Veg in Cow Country

cooking (and eating) vegan and vegetarian in the midwest

Almond Joy Cake April 8, 2012

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate!,Entertaining,Holidays — vegincowcountry @ 8:46 pm
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Three of my favorite flavors all in one cake — amazing! I was worried at first that the almost delicate, almond- and vanilla-flavored cake wouldn’t meet my expectations for a rich, decadent dessert, but I was happily wrong. This is a slight adaptation of a recipe I found here: I replaced the rather cumbersome frosting in the original recipe with my own favorite fudgy buttercream. It has been a big hit with vegans and non-vegans alike – definitely a keeper!

3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 c sugar
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c coconut oil (or double the canola oil)
2 Tbsp no-sugar-added applesauce
1 1/2 c unsweetened almond or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix sugar, oils, applesauce, milk, and extracts. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt. Add flour mixture slowly, stirring. Stir in vinegar. Cake batter will be thick. Line the bottoms of two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans with wax paper and grease the sides. Pour cake batter evenly into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cake sit in pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on wire rack. When completely cool, cover bottom layer with frosting/almond/coconut mixture, then put other layer on top. Frost.

2 sticks Earth Balance margarine, softened
2-3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c dark cocoa powder
1/4 tsp almond extract
sliced almonds and coconut for garnish

1/3 of frosting
1/3 c sliced almonds
1 c flaked coconut


Chocolate Almond Toffee (vegan!) February 26, 2012

Filed under: Candy,Chocolate! — vegincowcountry @ 12:26 pm

One of my favorite candy bars has always been a Heath bar, or a Skor bar. They’re pretty much the same thing, a layer of toffee with a few pieces of almonds mixed in, dipped in chocolate. I find it very hard to resist big broken chunks of toffee with a chocolate bottom and nuts on top at a candy store, too… Even though I know that toffee is (usually) made with butter. I love my Earth Balance, I make fantastic, fudgy chocolate frosting with it (among other things), but I was skeptical about using it to make something as decadent as toffee. Would the flavor hold up or would it separate into oil and water, like most margarine? I’m now a believer that Earth Balance can be used to make candy — it held up perfectly!

Toffee is really so simple to make that it’s hard to believe I never tried it before! No candy thermometer required here — just watch the clock and stir, stir, stir!

Note: Do NOT stop stirring, even for a few seconds! In the middle of making my second batch, I took the pot off the heat and ran across the room to pick up the phone. I was gone less than 30 seconds, and that sucker burned. 😦 I ended up with a slimy, nasty, burned-tasting mess. So don’t do what I did!!!

Some recipes (vegan and non-vegan) I’ve seen for toffee state that you absolutely must have a nonstick pan for this. I don’t use nonstick, but that wasn’t a problem at all. This recipe doesn’t make a whole lot, but I would guess that smaller batches are easier to handle as far as stirring and pouring over the nuts.

Chocolate Almond Toffee

1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance margarine

1/2 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

1/2-1 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare a metal 8″ cake pan or a loaf pan (I used a loaf pan) by spreading sliced almonds on the bottom, covering it entirely with one layer of nuts. This is where you will pour the melted toffee mixture when it has cooked long enough to melt the sugar. Using a metal pan will make it easier to get the toffee out once it has hardened.

Melt Earth Balance over medium heat; when half-melted, add sugar and salt. Stir. When mixture reaches the almost-boiling point, start timing 7 minutes. Stir for 7 minutes over medium heat. Pour into pan on top of sliced almonds in a back-and-forth manner, spreading the toffee evenly over the nuts. You can’t really go back and spread this with a spoon, so pour it evenly. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and leave it alone for a few minutes.

Spread the now-melted chocolate chips over the toffee with the back of a spoon. Let harden, then turn pan upside down on a cookie sheet or cutting board. When toffee is out of the pan, use the tip of a knife to break it into chunks.


Vegan Chocolate Tofu Pudding February 1, 2012

Filed under: Chocolate!,Comfort Food — vegincowcountry @ 4:14 pm
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This chocolate pudding is thick and decadent, almost more of a vegan mousse than a pudding. It sets up easily and is so pretty in individual serving dishes.

Asian markets have silken tofu (actually, any kind of tofu) at a much better price than mainstream grocery stores. Mori-Nu is a great brand that is often also available at mainstream grocery stores. For dairy-free chocolate chips, try Trader Joe’s or Ghirardelli semi-sweet.

Vegan Chocolate Tofu Pudding

1 box silken tofu, firm or extra-firm (12.3 ounces)

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. Put all ingredients into blender or food processor and mix until well-blended. Spoon into individual serving dishes and chill for 1 hour. Serve with chopped nuts or sliced bananas for garnish.


A Christmas Eve Tea Party December 26, 2011

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate!,Comfort Food,Entertaining,Holidays — vegincowcountry @ 9:54 am
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My mother, Pat ( took these photos – she has a nice camera and actual talent in photography! Her specialties are “tablescapes” – but only while the garden isn’t blooming. This was our family’s Christmas Eve Tea Party, at my place.

I set the table, and Mom was nice enough to forbear comment upon my use of (horrors!) paper napkins and a slightly wrinkled tablecloth (I don’t own cloth napkins, and I absolutely refuse to iron anything). Hey, when the cook also sets the table, certain shortcuts must be made (especially if the cook has to find time to smear a little makeup on and do something with her limp hair in order to pose for family photos)!

This dessert platter was my pièce de résistance – mini chocolate cupcakes (Crazy Chocolate Cake: and Lemon Bars (from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking). Tiered platter scavenged from Mom’s extensive collection of garage sale and Goodwill bargains, of which she is very proud. 🙂

Sometimes the simplest treats like fresh berries and orange quarters can compliment a meal perfectly. Mom contributed the floral arrangement – and Sister insisted on the bow, which sets it off great. I’ll have a hard time returning that cute little silver vase, but something tells me Mom will insist…

Dishes are Winterberry by Pfaltzgraff.

Sandwiches, clockwise from bottom left:

* Tomato-avocado-and-Vegenaise

* Ham and swiss (I wore gloves to prepare these – a sacrifice, yes, but believe me, a necessary one. Those sandwiches kept the peace.)

Combined platter on the right:

* Chickpea salad

* Cashew “goat cheese” with apricot preserves (Cashew goat cheese:

My sister the confirmed carnivore surprisingly declared her favorite to be chickpea salad!

(Note to self: never, EVER use cocktail bread again. It’s DRY. Find a bakery that will slice thin bread the day of or use English muffin wedges, as on the avocado-and-tomato sandwiches.)


Thanks, Mom!

Hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas also!

Lemon Bars

From Colleen Patrick-Goudeau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking


1/2 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


1/2 cup silken tofu (soft or firm)

1 cup granulated sugar

Zest from 2 lemons

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons) [I had big lemons and got 1/3 cup out of one]

2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch [I doubled to 4 Tbsp, as per some online comments, and it set up perfectly]

Confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan with canola oil (or use a cooking spray) and sprinkle with just a light dusting of all-purpose flour

3. To make the crust, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the flour, and beat until the dough just comes together

4. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned

5. Remove crust from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling

6. To make the filling, blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until creamy, about 1 minute

7. Add the granulated sugar to the tofu, and blend until nice and smooth [I burned up the motor in my blender earlier in the day making cashew cheese, so used an electric hand mixer with great results]

8. Blend in the lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, and cornstarch

9. Pour the filling over the baked shortbread crust and bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is set

10. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool – if the filling isn’t completely set, it will set as it cools

11. To serve, cut into squares or bars and dust with the sifted confectioners’ sugar

Chickpea Salad

1 can or equivalent amount chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 – 3/4 cup Vegenaise

2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish

1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

4-5 green onions, sliced

diced celery, optional

smoked paprika, optional

Chop chickpeas roughly, with a knife or food chopper. Add Vegenaise to desired creaminess, then add relish, mustard, spices, green onions, and other optional ingredients. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Eat on a sandwich or with crackers.


These are a few of my favorite things… Junk food! December 8, 2011

Filed under: Chocolate!,Comfort Food,Convenience — vegincowcountry @ 7:51 pm

*Photos are not mine

1. Oreos

Oreos are vegan! Growing up, Mom bought Hydrox, which are basically the same thing. Unfortunately, Sunshine no longer makes Hydrox, so we make due with Oreos. Definitely not health food, containing high fructose corn syrup and no doubt other fattening, not-good-for-you stuff, but we’ll ignore that when we get a craving — the important thing is no animal products! I prefer the Double Stuf variety — apparently, so does my cat. One day I came home for lunch, and apparently Matilda the cat didn’t expect me – she was lying on the living room floor with the package of Oreos, having chewed it open and was in the middle of a cookie. Being a cat, of course, she didn’t look the least bit guilty. If you like to dip your Oreos in… something, almond milk is just as good as dairy milk!

2. Krispy Kreme Glazed Cherry Pie

Krispy Kreme fruit pies are vegan! Though the word “pie” is a slight exaggeration for a lump of cherry pie filling (more filling than cherries) covered by a stale-tasting crust with a sugar glaze on top… Yum… I used to love Hostess’ cherry pie! Hostess contains lard, though, so finding that Krispy Kreme makes basically the same thing was a happy surprise. The sugar glaze really is the best part. 

3. Kettle-Cooked Mesquite BBQ Potato Chips

They have to be kettle-cooked, that’s mandatory, though the brand doesn’t really matter. The crunchier, the better! (Be wary of Lay’s Baked BBQ chips, not just because they are baked, but because they contain chicken fat – how’s that for weird??)

4. Taco Bell

I love Taco Bell. I mean really, really love Taco Bell… Since their rice and beans are both vegan, and they will substitute beans for meat in any menu item (no charge), they’re vegetarian/vegan-friendly. My favorites are the 7-Layer Burrito, pictured above (minus the sour cream and cheese), and bean burritos “fresco style” — which means they add pico instead of cheese and sour cream.  (FYI, their sour cream contains gelatin.)

5. Go Max Go Mahalo Candy Bar

I looked long and hard for a vegan candy bar, especially one that would taste like my favorite, Almond Joy. Mahalo is my new favorite candy bar, and it is even better than an Almond Joy, trust me. Go Max Go has a whole line of vegan candy bars: I found mine at Whole Foods. I was so thrilled that I emailed the company, receiving a prompt response, thanking me for my compliments (and promising to look into making a vegan Heath bar – heh heh!)

6. Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Mini Chocolate Sandwiches

These things are seriously addictive. I mean it – when we got a Trader Joe’s in town, a friend told me I had to try these, but warned that they were almost TOO good. She was right. They’re considerably better than the Tofutti bars, in my humble opinion. I’m not an ice cream connoisseur by any means (I’d rather have chocolate cookies or cake most days) but  a good ice cream sandwich can really hit the spot. Maybe it’s time for another trip to TJ’s…

7. Burger King’s Veggie Burger

I had rarely eaten at Burger King before becoming a vegetarian, but when I learned they had a veggie burger, I became a loyal (if only occasional) customer. It’s a fast-food burger, not gourmet food, but as frozen veggie burgers go, this one is pretty darn good. Although it’s not vegan (contains egg whites and dairy), I consider it a great attempt by a fast food chain to offer something marginally healthy and vegetarian, so I reward them for it by spending a little money there. The fries are good, too (and not coated with animal fat, like some other chains).

I’m still looking for a good vegan chocolate-covered cherry – probably just not looking in the right places. But that’s what makes life fun, the hunt!

What’s your favorite vegetarian or vegan junk food splurge?


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies August 6, 2011

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate!,Comfort Food — vegincowcountry @ 9:35 am

This is another recipe that comes from my friends at Yahoo’s vegetarian_group. (Sometimes I don’t know exactly who contributed a recipe, so if this is yours, please contact me and let me know so I can give you credit!)

Non-dairy chocolate chips: Ghirardelli and Trader Joe’s

1 cup softened Earth Balance margarine

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 ¼ cup flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine softened margarine, sugar, milk and vanilla. In separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add dry mixture to butter/sugar mixture. Add chocolate chips.

Bake 8-10 minutes.


Deep Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate! — vegincowcountry @ 9:13 am

When I experimented with these, adding cocoa powder and walnuts to a favorite recipe, and removing other ingredients, I took a photo for Facebook. A co-worker commented that she knew these were on their way into the office… Oops! No… I kept them for myself. I made some to share the next week, and they were a hit. The key to these is the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder, which I have found only at Wal-Mart.


1 c softened vegan margarine

1 c brown sugar

1/4 c milk of your choice (I prefer almond)

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 c Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder

2 1/4 c flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine sugar, margarine, milk and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add dry mixture to sugar/margarine mixture. Stir in walnuts. Drop in spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.


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