Thursday, 26 June 2014

Coconut butter

There seems to be some confusion about what coconut butter is, and it's my pleasure to clear that up. Coconut butter is not coconut oil. It is not a combination of oils that makes vegan butter for use on your toast or in baking croissants.

Each of these blocks is about 1/2 cup coconut butter.
It's a nut butter. You got it: just like peanut butter, almond butter or pumpkin seed butter, it is just puréed coconut that makes a spreadable butter.

And you might ask why you would bother doing that with coconut, and it's a fair question. There are a few applications that I've found coconut butter really useful in. For one, coconut butter is terribly yummy just spread on your toast or used as a dip for fruit, so it does have some commonalities with other nut butters in that way. But perhaps even more interestingly, it has a lot of the properties of coconut oil, in that it gets really nice and solid when it's chilled. So when you use coconut butter as a base for something like a mock white chocolate, it turns out really creamy, smooth and brittle, much like chocolate is. So my most recent success with it was to make mint-chocolate chip mock white chocolate candies with coconut butter, and do I really need to tell you they were delicious?

So making coconut butter is actually really easy. But you do need a food processor for best results. So if you have one, don't be daunted; the process is actually laughably easy.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The 5 tools in my kitchen I can't live without

This beauty has saved my ass more times than I can count.
Over the years, people have told me a bunch of times that they like my cooking, and I have usually answered that it's largely because I have good tools and high standards. The high standards you're on your own with, but I am going to go over some things in my kitchen that I practically can't live without (OK, fine, so the title was a little hyperbolic...).

Some of these things are so old that I have no idea where I got them. When I can find them, I'll include links for easy purchase, in case you want to get anything. Full disclosure: purchases specifically through the Amazon links send a portion of the purchase back to me, so it helps me keep this blog up. So thanks in advance if that's the way you decide to go.

And now for the fun part: here are the goods!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Easy-cheesy stuffed mushrooms with garlic scapes (vegan)

I can't remember a time that I ever said "no" to mushrooms. That's how much I love them. (Unless they're raw, because that's just wrong.)

I've recently been on a dehydrating kick when it comes to mushrooms. For my vegan friends out there: dehydrating mushrooms amplifies their flavour. So it gives things that "meaty" flavour when you use dehydrated mushrooms, and that's a heck of a lot lower in MSG than Marmite (which--don't get me wrong--is still delicious as hell in gravy and full of vitamin B-12).

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Simple vanilla cake (vegan)

Where there's chocolate, there's vanilla shortly behind. At least in my world.

So when I made a post about chocolate cupcakes (still some of the best I've ever eaten), I immediately set out to remaster the recipe for a vanilla cake. Especially since I promised you delicious cake to use sprinkles on. (These ones I kept fairly simple with just a few candy ball bearings. The muffin wrappers were too pretty to distract from with bright colours or wild shapes, if you ask me!) These are pretty scrumptious, although I still think I like the chocolate better. (My roommate agrees.) It's tough to beat chocolate, but sometimes you just need a vanilla cake, plain and simple. Like when you're layering it with lemon curd or something. (Mmmm...maybe that should be my next project!)

In any case, the cake is very similar to the chocolate version, only without the...uh...chocolate. It's a really thin batter, which is how it gets that light, moist crumb, so don't freak out too much if your batter looks more like pancakes than like cake. It's 100% par for this course.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sprinkles (this might be a problem) and some of the cuter ones out there

A little while ago, I opened up a bag of baking stuff and found all my cake-decorating supplies. In that bag was a ton of sprinkles of all shapes, sizes and styles. I had everything from silver and gold balls to white snowflakes to chocolate jimmies (the little wormy-style ones). And so I made vegan cupcakes (which were amazing, by the way), and I used a few of my rainbow jimmies, and my sprinkle needs were satisfied for a little while.

But here's the thing: sometimes I do things that are just plain bad calls. Like today, when I was on Amazon and decided to search for sprinkles, as though I really need any more. But there are some really, really cute pickings, and my inner child decided that I have to share them with you. So here goes: my picks for the cutest/most awesome sprinkles that Amazon has to offer.