Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – V, GF

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day! This is a day to celebrate love, in all its forms. Love for your family, your friends, your pets, your lover, your garden, your home, and above all, yourself. Today is a good day to give yourself a little extra care. Maybe an epsom salt bath, maybe a special nourishing dinner, maybe an extra square of dark chocolate.

And you all know how I love my luxurious dark chocolate. The flavour of these cookies comes primarily from the chocolate, so please feel free to excite your palate with the 72%, 75%, 80% dark chocolate you’ve been eyeing for some time now but haven’t purchased for yourself. Now is the time.

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Because this shortbread uses coconut oil as the main fat, the cookies are more crunchy than crumbly. If you used Earth Balance or similar vegan butter, or a grass-fed dairy butter, I imagine you would get a feel more similar to classic shortbread. That being said, coconut oil is a wonderful, energizing, healthy fat, so I can sacrifice a little texture to get some more of that healthy fat in.

If you want a few other colours, feel free to add pistachios, dried cranberries, or maybe even some orange zest. Wow. That combo would be amazing (mental note for a future recipe).

chocolate-chip-shortbread-with coconut oil

If you’re looking for a nice meditation for the day, I used this solar plexus chakra meditation from Cauldrons and Cupcakes. The solar plexus chakra is your third chakra, and it’s where your will, self-esteem, and self-identity reside. It’s a great focus point for when you’re asking questions about what you need/want. And, this meditation particular is awesome for taking 10 minutes to ask yourself: what is best for me right now?

So happy love day! Feel all that positive energy floating around and let it boost you up.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – v, gf

  • Author: Recipe from Unconventional Baker, with full credit given to the recipe found here here. Tweaks (and the addition of chocolate) by Backyard Owl.
  • Recipe Notes: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (use refined coconut oil if you prefer cookies without a coconut taste)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (room temperature)
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used 1 3/4 cups white rice flour and 1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate PLUS 1/2 cup dark chocolate (for melting and dipping).

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat softened coconut oil until smooth.
  3. Add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Stir in the gluten-free flour, ground cinnamon, and chopped dark chocolate, and mix until fully combined (the dough should moist, so that when you press it together it holds in a ball shape).
  5. Pour dough out onto counter (sprinkled with gluten-free flour to prevent the dough from sticking) and place some wax paper over the dough.
  6. Roll out the dough until it is your preferred thickness. and cut out shapes with heart cookie cutter (or whatever cutter you have on hand and want to use).
  7. Place cookies on baking sheet and chill briefly in fridge or freezer, for about 5 minutes.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom of cookie.
  9. While cookies are cooling, prepare chocolate for dipping. In a double boiler, melt chocolate until liquid and smooth. Individually dip cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or silicon.
  10. Chill in the fridge until firm. The cookies can be kept in the fridge or at room temperature, though note that the chocolate will be most crisp (because it wasn’t tempered when melting) if stored in the fridge.
  11. Enjoy and share the love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

© Backyard Owl

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Pecan Oat Streusel

apple pecan muffinsA quick glance outside tells me that most, if not all, of the beautiful yellow, orange, and red leaves that used to be on the trees are now on the ground. This is the next phase of Autumn – when the air becomes a bit sharper with that note of winter, you have to dig into the closet for your hats and scarves, the idea of spending the afternoon reading in your jammies with a cup of tea seems more appealing than basically anything else in the world (except for going for long walks outside), and you can’t wait to bake something with cinnamon, apples, pecans, and oats.

These muffins contain apples in two forms: diced up in the batter, and also as applesauce. They have a ribbon of cinnamon, oats, and pecans in the middle and a similar streusel on top, and they are wheat-free, vegan, and made with coconut oil and coconut palm sugar.

apple cinnamon muffins with pecan oat streuselI recommend using a nice tart apple like a Granny Smith or Gala, to add a pop of juicy flavour that will stand against the cinnamon and pecans. I also recommend going wild and trying this as a quick bread or mini loaves. And if you are feeling particularly indulgent, try making an cinnamon butter with cinnamon and Earth Balance.

So what’s my plan for this Autumn day? Heading on a long nature walk, in which I plan to kick some leaves in the air and laugh while the dog chases them, and then return to make a mug of dandelion tea (my favourite) and enjoy a muffin. Throw in a comfy pair of tights, a good novel, and a pot of soup simmering on the stove, and I think I’ll have found my Autumn bliss.

Happy November!

apple cinnamon muffins with pecan oat streusel

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Pecan Oat Streusel

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: wheat-free, vegan, refined sugar-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups light spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup organic applesauce
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or other organic sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon fancy molasses (optional)
  • 1 cup diced apple (about 1 medium size apple)
  • FOR STREUSEL:
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
    • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
    • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
    • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Lightly grease or line your muffin baking tin of choice.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together spelt flour, chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  • In a separate small bowl, mix together applesauce, rolled oats, and almond milk. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add coconut palm sugar, melted coconut oil, and optional molasses. Whisk until completely combined.
  • Stir together wet and dry ingredients. When almost fully combined, stir in diced apple. Do not over mix.
  • Once batter is prepared, make streusel: stir together rolled oats, coconut palm sugar, and cinnamon, then add melted coconut oil and mix well. Finally, stir in chopped pecans.
  • Fill each muffin tin about halfway and add a sprinkle of streusel filling. Top with another tablespoon or two of batter, and sprinkle additional streusel on top.
  • Bake for approximately 22 minutes, or until the muffin springs back when gently pressed with your finger.
  • Let cool, and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer (these freeze very nicely).

Looking for some other November baking suggestions? Try banana espresso sconessweet potato pie, or kale and barley salad.

© 2014 Backyard Owl

Banana Espresso Scones with Oat Maple Crumble (vegan, gluten-free)

banana espresso scones (vegan, gluten-free)September through December are my four favourite months of the year. I enjoy the summer, of course, and I find pleasures in every season, but September through December hold the magic – the changing leaves, the cool, crisp days, the first snowfall, Thanksgiving, harvest vegetables, blue skies, cozy sweaters and cowls, baking with pumpkin puree, knitting.

And scones. Or should I say, banana espresso scones with oat maple crumble.

Hearty, healthy(ish), and with just the right amount of maple oat crumble, these scones are made with brown rice flour, coconut oil, and mashed bananas, and they are tasty as all get out. They are also vegan and gluten-free. I debated putting chocolate chips in them, because I love to put dark chocolate in everything, but decided in the end that the bananas could shine all on their own.

banana espresso scones - vegan, gluten-freeLet me add some context to the allure of these scones: Once September arrives, I move back to my ‘cold weather’ breakfast of oatmeal or some kind of cooked hot cereal. But even though I faithfully get up every morning and put my oats on the stove (having typically assembled and measured the ingredients the night before), I wonder what it might be like to be the kind of person who gets up a mere 20 minutes before having to leave, whips through getting ready, and “runs out the door” with a tasty breakfast of a healthy, banana espresso scone and some kind of smoothie. Oh, and who still arrives at work looking impossibly fresh.

I doubt I’ll ever be that person – I’m not fly by the seat of my pants enough, I dislike rushing, and truth be told, I enjoy the ritual of sitting down before the workday to calmly consume my meal – but that doesn’t mean I don’t see the appeal of a special little breakfast that can be held in one hand.

banana espresso scones - vegan, gluten-freeAlso, can I just add: brown rice flour, where have you been all of my life? I think making scones with brown rice flour might be my new favourite thing – for scones, you want as little gluten as possible (to keep them crumbly and sandy) and of course, brown rice flour is naturally gluten-free. It’s a combination made in baking heaven.

So a Happy September to all of you! Embrace the energy and tingle in the air, and munch a banana espresso scone with a cup of tea. I won’t even judge you if you deliberately get up later just so you have to eat one while you are running out the door.

Banana Espresso Scones with Oat Maple Crumble

  • Author: Alive Magazine and Backyard Owl (follow the link to view the original recipe for Banana Buzz Scones on Alive Magazine’s website)
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free
  • Yield: 8-10 scones

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free if you require 100% gluten-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar or coconut palm sugar
  • two medium-sized mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
    • NOTE: if you don’t have espresso powder, use 1/4 cup almond milk and 1/4 cup strong coffee instead of the 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions: 

  1. Measure out coconut oil and chill in fridge until very firm.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  3. Stir together oats, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together brown rice flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  5. Using your hands or a pastry cutter (one of my favourite kitchen tools!), cut together cold coconut oil and flour mix until it resembles coarse sand (the goal here is to create bits of coconut oil covered with flour – to create the flaky scone texture). Put in fridge until ready for use.
  6. Mix together almond milk, espresso powder, and vanilla. Add mashed bananas and stir until well combined.
  7. Pour banana espresso mix into cold flour/coconut oil mix and stir gently. When halfway mixed, turn out onto a well-floured counter top and continue gently combining (you don’t want to squish the coconut oil bits you’ve so carefully prepared) until you’ve formed a crumbly soft dough. Note that all of the flour doesn’t have to be perfectly blended in – just so long as things hold together.
  8. Form into a circle of dough about 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, slice into 8-10 wedges.
  9. Put wedges on baking sheet and top with cinnamon oat crumble.
  10. If dough is quite soft or day is warm, chill in fridge for 10 minutes before baking.
  11. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until firm on the outside and lightly golden.

Enjoy! These are best served on the day they’ve been made, but they also keep in the fridge for another two to three days. Also, they are great with almond butter, but I ate mine with some homemade peach jam. So delicious I almost fell off my chair.

© 2014 Backyard Owl