Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chocolate Soufflé

Although it is a nice day outside it is quite cold for us, so we opted to stay inside today. We called grandma and grandpa in Brazil, saw them on the computer through the camera and ended up having fun in our own way.
Part of our fun today was making and eating these Chocolate Soufflé Cakes. They were warm and delicious, perfect for the cold weather. And they were so light and airy that I love the way I felt satisfied with a sweet treat without feeling I had an entire cake for dessert. Plus it makes just enough for the three of us and we don't have tons of leftovers, which I like since I do love to cook and experiment with different recipes quite regularly.
We all loved and totally agreed that this is certainly going to be repeated during the winter.
Really yummy!
I have had this recipe marked to try since it appeared in the magazine, in April... now, why did I wait so long to make it?????

Note: I used less sugar in this recipe (thought it would be too sweet as written) and both the husband and Matheus agreed it was perfectly sweet. Since I am a 70% dark chocolate girl I still found this a little on the sweet side, but I know that if I made it less sweet they would not enjoy it as much.
Anyway, just wanted to suggest that as you make this recipe give the soufflé base a taste and from there see how much more sugar you would like added to the egg whites, just so that you can control the sweetness to your taste.

Individual Chocolate Soufflé Cakes
(Adapted from Cooking Light, April 2007)

Cooking spray
9 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
4 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg white
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat 4 (6-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray; sprinkle each with 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar.
Combine 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until thickened and smooth. Spoon chocolate mixture into a medium bowl; cool 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
Place egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Add remaining 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Gently stir 1/4 of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon mixture into prepared dishes. Sharply tap dishes 2 or 3 times to level. Place dishes on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until puffy and set. Sprinkle each soufflé with 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.
(Recipe can be made to serve 2. Use 1 tablespoon flour and just half all other ingredients!!)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

At this time of the year we just cannot resist the many pumpkins we see around us. They are everywhere, decorating houses, in front of yards, grocery stores, and its many varieties just make the farmers market shine in an various tones of orange glow.
Every place you look a pumpkin pops out, and luckily we love this fruit a lot, so enjoying its flavors is definitely a pleasure for us!
We already made pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, and even a chicken in creamy sauce that I served inside a whole roasted pumpkin (very popular in Brazil, this dish is usually made with shrimp, but when you have chicken, it is chicken that you use!). But this year the star of the season for us were the Vegan Pumpkin Muffins, they were simply THE BEST! And yes, they do deserve the capital letters!
We liked it so much that I have made this recipe 4 times already, in little more than a month, and keep getting requests for it again.
The Husband declared it to be one of the best muffins yet, and Matheus just loved the pumpkin and chocolate in it. I loved the yummy pumpkin flavor, the texture, and the fact that it is completely whole grain.
Really, what is not to like about this one?! Plus it is vegan, which means there are no raw eggs and we can lick the bowl as much as we please - which Matheus and I love to do together! And this batter is goooood! :o)
I got this amazing recipe from the book "Vegan Lunch Box", which has been a wonderful source for me and Matheus to make creative and delicious lunches for him to take to school. The author also has a super nice website with the same name, vegan lunch box, that is absolutely worth checking out. (By the way, it is from her website that I got the idea for the cool "mummy calzone" I showed in the Halloween post bellow).
Bellow I am posting my adaptation for the recipe in the book. I reduced the sugar a bit (plenty sweet this way, 1 1/3 cups sugar was waaaay too much for us) and didn't add pecans as the recipe asked for.
Also, based on an idea I saw in the blog baking bites, we used chocolate covered raisins in place of the chocolate chips, it added a surprisingly "tchans" to the muffins and Matheus (raisin lover) enjoyed it a lot. I still do prefer chocolate chips, but made it with the raisins twice as the boys seemed to really like that.
If you find pumpkin + chocolate a weird combination (and some do) give it a try, you may be surprised by how yummy it is. Believe me, it is really good!
These muffins are truly worthy trying, they ARE delicious! It is amazing how moist and flavorful they are, and with all the nutrition in them... yummm, I might make them again this week!!

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins
(adapted from the book Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer Mccann)

1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned or home cooked)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
2 TB ground flax seed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup vegan chocolate (or carob) chips

Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a nonstick muffin tin well with nonstick spray, set aside.
Put pumpkin, water, canola oil, ground flax seed, and vanilla in a blender and process on high for at least one minute, until light in color and well-blended. Reserve.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and cinnamon. Add the pumpkin mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon or large spatula until well-blended. Fold in the chocolate (or carob) chips.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tested inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then lift each muffin from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.