Coconut Cranberry Bliss Bars [vegan and gluten-free]

Mmmm Starbucks. Even the mention of the house of that blessed green goddess gives me the warm fuzzies. Nothing frosts my cookie more than their iced coffee with soy milk or their soy lattes. They just have the best soy milk there. Anyone else agree with me? Love it. It’s perfect.

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Another Starbucks menu fav is the Cranberry Bliss Bar that makes its delicious carby sugary appearance during the holiday seasons. Red cups and holiday themed baked goods? You better believe I buy into that. I’m a sucker for all things holiday and festive and cozy. Turns out despite all my sarcasm and outward angst, deep down I’m secretly a softie easily persuaded by good marketing.

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I’ve had a desire to make Cranberry Bliss Bars for a few weeks, ever since I had a bad day at work and stopped at Starbucks after (SOML) and saw them sitting there in all their million-ingredient-$2.45-per-bar-glory.

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Mmm. Cranberries. Cakieness. Cream-cheesy icing. A genius flavor combo that my body wants and needs. And the baker inside me just lives to recreate in my own kitchen.

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So on the last day of the year, I set out to make my very own Cranberry Bliss Bars. I added coconut because I’m cray cray for coconuts, but you can leave all the coconut ingredients out if you desire, by nixing the shredded coconut, and subbing coconut flour for oat flour and coconut oil/butter for nondairy spread. I think the coconut was a lovely addition though, and encourage you give it a whirl.

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What really ties these babies all together is the wee bit of orange zest in the frosting. I highly recommend you do NOT skip this addition. It adds such a brightness and tanginess to the cream cheese frosting; it is truly the mystery element that seals the deal and the reason behind the addictive nature of these babies.

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Make and enjoy a whole pan of unknowingly vegan and gluten-free Coconut Cranberry Bliss Bars for yourself and/or your loved ones. Wishing you a sweet and delicious 2015, xoxo, K-Bakes.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Level: Easy

makes one 9×9″ pan; serves about 12

Ingredients – Bars:

  • 1/2 cup coconut butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (or sub additional oat flour)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax + 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Ingredients – Frosting:

  • 6 ounces non-dairy cream cheese (I use Trader Joe’s; I find it better than several expensive brands!)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • zest of half an orange (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9″ baking sheet with parchment paper and/or grease lightly. Set aside. Remove cream cheese substitute from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature by setting aside for later. Place chia or flax in a small bowl with water, and allow to congeal, at least 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup coconut oil in a large microwave safe bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix well.

3. In a food processor or blender, pulse oats until a fine flour is formed. Add to bowl with coconut oil and sugar. Add coconut flour if using, as well as baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add chia/water mixture. Mix gently until just combined and a batter is formed.

4. Fold in cranberries and shredded coconut. Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden, fragrant, and/or the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and/or a toothpick comes out clean upon removal from the center of the cake.

5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. You can speed this up in the fridge or freezer if you desire. Meanwhile, prep frosting. Take softened cream cheese and place in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons solid (unmelted) coconut oil. Add vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well with an electric beater between each addition. Fold in orange zest and coconut shreds.

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6. Once cake has cooled completely, cover with frosting using a spatula. Sprinkle additional dried cranberries and coconut shreds if desired. Cut into bars and EAT with a nice latte or cup of tea and feel just like you’re at Starbucks. 🙂

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Happy 2015 !

30 Surprisingly Vegan Foods [Via Spoon University]

As you probably know, I write for Spoon University as a national contributor.

I LOVE IT. Anyways, I don’t always share my Spoon stuff on my blog (if you want more Spoon, I usually do archive my pieces under the “Published” tab), but I really think this is a fun quick piece on 30 Foods that Surprisingly Vegan. You can read the piece published on Spoon here, or you can poke around below. Enjoy !

ALSO – For 103 Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up I helped put together, click here!!!

1. Oreos

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America’s Favorite Cookie is vegan-friendly!

2. Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Frosting

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The Home-Style Butter Cream, Caramel, Classic Chocolate, Vanilla, Coconut Pecan, Dark Chocolate Fudge, Lemon Supreme and Strawberry Cream varieties are all vegan. Cheers to vegan buttercream! Now hand us the spoon.

3. Duncan Hines Cake Mixes:

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In Classic Carrot, Moist Deluxe Butter Golden, Classic Yellow, Dark Chocolate Fudge, Devil’s Food, Fudge Marble, German Chocolate, Red Velvet, Swiss chocolate, Coconut Supreme, Lemon Supreme, Pineapple Supreme AND Strawberry Supreme all contain no dairy or eggs. Some people may get finicky about food dye sources, but for most, all of the above are vegan-friendly. Swap out the eggs and butter/oil for a can of soda or sparkling water and you’ve got yourself the fluffiest vegan cake you could ever want.

4. Jell-O Instant Pudding Mix

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Vanilla, Chocolate, Lemon, Pistachio, and Banana Creame are all vegan! Add your favorite non-dairy milk and you’re good to go.

5. Smucker’s Marshmallow Ice Cream Topping

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As marshmallows contain gelatin (made from cow hooves), lots of vegans pass them up. But now vegans can rejoice – Smucker’s has made a gelatin-free version AKA vegan marshmallow fix is possible.

6. Taco Bell’s Bean Burrito (minus the cheese)

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No lard in these beans, bitches!

7. Taco Bell’s Cinnamon Twists

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For after the lard-free burrito.

8. Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

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For your soy milk, almond milk and non-dairy ice cream delight.

9. Chipotle Sofritas

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Photo by ABC News

Which honestly everyone should try.

10. Betty Crocker’s Bac-O’s Bacon Flavor Bits

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We’re not sure if this is something to celebrate or be very, very afraid of.

11. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

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Ahh, the buttery taste of vegetable oils.

12. Ritz Crackers

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Another food that prides itself on butter flavor, yet has none. Pass us a sleeve with some soy cheese, please!

13. Unfrosted Pop-Tarts

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In Brown Sugar, Blueberry and Strawberry. Because Pop-Tarts are important.

14. Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets

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A great shortcut to a delicious vegan dessert or appetizer.

15. Lindt Excellence Cocoa Bars in 70%, 85% and 90%

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Chocoholics rejoice.

16. Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies

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In Chocolate, Oatmeal Macaroon, Peanut Butter and Vanilla.

17. Goya Flan

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Yeah, another thing we’re not going to try to explain.

18. Nutter Butters

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19. Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars

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In Apple Crisp, Cinnamon, Peanut Butter, Pean Crunch, Roasted Almond AND Maple Brown Sugar. We are so darn excited it hurts. Bring on the crumbs!

20. Nabisco Original Graham Crackers

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We suggest you pair these with some of that chocolate frosting mentioned above. #yum

21. Krispy Kreme Fruit Pies


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In Apple, Cherry and Peach. PIE ME.

22. Thomas’s New York Style Bagels

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In Blueberry, Cinnamon Swirl, Everything and Plain. Because carbs. And tofu cream cheese.

23. Super Pretzel Baked Soft Pretzel

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Glorious, glorious salty carbs.

24. Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams

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Delicious and vegan. And so darn cute we can BEARly stand it.

25. DQ Star Kiss Bar

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A non-dairy ice cream bar at Dairy Queen. Paradoxical, but we dig it.

26. Sara Lee’s Frozen Pies

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In Cherry and Apple. We’ll take both.

22. Mast Brother’s Chocolate

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No dairy in most varieties. WIN. WIN. WIN.

27. Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookies

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Spicy sweet perfection. Pro tip: dip in almond butter.

28. Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Chocolate Bars

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Dark Chocolate, 72% Dark Chocolate and Bittersweet with Almonds. We love you Trader Joe’s.

29. Trader Joe’s Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles

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Again, we love you Trader Joe’s.

30. Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

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Just sub an egg substitute like a tablespoon chia seeds and some almond milk or a few tablespoons of apple sauce and you’re seconds away from gooey vegan brownies.

Blackberry Fruit Dumplings

The Fruit Dumplings from East Side Ovens are things of beauty. It’s this little pocket that sort of looks like a rounded out star / mini hand pie, filled with delicious, sweet, fruity goo in the most perfect flakey crust. It’s what dreams are made of.

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East Side Ovens sells them in local farmer’s markets and grocery stores. They don’t advertise themselves as being vegan at farmer’s markets, but after stumpling into a sampling promotion at the Health Hut last month, I learned that all of their products are totally dairy free! #win. I wonder why they don’t advertise this way at markets. My guess is so that people who aren’t particularly open-minded about vegan baked goods don’t automatically skip over their delicious goodies. Which I’m sure, sadly, a lot of people would. But no one does! These babies sell like HOT CAKES every place they’re available. Which is awesome for the little local business, and proves that if people aren’t told any different, many don’t even know they’re eating something vegan when secretly they are. #tricky

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Last Monday I was having a good day, even after work. I was in a happy pants mood and wanted to celebrate so I popped on into Health Hut to celebrate. Because I reward myself with health-food grocery shopping because it’s like my favorite hobby. I know, right? I’m the coolest and most exciting human you’ve ever met.

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I bought these cherry dumplings from East Side Ovens while I was at the Health Hut. They also have really good rhubarb ones. And many other kids. But last Monday, all Health Hut had was cherry. And cherry is one of my top 5 favorite fruits of all times. So cherry it was!

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I brought them home and ate one that night. I saved one for Tuesday and looked forward to it allllll afternoon while I was working. I could not wait to get home and make coffee and have my cherry dumpling. So I got home from work and got my coffee going and put my dumpling on the counter. Then I went upstairs to pee and get my phone charger. Five minutes later I return downstairs. And like, certainly more than half of my fruit dumpling had mysteriously vanished. I’m not pointing any fingers but I’m 100% certain it was Pita. OOF.

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I was sad, but still savored what was left of my little dumpling. Actually, in retrospect, I’m lucky she didn’t eat the whole thing. And like honestly, if she did, I couldn’t have blamed her. They’re just so yummy. Perfect combo of crunchy/flakey crust, gooey sweet fruity filling, and sweet crunchy frosting glaze white stuff. Heavenly. I made her promise we return the the Health Hut soon to get more and just to go gawk at the Health Hut because it’s so beautiful and has so many fine, healthy, delicious food products. Wow I love grocery shopping. I really need a social life.

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Anyways, this event also sparked me to want to make my own fruit dumplings, so on Sunday Funday I gave it a whirl and whipped up these babies. I used blackberries, because we had leftover frozen blackberries in the freezer from when I made these wonderful wonderful Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes (seriously, make them). You can use whatever berry or fruit you’d like. Frozen berries worked really well in this dish, as you cook ’em down anyways.

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The end result was much like the Fruit Dumpling experience from East Side Ovens, with a few differences: you still get the crunchy meets gooey/fruity/sweet. Except these are a little less, puffy, I guess you could say. Next time I’m going to try layering the dough to make it puffier and flakier. We’ll see. These are more like a crispy tart. Still wonderful and delicious in its own right, just a slightly different crust texture than the OG. But cooking is all about making things your own anyways! So next time you want something delicious that will fill your heart and soul with joy and your kitchen with wonderful wafts of fruity pies, whip up a couple of these babies. Not only do they sort of look like stars, they taste like them, too. 😉 #cheesy #corny #gowithit

xoxo, kbakes !

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Level: Easy

Makes 2 small fruit pies [serves 2]

Ingredients – Crust:

  • 1/4 cup cold coconut oil or non-dairy spread such as Earth Balance
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cups cold water

Ingredients – Filling:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries (or any berries/fruit!)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanila extract

Ingredients – Glaze:

  • Either drizzle 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk yogurt (that’s what I did)
    • OR combine 1/4 cup nondairy spread at room temperature (such as Earth balance) with 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar using a hand mixture or kitchen aid mixture until well-combined. Add almond milk and/or more powdered sugar as needed until desired consistency is reached


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a food processor, combine whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse until mixed well. Cut up coconut oil or non-dairy spread into pieces, sprinkle into the food processor, and continue pulsing until well slightly combined. Add 1/4 cup cold water and pulse until a loose crumbly dough begins to form. If needed, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3.  Removed dough from food processor and form into a ball. Wrap or place in a small bowl and place in the refrigerator.

4. Meanwhile, combine blackberries, sugar, flour, vanilla, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the fruit mixture is the consistency of a loose jelly.

5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Cut in half. Roll each half into a thin circle.

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6. Place half of fruit mixture in the center of each circle of dough.

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7. Fold over one edge of the circle like an envelope so that the crust covers about 1/4 inch of the fruit, but the majority is still in the center. From the top of this fold, fold over the two sides diagonally to make an obtuse angle covering the right and left corner of the top fold.

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8. Repeat at the bottom; this time fold the dough inwards so that the center is exposed but the edges are framing the fruit. Press down dough to seal any potential points of leakage (such as the edges) as necessary.

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9. Repeat with second circle. Place dumplings onto a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 22-30 minutes until the crust has browned and the bottom easily releases from parchment paper if you try to peak at/lift up a corner. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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10. If desired, add as much or as little glaze or icing as you’d like. Enjoy ! 🙂 I used coconut yogurt, but if you want to make a vegan buttercream, simple combine 1/4 cup non-dairy vegetable spread with 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar using a hand mixture or kitchen aid mixture until well-combined. Add almond milk and/or more powdered sugar as needed until desired consistency is reached. Decorate to your heart’s content.

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Candy Corn Cookie Cake [Pumpkin + Banana Chocolate Chip]

Apparently I’m really into making things that look like candy corn. First I made this roasted veggie corn pizza thing, and then on Sunday I made this giant cookie cake for a post for Spoon and frosted it so when you cut it, it looks like a piece of candy corn. When I get into something, I go all out. Hence why I posted like 5 pumpkin recipes in a row.

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Speaking of pumpkin, I went to Trader Joe’s this Saturday and got so excited and overwhelmed by all the new pumpkin products that I actually had to leave quickly without letting myself buy any otherwise I would have easily spent $50. I decided I had to go home and think about which to buy first so I don’t end up with nothing but pumpkin spice sugary things in my pantry. This recipe also has pumpkin. #cantgetenough The middle layer of the cookie is pumpkin. And the outside layer is banana. Get it? Orange/yellow. Just like a piece of candy corn.


Using pumpkin and banana also makes this cake a dairy free/vegan option as it replaces using butter + eggs that a cookie mix calls for. Yes I used another mix. When I write for Spoon my goal is to be appealing and realistic to a college student. And when I was in college (omg I feel old saying that), I rarely had a fully stocked pantry or the desire to buy many things at once, so using a mix would have appealed to me, even though I still prefer every-last-detail-from scratch. But this makes it fast, easy, and less to purchase/clean up. Go with it. You can also make this recipe by assembling and whisking all the dry ingredients of regular cookie dough. But a mix will work just fine.  A lot of cookie and cake mixes are actually dairy free if you look at them. Just check the back of the package! Or use a fancy specific dairy free one like this.

So here is a recipe for cookie cake. It would be a hit for a Halloween party. Or, if you live alone and mostly hang out with your dogs cause all your friends are far away, you can be like me and have it all to yourself. I currently have about 80% left of it in my fridge from baking it earlier today. And a giant batch of chocolate bark for an upcoming post. #foodbloggerproblems. I’m okay with these problems, btw.

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You can view the Spoon version right here, or you can simply look at the recipe below. Happy eating!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Total Time: 30-35 minutes

Level: easy 


1 bag chocolate chip cookie mix

½ cup canned pumpkin

1 large overripe banana

½ cup white chocolate chips, divided

1 ½ cup white frosting of your choice (vanilla, cream cheese, etc) —> I recommend making buttercream with 1 1/2 sticks butter or Earth balance non-dairy butter substitute + 4 cups powdered sugar + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Divide cookie mix in half in two separate bowls.

3. Peel and mash banana. In one bowl, add mashed banana. In another bowl, add canned pumpkin. If desired, add yellow food coloring to banana portion, and orange to canned pumpkin portion.

4. Mix each bowl of cookie mix and pumpkin or banana until a dough forms.

5. Grease a pizza pan or 9 inch cake pan. First, make an outer ring with the banana cookie dough mix. Fill the center with the pumpkin cookie dough mix. Add half white chocolate chips to center to form a small circle.

6. Place in the oven and bake until the cookie is browned and fragrant and a toothpick releases upon insertion in the center, 15-25 minutes.

7. Allow to cool. Add remaining half white chocolate chips to center on top of the melted/baked white chocolate chips.

8. If frosting, dye half frosting yellow and half frosting orange by mixing food coloring or food dye into frosting. Frost with yellow frosting around the outer banana ring and orange frosting around the middle pumpkin ring.

9.Slice into triangles originating from the center and serve.

Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache Buttercream

It’s like deconstructed Nutella in a cake form. Yes, you heard right. Hazelnut + Chocolate. One of my favorite classic combinations, along with bananas + peanut butter and iced coffee + soymilk. Some things are just made for each other, ya feel me?

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I made this cake for my mom’s birthday. For a long time she’s continuously spoken of this one hazelnut cake her aunt made. She said she would grate the hazelnuts by hand and make this nutty, slightly dry cake and serve it with whipped cream. Can you imagine grating that many hazelnuts? Me either. Thank goodness for food processors.

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Back to mom’s birthday: I wanted to make a cake because I love reasons to make a big cake and bake something that feels special that I normally wouldn’t make. I mean, I could bake big grand cakes all the time, but then I’d just constantly have giant cakes around they’d feel like special. Also, fancy baking ingredients like hazelnut and high quality baking chocolate can get expen$ive.

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So I love to pull them out for a special occasion, like Pita’s day of birth. I wanted the cake to be a surprise, but then she found hazelnut shells on the floor and knew what they were. Fail boat on my behalf. Also, epic nut shell identification skills on her end.

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I was a wee bit nervous about making this cake because I’ve never made it before and kind of made the recipe up as I went. Lucky for me, it turned out epicly. The cake is very nutty and has the slightest nutty grainy texture that works really with with the buttercream and ganache.

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The cake itself is not too sweet, and had a substantial texture that all worked well with the frosting. I choose chocolate frosting/filling because mommy loves chocolate and so do I. Duh. I actually used ganache for the filling instead of buttercream, but honestly it kind of got outshined by everything else. I’d skip this step and just use frosting for the middle layer if I made it again. But if you want ganache for the filling, I am not going to stop you.

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But truly, this frosting is kind of thick and really chocolately/rich/dense the way a ganache would be. Except it’s lighter and fluffier still, like buttacream. #bestofbothworld, always

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So here is the recipe. It’s perfect for a sophisticated Nutella lover or lover of anything chocolatey and nutty that tastes awesome. I included instructions/ingredients for both a vegan and non-vegan version. Make whichever you want. Both will be delicious.

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Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Servings: 8-10 [2 layer cake with single layer filling and frosting]

Level: Medium

Ingredients – Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or butter substitute [Earth Balance or coconut oil] at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs or 2/3 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup soy yogurt and/or 3 tablespoons chia or flax + 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 cup milk or non-dairy milk (i used almond)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients – Frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or butter substitute [Earth Balance or coconut oil] at room temperature
  • 8 ounces baker’s chocolate, melted and allowed to come to room temperature
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup almond or regular milk (no exact measure – something you just gotta eyeball as you go until you get the consistency you want!)
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, chopped (for garnish)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on a large baking sheet and toast 10-15 minutes until browned and fragrant. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel or paper towel and cover them for about a minute, allowing them to steam. Next, rub the skins of with the towel or your fingers. This is putsy and a bit messy. But just remember: cake is your reward.

2. Allow hazelnuts to cool. Meanwhile, place almond, soy, or regular milk in a cup with vinegar and allow to curdle for at least 10 minutes (it’ll be good to go by the time you’re ready to use it). This is your pseudo-buttermilk.

3. Cream room-temperature butter or butter substitute until fluffy, about 2-4 minutes. Slowly add sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add eggs one at a time, or slowly add egg substitute [2/3 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup soy yogurt and/or 3 tablespoons chia or flax + 1/2 cup non-dairy milk]. Continue to beat until light and fluffy.

4. Place flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well combine.

5. Place cooled shelled hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until a semi-fine powder. It won’t be a super fine powder, so don’t aim for that. If you over-pulse, it will turn to nut butter, so use cation. Pulse slowly. If it gets nut-buttery, scoop out the nut-buttery bottom, and continue to pulse remaining nuts.

6. Add pulsed nuts (lol?) into the flour mixture and whisk until nut powder is evenly distributed. It will be a little grainy. That’s okay.

7. Add 1/3 the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Add half of the pseuedo-buttermilk. Mix gently with a spatula. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, and the rest of the buttermilk and mix again. Dump remaining 1/3rd of flour mixture into the bowl and continue to mix gently until just combined.

8. Pour batter into 2 greased round 9-inch cake pans. Pop into the oven on a middle shelf for 20-25 minutes, until slightly golden, fragrant, and a toothpick inserted into the center is clean upon removal.

9. Allow cakes to cool completely. Meanwhile, make your buttercream. Take 1 cup room temperature butter or butter substitute and beat with an electric mixer or kitchen-aide mixer until fluffy.

10. Chop baker’s chocolate and melt in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each increment, until just melted. Pop into the fridge until cooled slightly, about 5 minutes.

11. Add 2 cups powdered sugar to the butter and whip until well combined. Add cocoa powder and a tablespoon or two of milk or milk substitute.

12. Once chocolate is no longer hot (lukewarm will work), add to the buttercream mixture and continue to mix. Add an additional 2 cups powdered sugar and continue to mix until well combined. From here, add up to 2 more cups powdered sugar and a few tablespoons milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.

13. Once cake has completely cooked, frost as desired. I placed a layer of frosting on one layer, placed the second on top of it, then frosted the whole top and sides.

14.  Chop hazelnuts and garnish as desired. I sprinkled allll over the top and sides because I love the added crunch of nuts on frosting. Yummies.

15. Enjoy !! (It’s impossible not to 😉 )

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Vegan Animal Crackers with Coconut & Strawberry Icing

So a few weeks ago I had a wicked craving for these, so I bought some at Target.


Except then I ate them and I wanted to cry because I was so disappointed in how gross they were…I don’t know why I remember them being tasty. They tasted like total junk – WAY too artificial and too sweet, I was surprised by how much flavor they lacked for how bright they were and the list of ingredients that was longer than most novels I’ve read.


So I was deeply saddened grieving the loss of the enjoyment of a childhood treat; however, through my tears a glimmer of hope and inspiration struck me. I was determined to redo them. But make them delicious and flavorful and junk free.


And today, I succeeded. These have a wonderful nutty, oaty flavor and are just pleasantly sweet, but light enough to eat as a snack or breakfast. I was actually surprised at how frickin’ delicious they are. My mom also enjoyed them quite a bit, as did Millie when I dropped one (lucky girl).


I made these with half oat flour and half whole wheat flour because it’s what I had around, but for Celiac’s sufferers, it is very possible to use all oat flour or another gluten free flour as a substitute. These are also vegan, so they are friendly for those with dairy sensitivities.

“let’s makeout”

The icing is phenomenal, my friends. I basically used canned coconut milk and add powdered sugar. For the pink cookies, I pureed some freeze dried strawberries (available at Target and/or Trader Joe’s) which added color and flavor without ruining the consistency of the icing. A sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon adds a beautiful warmth to the cookie, as well.


Overall, these are wonderful little nuggets of joy that taste and feel good for the body. A little more work than buying the junky ones, sure, but well worth the effort.

Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Level: Easy (but putsy)



  • 1 chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons almond milk)
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (I made my own in a food processor with rolled oats)
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (can also sub a gluten free flour, such as rice flour, or just use all oat-flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil (can also use vegan butter or vegetable oil; I used Spectrum Coconut Oil)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of cinnamon
  • sprinkles (optional)

Frosting – Coconut:

  • 1/8 cup light coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Frosting – Strawberry:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine chia seeds and almond milk. Mix and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

3. Melt coconut oil and mix in sugar and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon.


5. Slowly add coconut oil mixture and chia egg to flour mixture. Mix until combined. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes or pop in the freezer if impatient (you just want the dough to be chilled so it’s easier to work with!)


6. Place dough ball between two pieces of parchment so it’s easier to roll and doesn’t stick. Roll until about 1/8 inch thick. Use animal (or whatever) cookie cutters to make shapes and place on baking sheet.



7. Bake for about 10 minutes until slightly golden and fragrant.

8. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, combine coconut milk and powdered sugar in bowls. Puree freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor or blender and add to one batch of frosting.



9. Ice cookies using an angled spatula or knife and place on parchment paper to dry. Sprinkle with sprinkles for an extra fun pop.

10. Enjoy!