Profiteroles est Tres Délicieux et Facile (Profiteroles are f-ing good)

So, this is about the most dairy that I've used in a recipe in years. It's appropriate that that should happen with this specific dish. My first year-long foray into being vegan ended in a tiny restaurant in Paris with a dish of profiteroles. It was the first time that I had ever heard of them or had them, and after a year of dairy abstinence, my eyes rolled back into my head and I proceeded to blissfully gorge myself. It helps that I was raised in Wisconsin, the land of cream puffs, and profiteroles are basically cream puffs with ice cream and chocolate sauce. So loving profiteroles to me was like a fish loving water. These were made with a recipe from Martha Stewart's Cooking Class, a darn helpful tome of a book that I turn to from time to time to find out how long to roast a beet or how to prepare a certain veg. It does have a load of meat info too, which I could do without, but we all know chica's a carnivore. The recipe on her site here is similar to what I made, and has a video that shows essentially how to prepare these. I used a kitchenaid for the egg bit, and truth be told- I never use eggs for anything and was a bit grossed out by that. I think if I make them again, it'll be a vegan version (I'll be sure to report how that comes out). I did the ziplock "piping bag" trick and I worked great. They baked to perfection, poofed, and were a hit at the dinner that I brought them to (the toddler started eating them by diving her face onto the top of one and licking the chocolate... success!). I used a vanilla bean ice cream and made the chocolate sauce (Martha again) here- directions are "step 6". These look deceptively complex and really make it seem like you're a superstar gourmet pastry chef, when in actuality, they are easier than making a cake.

Carrot Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

Everything that I've tried from Vegan Cupcakes Rule the World is amazing. Ironic, because one of the co-authors of that book also authored the book that I just posted about (the disaster casserole from hell).

This recipe is really good! The cupcakes are incredibly moist to the point of being almost soggy (the papers are kinda soaked). The frosting is great and made enough just for the one batch (unlike the cookies and cream frosting that made enough for 24 cupcakes). It requires an entire cup of finely grated carrots, which is great (I can try to delude myself into thinking that it's health food). I would try putting more spices in them next time, though. They have cinnamon and ginger in them, but I think - maybe I'm getting it mixed up with spice cake, but I thin kit would be better spiced up. Maybe nutmeg? Allspice? More cinnamon and ginger?

Or, as Davey insists, they're great the way that they are!

Hal's Maple Chocolate Flax Brownies

Remember when I made cupcakes and said that I've yet to make that mythical dried out tasting vegan bakery? Well I did it! (not that that's a good thing...)

These stink. They are "Hal's Maple Chocolate Flax Brownies" from Dolce Vegan. I mean, they're edible. It takes a bad, bad, brownie to be so bad that I won't eat it. The chocolate chips save them. They are very dry- the batter was really dry too, which should have been a clue. For having both sugar and a ton of maple syrup in them, they aren't very sweet- which would be fine with the sweetness of the chocolate chips if not for the overall dryness and the flax seeds. I made peanut butter cupcakes with flax seeds successfully a few weeks ago, so I thought this would be just as good- but these have a TON of ground flax in them (1/4 cup compared to the 1T or so in the cupcakes), and you can really taste it. Which, in a brownie? Not so good. They are denser like a brownie should be (compared to the other Dolce ones that were the really good cake) Still, maybe the word "brownie" means something else in Canada, because Sarah Kramer (Dolce author) and I have wildly different ideas about what constitutes a good brownie (or a brownie- period). I have gotten a few great go-to recipes from Dolce, but also a good few duds. I wonder how much testing went into the book and I don't rule out that I could have goofed too.

I don't even love brownies a ton, I'm just looking for that thick, fudgy recipe with the flaky top that I can go to when I do want a brownie. For now, the quest continues.

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!