Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!! (and a festive recipe round up for you)

First, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and fabulous New Year, thank you all for following, for commenting and e-mailing me throughout the year. You're the reason I do all this so thank you muchly!!

I realize this post may be a bit late, but I thought I would do a round up of some of our favourite holiday recipes featured on this blog, some of them from years ago. With the exception of the Nuts n Bolts and White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread posts below I haven't been doing any 'new' recipes this December, instead I've been making our standard holiday favourites, so, here they are!

Holiday Baking Favourites:

vegan eggnog knots

Mint Chocolate Thins

Vegan Marzipan Mince Pies

Hot Toddy Cupcakes

Holiday Favourites from my Danish Heritage:

Features from our Christmas Dinner:

Vegan Tourtiere: - we now always use the puy lentil version

Chocolate Mousse Dome Cake - I made it Grand Marnier flavoured this year and decorated it like a christmas pud :-) I'll post the cake recipe when I finally perfect it!

Once again I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, that's it for me this year, I'm done my holiday baking and have put the tripod away!  Looking forward to the New Year and blogging new recipes and experiments then, for now, best wishes for the holidays and thanks again for all your support!

Much love,

Monday, 12 December 2011

Vegan Nuts 'n Bolts Party Mix

Vegan Nuts 'n Bolts

Well, here's another one for the vegan ex-pats! I realize those of you not from North America will most likely have no idea what I'm on about here. Nuts 'n Bolts is a snack food back home that I have always seriously loved. I cannot tell you how many boxes of this stuff I went through as a child and as we only seemed to buy them during the Christmas holidays, they are forever connected that way to me.

It's a seasoned mix of pretzel sticks (the bolts) cherrios (the nuts) shreddies (or similar) and back home they had either these weird cheesy squares that were hard OR the last time I had them these light cheesy sticks in them. I couldn't veganize those but thankfully they were always my least favourite in the mix so not missed at all! Oh and yes, it is essential to stick the cherrios onto the pretzels whilst eating these - food and a toy! Win, Win!!

I've been wanting to make my own for awhile now as I know lots of people do. A quick search online will show up LOADS of recipes but the seasoning mix seems to be basically the same: oil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, celery salt and onion salt. This was pretty darn easy to make vegan, simply use vegan Worcestershire sauce and my only concern in making this was as only ex-pats know: European Cherrios are quite different from North American Cherrios. They are multi-grain here and crucially sweeter which I wasn't sure would work but it's all I had so went ahead anyway...

Thankfully this turned out really good, the Cherrios are sweeter which isn't authentic but in the end I really liked them in there! The seasoning was almost just like the original Nuts 'n Bolts, it reminded me SO much of them and while it is not spot on it is a beautiful homage to them. The most common thing they with the original however is their more-ishness - these are impossible to stop eating!!!

Just don't drink too much whisky and ginger ale with them like I did and start calling them Buts 'n Nolts.... :-)

Vegan Nuts 'n Bolts

Nuts 'n Bolts Party Mix:

80g plain Shreddies
50g plain Cherrios
60g pretzle sticks
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce ( I love Biona brand)
1/8 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp onion salt
1/8 tsp celery salt

First a note on the seasoning mix there, I only had celery seed and onion powder so used those and added some salt instead and it worked fine. You could use garlic powder as well and adjust the salt yourself. I suggest making half this the first time so you can adjust the seasoning to suit yourself, the recipe is very forgiving and adjustable :-)

If your pretzel sticks are too long as mine were simply snap them into smaller pieces and toss in a bowl with the Cherrios and Shreddies (both of which are labelled as vegan on Nestle's European website, other countries may be different so do check your own).

Preheat the oven to a very low 100C/ 200F. Whisk together the oil, Worcester sauce and salts then pour over the mix and toss very well with your hands until everything is lightly coated. Spread out onto a baking sheet or two and bake for about an hour - give the mix a toss about every 15 minutes. Leave to cool then tip into a serving bowl and serve, great for parties and holiday get-togethers. Makes 1 medium size bowl of mix, double or triple as you need.

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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread

Vegan Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread

Yay for December! I've been a little jealous of all the holiday baking, blog posts and talk of Christmas decorations going up but I have one rule: NOTHING in November! Ok, sure, I made those mince pie croissants but otherwise no, it's too early. Well, it's game on now :-) After this blog post I'm getting out the boxes of decorations and going for it. Have I mentioned I love Christmas?

These turned out beautifully. Cranberry and white chocolate is such a nice combination, it's one of my favourites and while I have made cookies before which were nice I haven't had a hand at vegan shortbread and saw these in a recipe so thought I would have a go veganizing it. The cookie itself has a great texture, holds together really well - it doesn't even crumble apart whilst cutting it and is nice and crisp yet melts in your mouth like a shortbread should. As much as I love the cranberries and white chocolate in these I will also try this recipe plain as I think it would make great 'regular' shortbread too.

Vegan Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread

The flavour is so good as well but I did a little cheat here: butter flavour extract. Even though the vegan margarine I use, Vitalite, has a really buttery flavour I felt shortbread needed a little boost to get it super buttery... and yes, it is actually vegan!  You don't want to use much of it though as too much will give your shortbread a rather artificial taste but just a touch of it does give sweet treats that are normally very buttery tasting, well, buttery tasting!

We all have loved these, including the boy who actually came home from school when these were baking and said, "It smells great in here!! I smell white chocolate!" Oh, to be the child of a food blogger :-)

Vegan Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread

Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread: makes 8 large wedges or 12 smaller wedges.

120g plain flour - 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp
30g cornstarch - 1/4 cup
1/4 tsp salt
120g vegan butter - 1/2 cup
75g icing sugar - 1/2 cup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp butter extract - optional, can replace with more vanilla or almond
50g dried sweetened cranberries - 1/3 cup chopped
50g vegan white chocolate buttons - 1/3 cup chopped

Line the bottom of a 7" round cake tin with baking paper. You can easily double this recipe as well and line 2 cake tins or one 9 x 13" cake tin. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F).

Mix together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter with the icing sugar and extracts until very creamy. Stir in the flour until all combined then fold in the chopped cranberries and white chocolate.

Spoon it into the prepared pan/s and with well floured hands press the mixture evenly into the prepared tins. Prick all over with a floured fork and bake for between 40 - 50 minutes. My first batch I did 50 minutes but it was a little overcooked, you just want the edges turning lightly golden. My second batch I did 45 and that was just right for my oven.

Let cool in the tin on a wire rack for 30 minutes then remove and slice while warm. I used a serrated knife here as I found it easiest. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or let cool to warm temperature.

Once fully cool these also pack up really well as they don't fall apart making perfect gifts. I wrapped some up in brown baking paper and tied a ribbon around with a little hand made label.

Vegan Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread

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