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Category Archives: Cookies

Transition Week | Banana Sour Kream Cake

O hai!

It’s Caturday, and I remembered I needed to make a blog post for this week in order to keep up my minimum.  It’s been a transition week as I’m living in Alexandria and volunteering in D.C. for the month of January.  My health is in transition too; I picked up a cold as I adjusted to the early hours I keep while volunteering in the city.

My driving playlist this time was Green Day’s American Idiot (I almost always listen to this while driving on “Holiday”), Dropkick Murphys’ Going Out in Style, Electric Wizard’s Black Masses, and Flogging Molly’s Live at the Greek Theatre.

What do you do with Christmas cookies that you just don’t want anymore?  Bring them to work, make piecrust, or make banana bread.  I made banana bread—which I had intended to be cake, and if it were sweeter, I’d call it cake—with cookies crumbled in it.

Banana Sour Kream Cake (AKA: Cookie Destruction Cake)

3 bananas
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup vegan sour cream

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour OR sorghum flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3-2/3 cup Sucanat (I used the smaller amount, but it’d be cake with the maximum.)

6 pizzelles
3 polenta almond cherry cookies
8 oatmeal espresso cookies

Feel free to omit the chunks or add about 2 cups of chunks of your choice: dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, et cetera.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9*13-inch pan.
Mash bananas and oil.  Mix wet.  Whisk dry.  Dollop wet on top of dry.  Crumble cookies on top of this assemblage.  Mix well.  Bake for 30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test, the center springs back when touched, and it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cool completely in the pan, then refrigerate if you’re not serving it right away since it is moist. 

If you reheat it, the usual caveat, you will taste the chickpea flour (I found this out as I tested a piece with breakfast and encountered the chickpea-ness of the Bob’s Red Mill blend).  Chickpea flour, to me, tastes like plastic.

Alright, off to pay lip service to laundry then it’s sleepy-sleepy time.

Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.


After a long search for a vegan pizzelle recipe last year, and a pile of fail at de-glutenizing them this spring, I present to you a recipe that passes muster.



Modified from Bryanna Clark Grogan’s recipe here.  Makes somewhere between 2-3 dozen.
I used 1/3 cup canola oil

I accidentally added 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and anise-almond is a tasty combination

I used 1 cup organic powdered sugar (do NOT use granulated sugar.  It explodes on the hot iron and destroys the fragile GF flour matrix.)
I used 3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

And I used oat flour since we stock that in the GF pantry.
Canola oil for iron (I used spray)

Follow Bryanna’s instructions the same.  They cook at setting 4-5 for about 2 minutes.

Not that I need to tell you how to eat them, but they’re fun to eat with ice cream (or vice cream for the lactose-intolerant) in sandwich or crumbled formats.  You can also roll the hot ones around a wooden spoon and fill the resultant tubes, once cool, with chocolate mousse, cannoli filling, or other goopy delights.

They also come in chocolate!


Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped, to the batter.  The chocolate bits will stick to the grids, so grease ’em well.



Another use for extra pizzelles: break ’em up and mix ’em in vanilla cupcakes, then put more broken pizzelles in chocolate frosting, and top with “wings” from the remaining bits and pieces.

May you have happiness and understand the cause of happiness…in 2012.
Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.

The Holidays and You: Perfect Together? | Melty Mints

Remember that old New Jersey tourism slogan, “New Jersey and You: Perfect Together”?  Can you be a tourist this holiday, observing but not being of them?  Granted, there’s also the tourist philosophy of, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  My family’s not from Rome (Naples and Sicily, thank you very much).

What I want to get at here is this: the holidays are a source of stress for some people.  Common knowledge, no need to cite the source.  Whether you’re facing in-laws you dislike, coming home as a newly queer-identified individual, dealing with religious tensions, or feeding an obnoxious number of people with disparate dietary preferences, there are numerous ways in which–

OK, enough with not telling us anything we don’t already know.  Here’s what I do to make the week of self-destruction indulgence from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day bearable.  These are strategies I employ in other situations of uncertainty as well.  I’ll tell you my bias up-front: why is it socially acceptable to over-consume food, fuel, and material goods (question the term “goods”) in the name of religious miracles?  I’m all for feasting in celebration, but there’s a line between feasting and frenzy that disappears right quickly, in my experience.  Feasting, as well, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means, “To keep holiday, give oneself to pleasure; to enjoy oneself. Obs.”  Enjoyment does not connote overconsumption.  Let’s be honest here.  It doesn’t.

This is my bias.  I’ve read a number of blogs and articles about dealing with the holidays whence I first dismissed the authors as “Haters!” for not condoning pulling out the stops and making outrageously unhealthy dishes and gorging oneself on food and drink (and annoying company).

Recently, at Buddhist meditation, we sang a song in which one line was,

“May all beings be safe.”

Indeed, feeling safe is what I want to feel this holiday season.  And so I wish this for you, too.

‘Couple things on the agenda:
cookie recipe

Every year, my mother and maternal grandmother–and since last year, when I became vegan–and I bake several kinds of cookies each in order to share with the family, neighbours, friends, coworkers, and dorm-mates.  Last year and this year I had tea and cookies parties a few days before break so I could share my passion for baking with my friends.  I veganised most of the traditional recipes last year–pizzelles, melty mints, peanut blossoms, chocolate-dipped shorbread, chocolate-white chocolate chips, gingerbread cookies, et cetera–and this year, I set out to make secretly healthy cookies.  OK, they still contain sugar, but I’m using whole grain flours, less sugar, less oil, as many organic ingredients as I can find, and scooping them small.  In case you’re wondering, I get this drive to healthify from my mother.  We–since I was home during “hell week” before Christmas–used white whole wheat flour to replace half or all of the flour in most recipes last year.  I even used regular whole wheat flour and Sucanat in chocolate cookies, and people ate them up.  So if you’re someone who ate my cookies last year, guess what, I slipped you some whole wheat flour.

‘S how I get my kicks.

This year, though, my eight types of cookies have less sugar, less oil or margarine, and are smaller than the original recipes (save pizzelles…they don’t go smaller).  Certainly, in the recipes I shall post, you may use more sweetener or fat as per your preference.  Here’s a truism Michael Pollan didn’t include (at least, not verbatim) in Food Rules: your taste will match your waist.  Just sayin,’ and I’m also saying that I’m not immune to going on overconsumptive benders during the holidays either.  I do not write from a position of superiority, assumed or otherwise.  “Bless me to understand my own faults.  Bless me to have no desire to examine the faults of others,” as we chant every week at meditation.

So, if you haven’t gotten it by now, I highly recommend meditation during the holidays.  Taking time for yourself, whether you’re doing a sitting practice or doing yoga or going for walks, is very important.  Whoa, wait, Q–objects a reader–the holidays aren’t all about you.  They’re about togetherness and family and–

Q says, “ ‘And?’  Why must we use conjunctions to keep adding obligations and abstracts and things and things?  Why not just ‘is?’  Why not ‘enough?’”

There’s a Dutch proverb I like, and though I don’t know how it goes in the original tongue, the translation I read is, “Enough is great riches.”  That “being grateful” spirit extends from Thanksgiving into Christmas and Solstice and New Year’s (I don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa religiously, so I can’t and won’t speak for that which I don’t know).  “Enough” is generally pretty simple, too.

I like early morning.  Being up early’s enough to make me content.  Fresh peanut butter is also very nice.  Sitting and writing with pen and paper’s most enjoyable.

Think about what’s “enough” for you.  Yes, I’m giving orders.  You’re free to stop reading.  You always have been.

On to the programming: Microlunch.

Microlunch is my term for a container full of a high-protein, portable, non-refrigerated snack.  It’s not a full lunch, but I can survive until supper if it’s all I eat.  I fill a container with dried fruit, crackers or other gluten-free, whole-grain starch, and nuts or nut butter.  If I can bring a piece of fruit and water, tea, and maybe even non-dairy milk (since that’s shelf-stable), then that’s basically lunch.  I like the Mary’s Gone Crackers because they’re crunchy and the work it makes my mouth do gives me a greater sense of satiety.

Cookie Recipe

This is my favourite recipe from since I can remember eating Christmas cookies.  It’s a deep chocolate cookie with—the best part—a pastel mint non-pareil in the center.  Through the years, it’s been more difficult to find non-pareils, and last year I switched to Endangered Chocolate’s mint chocolate bars, cut into pieces.  Non-pareils and other such candies are often coated with confectioner’s glaze, an insect-derived component.  I like to eat the cookie first then melt the chocolate in my mouth.

Melty Mints
Modified from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, Kelly Peloza, p. 88, and an unidentified Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa OR black cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

32 or so pieces vegan mint chocolate for teaspoon-scoop cookies (25 pieces if using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  Melt chocolate chips with the milk in microwave.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Whisk the oil and vanilla into the melted chocolate mixture.  Add wet to dry.  (You can refrigerate the dough at this point for up to 24 hours before baking.)  Shape into teaspoon-sized balls (or use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop for monster cookies) and DO NOT FLATTEN on baking sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press chocolate piece onto each cookie.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes then cool completely on a rack.

Wishing you contented, safe holidays—
Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.

Decompressing: Chocolate Pecan Brownie Pie

Hello from Alexandria!  

I have been having a wonder-filled fall break back in the D.C. metro area.  After making excellent time from NJ (3.5 hours!) last Thursday, I made a pumpkin pie as soon as I arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house.

The next day was an ideal day: woke up, did my usual morning thing (morning pages, pray, meditate, exercise), made a smoothie, and then got to work cooking.  I made a Moroccan butternut-lentil stew and chewy peach brownies (for the D.C. Steam Cemetery Potluck).  I also baked two kinds of cookies to give to my brother and my friends: Anzac biscuits

 and sunflower-espresso cookies.  

The idea for sunflower seeds and espresso chocolate going well together came from dorm desperation earlier in 2011.

My aunt put in her dessert requests a while back and requested, among other items, a pecan brownie pie.  I had already figured that “fudgy pecan brownie pie” meant chocolate pecan pie filling in a brownie crust, when I decided to check my aunt’s source, Rachael Ray.  Fudgy pecan brownie pie is brownies with pecans baked in a circle?   No, thanks, I’ll stick with pie.  My mash-up of different recipes makes a decadent pie that is a little outside of my norm for dessert, but, hey, gotta break the mould once in a while.

Chocolate Pecan Brownie Pie

Brownie modified from: Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, 138-40.
Filling modified from: Robin Robertson, 1,000 Vegan Recipes,  462-3.

Brownie Crust:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used a birthday present of a 3.5-ounce bar of Ghirardelli Twilight Delight, 72% cacao—it’s vegan and GF, technically, but sometimes I find I have a lactose reaction to it.  Use your noggin.)
1 cup pureed pure pumpkin (say that three times fast)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Pecan Filling:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup water (no, this is not a mistake to have two different measurements of water)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups pecan halves, broken into bits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Though this is pie, it needs to be baked in a metal pan.  Grease a 9” springform pan or line an 8” square with parchment (or line a metal pie plate with a parchment circle; glass is not recommended since the crust needs to be sturdy and brown a bit).

Begin making the filling: in a small bowl, MIX the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water (seriously, blend it up, because you don’t want cornstarch lumps in your filling).  In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the maple syrup, 3/4 cup water, and brown sugar to a boil over high heat.  Boil for five minutes.

While the filling is boiling, melt the chocolate for the crust.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the oil and pumpkin carefully so as not to make the chocolate seize (cold pumpkin will do that).  Add wet to dry and mix well.  Dollop the stiff crust batter into the pan and spread to the sides. 

The weight of the filling will hold down the centre so there will be a crust around the edges of the pie, as long as you pour the filling into the middle.  Since this may take more than five minutes to assemble the crust, don’t worry, you can come back to the crust once you tend to the filling.  This recipe is an exercise in multitasking.

Once the filling has boiled for five minutes, stir in the salt and cornstarch mixture.  Continue to cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes shiny, thick, and bubbles break open on the surface.  Turn down the heat and stir in the chocolate, then turn off the heat.  Add the margarine and vanilla and stir to melt completely.  Fold in the nuts and stir to coat.  Finish up the crust and put it in the pan if you haven’t already.  Pour the filling into the centre of the crust.  

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust bounces back when touched, passes the toothpick test (reasonably well; there will be chocolate on the tester but it shouldn’t be wet), and the filling does not jiggle too much in the centre.  Cool completely before refrigerating.  If you used a springform pan, remove the sides of the pan once the whole assemblage has pulled away from the sides in the course of cooling.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Aw yeah.

It also works well baked in a regular pie plate.

Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.