Vegan Chocolate Cake

Last night my friends and I had a dinner party. It was a very spur of the moment thing and we selected a few choice recipes, gathered up ingredients, and went crazy in the kitchen. Our impressive menu:
– baked string cheese bites with a breadcrumb crust, served with marinara sauce
– mixed greens salad tossed in ginger-shiitake dressing
– crescent rolls
– tri-color farfalle in vodka sauce with sauteed broccoli, spinach, and peas
– chocolate cake

I found the string cheese appetizer on Pinterest, but unfortunately, our rendition of it looked nothing like the picture online 😦 Also, crescent rolls are unbelievably delicious.

Anyways, my dessert contribution was a moist, rich chocolate cake suited to my friend’s dietary restrictions (she doesn’t eat egg, but after some quick online searching, I found a vegan recipe and went for it; see Eggless Red Velvet Cupcakes). It baked up like a dream – mix up the (quick and painless!) batter, pour it in the pan, throw it in the oven for half an hour, take it out and let it cool while you frantically prepare dinner, then enjoy each bite of it after dinner with a cold glass of milk. Perfect, really.

Everybody couldn’t believe this recipe was vegan because it was so incredibly moist and flavorful! I added a teaspoon of espresso powder to enhance the chocolate flavor, and it worked wonders. I’m definitely making this many more times! Recipe after the cut.

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The Sara

The Sara is a blondie base with a strong peanut butter component, nutella swirls, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and a hint of cinnamon. It’s named after my good friend Sara, who is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of my baking (I can always count on her to taste batter, dough, frosting – anything!) and who loves all the above-mentioned ingredients. Therefore, it was only fitting that I name something full of everything she loves after her!

These blondies had a strong peanut butter flavor, and were practically melt-in-your-mouth. Delicious! Sara’s in Los Angeles for the summer, so I mailed her some – fingers crossed she loves these as much as I did! Recipe under the cut.

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(Eggless) Red Velvet Cupcakes

My best friend Elysia (the one that made the banner for this blog! Hi Elysia!) gave up eggs a bit more than a year ago so it’s been difficult baking her things she can eat that still taste the same with or without eggs. I found this recipe for “Coco Rouge Velour” cupcakes with no egg. It looked amazingly simple and delicious, so I had to give it a try!

These cupcakes were incredibly moist, even without egg to bind the ingredients together. They had the slight cocoa flavor, and were literally as soft as a pillow. They tasted the same as “normal” red velvet cupcakes – aka, amazingly delicious! The cream cheese frosting (listed oh-so-helpfully at that blog as well!) was also the best cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made and eaten! It wasn’t incredibly sweet as many other frostings and still had a distinctive cream cheese taste. I may have eaten three of these cupcakes in one sitting…others may have eaten more 🙂

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Summertime sunsets (ice cream, too.)

What’s evocative of summer to you? To me it’s hot days but cool nights. Long hours of sunlight. Watching fireflies glimmer in the darkness. Laughing with friends. Beach trips and salty ocean air. Cold iced lemonade (and/or if you’re in the south like me – iced tea!). Popsicles and ice cream and sno cones. Eating fresh fruits like peaches, blackberries, and strawberries by the gallon (slight exaggeration). I’m a fan of summer.

What’s also perfect for summer is a (relatively) quick drive out to the country for an hour of so of unwinding with fresh, local-made, delicious ice cream at Maple View Farm‘s Country Store. Along with ice cream, the store, situated picturesquely atop a hill overlooking the farm and never-ending fields, also sells milk, butter, cheese, and meats. The waffle cones, like the one I got here, are also made in-house. They didn’t taste stale at all unlike the ones you often get at chain/franchise ice cream shops. Pictured above is my cone full of dark chocolate peanut butter ice cream (hidden underneath!) and cookies n cream ice cream. Don’t let the gray color of the ice cream throw you off – it’s amazing, and my favorite flavor there. The prices here are great as well. A single scoop is $2.50, two scoops is $3.50, and putting it in a waffle cone costs an extra dollar. No wonder why Maple View is one of my favorite places. I want to try all (or most, at least) of the flavors there, but I always end up going back to cookies n cream…what can I say, old habits are hard to break. However, Maple View is one of those places where you don’t need to be scared of trying something new, as everything there is bound to be delightful.

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S’mores Cookies!

Ahhh, s’mores. The slightly sweet, crunchy graham cracker pieces enclosing warm, fluffy marshmallows and silky-smooth melted chocolate. Memories of summer, winter, and – okay, I’ll admit it, s’mores are kind of perfect anytime. My good friend posted the recipe for s’mores stuffed chocolate chip cookies by Picky Palate on my facebook wall, and it suddenly hit me how much I wanted s’mores, right now.

I wasn’t feeling the whole s’mores in cookies thing (they turn out so huge!) so I remembered a s’mores cookies post by Kim over at Lovin the Oven that had s’mores components in a chocolate chip cookie dough and after a trip to the store to get s’mores ingredients, I whipped up these delicious cookies!

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