Vegan Treats Bakery Halloween Box

IMG_2712    In yesterday’s mail, I received the Trick or Vegan Treats Box from Vegan Treats Bakery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.   This is one of the best Halloween treats I’ve ever gotten and so thank you to Josie and Tim!  This bakery is so awesome that we once drove two hours out of our way to get there.  Vegan Treats Bakery does ship their goodies, and you can pre-order boxes of deliciousness like this, or even regular or gluten-free Easter Baskets–just go to their super-cool web site and look for merch.  Last night we split a pumpkin whoopee pie and I ate two white-chocolate-peanut-butter eyeballs (I swear I can see better).  On this Hallowed Eve, we will sup on Skeleton Gingerdead Men, or maybe the Swiss Chocolate Mummy Pop with bloody Red Velvet filling, or the Speculoos Brownie Bat with Belgian Cookie Butter filling, etc.  Bwa ha ha. . .

Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

These little Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies are such a nice treat for Halloween or Thanksgiving.  Lars gave them a thumbs up, and I’m impressed by how perfect the cake and spices are.    I’ve increased the filling amount below, because it made a lot more cake than the instructions said it would.  I also reduced the oil.  They’re perfectly spiced, thanks to a great recipe by Valeria on Food. com.   I’ll definitely make these again next year.

p.s. They freeze beautifully, so you could make them ahead.

Vegan Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes 24

3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2.5 Cups brown sugar
3/4 Cup safflower oil
2 egg substitutes  (I used 1 Tablespoon Ener G powder plus 1/4 Cup of water, frothed or whisked)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Cups canned organic pumpkin  (I used Trader Joe’s)

The filling
3/4 Cup Tofutti Cream Cheese
3 Cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons vegan butter or vegan shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease them).
In a large mixing bowl, dry whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In a separate bowl, stir together brown sugar, oil, egg replacer, vanilla extract and pumpkin.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
Drop by rounded Tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until center of cookie springs back when lightly pressed.  I baked mine for 16 minutes in my accurate, electric oven.
Cool thoroughly on wire racks before spreading with filling.

While the cakes are baking, you can make the cream cheese filling:  In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together vegan cream cheese and vegan butter.
Mix in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until thoroughly blended.  Chill in fridge.

To assemble, spread a dollop of filling on the bottom of one thoroughly-cooled cake and make a “sandwich” with a 2nd cake.  Wrap individually as they tend to dry out.

Notes:  These come out approximately 3 inches across.  They freeze beautifully.  I used Trader Joe’s canned organic pumpkin and found it superior to other brands I’ve tried, silkier and lighter in color.

Nutrition:  Calories 250, Fat 10, Saturated Fat 2, Trans Fat 0, Polyunsaturated Fat 1, Monounsaturated Fat 6, Cholesterol 0, Sodium 107, Carbs 39, Fiber 1, Sugars 22, Protein 2, Vitamin A 63%, Vitamin C 1%, Calcium 2%, Iron 5%.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and it hails from My Vegan CookbookI have to give Josh credit for creating a recipe that is much lower in fat than the standard caramel popcorn (he uses an air popper and eliminates the oil).  Also, the recipe is dead simple and does not require a candy thermometer.  I did change a few minor things and added some nuts, but you don’t have to.  When I was trick-or-treating as a kid, if we were lucky, we’d come to a house where we’d receive large, homemade, gooey popcorn balls wrapped in waxed paper, and this brings back those memories just in time for Halloween.  This is my 18th post for Vegan Mofo 2012, phew.  For the last two days, I did not post because we’ve been getting ready for Hurricane Sandy here in the coastal areas of Maryland.
Salted Caramel Popcorn

1/2 Cup un-popped, organic popcorn kernels
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 Cup Unsweetened/First Pressing, canned Coconut Milk
        (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 Cup of cocktail peanuts or dried fruit  (optional)
1/4 Cup of sliced almonds  (optional)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pop the popcorn in an air popcorn popper into a very large mixing bowl, like the largest one you have.
Mix any nuts and/or fruit into the popcorn and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Josh says oiling the pan is not enough; the caramel will still stick to the pan if you only use oil.

In a medium saucepan combine all other ingredients except vanilla.
Place on heat that is one-click-below-medium and stir constantly for 5 minutes.  Caramel should be bubbling well.
Remove from heat and carefully add vanilla while stirring, just in case it splutters a bit.

Drizzle caramel by the spoonful over the popcorn and stir well after each spoonful.
Spread caramel popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet and bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, mix popcorn gently with a spatula and return to oven for 10 more minutes.
Remove from oven.
Caramel will be soft but it will become crispy as it cools.

Notes:  You should link to the original recipe, because I have changed a few things.  This recipe is not quite sweet enough for me, so next time, I’ll probably make 50% more sauce and try rolling the popcorn into balls (after oiling my hands).  I’ll also add some dried cherries or some other extra goodies.  However, Lars likes a lighter, less-sugary popcorn and was really pleased with how light this is.  And so it’s his, all his, bwa ha ha.

Halloween – Dia de Los Muertos

Here is our Dia de Los Muertos pumpkin.  We went to a large pumpkin patch that was pretty picked over and staggered around for 45 minutes trying to find one large white pumpkin that could stand on its own.  I found a pattern book at Wal-Mart for $1.50 and my wonderful husband did all the hollowing and carving.  We put two LED candles in it before dropping it at our hosts’ home the night before the party.  It held center stage on the porch and really looked good in the dark.  Everyone dressed as something, but the coordinating theme was that whatever you were, you were also a skeleton with complete face makeup.  There were skeleton pirates and a skeleton fairy, and even a skeletal Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  The party was catered with traditional Mexican food but the lovely hostess made sure some of the flautas and enchiladas were vegan, how sweet is that!  The live band was fabulous and very local and played lots of old
rock and roll.  I felt like I was back in high school!  We all got in a vintage trolley car, paraded through St. Michaels, stopped at a bar called Ruperts and quaffed for half an hour.  By the time we trolleyed our way back to the house, the food was ready and the band was playing as we walked in.  People were partying with abandon and the dancing began.  A beautifully orchestrated and unique party!  I got a full meal at the party, and as a vegan, that means a lot!  Of course, we are wiped out today and I have learned that all that makeup irritates my eyes the next day, but I wouldn’t have missed it!

Sugar Cookies and Icing

I found this recipe online and the pretty photos convinced me to try it.  Took them to a big Halloween party last night.  The theme of the party was Dia de Los Muertos.  I could not find a good skull cookie cutter, so went with the oak leaves instead.  I would have done the big maple leaves but figured it would not make enough cookies for the party.  With this smaller cookie cutter, I got about 65 cookies out of one batch of the cookie dough.  I did roll some of the cookies a bit thinner than called for.  I found that the original icing recipe iced a lot more cookies than it said, so I have noted that in my rendition below.  I added a bit of salt to the cookie dough and used a tiny bit of lemon juice to thin the icing once it had stood for a while.

Perfect Vegan Sugar Cookies

With a large cookie cutter, like a really big maple leaf, the recipe says it will yield 36 cookies. My smaller cookie cutter yielded about 65 cookies.

1 C vegan butter such as Earth Balance
1 C white sugar
2 whole egg replacements (Ener-G)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ¾ C all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
¼ C tofu cream cheese (Tofutti)

In a large bowl, cream together vegan butter and sugar with an electric mixer.
Mix in egg replacements and vanilla.
In a smaller bowl, stir baking powder and salt into flour until well mixed.
Gradually add flour mixture and tofu cream cheese to the butter/sugar mixture.
Form dough into two thick rounds, wrap each in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼” thickness.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Tip: If you press the cookie cutter onto the rolled out dough and gently pinch the cookie cutter as you remove it, the raw cookie will lift up with the cutter, which you can then release onto cookie sheets.
Place cookies about one inch apart on the cookie sheets.
Bake for 12-14 minutes in the preheated oven, until bottoms and edges just start to get a light brown.
Remove from baking sheet immediately and place on wire racks.
Cool completely, and then store in an airtight container.

Perfect Vegan Icing Recipe
Two batches of this icing should be enough to coat one batch of the above cookies.

2 C confectioners sugar
6 teaspoons soy milk or rice milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 tsp light corn syrup
½ tsp lemon juice or water for thinning, if necessary
assorted food colorings
sanding sugar, if desired

In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners sugar and soy milk until smooth.
Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy.
Note that the icing will thicken as it stands.
If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup or water or lemon juice. (I use ½ tsp lemon juice).
Divide and color icing in separate bowls.
Dip cookies and allow to dry overnight on sheet pans.

Tips for rolling out the dough. About an hour before you start, put two rolling pins in the freezer. About 15 minutes before you start, put your dough rounds in the freezer too. Have your flour nearby as you will need to lightly add “bench flour” as you roll out the dough between batches. Lightly flour the rolling surface and your rolling pin each time. Lightly flour your dough if you need to also. I always have one dough round and one rolling pin in the freezer. Each time you roll out and cut dough, do so using the coldest dough and rolling pin. Once rolled and cut, put that dough and rolling pin immediately back into the freezer and reach for the other two that have been chilling. I don’t have a convection oven, so I bake one sheet at a time for best results. The dough gets easier to work with as you go, too.  We dipped our cookies to save time, and they looked pretty, just make sure you let them drip for a minute or you’ll have too much icing on them, which will pool and drip.  I like to sprinkle a tiny bit of sanding sugar on the wet icing because it not only gives them a bit of sparkle, it also helps prevent the cookies from sticking together if you stack them.