Apple Cinnamon Italian Wine Doughnut Cookies

My internet was spotty, it was raining outside, and I could not for the life of me wrap my head around the tragic news I had just received about a family friend.  All I could conceive of was numbing out with the usual suspects: TV, naps, COFFEE, and food.  But alas, my internet was down so no Netflix, there WAS no food, it was unjustifiably late for coffee and I'd been napping intermittently all day and wasn't tired.  I was pacing the hallway of my house as if I might find the answers under the rug or inside a closet.  How is it that life can be so painful and unlucky for some?  As I clawed at nothing trying to avoid the discomfort, it became clear pretty quickly that what I needed was to lean INTO the pain, not run from it.  Unbeknownst to me, I found myself in the kitchen pulling out the flour and the sugar.  I wasn't sure where I was going with this, but I felt compelled to create something beautiful.  Something happy and delightful.  My mouth would describe this treat as 'bread meets doughnut meets cookie.'  The wine gives it this slight kick that makes this dessert both savory (in a way) and sweet.  As I was rolling the dough into these small rings I couldn't help but look up and smile.  In the face of the unspeakable, the only thing I knew to do was pray for understanding and acceptance; and here were some answers being kneaded and rolled and shaped through my very fingertips.  Stay with me here, I know it's a stretch: a mother loses her son and a brother loses his only sibling - these are the facts that plagued my mind.  But as I shaped the little treats into their circles I was reminded that life is both sweet AND savory, that we are all perfectly imperfect, and we never know when or if our life circle will be cut short.  So if you have a biological/familial brother or sister please make a plate of cookies and send to them in honor of a brother lost.  If you yourself lost a brother or sister, please make a plate of these cookie and wrap them elegantly and purposefully and deliver them to someone whose spirit needs lifting today.  Now's your chance.  Make someones day. 

RECIPE/DIRECTIONS:

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of canola or vegetable oil (I haven't tried it, but I bet coconut oil would work, too!)
1 cup of riesling white wine
5 cups of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 small red apple peeled and diced into very small chunks
1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon mixture (I recommend putting sugar in a bowl and then sprinkling in some cinnamon and mixing until integrated and a light brownish color).


First, combine the sugar oil and wine and mix until sugar is mostly dissolved.  Half a cup at a time start adding the flour.  Halfway through add the baking powder.  Keep adding the flour until the dough is smooth and slightly elastic (but manageable in your hands, you don't want it too sticky and you don't want it crumbly either).  Cover the bowl with a towel while you prep the rest.  Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray lightly with cooking spray.

After you let the dough sit for about ten minutes take small amounts, roughly the size of a quarter (so smaller than you think, this is where I did NOT nail it the first time) and roll out into a skinny log shape about 4" long.  take a couple of those small apple chunk and shove them into the dough.  Roll the log in the cinnasugar mixture and then gently loop the log into a circle and press the ends together making a circle. Repeat until you have approximately 4 dozen cookies.  

Cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown on the top (don't let these babies burn - it makes a big difference, so keep your eye on them for the last five minutes in the oven).  Let cool, then serve.  I just enjoyed dunking one in my morning cuppa joe.  Store in an airtight container.  


Game. On. (or, lemon pistachio shortbread with coconut lemon glaze; vegan of course):

 ©Alex Wolfe Photography

©Alex Wolfe Photography

These little bricks of amazingness are more salty than sweet, and go best with a fat glass of almond milk (or coconut milk!  Or really any non-dairy milk).  The best part of this “cookie” is that it’s made with olive oil!  That’s right, no shortening, no butter, JUST olive oil, which was inspired by a delicious olive oil cake I had at Elf Vegetarian Café on Sunset in Silver Lake/Echo Park, LA.  So I started experimenting!  And you should, too.  Feel free to be adventurous and use other flavors, such as rose water extract.  The local market didn’t carry it at the time I was so compelled to make these, but rosewater was initially intended for this yummy creation.  So let me know how that goes if you try it. 

Ingredients:

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cup organic (vegan) powdered sugar
½ cup of unsalted pistachios, chopped well (or salted if you want your cookie to be extra savory)
2 zested lemons
1 cup of olive oil 


 ©Alex Wolfe Photography

©Alex Wolfe Photography


 ©Alex Wolfe Photography

©Alex Wolfe Photography

for the glaze →
more of that organic powdered sugar
coconut oil
vanilla extract (I recommend ohladycakes vanilla extract – www.ohladycakes.com -- it’s superb and homemade by an adorable cookie monster). 
lemon extract
6 Tablespoons of water (added one at a time)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 glass pan and set aside.
In a bowl, combine and mix together the flour, sugar, pistachios (you want these to be finely chopped, a couple big chunks are okay), and lemon zest.  Feel free to throw in a literal dash of lemon extract if you really want to taste the lemon.  Then add the olive oil and mix with your hands until well combined.  Press mixture into greased pan so that it’s even.  Pop in the oven and cook for about 55 minutes.  Listen up folks! (and this is important.)  Do yourself a favor and set the time for 40 minutes and start checking at 5 minute increments.  These bars of perfection can go to hell in a hand basket if you overcook em.  So keep a keen eye on these bad boys.  They should be golden and juuuuust firm to the touch.  

Let sit for 20-30 minutes before cutting.  You can cut them however you like; I cut mine into little squares.

Directions for the Glaze:
Add all the ingredients together and mix until there are no lumps.  Add the water last, one tablespoon at a time for desired consistency (it should be thick-ish).  Don’t be afraid to whisk the sh&^#$ out of it.  Once the shortbread has cooled, drizzle or pour (depending on how sweet you want these – I like to do half really sweet, half a bit saltier and less sugary) and let sit another 30 minutes ideally.  


 ©Alex Wolfe Photography

©Alex Wolfe Photography

Cinnamon Sugar Pillow Cookies

Ah!  What better way to celebrate July than with a nice holiday cookie in honor of the half way mark to Christmas!  Made these for my Argentinian family and they went crazy for them – couldn’t believe they were vegan … Recipe comes from a blog with lots of delicious ideas:
www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com Check it out for inspiration!

Seriously these are the dopest little pillow puffs of magical goodness – they will melt in your mouth.  Ladies, if you’re trying to impress your man in the kitchen, these are they.  And gentlemen, if you are trying to impress your woman, these are definitely they.  Happy baking!

Cinnamon Sugar Pillow Cookies
(makes 11-13 stuffed cookies)
3/4 cup (not packed) whole-wheat pastry flour (or spelt flour, or all-purpose. Readers say you can use a gf all-purpose mix if you add extra liquid so it’s not crumbly.) (120g)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup xylitol or sugar (55g)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-4 tsp milk of choice (8-16g)
3 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil (35g)
a bowl of equal parts cinnamon and sugar for rolling (Omit if desired.)
filling ingredients listed below

For the filling (which you can omit completely if you want regular, non-stuffed cookies): combine 2 tsp powdered sugar or Sugar-Free Powdered Sugar with 2 tablespoons cream cheese-style spread (I used Tofutti non-hydrogenated, but I’m sure other full-fat brands such as Follow Your Heart or Trader Joes would be fine.) Beat well, then set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients and stir very well. In a separate bowl, combine all liquid ingredients and stir. Pour wet into dry and stir to form a cookie dough. Smush into a giant ball with your hands (or, as an easier trick: transfer dough to a plastic bag and smush into a ball once the dough is inside the bag). Now roll into 22-26 mini cookie dough balls, then flatten each and divide the filling among only half of the flat discs. Place the other discs on top, cinch the sides, then roll into balls. Roll the balls in the bowl of cinnamon-sugar, place on a baking tray, and chill for at least 30 minutes. (If you desire crispy cookies, you can skip this chilling step.)

Preheat oven to 325, and cook 11 minutes- they’ll still look a little underdone, but that’s okay. Important: allow cookies to cool at least 10 minutes before trying to remove from tray.

 ©Alex Wolfe photography

©Alex Wolfe photography

In my humble opinion, I want to encourage you to avoid using artificial sugar.  I feel like it causes cancer (not that real sugar is great for you) but the point is this: baking is a treat.  You should have a little dessert and a lot of whole-grain plant foods in your life.  I am a firm believer in balance.  So if you’re gonna have dessert, let’s try and use agave and other natural sweeteners.  When a recipe calls for that old school white, unrefined sugar, just go for it!  The artificial stuff is just no bueno.  Not to mention it’s a little… gross?
Be advised I am not a doctor or a health consultant in any way.  I am a regular joe who does a lot of research by reading articles from an array of sources.  Most of my suggestions are based on personal experience and opinion.  Please consult your doctor if you have any health related concerns, because FOOD IS MEDICINE (if you eat the right foods!)

 

Mexican Chocolate Spice Cake

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

This choco-cake with ancho chili powder was delicious and had the perfect kick to it.  Thin and light, I could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting (a crime I’m infamous for committing – next week we can all learn moderation together, this week?  We eat whole cakes for breakfast, and we ain’t scurred).

Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup soy milk
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup safflower oil (I used vegetable oil because it’s all I had in the pantry, whoops!)
¼ cup unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Chocolate Sauce
1 cup soy milk
½ cup maple syrup
1 ½ cups vegan semisweet chocolate chips.

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

When I cook, I like to get a couple of things straight in the kitchen first.

CLEAN!

I mean the dishes, the counter, no grocery bags hangin’ on the floor or table with no purpose – things must be orderly, or I go bananas (and not in the way that results in a dessert bread ; )

Next, I like to pull each of the ingredients that will be used in the recipe (as pictured above) – and if I’m really feeling Martha Stewart-y (and I pretty much always am) I even pre-measure them in my fancy kitchenware and put the giant bags of stuff back in their respective living quarters so all I have to do is dump and mix when the time comes.

The following instructions listed below come directly from the Candle*79 cookbook:

Makes two 9-inch cakes or 12 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush two 9-inch round cake pans with safflower oil and set aside.  If making cupcakes, brush a 12-cup muffin pan with safflower oil or line with cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, ancho powder, and baking soda and mix well.

Oh hi Kitchenaid, you are so sexy and I love you more than life itself.                                                                                                  

© Alex Wolfe photography

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk, maple syrup, safflower oil, sugar, and vinegar and mix well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pans on wire racks.

S-N-A-C-K-B-R-E-A-K

Now, if you’re like me baking makes you hungry.  You know what they say about going to the grocery store when you’re hungry.  (For those of you who don’t, they say don’t do it).  Well the same applies to your baking.  Don’t bake a two layer chocolate cake and wait hungrily for it to finish and then make yourself a salad for dinner (or lunch or breakfast or whatever).  Why?  Because once the cake is finished the thought will arise: “I don’t really need to make dinner, I have this whole cake I can eat.”  So trust me, take a snack break and eat something healthy.  This way, your reasonably sized slice of delicious chocolate cake will satiate your sweet tooth without sending you over the edge.  And your body will thank you.

I made this salad pictured below.  It was yummy.  With massaged kale, brown rice and dill.  And guess what?  I only had 5 PIECES OF CAKE ANYWAY BECAUSE I HAVE A PROBLEM:

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

Now where were we?  Oh right, the sauce!

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the soy milk in a saucepan over medium heat until very warm but not boiling.  Transfer to a blender.  Add the maple syrup and chocolate chips and blend until smooth.

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

Cut the cakes into wedges, drizzle with sauce, and serve.

 © Alex Wolfe photography

© Alex Wolfe photography

A note from yours truly: the cake was a bit thinner than I expected, and so I decided to layer them for extra thickness.  Something you should know about me.  I am extremely detail oriented and wildly perfectionist (to a flaw) EXCEPT… when I’m not.  And that usually happens at random, for no good reason, usually out of laziness (a moment as I let the shame sink in).  So, alas.  Because I cooked these in a friend’s kitchen, using friend’s pans, I didn’t really bother to check the size of the cake pan.  Soooo, there’s a good chance those pans were bigger than 9” which would explain a lot.  Meaning, I hardly blame the recipe for flat cakes, delicious as they were, I can only blame myself for their consistency and shape.  But this is part of the fun of experimental baking.  When you were a kid and you accidentally drew with the red marker instead of the yellow (doh! How could you?!) you didn’t punish yourself – you rolled with it.  So I encourage you to do the same.

 

Peanut Butter Banana Bon Bons

After a long day, and weeks of salads (an attempt at restoring my insides to sanity after all the crap I'd consumed on the road) I came back to my temporary home desperate for something sweet.  There's goddamn nothing in this kitchen.  But I knew that wasn't true.  There's always something, I just wasn't in the mood to have to think or invent.  But it turns out that wasn't true either.  All it took was spotting that jar of peanut butter which was next to the bananas which was next to the coconut flakes that got me really excited about the dessert my mouth was about to meet.  Dudes, this is my favorite new treat.  And pretty healthy to boot!  NOT TO MENTION SO EASY A CHILD COULD DO IT.  Seriously.  

Ingredients:

Bananas, peanut butter, vegan chocolate chips, coconut oil, agave, and vanilla extract!  And if you've got 'em, coconut flakes.  

Directions:

Cut the bananas into 1/4" slices, spread a healthy amount of peanut butter on one side, then sandwich together like this and place little sammies on some parchment paper, 'cause shit's about to get mess-ay:

IMG_1307.jpg

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over low heat, add the chocolate chips (about half a bag), 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, a small splash of vanilla extract, and a three second squeeze of agave.  I like to do it this way and taste as I go.  Too thick?  Add a tad more coconut oil.  Too watery?  More choco-chips!  Get it so it suits your buds...  Thickness should be just less than that of honey.  

Take the chocolate mixture and pour VERY LIBERALLY all over the 'nanner sammies so that they are completely covered.  Stick one coconut flake on top of each bite sized goody and then transfer to freezer. Set a timer for twenty minutes and check one.  They shouldn't be totally frozen as you want them to have that ice cream softness so they taste just like banana peanut butter coconut flavored klondike bars. Remember those?  Took me ten minutes.  I know you have ten minutes.  And I'd bet you have peanut butter.