12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 12: Baked Figs

20141223_165052I’ve baked with figs before, but that was in a galette, and there was a heady dose of frangipane, and that outshone the figs.

Baked fruit makes for a simple and nourishing dessert, especially if you’ve had one chocolate cake too many. This recipe is inspired by Purple Foodie’s baked figs with goat cheese, except that I kept it unadorned- just plain figs with some rosemary, honey and a squeeze of lime.

Ever since I baked Nigella Lawson’s rosemary loaf cake, I’ve been a fan of using the woody herb in desserts. The figs pair well with the rosemary honey, and the lime adds a little sharpness. The cuts I made on the figs ran a little too deep, which is why they are pictured here, arms outstretched. Just remember to slit them about halfway through, especially since there is no stuffing!

There is no recipe as such: just slit the figs halfway through, drizzle liberally with honey (or use a scant amount, if you prefer,) sprinkle some fresh or dried rosemary over the top and add a squeeze of lime. Bake in an oven preheated to 180 C for 10-12 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or as is.

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 9: Ovenly’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Continuing with the vegan theme this week, here’s a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe! I know what you’re thinking- almond butter/flax eggs/vegan butter…but really, this is as sparse and accessible as the vegan Amazon Chocolate Cake.

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I did a search for vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes, and found one for Ovenly’s vegan chocolate chipper on the Vogue website. (It’s true what they say, Vogue is way more than just fashion. Vogue is haute food history, stop-motion animated detox recipes, and mille-feuille cartoons.)

I’d heard of the Brooklyn bakery Ovenly– read about it on Food52 and other websites, but never really bothered to learn more about the place and stalk it on social media, like I did with Momofuku Milk Bar and Levain. But after this recipe, I am an Instagram follower and near-obsessor. Seriously, these cookies ate that good. My husband doesn’t even like chocolate chippers all that much, and he ate six in one sitting!

These cookies are lovely and chewy, crisp around the edges, and pretty perfect overall…they just happen to be vegan, too. So whether it’s a vegan dinner guest, a pure-vegetarian grandmom who doesn’t eat eggs in any form, or a friend’s child with a dairy & egg allergy, these cookies are your go-to. Even otherwise, they can be your go-to, because you really can’t tell they’re vegan!

The ingredients are pretty basic- just flour, white and brown sugars, chocolate chips (naturally,) and a combination of canola oil and water. The key is to refrigerate the dough for 12 hours minimum, and this you cannot compromise on. Sure, it takes a while longer, but it’s worth it. Not just for the vegan factor, but the taste factor as well! And the sprinkling of sea salt over the top just takes the whole thing up a notch.

I followed the recipe down to the wire, without making any changes, which is what the founders of the bakery advised on Refinery29. Just stick to their rules, and trust me- you will end up with one of the nicest chocolate chip cookies you’ve sampled. These are so good, I may never go back to the eggy version again!

The original recipe can be found here.

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 9 : Vegan Amazon Chocolate Cake

I’ve always maintained that one can never have too many chocolate cake recipes. And this one, apart from being super simple, is also dairy and egg-free: yes, a vegan chocolate cake that is actually very good.

I found this via  Food52’s Genius Recipes column, and I have to admit, it is pretty genius. I’ve tried my hand at vegan cakes before, but many recipes I’ve found online require ingredients that aren’t easily available here, like almond milk. And I don’t want to make almond milk from scratch just for a cake. This cake requires none of the above, and is really economical, too. Just flour-sugar-cocoa-water-vinegar and baking soda, with a touch of vanilla.

So I read through the recipe notes and it says that this isn’t “the richest, most chocolatey cake,” and adds that you can add some coffee instead of water. So I took 1 tablespoon of water from the 1 cup and dissolved 1 tsp of instant coffee in it. And I added another ingredient- almond meal, because I’m a sucker for almond meal.

Like the recipe notes says, it’s not a decadent, rich, Nigella-like cake. But it’s pretty good, and great for those times when you are craving a piece of cake with no eggs or milk in sight. Plus, it’s a great option if you need to bake a cake for someone who follows a vegan diet or is allergic to dairy and eggs.

MARGARET FOX’S VEGAN AMAZON CHOCOLATE CAKE (Adapted slightly from Food 52.)1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • tablespoons neutral oil (like corn, canola, or vegetable)
  • cup cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • tablespoon cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/8 cup almond meal (optional)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

METHOD

  • Heat the oven to 180 c. Grease a 9-inch round cake tin and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Sift everything once to ensure there are no lumps.
  • From the one cup of water, remove one tablespoon. Dissolve the instant coffee powder in this one tablespoon of water in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining water, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and coffee mixture.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into dry and whisk well. If the batter is lumpy, whisk until smooth, or pour through a strainer in to a bowl and break up lumps.
  • Fold in the 1/8 cup of almond meal, and mix well.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan. Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter several times to pop air bubbles.
  • Bake at 180 C for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed gently/toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool before removing from the pan and dusting with powdered sugar if desired.