Banana Chocolate Chip Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

So I got another cookbook last weekend…Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!  The authors are Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero; they also have cookbooks focusing on vegan cupcakes and pies, as well as several others.  Sometimes I wonder why I am willing to still spend money on cookbooks  when there are so many free recipes on the internet.  Is it the beautiful photography?  The baking tips in the introductions?  The anecdotes accompanying each recipe?  Many food blogs today fulfill all of this criteria, so I’m still not sure why I continue to buy them!  I guess I still enjoy the sensation of feeling a book in my hands 🙂  This makes sense, given that I have yet to purchase an e-reader.

But anyway, back to these cookies: they are actually titled “Banana Everything Cookies” in the book (probably because my alternate name is way too long!), and it really is a “clean out your pantry” type of recipe.  You probably already have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your kitchen already.  They are also relatively healthy, and very scrumptious 🙂

Banana Chocolate Chip Pecan Oatmeal Cookies (recipe adapted from this book)

  • 1 very ripe medium banana
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar (original recipe called for 2/3 cup, but I thought 1/3 cup was sweet enough)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal or rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (the original recipe uses walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Place parchment paper on two baking sheets, or alternatively lightly grease them.  In a large bowl, mash the banana until there’s no more large chunks, using a fork or your hands.  Add the oil, sugar and vanilla to this bowl and mix again.  Then add the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet.  Add the oatmeal, pecans and chocolate chips and mix.  If the dough is too sticky or slippery then add a few more tablespoons of flour.

Roll the dough into roughly golf-ball size balls, or a little larger, and place on the baking sheet.  I recommend having a bowl of water nearby and soaking your fingers after forming every few balls to prevent your hands from sticking to the dough too much.  Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just lightly browned.  Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack (or a plate).

As you can see from the pictures, these cookies don’t spread too much.  I actually like them this way, but if you prefer a flatter cookie, then simply flatten the cookie dough with your hands before baking.

I took these to a dinner/dessert/video game/dancing party, and people really liked them!  I forgot how much I love cookies…can’t wait to try more recipes from the book!

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Cake Batter Frosting

Have you ever had anything that was “cake batter” flavored?  I think the first time I saw this flavor was at a frozen yogurt shop in college.  (Side note: remember when frozen yogurt was just starting to be a big fad?  Now there are shops everywhere!  Many of which are within walking distance to each other :-O )  Unsure of what cake batter was supposed to taste like, I took a small sample.  I don’t remember exactly how it tasted, other than that it was too sweet for my taste buds :-/

Well, fast-forward to now:  I have a nice yummy cake batter frosting recipe to share that’s actually healthy, and only contains three ingredients!  And it’s still very sweet 🙂  (below, spread on top of a dessert pancake for one)

Cake Batter Frosting (adapted from here)

  • One medium-large-ish banana
  • 6 +/- 2 tablespoons cashew butter (can sub other nut butters, but cashew butter will make it taste the most like cake batter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

The actual recipe is super easy: simply dump all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth.  Add some rainbow sprinkles and mini chocolate chips to make it look more festive.  Some other ingredients you may consider adding to make it taste more like “cake batter” are a bit of flour and baking soda, or butter extract (I have no idea what butter extract tastes like, but have read that it can make things taste more cake batter-y, and it’s also supposed to be vegan?!)

While the sprinkles and chocolate chips are optional, I highly recommend them 🙂  The sprinkles just make it more fun to eat, and the chocolate chips provide a nice bitterness to cut the sweetness of the frosting.  In addition, the frosting will turn brown when stored in the fridge overnight, I believe due to oxidation of the bananas, so this frosting looks best the day it’s made – feel free to cut the recipe in half if needed.  As you may be able to tell from the photos, its consistency is also thinner than traditional frosting – almost like it’s actual cake batter.  Of course, that didn’t stop me from devouring most of it in one sitting 😉

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Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Well, as luck would have it I had bad luck with two more recipes after my last post:

-I attempted Katie’s Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie Larabars.  With only a few ingredients and a food processor required, you think it’d be pretty hard to mess up, right?  Unless you dump in all of the ingredients at the same time and blend for several minutes until you get some very oily Larabars.  Oops.  No picture was taken because they look like meatballs.

-I then tried Katie’s Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies, with the recipe doubled.  It calls for oil instead of a vegan butter substitute (and only a little bit of oil at that), and there’s no egg replacer in the recipe, which I thought was a little weird.  It probably also explains why the dough was extremely sticky after I mixed it all together, which made it difficult to shape the dough into balls for baking :-/

However, the results were still very yummy!  More like a cookie-muffin, but still very good.  And photogenic enough to include here:

Or maybe they’re more like cookie-muffin-pancakes?  See the little holes on the top of them?  :-p

Fortunately, I managed to have one very stand-out recipe this week:  Blueberry muffins with a cinnamon streusel topping.  Mmmm….

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping (adapted from here)

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 & 3/4 cups flour (I used spelt, but you can use all-purpose or whole wheat too)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used canola, but any kind should work)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional, but recommended!)
  • 1 & 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • Cinnamon Streusel topping:  2 tbsp + 2 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp Earth Balance vegan butter (I think any oil or coconut butter could also work), 2 tsp flour, pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 F and line a muffin tin with liners (recipe makes about 12 regular sized or 24 mini muffins).  Mix the milk and vinegar in a bowl and set aside.  Then mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and mix in the other wet ingredients to the milk and vinegar bowl.  Then add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined (be careful not to over-mix), and fold in the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the muffin liners and top with with the cinnamon streusel topping (I microwaved it for a few seconds to make the butter soft enough to mix).  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the muffin surface springs back at you when you give it a gentle poke.

I managed to eat these during breakfast, lunch and dinner! Although that tends to happen with most of my desserts…hehe 🙂

Posted in breakfast, dessert | 2 Comments

Chocolate Almond Butter Chews

This is actually my first failed recipe since I started writing in this blog :-/

But since the result was still quite scrumptious, I decided to post about it anyway!

My original intention was to make these 5 Minute + 5 Ingredient No Bake Almond Butter Chews from Angela’s blog, but with the recipe doubled (since it only makes 7 golf ball-sized chews as is).  As implied by the name, it is a super easy recipe: simply stir together and microwave chunky almond butter, brown rice syrup and vanilla for 30-45 seconds, then mix in rice crisp cereal and cacao nibs or chopped chocolate.  Roll into balls and store in the freezer – voila, that’s it!

However, I knew my microwaveable bowl wasn’t big enough to handle the recipe doubled, so I decided to heat the almond butter, brown rice syrup and vanilla in a pot over the stove (which smelled AMAZING by the way), then mix in the remaining ingredients.  My mistake was that I ended up heating the mixture for too long – I essentially boiled it and then let it simmer for a few minutes, which I’m sure is way more heat than 30-45 seconds in the microwave.  When I mixed in the crisp rice cereal and chocolate, the chocolate melted right away, which I knew from the pictures on Angela’s blog was not supposed to happen…

Then I tried shaping the mixture into balls, but it was too wet and sticky.  So I poured it into an 8×8 dish, lined with wax paper because we didn’t have parchment paper…

and put it in the fridge, although the original recipe states to store in the freezer.  A few hours later I went to cut it with a knife, but it was just too stiff and sticky to make a dent in it :-/  So I ended up tearing out pieces of it with my hands.  I think I would have been able to cut into it if I used an actual chef’s knife (i.e. what you use to cut vegetables), but I was pressed for time and impatient.  I was also sad that about half of it completely stuck to the wax paper – I ended up throwing that part away 😥

Despite all of this failure, the output tastes wonderful!  It’s kind of like a regular rice crispies treat, except with a texture that’s much chewier, stickier, and thicker.  The flavor is also to die for…in a way I am glad that I ended up throwing some of it a way, because it’s very possible I would have eaten all of it in one sitting!  Yay for my taste buds, but not for my tummy!

Chocolate Almond Butter Chews (adapted from here)

  • 1/2 cup chunky almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rice crisp cereal (if you’re gluten intolerant, check to make sure they’re certified gluten-free)
  • 6 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips (mini or regular should work), or chopped chocolate

Put the almond butter, vanilla, and brown rice syrup in a pot.  Heat to a boil, then let simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and mix in the crisp rice cereal and chocolate chips.  Pour into an 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper.  Place in the fridge for a few hours, then use a sturdy kitchen knife to cut into pieces, or tear out pieces with your hands.

It may not be the prettiest dessert ever, and the difficulty in cutting it into pieces is a slight inconvenience…but it’s so unlike any sweet treat that I have ever tasted that I 100% recommend it anyway 🙂

Posted in chocolate, dessert, gluten-free, no-bake | 3 Comments

Sprinkles’ Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake

A couple of weeks ago I got my hair cut at a salon I had never been to before in the Stanford Shopping Center.  This was a big first for me – prior to this I always got my hair cut when I went home during break, at a salon near my house.   For various reasons I didn’t end up going home for Spring Break this year, which meant I needed to find a new salon here so I could get my hair cut.   Anyway, now to the point of my story – it just so happens that there’s a Sprinkles Cupcakes shop in the same shopping center, so what better way to celebrate this “first” than to eat a delicious, hand-crafted cupcake?  (Ok, maybe I just got the cupcake because I was craving it :-p)

I went with their Vegan Red Velvet, which is the only vegan cupcake they offer.  It was the second time I’ve had it, and just as good as I remember it.

Here is the description of it from the Sprinkles website:

“Sprinkles goes vegan! Traditional dairy products are substituted with vegan friendly ingredients, including all natural soymilk, tofu-based cream cheese and pure coconut oil. The result is a cake so moist and frosting so rich, it just might inspire your friends to go vegan too!”

I definitely agree with this description of the cupcake.  The frosting is very creamy and rich, and I did not taste any soy or tofu flavor in it.  The cake is not dry at all (I wonder if coconut oil makes for a moister cake?), and has just a small hint of chocolate, as is traditional for the red velvet flavor.  The ratio of frosting to cake is also pretty close to optimal (for me, at least), and I like how the frosting is spread evenly over the top of the cupcake instead of piled higher towards the center.  But what I really love about this cupcake is the level of sweetness.  While it is definitely sweeter than the desserts I make at home, the sweetness is not overwhelming to my taste buds, and does not make me feel gross or jittery afterwards (which has been my reaction to some other “gourmet” cupcakes.)  All in all, I’m not sure how I could improve upon this luscious dessert!

So the next time you’re near a Sprinkles Cupcakes shop (it looks like they have quite a few locations all over the US), and are in the mood for a sweet splurge, consider trying the Vegan Red Velvet!  And if anyone who works for Sprinkles is reading this (although I highly doubt that, haha), please consider adding more vegan cupcake flavors to your collection!

Posted in dessert, no recipe, review | 2 Comments