Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Coconut Almond Cake Balls

I was hosting a thank you dinner for people who helped me move recently, and I wanted to create the best possible menu. I heard about cake balls and decided I needed to make this for dessert and make my own recipe for doing so. I actually made two batches (one gluten free) and it took me a lot of time. When I finally got to try the results of my time in the kitchen, I decided it was definitely worth it! These were a major hit and it shouldn't take you as long since you will only be making one batch and have a recipe to follow.

Coconut Almond Cake Balls

Coconut Cake:
1 cups Organic Unrefined Cane Sugar
½ cup Earth Balance Margarine
½ cup Silken Tofu, blended
1 ½ cups Coconut Milk
2 tsp Vanilla.
2 ½ cups Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
1 cup Shredded Coconut

Cream together the sugar and margarine. Beat in the tofu and then the coconut milk and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and blend until just combined. Add the coconut and combine it using a spatula, careful to not over mix. Spread into 2 greased 9-inch round baking pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool.

*For gluten free, use 1 1/2 cups sorghum flour, 3/4 cup sweet white rice flour, 1/4 cup potato starch and 2 tsp guar gum instead of the white flour.

Almond Frosting:
2 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
2 – 4 Tb Coconut Milk
2 tsp Almond Extract
¼ cup Earth Balance Margarine

In a large bowl, blend together the sugar, almond extract and margarine. Add the coconut milk until the frosting is a consistency that is slightly softer than traditional frosting.

Chocolate Glaze:
2 cups Vegan Chocolate Chips
2 Tb Earth Balance Margarine
2 Tb Coconut Milk (or soymilk)
1 tsp Vanilla

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat on medium heat. As the chocolate melts, combine the ingredients to a smooth consistency with a fork. Turn down heat to the lowest temperature. Allow to cool on the lower heat so the chocolate is not hot. A double broiler can also be used.

Creating the cake balls: Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Set aside. Crumble the cakes into the frosting bowl. Combine the crumbs and the frosting with a spatula. Once the frosting is evenly distributed to the cake crumbs, form it into cake balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate about 1 hour to harden slightly. Take one cake ball at a time from the sheet and dip it in the chocolate with a toothpick, allowing all but the bottom of the cake ball to be covered. Set on parchment paper and continue with the rest of the cake balls. Once all cake balls have been chocolate covered, return to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. After 4 hours, store in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Year It's Pecan Cake!

It's my birthday again! Although friends are always quick to offer making cake for my birthday, at work we are responsible for bringing in our own treat to share with others (if we choose to do so). I like to bake, so I don't mind this at all. I started to think of flavors early on, and decided on a pecan cake with caramel frosting (and filling). I have made caramel sauce successfully many times, but some tweak I did this time made it so it didn't work out, so I quickly whipped up a basic vanilla frosting. Although I was sad for no caramel sauce and frosting, the results were still awesome! A week later I was still being told how much people enjoyed the cake.

Vegan Pecan Cake

1/2 cup Margarine, non dairy
1 1/2 cups Organic Raw Sugar
1/2 cup Silken Tofu, blended
1 1/2 cups Coconut Milk
2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 cup Pecans, ground
1 Tb Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Add the tofu and vanilla and blend. Slowly add the coconut milk as the beaters continue mixing. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and blend until just mixed. Put in the pecans and stir in with a spatula until incorporated, careful not to over mix. Fill two greased 9-inch cake pans with equal amounts of the batter. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. When cakes are done, the top should spring back when lightly touched.

Once cooled, assemble cake with frosting of choice between layers and all over the surface of the cake layers. Yum...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthday at Portland Blind Cafe

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the Portland Blind Cafe, a dining experience in the dark, to bring awareness to the blind community. I decided it would be an interesting way to spend my birthday and challenge myself to a new perspective. Luckily I had many friends on board with the idea as well.

This was the most amazing dining experience I have ever had. That whole night came alive since you have to concentrate on senses that are usually secondary to sight. While being seated, you had to feel the chars and figure out where your friends were seating. Then you had to feel for your dishes and discover the appetizer waiting for you on your plate. Luckily before we were seated, we were told what to expect. There would be a cold tea drink in a cup with a lid and straw to our right. A water jug was in the middle of the table, along with the salads and casserole dish since this was family style dining. I knew the open chutney container for dipping the southern dolma appetizer was gonna be trouble, and as I grabbed the casserole dish to pass it around, the chutney spilled all over my lap. Luckily people were not staring at my mishap since no one saw, and I was able to coordinate with others to find extra napkins to clean myself up. No worries. I was actually impressed with myself for dealing with the situation so well in the dark!

Passing around the food took good communication and actually serving yourself and getting the food on your plate, was a bit of a challenge. But that is what the night was suppose to be about after all, and I was loving it! One of the salads contained fruit and nuts and tasted very light and fresh. The casserole dish had a polenta base with other vegetables and parts of it tasted similar to gravy. Everything tasted amazing and vegan chef Ivy Entrekin was quite impressive!

The cello is one of my favorite instruments and I was telling others that if I could magically play one instrument, that would be it. When the cello started a solo piece, I could feel the music much more intensely and I could imagine myself being the person actually playing it. Suddenly my wish of instantly playing the cello came true (even if for only one song). The music of Rosh and The One Eye Glass Broken Band were incredible and I was truly appreciative of the experience.

I was extra fortunate that evening since someone mentioned in was my birthday while checking in, so I was treated to the entire room singing me happy birthday in the dark. People kept saying I must have been red from embarrassment, but I wasn't at all. No one even knew who they were singing to, although I did sheepishly say thank you when the song was over.

After the decadent chocolate mousse dessert and the music ended, a candle was lit and we could see around the room for the first time. I think we all imagined something different and were sad to see it come to an end, but I left feeling very blessed by the events of the evening. I look forward to the next one!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dinner with the Fam - Part 2

My family amazes me on how open they are to trying new foods. My dad actually told me that he misses my cooking on Thanksgiving! This is coming from a person who loves his turkey (and if I am cooking, everything on the table must be vegan).

My nephew loves my cooking and it is great! I am impressed by his ability to eat raw bell pepper to the green stem and he love jicama (as everyone should). When I decided to make a kale salad, I wasn't sure what he would think. After the salad was prepared, I suggested he try a piece of the kale, so he did. He loved it! Everyone loved it!

Kale Salad

2 bunches of Kale
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 bunch Green Onion, chopped
1 tsp Olive Oil (or sesame oil)
1 Tb Braggs
1 tsp Lemon Juice

Rinse the kale and tear the stems off. Chope the kale and place in a pan with water. Bring to a boil and cook until kale is slightly cooked. Drain water and place kale in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain off water and rinse off kale as needed.

Add the chopped peppers, green onion, oil, braggs and lemon juice in a medium bowl with the drained kale. Toss to mix all ingredients together and serve.