My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sweets (with and without frosting!) ;-)

I hope everyone's enjoying a festive, relaxing holiday weekend!

I was expecting BW home from work on Christmas Eve at around 6:30, and by about 4:30 I was in the mood to bake and I was in the mood for chocolate. As cold as it was, I was also in the mood for spicy. That combination of moods can mean only one thing... Hearty Spiced Cocoa Muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking! So I baked some as a "congratulations for making it through another grueling Christmas season as a UPS man" surprise for BW...

I make these healthier by substituting organic whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour, unsweetened organic applesauce for the oil, and I use sucanat as my sweetener. To make them even more chocolatey, for the cup of non-dairy milk I use 1/2 cup each of chocolate and vanilla soy milk. Rarely having them around, I omit the vegan chocolate chips and do add pecans. I use organic, fair trade cocoa. And while I sometimes omit the cayenne and instead add a little peppermint extract or frost the muffins with a chocolate-mint frosting (based on Bryanna Clark Grogan's "Lean Cocoa Frosting" from The (Almost) No Fat Cookbook), when I'm in a spicy mood I do use a scant 1/4 tsp of the optional cayenne. When you want spicy, the cayenne is not optional!

If you are wrinkling your nose and making "ewww" sounds over the thought of combining cayenne and chocolate, you don't know what you're missing! It sounds odd, I know... but its piquant flavor is sublime. And if you know of what I speak and want more of this chocolate-chili tastebud fiesta, try this...

I'd be smiling too, gazing out over a sea of vegan dark chocolate!

I'm not the one with the sweet tooth... BW is. Our chocolate treats are a rare high-fat indulgence, but Christmas was a good excuse to both indulge and to surprise my cold, tired, over-worked sweetie with a favorite treat. But he managed to surprise me too, by arriving home an hour early! I had just taken the muffins out of the oven when he walked in the door, so he had to endure the agonizing wait while they cooled. :-)

Three ways to think of chocolate:

1. As a reward for having done something good.
2. As a consolation for having done something bad.
3. As a diversion from not having done anything at all.

And that wasn't our only Christmas surprise! I'd been pouting for a few days over a Christmas Day forecast that called for sunny skies and warm temps. I wanted cozy, dadgummit, but the forecast remained relentlessly, appallingly "nice." Until Thursday evening, when it suddenly changed (as it is wont to do here) to a winter weather advisory. We ended up yesterday with single-digit temps, fog, blustery winds and snow. Lots and lots and lots of snow! Pretty Christmas snow, no less... the fluffy kind with diamonds glinting in it! Josie had a jolly time wallowing in it, and she was uncharacteristically cooperative about posing for a photo before coming back inside (children are always such angels at Christmastime, aren't they?) So although our chocolate spiced cocoa muffins weren't frosted, our Josie muffin sure was! :-)

BW is off until Jan 4 (with the possible exception of Wednesday) ~ another VERY fun surprise! And we have lots going on, so my posts will be scant for a while. But I'll try to pop in again at least once before 2009 turns to 2010 (<--- am I the only one who thinks that looks weirdly futuristic?)


  1. Those chocolate spicy muffins do sound like they might be good but I sure wish you could send me just one over the internet line so I wouldn't have to make a whole batch to know!!

  2. I'll be enjoying your muffins virtually! The last time I baked something over ten years ago, it turned out inedible so now I leave it to the pros. ;-)

    I'm happy you got your white Christmas wish. It's only 50+ F here and I'm already too cold. I've only seen snow once when I was...five? Hopefully I'll get to experience it again in my adult years.

    Send my appreciation to your husband for working so hard, especially during this season. To me, they're the modern day Santa Claus bringing goodies to everyone...just not through the chimney!

  3. Your muffins sound wonderful. I would have definitely added the cayenne. But I love a little heat in the background.

    Once again, an adorable critter pic. You have a talent for the animal pics.

    I am glad you got snow for Christmas. We got an unpleasant rain on Christmas.

    talk to you soon,

  4. AdventureJo - (<-- hey, everyone, that's Joanne the amazing quilter! Sorry if I blew your cover, Jo! LOL) I also wish I could moosh a muffin through the "internet tubes" to you! Wouldn't that be great? I think you'd like them with the cayenne, but I'm sure you'd like the chocolate-peppermint frosting version. Next time one of us visits the other, I'll make a batch of the spicy ones so you can sample one. Of course, if it turns out you don't like it, I'd be stuck eating the other 15, which would be a dreadful shame... ;-)

    VW - I'd sure moosh some to you too if I could! But maybe after a decade, it's time to give baking another try? :-) Too bad you can't take one of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's very fun cooking classes, since she lives in Oakland. But she's on hiatus for 2010 to focus on other things. Bummer! At least you seem to be surrounded by vegan baking pros! No shortage of nummy baked goods in the Bay Area, that's for sure!
    I hope you'll get to enjoy some snow again one day soon (I'll moosh some along with the muffin!) Tell DH you'd like a trip to Tahoe for Valentine's Day. That gives you time to get little snowsuits made for Bert and Belle! :-D
    I've passed along your kind message of thanks to BW and he is most appreciative! Funny you should call the UPS folks "modern day Santa Clauses," because BW made up a little ditty several years ago and sings it each morning at work during Christmas peak... sung to the tune "We Are Santa's Elves" from the claymation classic, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," his version goes like this...
    "We are Santa's Elves, filling Santa's shelves...
    We do the work and he gets the credit,
    We are Santa's Elves!" :-)

    Alicia - I figured these muffins would be right up your alley! So you're definitely also a candidate for an email muffin moosh! (Trade you some muffins for a big slab of that lasanga!) :-)
    Thank you for your kind words about my critter pics. I sure do have fun taking them!
    Everyone I know seems to have had rain for Christmas! Our snow was so unexpected, that made it extra nice. That and the fact BW was home at last and we didn't have to go anywhere! Lovely!

    Thanks for the fun comments, kids! Do wish I could share my muffins and a pot of Fairytale Tea with you! :-)

  5. Make that lasagna. I really do know how to spell, but my fingers can be such outlaws! :-)

  6. So when should I be over for these delights & to play with the puppy??

  7. Well, Izzy, you can come over anytime to play with the pups, but if you want a muffin you'd best hustle... their numbers are dwindling fast! (Of course, I do have the technology to make You bring a pot of that veggie soup, and I'll make another batch of spicy cocoa muffins. Deal? :-)

  8. Glad you had such a tasty, peaceful Christmas. Chili and chocolate is amazing! Enjoy your time off together.


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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