Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans (Vegan)

Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans (Vegan)

I guess by now everyone knows I love to bake.  Not only do I like to eat sweets, but I also get intrigued by how different ingredients work or not work together and the Science behind it. Yes, baking is an edible Science experiment ! And I have so much fun with these “Science projects” !  Vegan baking is even more interesting ! You don’t have your eggs to bind things together, you don’t have your dairy nor butter for nice creamy texture and rich flavours.  But there are actually many great alternatives and I realize I have a lot more to learn. This is the first time I bake with spelt flour. It can be used instead of whole wheat flour. It has a finer texture and a milder taste which I like.  For the roasted pecans, you won’t need the whole batch for the muffins, save the rest for a healthy snack !

Makes about 12 muffins

For the roasted pecans 

  • 100 g pecans
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Coat pecans with rest of ingredients 
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, stirring once in between Maple Roasted Pecans

For the muffins

  • 225 g spelt flour
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 60 g demerara or brown sugar 
  • 150 g unsweetened apple sauce 
  • 120 mL vegetable oil 
  • 60 mL unsweetened almond milk 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 200 g grated carrots 
  • 30 g maple roasted pecans, crushed 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon 
  3. Mix in sugar 
  4. Stir in other wet ingredients
  5. Stir in grated carrots 
  6. Spoon into lightly greased paper or silicone muffin cups (you can fill them up a little fuller, as they don’t rise as much)
  7. Sprinkle crushed maple pecans on top 
  8. Bake in muffin tins for 25-30 minutes Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans (Vegan)
Chocolate Souffle

Chocolate Souffle 

I think Valentine’s day is a perfect time to make chocolate souffle. It brings a sweet ending to your romantic dinner. I first learned it at a pastry course and it’s actually pretty easy. All souffles will rise in the oven and fall shortly after they are taken out. That doesn’t mean that you fail, it’s just the way they are. Some recipes have a higher ratio of egg whites, some add cornstarch and milk or cream. These methods may make the souffles higher and stay in shape a little longer. After trying a few recipes, I found this one, adapted from the book “How To Bake Everything” by Mark Bittman is the simplest. It uses equal parts of egg yolks and whites, so you won’t need to worry about what to do with the extra yolks and the souffles came out both rich and airy. Have a sweet Valentine’s Day!

Makes about 4-6 servings

  • Butter for greasing ramekins 
  • 80 g granulated sugar, plus more for coating
  • 90 g dark chocolate (70%), chopped 
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Grease ramekins with butter, then sprinkle sugar over to coat, tap off excess 
  3. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, let cool slightly 
  4. Whisk together egg yolks and 30 g of granulated sugar using an electric mixer until light yellow and mixture falls in a ribbon over surface 
  5. Mix in melted chocolate until combined 
  6. Clean and dry the whisk
  7. In another mixing bowl using the electric mixer, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until frothy
  8. Increase speed to high and slowly add in 50 g of granulated sugar
  9. Whisk until a stiff peak is formed
  10. Gently fold egg whites, in 3 batches, into egg yolk mixture
  11. Pour into ramekins and place on a rimmed baking tray 
  12. Put tray into oven, pour about one inch of hot water into baking tray
  13. Bake in hot water bath for about 20 minutes (Do not open oven door during baking)
  14. Dust with icing sugar, serve immediatelyChocolate Souffle

Tools and Books 

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KitchenAid K45SSWH Classic 4.5-Quart Bowl Stand Mixer, White

How to Bake Everything

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking

You can get these items through the Amazon website by clicking the above link. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase them.

Heart-Shaped Meringue Cookies

Heart-Shaped Meringue Cookies 

My daughter wrote me this poem couple years ago for Valentine’s Day and it’s been on the wall beside my bed. I thought I would share it here. Valentine's poem

“What is love?  What is special?  It’s Mom
No matter what she is, I love her
No matter what she looks like, I love her
With a balance family, she is the Best Mom Ever! “

This is definitely the sweetest poem I’ve ever read ! My daughter is such a lovely girl.  She is creative, funny, outgoing, but also very sensitive. I love her so much ! Of course I love my son too, but I guess it’s unlikely a twelve year-old boy would write his mom a poem….. 😁 To treat my two little sweethearts, I made these heart-shaped meringue cookies.  They are light, crunchy and super easy to make.  

Makes about 16 cookies

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 30 g granulated sugar or vanilla sugar
  • red food colouring (I use icing colours) 
  1. Preheat oven to 225°F
  2. Using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until frothy
  3. Add food colouring
  4. Increase speed to high and slowly add in sugar
  5. Whisk until a stiff peak is formed
  6. Transfer into piping bag with star tip
  7. Pipe onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, depending on size of cookies, they should be dry to touch
  9. Turn off oven and leave cookies in oven for at least 2 hours to dry
  10. Remove from oven and cool completely

Note : When baked, the cookies will turn golden slightly, changing the colour of them  

Heart-Shaped Meringue Cookies

Before baking

Heart-Shaped Meringue Cookies

After baking

 

Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake

Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake for Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year was my favourite celebration when I was a kid in Hong Kong. I could visit and play with my cousins, get red envelopes and of course, eat lots and lots of good food ! My mom used to make all kinds of dishes and rice cakes, sweet and savoury. To be honest, I have never made them, because hers are always the best! But this year I thought…..hey, I am a baker, I should at least bake something to celebrate. Then, I remembered a recipe from my mom’s friend….Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake! I have modified her recipe to make it less greasy and added some shredded coconut on top. The glutinous rice flour and coconut milk should be available in any Asian market. Use the brands in the picture if you can find them, as according to the expert, aka my mom, they are better. (I am not sponsored by them, just personal preference) The cake will rise inside the oven, but then concave in a little when cooled and that’s ok. It doesn’t change the taste nor the texture of the cake. I used a round cake pan because but in Chinese, the word “round” has a meaning of being together. You can use a square pan, which probably will be easier to cut. 

Wishing everyone good health and a prosperous Year of the Rooster! Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake


Makes one 8 inch round cake 

  • 400 g glutinous rice flour, sifted  (1 package)
  • 200 g granulated sugar 
  • 5 eggs (lightly beaten) 
  • 400 mL canned coconut milk (1 can)
  • 60 mL coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 45 g unsweetened shredded coconut Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F 
  2. Line bottom of baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease bottom and sides 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour and sugar
  4. Stir in eggs, coconut milk, oil and vanilla until smooth using a hand whisk 
  5. Strain batter through a mesh and pour into baking pan 
  6. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325ºF and bake for another 30 minutes (toothpick should come out clean when inserted into middle)
  8. Turn heat off, leave cake in oven with door ajar for about 20 minutes 
  9. Take it out, cool slightly and serve warm 
  10. You can store the cake in the fridge for up to 1 week. Reheat in oven before serving. Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake
White Chocolate and Lime Cookies

White Chocolate and Lime Cookies 

I love citrus fruits ! The colours, the smell, the tanginess, they just brighten me up. I mostly bake with lemons or oranges and this is the first time I use lime. Normally I just use lime juice to make guacamole. The flavour of lime balances nicely with butter and white chocolate. This cookie dough is also very “unique” ! There are two kinds of flour, all-purpose and self-rising.  About 4 years ago, I tried to bake some shortbread cookies. The recipe called for cornstarch, but I accidentally put in self-rising flour ! To my surprise, they turned out really good ! Since then, I have used this combination many times with different variations and everyone likes it. Well, I guess I really have learned from my “mistake” …..but I don’t plan to correct it ! 🙂 Limes

Makes about 24 cookies 

  • 200 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 90 g icing sugar + more for dusting
  • 225 g all-purpose flour 
  • 45 g self-rising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Zest of a small lime
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 50 g white chocolate chips 
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Sift together both flours and salt, set aside
  3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy
  4. Add lime juice, zest and vanilla extract 
  5. Add flour mixture in 2 parts, mix until just blended
  6. Stir in white chocolate chips
  7. Refrigerate dough for 1-2 hours to prevent cookies from spreading too much
  8. Shape dough into one inch balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges just golden
  10. Cool on baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then completely on rack
  11. Dust with icing sugarWhite Chocolate and Lime Cookies

 

Tools I used and you may like

41rqjlmpovl._sy400_.jpg

KitchenAid K45SSWH Classic 4.5-Quart Bowl Stand Mixer, White

 

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Microplane #40020 Classic Grater/Zester, Black

You can get these tools through the Amazon website by clicking the above link. I will receive a small compensation if you purchase the item.

Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds

Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds

After indulging myself over Christmas and New Year, I guess it’s time to make something a little healthier! Chia seed pudding has been on my “to make” list for quite a while, but I’ve been pushing it back. Somehow I associate the word “pudding” with something soft and creamy, not seedy and chewy.  So I ended up making this overnight oats.  It was really yummy, and to my surprise, my daughter loved it ! This is another recipe that can have so many variations. My ratio is roughly, 1 part oats, 2 parts milk and 1/4 part chia seeds, then add sweetener, and toppings.  It makes a great breakfast, or for me, a snack after my morning run !  

Makes 1 serving

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened milk of choice (I used almond and coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • toppings of choice, e.g. banana, berries, shredded coconut, almond slices, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc
  1. Combine milk, oats, chia seeds and sweetener in a bowl or a mason jar  
  2. Stir well, cover and refrigerate overnight
  3. Add toppings when ready to serveOvernight Oats with Chia Seeds

 

 

 

Marzipan Cake

Marzipan Cake

I never knew marzipan can be so tasty and so useful in baking ! My first encounter with it was eating some marzipan-filled chocolate. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy it. Perhaps it was too sweet or perhaps I always prefer eating pure chocolate. But after I learned to make the Eisenbahner (Railroad) Cookies, I absolutely fell in love with it ! With high hopes for myself, I decided to make a cake this time…..but sadly…..I failed twice ! How frustrating ! The “failures” actually tasted pretty good. I realized the problem was the pans I used. For the first time, I used a 9 inch spring-form pan and the cake turned out too flat (It is a denser cake and it won’t rise very much). So I switched to a 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan. But it took too long to bake through and the outside of the cake was dry and brown. So for the third time, I used an 8 inch cake ring and baked it in a hot water bath and…..Success finally ! I thought I would never make it !  Phew ! Now I get to sit down, relax and enjoy my cake after all that hard work !

Makes one 8 inch round cake 

  • 180 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200 g marzipan, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 60 ml milk
  • 60 g honey
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 180 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Icing sugar and almond slices for toppings
  1. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake ring  
  2. Wrap bottom with parchment paper, then 2 layers of aluminium foil and place on a rimmed baking trayCake RingCake Ring
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside
  5. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, marzipan and sugar 
  6. Add eggs, one at a time
  7. Mix in vanilla and almond extract, milk, honey and orange zest 
  8. Add flour mixture in two parts, mix until blended
  9. Pour batter into cake ring (it’s ok if batter is slightly gritty) 
  10. Pour about one inch of hot water in baking tray and bake cake in hot water bath for about 60 minutes  
  11. Cool and remove cake ring
  12. Top with icing sugar and almond slicesMarzipan CakeMarzipan Cake