Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

You are King Midas.
You have the power to turn everything around you to gold. 
You are a wonderfully gifted and eternally beautiful person, 
And I thank the winds every time I think of you.
•     •     •

Thom‘s words of wisdom during a time when I felt as though my entire world was crumbling beneath my feet. If your world is crumbling (or even if it’s not), just remember – you are King Midas.

Let’s turn everything to gold.

Pretzel sticks
Pretzel flour
Creamy peanut butta
Mini chocolate chips
Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookie dough
Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

Notes: Cookies can be made gluten free by replacing the flour with a gluten free flour blend + 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum and the pretzels with gluten free pretzels. If you prefer your cookies light and fluffy (opposed to thin and chewy), don’t smash the cookies with a fork – lightly flatten them with the palm of your hand. I use Jif natural peanut butter in this recipe because it’s really fucking delicious – but if you’re opposed to the company, use a different natural peanut butter. Just make sure it’s smooth and creamy. SERIOUSLY. If you want to replace the shortening with vegan butter, that will work – but the cookies will be a bit more oily. Also, someone try this recipe with salty potato chip crumbs and let me know how it turns out. Or graham crackers. Oh, and to make finely ground pretzel crumbs, simply blend pretzels in a food processor for 1-2 minutes – tada!
SALTED CHOCOLATE-PRETZEL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup sucanat
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg
2 tbsp non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup finely ground pretzel crumbs
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt
, for topping

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla extract using a hand mixer on high speed for one minute. Add the flax egg and milk; beat until incorporated. Stir in the salt, baking soda, flour, and pretzel crumbs with a wooden spoon; mix until combined then stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and flatten with a fork. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Chill baking sheets in freezer for at least 15 minutes – this helps the cookies retain their shape, so don’t skip it. Bake at 350˚F for 10-12 minutes (one sheet at a time). Transfer to wire rack to cool then store in an air tight container. Will keep for up to three days.

*Frozen cookies can be stored in the freezer and baked as needed.

Yield: about 30 cookies

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Yellow cake with creamy chocolate frosting | a birthday cake

Birthday cake

Two weekends ago we celebrated a birthday. My birthday. A quarter of a century birthday. There was an intimate dinner with my favorite man at my favorite restaurant, a party with all of my favorite people, and one of my favorite bands – Sigur Rós – in the flesh. It was a soul soothing three day stretch that I will carry deep in my heart for the next 12 months. And then I’m sure there will be another celebration of epic proportions because, as it turns out, my people know how to have a good time.

Despite the streak of awesomeness that accompanied my special day, it wouldn’t have been a birthday celebration without cake (or pie, if you’re Thom). So I’m here to share the recipe for the best (seriously) (no, really) vegan yellow cake with chocolate frosting – and if you’re skeptical, I’ve got about 20 people who can back me up on that claim. I’m also here to tell you about HOW AWESOME IT IS when you finally work up the courage to get all of your random groups of friends together in 400 square feet of living space; the entrepreneurs, the ones who just moved from Ohio, the feminists, the ones who don’t drink, the bacon eaters, the ones with big people jobs, the ones who don’t have jobs – you get the picture. For a long time I hesitated amalgamating all of these people because, well, it seemed like a recipe for disaster. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of disasters.

Icelandic sprinkles
Perfect round top
Frosting in the making
We be icin'
Birthday cake
Birthday cake
Birthday cake

Except on my birthday, apparently. Because when it came time to send the invites (and by invites I mean create an event on that one social networking site on which we all spend too much of our precious time) I said fuck it – it’s my party and although it’s likely the only thing a lot of them will have in common is the fact that they’re friends with me (I’m happy to report this was disproven the night of my party), I couldn’t imagine celebrating my birthday without the feminists and the bacon eaters and all of my other favorite people. So we crammed about 20 of them into our living room and devoured cake and ice cream, and drank too much whiskey – and some of them hung around until 3 in the morning before the birthday girl decided it was time for bed because OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WAKE UP IN THREE HOURS. And I did. Without a hangover, even.

I trucked through the final day of celebration just fine until about 8PM when we settled into our seats at the show. After 30 minutes of waiting patiently, Sigur Rós came on and the voice of one thousand angels sang me into a 15 minute slumber. Which leads me to believe that maybe the secret to getting tiny humans to sleep is to play them ambient post rock instead of lullabies. Because if that shit can knock out a grown woman – upright in an uncomfortable plastic chair, at a concert – I’m pretty sure it’ll soothe a milk drunk babe into evening hibernation.

Parents, play your little ones Sigur Rós at bedtime and let me know if my hypothesis is correct.

And since I have you here – with cake – I figured now is the appropriate time to do a little shameless self promotion because HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW BADGE IN MY SIDEBAR? SAVEUR nominated this little site as one of the Best Special Diets Blogs of 2013, and if you have the time to register (it literally takes one minute) and vote before Friday 19 April, I’d kinda sorta love you. I’m up against some pretty big names so, even if Oh, Ladycakes doesn’t reign victorious, I’m just stoked to be nominated among some of my favorites. I mean, what a super awesome kickass honor.

Notes: Recipe can be double to make two 8-9″ cake layers. The recipe below makes one 8-9″ layer or two 6″ layers. If doubling the recipe to make 8-9″ layers, you’ll need to bake the cake for upwards of 30 minutes. Maybe a few minutes longer. If you don’t have cake flour, sift together 1 1/4 cups and 1 tablespoon unbleached flour + 3 tablespoons potato starch. You’ll need to sift the mixture several times before using it. If baking cupcakes, add 1/4 cup of batter to each liner and bake for 16-20 minutes. If you want a bit more rise out of your cupcakes, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder (I stick on the lower end for cakes because I don’t like leveling). Using turmeric as coloring is kind of tricky – if your turmeric isn’t superfine, it’s not going to be a good route to take for food coloring, so just skip it. 

YELLOW BIRTHDAY CAKE WITH CREAMY CHOCOLATE FROSTING

Cake
1 cup minus 1 tbsp non-GMO soy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups unbleached cake flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Small pinch ground turmeric, for color
3/4 cup cane sugar
6 tbsp non-GMO canola oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract

Frosting
1 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered cane sugar
3/4 cup cacao powder

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two 6″ spring form pans with parchment paper; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar; set aside for 10 minutes. In another small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, starch, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and turmeric; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, and extracts. When the buttermilk has formed, alternate between mixing the flour and buttermilk into the sugar mixture in halves. Add the flour first, then the buttermilk. Once all of the flour has been added (but you’re still left with 1/2 of the buttermilk) whisk the crap out of the mixture until most of the clumps have disappeared. (Don’t whisk too much or else you’ll overwork the gluten.) Whisk in the remaining buttermilk.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake at 350˚F for 24-26 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Once the layers have cooled, cover with plastic and refrigerate until you’re ready to frost (cold cakes are easier to frost).
While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting by creaming the butter, shortening, milk, and vanilla extract on high speed until fluffy. Sift in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until fluffy. If you’re going to pipe the frosting on the cake, you’re going to want something a bit thicker. If you’re just going to spread it on, add a tablespoon or two of non-dairy milk and beat until fluffy. Cover the frosting until ready to use.
To ice the cake, line a cake stand (or plate) with four pieces of parchment paper that overlap at the ends; set aside. Remove the cake layers from the freezer (level if needed) and place one of the layers in the middle of the prepared cake stand. Spread 1/2 cup of frosting onto the top of the cake, then sandwich with the second layer. Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting on the top of the cake and smooth it out to cover the cake with a light crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for 45 minutes, until the frosting is solid. Once solid, spread the remaining frosting onto the cake. I like to do a second coat, covering the cake completely, then I refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Once the icing is hard, I use the remaining frosting to cover the cake and use the back of a spoon to create the appearance of a messy cake. Cover cake with plastic until ready to consume. Cake will keep for 3-4 days.

Yield: 6-8 slices

Raw lemon goji berry bites

Raw lemon goji berry bites

Today marks 90 days until a jet plane carries us across the Atlantic and drops us in Europe until the middle of November. Which means I only have three months to prepare myself for the period of time where life isn’t going to be as comfy and effortless as it is right here in Denver, Colorado. In my cozy loft, in the heart of downtown, with enormous windows and a killer nighttime view and the best burritos in town within walking distance. 1/2 block walking distance. I’ve been weaning myself off of the gym and green smoothies, and have been trying my best to whittle down the pile of crap I want to take to a sensible amount I need to take. I’m anxious, can you tell? I just need these next three months to fly by without a hitch, because it’s hard to concentrate when you have something this big looming on the horizon.

So, for the next 90 days I’m going to be constantly reminding myself that in the very near future I’m not going to be able to eat my typical vegetable heavy diet or wash my hair with my favorite shampoo, just because I like the way it calms my natural waves. I won’t be seeing familiar faces, spending early mornings lifting heavy things, or keeping up with the demands of taking a bunch of vitamins I don’t really know if I need, but I swear make me feel better. I’m trying to prepare myself for the fact that I’m going to be showering in flip flops, sharing rooms with strangers, and eating a bunch of food I probably wouldn’t touch if we were still in Denver (pizza marinara, I can’t wait to get my hands on you). But despite any impending difficulties or metaphorical bumps in the road or having frizzy hair every single day of the trip, I think I’m going to experience four of the most spontaneous and adventurous months of my life. Europe, I can’t wait to see you.

Meyer lemons
Goji berries
Raw lemon goji berry ingredients
Raw lemon goji berry bites
Raw lemon goji berry bites

Notes: If you’d prefer to use cashews in place of almonds, knock yourself out. I haven’t tried any other type of nut so I can’t recommend anything else. The goji berries can be replaced with any dried berry; cranberries, acai berries, etc. Cherries would probably work well, too. Whole Foods sells goji berries in their bulk section, and a half a cup ran me about $3.
RAW LEMON GOJI BERRY BITES

2 cups raw almonds
Pinch of Himalayan salt
10 medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 15 minutes
Juice and zest of two meyer lemons
1/2 cup goji berries, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and lemon juice/zest; pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl and mix in the goji berries and coconut with a wooden spoon. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll into round balls, if desired. Freeze for 30 minutes then transfer to an air tight container. Will keep in freezer for several months but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Yield: about 85 bites