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Decadent and dairy-free for the holidays.

For vegans, holidays and gatherings can mean lots of painful abstention from lavish dessert tables, anxiety over what to feed non-vegan guests, or unwanted attention over food choices. No more! It is not hard to make truly decadent vegan treats, and it's even easier to fool friends and family with a well-made vegan dessert.

An important secret for delicious vegan cuisine is using high-quality ingredients. Organic ingredients tend to be of the highest quality, and fresh always tastes better. Other simple tricks are switching from butter to a nonhydrogenated margarine (we use Earth Balance), and to a vegetable-based egg replacer. One egg replacer (Ener-G) is mainly made from potato and tapioca starch with some added leavener.

Here are some of our favorite winter recipes. The three varieties of cookies together would make a great contrasting cookie tray or a beautiful gift in a nice tin. Pumpkin pie is a winter favorite, and ours is deceptively rich-tasting. The cranberry-orange muffins will knock the socks off of your brunch guests.
SUGAR-FREE MACAROONS
This recipe is a must-try for the sugar- and wheat-averse.

1 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
 2 tablespoon safflower oil
 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
 1/3 cup rice syrup or barley malt
 2/3 cup maple syrup
 1 teaspoon almond extract
 3 cup toasted coconut
1 1/3 cup oats, ground in food processor till finely chopped
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 about 1 cup untoasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, grind walnuts to a
paste. Add oil, vanilla, barley or rice syrup, and maple syrup and
process until thoroughly incorporated. Mix toasted coconut, oats, and
salt in large bowl. Add walnut mixture to dry ingredients and mix well.
Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll each one in the untoasted
coconut. Place on oiled cookie sheet about 1 inch apart, and bake 10-12
minutes, or until bottoms are golden.

GINGERBREAD COOKIES
These are a great take on an old favorite.

 4 oz (1/2 cup) Earth Balance margarine
 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
 1/2 cup sugar
 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and ground nutmeg
 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons boiling water
 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, sift
together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
beat margarine, sugar, and grated ginger. Add molasses; beat until
combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Beat half of
flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then
remaining half of flour mixture. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap.
Pat dough out to about I inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until
firm, 2 hours or more.

Heat oven to 325[degrees]. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls; place 2
inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in
granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12
minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool
completely.

RASPBERRY SHORTBREAD SANDWICHES

These are elegant. The dough is also great for cut-out cookies.

12 oz margarine
1 1/3 cups sugar
 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons EnerG egg replacer powder mixed with 3 oz
 warm water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4-1/3 cup raspberry jam
 Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Beat sugar and margarine together on high speed with electric mixer
or beaters. Scrape down bowl and add egg replacer mixture and
vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add salt and flour and mix on low until
well incorporated. Separate dough into 4 pieces, and roll each piece
out to a thickness of about one centimeter. It helps to roll between
wax or parchment paper. Place these dough sections on cookie sheets,
and use an appropriately sized bowl to cut each section into a perfect
circle. Bake each circle at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. After
baking, cool cookie circles and spread two with raspberry jam. Use the
other two circles for tops of the sandwiches. Cut each large cookie
sandwich into small wedges, and dust them with powdered sugar.

CRANBERRY-ORANGE MUFFINS WITH WALNUTS

These muffins are surprisingly velvety with a complex flavor
combination.

 Makes 1 dozen muffins
5 oz margarine
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon EnerG egg replacer mixed with 1 oz warm water
1 1/2 cups plain soy yogurt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups halved fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together and set
aside. Beat sugar, margarine, and orange zest with electric mixer or
beaters until fluffy. Add egg replacer mixture and beat again until
thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down bowl and add 1/3 of dry
ingredients. Mix thoroughly on low speed. Add 1/2 the soy yogurt and
mix well again. Repeat this process until all dry ingredients and
yogurt are incorporated. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Scoop batter
into greased lined muffin tin and sprinkle some extra sugar on top of
each muffin. Bake for about 25-30 min, until muffins are golden.

EASY PUMPKIN PIE

This recipe is unintimidating and wonderful.

1 unbaked pie shell (can be either store-bought or made by
 substituting margarine in place of butter or shortening in your
 favorite recipe)
16 oz pureed pumpkin (canned or baked and processed in blender
 or processor)
1-12 oz box silken tofu
1 cup sugar, Sucanat, or any dry sweetener
2 tablespoons oil 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or heavy-duty blender and
process until smooth. Pour filling into unbaked crust and bake for 1
hour, until cracks start to appear in the filling. Chill pie completely
(2-3 hours) before serving.


Katrina Usher is co-owner of Birch Mountain Bakery, full-time college student, and round-the-clock epicurean. Birch Mountain Bakery specializes in delicious vegan treats, available at natural food stores and other locations in the Asheville area. Call about catering your next event or holiday party. Birchmountainbakery@main.nc.us or 828-275-6724.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Author:Usher, Katrina
Publication:New Life Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:1072
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