Sunday, March 29, 2009

Apricot-Coconut Scones

Scones have never been a big deal in my family. We are definitely muffin people. However, after flipping through a relatively new vegan cookbook, searching for something new to bake, I came across a simple scone recipe- very few ingredients, and room for variation. Here was my chance to bake my very first scone!

Rather than the super-sweet, overtly fat-laden muffins we come across so often, a scone is more like a biscuit: crunchy exterior and soft and flaky inside. The recipe, adopted from Vegan With a Vengeance, was for a plain scone, so I jazzed it up with apricot pieces and coconut shavings, lending a tropical flavored result. In the future I would like to try these with coconut oil and macadamia nuts to up the Hawaiian factor. 

Apricot-Coconut Scone
makes around a dozen and a half

3 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling on top

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup soy creamer (or soy milk)

3/4 cup soy milk plus 2 teaspoons apple cider or fig vinegar

1/4 cup dried apricot pieces

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Oven to 400 degrees. 
Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, dough should be clumpy, not sticky. Fold in coconut and apricots. 
Drop by 1/4 cup spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Pat down the top into a desired shape. Bake 12-15 minutes, until browned on bottom and firm on top. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Italy in the Morning

While I am a raging fan of big, soft, chewy cookies, sometimes they do not hold up so well when dunked in my boiling cup of coffee or tea. Because I cannot imagine that I am the only one who hates drinking coffee with big chunks of soggy cookie floating around in it, (although if debris had to be in my coffee than cookies would probably be the best thing), I yearned for a stiff, crunchy goodie that could hold up to my java. Biscotti's were the perfect answer. 

"Biscotti" is the Italian word for "biscuit", and it originated from the Latin derivative, biscotum, which means "twice-baked". Baking the dough twice is a hallmark of biscotti, because not only does it make the end result crunchy and stiff, ideal for softening with a hot drink, but they can be stored for a remarkably long period of time. 

I found an outstanding biscotti recipe from Elie Krieger's cookbook, Food You Crave. Unlike most cookie recipes, this one contains no butter. Though she does make these relatively healthy by using olive oil instead, I wanted to see if I could make them even more wholesome. I replaced all but 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 1 cup of pure applesauce, and used only an egg with a yolk and an egg white, (which was PLENTY, have the flour ready because this dough is sticky!). Finally, I omitted the chocolate chunks, using a good quality trailmix with lots of nuts and dried fruit in its place. 

The end result was quite stunning. A perfectly golden brown, colorfully speckled stick that wonderfully soaked up my coffee, and gave my breakfast an Italian twist. Ciao Bella!

Trail Mix Biscotti
serving size of around 30

1 1/4 cups unbleached flour

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 egg white

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup applesauce

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of dried fruit, pumpkin seed and almond trail mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, besides the trail mix. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl, including the orange zest. 
Mix together both bowls, stir in trail mix. If the dough is very very dry, add a small splash of almond, soy or cow's milk. 
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead several times. Shape into a log about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Put out on wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. 
With a serrated knife, cute 1/2 inch diagonal slices. Arrange cut side down on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake biscotti until golden, for about 10 more minutes. 
Cool and serve with a big cup o' joe.