Monday, July 28, 2014

Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Babka

I don't have a recipe to share today.  This is just a cool little idea that involves one of my favorite baking ingredients:  matcha green tea powder.  I love adding it to baked goods as natural food coloring.  Look at what happened when I added some to my babka:

Pretty cool, eh?

I used the Chocolate Babka recipe from Chloe's Vegan Desserts cookbook.  (If you don't have the cookbook, here's a hint:  I just did an online search for "Chloe vegan babka" and the full recipe showed up as a Google Books result. Or you can head to the library.  Or buy the cookbook-- it's great!)  I've made her babka recipe before and although it takes about 3 hours total waiting for the dough to rise and 45 minutes baking in the oven, it's well worth the time and effort once you sink your teeth into your very own homemade babka. (especially if it's green)

Based on what I had in my pantry, I made the following adjustments to the recipe:

  • Used 1 cup bread flour and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour for the dough
  • Added 4 teaspoons matcha green tea powder to the flour mixture for the dough
  • Substituted refined coconut oil for vegan margarine (1 to 1) in both the dough and the filling
  • Substituted coconut palm sugar for brown sugar (1 to 1) in the filling
  • Omitted the streusel topping

I usually use Maeda-en 100% natural matcha green tea powder that sells for about $7 online or at Japanese or Asian supermarkets.  That's the price for a 1-oz. canister, which isn't exactly cheap.  But if you're just looking to experiment with it or don't plan on using it often, a 1-oz. canister at $7 is just fine in my book. That amount can be used for 2 to 3 baking projects. (not to mention delicious homemade green tea lattes or ice cream)

With all the sugar and chocolate in the mix, I didn't really taste much green tea, but that was expected.  From my previous matcha baking projects, I've found that the green tea flavor doesn't really come through.  If it does, it's very subtle.  (but who cares, it's green!)

I have to say that kneading green colored dough is a lot of fun.  It reminded me of Play-Doh.  And eating a green colored babka is even more fun.  (eating Play-Doh = not so fun)  I hope you'll give this 'Glowing Green Babka' a try. Just don't try to use it for detox purposes. :)


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

No-Bake Mini Strawberry Cookies-n-Cream Cheesecake

You know I love tiny little no-bake cheesecakes.  As delicious as raw cheesecakes are, I can't finish a full-sized one all by myself.  (or can I...?)  So, unless I'm cooking for a potluck or some other type of gathering, I like to stick to my trusted Japanese dollar store mini cheesecake pan. Also, when I'm just experimenting in the kitchen, I don't really want to use up three cups of expensive raw organic cashews.  No way.  

It probably looks like I was being sloppy with the crust here, but I added some of the crust mixture to the filling on purpose. :)   I love cutting into cheesecakes with fruit, nuts, swirls, etc. embedded in the filling.  I also thought I'd add some fruit to the topping because it's summer and summer means strawberries!  And since summer also means peaches, I added a white peach to the filling.  You can also use a banana instead. There are no limits in vegan cheesecake land.  :)

Makes one 4-inch mini cheesecake (like one of these)

3/4 cup raw walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
6 soft pitted Medjool dates
1.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon water, if needed
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for a few hours or overnight; drained and rinsed)
1 peeled, pitted medium white peach (or a banana)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar (or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Some of the crust mixture from above (about 2 tablespoons)

About 1/2 cup chopped strawberries 
Some of the crust mixture from above (about 3 tablespoons)

  1. Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture blend)
  2. Transfer about 1/3 of the crust mixture to a small bowl and set aside.  
  3. Press the rest of the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of your mini cheesecake pan. Set aside.
  4. Blend the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth. (Depending on your blender's size and power, it may take a while to get the mixture smooth.  I used a Blendtec Twister Jar.)
  5. Transfer the filling mixture to a small bowl and stir in about 2 tablespoons of the reserved crust mixture.  (Break the mixture into crumbles first so that you have no large chunks)
  6. Pour the filling mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the top of the cheesecake with the chopped strawberries and the rest of the reserved crust mixture (there should be about 3 tablespoons left).  Gently press down on the topping.
  7. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight until completely set.
  8. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Serve chilled. 

The white peach in the filling added a nice refreshing element to the cheesecake, as well as some sweetness.  If you have black cocoa powder, which is used to make Oreo cookies, you'll get more of that quintessential cookies-n-cream flavor. I don't think many people keep that in their pantry, but it's definitely something to try in your baked and non-baked chocolate desserts.

If you'd like to make a full-sized 8-inch round or square version of this, you can double the crust ingredients and double or triple (for more height) the filling ingredients.  Again, there are no limits in vegan cheesecake land.

Enjoy! :)