24/11/2014

Cinnamon Girl celebrates its 4th anniversary!

It's a day to celebrate! Cinnamon Girl is four years old!...wow, time sure flies by so fast! It's great to check my first posts and see how much I've learned over these years (bakery and photography-wise), yet the best part is to know that there's still so much work to do and so much more to learn (practice makes perfect as they say!).
My blog is still a small humble space, my special corner of the blogosphere where I share one of the things I'm most passionate about: homemade bakery. I don't aim to become a mega-star food blogger, one of those whose egos are bigger than their skills, I firmly believe that one little step at a time can take you further and make you appreciate much more every new comment, every new follower or simply a new 'like' you get when you post a picture of your new recipe on Instagram/Facebook, etc.
Now when I look back in time I realize that I couldn't live without my moments of peace in the kitchen (and sometimes craziness and stress cause 'that cake didn't come out as expected'), moments of total disconnection where there is no one but me, lots of ingredients and tools surrounding me...and my poor messy apron...well, to be honest, there are days when I even find chocolate and flour in my hair.
Managing a food blog is a daily challenge for many reasons, one of them (and I'm sure many of my fellow bakers will agree with me on this) is how time-consuming it can be: developing the recipes, running around the house (camera in one hand, warm pie in the other) like crazy finding the perfect spot with natural light, and staying up until the wee hours typing these posts. So being a food blogger is serious business, and knowing there are zillions of amazing food blogs out there, I truly appreciate all your comments and feedback. It's wonderful to see that someone has taken his/her time to visit Cinnamon Girl, read my occasional ramblings and leave a comment.
All I can say is THANKS!...wish I could send a slice of this mouth-watering Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. This special occasion deserves a very special, delicious and indulgent cake with a spiced moist crumb and a fluffy and not overwhelmingly-sweet frosting that spreads perefectly. I couldn't ask for a better cake to celebrate the 4th anniversary of my blog!

Receta en español aquí!



Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
(8 servings approx.)
- For the cream cheese frosting:
36 ounces (1020g) cream cheese, room temperature.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.
1 vanilla bean.

- For the cake:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour.
1/2 tsp plus 1/4 tsp baking powder.
1/4 tsp baking soda.
1/4 tsp fine sea salt.
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice.*
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar.
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed.
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sunflower oil.
2 eggs, room temperature.
1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature.
1 1/2 cups (approximately) coarsely grated pumpkin.
1/4 cup chopped walnuts.
1/4 cup raisins.




Directions
- To make the cream cheese frosting:
For the best results I suggest you to make the frosting in advance (the day before baking the cake) so it sets and firms up in the fridge. This is by far, the best cream cheese frosting I've ever tasted/made!
Using a knife halve the bean and scrape the seeds out. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer beat together the cream cheese with the icing sugar at low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add in vanilla seeds and increase the speed to high and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy and smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to use. It can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.
NOTE: With this recipe there's enough frosting to fill, frost and make decorations.



- To make the pumpkin cake:
First of all, grate the fresh pumpkin (peeled, seeds and stringy pulp removed) and strain all the excess liquid, this is extremely important as we don't want our cake to be so much dense it won't rise...otherwise we'll get some kind of weird sunken pudding cake. So I'm going to say it again: strain through a sieve as much as you can!
Grease two 6in x 4in (15cm x 10 cm) round baking pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper circles.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
In a large mixing bowl sift together the flours, baking powder, salt, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and whisk the mixture to combine all ingredients.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar and oil on medium-high speed until well combined, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter.
Add in the flour mixture in three parts (on low speed), alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not overmix.
Fold in the grated pumpkin and walnuts.
Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and sprinkle the raisins evenly over the batter.
Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, around 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the cake as it bakes cause depending on your oven and how much pumpkin you add it will take a bit more or less time.
Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 30 minutes before removing them from their pans. Once removed, continue to cool the cakes on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature.



- To assemble the cake:
Place one of the layers, top side up, on a flat plate or a cake board. Using a thin metal spatula, spread a generous amount of frosting over the top of this layer, spreading it slightly over the edge of the cake. Place the next layer and repeat the same process.
Finally place the top layer and spread a thin layer of frosting on top and around the sides of the cake, this is what we usually call crumb-coating a cake. A crumb coat traps the loose crumbs on the surface of the cake so the final coat of frosting will look pefectly clean and smooth. Use an offset metal spatula (a little longer than the cake you're working on) to apply and smooth the frosting. Refrigerate the cake (uncovered) for 30 minutes before applying the final frosting coat. 
Finish with a decorative pattern using a closed star tip.



*How to make Pumpkin Pie Spice:
3 tbsp ground cinnamon.
2 tsp ground ginger.
2 tsp ground nutmeg.
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice.
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves.

Mix the spices together in a small bowl and stir until all ingredients are combined. Store the mixture in a clean jar or a spice container.






11/11/2014

Rawnies

This recipe has been sitting in my drafts folder for too long, I think I made these Raw Vegan Brownies early this summer and it's about time to share it with all of you.
Last week was a pretty productive and busy one: organizing my schedule (Christmas is not so far away my dear food bloggers!), making new recipes, being a good aunty (my niece's birthday is in two weeks, she's turning 8 and I already feel so old! lol) and preparing one of the most specials posts of the year...cause Cinnamon Girl celebrates its 4 anniversary, woo hoo!
These brownies are perfect for those days you need your chocolate dose but you want to keep it healthy and easy. They are vegan and sugar-free and the topping accepts many variations so you can always add your favorite nuts (I'm thinking about chopped pistachios right now...mmmm), some dried fruits or a crazy mix to create a yummy crumble. I love the subtle date flavor of these rawnies (raw + brownies = rawnies!), you can taste the dates but you won't find it overwhelming because they are above all super chocolatey, rich and juicy. So don't worry if you're not very keen on dates (like me) you will love these rawnies anyway!
Now I'm off to check what's cooking in the blogsphere.
Hope you like my recipe!

Receta en español aquí!


Rawnies

Ingredients
- For the brownies:
1/2 cup raw cacao powder.*
1 1/2 cup unroasted hazelnuts.
1/3 cup natural dried coconut.
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.
1 tsp pure vanilla extract.
2 cups medjool dates, pitted and chopped.

- For the topping:
1/2 cup macadamia nuts.
1 to 2 tsp coconut oil.
organic coconut flakes (for decoration).

*If you can't find raw cacao powder you can use pure cocoa powder. Pure usweetened cocoa powder will work equally fine in this recipe but it won't be 100% raw, obviously. 


Directions
Pit dates and chop them, set aside.
In the bowl of your food processor stir together hazelnuts, cacao powder, coconut and cinnamon, blend until finely ground. Be careful not to over-process this mixture, otherwise you will get nut butter and the mixture will become oily. 
Slowly add in chopped dates and keep processing until well blended. Finally add in the vanilla and mix until combined.
-To make the topping:
In the bowl of a food processor blend macadamia nuts and coconut oil until coarsely chopped.

Line the bottom of an 8x8-inch (20x20cm) pan with parchment paper. Dump the mixture into the brownie pan and firmly press it down using your hands. Cover with topping, decorate with coconut flakes and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
Once the brownies firm up in the fridge you can cut them into small squares and enjoy!




22/10/2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Here it is! The recipe I’ve been working on these days, I couldn’t wait any longer to share it with all of you. Remember in my previous post that I told you I had another Halloween recipe? Well, I wanted to put it up this week too just in case you guys want to try them out, so you have plenty of days before Halloween to prepare them and be the best party host ever.
I missed cooking with pumpkin, it gives you such an endless amount of possibilities: muffins, rolls, cookies, loaf cakes, cheesecakes, smoothies, soups, etc.
This Pumpkin Cheesecake has the right amount of sweetness, a fresh citric touch that combines perfectly with all the spices I added and the hearty pumpkin addition. Most people like to use canned pumpkin for dessert recipes because it’s an easier, quicker way to satisfy your pumpkin cravings all year round. I prefer, though, to cook with fresh pumpkins because that way I am making a healthier choice…plus nothings beats the flavor of 100% natural pumpkin baked at home. That means that you’ll probably need to plan ahead and make the topping and the pumpkin puree a day before baking this cheesecake. I promise you the hours you’ll spend in the kitchen will pay off once you taste the first forkful, a heavenly pleasure! (or should I say ‘devilish’ because it’s Halloween? Hee hee).
Btw, how cool do these witches potions look?! My sister helped me out with the craft work and we felt like 21st century witches printing all those labels, creating the colors for the potions and buying all kind of fake bugs and spiders. After shooting the pictures for this recipe a lot of new ideas popped into my head (and I have so many unused Halloween stuff!)…this usually happens when I’m done with a new blog post but I will have to wait until next year!



Pumpkin Cheesecake
(makes one 8-inch/20cm cheesecake)

Ingredients
- For the base:
1 recipe cookie crust, click here.
- For the topping:
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped.
1/3 cup brown sugar.
1 tbsp vegan margarine.
- For the cake:
½ cup whole unroasted cashews, soaked overnight and drained.
¼ cup mashed banana, ripe.
14 ounces (enough with 380g) soft tofu, drained.
½ cup unrefined sugar.
1/3 cup brown sugar.
3 tbsp coconut oil, room temperature.
6 tsp cornstarch.
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.
1 tsp grated tangerine zest.
¼ tsp fine sea salt.
1 ¼ cups baked pumpkin, pureed and drained.
¾ tsp ground cinnamon.
½ tsp ground nutmeg.
½ tsp ground ginger.

Directions
- Pumpkin puree:
First of all you need to bake the pumpkin. You’ll get plenty puree with a small 2-pound butternut pumpkin. Preheat oven to 425ºF (around 220ºC) and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pumpkin in half, scooping out the seeds and cut it into medium size pieces. Bake for 45 minutes approximately until the flesh is very soft and you can easily insert a wooden stick through the pumpkin. Let cool and scoop out the flesh, mash it with a fork until it’s pureed and drain the excess liquid before measuring.
- Cookie crust:
Make the cookie crust as directed in my Blueberry Lime Cheesecake. Remember to let the crust cool completely before pouring in the filling.


- Topping:
In a mixing bowl mash together brown sugar and margarine with a silicone spatula until well combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts and mix well. Set aside.
- Filling:
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Blend together drained cashews, banana, tofu, sugar, brown sugar, coconut oil, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, tangerine zest and sea salt. Process until completely smooth and the batter looks homogeneous.
Set aside around 1/3 cup of the batter.
To the remaining batter, add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture onto the crust. Add random spoonfuls of the reserved batter onto the cheesecake. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, swirl the batter to create a marbled effect.


Sprinkle with the topping and bake for around 1 hour (do not overbake!).
Remove cake from the oven, keep it in its pan (a springform pan) and cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Remove it from the pan and transfer to the fridge to complete cooling, preferably overnight.
Store cake in the fridge.








21/10/2014

Halloween Cookies

It’s that time of the year again: nights are drawing in, days are getting shorter and we are all craving for pumpkin, sweet potato and all those comforting and warm recipes. That means my favorite holiday of the year, Halloween, is right around the corner! I’m not a cold weather person but thinking about the recipes I’m going to prepare for the autumn-winter season and specially the Halloween ones makes me feel good. Cause I’m sure you’ll all agree with me on this: nothing feels better than enjoying some warm fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies, a pumpkin pound cake, a delicious homemade apple pie (and the list goes on!) when it’s chilly and rainy outside. I personally love to prepare a big bowl of popcorns and catch up on my favorite TV series (I’m so hooked on Once Upon a Time!).
Back to the Halloween subject, I love this holiday cause I let my imagination fly and try some funny and crazy new recipes. Even though it’s not as big and important as in the States, it’s such a great excuse to release my inner “Little Miss Spookiness” and cause some mischief. I’ve always had a soft spot for creepy, dark things…I mean, eerie and cute aren’t necessarily opposites (e.g. The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey).
I’ve had so much fun (well and some kitchen work too) this past weekend preparing this recipe, felt like a kid decorating the cookies and crafting.
The recipe is from the cookbook ‘Vegan Desserts, Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season’ by the sweet and talented Hannah Kaminsky. Honestly, it was hard to pick the first recipe to begin with this book cause they are all drool-worthy and very original. To make the choice a tad bit easier I went straight to the Autumn chapter and found the recipe for these Halloween Vegan Chocolate Cookies (Hannah’s original recipe is Black Cat Cookies). I made a few adaptations because I didn’t find black cocoa powder and also got some new cookie cutters so I baked different batches of coffins, angry cats and bats. These cookies are super chocolaty and intense, they will wow your guests and any chocolate lover like yours truly…so flavorful and yummy!
By the way, there will be another super special Halloween recipe this week so please, stay tuned! Can’t wait to share it with all of you!
…in the meantime, enjoy these cookies!

PS: this recipe makes enough cookies for a Halloween party (well, if you don’t invite the whole neighborhood) but the yield will depend on the size of the cookie cutters you use.
PS2: right after taping this recipe Blogger decided to suddenly delete ALL the text, so I had to do it all over again. UGH! I think I deserve some cookies and milk right now! ;-)



Halloween Chocolate Cookies
(Recipe adapted from ‘Vegan Desserts,Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season’ by Hannah Kaminsky)

Ingredients
1 cup vegan margarine.
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar.
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour.
¾ cup plus 3 tbsp pure cocoa powder, unsweetened.
½ tsp fine sea salt.
½ tsp baking powder.
1/3 cup cold espresso coffee.
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Directions
In the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the hook attachment) cream together margarine and sugar until soft.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Stir by hand with the whisk to ensure all the dry ingredients are well combined. Add about half of these ingredients into the margarine mixture, process until fully incorporated. Pour in the cold espresso coffee and vanilla, add in the remaining flour mixture. Continue to mix until it forms a smooth homogeneous dough, it won’t take much time. Transfer the dough onto the kitchen counter and form a ball, flatten it out a bit, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour before proceeding.
Right before rolling out the dough start heating your oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Lightly dust your working surface with flour (or place a big piece of parchment paper) and roll out the dough to about 1/8 of an inch (around 3mm) in thickness. Use whatever Halloween cookie cutters you like to shape the cookies and place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
It was a very warm day when I baked these cookies so I had to roll out the dough between two parchment paper sheets to prevent dough from sticking to my rolling pin.
Bake for about 8-14 minutes, depending on the size. Watch your cooking time, these are dark chocolate cookies so it’s hard to see if the edges are brown or not. If the cookies are the same shape as mine (I used Wilton's Halloween cookie cutters) then you might need to bake them for 14 minutes (but not more than that!). Remember that, as they are cooling, cookies become harder.
Cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container at room temperature.





7/10/2014

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I love waking up to delicious homemade breakfasts, especially on the weekends when there is no rush and I have time to set up the table with more eye-appealing foods. Don't you feel a little spark of happiness right when you wake up and suddenly remember that there is some yummy breakfast awaiting you in the kitchen? That nice feeling is, obviously, even better if someone has prepared that said breakfast for you and all you have to do is to sit down, relax and feel like a modern day Marie Antoinette (minus the cut-off head).
These Apple Cinnamon Muffins have been in my 'to do' list for a while and now that the weather is slowly turning more chilly, warm spiced sweets are very on point. I can't resist to these extremely tender muffins paired with my favorite rooibos chai latte. They are very big (small muffins look boring to me, they were born to be BIG and filled with chunks) so I guarantee you'll feel full with one.
I had some pecan nuts leftovers and my sister had the great idea of making a caramelized topping with them, we raised the muffins bar with it!
Muffins like these ones (easy to prepare but very delicious) will brighten up your dullest mornings.
By the way, this is the muffin pan I used so you can make an idea of how big they will come out.



Apple Cinnamon Muffins
(makes 6 jumbo muffins)

Ingredients
1 cup apple chunks (1 large apple approx.).
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
2 tsp baking powder.
1/2 tsp baking soda.
1 free-range egg (or 1 "flax egg", 1 tbsp flax meal plus 3 tbsp water).
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp organic whole cane sugar.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1/3 cup sunflower oil.
1 cup low-fat natural yogurt (or soy yogurt).
3/4 cup pecan nuts, chopped.
2 tbsp pure maple syrup.


Directions
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease your muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Chop pecan nuts, pour maple syrup over them and mix with your own hands...it's gonna get sticky but so worth it!
In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, mix well.
In a separate bowl beat eat and sugar until fully incorporated and pale. Add in the oil, yogurt and mix again, you should get a soft paste. Remember that when making muffins the batter doesn't necessarily need to be very worked, I always mix on low-medium speed.
Wash, peel and core the apple. Drizzle with lemon juice to keep them from browning.
Cut the apple into small dices and finally stir into the mixture.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and sprinkle over the pecan topping.
Bake for 30-35 minutes approximately until golden brown on top. 
Let the muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.