Peanut Butter Miso Cookies

Folks – it is a CRAZY world out there! I’ve been struggling to make sense of my own thoughts and emotions during this tumultuous time. COVID-19, such a short little name with a monumental impact. I saw it creep slowly throughout the world, talking with my family in Taiwan as they watched their country struggle to get the virus under control. It seemed as if we were safe for awhile, but now, even in my state of Minnesota, there are over a hundred cases (and that’s only the confirmed ones!).

I guess I say this not to add to the chaos, but as a gentle reminder that the best thing that we can be doing is to stay home. Trust me, as a twenty-five year old who loves to explore, that’s the last thing I want to be doing either, but staying home WILL save lives. It’ll help keep your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even your pets (!!) safe. Why, you ask? Well, diseases can only be transmitted if there are people to transmit it to. When contagious people stay home and don’t have anyone to spread it to, then we help prevent the spread of the disease. The scary thing about this is that you can totally be contagious and not know it… so bottom line- STAY HOME PLEASE!

And while I’m on this little public health rant (sorry, I can’t help it, in my other life, I work at the Department of Health!), can I just throw in a small plug for baking? It is absolutely wonderful for getting your mind off things just for a small while, and I find it helps with my anxiety. My favorite thing to bake right now is peanut butter miso cookies.

If you did a double take, don’t worry, most people are totally caught off guard by the combination! But if you love salty-sweet desserts, this one is totally for you. And if you don’t, well, give them a try anyway, you might be surprised! My only suggestion for this recipe is to let them sit overnight. Something magical happens in the refrigerator and the flavors blend so seamlessly after sitting for awhile. That being said, I’ve also baked them right after making the dough and they were terrific as well.

Bake well, stay well, and take care ❤

Peanut Butter Miso Cookies | Makes about a dozen

difficulty level – easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar*
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 cup (a.k.a. 2 tbsp) red miso paste (you can usually purchase at an Asian grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (this is super important for texture! If you only have smooth pb, it wil work, but the texture will be off)
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*If you want a chewier peanut butter cookie, add in 1 full cup of brown sugar.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  2. Combine coconut oil, light brown sugar, white sugar, miso paste, peanut butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. It is important not to over mix, otherwise the cookie will be tough. I like to use a spatula for this part.
  5. Roll into walnut sized balls (think a little smaller than a golf ball)
  6. Bake at 350 (F) for 10-12 mins or until edges are just starting to brown.
  7. Cool on a cookie rack, or eat while hot!
  8. Cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and will keep for a couple months in the freezer (I like to roll the dough into individual balls and then freeze. When you’re ready to bake, no need to defrost, just bake them a little bit longer.)

Enjoy!

Dairy-free Purple Sweet Potato Pie

 I used to think that I was a cake person, but after this pie, I think I’ve been converted.  Pie allows you to bring in so many different textures that I think that cake just doesn’t allow for (not saying that cake isn’t amazing, cuz TRUST ME, it soooooo is). BUT in one bite of pie, you get flaky, buttery crust, smooth creamy filling, and crunchy sweet topping – it really doesn’t get much better than that!  I guess I should also preface by admitting that a huge part of why I didn’t used to like pie is because I’m lactose intolerant and pie just doesn’t taste as good without butter.  I pretty much believed that butter-less pie was not worth eating until this past Thanksgiving rolled around.  With my grandpa working on controlling his blood sugar level, and pretty much my whole family is lactose intolerant, dessert options had to be 1) low in sugar and 2) dairy-free.  This pie delivers both.  Not only are sweet potatoes naturally sweet, they are also perfect because the sugars in sweet potatoes digest slowly and won’t spike up your blood sugar.  


Turns out, with the right substitutions, you can make just as delicious a pie crust and filling without dairy.  For my pie crust, I use coconut oil, the filtered kind, so you can barely taste/can’t taste the coconut flavor at all.  It’s honestly pretty amazing.  Just make sure to pay extra attention when you’re buying you’re coconut oil to pick up the filtered kind, otherwise your crust will definitely taste of coconut (unless of course, you like coconut, then have at it).  The key to making sure you get a flaky crust is to keep the coconut oil cold.  Since it’s hard to scoop when its cold, I will usually pre-measure it out and then stick the amount into the fridge for maybe 10 minutes.  You can assemble the rest of the ingredients while you wait.  The same goes with the pie filling, I use coconut cream and it creates the most luscious and creamy filling – you won’t even remember that heavy cream wasn’t used.  The real secret though? Straining your pie filling ensures that all the lumps are broken up and your custard will end up smoother than silk. 


Now, I’m not a fan of walnuts, BUT, as it turns out, when they are candied, they become the perfect complement for a creamy filling.  Of course, you can choose to leave the nuts out, but they just provide the perfect crunch, so I would recommend simply substituting for a nut that you do like.  Seeds would probably work too! It’s just nice to have a trio of different textures 🙂
I’m getting hungry just thinking about this pie while I write!  Might have to do some night time baking….


I’m currently on winter break still, and I’m blissfully savoring the days I have left.  I’m still at work most days, but it’s just so nice to come home and not have a million pounds of homework to do.  Instead, I get a chance to cook, watch some netflix and catch up on my blogging.  The simple life pleasures are the best.  So here we go, pie recipe coming at you!

DAIRY-FREE PURPLE SWEET POTATO PIE | Makes one 4.5in x13.5in pie

INGREDIENTSfor the crust

  • 1/2 cup filtered coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water

for the filling

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • heaping 1/2 cup purple sweet potato mashed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

for the candied nut topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (F)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add in coconut oil and use either a pastry cutter or a fork to break the oil into pea sized pieces.  DO NOT use your hands, this will melt the coconut oil!
  4. Once the oil pieces are thoroughly mixed into the flour, add in ice cold water, 1 tbsp at a time until a dough ball forms.  Try to add in as little water as possible, as adding too much water will encourage the formation of gluten which results in a tough pie crust.
  5. Form into a rectangle, wrap in saran wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. While the crust is chilling, combine sweet potato, brown sugar, eggs, coconut cream, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl and whisk until blended.
  7. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the filling mixture into a clean bowl to ensure a smooth filling.
  8. Once dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4 inch in thickness and press into tart pan.  Place parchment paper on top of pie crust and fill with baking beans (I just use rice).
  9. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 (F).
  10. Take out crust, carefully remove baking beans and pour in filling (at this point, I usually place the pie pan on a baking sheet for easier maneuvering).
  11. Lower oven heat to 325 (F).
  12. Bake pie for 20-25 minutes until filling is just set. Let chill.
  13. While pie is chilling, melt 1/4 cup white sugar in a small sauce pan until it caramelizes (you are looking for a dark amber color).  When it reaches this color, throw in walnut pieces and mix thoroughly.  Pour out candied nuts onto waxed or parchment paper and let cool.
  14. When you are ready to serve the pie, break candied walnut pieces over pie.
  15. Pie keeps up to 3 days in the fridge (and tastes amazing straight from the fridge as well!).  Be sure to store candied walnuts separately, as the moisture from the pie will liquify the sugar.

Enjoy!

Dairy-free Blueberry and Cream Scones

 I think scones are one of the funnest baked goods to make. When I first started out making scones, they were rock-hard, dry and as tough as nails.  Instead of getting discouraged, my inability to make a perfect scone challenged me to create a recipe that is essentially fail proof AND dairy-free.  Scones are one of those desserts where butter is pretty much a mandatory component for it to even be called a scone. I pretty much thought so as well until a craving for scones hit SO bad, it didn’t go away for weeks.  I’m usually one of those people with enough will-power to keep cravings that might kill my digestive system at bay since I’m lactose intolerant, but nope, this one just wouldn’t go away!


I’m not going to pretend that this recipe is healthier just because it doesn’t contain butter, but I can definitely promise you that it is extremely low-sugar (only 1 tablespoon!) and 100% dairy-free while still delicious and moist.  If dairy-free scones aren’t your thing, and you want the real deal, try out my raspberry almond and white chocolate scones, instead! Alright, if you’re still on board, here we go. 


Since coconut oil is similar to butter in terms of its consistency (solid at room-temperature), I figured that it would be a good substitute to use for scones.  However, as I quickly found out, coconut oil melts far more easily then butter and super quick at any temperatures over normal room temperature making for a gooey mess.  The key to successful scones in this case, is to keep your coconut oil cold (I ensure this by place measured out coconut oil in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before using) and keep your measuring bowl cool as well (if possible!).


I love scones because they’re super customizable.  Hate blueberries? Use raspberries! Don’t have white chocolate on hand? Use dark chocolate, chop up nuts, or just leave it out altogether! Super easy, right? As long as you don’t mess with the dry ingredient to wet ingredient ratio, the add-ins are pretty much up to you.  One thing that I will note, is that, all fruits that you want to incorporate into this recipe should be frozen fruit!  Frozen fruit maintains its shape, doesn’t make the scone too soggy when baked, and honestly helps keep the coconut oil cool when you’re mixing, ha!


While you can make your scones any shape you want, I would recommend patting the mixture into a large round circle and cutting into 8 triangles, much like you would a cake (cutting before baking the scones ensures that the scones are allowed to rise and get super fluffy!).  This is much faster than individually portioning out scone mounds, and makes sure that the scones themselves are virtually identical triangles after baking. When you bake them as a large circle, it also helps keep the scone moist inside and not dry out too quickly. If you prefer scones that are more crust than fluff, then maybe individually portioning out scones might be what you want to go with.


I don’t know about you, but I’m savoring up the last few weeks of summer like nobody’s business. These berry-licious scones are best eaten with tea and under the summer-y blue sky.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about them! Let’s get to it!

DAIRY-FREE BLUEBERRY AND CREAM SCONES | Makes 8 scones

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp more for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil – chilled in the fridge before using
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut cream + 2 tbsp more for brushing
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Add in coconut oil and using hands a fork incorporate coconut oil into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  4. Add in frozen blueberries taking care to separate any blueberries in frozen chunks.
  5. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine coconut cream, vanilla extract and egg, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into the well.
  7. Using spatula, fold wet and dry ingredients together until a wet, shaggy dough forms.  DO NOT overwork dough.
  8. Place dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into an 8″ circle.
  9. Brush top with coconut cream and sprinkle with sugar. Then cut circle into 8 pieces to help scones rise more easily in oven.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the tips of the scones feel firm to the touch.

Enjoy!

Summer Strawberry Pavlova

 Pavolva is a f***ing beautiful dessert and I spent 22 years of my life not knowing it existed.  In addition to being gluten-free and dairy-free, the crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth exterior gives way to a fluffy, marshmallow-y filling that manages to be both life and fluffy by decadently rich.  To be one hundred percent honest, I only tried my hand at making pavlova because I had way (and i mean wayyyy) to many leftover egg whites from making tiramisu for a going–away party and because I needed another dessert to bring to the bf’s parents’ house since they were throwing me a going-away party as well (sssssssssshh!)


With two hours to spare until the party, I was literally peeing in my pants because I still hadn’t put  together a dessert and the house was covered in a layer of flour and cocoa dust.  I was seriously contemplating my dad’s suggestion of of getting a Whole Foods cake and then just putting in onto a nice plate to make it look “homemade”, when I had a #greatbritishbaking moment.  For those of you that don’t know, Great British Baking is literally my jam (pun intended).  I love it.  I’ve seen every episode, having favorite bakers and follow them on Instagram.  Needless to say, I’m pretty much devastated that the show isn’t going to be the same anymore.


Anyway, months ago, I stumbled along Mary Berry’s (one of the hosts of GBB) pavlova recipe.  I bookmarked it on my laptop intending to return to it, but never got a chance.  This pavlova recipe was inspired by her recipe, but I’ve made a couple tweaks here and there to customize it to what I needed (mainly making a smaller and more easily manageable pavlova).
I’m not kidding you, if you have a electric mixer of any kind, this dessert will come together in under 10 minutes and you’ll be free to go about your day like the amazing pastry chef you are. Since I’m a nerdy food scientist at heart, I’m always astounded that egg whites and sugar will whip up into such an amazing dessert with multiple different textures. What you should be careful with (and what I forgot) is that egg whites brown super easily! That’s why they say to brush pastries or pies with egg white so you get that nice brown color.  But for a pavlova, you want it to be as white as snow….SO, don’t forget to monitor the oven temperature and turn it down if it’s starting to brown you pavlova. Don’t worry, if it turns golden, it’ll still be just as delicious (same with if the pavlova cracks…in my opinion, the cracks just mean better nooks and crannies for additional whipped cream!)
So here’s to the end of summer, when you’re left wanting the days to go a little slower and the weather to stay a little warmer.  This strawberry pavlova is just what you need for a perfect end to summer (and just what I need to help jump start my school year).

SUMMER STRAWBERRY PAVLOVA | Serves 8-10 depending on how generous you’re feeling

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs whites – room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 tsp vinegar -any kind, you won’t be able to taste it!
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract or 2 tsp vanilla extract (almond extract is stronger so you need less)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries – hulled and halved

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 (F).
  2. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on low speed until they begin to get frothy. Then add in salt.
  3. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer while you add in a tablespoon of sugar at a time until egg whites have been beaten into stiff shiny peaks. You’ll know if it’s done by holding the whisk upside down.  If the tip of the peaks don’t fold over, you’re good to go.
  4. Add in cornstarch, vinegar and extract, then gently fold in with a rubber spatula.
  5. On a piece of parchment paper, draw out an 8″ circle with a pencil.  Then turn the parchment paper over onto baking sheet (so the pencil won’t touch the pavlova mixture) and spoon mixture into the circle, trying not to let the mixture spill outside of the drawn circle. Try to flatten the top and smooth the sides, but it’s okay if it’s a little messy, as the swirls will make it look elegant and beautiful once baked.
  6. Place pavlova in oven and immediately reduce temperature down to 300 (F).
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, but keep pavlova inside oven with the door open until pavlova is fully cooled before handling.
  8. While pavlova is cooling, beat heavy whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks form.  Keep an eye on the whipped cream as it can quickly turn from light and fluffy to curdled.
  9. To assemble, gently tap the top of the pavlova a couple times to create an indentation for the whipped cream.  Top pavlova with whipped cream and sprinkle strawberries on top.
  10. Pavlova can be make 1-2 days beforehand and stored in an airtight container, but once you assemble, it must be eaten within the day otherwise the crunch exterior will soften.

Enjoy!

Julia Child’s Banana Bread

 Have you ever felt so sad, that it seemed like your heart gained an additional 100lbs and your stomach dropped to the bottom of the ocean, deep, deep down, unable to be saved? I received this kind of news the other day, heart-wrenchingly painful, and almost too much to stomach. But I realized that the point of hearing this news, was to help lighten the burden, so one person wouldn’t have to carry it all. After all, 10 people carrying one burden is so much easier than just one person carrying it all.


So, instead of running away from this news, I gave thanks for being surrounded by wonderful people in life and the chance to help make things right. Still, we can’t help but still feel sad and at some points, helpless. At times like these, I always find myself drawn back inside the kitchen, as if I could use the heat and warmth of the oven to ward away the bad news. Baking is an escape, yet at the same time, an activity that helps me think, process and reflect on the news that I have heard and figure out the best actions to take.


Today, it felt like the only person that I could turn to was Julia Child and her delicious banana bread (with just a couple modifications!). For me, banana bread has always been the perfect balance between elegant and homey. Bananas are not used as a typical baking ingredient, making them a little bit fancy, but a dash of vanilla and a handful (okay, maybe two or three handfuls) of chocolate turn it into one of the best comfort desserts in my opinion. There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into fresh and fragrant banana bread, and discovering molten pockets of luscious chocolate. Today I made this, for Julia Child, for the people that I love, and for me. A small piece of comfort in an entirely shaky and unknown world.


MOLTEN CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD | modified from bon appetit
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large, I find mashing them with a fork on a plate is easiest)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks (not chips!)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and oil a 9x5x3″ loaf pan
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, add chocolate chunks and make sure individual chocolate pieces are coated in flour (this will ensure they don’t sink to the bottom of the loaf pan while baking)
  3. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, vanilla and oil in a large bowl until smooth
  4. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined
  5. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top
  6. Bake for 60-70 min or until a toothpick/fork/skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean (be careful not to overbake, or bread will be dry!)

Let cool (if you can!)
Enjoy