Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies

Brownies and Bars

Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies

Adapted from nytimes.com/cooking

You’ll probably get tired of me saying that I get asked to make desserts when there are any get-togethers with family friends. But it’s true! I found this recipe in the cooking section of The New York Times. I am very well known for my famous blondies but I was intrigued by the idea of “banana blondies.” However, what surprised me about this recipe was that it uses a lot of butter and has no chocolate chips. Still good and I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter (1 ¼ cups)
  • 200 grams chocolate wafer cookies (to make about 3 cups of crumbs)
  • 55 grams light brown sugar (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 455 grams dark brown sugar (about 2½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 130 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Melt 1 stick of butter in the microwave. Process the chocolate wafer cookies in the bowl of a food processor to make fine crumbs. Add the light brown sugar and melted butter. Process until the mixture is the consistency of damp sand.
  3. Dump the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking pan and press it into an even layer.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 to 10 minutes or until the surface is firm. Remove the pan and set aside.
  5. Reduce the oven heat to 350F (177C).
  6. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons of butter and let it cook until the foam subsides and the butter turns a deep nut brown (about 5 minutes). Let cool.
  7. In a large bowl, whisk together the bananas, eggs, dark brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the brown butter.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  9. Fold the flour mixture into the banana-butter batter.
  10. Pour the mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached but not wet. Cool completely before cutting.

Comments: The taste of theses blondies is very interesting. At first, you just feel the rich flavor of the cooked butter but then you can taste the banana. I love it when you can actually taste the banana in baked banana goods. I was lucky enough to find Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers. However, I know chocolate wafer cookies aren’t the easiest thing to find. If you don’t find any, you can always use Oreos instead since we are making a crumb crust. Remember to remove the cream filling before processing the Oreos though. The original recipe included 80 grams (1/2 cup) of chopped toasted walnuts; I omitted them because I’m not a fan of walnuts but feel free to do as you wish.

Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies, costado

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Seitan Shepherd’s Pie

Vegan

Seitan Shepherd's Pie

An Original Recipe

I know I’ve already mentioned this but shepherd’s pie, or pastel de papas, is a very typical dish in Argentina. We use ground beef. Of course, it originates from the British shepherd’s pie, made with ground mutton, and cottage pie, made with ground beef. Pastel de papas is something I always loved but I now as a vegetarian I can’t eat it anymore. This is one of the things I wanted to try making using ground seitan, possibly my favorite meat substitute.

Yield: 2 servings

Seitan Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 4 ounces ground seitan
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons wine
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Mashed potatoes (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  2. Line a skillet with ½ cup of broth. Add the onion and carrots. Sauté until you can easily pierce the carrots with a fork.
  3. Add the peas and stir well. Cook for a few minutes until the peas are thawed.
  4. Stir in the seitan.
  5. Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining ½ cup of broth and pour the mixture into the skillet.
  6. Stir in the tomato purée and wine, stirring until thick and almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Spoon the mixture into ramekins and top with the mashed potatoes.
  8. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden.

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled
  • ½ cup almond milk (or other)

Directions:

  1. Cube the potatoes and cook them in a pot of boiling water until tender.
  2. Using a handheld mixer beat the potatoes until no lumps remain (or desired consistency if you want lumps).
  3. Add the milk and continue to beat until creamy. Add any salt if desired.

Comments: I was quite satisfied with the turnout of my original recipe. There are a few changes I plan to make for next time. First, more wine! When I was cooking the seitan mixture, there was a strong smell of wine and in my mind I could savor it. However, it turned out there wasn’t a very strong wine taste. Seitan on its own doesn’t taste like much; like tofu, it soaks up the flavor of what it’s cooked with. Therefore, for next time, I plan on at least doubling the amount of wine used. Also, while I was cooking I was wondering what other spices besides pepper to add but I wasn’t very sure of what to put in it. I might try adding oregano, paprika and/or cayenne pepper next time.

Seitan Shepherd's Pie II

Leftovers Potpie

Vegan

Leftovers Potpie, porción

Adapted from Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon

If you have any leftover vegetables and beans you need to use up, this is the recipe for you, hence the name. However, it’s also great if you don’t have leftover vegetables. It’s easy and quick to make and it’s also vegetarian comfort food.

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1½ cups milk (I used almond milk), divided
  • ½ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Leftovers Potpie

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (218C).
  2. Line a skillet with ½ cup of vegetable broth and sauté the vegetables until fork-tender and any frozen vegetables are thawed.
  3. Whisk 1 cup of milk, 1½ tablespoons of flour, nutritional yeast and sage together. Pour over the vegetables and bring to a near-boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir and simmer until thick and gravy-like. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour vegetable mixture into a 9-inch bread pan and set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup of flour and baking powder together. Add the remaining ½ cup of milk and whisk again. Pour on top of the vegetable mixture and use a spoon or spatula to spread the batter out evenly.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is cooked through.

Leftovers Potpie II

Comments: I used frozen peas, fresh carrots, canned corn and canned chickpeas. However, this is a very versatile recipe. It’s best to use classic potpie vegetables like peas, corn, carrots, parsnips and celery and beans like chickpeas or white beans. You can also use a frozen mix of vegetables. Your choice.

Leftovers Potpie, relleno

Lemon-Buttermilk Icebox Pie

Sweet Pies and Tarts

Lemon-Buttermilk Icebox Pie

Adapted from Southern Living June 2015

Friends were coming over for dinner which meant…BAKING! This is an incredibly easy recipe and there is very little hands-on time. The only thing that takes so long is the freezing part. I did not know what to expect but we all loved it. It’s refreshing and tastes kind of like lemon pie. I have also included a recipe for a Lemon-Blueberry Topping. All in all, a perfect summer dessert!

Lemon-Buttermilk Icebox Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon loosely packed lemon zest
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • Crumb Crust (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (163C).
  2. Whisk the first 3 ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with a handheld mixer in a medium bowl at high speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until the yolks become pale and ribbons form on the surface of the mixture when the beater is lifted. Gradually whisk in the sweetened condensed milk mixture. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the buttermilk.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until set around the edges. The pie will be slightly jiggly.
  6. Cool the pie for 1 hour. Cover the pie with lightly greased plastic wrap and freeze for 4 to 6 hours.

Lemon-Buttermilk Icebox Pie, crust

Crumb Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups crushed Maria cookies
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F (163C).
  2. To get the cookie crumbs, process the cookies in a food processor to get 1½ cups of finely crushed cookies.
  3. Process the crushed cookies and sugar until well combined.
  4. Add the melted butter and process until thoroughly combined.
  5. Press the mixture on the bottom, up sides and onto the lip of a lightly greased 9-inch pie pan.
  6. Bake the crust in a preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Lemon-Blueberry Topping

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Bring 1 cup of blueberries, the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 8 to 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and the berries begin to break down.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup of blueberries.
  4. Cool completely (about 1 hour), cover and chill until ready to use.

Comments: Though I did not try the pie with the topping, I was told it was good. Anything with blueberries is good! If you wish, you can also top your piece of pie with sweetened whipped cream. For the crust, I used Maria cookies because it’s what I’ve grown up with. However, the original recipe calls for graham crackers. One last thing, remember to take the pie out of the freezer at least 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to serve it. I had a hard time cutting the crust, so the pieces didn’t turn out too beautiful!

Lemon-Buttermilk Icebox Pie, pedazo

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Cakes, Vegan

Chocolate Cake (Happy Herbivore)

Adapted from Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon

It was Sunday morning on Father’s Day. I was planning on making crumpets for the planned brunch but I forgot I had to let the dough rise. So I scrambled through my recipes, looking for something I could quickly whip up. However, everything had eggs or the vegan recipes had banana. I only had 1 egg left in the refrigerator and 0 bananas. Fortunately, I found this recipe in one of my vegetarian cookbooks. It was really spongy, moist and delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup nondairy milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder together.
  3. Add sugar, milk, applesauce, balsamic vinegar and vanilla. Stir until just combined.
  4. Transfer the batter into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Comments: The secret to this cake is the balsamic vinegar. I did some research because I was curious about the effects of vinegar in making a cake. I found that it’s what makes a vegan cake moist. I topped the cake with Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips; use vegan chocolate chips if you are vegan. You can of course also use semisweet chips and I’m sure white chocolate chips would go great with the cake as well. You may also want to substitute the chips for frosting instead.

Chocolate Cake (Happy Herbivore), pedazo