Thursday, January 5, 2012
A NEW, IMPORTANT EXPERIMENT, AND CHOCOLATE/COCOA NIB SCONES
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.
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!). (UPDATE: Jan 5, 2013-- see the results here!)
I used silicone muffin cup liners for molds.
You can scrape it easily for spreading.
I'll post my "butter" recipe as soon as I'm completely happy with it, so stay tuned!
BRYANNA'S CHOCOLATE CHIP/COCOA NIB SCONES
Yield: 6 large scones
Dry Mix:1 cup wholewheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons unbleachedorganic granulated sugar
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
chopped organic candied ginger
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 marmalade.
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.