Peppermint Patties

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I think I might have tried my first peppermint patty when I was a teenager. It was at a rest stop on a road trip somewhere and there was one of those donation boxes where they trust you to give the suggested amount and only take one candy. I remember putting it in my mouth and wanting to spit it out. This is pretty serious for me because I love food – pretty much ALL food. I can probably count the times I have ever spit food out and likely most of them were because the food was too hot.

I did not spit out the peppermint patty, which I thought tasted like toothpaste, but I did decide never to be fooled into thinking they were candy again.

Well, older and wiser, I decided to give them another chance this winter. I was flipping through a vegan recipe book at home and saw a recipe for them and decided maybe I’d love them more if I made them myself and if I made them in the shape of hearts.

And I did! They were so well loved by those I shared them with, I made another batch. You don’t have to go to the trouble of making yours heart shaped… make this recipe even easier than it is but rolling the dough into balls and pressing flat with a glass.

INGREDIENTS:
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup Earth Balance
2 tsp pure peppermint extract
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Vegan chocolate chips

1) Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) with a hand mixer, adding the confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture will be thick and coarse.

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2) Form into a ball and knead it for a few minutes to make sure the sugar is well mixed. Roll the dough flat on a lightly floured surface. Using a cookie cutter you can cut out shapes. Thicker dough and smaller cookie cutters work best.
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3) Place the patties in the freezer and let them freeze for at least 45 minutes.
4) Dip the peppermint patties into the chocolate (I will post a recipe for setting chocolate later) and let them set on parchment paper. Freeze overnight. Wrap in squares of tin foil and they are ready to share!
Yield: approx 2 dozen.

(No) Butter Tarts

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Butter Tarts were my second favourite Christmas treat as a kid and when I went vegan a few years ago I didn’t even bother checking for a way to make butter tarts vegan. Not only did they seem unapproachable from what I assumed was a labour intensive process, but their very name defies vegan… I expected them to rely heavily on butter for the pastry and eggs for the filling.

With trying a few different recipes and adding my own flair to capture that taste I remembered, I finally came up with this version. I have found, through feeding my butter tarts to numerous people that there are some serious splitting of camps – those who like them runny and those who like them solid. A few other less serious camps also exist: raisins/nuts or not? spices or not? super sweet or not?

My butter tart recipe is more toward the runny side, has raisins, currants and pecans, lots of spice and not overrun with sugar. If you like yours more solid, cook the tarts a little longer. Feel free to omit the raisins and nuts if you like and cut back on the spice.

I hope you enjoy these amazing Canadian (and vegan) wonders!

INGREDIENTS:

Tart shells:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups frozen Earth Balance
Cold water

Filling:
3/4 cup raisins/currants, soaked in hot water for 10-15 mins and then drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans/walnuts
2 tbsp EnerG whipped with 1/4 cup of warm water
3/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp allspice (optional)
1/4 tsp cloves (optional)

1) First start with preparing the dough for the tart shells. Chill the flour and blender in the freezer with the Earth Balance for at least half an hour.

2) Cut Earth Balance into the flour with a pastry knife until the mixture is coarse. Use your hands to press the ingredients together between your fingers until crumbly.

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3) Add cold water gradually until the dough clumps. Do not overdo this! Only add as much water as will keep the dough together.

4) Form a ball of dough, wrap in saran wrap or a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate for an hour. When the dough has chilled use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a generously floured surface. The dough should reach about 1/4″. I use a cookie cutter to cut the cups out of the dough but you could find other circle shaped objects will do the same (hint: a cup could work!). Grease the muffin tin before putting tarts shells in.

5) When the dough has sufficiently chilled and you are ready to fill the tarts, preheat the oven to 350. Sprinkle the raisins and nuts (if you’re using them) into the shells.

6) Using an electric mixer beat the EnerG egg replacer mixture with the rice syrup, vinegar, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar and salt.

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7) Stir in the melted Earth Balance. Pour the mixture into the prepared tart shells. Be careful not to overfill the tarts because the syrup, if it overflows, will cause the tart shells to stick to the pan.
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8) Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on how runny you like your tarts – less time will produce runnier tarts). Be careful not to burn them.

Yield: approx 1 dozen butter tarts.

Rhubarb Apple Berry Crumble

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I am all about comfort food – and apple crumble is high up there on the list of favourites. I had been craving rhubarb for a while and at the last minute tossed in some blackberries I had in my fridge… the mix of flavours was fantastic!

INGREDIENTS:
4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used a couple granny smiths and a couple royal galas)
2/3 cup frozen rhubarb pieces
1/2 cup black berries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance

1) Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease baking dish.

2) In a large bowl toss the apple pieces, rhubarb and berries with the granulated sugar, a tablespoon of the flour, and half of the cinnamon.

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3) Arrange mixture in the baking dish.
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4) In the bowl you just used, combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, nutmeg, remaining cinammon, and salt. Cut the butter into the mix until it is fine and crumbly.
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5) Sprinkle this over the fruit. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes until the apples are soft when pierced with a fork. Uncover and continue baking for 10 minutes until crumble is crisp and golden.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I made these cookies for a board game night at my place and was happy to see how quickly they were devoured. I had struggled with the recipe to get the cookies the right consistency but my adjustments paid off. The next time around they should be much easier, but just as good with a cup of almond milk!

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup of oil
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1) Preheat oven to 375. In a small bowl stir the sugar, margarine, oil, water and vanilla.
2) In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.DSC_0001
3) Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients along with the chocolate chips and mix.
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4) Scoop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes (or until the edges start to brown). Let them cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

 

Yield: 1 dozen cookies

Perfect Pie Crust

This is possibly my most requested recipe. I had been searching and testing vegan & gluten-free pie crust recipes for a while but they either fell apart, stuck to the pan, were too chewy, too crumbly, too salty, too nutty, or too sweet.

I found a recipe based on almond flour which is the foundation of this recipe and if I find the original again, I will be sure to post a link back to it.

I use this recipe for pies, butter tarts, and the bottom of bars. Every single non-vegan baked-goods lover who has tried this pie crust has asked for the recipe. Now I have a place to send them to find it!

This recipe yields 2 single pie shells, 1 double crust OR approx 15 tart shells.

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil @ room temperature
1/4 cup cold almond milk

*before I go on, a note about the ingredients. Please try not to make substitutions if you want this recipe to turn out. Guar gum can replace xanthan gum, but is not as reliable in my experience. Do not ever, ever, EVER substitute the coconut oil for any other oil. You will waste the other very expensive ingredients by cheaping out on your oil. The coconut oil should be liquid or semi-solid for best results.

Step 1:
In a food processor, combine all the dry ingredients and process for a few seconds, until well mixed

Step 2:
Add oil and pulse briefly until the dough is crumbly and starting to come together

Step 3:
Add the almond milk a little at a time, pulsing until the dough just comes together to form a ball. DO NOT OVER PROCESS!

Step 4:
Remove the dough ball from the food processor and divide roughly in half. Shape each half into a smaller ball. Prepare 2 sheets of plastic wraps and flatten one of the balls of dough between the sheets of plastic until you have a disc about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat the same process for the other ball. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. If you are in a hurry you can put it in the freezer for around 10 minutes but this is not recommended (I have done this and had to deal with semi-frozen dough in the next stage which doesn’t roll out very well – coconut oil turns solid very quickly!)

Step 5:
Take one of the dough discs out of the fridge and roll it out between 2 sheets of parchment paper. You can try doing it with the plastic, but again, the results won’t be as even. Transfer (carefully) to a pie plate – I have never found a need to grease the pie plate, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

Step 6:
Freeze the dough in the pie plate for 15-20 minutes and meanwhile prepare the top piece by flattening the other dough disc as you did the first.

Step 7:
Continue with your favourite pie recipe and enjoy!