Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vegan Brigadeiros

Well, after 4 1/2 fretful hours, full of not bi, but trilingual curses, I FINALLY managed to invent the recipe for vegan brigadeiros!! It was so difficult because traditional brigadeiros, a Brazilian bon-bon like candy staple, are made with only a few ingredients, chocolate, butter, and condensed milk.

It took me AGES to condense my own vegan soymilk, but I did it! Booyeah! I must say the end product is just as tasty & complex (if not more so..) than the good-old fashioned favorites!

So, for all you brave souls who wish to create condensed vegan milk on your own... make sure you have several hours at hand. Otherwise, I found a cool-looking substitute that I have yet to try: Olvebra brand condensed soyamilk

However, there's something about accomplishing a time-consuming task like this recipe on your own. It makes you feel like you've created life! It's like they're my little delicious children! Granted, that is bordering on weird. But you couldn't pull the smile off my face for an hour, amigos!

I think next time I will try making the condensed soymilk in a slow-cooker and see how it turns out. Anyways, I used to looooove these treats before I became a vegan and I am so happy & proud to share the recipe with all of you!

Vegan Brigadeiros

3 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
6 tablespoons of vegan margarine
1/2 cup of vegan sugar
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
pinch salt
walnuts (traditionally they use chocolate sprinkles!)

1. Melt the margarine in a pan, adding the sugar. Stir consistently until the sugar is liquified.

2. Bring the soil milk to a boil and combine the margarine/sugar mixture with the soy milk. Add the pinch of salt.

3. Simmer mixture for several hours making sure to stir frequently so the bottom of the mixture does not burn. Use a wooden spoon. You want the boil to be a very, very gentle one. Keep the temperature low! This step may take up to 3-3 1/2 hours. I promise the results are well-worth the labor!

*Note: you will continually need to lower the temperature bit by bit as the soy milk condenses into a lesser and lesser volume.

**You will also see a "milk film" start to develop on top of the soy milk after a little while. This is a good sign, and also a sign that you should stay patient and keep simmering! (Patience seriously sucks, I know).

4. Eventually, depending on your cookware and the heat you are using, the mixture will condense to a definite thick pudding-like consistency (one that won't completely lose it's shape when you pick it up in your hands). Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is uniform. After you have achieve this pudding-like consistency, simmer very gently for approximately 15 more minutes and then let the mixture completely cool.

5. Take the completely cool mixture and heat it to high-heat on your stove very quickly. Stir constantly. Cook for 10 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon to keep it from burning. The mixture will look like it's starting to come apart, the oil bleeding out onto the pan. This is a good sign. Just keep mixing!

6. After you have done this, you should have an easy-to-mold blob of delicious condensed vegan milk and chocolate brigadeiro! Take it apart tiny bite-sized piece by tiny bite-sized piece, and pat them on a paper towel to remove excess margarine grease. Roll them through sprinkles to get the traditional effect (all I had were walnuts!). I find the walnuts add an appealing crunch to the smooth bon-bon texture.

7. They should be eaten right away or stored in the fridge to chill and enjoyed any time!


Once I get my hands on some of that cool Olvebra brand condensed soy milk, I will try out this recipe the easy-peasier way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vegan Pão de Queijo

An absolutely delicious Brazilian street food, pão de queijo is a Brazilian cheese puff/bread. They are, of course, made with cheese (usually parmesean). I tried to replicate the flavor as best I could! Traditionally, they are cooked with tapioca flour which makes for a very light texture. I didn't have any of this on hand, so I used a heavier garbanzo bean flour... it made for moist, cheesy, dense cookies. I think they'd be perfect with raspberry preseves.

Ps. pão de queijo is pronounced like (poh-jeh-kay-zjho). The more ya know!

Since the oven in my apartment gets to about 8,000 degrees, I YET AGAIN nearly burnt my fingers off despite buying new and adorable parrot-themed potholders. Damn you, oven, damn you.

Pão de Queijo
(literally "bread of cheese" or Brazilian Cheese Bread)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp salt
2 cups garbanzo bean flour (or tapioca flour)
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
2/3 cup vegan cheese (Daiya, or any other brand!)
dash cracked black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
egg replacer for 2 eggs

**Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Boil the olive oil, salt, water, and almond milk over the stove. Remove it immediately and add it to the flour mixture.

2. Stir in the garlic power, egg replacer, and cracker black pepper.

3. Add the nutrional yeast.

4. Fold in the vegan cheese.

5. Make small 1-inch circles and place onto an ungreased baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned. My oven was being whacky so I had to cook each side separately for about 8 minutes to get it browned without burning it. Sigh, my oven.

(My conscience is saying, AT LEAST YOU HAVE AN OVEN. So right.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Torticas de Morón

I finally got to make my torticas!!

Torticas de Morón are a Cuban speciality and are very popular in Cuban bakeries. Cuban cooking is a fusion of African, Carribean and Spanish cuisines, and so has a variety of immensely flavorful elements to draw from!

The predominant flavors of these cookies are lime, rum, and cinnamon. The non-vegan recipe calls for eggs and butter/lard, which I replaced with vegan-margarine and applesauce (to keep the cookies moist). They came out light and fluffy and aromatic... the perfect compliment to a bright sunny day and the red chilie & tomatillo tacos I made. Mmmmm...

Torticas de Morón
(small cakes from Morón)

3 cups flour
pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cups vegan sugar
1 4oz package of unsweetened applesauce
1 cup vegan margarine
3 tbsp lime zest
3 tsp rum extract (or regular rum if you have it around)
guava paste (a common Latin ingredient, it can usually be found in the Goya aisle)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix the flour, salt, baking power, and cinnamon together. Add the sugar, lime zest, lime juice, rum extract, softened butter, applesauce. Mix by hand once the dough starts to form.

3. Separate the dough into 3 sections, refridgerating the ones you aren't using.

4. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds (they should be about 1/3 of an inch thick). Line them up on parchment paper over the baking sheet. Parchment paper is AWESOME and requires little-to-no clean up. (Which is obviously why I use it).

5. Cut the guava paste into small pieces and press them into the tops of the cookies. Bake for 14 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned.

6. Lastly, let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy! I topped mine with powered sugar because Cuban desserts are supposed to be muyyyyy muyyyyyyyy dulce!

An important message

I would like to point out a comment made on my blog:

This is precisely the kind of attitude about veganism I am always trying to shirk off with my book & blog. For some, you can never be "vegan enough." I have no ill-will against this poster, but I'm using the comment as an important example. It is perfectly fine, if you have an interest in veganism or alternative cooking, that you do what you can when you can and not feel bad about not being able to conform to the impossible standards of the so-called "pure tier", the criterion of which is inevitably determined by unforgiving adherents to a certain dogma.

These people usually have the extraordinary means of supporting their lifestyle that many may not have the privilege of enjoying. It is perfectly fine to be fundamentalist about your beliefs (eating or otherwise!), so long as one does not assume all people have the same ability/financial means/goals as oneself. Not only is this criticism unfair to those trying do what they can, but it is also petty and does nothing to serve anyone's purpose- it alienates.

So, please! Keep the message of healthy eating alive and well. Be vegan because you WANT to be, and encorporate what elements of the lifestyle you can into your own life with positivity.


Vegan Zombie :)