Vegan Irish Cream

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I’ve been into cocktails as of late. Expanding my liquor cabinet on a budget has led me to making home made versions of many liqueurs. Being that it is almost St. Paddy’s Day, and that Irish cream is something that I obviously can’t buy, I decided to give it a shot. I used coconut cream, but it does give a noticeable coconut flavor. That doesn’t bother me, but if you are adverse to some coconut flavor you could try using a cashew based cream. My non-vegan friends confirmed that the bit and flavor were close the the real thing. It was initially a little thick for them, so you may have to add some water to adjust it to the perfect consistency.

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Vegan Irish Cream

2 cans coconut cream (unsweetened, not “Cream of Coconut”)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey

In a medium sauce pan combine coconut milk and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until sugar has disolved and it begins to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and add coffee, whiskey, and vanilla. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container. It may separate a little as it sits, so shake before using.

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Irish Coffee Cupcakes

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It is almost St. Patty’s day, and since I am running a little late, I have two posts for you today. My girlfriend actually made a version of these for my birthday, and they were pretty good, so we decided to make them again for the “holiday.” The original recipe had a little whiskey in it, but not enough to really shine though. This time  I approached it as more of an adult cupcake project and upped the alcohol content a little. I used Jameson, since it is the only Irish whiskey I am familiar with, it it is available, reasonably priced, and a good quality. If you have another favorite irish whiskey, by all means use that.

Baking the cupcakes in traditional irish coffee mugs gives them an extra flair and really sells the dessert, but you can of course make them as standard cupcakes, or use other (oven safe) coffee mugs. If you are preparing the cake in mugs they will each hold two to four cupcakes worth of batter, and will hence take longer to bake. In mugs you can error a little on the under done side, since you will be eating it with a spoon out of a cup.

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Chocolate Whiskey Cake

4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup irish whiskey
1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (I used almond, but soy works fine)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup Earth Balance, separated
2 Tbsp ground flax mixed with 6 Tbsp water
 

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix the flax and water and set aside in the fridge. Combine chocolate and 1/4 cup Earth Balance in a small bowl and heat 30 seconds at a time in the microwave until melted and smooth (stir between bursts).

In a medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or small bowl mix milk, whiskey, and yogurt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream 1/2 cup Earth Balance and brown sugar. Add flax mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and mix to incorporate. Add dry and wet mixtures and beat until just mixed (don’t over mix). Spoon batter into lightly oiled mugs, or baking cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 20 min for standard cupcakes, about 30 min for mugs).

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

1 cup soy milk
1 oz Irish Whiskey
12 oz chocolate chips

Bring soy milk to a near boil in a sauce pan. Pour over chocolate in a heat proof mixing bowl. Stir till smooth. Add whiskey and stir till mixed. Set asid to cool.

Espresso Whiskey “Buttercream”

1 cup Earth Balance
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 oz cooled espresso (I just cot a couple shots from my favorite barrista)
1 oz Irish whiskey
4 cups powdered sugar, plus more as necessary

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the Earth Balance. Sift the powdered sugar. Add half to the butter and mix. Add vanilla, espresso, and whiskey and beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar until the frosting is stuff and holds it’s shape.

To Assemble

Drizzle a little whiskey on top of each cooked cake (about 1 tsp for a mug, or 1/2 tsp for a standard cupcake). Top each cake with a layer of ganache. Pipe butter cream on top.

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Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery

Vegan Molten Chocolate Cake

Ballard has blown up in the last few years as far as having anything worth while going on. This Seattle neighborhood was once occupied by older Norwegians and those involved in the maritime industry. Now it is home to a bustling nightlife scene and rapid urban development. I still don’t get to Ballard often, since it seems so far away, and taking public transportation over there is a non starter. Ballard was even briefly home to an all vegan bakery, that has since closed, and I never made it over to try it. My aversion to traveling to Ballard kept me from trying Hot Cakes for a while, despite it being on my radar. I finally made it over to check them out, thanks to some excess Uber credit.

Now, you may be familiar with Hot Cakes from their vegan hot fudge sauce and vegan salted caramel sauce that can be found at Vegan Haven (Sidecar) and a few other local stores. It turns out they also operate a little shop in Ballard where they serve, among other things, some some very tasty vegan cake. The shop is small, but cute, featuring a surprisingly limited number of seats considering they serve a number of things that are intended for consumption in house. Besides cake they also serve espresso and cocktails. Their menu also features floats and milkshakes, including boozy variations on both, but they don’t offer vegan ice cream. Maybe if we all e-mail and ask they will add some to the menu. Looking at their facebook page they may also serve brunch, but the menu isn’t online, so I don’t know if they have any veg options.

The Cake. Hot Cakes signature dish is molten chocolate cake, filled with chocolate ganache, baked fresh in a little jar. There is only one vegan option (3-4 variations on the non veg side), but that is all you need. A rich, chocolate cake, is baked to order, filled with vegan dark chocolate ganache. The cake is served with coconut whipped cream and a drizzle of their vegan salted caramel sauce. The cake was warm, rich and delicious, and the coconut cream was not too sweet and provided a nice break from the richness of the chocolate. The plate looked small when it arrived, but it was rich enough that I doubt I could have finished a second.

The service was friendly, and the cake came out surprisingly fast considering they are baked to order and the place was reasonably full. We also order cocktails. Olivia had some sort of gin/St Germain/Creme de Violette sort of thing, which was good. I had a root beet cocktail, that consisted of a root beer liquor, blackstrap rum, and ginger beer. It was also good, and tasted like root beer, but the blackstrap rum was a little too heavy and sweet to make it a great pair for the ultra rich chocolate. They have a fair number of drink options, but I wouldn’t say they offer full bar service.

Our experience at Hot Cakes was great, and we will be back next time we are up for venturing to Ballard. Seattle is sorely missing options for places to go out for dessert in the evening. If Hot Cakes was closer to home, I would likely be a very regular visitor. You can also talke home some of their vegan chocolate or salted caramel sauces as well as ready to bake cake jars.

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Trader Joe’s Kale Chips

Trader Joe's Kale Chips

Ok, the last product I reviewed from Trader Joe’s was a bit of a dud, but they do have a number of worthwhile vegan offerings. Among the more exciting new products is kale chips. Kale has become the super food darling of late, winning over both vegans and omnivores alike. Packaged raw foods have also been gaining popularity, with even my local QFC (Kroger) featuring a selection. TJ’s has jumped on the kale chip chain and is now offering some, currently only available in the “zesty nacho” flavor.

Trader Joe's Kale Chips

 

While I love kale chips, I don’t buy them often as they tend to be a little on the pricy side (and I could just buy a couple punds of kale and make my own for the price of one bag. Hey, I should probably post a recipe for that.), so the opportunity for some discount kale chip action is pretty exciting. As you might expect from a raw snack (actually, I am not sure if these are in fact raw…. I don’t have a bag in front of me anymore), the “zesty nacho” flavor is not what you might have picked to describe the snack if you tasted them blind. They really are more of a redd bell pepper flavor (I don’t think they even include yeast in the ingredients). I like them, but if you go into them expecting to taste Doritos or something, you will be disappointed. Over all a solid offering, and more ways to eat kale is always good.