Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guest Post: Vegan Vanilla Almond Sandies

Please welcome Tiffany for my next guest post! She made these awesome vegan sandies for the holidays. Thanks, Tiffany, for the contribution! Remember, if you also want to guest post, please don't hesitate to contact me.

I don’t know about you guys, but this time of year I get the baking-bug. I rarely bake any other time of year, but with all the gatherings and celebrations these days I feel like I’m a baking machine! If you haven’t caught the baking-bug, you should force yourself to make these anyways, I promise you won’t regret it.

Now, I’ve cooked many a vegan recipe but never have I attempted to BAKE a vegan recipe. So anyone who equates ‘vegan’ with ‘super-complicated-and-probably-includes-ingredients-I-can’t-find-or-afford’, don’t. These are simple, and depending on how well stocked your kitchen is, you may have all of these ingredients on hand anyways. Another plus for vegan baking? You can eat all the cookie dough you want without fear of salmonella poisoning!!

To be honest, this is the second time I’ve made these cookies in the past few weeks. The first time was successful, but I learned a few things. So now, you guys get the super deluxe version of the recipe…make sure to read the tips/notes before you begin! This makes about 20 cookies and here's the original recipe, in case you're wondering.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Two (2) cups of flour
One (1) cup almond flour*
2/3 cup of powdered sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
One (1) cup of Earth Balance "butter"*
1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ (1) teaspoon of almond extract*
20 almonds

the oven to 350ยบ. Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Add flour,
almond flour, powdered sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn on the lowest setting until well-mixed.
Cube the Earth Balance (if using sticks). Add Earth Balance, vanilla extract and almond extract to the dry ingredients in the stand mixer bowl.
Turn the stand mixer on the 2nd or 3rd lowest speed and mix until the dough comes together into a ball. (Remember, be patient!)*
the dough onto the counter and roll into a log with about a 2” diameter.*
Cut the cookies about ½” thick and place on the baking sheet.
Press a whole almond into the center of each cookie.
Bake approximately 18-20 minutes.

--The original recipe notes using Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal; I however used my trusty Vitamix and ground fresh almonds myself. I assume a food processor would work just as well. I measure a cup of whole almonds then just grind them up & assume it’s the right amount (baking is an art, not a science! Err, wait…)
--Did you know Earth Balance comes in sticks like real butter? I didn’t. I’d recommend buying it in sticks because it’s easier to measure that way. However, if you are taking it out of a tub use the handy water displacement method: pull out a 2 cup measuring glass and fill with 1 cup cold water. Then, little by little add spoonful’s of Earth Balance until the water reached the 2-cup level. Simply pour off the water and you’ve got your 1 cup Earth Balance!

--The original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon almond extract. I did this the first time, but they were a little bland. This time I added 1 teaspoon almond extract and I think it made a world of difference!
--I wish I had taken a picture of the dough being mixed; I thought I had totally messed up as I watched the stand mixer mix this loose, floury dough. Turns out you just have to be patient, there IS enough moisture and the dough WILL come together. Patience is a virtue!
--If you want to make the dough ahead of time, you can wrap the dough log in saran wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. Then just move onto step 6 when you’re ready to bake!

Tiffany is a PhD student at Johns Hopkins who studies the Earth’s climate. Scientist turned chef? She likes to think so; much of her spare time is spent in the kitchen. Currently, she can be found reading the 7th Harry Potter book. That’s right, she’s a decade late to the Harry Potter train and is still getting over (SPOILER ALERT) Dumbledore’s death. If you’re interested in her thoughts on: riding MTA everyday, being a college student, eating & making food and life in Baltimore, then find her on Twitter @mrstiffsmith.