the taste space

Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on July 23, 2013

Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles

With a name like “Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles”, you might think I was creative in the kitchen.

The joke’s on you because, I just worked with what I left in my pantry while I was still in Toronto.

Without any chocolate in the house, I had to turn to non-chocolate dessert options for our going-away party. I knew I was going to make baklava, since I had planned to make it a few months ago and had all the ingredients (mostly). Plus it would be a treat for my parents who came up to help us pack and move.

But I wanted to make something else, too. I perused Isa’s blog for inspiration: Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles. However, I had no white sugar and not all of the chai spices…. but I still had brown sugar. I was not entirely sure whether it would work, so I googled brown sugar snickerdoodles. I came across Joe Yonan’s Cardamom-Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles. Brown sugar would work, it seemed. And my lack of spices would not be a deterrent, either: I had cardamom. However, Joe’s recipe was not vegan so I tweaked Isa’s recipe with my pantry subs.

And of course, while baking seems so simple, I definitely prefer the ease of raw desserts. As I made this, I was scratching my head wondering what to do with the clumpy brown sugar that was not dissolving. Heating it was a possibility but I wasn’t sure that would still work since I had already added it to the liquids. I consulted the Mom guru midway during my baking escapades. If the sugar had not been added yet, she suggested microwaving the brown sugar. Since I had already added the liquids, she had another fantastic idea: pulverize it with a blender. Since I already dirtied my vitamix to make homemade cashew milk for the cookies, it was easy to blend away the clumps, too. Worked like a charm.

Some of the comments from Isa’s recipe implied the dough could be very sticky to work with. Mine was not sticky in the slightest. Easy to work with, flatten as balls and roll in a cardamom-spiked brown sugar coating. I used large crystal Demerara-style brown sugar for the coating and saved the clumpy brown sugar for the cookie.

And the verdict? You will have to rely on Rob’s judgment. My Mom does not hold too much faith in Rob’s opinions of my food (is he really biased?) but trust me, there are plenty of things he does not like and he will tell me so. Around the same time, Rob was gifted with local maracons. However, they were very fragile and slightly smooshed during transport. After he tried a snickerdoodle fresh from the oven, he told me it was better than the macarons! They were smooshed macarons, but still, they were macarons, nonetheless. These cookies were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a sweet caramel flavour thanks to the brown sugar with a hint of exotic cardamom.

And if Rob’s opinion is not enough, let’s just say the cookies were demolished within minutes at the party. Granted, I served them before the pizza had arrived… and no one had issues with cookies as an appetizer.

Creativity out of necessity. I like it. And so did Rob. :)

Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Mango Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream Frosting (Vegan)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on February 28, 2013

Mango Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream Frosting (Vegan)

If coconut doesn’t bring you out of a winter rut, how about mango? Mango cupcakes with a mango coconut oil buttercream frosting, anyone?

February is a busy month for me and Rob.

Valentine’s Day, followed by Rob’s birthday and also our anniversary. We tend to go all out for Rob’s birthday, but this year, we kept it simple by meeting with friends at Rob’s favourite resto in our neighbourhood. No jackfruit “pulled pork” wraps or pineapple and cucumber guacamole this year. While The Beet has possibly my favourite desserts in the city (the best raw cheesecakes), I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make Rob a birthday treat.

The trick? Keeping it a surprise.

At least I knew Rob wouldn’t be privy to my dessert brainstorm on Pinterest. (ChefTap totally wins in that regard). One benefit of his birthday being after Valentine’s Day is that I could peruse all the lovely Valentine’s Day-inspired treats. Raw chocolate cheesecake with zucchini? If I was going to take over a resto, I figured it would be easier to eat something with our hands and plus, I had no zucchini. Raw coconut cardamom cheesecakes? They could melt before we made it to dessert at the resto. Raw chocolate tartelettes with chocolate ganache? No tartelette containers here.. Mango Cupcakes with a Coconut Chocolate Ganache? No chocolate nor full-fat coconut milk here. Chloe’s winning Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes? I really think I was onto something with the mango and this calls for full-fat coconut milk, too…. Mango Cupcakes with a Mango Buttercream Frosting? We have a winner… with just a few (minor) substitutions. :)

I made the cupcakes the night before, as Rob was out late for a work gathering. I had an hour before he came home so I whipped together the cupcakes. No baking expert at all, I called my mom to ask how long I had to let the cupcakes cool before I could frost them. At least half an hour, she told me. How long have they been out of the oven? Uh, I still have 15 minutes left in the oven and he’s due back in 45 minutes. She laughed. No frosting tonight. I hid the cupcakes.. and ran the dishwasher with all the dirty dishes.

As I went to bed, I determined the perfect time to make the frosting: the next morning while Rob went to the gym. For some reason, Rob picks his gym day the same day as my rest day. Thursdays. However, this Thursday he decided NOT to go to the gym. GAH!! So, I rushed off to work early so I could leave earlier, too. To frost my cupcakes before dinner. ;)

Mango Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream Frosting (Vegan)

So that’s my rambly preamble…. but I should not be keeping you in suspense because these cupcakes were winners. We shunned the desserts at the resto in lieu of cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes. Mango cupcakes with a mango buttercream frosting. Booyah! Vegan cupcakes, of course. Whole wheat, no problem (actually you wouldn’t know it, unlike my chocolate avocado cake).

Mango cupcakes sound revolutionary but it isn’t unusual to substitute apple or banana into baked goods. Here, I used mango puree. You could blend your own, or pick up a can of puree of Alphonso mangoes (the sweetest King of Mangoes) to make them moist and sweet. The cupcake base is also spiced with cardamom for an Indian twist. For the frosting, I will admit that I cracked and bought some icing sugar (everything else was from our pantry, including the mango puree). I contemplated making my own icing sugar from coconut sugar but decided against it at the last moment. My substitutions were mainly by using coconut oil. Because if there is one thing that I have a lot of (after beans and kelp noodles), it is coconut oil. Making coconut oil frosting is no new feat, but this was heightened by adding mango puree to it. The solid nature of coconut oil means that you don’t need to add as much icing sugar to achieve a stiff consistency. It was also super easy to pipe. Way easier than when my Mom and I made the royal icing for my bathbomb cupcakes.

A few notes about the recipe: my cupcakes were flat-topped. Nothing the frosting couldn’t fixhide, but I am not sure if that was because I used coconut oil in the batter. Or the spelt? Or the bit of whole wheat pastry flour I finished off? Or the supplemental brown sugar I needed to top off the sugar? (Yes, it was a great pantry emptying cupcake). Who knows but I think it could be the coconut oil. Just thought I’d let you know.  Not that anyone noticed. They were definitely a resounding success. I heard them say Best. Cupcakes. Ever. (Thanks, Matt). The magic ingredient wasn’t mango, it was love. :)

Mango Cupcakes with Mango Buttercream Frosting (Vegan)

This is my submission to this month’s Tea Time Treats for cupcakes, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch and this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Fresh’s Miso Gravy

Posted in Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on August 22, 2011

I know you’ve heard me lament about resto food.

When I first moved to Toronto, one of my favourite restaurants was Fresh. A vegetarian restaurant serving nice salads and wraps.  I have since found their dishes hit or miss and usually a miss unless it is the grilled veggie and pesto burrito. Please do not try their soba noodles! A soggy mess that disgraces Japan. However, their sweet potato fries with the miso gravy never disappointed and have rightfully been voted the top sweet potato fries in Toronto.

For the BBQ, I made a variety of seasonings for the sweet potato fries. I tried a batch with garlic, lemon pepper and smoked paprika, adapted from a recipe from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, a batch with a Moroccan spice blend including cinnamon and cumin (somehow my spices went too toasty for my liking [aka burnt], so I didn’t serve them), as well as a one with simple salt and pepper. Other then the Moroccan batch, both turned out great. I really liked the roasted bits of garlic with the sweet potato fries.

At Fresh, the sweet potato fries are lightly spiced with sea salt, basil, tarragon and rosemary, but the winner was the miso gravy. Creamy and salty, it is a perfect match for the sweet fries.

Thankfully, the folks at Fresh are happy to share their (not-so) secret recipe, with it appearing both in their cookbook and online in the Toronto Star. It took me a while to crack out the recipe, but I am delighted I finally did!  My guests discovered the miso gravy also worked well with the grilled chicken, pork tenderloin as well as the salad. What wouldn’t taste delicious with a miso gravy? :)


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Rinku from Cooking in Westchester, to Ricki’s Summer Wellness Weekends and to this month‘s Bookmarked Recipes.

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