Monday, April 25, 2011

Coconut Pancakes

I couldn't make it up to Scranton for Easter this year. My family doesn't do much for the holiday, but I was still pretty bummed I wouldn't get to see everyone. And on top of it, Ken was working a bunch of doubles in a row, and wouldn't be home at all. Though I love my kitty, the thought of spending any holiday alone with my cat had my grumpy-pants all in a bunch. To cheer myself up, I made some cupcakes. Just look at these things. They're too adorable to not make you smile.
Vegan coconut cupcakes with strawberry 'butter'cream and toasted coconut nests. Jelly bean 'eggs' complete the cuteness.
 Then, late Saturday night, Ken called to say he didn't have to work Sunday morning. He was coming home! Joy of Joys! An Easter miracle. My sour-puss was replaced with a big ol' smile.
Since I anticipated spending the day alone, I hadn't planned much of a menu. Sunday morning I decided to make a nice holiday breakfast for us with whatever we had around the house. I think I did a pretty good job pulling it together.
As a baker, at any given time I probably have the ingredients to make you whatever kind of sweet breakfast you want. Except waffles, because I don't have a waffle iron (hint, hint...). Ken and I are also the kind of people to have things like mangoes, toasted coconut, mango butter, and coconut extract lying around. It makes throwing together a holiday breakfast a little easier.
Sunday's menu: Coconut pancakes with mango butter, fresh mango, and strawberries. Vegan sausage links. Mango Lemonade. Coffee. Boo-Love.
This is a nice basic vegan pancake recipe that works best as thin, almost crepe-like pancakes. Ken loved them. You've probably got all the necessary ingredients right now, and can make them yours with whatever happens to be in your fridge/pantry. Next time you want to make an impromptu breakfast for someone special, this recipe will be your best friend.
Vegan Coconut Pancakes
adapted from Vegan Yum Yum

1 1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted coconut

Preheat oven to warm, 200 degrees, or the lowest temp your oven will allow. To keep pancakes warm while you make them, you'll stack them on an oven-safe plate inside the oven.

Pour milk into blender. Add all other ingredients except toasted coconut. Pulse a few times. Scrape down sides, and pulse a few more times, but don't over blend. You can place this in the fridge overnight, or use immediately. If using the next day, you may need to thin the batter with a tablespoon or so of water. (*note: I use a blender because I like being able to pour the batter, and also it keeps the dishes at a minimum. A bowl and a whisk would work just as well)

Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat for a few minutes. Pour batter into center of pan. I like to make my pancakes about 4-5 inches across, and swirl the pan slightly to spread the batter and make a thin pancake. Sprinkle coconut on top. After a few minutes, the top will bubble, and the batter will change color from white to a dull yellow. This is when you should flip. If the other side of your pancake is not brown yet, you may need to turn your heat up slightly. If it's over-browned, turn down the heat. Allow to cook for another few minutes, until brown. Place on plate in oven, and continue to stack as you make them.

We served these with mango butter from Trader Joe's and fresh fruit. I'm sure they would have been lovely with a coconut syrup too. Also, making them coconut pancakes was a last minute decision, when I remembered I had the leftover toasted coconut from the cupcakes. Had I planned in advance, I would have probably substituted some or all of the almond milk for coconut milk.

If coconut's not your thing, you can use another extract and add any other filling: bananas, blueberries, chocolate chips, etc. And then come back here and tell me all about it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vegan Apricot Scones

Full Disclosure: I don't really like scones. They're usually so dry and flavorless and pointless. I'm aware that in the right hands they can be quite tasty, but they're also pretty easy to mess up. Normally, I'd say my favorite flavor of scone is muffin, and let's move on.

But a few weeks ago some people I really like asked me to make some scones, and since I'm a people pleaser, I got to work.

I started with chocolate chip. They were pretty tasty, and everyone seems to like them, but they weren't special enough to make me change my opinion on the pastry.
Then I got it into my head I was going to make some apricot scones. And let me tell you, these just might convert me to the cult of scones. Especially still warm from the oven. They're lovely. So pretty; so lady-like. They'd be a pleasant addition to brunch or tea with your lady friends. As a matter of fact Gracie LaRoux, the sweetest gal I know, gave these treats her stamp of approval. So there you have it.
The secret ingredient? Lemon zest. Because let's get real, lemon zest makes everything better.

Vegan Apricot Scones
adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking

1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
2 tbsp water
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup of Earth Balance vegan butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup dried apricots, diced
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1-2 tbsp non-dairy milk for brushing tops
sugar for sprinkling on top (I like Demerara sugar)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk egg replacer and water together until frothy. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter. Continue to cut in until mixture is crumbly, and resembles coarse cornmeal. You can leave some pea-sized chunks of butter, this will keep scones flakier.

Using a fork, mix in the apricots and lemon until incorporated. Add the egg mixture and milk, and using a fork, wooden spoon, or your hands, combine with flour mixture just until moistened. DO NOT OVER MIX. If you over mix, the gluten starts to activate, and will make your scones dense. And then you'll perpetuate the idea that all scones are dry and terrible. Using your hands, gather dough into a ball. You may have some dry crumbs at the bottom, and this is okay. Press them into the mixture, but again, do not knead or over mix. You just want to bring the dough together.

On a sheet of wax paper or table top sprinkled with flour, press out the dough with your hands to form a circle about an inch thick. Cut into triangles (usually makes 8-10), and place on prepared baking sheet at least 1/2 inch apart. If you're making these in advance, you can place the sheet in the freezer overnight at this point, and bake the next day. If baking immediately, brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until tops are golden brown. If scones are frozen, they'll take about 20 minutes to bake. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes.

These are great slightly warm, or fully cooled. In an airtight container they'll last about 2 days, but are best eaten the first day. Enjoy!