.
  3. Mash the mixture using a fork or potato masher.  Add a little bit of water to the mixture if it's too thick (i.e., it looks like it won't spread easily).  You can also use a food processor or blender to get a smoother paste.
  4. Transfer to a bowl to cool.  You should end up with about a cup of bean paste.  
Crust & Crumb
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup black or yellow sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8x8-inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, sesame seeds, and salt. 
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, water, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 
  5. Divide the dough in half. Press half of the dough in the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1 cup of the bean paste evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining half of dough evenly over the filling and then press down gently. 
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until slightly crisp and golden on top.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing into 16 squares.

I thought that these were wonderful. Protein-filled desserts?  Yes, please!  I could eat the filling on its own, but the crust and crumb layers provided a nice contrasting texture.  The filling doesn't firm up during the baking process, so what you get are lovely, moist bites of smooth filling coupled with crumb bar goodness.  They were delicious fresh out of the oven and even more so the next day.  I brought some to work to share and received great feedback including recommendations for me to sell these!  Too bad I only bake for free.  :)


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chocolate Hemp Seed Balls and Cashew Cream Thumbprints

These raw treats are perfect for when you're short on time, but want to make something both eye-catching and delicious.  This recipe is also easily adaptable.  If you don't have hemp seeds, you can use coconut flakes, sesame seeds, chia seeds, etc. Also, any nut butter would work for the filling if you can't find raw cashew butter.  I love these 'anything goes' types of recipes. Totally rawesome.  :)

Makes 8 pieces

8 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon coconut oil (solid)
1 tablespoon cacao or cocoa powder
3 tablespoons hemp seeds
Additional hemp seeds for rolling (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  1. Blend the dates, coconut oil, cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds in a food processor until there are no large chunks of dates left.  You should have a sticky mixture that holds together when squeezed between your fingers.  If it's too moist, add more hemp seeds.  If it's too dry, add more coconut oil a teaspoon at a time.  
  2. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of hemp seeds on a plate or shallow bowl.
  3. Using the palms of your hands, roll bits of the mixture into small 1-inch wide balls.  You should end up with 8 balls.
  4. Roll each ball in the hemp seeds so that they are evenly covered.  
  5. Transfer to a plate and eat immediately or place them in an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
To mix it up, I made 4 hemp seed balls and 4 cashew cream thumbprints, as pictured above.

Cashew Cream Filling
2 tablespoons raw cashew butter (or 1 Artisana squeeze pack)
1/2 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. To make the thumbprints, make the same date-hemp mixture above and after rolling the mixture into balls, make a small indentation in the center of each ball.  Mold each piece with your hands so that they resemble thumbprint cookies.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the cashew butter, water, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  3. Fill each thumbprint with the cashew cream and top with fresh fruit, nuts, or nothing at all.  :)
  4. Eat immediately or place them in the refrigerator to chill.
Super easy, eh?  The sweetness from the dates was just right, at least for my taste buds.  I liked eating them chilled just because they had more of a bite to them that way.  Fresh fruit will definitely add some pizazz to the thumbprints, but they'll still taste wonderful without it.  I don't have a dehydrator, so I love that there's no fancy equipment (other than a food processor!) required to make these raw treats.  There's also no pre-soaking of nuts involved, which is always nice.  I probably should have doubled (or tripled) the recipe because 8 pieces really wasn't enough. Live and learn. :)