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Thursday, January 5, 2012

A NEW, IMPORTANT EXPERIMENT, AND CHOCOLATE/COCOA NIB SCONES

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Happy New Year, everyone!  I'm feeling pretty energized and ready for some new projects (three lined up for myself so far) to get me through the winter.  I'd like to tell you a little about one of them in this first post of 2012, and post a successful recipe utilizing an experiment on that project. (UPDATE: Jan 5, 2013-- see the results here!)

Several people whom I really respect have been reminding me about the problems with palm oil. We generally eat pretty low-fat and don't eat alot of packaged foods or use solid shortening, so I was, I admit, pushing it to the back of my mind.  But the elephant in the room, so to speak, was Earth Balance, the best-tasting and vegan butter substitute around, which is good for baking, too. (Should we start a writing campaign to convince them to change their formula?)   And, yes, we are careful with our use of it, have our toast only with low-sugar jam or marmalade, use homemade low-fat spreads whenever possible, use primarily olive oil in cooking, etc., etc. But, for many of us, unless we are on a fat-free regime, there are those times when you need a vegan butter substitute, particularly for baking.

So, long story short, my first project of 2012 is to develop a homemade version of vegan "butter" that is a.) easy to make; b.) tastes good and "buttery"; c.) is made from simple ingredients that are not difficult to find; d.) has the potential to be made from organic and even some fair trade ingredients; e.)  is similar to butter in the balance between  fat, solids and liquids;  f.) has a better balance of fats than Earth Balance and other solid fats (my goal is more monounsaturated fats than saturated or polyunsaturated fats);  g.) contains little or no coconut oil ( see this short video  from Dr. Michael Greger and this also), and, of course, no palm oil; and h.) can be used both as a good tasting spread or in baking, substituting across the board for butter or Earth Balance (and instead of palm oil shortening).

After many hours of research and some experiments I think I'm almost there!  Here are some photos of my latest experiment (which meets all the criteria above) and it's pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.  I have another version to try before I share it (providing that works!). 

I used silicone muffin cup liners for molds.

You can scrape it easily for spreading.


Of course, while I'm doing this I'm trying to stay on a low-fat diet! But I wanted to try it in baking, so I made some scones (I only made half the recipe)-- some fancy ones, I admit.  The vegan "butter" (I need to find a name) worked just like the "real thing" in the recipe and the scones came out beautifully!  The recipe is below-- it's not low-fat but makes a lovely treat for a company tea or coffee party.

I'll post my "butter" recipe as soon as I'm completely happy with it, so stay tuned!
(UPDATE: Jan 5, 2013-- see the results here!)


BRYANNA'S CHOCOLATE CHIP/COCOA NIB SCONES
 Servings: 6
Yield: 6 large scones

Dry Mix:1 cup wholewheat pastry flour       
1 cup unbleached white flour        
3/4 teaspoon baking powder           
1/4 teaspoon salt      
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Additions:1/4 cup vegan "butter", chilled and cut into small pieces (UPDATE: try my homemade palm oil-free "Buttah")       
1/4 cup organic cocoa nibs      
Wet Mix:5 tablespoons non-dairy milk (preferably soy or hemp, in that order-- they curdle better)  
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice     
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract     
Finishing:non-dairy milk for brushing
about 1 tablespoon coarse unbleached organic sugar for sprinkling
Optional Additions:
or
grated organic orange zest, or chopped candied orange peel (If you can't find this-- and it is NOT the same thing as "candied citron"!!-- you will find an easy recipe to make your own here. You can make it up to 2 weeks ahead of time.)

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Have ready a cookie sheet or 2 cake pans sprayed with oil or lined with baking parchment.

In a large bowl whisk together the Dry Mix ingredients.  Cut in the chilled vegan “butter” until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Stir in the Additions to distribute evenly. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the Wet Mix ingredients.  Pour this mixture into the dry mixture in the large bowl and stir with a fork until just moist.  Turn out onto a piece of baking parchment, lightly floured and pat the dough into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle.  Cut in half to make two 6 x 4-inch pieces.  Cut each rectangle into 3 more-or-less triangular pieces (see photo).


Place the scones on the prepared pan(s), not touching, and brush the tops lightly with non-dairy milk.  Sprinkle evenly with the coarse sugar.  Bake for 15-16 minutes, or until nicely golden brown.


Serve hot with orange marmalade.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 343.2 calories; 36% calories from fat; 14.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 144.7mg sodium; 183.1mg potassium; 49.2g carbohydrates; 4.0g fiber; 6.7g sugar; 45.2g net carbs; 6.6g protein; 7.3 points.

Cheers!


10 comments:

The Nerd said...

I am so excited about your buttery goodness!

Judon said...

Amazing. Your work has such far reaching effects. Thank you for your tireless contributions.
Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful New Year.

Judon said...

Your work is amazing and has such far reaching effects. Thank you!
Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful New Year.

Deb said...

Have you tried it for frosting? That seems to be where the other butter recipes are failing people.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Deb, I haven't got that far yet-- I'm still working on the actual product and then I'll it try in recipes like frosting.

Ashley said...

I am excited for the vegan "butter" recipe.

Veggie Burgher said...

Can't wait for your vegan butter recipe. I always feel guilty using Earth Balance so try to just eliminate it whenever I can. But I do need it for some things, like baked goods. Speaking of...these scones look awesome!

KathyG said...

Bryanna, you're a real blessing!

I simply can't wait for that recipe... Fortunately I'm way too busy to do anything with it right now so I'd have to wait anyway :)

We have nothing in Australia that is readily available (at least in my area) that resembles butter and does not contain at least some hydrogenated fats so I've been living without it for years, but have been missing some old favorite recipes all that time.

Becky said...

I'm making these for tea this week! Thought you'd like to know the printer friendly version leaves out the wholewheat pastry flour and the nibs and chocolate chips in the ingredient list.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Becky! I've contacted Printer Friendly and, if they can't fix it, I'll have to figure out some other method.