Gingerbread cupcakes with lemony cream cheese frosting, topped with crystallized ginger.  From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  Sweet and spicy (like me, I hope).

At this point, I should be listing Isa Chandra Moskowitz as my emergency contact.  Buy her books!

Abandon passiveness

I usually double the spices in a recipe.  

Spice is the spice of life.  Fear no ginger, cayenne, nutmeg, paprika.  (Use caution with cloves.)

check out my lunch: whole wheat bagel + veganaise + mashed chickpeas + clover sprouts + tomato + vegan bacon 
sprouts make everything better

check out my lunch: whole wheat bagel + veganaise + mashed chickpeas + clover sprouts + tomato + vegan bacon 

sprouts make everything better

Pineapple Right-Side Up Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  Luscious and whimsical. 

Pineapple Right-Side Up Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  Luscious and whimsical. 

Chinese Five Spice Snickerdoodles (Vegan)
Snickerdoodles evoke joyful childhood memories, sure, but face it: they’re childish.  Greasy cookies with a cinnamon sugar dusting?  We can do better.  This Chinese five spice version is an exotic (or snobby) adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Chai Spice Snickerdoodles.  Chinese five spice sneaks its way into both batter and topping, resulting in a sophisticated cookie that simultaneously transports you to the Far East and to the buttery years of youth.  How cultured you’ve become!

Topping ingredients:
Scant ¼ cup organic granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice   
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cookie ingredients:
½ cup canola oil
¾ cup organic granulated sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup AP and 1 cup white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Mix together topping ingredients on a plate.  Using a fork, vigorously mix oil, sugar, maple syrup, and milk in a medium bowl, then add vanilla.  Sift flour, baking soda, salt, five spice, and cinnamon.  Mix until a dough comes together (don’t be afraid to use your hands).  Roll dough into balls (ping-pong sized) and press into topping, forming discs about 2 inches in diameter.  Place on cookie sheets, 2 inches apart, and bake for 10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 

Chinese Five Spice Snickerdoodles (Vegan)

Snickerdoodles evoke joyful childhood memories, sure, but face it: they’re childish.  Greasy cookies with a cinnamon sugar dusting?  We can do better.  This Chinese five spice version is an exotic (or snobby) adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Chai Spice Snickerdoodles.  Chinese five spice sneaks its way into both batter and topping, resulting in a sophisticated cookie that simultaneously transports you to the Far East and to the buttery years of youth.  How cultured you’ve become!

Topping ingredients:

Scant ¼ cup organic granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice  

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cookie ingredients:

½ cup canola oil

¾ cup organic granulated sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup AP and 1 cup white whole wheat)

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Mix together topping ingredients on a plate.  Using a fork, vigorously mix oil, sugar, maple syrup, and milk in a medium bowl, then add vanilla.  Sift flour, baking soda, salt, five spice, and cinnamon.  Mix until a dough comes together (don’t be afraid to use your hands).  Roll dough into balls (ping-pong sized) and press into topping, forming discs about 2 inches in diameter.  Place on cookie sheets, 2 inches apart, and bake for 10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 

"when you acknowledge as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy. that’s what cooking is all about."

— thomas keller

roasted golden beet + arugula + toasted pecans + warm maple dijon 

roasted golden beet + arugula + toasted pecans + warm maple dijon 

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Brownie
There might be no crying in baseball, but who says no pumpkin pie in May?  Courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen.  Recipe here.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Brownie

There might be no crying in baseball, but who says no pumpkin pie in May?  Courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen.  Recipe here.

Variations on a theme: Vegan Cherry Almond Brownie Bites
Adapted from Vegan Brownie Bites, original recipe courtesy of Erin McKenna.
Ingredients:
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup organic sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup canola oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup vegan chocolate chunks, preferably with almond pieces
fresh bing cherries, pitted and halved
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°F and lightly grease a mini muffin pan.  Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, and extracts.  Mix wet ingredients into dry until just smooth, then fold in chocolate chunks.  Fill muffin pan with a 1/2 tablespoon of batter per brownie, place a cherry half in each, then top with an additional 1/2 tablespoon batter.  Bake 13-15 minutes (I prefer underbaking for a more fudgy brownie).  Let brownies cool in pan for 15 minutes before turning onto wire rack. 

Variations on a theme: Vegan Cherry Almond Brownie Bites

Adapted from Vegan Brownie Bites, original recipe courtesy of Erin McKenna.

Ingredients:

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup organic sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup applesauce

¼ cup canola oil

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

½ cup vegan chocolate chunks, preferably with almond pieces

fresh bing cherries, pitted and halved

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F and lightly grease a mini muffin pan.  Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, and extracts.  Mix wet ingredients into dry until just smooth, then fold in chocolate chunks.  Fill muffin pan with a 1/2 tablespoon of batter per brownie, place a cherry half in each, then top with an additional 1/2 tablespoon batter.  Bake 13-15 minutes (I prefer underbaking for a more fudgy brownie).  Let brownies cool in pan for 15 minutes before turning onto wire rack. 

Spiced Pineapple Carrot Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting - Vegan

Fiery, sweet, and moist. Makes two 9” layers.  Recipe (without modifications noted below) here.

Leftover crushed pineapple from piña colada cupcakes left me no choice but to bake another exotic treat.  By doubling the recipe and supplementing the crushed pineapple with grated carrot, a 2-layer 9” cake was born.  Other modifications to the recipe: add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne for a noticeable kick, as well as 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (coated in flour) to boost texture and piquancy.  The baking time will vary depending on the moistness of your pineapple and carrot, but 30-35 minutes at 350°F should do it.