The Brellis House

 

Vegan Croissants: An Adventure

Posted on July 25th, 2014 by Dan

Friend: What do you know about making croissants?

Me: Hm, I don’t know. Not much. They’re hard.

This conversation between a friend and myself took place a few months ago. I knew croissants were layers of fat and dough and I had added them to my vegan bucket list after seeing VeganDad play around with puff pastry. But, at the time, I didn’t even know they were a yeasted dough, and certainly didn’t think I was ready for it.

Well, I’m here to tell you, croissants aren’t that difficult to make. Yes, even vegan ones. Like most breads (and food), they take patience and dedication to detail. If you try to rush croissants, you’ll end up with a flat, oily mess.

Vegan Croissants :: The Brellis House

I don’t feel a need to post step-by-step instructions, because the methods for making vegan croissants aren’t any different than non-vegan ones. I will share some tips that helped me and the recipes I used.

I learned more from baking several batches of croissants than I did from research or reading recipes. For starters, there seems to be two types of croissants: 1) sweet, buttery, chewy/gooey desserts or 2) fluffy, bready, robust, roll-like croissants. The former makes sense to serve with chocolate and fruit while the latter can hold it’s own being cut open and stuffed for sandwiches. I made batches of each.

For the dessert croissants, I relied on VeganBaking.net. I adapted the recipe (based on my research) and came up with a nice result, which I think would have been improved by a longer proofing after shaping. This recipe uses sugar, milk (non-dairy) and fat in the dough so it’s more enriched (softer) and sweeter.

Vegan Croissants :: The Brellis House

For the bready croissants, I used the recipe from Tartine Bread. I love this recipe because it utilizes overnight rests, uses a poolish and a sourdough leaven, has less sugar and no fat in the dough. I gave these plenty of time to proof before baking and so they were oversized and lovely.

Vegan Croissants :: The Brellis House

In both recipes I employed some chocolate layering in half. Though I haven’t looked into it, I have a hunch that the chocolate should be added during the folds of laminating the dough. However, due to lack of foresight, I simply slathered some melted chocolate onto the croissant before I rolled it up.

Recipe Adaptations

Adapted from VeganBaking.net for a half batch. For the dessert croissants:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbl active dry yeast
  • 5 oz warm soy milk
  • 4oz (approx 3/4 cup) bread flour
  • 2.8 oz (approx 1/2 cup) all purpose flour
  • 1 oz (approx 1/8 cup) white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 14 grams butter

I made the dough and butter block (5in square block) in the afternoon, did two turns in the evening and then refrigerated overnight. The next morning, I rolled out the dough and did two more turns then refrigerated for 5 hours. I then rolled it out again, cut and shaped them, let them rose for an hour and then baked for 15 mins at 375ºF.

For the bready croissants:

I used the recipe for the dough laid out in Tartine Bread, only substituting soy milk for the milk and again made a half batch.

As for the butter block, I had perfect success with using 100% Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, though I dabbled with various ratios of coconut oil and shortening and they worked equally well. For the egg wash, I had best success with using orange marmalade mixed with a little soy milk to thin it out.

Valentine Doughnuts & Marshmallow Cream

Posted on February 7th, 2014 by Dan

Doughnuts are the best baked good to celebrate holidays, birthdays or any special day really. I have the fondest memories of my grandmother whipping up batches and batches of doughnuts for Fat Tuesday before Lent. She makes enough chocolate, cinnamon, jelly-filled and cream-filled flavors for all 7 of her sons and their families. I was actually able to get her recipe, but I found it doesn’t veganize as well as my go-to doughnut dough. Never-the-less, as a result, I have a sentimental part in my stomach for deep-friend dough on Fat Tuesday. Last year we were too busy to make doughnuts on Tuesday, so we had Susanna’s niece over to help celebrate Fat Thursday with doughnuts 🙂 (which, coincidentally  was Valentine’s Day).

We made up two varieties, a yeasted gluten-free dough from VeganDad. This is more of a cake style doughnut (pictured below). Still deep-fried, still risen with yeast.

Gluten-Free Valentine Doughnuts

The second style was with my aforementioned go-to doughnut dough. With these I was able to make filled doughnuts with a delicious marshmallow cream. Oh, it was so good. Some we added a little peanut butter into the cream too.

Vegan Doughnut Marshmallow Cream:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup tofutti cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ricemellow creme
  • 2 tsp smooth peanut butter (optional)

Methods

  • Mix everything together with an electric beater until fluffed and slightly runny.
  • Use a piping bag to fill the doughnuts, or poke a small hole into the doughnut and drizzle in the creme with a spoon.

Baked Chocolate Donuts

Posted on January 19th, 2014 by Susanna

Dan got a donut pan for Christmas- something I was pretty excited about since we can now decrease our fried food intake. I’ve had a hankering for regular old glazed chocolate donuts so we made them today. We used this recipe and just subbed the egg with a flax egg and milk with rice milk. Dan also decided to make a chocolate ganache topping. chocolate donuts chocolate donuts

They turned out pretty good but I think I’ll try a different recipe next time. They seemed a little too cakey and spongy.

Raspberry Chocolate Macarons

Posted on December 13th, 2013 by Dan

The Brellis House: Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheWe had such an overwhelming reception to our updated French Macaron recipe. We were featured in 9 Vegan & Decadent French Desserts by Care2.com and had a big boost of visitors from pinterest, tumblr, and findingvegan.com. Thanks to everyone who visited the site, made the macarons, and commented on the recipe.

The Brellis House: Rows of Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheI know, as a group of vegan bakers, we can perfect this recipe. I made this batch with my same base recipe (no lemon zest or yellow food coloring) and added a few drops of raspberry juice to the versawhip ‘egg whites’. The filling is a chocolate ganache left over from our Berger Cookies.

The Brellis House: Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheThese turned out beautifully, the pink shells and black chocolate contrast very nicely. To get rid of my hollow centers, I let them rest on the counter for 2 hours before baking and then baked them at 250°F for 25 minutes. This resulted in shells that mostly were not hollow, but still had porous centers. I have a few ideas to fix this, which I think comes from the batter being too thick- also this should help make a flatter, less puffed shell. Next time I think I’ll keep the 25 minute baking time at the lower temperature and try less almond meal/powdered sugar.

Let me know how your macarons are turning out and thanks for all your sharing & support!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted on October 13th, 2013 by Dan

I get most excited for the first pumpkins to mark the fall harvest. I bought two sugar pumpkins last week and used it all up in a week. Since we did such a great job canning tomatoes, I was hoping to do a lot of pumpkin preserving for the winter. However, I was disappointed in finding out that you can’t safely can pumpkin puree, though you can do pumpkin chunks, which I plan on trying.

The Brellis House :: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I immediately pureed my pumpkin, I had to find ways to use it all up (which wasn’t so hard). I made double batches of our pumpkin granola, delicious pumpkin cake (recipe to come), pumpkin red lentil curry, and these tasty cookies.

The cookies are soft and chewy with a hint of pumpkin and spice, though they probably could have taken more of each. The brown butter idea is from some similar recipes I found that used it to add flavor. Since Earth Balance doesn’t have as much lactic sugar as dairy butter, I added some Amaretto to add some toffee notes.

Makes 24 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
  • 1/4 tsp Amaretto (optional)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Vegg powder + 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups AP white flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Methods

  1. Brown the butter in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat and melt, stirring in the Amaretto. Let bubble for a few minutes (no more than 5) until a slight, but noticeable color change (light brown) and a nutty odor occurs.
  2. Add the now browned butter to a large bowl (or one of your stand mixer) and beat with the sugars. Add the Vegg powder and water and combine. Then add in the pumpkin puree, spices, vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Sift in the flours, cornstarch and baking soda and fold with a rubber spatula, then fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop tablespoon sized balls on a baking sheet (parchment or silpat) and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are browning (the tops will still seem soft, but they’ll firm up out of the oven).
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Vegan Strawberry Cannoli

Posted on July 15th, 2013 by Dan

What an adventure we’ve had with this one. I won’t lie, it’s a time intensive project, you need some patience and special equipment, but these vegan strawberry cannoli are delicious.

chocolate-dipped-cannoli-shells

strawberry-chocolate-cannoli

We got the shell molds from a local home and hardware store nearby, though you can buy them online at Bed, Beth & Beyond. We did a lot of research into making these, and have a result to prove it. In fact, we entered them into a dessert competition at a native berry festival and won the judges pick! This was exciting, especially since we were bitter last year after not winning with our blueberry doughnuts.

strawberry-cannoli

We had some problems with the shells at first, basically they expanded and puffed up in the oil, coming unraveled. However, after letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight and rolling out thinner, we didn’t have that problem again. Another thing that may help if you’re experiencing this problem is to dock (make holes in) the rounds before rolling them around the molds with a fork, like you would with a pie crust.

Ingredients

For the Shells:
7 oz all purpose flour
1 oz pastry flour
1 oz sugar
1 oz shortening
1 Tbl ground flax seed
2 Tbl water
1/4 tsp vegg powder (optional)
3.5 oz dry Marsala wine
pinch of salt
Neutral oil for frying                                                                                                                                                      

For the Ricotta:
8 oz well pressed extra firm tofu
3 Tbl canola oil
2 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl suagr
1/4 tsp yellow barley miso paste

For the Filling:
3/4 cup strawberry puree
2 Tbl cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
16 chopped strawberries
9 oz Ricotta (from recipe below)
zest of 1 lemon
8 oz cream cheese

Methods (shells):

  1. Make the egg by whisking the flax meal, water and vegg powder together, let sit a few minutes, then whisk again until thick.
  2. Sift the flours, sugar and salt together. Cut in the shortening till the flour is a fine, sandy mixture. Add the egg mixture and wine. Stir, adding just enough wine until you have hydrated all the flour and the dough is slightly sticky.
  3. Shape into a disk and tightly wrap in plastic wrap for 3 hours, or overnight**.
  4. Divide the dough in half, then roll out on a floured surface until very thin, about 1/16″ (I rolled it out until it was transparent and I could see the counter underneath)**.
  5. Fill your dutch oven or deep fry pot with at least 2″ of oil and bring it to 360-375°F.
  6. Cut with appropriate circles for your cannoli molds (we used 3″ diameter narrow mouth mason jar lids for our 5/8″ molds). Wrap around the molds and use some water to seal the edges**.
  7. Drop the cannoli into the oil and fry until it is golden brown, just about 1 minute. I used tongs to scootch them around so the cannoli wouldn’t burn on the bottom, or you could use a basket so they don’t sit on the bottom.
  8. Let cool on a drying rack and remove your molds. You can apparently store the shells in an air tight container for a month or two after they cool.

cannoli-shells

Methods (filling and assembly):

  1. Make the ricotta by combining all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth (it won’t be super smooth, but there shouldn’t be any big chunks of tofu).

    Tofu Ricotta

    Tofu Ricotta

  2. Now, take the strawberry puree and combine it with the cornstarch, cup of sugar and lemon juice and place in a saucepan. Whisk until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved, then heat, whisking constantly. First it will foam and bubble, then start to thicken. The idea is to simmer it down until it’s almost the consistency of jelly (not runny). If this is runny, your filling will be runny.
    strawberry-jelly
  3. Once the strawberry is thick and not runny, add in the chopped strawberries and let cool to room temperature.
    strawberry-tofu-ricotta
  4. Whisk the ricotta, lemon zest and cream cheese in a stand mixer or with electric beaters until combined and then fold in the strawberry mixture (if the strawberries got too thick to fold in, simply heat it up for a bit until it’s workable). You can decide how much you want to mix these together, but I like a mostly white filling with streaks of red (see photo).
  5. Use a pipping bag to fill both sides of a cannoli, then top with chocolate or powdered sugar. You can dip the cannoli shells in melted chocolate before filling as well.

Pumpkin Granola

Posted on October 28th, 2012 by Dan

We’ve been taking full advantage of pumpkins this year. We have been frequently making this granola and it’s been our breakfast almost every day for a few weeks. The recipe is adapted from Recipe Boy’s pumpkin granola. It’s great in milk or yogurt.

Ingredients

3 cups old fashioned (rolled) oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup pure (unsweetened) pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted pecans

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or use a nonstick baking sheet.

2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl (oats through salt). Mix the wet ingredients (syrup through vanilla) in a smaller bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then stir in the cranberries, pepitas, and pecans.

3. Spread the mixture out onto your baking sheet. Bake until golden- stirring halfway through baking- 20 minutes, then stir, then bake another 20 minutes. If it’s not quite golden and crisp, bake 5 to 10 minutes more. It will get crisper as it cools. Let it cool and mix in chocolate chips, and then store it in a covered container to nibble on for a couple of weeks.

pumpkin granola

Suess clearly approves!suess and pumpkin granola

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Posted on April 4th, 2012 by Dan

Yesterday was the first grass cutting of the year… awful. Our grass was clumpy and thick, which makes cutting it with a push-blade mower near impossible. Afterwards, I was craving some chocolate and peanut butter.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

These peanut butter cups were easy to make and relatively quick.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 10 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup puffed rice
  • 1/8 tsp salt (if using unsalted peanut butter)
  • 1 tbsp oil, preferably peanut oil
Method
  1. Heavily oil the inside of a muffin tin, but not so it’s dripping
  2. Melt the chocolate, salt and peanut butter in a double boiler until smooth
  3. Pour ~1/2 tbsp of chocolate in each muffin mold, just enough to cover the bottom
  4. Refrigerate or put in the freezer until hard (about 15 minutes)
  5. Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor (except for the oil) until well combined
  6. With the food processor running, slowly drip in the oil until the mixture clumps and sticks together
  7. Take the chocolate out of the fridge, roll 1 tbsp of the peanut butter mixture into a ball, flatten in a 1/4″ disc and place in the center of each muffin mold.
  8. Cover with the rest of the melted chocolate, tap on the counter to flatten out and then refrigerate or freeze until solid (about 30 minutes).
  9. To de-mold, simply flip the muffin tin upside-down onto the counter and tap the bottom.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

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Holiday Party

Posted on December 23rd, 2011 by Dan

We had a staff holiday party last week for my work. It was a time to be together, celebrate company and show everyone how delicious vegan food can be! I made three dishes, all of which were a big hit, and were the kind of foods where you don’t think whether or not its vegan.

Quinoa Salad

First up was a quinoa salad was raisins and chickpeas. I adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart, using raisins instead of currants, lemon juice for the orange juice and adding about a cup of chickpeas.

Kale SaladNext is my new favorite ‘go-to’ appetizer: the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad from 101 Cookbooks. I am convinced that this is the best (and possibly only) way to eat kale. I love the super healthiness of this dish, and the lemon and raw garlic give it a little kick of spicy. I simply omit the cheese and bread crumbs and its perfect. Make sure you let the kale sit in the dressing for a few minutes, or overnight, to allow it to soften up.

Chocolate Braided BabkaFinalement, the Cinnamon Chocolate Babka (braided). This vegan version is from VeganDad. Flaky, almost like a chocolate croissant. The cinnamon filling added an extra kick that was delicious.

I would highly recommend using any of these recipes as simple appetizers to your next party.