A Few Food Thoughts

Hi friends. Hope everyone’s summer’s have been filled with ~all~ the blended drinks, a few dashes of sand and just enough tan (who are we kidding, sunburn) to prove that you didn't spend your whole summer in an office. 

It’s been a while since I posted again *sigh* and I really didn't mean for it to happen. Life’s been crazy. I've been adjusting from the abroad life (Florence, you will be forever missed, carbs just don't seem right without you), soaking in some Vermont summer, settling into a job at the amazing Tasting Table and dealing with plenty of apartment drama (working toilets are seriously underrated) and excitement scattered throughout.

Today’s post is going to be a little different. A little like the announcement I posted last fall (thanks for listening to my rambles, you guys are the true mvps), I want to share a little change in The Sweetest Beet. As my life has grown and changed so much in the past 8 months, so has the vision for my blog and my relationship with food. Studying abroad, Florence taught me to love food in a way I never knew possible. I enjoyed and savored every bite, never thinking about what it was doing to my thighs or how this was going to cost me 30 minutes extra on the treadmill the next day. I purely tasted and immersed myself in every meal and dish that I tried. And the freedom I found from this was ~incredible~. Was this diet sustainable? Nope. No matter what these studies say that red wine is like an hour in the gym (still very skeptical btw…) I’m pretty sure no one would recommend a glass (or two, or three) with nearly every meal. Not quite what the doctor ordered. But Florence taught me something invaluable and I’ll always be grateful.

Now, is the shift. I’m getting my diet and health back in a much more wholesome way. I never want to go back to the obsessively healthy, bakes-but-never-eats girl that I was one short year ago. Nor, do I want to be the one who tasted everything that she came upon (and kinda forgot that spinach was a thing) throughout her travels. Today, I want to find that happy medium. I want to explore good food, possibly indulge in a milkshake larger than my head (I'm looking at you Black Tap) and also brave the lines to buy groceries at Trader Joes and cook all the sweet potatoes and tofu. For this reason, The Sweetest Beet is now going to be a more accurate description of my day to day food adventures. Living in New York, this can mean a scrounged together meal at home or, it can mean diving into a gorgeous bowl of ramen from a restaurant down the street (shoutout to shiitake noodles at Momofuku). Basically, I want to erase the boundaries and remove the labels from The Sweetest Beet, just like I have in my own eating and my own life. I can’t wait to share, more openly, where my life is headed, and I hope you enjoy!

In case you’re intrigued by this (and I kinda hope you are) follow me on insta or subscribe to stay up to date on my food adventures. Baking will still happen (come on, how could I give up on that one??), but with it will be recipes from the more savory side and some (OK, lots of) treats that I find throughout the city.

And, since I have no recipe today, I couldn't leave you with nothing… My current favorite food find in New York? Dim sum at The Golden Unicorn (or probably anywhere in Chinatown). I know, I know, I’m a little late to this party, but its f*%#ing amazing. And, if you’re new to this too? Just think unlimited dumplings. Oh, and cute steamed buns that look like pigs. I rest my case. 

You guys are the best. 

xx

Vegan Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Ahh, New York summer. 

That welcome wall of humidity, the sprinkle of leaky air conditioners and hot wind storms of trash: beautiful. Though New York is the best city in the world (I’m only a tiny bit biased) we all need a break from this weather sometimes. 

Where do I find my retreat? On a breezy beach in the Hamptons maybe? Nope. Poolside, literally, anywhere? Not quite. How about a hot kitchen where the oven is always on full blast? Mm, perfect. 

Though there might be a few (or fifty) better ways to escape the heat, nothing else will result in the in a lemon blueberry muffin that is ~pretty~ delicious, and my new go-to snack and breakfast.

The lemon flavor is just enough zing-y (let’s make this a word) and tart, balancing nicely with a soft crumb and sweet, juicy blueberries. If you want, a little sprinkled lemon sugar on top adds another layer of loveliness. 

Bonus? They’re mostly whole wheat, low sugar and happen to be vegan. So, you’re allowed to have two, or maybe even three… When they’re warm from the oven, they’re pretty hard to resist. Even if New York’s classic million-degrees-plus-humidity weather is pressing in on every window in your house. 

So, pour your self some iced tea, or perhaps a chilled glass of rosé, because we have some baking to do.

 

Vegan Lemon Blueberry Muffins (adapted from here)

Makes 1 dozen

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

0.25 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted 

0.33 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, divided 

1 cup fresh blueberries (or thawed frozen blueberries, well drained)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Whisk together flours, flaxseeds, powder, soda and 0.25 cup sugar. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, oil, almond milk, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. 

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet mixture. Stir until just combined, batter should be stiff. Gently stir in blueberries. 

5. To make lemon sugar: In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Mix together thoroughly with your fingers, allowing the oils to be released from the zest into the sugar.

6. Divide batter into greased, or lined, muffin pan. Top with a sprinkling of lemon sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs. 

7. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

If you try the recipe, let me know! Tag me on Instagram, share on Facebook or find me on Pinterest. Let's stay cool and get baking.

xx

Vegan Raspberry Pop Tarts

Ok. Obvious statement of the day: pop tarts are kinda ridiculously delicious. 

Fudgey fillings, crumbly cake and nearly-too-sweet icing? Sign me up. To attempt to improve upon this staple pastry seems a bit unnecessary, but bear with me because it’s way worth it. 

Not only are these vegan, whole wheat and loaded with fresh berries (and some Nutella, come on) they are insanely good. Like, forget-about-the-boxed-kind good. Trust me. 

The dough? Comes together in one second. The filling? Smash up some berries and fruit. Roll, cut, fill and bake. It’s that simple. 

And in no time, your hands are full of warm, flaky, tart and sweet poptarts. 

If you want to get a little creative, chopped cinnamon apples (cooked a few minutes before), a spot of Nutella or straight up cinnamon sugar would also be amazing filling options. A drizzle of glaze would also put them over the edge. 

Let’s do this.

 

Vegan Raspberry Pop Tarts (adapted from here)

Makes about 7

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

pinch of salt

0.66 cup cold Earth Balance (or butter, if not vegan)

2-4 tablespoons ice cold water

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

1 heaping cup frozen raspberries (or other fruit)

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours and salt. 

3. Add dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor along with the cold Earth Balance. Pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.

4. Add vanilla and water, using only enough so that the dough just comes together. Form dough into a flat round and chill while you make the compote filling. 

5. For the compote: combine raspberries and maple syrup in a small pot over the stove. Bring to a boil before reducing heat, smashing berries with the back of a spoon as they cook. Let berries boil down for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been cooked off. 

6. Once chilled, roll out dough on a lightly floured counter to about .25 inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut pastry dough into 14 equal rectangle and place onto the lined baking sheet. On half of the rectangles, scoop about 1 tablespoon of fruit filling. If you run out, chocolate peanut butter is amazing as a filling as well. 

7. With a bit of water, run finger around the edge of the filled half, before topping with another piece of pastry. Press sides gently with your fingers and seal with a fork. With a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of each. 

8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. The pop tarts are lovely warm and on their own, or cooled with a simple glaze. 

Baked Carrot Cake Doughnuts with Toasted Coconut

Guys. We did it.

We made it through another winter and spring is finally here. We struggled through the ice, snow and too freezing cars too early in the morning. Personally? I think that deserves a bit of an award. Will some donuts work? 

In a celebration of warmer weather, I have a deceivingly wholesome recipe.

These donuts bring together so many of the favorites: fresh carrots, toasty coconut and warm cinnamon. The batter is impossibly easy so there are no excuses.

Warm from the oven? Unreal. But, topped with sweet cinnamon glaze and toasted coconut they somehow become impossibly rustic and fancy. If you want to elevate these even more, some finely chopped pineapple would also be delicious.

So, let’s bury the winter coats in the back of the closet, break out the donut pans and fill them with ~all~ the carrot cake. 

 

Carrot Cake Donuts (adapted from here)

Makes 8 doughnuts

0.33 cup + 1 teaspoon unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon vinegar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and browned

0.5 cup whole wheat flour

0.5 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

0.75 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.75 teaspoon ground ginger

0.25 teaspoon sea salt

0.25 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

0.125 teaspoon ground cloves

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons real maple syrup (or honey)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

0.5 cup grated carrots, packed (about 2 medium carrots)

0.25 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze: 

1 cup powdered sugar

A few splashes of almond milk

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Toasted coconut flakes

 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Combine almond milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle. 

3. Melt butter until browned and set aside to cool slightly. 

4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside. 

5. To the slightly cooled butter, mix in sugar, maple syrup, egg and vanilla until completely combined. Add almond milk mixture. 

6. Add wet mixture, walnuts (if using) and grated carrots to the flour mixture. Mix until just combined, careful not to over mix. 

7. Transfer batter to a pastry bag with a large round tip and pipe into lightly greased doughnut pan. The wells should be about 0.66 full. 

8. Bake for about 8 minutes, until tops are golden around the edges, pull away from the donut pan and spring back when pressed lightly. Let cool for a minute or two in the pan before transferring to a wire rack. 

9. For the glaze: Combine powdered sugar, almond milk and cinnamon and whisk until no lumps remain and the consistency is how you prefer it. Pour glaze into a bowl, shallow enough do dip doughnuts into.

10. Once the doughnuts are completely cooled, dip doughnuts into the glaze, making sure it reaches about halfway down the sides. I double-glazed my doughnuts, dipping them a second time once the first coat had completely set. I then pressed the tops of the doughnuts into toasted coconut flakes.   

Croissants

So. I did a thing. Hint: lots of butter, flour and waiting were involved.

I’m not gonna sugar coat this one. These are very time consuming. They require exact timing, measurement and technique. But, more importantly, are so insanely worth it that I recommend you skim right to the recipe and get started (OK, maybe finish reading this, but see how much I want you to make these??)

The croissants begin in a luxurious place: the dough is warm, soft and milky. Rich and creamy butter is folded in, starting the lamination process. Lamination is the fancy term for the creation of those crazy flaky layers that every croissant-lover (I’m gonna guess every single person) knows and craves.

This is where patience is required, patience that will pay off greatly, not to worry. Fold after fold, you continue to create the marbled and laminated dough which must be chilled in between. 

Once the dough is finished, it gets rolled into an immense rectangle (make sure you have the entire counter free) and divided into skinny triangles. I made most of mine plain, but stuffed a little semi-sweet chocolate into a few because, um, why not??

When these bake. O my god. The smell? Straight up butter, warm dough and something else magic?? I don’t know, maybe I was a little delusional after spending 24 hours folding and waiting for these to come out, but the aroma of these croissants blew me away.

I’m going to lie and say that I had some self restraint and didn’t burn my fingers and mouth eating one right out of the oven. It’s cool. You should do the same, it’s that worth it. 

Fresh from the oven, there’s really nothing better. The outside has become golden brown, crispy and so flaky that you’ll soon be covered in buttery crumbs. The inside is soft, warm and stretchy in the best possible way. When you’re cutting and rolling the croissants, it feels like you’ve made an impossible amount. But when they’re warm out of the oven? That thought quickly changes as the baking sheets become emptier and emptier. 

So, next time you're looking for a serious baking project with huge payoff? Whip out some flour and some butter and embark on a croissant adventure. 

Croissants (recipe from here)

Makes about 22 croissants

1.5 cups warm whole milk (about 105 degrees F)

0.25 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoons + 0.5 teaspoon active dry yeast

3.75  – 4.5  cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1.5 cups (3 sticks) cold, unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten for brushing

1. To make dough: Combine milk, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Once foamy, add 3.75 cups flour and salt and begin mixing with dough  hook, on low speed. Mix until the dough is soft and has come together, about 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a well floured counter and knead for about 2 to 3 more minutes, until dough is silky and smooth. Form into a rectangle, about 1.5 inches thick, wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

2. After the dough has chilled, make the butter block. Place the three sticks of butter next to each other with the sides touching. Pound them down with a rolling pin, you can also use your hands to keep the rectangular shape. Place between two pieces of plastic wrap, or parchment paper, and continue to roll out until the butter rectangle is 8 x 5 inches. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge. 

3. While butter chills, roll out dough. Transfer chilled dough to a lightly floured counter and roll into a 16 x 10 rectangle. Make sure that the corners remain square, stretching with your hands if necessary. Next, take out the butter slab and place in the middle of the dough. Wrap dough around butter like a letter, one third directly on top of the butter, and the other third on top of that. Turn the dough so the short end faces you and begin to roll again (this is where the laminating magic begins). Roll into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle, rolling to the ends but not over them. Fold again like a letter, folding the thirds on top of each other into the middle of the dough. Again, stretch so that the corners are square. This should form a 10 x 5 inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

4. Repeat the above step 3 more times, a total of FOUR folds. Make sure to let the dough chill for 1 hour in between each fold, this is very important and will create the dreamy and flaky layers. After the final fold, wrap tightly in plastic and chill for 8 to 12 hours (I let mine go over night and baked them in the morning).

5. Once dough is completely chilled, roll out on a lightly floured counter into a 20 x 32 inch rectangle. Yes, that is giant. Yes, it is necessary. Yes, you can do it. Once rolled, using a pizza cutter, slice dough down the middle, creating two rectangles that are 10 x 32 inches. With each of the strips, cut tall triangles. You should get about 11 out of each strip. On the short side of each triangle cut a 2 inch slit. This is where you will begin to roll them, pulling the two "legs" towards each other as you go. If you want chocolate croissants, add about 0.5 an ounce of dark chocolate right above the slit and roll as usual. Once rolled, I attached the two "legs" to get a nice rounded shape in my croissants. Some detach during baking, but it does help give them more shape. Once all have been rolled, place on lined baking sheets about 2 to 3 inches between each. Let proof in a warm place, under a clean dish towel, for about 1 hour. 

6. As croissants proof, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. When croissants are fully proofed, brush with egg and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside. 

7. Enjoy fresh, it's kind of a life changing experience. 

 

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

So, somehow we’re already a quarter of the way through 2016. I’m not really sure how it happened? 

But what does that mean, it means that St. Patrick’s Day is here. I’ve never been a huge fan of the holiday, celebrating was never a big deal for me. But I always knew that was the day, the day you wore a green shirt and got a free ice cream cone at Stewart’s and the day where suddenly everything in the store needed to be a sickeningly bright green. 

It’s also the day where eating slice after slice of Irish soda bread is 100% OK. And I’m all about that. 

Because the original tends to be loaded with butter, margarine and milk, I have a lighter vegan version, made with heartier whole wheat flours. 

So, this St. Patrick’s day, protect yourself from the abundance of green food dye and make a cozy loaf, filled with fresh orange and sweet raisins. This loaf is best served only slightly cooled, sliced with a spread of fresh berry jam or butter. 

Vegan Irish Soda Bread (adapted from here)

Makes one loaf

0.75 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground

1.5 tablespoons water

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1.5 tablespoons sugar

0.5 teaspoon baking soda

0.75 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cold Earth Balance (or butter, if not vegan)

0.75 teaspoon orange zest

0.5 cup raisins (or dried currants)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside. 
  3. In another small bowl, whisk together flax meal and water with a fork. Set aside. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flours, sugar, soda and salt. Cut in Earth balance, or butter, with your fingers.
  5. Whisk together milk and flax mixtures. Stir in orange zest and add to the flour. Stir until completely incorporated. 
  6. Toss raisins, or currants, with a small bit of flour and then add to the dough. The mixture will be very wet. 
  7. Transfer the dough to a well-floured counter and lightly knead into a round loaf. 
  8. Move to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and score the top with an “x”. 
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until well browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting (you can do it).

Loaded Pumpkin Banana Bread

Coming home for a visit from school means many things. 

There’s the coziness of your own bed, the familiarity of each worn step in the staircase and the dog who is, somehow, exponentially more excited to see you than your family members. You get to catch up on the happenings in your hometown, allowing a fraction of yourself to melt back into the well known patterns of your childhood. Sleep is caught up on, homework is avoided and, oh yea, home cooked meals are enjoyed. 

Even living in New York City, where every kind of amazing food is available at literally every second of the day, there’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal. The ease and comfort of it is impossible to match at any type of restaurant or cafe. And, I think I speak for most college students, when I say that there’s always that one food that you dream of the whole journey back home. 

For me? The choice is easy. Chocolate chip banana bread. Makes my 4 hour journey feel more like 40. As I’ve already posted my all time favorite banana bread here, I’m bringing you a little twist today, one that could perhaps even rival the first (it’s that good). 

Instead of just straight up bananas, I’ve thrown in some pumpkin puree (because we all know my feelings about this issue), chopped apple and rich coconut flakes. This bread has all the qualities you want and need from a welcome-home-snack: the crumb is soft and delicate, studded with chewy coconut, tart apples and deep chocolate with just the hint of welcome bitterness. The blend of pumpkin and banana adds a level of decadence to the healthy loaf.

 I may or may not have already written my shopping list for making this when I’m home in May… Until then though, I hope you try this and enjoy it as much as I do. You can also get ~creative~, don’t limit yourself to the three add-ins I used. Dried cherries? O man. Give it a try. 

Pumpkin Banana Bread (adapted from here)

Makes one loaf

0.25 cup melted coconut oil 

0.33 cup real maple syrup

2 eggs

1 banana, mashed

0.66 cup pumpkin puree

0.25 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

0.5 teaspoon salt

0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup whole wheat flour

0.75 cup all purpose flour

0.5 cup chopped Granny Smith apple

0.5 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

0.33 cup chopped semisweet chocolate

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease one loaf pan, set aside. 

2. In a large bowl, beat oil, maple syrup and eggs. Add banana, pumpkin, almond milk, soda and vanilla. Mix until smooth. 

3. To the wet ingredients, add salt, cinnamon and flours. Stir to combine. Add apple, chocolate and coconut and mix until just combined. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come out clean with a few small crumbs remaining.

4. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack. Best served warm, but also freezes well. 

I'd love to see yours if you try it! Tag me on Instagram, or follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to stay updated on my baking adventures. 

xo

 

Firenze Adventures

Hello! Today’s post is going to be a little different, no recipes for you, but more will be coming soon.

IMG_2309.jpg

An update on my life, in case you don’t follow me on Instagram and haven’t seen my photos, I’m spending the next semester studying abroad in Florence, Italy. From January 25th through mid May I’ll be spending my days on the beautiful villa campus of NYU, most likely getting lost in one of the gardens, and my nights will be spent in the bustling, yet relaxingly laid back city of Florence. I’ve been here for about one month so far, which is insane, the time is already flying by.

After, thankfully uneventful, travel, I’ve met amazing new people from the start and have begun to adjust to my home for the next few months. So far I’ve gone on some small adventures, like grocery shopping without knowing what any of the labels say, to larger ones with days spent walking every inch of a few Italian cities (Florence, Venice and Rome).

I’ve eaten the best pasta and pizza of my life, and had my fair share of delicious wines, an Italian necessity with nearly every meal. So far, the favorite pizza was at SimBIOsi, layered with roasted veggies, rich marinara and fresh cheeses. And pasta? Fresh pesto Fettucini at Zaza, my first true Italian meal. My favorite dessert so far? Warm Nutella croissants at 2 am from the scattered secret bakeries in the city. Tucked into various corners of the city, you know you've arrived at one of them because the smell is like nothing else in the world: an overpowering combination of warm butter and dough that pulls you to the window. Just imagine the flakiest and softest croissant filled with an impossible amount of warm Nutella (*mic drop*). 

In the coming week I have my first international trip, heading to Switzerland (!!) and I can't wait. I am severely under prepared for the cold and snow (you can wear Nikes trekking around Interlaken, right??).  My goal for the weekend is to survive off of solely chocolate and cheese fondue. It's a tough task but someone's gotta do it.  

I’m going to keep up The Sweetest Beet throughout the semester, many recipes are to come, not to worry. But I’m hoping to keep you updated, every few weeks, on my life here in Florence and my travels throughout Europe. Something sweet and fruity is to come, so stay tuned.

xo

A Vegan Valentine's Cake

Happy (almost) Valentine's, my loves!

Valentine’s Day is one of those that means something a little different for everyone. It may mean spending the day with your one love, sending notes to family spread across the country or drinking wine with your closest friends. But there is one universally celebrated theme on Valentine’s. And that, my friends, is chocolate. 

No matter what your Valentine’s plans include, I’m going to guess that chocolate has woven itself in there somewhere. Molten chocolate cakes, fudge-y truffles rolled in cocoa or even those “chocolate-ish” chocolates in the giant red heart. Chocolate will find its way into your day, I guarantee it. 

So, in case you haven’t figured out quite what form this chocolate will take for you, I have a recipe to help you out: rich chocolate and raspberry cake with decadent buttercream. Bonus? It’s 100% vegan. 

The cake on it’s own is deeply chocolate-y and sweet raspberry adds an insane fudginess that you just have to taste to believe. The buttercream is beaten until extremely fluffy so it’s light and easily spreadable (and eaten with a spoon…maybe?). 

For extra cuteness, I used 6 inch cake pans and sliced each layer in half to make a small and tall cake. More layers also leave more room for raspberry jam and buttercream so, why not??

OK, enough talk though, let's get baking.

 

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake (adapted from here)

Makes 2 6-inch rounds

For the Cake

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

0.75 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

0.33 cup strongly brewed coffee

0.5 cup coconut oil, melted

0.66 cup whole wheat flour

0.66 cup all purpose flour

0.75 cup sugar

0.66 cup cocoa powder

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

0.66 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

For the Frosting: 

1 cup Earth Balance, room temperature

2 - 2.5 cups powdered sugar

1.5 teaspoons real vanilla extract

raspberry jam

1. To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease, line with parchment and dust two 6 inch cake pans with cocoa powder. Set aside. 

2. Combine almond milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and let sit for 5 minutes. Add applesauce, coffee and oil. Mix well. 

3. To a sifter, add flours, sugar cocoa, soda, powder and salt. Sift over wet mixture before mixing until just combined. 

4. Divide batter between two pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick is clean with just a few moist crumbs. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 

5. To make frosting: Beat Earth Balance, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla extract, and food coloring if using, and continue beating until very well combined and fluffy. 

6. To assemble: Once cakes are completely cooled, using a serrated knife, slice each layer in two, creating four layers. Place a small amount of frosting on a cake stand, topping with one of the cake rounds. On the cake, spread a thin layer of raspberry jam and then a generous amount of frosting. Continue with the rest of the layers, not adding jam to the very top layer. Make sure to refrigerate cake thoroughly between each addition of layers. To frost like I did, only frost cake with a thin crumb layer and let sit. Once firm, add the rest of the frosting to a piping bag with a medium round tip. Along the side, pipe a vertical line of 4 large beads. With a spoon or an off set spatula, smear one side of the dot, creating a tear dot shape. On top of the flatted part of the dot, pipe another line of dots, continuing around the entire cake. When you come full circle, end the cake with a "seam" of 4 more beads, as you will not have room to spread these. For the top, use the same technique, but move in a circular motion, moving inwards. End with one large bead in the center. Note: this frosting technique uses a lot of frosting so I would recommend having at least another half batch made before you start decorating. 

7. Cake is best served at room temperature on its own or with a drizzle of cooked raspberries.

 

I hope you all have a lovely Valentine's and get to share this cake with someone you love. If you make, share a picture! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest so share and tag away. 

xoxo (an extra one for the occasion)

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes with Spiced Apples

Recently, I realized something pretty shocking about my blog.

I’ve never posted a pancake recipe. Crazy, right? OK, so maybe shocking is a bit strong, but, come on, we all need a good pancake recipe in our lives.

Pancakes are such a beautiful and simple canvas for breakfast. Pumpkin, blueberry, carrot, banana, corn… I’m not picky when it comes to my pancakes. Also, don't judge for the carrot ones, those are ~bomb~ and I will have to share in the future.

Today, however, I have a classic twist: gingerbread pancakes with spiced apples. In my mind, there is nothing cozier on a January morning than pancakes, especially when they're filled with warming spices, sweet and strong molasses and a warm pile of juicy and tart apples.

The pancake batter is crazy easy and, though not vegan, extremely healthy (and could be made vegan with a simple swap). Whole wheat flour and coconut oil add a subtle texture and depth of flavor that elevates the bold flavors of spices and molasses.

Cooked apples, and a drizzle of maple syrup, add sweetness that puts these over the edge. The pancakes get slightly crispy on the edges, giving way to a soft and fluffy interior. As the pancakes cook, the warm scent of spices will fill your kitchen, letting you momentarily forget that, too soon, you’re going to be scraping crusty ice off your car outside.

A perfect, wholesome start to your day, these also make lovely leftovers in case you want to prep breakfasts for the week.

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes with Spiced Apples (adapted from here)

Makes 12 pancakes

1.25 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

0.5 teaspoon baking soda

0.5 teaspoon salt

1.25 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

0.25 teaspoon ground cloves

0.25 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2.5 tablespoons molasses

2 eggs (vegan option: 2 tablespoons ground flax and 5 tablespoons water)

4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

0.75 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 granny smith apples

0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.25 teaspoon ground ginger

0.125 nutmeg, freshly grated

 

1. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees F. 

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, powder, soda, salt and spices. 

3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine brown sugar, molasses, eggs, coconut oil and almond milk. 

4. Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. A few lumps may remain, that’s totally fine. 

5. Lightly grease the hot griddle and pour about 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. 

6. When small bubbles form, flip and continue to cook for a couple more minutes. 

7. As pancakes cook, prepare spiced apples. Thinly slice the apples and add to a small saucepan with spices. Combine so apples are completely coated. Cook, covered, over low heat for about 10 minutes. Apples should be soft, but still have a bit of structure and bite to them. 

8. Serve pancakes warm, topped with cooked apples and real maple syrup. 

Any other favorite pancake recipes? Comment below, or follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Also, don't forget to subscribe to stay updated on my baking adventures!

xo

Swirled Blackberry and Marzipan Challah

I’m a big fan of rainy days. 

That strange “spring-winter” we had for a few weeks was 100% cool with me. Cozy rainy days instead of ice and snow? I was sold. (OK, so maybe I am a little happy with the snow we have now, it is Vermont after all).

BUT, that’s besides the point. Those 60 degree weeks were a beautiful way to ignore the impending winter. 

The inherent coziness of gray rainy days lends itself extremely well to baking. The kitchen seems that much more inviting as raindrops stain the windows and heat from the oven creates a soft haze across the panes of glass.

C’mon, it’s basically begging us to throw together some yeast, sugar and flour. 

Yes, I realize I just posted a challah recipe but is too much really a bad thing?? This bread is unreal and pretty in a rustic and messy way. It’s also deceptively simple so that you can be eating it in less than 4 hours (you’re welcome).

Marzipan and challah have long been a favorite of mine and the sweet cooked blackberries and vanilla bean paste put it over the edge. Really any berry could be used, I just happened to love the vivid color these gave.

Browned butter in the dough also adds another toasty depth of flavor that marries too well with the just-sweet-enough filling.

 

Swirled Blackberry and Marzipan Challah 

Makes 1 loaf

For the dough: (adapted from here)

0.75 cup warm water

1 tablespoon dry yeast

0.25 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

3 cups all purpose flour + more for kneading/rolling

1 teaspoon salt

0.25 teaspoon cardamom

0.33 cup butter, browned

3 eggs

0.5 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

 

For the filling: (Adapted from here)

7 ounces marzipan

4 tablespoons softened butter

0.25 cup sugar

0.5 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

3 tablespoons blackberry puree, seeds removed

  1. Make the dough: Combine water, yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl. Let sit for a few minutes until the surface bubbles. Whisk together flour, salt and cardamom in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl beat together 2 eggs, browned butter and vanilla bean paste.
  3. Once bubbly, add yeast to dry ingredients, immediately followed by egg mixture. As dough comes together, move to a lightly floured counter and knead for about 10 minutes, until it’s completely smooth. 
  4. Place in a lightly greased bowl covered with a clean cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  5. Make filling: Combine all filling ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until completely mixed. 
  6. Once dough has risen, punch down and roll out on a floured counter into a 12 by 16 inch rectangle. Spread filling evenly across the dough, making sure to cover the edges.
  7. Roll dough from long side, making sure to leave no gaps. Slice the roll lengthwise, creating two even trips. Pinch together at the top and twirl them together like a two-piece braid, keeping seams facing up. Place in a well greased and parchment-lined loaf pan and set aside to rise for 30 minutes. 
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Brush with additional egg and bake for 20 minutes and then cover with foil and bake for another  

Can't wait to see what you guys come up with! This bread would be super pretty in a three-part braid or even one classic swirled loaf. If you try it, take a picture and tag me. I'm here on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook

xo

Champagne Cupcakes

Somehow, 2016 is right around the corner. 

I really don’t know how that happened, but here we are and I say we make some cupcakes. And…let’s throw in a bottle of champagne. Cool? Cool.

These cupcakes are a marriage of perfection: sweet, rich cupcakes and light, bubbly wine. I’m not really sure what could make it better. Maybe if we soaked them in champagne syrup and topped them with rich champagne buttercream? Yea, I think that’ll do it. 

I’m using New Year’s Eve as an excuse to bring the two together but, honestly, these would be just as delicious in the middle of July. The flavor from the wine is light and subtle, yet definitely present, adding a level of sophistication to the classic cake. So, even if you’re not a fan of champagne you’ll have no problem with these. (But also, if you're not a fan of champagne…???)

The batter comes together in a less typical order, wet gets mixed directly into dry, only slightly combined prior, leaving small pockets of butter. The batter will be slightly lumpy due to this, but the magic occurs when these pebbles of butter melt during baking, adding an airy lightness to the crumb. A sticky-sweet, wine-infused syrup boosts the flavor further, supporting a generous dollop of buttercream. 

Obviously, they’re served best with a cold glass of champagne, but you do you. 

So let’s raise a glass, or a cupcake, to the end of 2015 and to the beginning of a new year.

Champagne Infused Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream

Makes 16 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes: (adapted from here)

1.33 cups all purpose flour

0.75 cup sugar

0.25 teaspoon salt

0.25 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

0.75 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (or Earth Balance sticks*)

3 egg whites (3 tablespoons ground flax seeds combined with 4.5 tablespoons water*, will change color slightly)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

0.5 cup sour cream (or soy yogurt*)

0.5 cup + 2 tablespoons champagne

 

For the Syrup:

0.5 cup champagne

0.25 cup powdered sugar

 

For the Buttercream: (adapted from here)

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (or Earth Balance sticks*)

4.5 cups powdered sugar

5 tablespoons champagne

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. For the cupcakes: Combine flour, sugar, salt, soda and powder in small bowl, set aside.

3. In bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, egg whites, vanilla bean paste, sour cream and champagne. The mixture will be very lumpy. 

4. Add dry ingredients slowly and, again, mixture will have small lumps. These will disappear in baking. 

5. Divide into cupcake liners, filling about 0.75 full. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and surface of cake springs back to light touch. Transfer to cooling rack.

6. For the syrup: While cupcakes cool, combine sugar and champagne in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce until it has about halved in volume. It is a very thin syrup, so don’t worry if it doesn’t thicken like a classic syrup. 

7. For the buttercream: In a stand mixer, beat together butter and half the powdered sugar. Add champagne and mix until smooth. Add the rest of the sugar and beat on high until very light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). 

8. Once cupcakes are completely cooled, poke holes in the tops with a toothpick and then brush on a generous amount of syrup. To get the maximum amount per cupcake, I did two coats. 

9. As syrup sets, transfer buttercream to a piping bag and frost cupcakes. Best served day of with a glass of champagne. 

(*The vegan subs have not been tested, but should work. Let me know if you try them!)

I hope these cupcakes make it into your kitchen or even to your New Year’s Eve parties. Tag me if you post photos on Instagram, I'd love to see what you create!

Thank you so much for an amazing year starting The Sweetest Beet. I've loved sharing my baking adventures with you and can't wait to see what 2016 holds. But, in the meantime, let's sip some champagne and eat a cupcake (or two).

xo

Spiced Pumpkin-Apple Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Guys, it’s already the holiday season, are we allowed to be aggressively excited yet? Because I kind of already am.

To start this post in a cheesy way, I’m sorry but I think I’ve gotta do it, I have so much to be thankful for this year. All the new experiences I’ve had, the amazing friends I’ve made (squad, I’m looking at you), oh, right, and this pie. Does that count? Cool, I thought so too. 

When it comes to Thanksgiving pies, the classics are always where I turn. Flavors like chocolate and vanilla have no place following the meal of turkey and mashed potatoes. Pumpkin, cinnamon and sweet apples though? Sign me up.

And this pie is everything you could need from Thanksgiving. The apples are soft and slightly tart, strongly spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. I used a variety of apples, adding a nice depth of texture combined with a few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree to make it subtly creamy. The crust is flaky and light, leaving room for the apples to do their thing.

I added a few dashes of spices here too because why not?? Also, the ratio of fruit to crust is crazy, get ready.

The crust comes together easily, whether you choose the vegan or butter option, and is filled with the mountain of sweetened apples. I chose to use a lattice topping but a full top crust, or a heavy streusel topping would be perfect as well.

Whichever you choose, make sure to add a generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on the top. Not only does it caramelize and add a hint of sweetness, but it makes the pie look 10x prettier. The pie is baked until deep golden brown and let to cool as long as you can wait (probably not very long, it’s cool we don’t judge).

I highly recommend a scoop of vanilla ice cream to pair, but the pie is certainly delicious on its own.

 

Spiced Pumpkin Apple Pie

Serves 8 to 10

(adapted from here and here)

 

For the crust: (if vegan, here's another crust option)

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

0.25 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.125 teaspoon ground cloves

0.125 teaspoon ground ginger

0.125 teaspoon ground allspice

20 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

 

For the Filling: 

5 to 6 heaping cups sliced apples (I used a mixture of Granny Smith, Pink Lady and McIntosh)

0.5 teaspoon salt

0.75 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.25 teaspoon ground ginger

0.25 teaspoon ground cloves

0.25 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1.5 tablespoons all purpose flour

1. Make dough: In a food processor, combine dry ingredients. Add chopped butter and pulse until just combined. The texture should resemble wet sand. Slowly add water until dough just comes together. If you don't have a food processor, you can do this by hand or with a pastry cutter. Once dough comes together, pour onto the counter and form into two identical disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

2. While dough chills, prepare the filling. In a large bowl, toss apples in salt, spices, sugars, pumpkin and flour until well coated. Set aside. 

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

4. Roll out one of the discs of dough into a large circle and carefully place in pie dish. I like to flour it well and roll the dough onto the rolling pin, like a scroll, and then carefully unroll it into the dish. 

5. Add apple mixture. 

6. Roll out the second disc of dough. You have a few options here: you can cut the dough into strips and do a lattice (pictured) or you can lay the entire piece over the top, just make sure to cut a few holes for steam. 

7. Once apples are covered, crimp the edges of the pie and brush generously with egg (or non-dairy milk, if vegan). Sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and whatever spices you want. I went for just the classic cinnamon sugar. 

8. Bake pie for 45 minutes until golden brown. Around the 30 minute mark, cover the edges of the pie with foil so that they don’t brown too much. 

9. Let pie cool completely before cutting and serving, a few hours. Serve on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Again, happy thanksgiving to everyone! Cheers to the beginning of the holiday season, I can’t wait for the upcoming baking adventures (hint: there will be lots of chocolate and peppermint…). I hope this pie makes it to your Thanksgiving table, or honestly your table any other day. If you make it I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram or post on my Facebook

 

xo

Cinnamon-Walnut Stuffed Challah and a Story

Disclaimer: this bread will make zero leftovers. Today’s post is going to be a bit on the serious/personal side but, never fear, a recipe still awaits you at the end. It’s nothing that serious that baking has to be sacrificed, come on.

Veganism and I have been on a crazy journey. Since day one, red meat was never something I picked. I liked to say that I “didn’t eat mammals”, my first food label. I would only eat chicken, turkey and some fish. In my early teens, I discovered that I was lactose intolerant leading to a painful goodbye to mac and cheese and pizza but an easy one to yogurt and milk. Dairy free: label number two. Then, came pescetarianism, number three, dropping chicken and turkey. And then, the big one: vegetarianism, I let go of eating salmon and, one of my favorites, grilled shrimp. Label number four.

Here I was at dairy-free vegetarianism. But then, I began to flirt with eating a bit of dairy. I would splurge on an ice cream, have a bite of nachos, stuff like that. And it was manageable after the break I had taken from it. And then, about 2.5 years ago, after learning more about the health and environmental impacts of the meat and dairy industries, as well as the horrifying treatment of animals in the system, I decided to go completely vegan with label number five. No dairy, no meat, no eggs. Vegan.

I liked that, it felt good to have one word that encompassed all that I ate, or rather, didn’t eat. Now I didn’t have to explain, I don’t eat meat, but I sometimes eat fish, and I don’t eat dairy, but once and I while I’ll have some ice cream. Nope. Now it was plain old vegan. And I really did feel amazing, for the first year. It was easy. I ate tofu, tons of vegetables, fruit smoothies and some good, whole grains. I loved that I wasn’t contributing to the industrialized meat and dairy industries and it made me feel clean and healthy.

But then, it began to change, about a year ago. Veganism began to feel a bit like a chore. I was eating massive amounts of salads and every kind of vegetable but never felt satisfied. Grains and fats were after thoughts, more like occasional condiments than substantial servings. Veganism began to feel limiting, rather than freeing like it had when I began. And, quite honestly, my body began sending messages that it craved more than what I was giving it.

But I wanted to be vegan, it had become who I was: the healthy vegan baker (who, by the way, didn’t indulge in anywhere near as many vegan baked goods as she made). So, this past summer, I took it upon myself to break away from these strict guidelines around food. A huge step was letting go of the term vegan as something to encompass myself and my life. I would still say that I’m 75% “vegan”, but I have begun loosening my restrictions around food, eating eggs, salmon and the occasional slice of cheese pizza (a late night slice of Joe's in NYC is a life changing experience). I’m not giving up being healthy, I’m not giving up caring about animals and our environment, I’m just looking for a more wholesome and well-rounded way to support myself, one that doesn’t rely on strict labels and rules.

You may have noticed the slight change on my blog’s sidebar, no longer will I provide strictly vegan baking, but wholesome baking. I still believe that not eating dairy is much better for me, but adding an egg or two in my baking is completely okay. This is my path and not right for everyone, so substitutes will always be offered to make recipes vegan and non-vegan, no worries. I just thought that, while I have promoted a vegan diet, and will continue to, in a less strict way, you deserved to see that strict veganism doesn’t work for everyone. For me, the right choice has been to welcome a bit more freedom into my eating and I want to share that with you.

Let’s celebrate and embrace a new, more wholesome, chapter of the Sweetest Beet, and let’s use some eggs and butter. Is it cool if we do that with some swirly cinnamon challah? Awesome, let’s do it.

Cinnamon-Walnut Stuffed Challah (Adapted from here)

For the Dough:

0.5 cup whole milk (or other unsweetened non-dairy milk*)

0.25 cup honey (or maple syrup*)

0.5 cup unsalted butter (or solid coconut oil or Earth Balance*)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.5 teaspoon ground cardamom

2.25 teaspoons active-dry yeast

2 large eggs (or sub 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds and 2.5 tablespoons for each egg*)

For the filling:

0.5 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (or coconut oil, Earth Balance*)

0.75 cup brown sugar, packed

2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

1 egg (or use unsweetened non-dairy milk*)

1 teaspoon water

 

1. Combine milk, honey and butter in a small saucepan. Heat until butter is just melted, remove from stovetop and let cool slightly, around 120-130 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine, using dough hook, 2 cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and yeast. Add liquid mixture and combine until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to completely mix after each. 

3. Add the final cup of flour, 3 tablespoons at a time, fully incorporating it before adding more. Once all flour is added, dough should be soft and not too stuck to the sides of the bowl. If the dough still seems too wet, you can add a few more tablespoons of flour but don’t add too much. At this point, I removed the dough from the machine and kneaded for an additional 5 to 8 minutes by hand. It should be smooth, soft and stretchy. 

4. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. When done, gently punch the dough to release the air and knead a few times by hand.

5. Make Filling: Cream together butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a stand mixer. Stir in chopped walnuts until relatively smooth.

6. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each individually on a well-floured surface into a 12x6 inch rectangle. Sprinkle each piece of dough with one third of the brown sugar mixture. It may look like a lot, but use it all, trust me. Starting with each long end, roll the dough into a tight scroll and carefully place on a sheet pan lined with a piece of parchment paper. Make sure the seam of the dough is on the bottom. 

7. Once all 3 pieces of dough are rolled, carefully braid them together, keeping them on the sheet pan with the seams down. Tuck the beginnings and ends of the rolls underneath and let rise again, covered lovely in greased plastic wrap. It should double in size, about 45 minutes.

8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine egg and water to make an egg wash. Once dough is risen, brush on the loaf. Bake until the loaf is golden brown on the outside, about 35-40 minutes. 

9. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

*(I have not tested the vegan substitutions but they should work)*

Thank you so much for listening to my journey today. I was hesitant to post this but it is something that I felt I owed, as I have been promoting a vegan lifestyle. If you're looking for any more support around this issue, I highly recommend you check out the Balanced Blonde as she goes into much more depth on this issue and is an overall great blogger with an amazing and inspirational story. 

I hope you enjoy this bread, I literally have dreams about this stuff. If you make, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram or share it on Facebook! Food photos are meant to be shared. Also don't forget to subscribe to the blog to stay updated on my wholesome baking adventures!

 

xo

Pumpkin-Spiced Waffles

In case you hadn't noticed, pumpkin is everywhere.

Really though, everywhere. My weekly trips to Trader Joe’s leave me with an embarrassing amount of cinnamon and ginger infused yummy things (cinnamon rolls, cereal, poptarts, pumpkin bread mix, granola bars, coffee blends, tortilla chips, cookie sandwiches.. Wow, OK, I’m stopping).

Now, I know many people look down on this whole “pumpkin-spiced-craze” as something for white girls in yoga pants. Ok, fine whatever, but have you ever tasted something pumpkin-spiced?? It’s a f—king magical experience.

The sweet spices add depth to creamy pumpkin tones and brown sugar just ties them all together in the most delicious and fall-infused package. So fine, if you want to hate on the pumpkin-spiced trend, you do you. Leave it all to me, I’m not complaining. Although, we could all be a little kinder, it’s just a spice blend, not a reason to call out girls and their favorite coffee drinks.

Anyway, mini-rant over, now to the recipe. Today, I have a perfect fall breakfast: Pumpkin Spiced Waffles. I like to imagine that this is what Leslie Knope would eat for breakfast every day between September and November.

The waffle batter is crazy easy to make, so do it. Dolloped onto a super hot waffle press, the batter sizzles, creating the welcome crispy edges and soft interior. They are best eaten hot (as if you needed reminding) on their own, drizzled with some pure maple syrup or a slather of apple butter (I could write a novel about my love for this stuff).

So here’s to fall, let’s break out our waffle irons, cans of pumpkin and a little less judgement for one of the most amazing flavor combos. 

 

Pumpkin-Spiced Waffles (Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

Makes about 24 individual waffles

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2.5 teaspoons baking powder

0.5 teaspoon baking soda

0.5 teaspoon salt

2.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.5 teaspoons ground ginger

0.75 teaspoon ground nutmeg

0.5 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)

1 (15 oz.) can of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

0.33 cup melted coconut oil (or other oil)

0.25 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

 

1. Preheat waffle iron according to instructions from manufacturer. Make sure the iron is very hot, otherwise your waffles could stick. 

2. Whisk together flours, powder, soda, salt and spices. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine milk, pumpkin, oil, sugar and vanilla until smooth. 

4. Fold wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. 

5. Lightly grease the waffle iron and scoop enough waffle batter to fill the press. Let cook for at least 4 minutes. This is very important, no peeking at 2 or 3 minutes (trust me, I've been there, it's not pretty).

6. Remove waffles and eat them hot on their own or with a drizzle of maple syrup, coconut butter or a spoonful of apple butter. 

I hope these waffles make it into your kitchen and your life soon! I also hope that they make up for my way too long break from the blog, life gets crazy but I'm still here. I'm back in school so posts might be less frequent but am so excited to continue keeping you updated on my baking adventures. If you make these waffles, snap a pic and tag me. I'm on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram with the #thesweetestbeet. Can't wait to see what you make!

xo

Figgy Oat Bars

Food co-ops are my happy place.

As soon as I walk in I’m bombarded by those typical co op smells. There’s the huge display of fresh produce, smelling like the fields where it was grown and the bulk aisles give off strong smells of hearty grains and sweet trail mixes. The freezer has every type of frozen fruit and all those “healthy” ice creams that force you to muster enough will power to walk away without 6 of them in your hand.

The prepared food section is top three on my ranking of the co op’s “sections” (yes, I have a ranking, don’t you??). Bowls spill over with crisp string beans, tofu marinated in at least three different sauces and noodle salads speckled with sesame seeds. The drink case glints with every single brand of iced tea ever created (no, seriously).

And then. There it is.

The snack section. Here, the possibilities are endless. Organic cheddar puffs, salted seaweed strips, spelt pretzels, dark chocolate macaroons, popcorn tossed lightly in olive oil and those puffy veggie chips that I don’t think have every been proven to actually contain vegetables. Whatever. They’re delicious. And then, one of my all time favorites: the Fig Newmans.

Yes, Newmans. When I was growing up this was all I knew about the famous Paul Newman. Here’s how my brain was working: 

    Other Person: “Wow, Paul Newman is so talented. Have you seen him in that movie?”

    6 Year-Old Me: “Yea, I don’t know what you’re talking about but have you tried the cookies he makes? Life changing.”

Fig Newman’s are one of those cookies where you look at the serving size (two?!?!) and just laugh. The cakey outside is soft and lightly sweet, crumbling just enough to expose the figgy center.

The right way to eat one? Carefully nibble off the rounded edges before actually biting into the filling. You can look it up, I know what I’m talking about.

So, today, in honor of this snack perfection, I have a figgy and oaty bar. The cakey cookie part is thinner, allowing for a higher ratio of fruit to coating. The bars are thick with figs and dates, providing the same sticky bite provided by the classic. These bars make a perfect mid-afternoon snack, especially when they’re warm and soft from the oven. 

 

Figgy Oat Bars (adapted from here, inspired from here)

Makes 9 large bars

Filling:

8 oz. dried figs

4 oz. pitted dates

1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey, if not vegan)

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.25 teaspoon ground ginger

Crust: 

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

0.25 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce

5 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or other oil)

3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey, if not vegan)

0.25 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Cut stems from figs. Add figs and dates to food processor and grind until it forms a paste. Mix in syrup, water, lemon juice, cinnamon and ginger and process until completely mixed. It will be VERY sticky.

3. In another bowl, combine flour, oats, powder and salt. Add apple sauce, oil, syrup and water. Mix until combined into a thick dough. 

4. Grease an 8 by 8 baking dish and coat bottom with half of the oat mixture. Then add fig and date filling. This can be a very sticky process so I recommend covering the oat layer with blobs of the fig and smoothing with lightly wet fingers. Top with the rest of the dough. 

5. Bake for 30 minutes, until crust is lightly browned. 

6. Let cool completely and then cut in to 9 or 12 bars.

These bars are extremely photogenic, so I'd love to see yours! You can tag me on Instagram with #thesweetestbeet. And don't forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on Pinterest and subscribe to the blog to stay updated on my baking adventures!

Another huge thank you to everyone who came out last Saturday to my final market day in Londonderry. It was so great to meet you and eat all sorts of doughnuts and cakes!

xo

 

Chai Spiced Baked Doughnuts

I am a serious morning person.

I have no problem waking up by 8 a.m. and am most productive before lunch. I don’t fit any of the college student stereotypes of sleeping all day, staying up all night, barely waking before lunchtime. No way. Not me. Why do I love mornings so much? Warm sunrises, chirping birds and that cool grass, still misted with last nights dew. I also really like breakfast food (definitely not more than those other things…). Warm oatmeal, cold smoothie bowls, mugs of tea or glasses of iced coffee so cold that the outside is covered in beads of condensation.

Today, I have a recipe that brings together everything I love most about mornings: chai spiced baked doughnuts.

It bears the rich taste of a cup of chai tea, the signature crispy, lightly sugary crunch of a baked doughnut and, as a bonus, it fills your morning and your kitchen with the sweet smells of chai spices. Like all other baked doughnuts, the batter comes together extremely simply, simple enough so that even non-morning people can whip this together for breakfast. The batter is piped into pans, baked, rolled in chai sugar and then shoved into your mout— I mean, displayed for your friends or family to enjoy (*nervous side glances*).

If you want to just max out the chai-ness of these doughnuts, pair them with a hot mug or cold glass of chai tea and dip away.

If these doughnuts don’t make you want to become a morning person, I don’t know what will.

Chai Spiced Baked Doughnuts (adapted from here)

Serves 12

0.75 cup unsweetened almond milk (or brewed chai tea for stronger chai flavor)

1.25 cups whole wheat flour

0.75 cup all purpose flour

0.5 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (plus more for rolling doughnuts)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1.5 teaspoons chai spice (plus more for rolling doughnuts)

0.25 teaspoon salt

0.25 cup melted coconut oil (plus more for brushing doughnuts)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Whisk together flours, sugar, powder, soda, chai spice and salt in a large bowl.

3. In another bowl, whisk melted coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, almond milk (or chai tea) and vanilla. Whisk vigorously so that the coconut oil is completely incorporated, otherwise it will solidify as it cools and be lumpy.

4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. Pipe or scoop batter into greased doughnut pans. 

5. Bake for about 10 to 14 minutes. The doughnuts should be slightly pulling away from the sides of the pan and golden brown. The tops should spring back when poked. 

6. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack. While waiting, whisk together additional sugar and chai spices.

7. Once completely cooled, brush doughnuts with a light coating of melted coconut oil and roll in chai sugar. 

If you try ‘em, tag me! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, I’d love to see your creations! 

Lucky for you, these doughnuts will be making another appearance at the West River Farmers Market this Saturday in Londonderry. It will be my last one for the summer (I’m pretty upset about this fact), so I hope to see you all there! I’m going to be breaking out some new flavors and some favorites so you won’t want to miss out. 

 

xo

Lemon and Blackberry Almond Cake

I have a tiny obsession (you guys have probably picked up on it). 

I like fruit. Like, a lot. Evidenced herehere, herehere. Sorry, it’s a problem, I know. My fingertips are practically permanently stained with berry juices at this point. Summer isn’t broken into months, but by the fruits that happen to be in season. Early strawberries and rhubarb turn into tart blueberries then to plums then peaches and then, finally, crisp apples in early fall. When did I go on vacation this year? Hmm, about mid-strawberry season (And yes, missing basically the whole crop was pretty devastating. Let’s not talk about it). And my favorite activities? Blueberry picking, blueberry eating, apple picking, eating apples, strawberry picking… Ok, so we’ve acknowledged this weird obsession. So what’s the point?

The point is that we are arriving into blackberry season, people. This is huge. For the next few weeks my arms and legs will be covered in attractive and disproportionately painful scratches (seriously though, how is it possible that they sting so much??). But, it’s all worth it because my hands will be full of blackberries.

The next step? Throw ‘em in some cake. Today, I have a (nearly) gluten-free recipe for you. I use almond meal for its hearty yet soft texture, and definitely not because I bought it to make macarons and had some left over.

The tartness of the lemon is subtle and pairs perfectly with fresh and juicy blackberries while poppy seeds add a hint of texture. The crumb of the cake is moist, slightly sweet and majorly almond-y.

The browned edges are crunchy and toasty, kind of like a grown up pound cake. I ate my cakes warm out of the oven, but they would also be divine topped with whipped coconut cream or a simple lemon glaze. Either way, there’s no better cake to celebrate blackberry season.

Lemon and Blackberry Almond Cake (Adapted from here)

Serves 8-10

2 cups almond flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour (or sub out whole wheat and all purpose and use 4 cups almond flour)

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

0.5 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

0.5 teaspoon baking soda

0.5 cups oil

0.5 cups maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)

4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon zest

3 tablespoons chia seeds + 9 tablespoons water (or 3 eggs if not vegan)

1.25 cups fresh blackberries (or other fresh berry or chopped fruit)

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line two 6 inch cake pans with parchment. You can also use mini bundt pans (for major cuteness). One 6 inch round equals about 4 mini bundts. 

2. Whisk flours, poppy seeds, salt, powder and soda in a large bowl. 

3. In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together maple syrup and oil until combined. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, zest and chia seed mixture. 

4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Fold in blackberries and pour into prepared pans, smoothing the tops. Don’t worry, the batter will be very thick but it creates super moist cake with crunchy edges.

5. Bake for about 35 minutes (30 for mini bundts), until edges are browned and cake is beginnign to pull away from the edges. Eat warm, or let cool and top with whipped coconut cream or lemon glaze. 

Show me your creations using #thesweetestbeet on Instagram! You can also check out recent updates on Facebook and, as always, don’t forget to subscribe or forward to a friend so you don’t miss out on my future baking adventures.

Also, a huge thank you to everyone who came out to the West River Farmers’ Market last Saturday! It was so great to meet you and eat cake and doughnuts. I’ll be at the market again this weekend and have all sorts of new creations planned. See you then!

 

xo

Summer Fruit Pie

There’s something uniquely charming about July.

Perhaps it’s the stifling humidity that makes it unbearable to wear clothing or touch ANY SURFACE. Or maybe it’s the loving swarm of deer flies that so kindly remind you how un-scratch-able the space between your fingers and toes is. Or the moths that seem to not understand the concept of a lampshade as an impenetrable force, no matter how many times they smash their heads into it.

But, these annoyances fade away when we feel warm sun on our faces, cool grass below our feet and hear the crashing waves coax us into a beach-y sleep. Oh. And eat pie. Lots. And lots. And lots of pie. 

Pie is not a thing to be taken lightly. I’m not talking that pie with thick bulky crust, or that jiggly, extremely unappetizing, fruit jello that looks like it belongs in a dusty jar in a mad scientist’s basement. No, no, no.

I’m talking about that pie with inches of cooked fruit: soft with just enough bite, sweet but slightly tart, and thickened only slightly so that the last bite of crust has enough juice to soak up.

The crust is thin and flaky, made super classy with the lightest touch of caramelized cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. Warm, it pairs scary well with a scoop of ice cream (cashew or coconut based for maximum creaminess) or whipped coconut cream.

This pie should also be eaten for breakfast. It’s only right.

 

Summer Fruit Pie

Serves 8-10

For the Crust: (adapted from here)

1.25 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 stick chilled Earth Balance (or 0.5 cup other solid non-dairy oil) 

6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling: 

6 cups chopped fruit (I used a mixture of fresh cherries, peaches and blueberries)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

0.33 cup whole wheat or all purpose flour

0.66 cup sugar

0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon

0.125 teaspoon ground all spice (optional)

0.25 teaspoon salt

Unsweetened almond milk (or other unsweetened non-dairy milk)

Cinnamon sugar

1. Make the crust: In a food processor, mix flours, salt and sugar. Add chopped Earth Balance and pulse until the mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. Continue to pulse while adding water. You want the dough to just hold together in order to maximize crust flakiness. Remove, shape into a disc circle and chill for at least 30 minutes. 

2. Make the filling: While crust chills, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, all spice and salt. Roughly chop fruit and toss it with lemon juice. Add dry mixture and toss until fruit is coated. Set aside. 

3. Once chilled, cut dough in half, leaving one portion in the fridge. On a well floured counter, roll out half of dough in a large circle so that it will fill the pie dish with some overhang. Carefully roll the pie crust onto the rolling pin and slowly unroll it into the pie dish. Trim edges, tuck overhang into the pie dish and crimp. Freeze formed crust for 15 minutes. 

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the top crust, you have options: you can roll it out flat for a traditional look, cut thin strips and make a lattice or, do what I did, and use cut-outs to cover the fruit. For this method, I rolled out the dough and used a small cookie cutter. I then froze the pieces for a few minutes. 

5. Once the bottom crust is sufficiently chilled, pour in fruit, smoothing the top. Remove cut-outs from the freezer and place on the fruit. Once completely covered, with slight gaps serving as air holes, lightly brush with almond milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 10 minutes and then decrease oven temperature to 350. Bake for an additional 35 to 45 minutes. You want the fruit to be bubble and the crust should be deeply golden brown. If you’re worried about burning the crust, loosely cover it with tin foil. 

6. Remove from oven and let mostly cool before slicing.

I’m always amazed with fancy pie crust decorating techniques, I’d love to see yours. Tag me on Instagram or Facebook and don’t forget to subscribe for future baking adventures!

 

xo

Mini Cardamom Pull-Aparts

Nothing is quite as magical as a bit of yeast, some flour and some sugar.

The possibilities are endless, every one more delicious than the last. It is the added bit of patience and focus these recipes require that yields such STUNNING pay offs. Today, let’s make some adorable little pull apart breads (the Beyonce of yeasted and sugar-y bread creations).

The original inspiration comes from the amazing, and one of my all time favorite food bloggers, Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker. Her pull apart bread is probably one of the most delicious things you can make in your kitchen. However, it is not at all vegan, so I turned to Naturally Ella for the basic vegan inspiration. I added my own twist of cardamom, one of my favorite sweet spices. Cardamom has a unique flavor that pairs extremely well with soft and fluffy dough. Bonus: the cardamom and sugar mixture is ridiculously stylish. It’s a warm gray color that looks like it belongs in the pages of Vogue. Just saying. 

The process of making these is simple, and just involved enough that it’s a perfect morning project. We begin with warm almond milk and yeast that transforms into a soft and stretchy dough. I begin my dough in the stand mixer with a dough hook and then transfer it to the counter to knead by hand. Just my personal preference, feel free to leave it in the mixer for the whole time if you’d rather. Once kneaded, the dough rises for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size. Then, plop, onto the floured countertop it goes.

The dough is rolled into a large rectangle (or weird oval shaped thing, it’s all good).

It’s then brushed with melted coconut oil and sprinkled with a generous amount of cardamom and sugar. I usually end up just using my hands to rub in the sugar, making sure to get it to the very edge of the dough. We wouldn’t want a bite without any sugar, right? Right??

Then, slice the dough into six long strips, about equal in size.

Stack ‘em up, making sure to keep all the sugar-y goodness within the layers. Once stacked, I cut mine into 8 equal portions. This resulted in VERY puffy and large pull-aparts which isn't a bad thing, but it could have easily made 10 if you’d prefer.

Place one stack, one its side, in each of the well-greased muffins cups and let rise again. The amount of air risen into these is ridiculous and amazing.

Then they go right into a hot oven and bake for what feels like an absolute eternity. Once they’re out of the oven, please eat them right away. Please. Yes, they’re good hours later or even the next morning warmed up, but nothing compares to the texture straight from the oven.

The top corners are crispy and golden. Pulling them apart (wow, what a creative name) reveals impossibly soft, sweet and spiced layers that are just stretchy enough. The bottom is caramelized heaven.

The smell of cardamom is deliciously overpowering, especially paired with the melted sugar and soft yeasted dough. For a treat that takes hours of patience and waiting, they are gone incredibly fast.

 

Mini Cardamom Pull-Aparts (adapted from Naturally Ella)

Serves 8-10

 

0.75 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other unsweetened non dairy milk)

2.25 teaspoons instant yeast

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons peanut oil

0.5 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground

6 tablespoons water

1 cup whole wheat flour

0.75 to 1 cup all purpose four

 

1.5 tablespoons melted coconut oil

0.5 cups sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons ground cardamom

 

1. Combine flax seeds and water, set aside. 

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, slightly warm almond milk just to remove chill.

3. Add almond milk to the bowl of a stand mixer along with yeast and maple syrup. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until yeast is bubbly and activated. Add oil, salt, flax mixture and whole wheat flour. Mix well with a spatula and then begin to mix with a dough hook. 

4. While mixer is going, add white flour, 0.25 cup at a time. You want the dough to be soft, and not too sticky, so that it pulls away from the side of the bowl. Once combined, continue kneading for 5-8 minutes, either in the mixer or by hand on the counter. 

5. Once kneaded, form into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let sit for 90 minutes, until about doubled in size. While the dough rises, combine the sugar and ground cardamom.

6. Remove dough from bowl onto a floured counter. Roll into a large rectangle, about 20 by 15 inches. Brush on melted coconut oil and sprinkle with sugar and cardamom. Make sure to get the sugar mixture all the way to the edge of the dough. 

7. Cut the dough into 6 equal strips and stack. Cut the stack into 8 to 10 equal pieces. Place each stack in a well greased muffin tin. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 30 minutes. 

8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once hot, bake pull-aparts for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are deep golden brown and the inside is firm yet still slightly sof, to the touch.

9. Remove from pan and enjoy warm. 

 

These really do make the perfect breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. They pair nicely with different sweet spices and can also be baked in a loaf pan for a more traditional pull-apart bread. Let me know how yours come out! Tag me on Instagram with #thesweetestbeet, like it on Facebook or re-pin it on Pinterest.

 

xo