Saturday, August 11, 2012

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

    Boy, am I glad our zucchini plants aren't producing any fruit. Okay, that's a lie. I'm heartbroken, but it's still probably a good thing in the long run.
    I mentioned before that this is our first year getting a CSA share. (Quick rundown for the uninitiated: you pay a fixed amount for a share of a farm's produce before the growing season begins, then you pick up your veggies each week.) It's been a really great experience; only one or two wayward vegetables have spoiled before being used, and we've got a great variety each week. There have been lots of new things, like kohlrabi and fennel, as well as lots of things we've had but aren't in regular rotation, like beets and turnips. And then, of course, there are the old favorites: carrots, tomatoes, onions, kale, and zucchini.
    Endless zucchini.
    Seriously, mountains of the stuff.
    This leads us to zucchini bread pancakes. You know, for when you're already eating all the roasted zucchini you can manage, muffins have lost their novelty, and you want something you can douse in maple syrup, applesauce, or whatever your pancake preference may be.
    I learned the hard way that allowing the batter to rest is crucial here. There's a lot of water in the zucchini, which is why there's no water added to the recipe. Allowing the batter to rest helps everything come together into a cohesive batter before cooking. If you just cook them right away, the moisture will all hiss out at once and make your pancakes weirdly textured and impossible to flip. This makes between ten and a dozen 4" pancakes, depending on how liberal you are with the batter. Also, this is a "rustic" kind of batter on account of the big chunks of raisin and walnut; in other words, these aren't ever going to be perfectly round, and that's okay. It just adds to their charm, trust me.

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

1/2 cup soymilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

First, measure out the soymilk in a large liquid measuring cup. Add the cider vinegar, stir, and then add the zucchini, applesauce, sugar, and oil. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and then mix in the wet, stirring until there are no lumps. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Allow the batter to rest for at least ten minutes--I mean it!--then preheat a skillet over medium heat. Spray lightly with cooking oil and scoop up scant 1/4 cupfuls of batter to form the pancakes. Gently flatten and shape the cakes with the back of the measuring cup. Cook for three to four minutes on the first side, or until the tops are bubbly and the edges are looking dry, and for about two minutes on the other side.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Coconut Death By Chocolate

    The name "Death by Chocolate" can mean a lot of different things, depending on where you live. Where I come from, it's a potluck staple: a trifle composed of box-mix cake or brownies, chocolate pudding, Cool Whip and crumbled Heath bars. Sometimes the cake or brownies are soaked in coffee or Kahlua, and sometimes the Heath bars are augmented with crushed Oreos, but the basic concept is the same: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and the easier, the better. I mentioned to someone that I was thinking about a vegan Death by Chocolate, and her response was less than encouraging ("Boy, no whipped cream, no chocolate..."). Challenge accepted.
    Originally, I'd intended to make this for August 1st, which was my eighth vegan-versary. I know, that's kind of silly, but I've always kind of wanted to do something to celebrate the anniversary of the first time I turned down an ice cream sundae, and making a nostalgic dessert seemed to fit the bill. When I ran out of sugar after two trips to the supermarket, though, I took a deep breath and decided that instead of scrapping the whole plan, I'd just make it the next night.

    My version is from scratch, unlike its inspiration, because that's how I roll. It's also got a bit of a coconutty flair; since I was using coconut whipped cream, I figured following through and using toasted coconut in the toffee rather than almonds couldn't be a bad thing. This was my first experience making candy, and it was a lot of fun, and much easier than I expected.

This is a less-than-stellar picture, but it shows the layers well enough.There were two layers of everything in a very large glass measuring cup (since it turns out I don't own a trifle bowl.) Let's start from the top:

1. Toasted Coconut Toffee, based on this recipe with the obvious substitution of Earth Balance for butter, and toasted coconut for almonds.
2. Coconut Whipped Cream. I've had trouble getting this to set up during the summer months, but I figured for this, it didn't matter. It got to a softer, Cool-Whip type texture, which was perfect.
3. Chocolate Pudding. This is your basic soymilk/cornstarch/cocoa/sweetener pudding, nothing fancy.
4. Wacky Cake. If you've never heard of it, there are plenty of recipes available online. I think it's perfect for trifles because it's simple, uses all pantry ingredients and the batter comes together in like thirty seconds.

    Oof. This did not disappoint. I'd definitely recommend making this for a potluck, vegan or omni; there's absolutely nothing "fake" or "almost" tasting about it. Then you can wow all your friends by telling them you made everything from the cake to the toffee on top yourself. And if anyone calls it "fake" Death by Chocolate after that, you just point them out to me.