May 20, 2013

Baking Therapy--Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies: No dairy, egg, or nuts

I apologize for how quiet it's been around here.  May means both days and evenings are packed with various end-of-the-year activities and events that are fun and exhausting.  So even though it feels quiet out there, there's plenty going on around here.

Logan is finishing up his soccer season, Tristan is knee-deep into Little League playoffs, the kids are preparing for final rehearsals for their annual dance recital, and I am busy shuttling them around to all of these things.  I am looking forward to lazy summer beach and playground days, trips to the library and museum, and picnics and bike rides in the park; but before the reprieve of summer, there's still so much to do!

A few days ago, I was up all night with a migraine.  My headaches are the one thing that can slow me down.  My body is telling me to drink more water, eat regularly, get more sleep, and reduce the stress!  As moms, we know we frequently become last priority.  So the next day, I headed to the gym, then came home and decided to leave the messy house and piles of laundry alone--some baking therapy was what I needed!

I am always looking for a new and easy chocolate dessert recipe.  I love cookies in particular because they are easy to transport, package, and eat without too much fuss (if you have a four-year-old who only likes the frosting off of cupcakes, and two boys who don't like frosting at all, you know what I'm talking about).  They are perfect for bake sales, teacher's gifts, and cookie jar fillers.  And who doesn't like a good chocolate chip cookie?  Especially when it's a chocolate chocolate chip cookie, free of dairy, egg, and nuts.

I modified this Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from to make it egg and dairy free.  I feel like it would do well with a gluten-free flour mix, too.  Now if you have been really good at watching your diet in the hopes that your tropical vacation in a couple of weeks will include something remotely resembling a bathing suit (ahem...), you might want to forgo baking these cookies.  They're incredibly addicting, especially for the chocoholic.

Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies-- NO EGG, NO DAIRY, NO NUTS modified from's Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

1-1/4 cups Earth Balance

2 cups sugar

2 egg equivalent of Ener-G Egg Replacer (1 T. Ener-G plus 4 T. warm water, whisked together in a small bowl)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour (or gluten-free flour substitute)

3/4 cup cocoa (I use Ghiradelli Unsweetened Cocoa)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups chocolate chips (I use Trader Joe's Semi-Sweet Chips.  Try Enjoy Life mini chips or mega chunks for a variation)


1.  Cream together Earth Balance and sugar.  Add 2-egg equivalent of Ener-G Egg Replacer and vanilla extract.

2.  Stir in cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

3.  Add the flour and fold in the chocolate chips.

4.  Bake at 350 on parchment lined baking sheet for 8 - 9 minutes.

May 3, 2013

Pepita Fudge - full of indulgence but free of the top 8 allergens

Mother's Day, Father's Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, the end of the school spring there are many events when we celebrate and thank those who make a huge difference in the lives of our children.  I would love to pick out the perfect gifts that truly show how much I appreciate these special people in our lives but I seldom feel like I get it right.  (Oh, how I wish I could give and receive the gift of time!!)  What I have become accustomed to doing is giving a gift card and a homemade treat -- a way for the recipient to choose what is their perfect gift and a personal way for me to show some love.

Cookies are often my go-to gifts but sometimes it's nice to go a little different, a little more decadent.  And with the weather warming up in my part of the country in the 90s this week and last, it's nice to have a treat recipe that won't add 10 degrees on to an already sweltering kitchen.  I recently discovered a 5-minute vegan fudge recipe that fits the bill.   The recipe comes from Hannah Kaminsky, the amazingly talented (and young!) author of the dessert cookbook My Sweet Vegan.  It is a naturally dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, gluten-free recipe that I have adjusted to be free of soy, tree nuts, and peanuts as well!

My first batch of fudge using semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of pepitas
The recipe is so quick and easy, it almost feels like cheating!  As I am wont to do, I tweaked the recipe a bit to fit my tastes.  I cut down the sweetness by reducing the amount of powdered sugar.  I really wanted to decrease the sweetness even more but I know that a certain amount of powdered sugar is needed in order for the fudge to set properly.  In a second batch I substituted unsweetened baking chocolate for semisweet chocolate and sweetened cocoa -- sadly this is all I happened to have at the time -- with pretty good results.  It was hard to melt the baking chocolate and the fudge turned out a little softer but it still holds up pretty well.  I think unsweetened baking chocolate and a mix of unsweetened cocoa with a little bit more powdered sugar could work to achieve a less sweet, soft fudge but I am not positive.  I haven't tried it and we have quite a lot of fudge to get through before I'm ready to make a new batch!  (I will update this post once I try this but do let me know if you try it sooner!)  Instead of adding nuts to the fudge I added roasted pepitas, the edible part of pumpkin seeds. I like to include seeds to counter the sweetness and to add more texture to the fudge.

A perfect way to showcase your fudge and impress that special person in your life is to wrap the chocolates in a candy box.  I found cake slice boxes online at but you can also find them at your local crafts supply store.  Buy some mini-cupcake liners and some ribbon and you now have the makings of a fancy gift!

I thought about cutting the fudge into heart shapes but, really, why complicate things?  It's chocolate. C'mon.  We moms love delicious chocolate no matter what it looks like.  And, to dads who are braving the kitchen to make these treats: we moms will gladly take simple squares instead of an extra pile of cutters, knives, and dishes waiting by the sink to be washed.  (Of course, my husband would never do that to me...except for on Valentine's Day, oh maybe 15 years ago.)

Vegan fudge using 1/3 cup pepitas and baking chocolate instead of semisweet chips

Feel free to double this recipe for thicker chunks of fudge or triple it and pop it in a 13"x9" pan.

Chocolate Pepita Fudge
Adapted from Hannah Kaminsky's recipe from her vegan dessert book My Sweet Vegan

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
1 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips or 4 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate squares
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted pepitas
  1. Whisk together cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate chips (or baking chocolate) and dash of salt in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. In a separate small saucepan, cook coconut oil and coconut milk over low heat.  Stir to melt coconut oil.
  3. When the mixture just begins to bubble (it takes just a minute or two), turn off heat and remove from burner.  
  4. Add vanilla extract and a dash of salt to saucepan.
  5. Add dry mixture to saucepan.  Stir until mixture is melted and smooth.  You may have to try heat the mixture more to melt the baking chocolate.
  6. Stir in pepitas.  Then spread fudge in a greased or lined 8-inch square pan.  
  7. Cool the fudge completely on counter top.  When it is cool, refrigerate fudge for several hours to set.   Makes approximately 3 dozen 3/8-inch squares of fudge.  
  8. For thicker, roughly 3/4-inch fudge squares, simply double the recipe and set in an 8-inch square pan.
*If you are using unsweetened baker's chocolate in place of semisweet chocolate chips, you will need to add your baking squares with the coconut oil and coconut milk.  Heat mixture, stirring occasionally, until squares melt.

Raising kids -- especially kids with food allergies and other medical needs -- takes a village.  It is a weighty task that requires love, understanding, and patience.  No thank-you would be quite as powerful without the voices of our children to echo their appreciation for the work of their teachers, parents, caregivers, and advocates.  Be sure to allow time for your kids to make cards and pictures for that special person!  If your kids are feeling particularly inspired, check out some of our craft ideas for flowers, more flowers, cards, and flower cards.