Peanut Butter Cups

If only the vegan chefs of the world could nail the taste of dairy cheese down the way that this recipe nails down peanut butter cups- my world would be perfect. These. Are. Amazing. And I'm saying that even after f-ing up the recipe a bit. These are the Peanut Butter cups from the book "The Kind Diet", which, truth be told- I don't own. I found this online and now will be needing to get to a bookstore to pick up the book.

These taste like an alternate universe Reese's cup where you're convinced that you're not eating crap but the flavor is the same (dialed to 11). I did goof while making them, and they have far too loose and gooey of a consistency- but that may be my fault. I made about 5 recipes last night including this, so I was a little scattered. You're supposed to melt the margarine and then add the peanut butter, graham crackers and sugar. I had them all in together without pre-melting the margarine. But- we threw them in the freezer and even overnight, they weren't stiff and hard, but firm (as you see here) and delicious.

I used sweetened peanut butter b/c that's what we had and Ghiradelli chips b/c they're awesome. Also, I made used a mini muffin pan and mini liners- these would be too much in a full size one. Truly- this one is amazing, I highly recommend it!!! You can find the recipe HERE

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Hello "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" book, goodbye to any prospect of wearing a bikini this year! These are over the top. They are delicious and insanely decadent and I would not recommend making a batch unless you have 11 friends to share them with (maybe 10 friends- two indulgent cupcakes never hurt anyone).

One of the best parts about these is that you get to buy Newman O's. The reason that this is great is three fold. One- Paul Newman was a dreamboat and his picture is on the package (even elderly Paul Newman was a dreamboat). Two- all the proceeds for Newman's Own products go to charity. Three- they're effing good cookies.

The cupcakes are great, it's a basic chocolate recipe that has a bunch of different recommended variations- cookies and cream is just one of them. I do wish that I had smashed my cookies a bit finer, I hit a few crunchy crunches in the cupcake here and there, but that's fine too. There are worse things in life than bits of cookies. The cake is moist and has a great, deep chocolate flavor. It's funny because vegan bakery has a bad rep as being really dry. I've had dry vegan bakery at cafés once or twice, but have never made it. Every recipe that I have is super duper moist. There goes that myth. I have a theory though- I think it has that rep b/c it doesn't sell as fast and people are eating old, dried out stuff.

The frosting is the vegan buttercream with the cookies and cream variation- you smash up five cookies (half of what's in the cupcakes) and mix it into the frosting. The recipe made enough frosting to frost two batches of cupcakes and I would love to have a vegan bud around who wants my extra frosting, b/c 24 cupcakes is out of control. The frosting is simple and amazing. It's redonkulously sweet, which is good on these cupcakes because they aren't over the top sugary. It is a bit disturbing to think that you're eating mostly margarine, shortening and sugar for the frosting, but ya know what? It's a treat! It shouldn't be all spinach and broccoli all the time, life needs sugar too!

Oh, and I had to post two pics because it really only was a matter of time until our kitty Maxwell crashed my food photo shoots (see the right side of the image with 3 cupcakes in it).

Peanut Butter Cupcakes w/ Chocolate Ganache

These are the Peanut Butter Cupcakes and the Chocolate Ganache from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (of Vegan With a Vengeance and Vegan Brunch) and Terry Hope Romero (of Viva Vegan, a book that I just got and will try out this week).

They're really amazing. Davey described them as, "a peanut butter punch in the face". Which is apt. The ganache is a mite bitter (I used bittersweet chips), but it's an excellent balance to the sweet peanut butter in the cupcakes. These were really easy to make and had surprising ingredients- flax seed is used for an egg replacer, and it had the vegan "buttermilk" combo of soy milk and apple cider vinegar. I am getting better at creating my own dishes lately, but it's still great to make others recipes because of things like this that I would never think to do. I don't have worlds of experience baking, but I didn't know that cupcakes could require buttermilk (or it's vegan substitute). Anyway, they're moist, intensely flavorful and delicious.

I got this book in hopes of utilizing it for Davey's studio open house (coming soon) and any vegan bake sale that I may partake in. I won't often be making cupcakes just for us, since twelve cupcakes in the house is a dangerous thing. The ones that I'm most excited to try though are; Cookies and Cream (utilize Newman O's), Brooklyn vs Boston Cream Pie Cakes (filled with vegan custard), Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting (salivating), and Tiramisu. So, yeah, I hope I find some great fund-raising sales that I can bake for soon!

Espresso "Brownies"

Either I did something wrong, or the author of La Dolce Vegan has a whole other definition of what a brownie is. What I made was the "Espresso Brownie" recipe from that book. What came out of the oven was a delicious, fluffy, moist, rich chocolate cake (with the somewhat inappropriate bits of walnut in it). As cake- this is amazing! There's bits of chocolate chips in it, aside from the cocoa powder that already makes the batter chock full of chocolatey goodness. In fact, I believe that this will be perfect when I eventually try making fauxstess cupcakes ala Real Food Daily/ the Vegan w/ a Vengeance book.

Also, this is the moistest bit of vegan baking since I made TJ's Pumpkin Bread mix with a banana in lieu of eggs. I know that I haven't eaten dairy in almost 2 years, but I think that in a blind taste test- no one would label this as vegan baking.

As a brownie, however, this fails. Nothing about it is brownie-esque. It's not flat, no crispy, flaky brownie crust- it's just so totally not a brownie.

But it's an amazingly good cake!