So I like to experiment when I cook, which is typically why I like cooking better than baking because baking sometimes actually requires precise measurements, and where is the fun in that! When I bake instead of following recipes I tend to go off-script and improvise, make additions, changes or substitutions of healthier ingredients. I tried this a couple of times in the past two days and as experiments go, I had one failure and one great success! And the failure was not exactly a major fail, it just didn't turn out as I knew it should, but I tried and learned!
The failure first: black bean brownies. Well a bunch of recipes kept cropping up on my radar (and my facebook wall) and so I kind of combined a few different recipes. Nomeatathlete.com had a recipe that I thought had far too much sugar, a different website substituted bananas for sugar but I don't eat bananas right now because of bad memories that the taste draws up (that's all you need to know if you don't know the full reason.) I decided I could maybe substitute the same amount of bananas with apple sauce and baked sweet potatoes - because they add natural sweetness and a similar amount of wet ingredients. It didn't work as well as I'd hoped, the applesauce taste came through in the results and I think there was too much wet ingredient versus the dry ingredients - but I will experiment again and make it work because vegan black bean brownies I've heard can be excellent and I would love to turn my experiment into excellence!
And now for the success: Coconut oil almond poundcake! Basically a twist on olive oil pound cake this is a recipe I modified from the New York Times when they did an article debunking the myth about coconut oil. Coconut oil got a bad rap because it was partially hydrogenated to make that evil fat called trans fat! But virgin coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, is a great way to avoid using butter or other animal fat and is actually a kind of fat that is good for you! (well it still shouldn't be eaten by the spoonful or anything) It is made up of lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid chain that is claimed (but not proven) to have a lot of health benefits like anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. And it works really well in this recipe! This recipe is dairy free but not vegan because it does use eggs!
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup almond milk (if unsweetened almond milk use 1 cup sugar, if regular use 3/4 cup sugar)
1/4 cup water
3 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon lime juice or the zest of one lime
1 cup unbleached or whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
Melt the coconut oil in a small pan, once melted whisk in a bowl with sugar, almond milk, water, eggs and lime juice/zest. Fold in the dry ingredients- flours, baking powder, salt and nutmeg - until combined. Pour into the loaf pan and level it out.
In a small bowl mix the agave nectar with a little water (1-2 teaspoons) and the sliced almonds. Then sprinkle almonds over the top of the loaf.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until a knife comes out of the center clean and it is golden brown on top. Let it cool completely before serving!
Toast a slice of it and spread some almond butter on top and it is wonderful! It's seriously really good!