Monday, November 10, 2008

Baking for Better Spirits. Or, Yay! Winter!

So, winter is here.

Let us all respond with a resounding "Bleh."

It snowed today. It was bitterly cold with a wind that cut through my wool winter coat.

In fact, I was feeling rather disgruntled with the day in general - it was dark by the time I left work and I realized I bought boots that were of different sizes (Two whole sizes apart. C'mon, Target.).

I came home and decided to bake some delightful pumpkin muffins to console myself. As their warm spicy smell filled the air, I began to be suddenly delight in the oncoming chilly season. Instead of: "Gah. Stupid layers and gloves and bulky clothing," I thought, "Yay! Cozy evenings with hot chocolate and cute tight-boot-skirt ensembles and peppermint mochas!"

It's amazing how a little pumpkin muffin and some (Silk) eggnog can brighten my mood.

Here are two delightful fall recipes from my favorite cookbook, Vegan with Vengeance.

The Best Pumpkin Muffins
The quintessential flavor of fall, neatly packaged in a delicious muffin!

Yields 1 - 1 1/2 dozen

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix!)
1/2 cup milk - soy, rice, or cow
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup chopped walnuts [optional]

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin tins.

Mix dry and wet ingredients separately - pour the wet into the dry and mix.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. (I placed a walnut half on top of each muffin. Because I adore any kind of nuts.) Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Maple Walnut Cookies
If you are as in love with the taste of maple as I am, you will not be able to stop eating these moist, delicious cookies.

Yields 3 dozen

1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (try to avoid licking the measuring cup. fail.)
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons maple extract (Yum.)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk - rice, soy, or cow
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot or tapioca starch)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3 dozen walnut halves

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheets.

Combine the oil, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla and maple extracts, and sugar into a mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Add the milk and cornstarch and mix until cornstarch is dissolve and the mixture resembles caramel.

Add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix with a spoon until well combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Drop spoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Press a walnut half into the center of each cookie. Back for 8 to 10 minutes, remove from oven, let sit for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Doin' It Ashley-Style:
- I usually substitute applesauce for at least half the oil, keeps the fat down and you don't even realize!
- Whole wheat pastry flour is a beautiful thing - much healthier than refined flour, but with all the fluffiness you could want.
- Substitution is not a dirty word. No molasses? Try honey. Don't have all the spices for pumpkin muffins? Use some pumpkin pie spice. (Which I liberally put in ANYTHING - cookies, waffles, pancakes, banana bread. Oh so good.)


  1. I'm so hungry right now; can you please fedex to CA? :)
    I'm not vegan; however, I do use a lot of the substitutions you suggested, when I remember to :)

  2. Holy moly those sound good. I just got done making broccoli and "beef" stir fry. No tasty dessert to follow it, though. I WORSHIP Silk Nog. BEST IDEA EVER.

  3. It's been snowing here today too...blah! I'm really not ready for the cold/snowy weather yet!

  4. I want maple walnut cookies in my tummy asap! Not at alllll bragging, but winter in CA means finally getting to wear clothes with sleeves! So it's less depressing over here. But I do sometimes wish I could wear cute tight-boot-skirt-scarf ensembles without looking like a wannabe east coaster.

  5. It hasn't *really* snowed here yet, but it did sleet a bit yesterday. Yuck.

    Also, I want you to make me baked goods. Posthaste. Now that it's chilly, they'll last through the mail, really.

  6. We do a lot of the same things when baking! I substitute applesauce ALL the time. And those maple walnut cookies sound magical. Yum! I'm gonna have to try those.

    Boo for the snow this early, but you should send some of it down here. I haven't seen snow in AGES.

  7. Thank you for the applesauce idea! I've been trying to find healthy muffins, this is going to be a great one to try.

    And thank you for the Silk Egg Nog review, I was eying that one this weekend! = )

  8. I just found your blog, and I am pretty sure I am going to enjoy it, mostly because, as you do, I share an obscene addiction to Target.

  9. i love pumpkin muffins(so does brian) so I will have yto try this recipe... it looks like a good one! thanks :)

  10. Wow, snow already?!? I'm so not ready for it yet! Can't wait to try the yummy recipes out though :)

  11. MMMM these sound delish. I actually feel warmer just reading about them!

  12. 'The Best Pumpkin Muffins' are in my oven doing their very best to become what they are meant to be:) Thanks for sharing the recipes!

  13. Yummers! Those treats sound soooo good! So very festive! Thanks for sharing the recipes!

    Yay for tight-boot-skirt ensembles! Amd yay for having a positive attitude! Although I do hate how short the days are. boo.

  14. I've been wanting to try ww pastry flour, but I can't seem to find it anywhere! ITA about substitution. Instead of pumpkin pie spice, I swear by Pampered Chef's Cinnamon Plus. It's awesome. And would probably work well with your muffin recipes!

  15. these sound unbelievably insanely amazing. I am tucking them away for my Thanksgiving baking spree. Thank you thank you!


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