Thursday, December 15, 2011

What? Christmas is Next Weekend?

Whoa.  I better get my rear in gear.  And for me that means many, many treats for neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family.  With not much time left, I am going to have to call upon some ghosts of Christmas past to help me along in the idea department.  I mean there is no reason to reinvent the sleigh wheel right?

Let me begin by admitting, I am not a real big fan of baking.  I know, I know, chastise me if you must, but I really enjoy making other types of treats way more than cookies, pies, and (shutter) cupcakes.  So candies have always been my bag at Christmas time.  Sure, I will break down and whip up a few batches of sugar cookies cut out into stars and trees, decorated with green and pink (still can't get a perfect vegan red icing!) sprinkles.  I may even bake up some of my Espresso Chocolate Chip Cakes that I usually reserve for Valentine's Day.

Back to candies.  The majority of my bags, baskets, boxes and platters will be filled with Kittee's Peanut Butter Fudge, Peppermint Candy Cane Bark, Microwave Peanut Brittle, and Mashed Potato Candy.

This year I am going to add a new member to the family.  For a select, very special few, I will make this very special treat.  I have posted pictures of this delicious candy in the past, but not until now have I posted the recipe.  It comes straight from the pages of The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions and appears on page 162.   It is reminiscent of that old fashioned candy known as Honeycomb Candy.  The texture is crumbly and sticky, and when dipped in bittersweet chocolate, it is just delicious.

Maple Sponge Candy
Maple Sponge Candy (page 162 in The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions)

Maple Sponge Candy

This candy is a molasses-y twist on old fashioned honeycomb candy. Crispy and sweet (and possibly coated in chocolate.) Not for the novice, it requires patience and an accurate candy thermometer. Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you. This candy is pure science!

2 cups (384 g) Sucanat
1/2 cup (120 ml) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 tablespoon baking soda
Melted chocolate for dipping (optional)
Prepare a 9×13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking dish by lining it with foil and then sprating the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large soup pot, place the Sucanat, maple syrup, and water.
Heat on low, constantly stirring until Sucanat is completely dissolved.
Raise heat and bring to a boil, watch temperature carefully. Bring the temperature to 250˚ F (121˚ C) and maintain that temperature constantly for ten minutes.
Remove from heat and quickly, but thoroughly, stir in the baking soda.
The mixture will begin to bubble and froth.
Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared foil lined dish.
Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and breaking into pieces.
Dip in melted chocolate if using. Allow to cool completely before storing.
Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Yield: 1 batch, about 30 pieces

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friends, food, books, products, all vegan, and I can find it all in one place?

Now that is a website I can use!  Vegan Corner just launched this week, and I have already been poking around over there several times a day.  And you know what?  Every time I do, it gets better.  And I can only imagine it will continue to get better and better each and every day.  Why?  Because some pretty cool vegans are runnin' that show.

I had the pleasure of meeting Adriana (one of the founders of Vegan Corner) a few years back when she showed up at one of my cooking demos at Whole Foods in Long Beach.  We chatted for a bit about this and that, and she gave me her Facebook name so we could be "friends."  We did, and not much else exciting happened between the two of us.

Flash forward to the glorious summer of 2011.  The summer of vegan love.  The inaugural Vida Vegan Conference in Portland, Oregon.  Amongst the crowd, I saw a pretty gal that looked familiar..."Adriana? Is that you?"  Silly that we finally met up again in another state when we only live an hours drive from each other.  Nonetheless, there we were, two SoCal gals in wonderful PDX, with a yearning to go goth dancing.  So goth dancing we did (along with June, Terry Hope Romero and Erika) but I digress...

Anyhow, Adriana was there to promote Vegan Corner, and what an awesome job she did.  I have been waiting eagerly to see it go live ever since.  And now it's here!  It's, like, the best Christmas present eva!  So, if you want to give yourself a present, click on over to Vegan Corner and check it out, join the forums, read and leave reviews of your favorite vegan stuff, and help to make it a even more bad ass site than it already is!

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni