Archive | August, 2011

The Week in Sweets

21 Aug

AKA The Good, The Bad and the Mediocre. Let’s start with the good, shall we?

The Good

I love summer. Not just because of the weather, but because of the fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, watermelons, cherries, peaches, nectarines, and pluots are just some of my favorite indulgences during the summer season.

Homemade peach galette:  For the crust, I used a mix of flour and cornmeal, coconut oil and a mere two tablespoons of sugar. The cornmeal gave the crust a nice crunch and rustic touch that I really liked. For the filling, I added the teeniest amount of  maple syrup as the  peaches were perfectly ripe and sweet as they were, and a touch of cinnamon. So, so good!

This photo does not even begin to convey the deliciousness of what you are looking at.

Farm-fresh strawberries: These came straight from a strawberry farm down the street from my sweetie’s family’s house. Because they live in farm country, we always get top-notch, freshest of the fresh produce for super cheap when we visit. $10 for six full baskets of the sweetest, juiciest strawberries you’ve ever tasted in your entire life! We usually finish off a basket in the car before even making it back to the house.

Quite possibly the best stuff on Earth.

Watermelon: During one particularly hot summer a few years ago, I ate six large, whole watermelons all by myself over the course of two months. True story. Though I’m not as zealous about watermelon eating as I once was, I love a cold, crisp wedge (or five!) of watermelon on a hot day.

Don't touch my watermelon!

The Bad

Chocolate Cookie by Kerri Kreations: I came across this vegan cookie during my shopping trip at Rainbow Grocery. It was quite an attractive cookie– thick and generous with the chocolate chips and walnuts–and had an enticing, chocolaty aroma so I was pretty excited to give it a try. Unfortunately, it was was super dry, flavorless and had a slight chalky flavor. I don’t know whether the fault lies in Rainbow possibly selling stale cookies, or whether recipe is just bad, but either way, this cookie was inedible.

Meh.

The Mediocre

Twinkie and Peanut Butter Snowball from Source: Though I can imagine that many others enjoy or would enjoy these desserts, I found them to be cloyingly sweet. Admittedly though, I don’t like my sweets very sweet and my dessert preferences lean toward the French rather than American tradition. I’d never before tasted a Twinkie (vegan or otherwise) and after trying this one, I don’t expect to ever eat one again. The cake was very dense and a bit dry. The filling was some kind of cream loaded with what I would guess is powdered sugar.

Because my partner loves the flavor combination of chocolate and peanut butter, we of course had to get the peanut butter snowball, which consisted of a dense cake topped with thick, sweet peanut butter cream, chopped peanuts and chocolate ganache. Now, my partner has a major sweet tooth and this was even too sweet for him. Total peanut butter overload, which I’m sure sounds great to some of you! Again, just not for me. That said, I would definitely go back to try more of their savory foods. Everything is vegetarian/vegan and organic, and the owner is super nice — all major pluses in my book!

Please excuse this ugly photo taken with my crappy phone.

Conclusion: Sometimes nothing beats nature-made desserts, such as a piece of fresh fruit.  What do you think? What’s your favorite summer dessert?

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Project Vegan Croissant

15 Aug

I feel like such a boring person sometimes. When people ask me what I do “for fun,” I really have to stop and think about it. Truth is, when I’m not baking and cooking…I’m baking and cooking. I resurrected Project Vegan Croissant  in aim of creating THE perfect vegan croissant. Not just vegan, but palm oil-free as well. It hasn’t been an easy feat because there are currently no commercially-produced, non-hydrogenated, palm oil-free, non-dairy margarines that mimic the properties of butter. [My issue with palm oil? There have been numerous articles written on the topic, or check out my thoughts from my old blog.] Alas, I am happy to report that a flaky, fluffy, vegan and palm oil-free croissant is entirely possible thanks to the wonders of coconut oil! I’m still a ways off from perfecting my recipe, but I’m getting there.

In the past two weeks, I’ve made three batches of croissants. My first batch, though buttery in flavor, had a dense interior with few air pockets/layers.

For my second batch, I thought I’d remedy the situation by baking the croissants at a higher temperature to encourage a quick rise. While this resulted in a dark, crispy exterior, the interior remained dense and doughy. It was also lacking a buttery flavor. (No photo, sorry!)

The third batch, however, was a winner! A dark, crispy, flaky exterior, and buttery, fluffy, tender interior.

Fearing another dense interior, I was a little overzealous in laminating the dough for this batch and completed six turns (folds) instead of the usual four, resulting in 729 layers (!!) instead of the usual 81. As such, the interior had air pockets which were smaller and less distinct than I would have liked. I’m aiming for something more like this so I’m going to stick with four turns next time. Still, check out all of the layers! So exciting!

Now it’s time to work on batch #4. I think this time I will make some pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants) as well. Who wants to be a taste tester?