Posts Tagged ‘desserts’
The first time I made fondue, I got drunk. We invited our friends Jay and Jennifer and their kids over for some celebratory dipping. It was before Dan was vegan, or even vegetarian, and since we only had one fondue pot, I had to cook my nutritional-yeast-based sauce in a pan on the stove and eat out of the cooling pot at the table. I based the fondue on my usual nutritional-yeast sauce, only I subbed wine for the water. ALL of the water. And I didn’t think about the fact that I needed to cook off the alcohol before serving. So as soon as the sauce began to thicken, I began my dipping. With every hunk of bread and asparagus spear I ingested more and more alcohol, and by the end of the meal I was more than a little tipsy without having taken one drink. But damn was it tasty.
My next foray into fondue took a few years, but this time it was among all vegans, and since there was a small child involved, I opted for apple cider rather than wine, but I stuck to the basic nutritional-yeast formula. The thing was, since I was sort of winging it that first time, every subsequent trial of apple-cider fondue turned out differently, and most were sickeningly sweet. I have since learned to write things down. Most of the time, at least.
Mary, Megan, and I had been talking about throwing a fondue party for nearly a year, but there were always other parties, holidays, obligations. Plus, the only open dates seemed to fall during warm weather, and fondue and air conditioning just seems like a ridiculous combination. When we finally had an appropriately chilly date set, I planned on finally perfecting the apple-cider fondue, but then I made a vegan mornay sauce and realized it would make the perfect fondue. Cheesy, melty, able to cling to the crevices of roasted cauliflower, and just drippy enough to make me wish a had remembered to lay down a tablecloth.
As for dessert, I can’t take credit for that, except for a batch of orange-scented mini madeleines. Megan made peanut butter caramel fondue and Mary made chocolate marshmallow fondue. We probably could’ve skipped right to dessert and been completely happy. And completely nauseous.
When Dan and I were first living together, I watched a lot of Food Network. I mean, A LOT. I was just learning how to really cook, and the pre-Rachael Ray Food Network chefs, plus as much Martha Stewart as I could injest, relaly helped me to learn all the basics. These days I think the only cook left on TV who actually teaches anything is Alton Brown, and I am amazed and grateful that Food Network still keeps him around (and hasn’t convinced him that he would be more popular if he put a pound of butter in everything).
A side effect of this culinary TV obsession was that I really, really wanted a Kitchenaid mixer. I wasn’t totally sure what I needed it for, but it was so pretty! So shiny! I was convinced that I couldn’t be serious about cooking without one. Dan and I talked them up so much, we ended up getting one for Christmas from each of our moms. (The next year we got two blenders, but we’ve since learned to coordinate our lists.)
But in the years since the mixer appeared in our kitchen, it hasn’t been nearly as useful as I thought it would be. So pretty! and So shiny! turned into So heavy! and So hard to move! Especially since I decided that counter space was more important than a convenient way to cream butter and sugar and moved the mixer to a bottom cabinet. And anyway, I discovered that I actually like doing by hand the things the Kitchenaid does so well. Half the point of making bread is the therapy involved in the kneading process—plus, the intense bicep workout is always appreciated.
Which is why I didn’t automatically pull out the old heifer when I decided to make cookies. I thought, I hardly ever make cookies, I should enjoy it, not rush through it and let a machine do all the work. But what I learned is that sometimes you should take help where you can get it. Because creaming butter and sugar by hand? Annoying and frustrating and ultimately not very fruitful. In the end, everything worked out, the cookies came together nicely, and I didn’t have to clean batter off the Kitchenaid. Still, next time, I’ll haul the hulking girl out of her hiding place.
Apple Almond-Butter Cookies
These are based on my favorite fall afternoon snack, crisp, juicy apple slices dipped in creamy, salty almond butter. Almond butter makes for a richer, smoother cookie than peanut butter, so smaller is better for these.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy, salted almond butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp almond milk (add more for a less crumbly texture)
1/4 cup dried apples, diced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt in small bowl. Cream togehter Earth Balance and sugars. Add flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix in almond butter, vanilla, and almond milk until well incorporated. Fold in apples. Drop tablespoon-size pieces onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten with the tines of a fork. They don’t spread much, so you don’t need to leave too much room between cookies. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet until they are solid enough to move, then finish cooling on baking rack.