sweet

Vegan Chocolate Cake

A few months ago my little sister made every Italian mother's nightmare come true...she became a vegan! In the words of one of my favorite movies My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "What do you mean you don't eat no meat!?" Needless to say we all gave her a hard time. I mean whats a life without cheese, without that perfect runny egg yolk, without BUTTER!? We all thought it was a phase but hey this girl has been sticking to her guns! Since I love my sister oh so much I decided to surprise her with a special vegan dessert for her 20th birthday. Like the rest of the Marullo clan, Julia loves chocolate and her favorite dessert was always the Double Chocolate layer cake from Magnolia Bakery in NYC. After some research and the combining of a few good looking recipes I came up with the following recipe and let me tell you it is decadent, it is chocolatey, it is moist and you will not miss the dairy one bit! It tastes a lot like the Magnolia Bakery Cake but its vegan!

 

vegan cake.jpg

 

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

  • 2½ cups all-Purpose flour
  • 2½ cups white sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder (I like the Medaglia D'oro brand) (this is optional but truly enhances the chocolate flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 2⅔ cups Unsweetened Almond Milk (you can also use Soy)
  • ⅔ cups Canola oil (or vegetable)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients:

  • ½ cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening 
  • 1¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons Almond Milk (as needed)

Instructions
To Make the Cake: Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare two 8" round baking pans by lightly greasing them, and then cutting a circle of parchment paper to fit into the bottom. You can also use a 9 inch spring form pan and then careful cut the baked cake in half horizontally to fill it with icing but it will take more time to bake. This recipe will also work in sheet pans and cupcake tins! 
In a large bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients, then set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together all of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Don't over mix. Divide the batter into the prepared pans, then place them in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Buttercream Frosting: Use a mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand blender and whip the vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add all the rest of the ingredients except for the Almond Milk. Blend until whipped and creamy. If the frosting is a bit too stiff, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Almond milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble the Cake: Run a knife around the edges of the cake pans, and flip the pans over to remove the cakes. Remove the parchment paper and discard. Place the first cake on your cake plate, and spread about half of the frosting on top. Place the second cake on top of the frosted cake, and spread the remaining frosting on top of that cake. Add sprinkles or Dairy Free Chocolate Chips around the perimeter to add a little pizzaz!  Store the cake in the fridge or a cool place until you are ready to serve. Serve at room temp! 

 

Peach Galette

It is Stone Fruit month at the Farmer's Market! My favorite fruit in the entire world is peaches..I mean come on, fleshy, sweet, juicy, colorful..DEEELISH! Now that we are at the peak of the season for peaches, plums and apricots, it was time to make a pie.  Now this is not any pie, this is a galette which is essentially a buttery, flaky pie dough that you fold around fresh fruits...no pie pan or tart mold needed! Once you get the hand of this simple dough recipe, you can stuff anything your heart desires inside, based on what is in season.  At the start of the summer you can do strawberries and rhubarb, in the middle of the summer you can do blueberries and in the Fall you can do Apples.  When you take a few extra minutes to nicely arrange the fruit in an elegant pattern inside the dough, you are left with a work of art! Top this warm galette with your favorite flavor of gelato like vanilla, strawberry, or even something unique like green tea and enjoy! For more culinary inspiration follow me on @Gotroomformore !

Filling:

  1. 3-4 medium Peaches, ripe but not overly ripe
  2. ¼ cup sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  4. ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  5. ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 Tbsp butter

Crust:

  1. 1¼ cup flour 
  2. 1½ tsp sugar
  3. 1/3 tsp salt
  4. 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter 
  5. 4 to 6 Tbsp ice water
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract (optional)
  7. 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  8. 1 egg
  9. A Sprinkling of sugar in the raw (large granule sugar) and cinnamon for the crust
  10. 1 Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar

Steps: 

  1. In a large food processor with the blade attachment or in a bowl by hand, pulse 1¼ cups flour, 1½ tsp sugar and ½ tsp salt 
  2. Cut cold butter into small (1/2-inch) cubes and add it to the food processor. If doing it by hand use a pastry cutter or two butter knives and cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas. If using the food processor, push the pulse button 8 times until the butter is pea size. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the ice water  and add 1 Tbsp at a time to the flour mixture and pulse between each addition. If doing by hand just stir together with a fork until you see the dough is starting to come together. Your dough should be ready when it just begins to clump. It should take about 4-6 tablespoons of water.
  3. Form the dough into a disk. Don’t overwork it with your hands because the texture of the dough will get tough.  Just pat it into a disk shape, dust with flour on all sides and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  5. In a small bowl, beat the egg and set aside.
  6. Slice peaches into ½″ thick slices. Place peaches in a bowl and sprinkle with flour, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir gently being careful not to break up the peaches. 
  7. In between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough into a 12″ circle. Place the parchment paper and dough into a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the top piece of parchment. 
  8. Arrange the peaches in circles over the dough working from the outside in. Leave a 1.5″ to 2″ dough border. Discard any excess juices from the peaches, or your galette may overflow. Dot the top of the peaches with small chunks of 1 Tablespoon of  butter and sprinkle the top of the peaches with the 1 Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar. 
  9. Fold the edges of the gallette up and over the peaches, pinching the overlapping edges together to form a nice seal. If there are any tiny holes patch them up with dough. Brush the crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar in the raw.  Bake for 18-22 minutes until the crust is golden brown on the sides and the bottom. Let sit 15 minutes before serving. Serve with you favorite vanilla ice cream..or even green tea ice cream is fabulous with this too!

Sweet Arancini- Fried Rice Pudding Balls


One year ago I was on the beautiful island of Sicily with my big, loud, Italian family.  There are many dishes that are specific to the Sicilian culture that I grew up eating, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the “real thing.”  Canolis, Eggplant Caponata, Cassata Cake, Fig Cookies and of course Arancini.  Arancini are a popular street food in Sicily, so common that you can even purchase them at a gas station convenience store. Arancini are these dense, creamy, cheesy, fried rice balls that are often stuffed with things like ham, peas, ground beef and tomato sauce.  The Sicilians make these so well, that even when you purchase them from a sketchy “mini-mart” chances are they are still going to be down right delicioso.  I decided to reinvent Arancini and combine them with another classic rice dish, Rice Pudding.  My Sweet Arancini are crunchy, creamy bundles of gooey, rice pudding, coated in a blanket of delicious graham cracker crumbs and fried to perfection.  These bella balls are not complete without their silky, tangy Apricot and Peach dipping sauce.  Make these for your next soiree and I promise you everyone will not be able to take their hands off your rice balls.

 

 Ingredients-

  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1 cup  Arborio rice
  3. 2 1/2 cups whole milk (you can use any milk but whole works the best)
  4. 1/4 cup sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  6. 1 egg
  7. Dash of Cinnamon
  8. Pinch of Nutmeg
  9. 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  11. 2-3 eggs beaten
  12. 1 1/2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs- you may use a little less or more (you can buy the crumbs in a box in the baking isle or by the breadcrumbs or just crush plain graham crackers in a food processor)
  13. Canola Oil or Peanut Oil for frying
  14. Confectioners sugar for dusting

 Apricot Peach Dipping sauce-

Ingredients-

  1.  1 Cup Peach Preserves (jam)
  2. 3 Fresh Ripe Apricots (you can use any fruit you like!)
  3. 1 Tablespoon Butter

 Steps-

  1. First make the dipping sauce. Remove the pits from the apricots and chop the flesh into small chunks.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the chopped fruit. Cook down on low heat until some of the juices release from the fruits.
  3. Add the peach preserves and melt down until it thins out and becomes a sauce consistency. You may need to add some water if it is too thick. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use.  If the sauce gets too thick just add a little water and heat it up in a pot or the microwave for a few seconds until it is warm and thins out.

 Rice Balls-

Steps-

  1. In a medium pot, bring the water and rice to a boil. Stir, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the rice is tender. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. Add the egg and vanilla and combine with a whisk. Gradually pour this mixture into the rice pudding and cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, or until the rice thickens and becomes very sticky like risotto.
  3. Spread the rice in a baking pan or loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until completely chilled.  This is a great thing to make the day before!  You want the texture to be very thick and gelatinous so you can form balls easily.
  4. Next, preheat the canola oil in the deep fryer on high temperature. Set a wire rack and paper towels aside.
  5. Place the flour, eggs, and graham cracker crumbs in three separate bowls. Set aside.
  6. With your hands, shape each ball of the rice pudding.  You want them to be a little bigger than ping-pong balls, but you can make them as big or as small as you like!  A small 1 1/2 inch ice cream/cookie scoop works well too! When doing them by hand flour your hands to prevent the rice from sticking to you. You can also stuff them with any sweet treat you would like if you wanted!
  7. Dredge the balls in flour and shake to remove any excess. Dip them in eggs and drain. Coat with the graham cracker crumbs.
  8. Fry the pudding balls, a few at a time until they are nicely browned and have a nice crunchy outside, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on the baking sheet and paper towels and continue with the remaining balls.
  9. Dust the rice balls with powdered sugar and serve slightly warm with the apricot peach dipping sauce!