Smoke & Fire Cookies (Vegan!)

I know I’ve waxed poetic about Fix and Fogg before, but really, these guys are my favorite. When I was back in Wellington I made sure to stock up on some of their excellent peanut butter, and when I went to their adorable storefront to buy a jar, the guy working offered me a sample of the new spiced peanut butter they’re making. Spiced peanut butter! It sounds weird, and it is, but it is AMAZING. Needless to say I bought a jar.

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I know what you’re thinking – that’s nice and all, but I’m not in Wellington, so I guess I can’t bake these cookies. Well, no. While I am 100% certain these would be better made with actual F&F Smoke and Fire, I actually made them with regular old chunky peanut butter and an assortment of spices to imitate the real stuff. Because that one jar of spicy peanut butter I brought back? Yeah, I ate all of that. With a spoon. In about a week. And so until Fix and Fogg start exporting (please start exporting!) this is what I have to tide me over.

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Vegan Hippie Cookies

I know what you’re thinking – more vegan baking? Already? Don’t worry, as soon as I finish this post I’m going downstairs for some more traditional lacto-ovo-vegetarian baking, but yes. I made some vegan cookies. And they were amazing, although weirdly my new coworkers here in Australia did not eat all of them. I brought a whole box and only about half went. Quite a change from bringing literally 100+ cookies into work and having people tell me I hadn’t made enough. I’m a little relieved, to be honest.

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These are not actually all that outrageous. I still used refined sugar and wheat flour, because at the end of the day I just love my chocolate chip cookie recipe too much as it is. So if, like me, you’re more of a health fan than a health freak, or if, like me, you just have a couple vegan friends and you want to give them some cookies, this is perfect. And they taste amazing. The cacao nibs (broken-up bits of raw cacao beans, and definitely part of what makes these hippie cookies) add a nice intensity of flavor and a bit of crunch. And the coconut butter adds just the right amount of coconut flavor – it’s not overwhelming, but it’s there. Equally important is the texture, which is not all that different from your standard chocolate chip cookie, though perhaps a bit softer.

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Josey Baker’s (Gluten-Free, Vegan) Adventure Bread

Bake this bread. Seriously, stop what you’re doing, go buy some nuts and oats and seeds, and get started, because it won’t be ready for at least another five and a half hours, which is already way too long to wait. This stuff is delicious. I ate at least five pieces of it, and the part I brought over to my backpacker friends (you know me, I have to give my baking away to someone) received rave reviews. It’s great plain, it’s great with butter, it’s great with olive oil, I can only imagine how good it would be with some honey or peanut butter or the right kind of cheese (I’m thinking a really sharp, nutty cheddar). It’s got a bit of a daunting ingredients list, but it is one of the easiest breads I have ever made. I promise.

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And it’s naturally gluten-free (although if you are baking this for someone with Celiac Disease, make sure your oats aren’t contaminated. I know a lot of major brands aren’t actually Celiac-friendly). Which is great, because I have a horrible confession to make, you guys: I’ve been cutting down on gluten. When I first got to Australia, I was all set to live off my favorite cheap diet of peanut butter sandwiches, but it turns out my stomach can’t handle quite that much wheat, and so I have become one of those obnoxious people with a fake gluten intolerance. I know, I’m not happy about it either. I will by no means be giving up flour on this blog, so don’t you worry. I’ve just been exploring some naturally gluten-free recipes as well. And this one, well, I think I may have mentioned that this one is delicious.

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

I’m sorry guys. I’m so sorry. I’ve been neglecting you. It’s not just that I’ve been baking less often – though I have definitely been baking less often. I’ve also been doing some seriously sloppy baking (and, as you can probably tell from the photos below, some even sloppier photography). I just sort of throw things together, and then I heat it all up in the hostel toaster oven (which is actually a decent little oven, but I know it’s lying to me about the temperature so there’s a lot of guesswork involved.) Sloppy. I even managed to bake the first batch of these without sugar. Eight ingredients and I managed to forget one.

So yes, I apologize. But I’ve moved into a new place, with a nice kitchen with things like scales and measuring cups. Mixing bowls. A fridge with enough space to chill things. It’s wonderful. I’m about to start on my first baking endeavor, but I wanted to give you guys a couple of the nice things I baked in the hostel to tide you over.

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