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The Vegan Brownie Review Trilogy – Part 3

20 Mar

1-IMG_2861Almond flour, rice flour, and arrowroot powder.  With ingredients like that, who would’ve thought these would be the most scrumptious brownies of all!

After the tasty, but less than amazing results of Part 1 and Part 2, the Part 3 brownie recipe of the vegan brownie review has reigned supreme, so to speak.

Vegan, gluten-free brownie:  You are understated and never overrated as the vegan brownie champion!

The recipe came from the ever-popular vegan blog “Oh She Glows”.

My Review:

Cakey or Fudgey?:  Fudgey as any other.  A great dense texture without being *too* much like fudge.

Ease of preparation:  The ingredients are obscure if you’re not a regular gluten-free baker.  But I promise, you’ll want to make these again and the extra ingredient purchases will be worthwhile.

Overall taste (Scale of 1-5, 5 being out of this world and the best I’ve ever tasted): Scoring a full point ahead of the last delicious recipe, I give ’em a 4.5.  The first bite had me questioning flavour – you get a quick hit of almondy flavour before the chocolate fully kicks in, but every bite after that is nothing but brownie heaven. These were taste-tested on 3 other very willing participants who agreed they were super tasty even in comparison to most “regular” brownies.

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Did I mention these are not only vegan, but gluten-free?

1-IMG_2832 I hope you enjoyed that vegan brownie triology. I know I did. 😉

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The Vegan Brownie Review Trilogy – Part 2

13 Mar

Remember Part 1 of The Vegan Brownie Review Trilogy?  As promised, Part 2 is here!  This time I made a more complex brownie recipe from jae steele’s book, “Get It Ripe”.  This is another book that I borrowed countless times from my local library, only to buy it months later.  Sidenote: This book is full of great recipes, but not only that, offers a LOT of helpful nutritional info from a holistic and vegan perspective, cooking and baking technique tips, and more!

1-IMG_2717My Review:

Cakey or Fudgey?:  As I mentioned in Part 1, I like somewhere in between a cakey and fudgey.  These would’ve been more fudgey than the brownies in part 1 I think, but I’m pretty sure I over-mixed the spelt flour (it has less gluten and over-mixing can cause it to crumble) and they turned out a bit dry.  What with the melted chocolate and the tofu in this recipe, I’d think they’d normally hold together.  That said, you might want to try all-purpose flour instead of spelt if you’re worried about over-mixing with spelt.  Spelt was used to eliminate conventional wheat from this recipe, which causes allergies for many.

Ease of preparation:  These brownies were easy enough to make.  There were a couple finicky ingredients besides the spelt (melted chocolate and tofu) which also require a double-boiler set-up  and a food processor or blender.  But other than those, the rest of the ingredients were your basic straight-forward brownie fixin’s.  Not difficult!

Overall taste (Scale of 1-5, 5 being out of this world and the best I’ve ever tasted):  I give ’em a 3.5.  I took off .5 for the texture (due to my over-mixing or mis-measuring, I’m pretty sure) wasn’t as it should be, but the flavour was excellent!  Even as a crumbly brownie, these were great with coconut ice cream (such as the vegan brand “so delicious”) or the  coconut whipped cream I made.

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I would recommend trying these out!  Since the ingredients are a bit different from your traditional brownie recipe, it’s a fun experiment.  And if it works out texture-wise, the flavours are as rich as any other brownie I’ve tried.

If you try them and the texture works out, I’d love to hear if they held together for you.

Part 3 of the Brownie Review Trilogy is on the way  and it will be gluten-free.  Let’s see what happens!

Want a Sweet Treat? Man, Go Eat a Mango!

11 Mar

Until recently I would only buy bags of already cut, frozen mango.  Then I saw some whole mangos on sale for a good price and bought three!  I had been too lazy or disinterested to figure out how to pick a good mango and actually cut one.  Eating a ripe, fresh mango is such a tasty experience.  When the juicy sweetness hits my taste-buds it transports me to a tropical fruity heaven of some kind.  Yes, I’m being a little corny.  But honestly, for me , no other fruit can provide such an elated feeling!

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In general, fruit is like natures fast food.  It often comes in its own edible wrapping.  It’s easy to grab and go.  And it’s a scrumptious mid-day snack.  Mangos are a little different in that they need to be peeled and they can be quite messy – not the best fruit-on-the-go option.

1-IMG_2379That’s why I have taken to eating mangos as a dessert, at home.  I like to cut it up all fancy-like, and eat it with a bit of dark chocolate and scoop of coconut ice cream (yes, all vegan!).

Want to make your mango look all fancy too?

What you’ll need: 
– a ripe mango (soft to the squeeze with a sweet smell)
– a paring knife or small-ish utility knife
– a cutting board (to catch all the juice and mess!)

How to slice it:
1) The mango has an oblong shape, a bit like a squishy egg shape.  You’ll want to start by cutting off each of the wider, flatt-ish sides (which will become the attractively diced fruit you see above).  Watch out for the pit!  Mangos have a stone a lot like a peach, but bigger and oblong, just like the fruit it lives in.  You’ll have to cut the flesh off as close to the seed as possible (you’ll hear a kind of crunching sound and the knife won’t glide easily when you hit it).

2) After cutting off each of the fleshier flatter sides, you can slice off the other parts, so as not to waste any of the yummy fruit (I just eat this part right away, ’cause who can wait?).
The "hedgehog" style is a common way...

3) Now you should have two flatter, fruity sides to work with.  Much like cutting an avocado, if you’ve ever done that, you’ll want to hold the oblong half in your palm – flesh up, skin down.  Now run the knife through the flesh vertically, just until you hit the skin (but not through the skin!).  Do the same thing horizontally, making a checkerboard pattern.  Now you’ve got your dice!

4) Gently push the skin side so it’s now concave and the inner flesh is now a convex shape with diced chunks sticking out of it (as pictured above).

That’s it!  It’s so pretty and impressive.  You can do this for your own enjoyment or present your beautiful mango dessert to your dinner guests.  Such a sweet treat to behold!

The Vegan Brownie Review Trilogy – Part 1

6 Mar

No matter what my diet contains, it must contain brownies.  That and cookies.  And ice cream.  Dairy or no dairy.  Eggs or no eggs.  There must be brownies.

So I’m putting vegan brownie recipes to the test.  This time around I used a basic recipe from one of my favourite blogs Alien’s Day Out.  I began reading this blog while I was in Korea and was looking for ways to make vegetarian food.  The original recipe is from a popular vegetarian website, VegWeb.com.

1-IMG_2691My Review:

Cakey or Fudgy?:  I like somewhere in between a cakey and fudgey.  These were a little too on the cakey side for me, but still tasty and chocolatey.

Ease of preparation:  These brownies were a snap to make as long as you have flax seeds or meal on hand (found in most grocery stores.)  No obscure ingredients to worry about.  For most vegan baking it helps if you have flax seeds on hand, as these are often used as a simple and neutral-flavoured egg substitute/binding agent.

Overall taste (Scale of 1-5, 5 being out of this world and the best I’ve ever tasted):  I give ’em a 3.

For the little work it takes to make these, I would recommend giving them a go.  The texture might change depending on your oven’s temperature, if you eat them right out of the oven, or if you wait ’til the next day’s coffee and chocolate fix.

The adapted recipe is as follows (from Alien’s Day Out): 1-IMG_2689

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup water
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
2 cups organic unrefined sugar (or 1 cup white, 1 cup brown)
1/2 cup grape seed oil (or canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coffee extract (I left it out)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I left them out)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare your baking pan by lightly oiling it or using parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, add about 1/4 cup of the water and the ground flax seeds. Whisk til it thickens a bit. Add the rest of the water, along with the sugar, oil, extract, and salt. Whisk well.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and using a spatula, stir until everything is almost all incorporated.
5. Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and spread evenly with a spatula.
6. Bake in oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let it rest about 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

I left out the coffee extract and the walnuts since I didn’t have any, but you could probably replace the water with strong brewed coffee for a bit of the same effect.  Apparently, coffee extract can help bring out the cocoa flavour in the brownies.

Part 2 and 3 of the Brownie Review Trilogy is on the way (in the coming weeks).  And for all my gluten-free friends, one of the next two recipes will be vegan AND gluten-free!

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