Sep 11, 2015

Recipe Box- Vegan Candied Ginger Shortcakes

You know what I love?

Good food and delightful performance.

And I got to do both at Dinner at a Drag Queen's House the other night. With the help of our director Will and led by Armand Fields as Miss Cleo Pockalipps, Sarah Beth and I played "sisters" and hosts for a fabulous dinner party. We played some ukuleles, sang some covers and original songs, filled glasses, plates, stomachs, and eyes, and generally, had a ball. I mean, just look at us...

About two weeks before the event, we found out that the original pastry chef wasn't going to be available for the party after all. Cue the fanfare! Honey Baby to the rescue! But, this wasn't any "run of the mill" dessert. We wanted something that people could get involved in...something they could help create...and, most importantly, it had to be VEGAN. 

Gasp! Clutch your pearls, girl!

You know how much I love delicious butter, but I was up for the challenge. First, we had to think of dish that allowed people the freedom to customize their own plate. DING! Shortcakes. A shortcake bar was just the thing for this event. People could cover their shortcake with whatever toppings they fancied. Coconut whipped cream, chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, balsamic roasted raspberry sauce, fresh sliced peaches, candied bacon...you name, we probably had it. Just look at this sweet setup...

And, luckily, shortcakes can easily be made vegan with, you guessed it, coconut oil. Seriously, you can make anything with this stuff. Biscuits? Check. Lotion? Check. Overdrawn bank account? Not out of the question.

I did a little research and came across this amazing blog, Minimalist Baker, who specializes in vegan baking and found her recipe for Double Chocolate Shortcakes. I definitely made these little babies, and with a little cusomization, I came up with their counterpart...

Candied Ginger Vegan Shortcakes

makes about 18 shortcakes

1 1/2 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 c. of sugar

2/3 c. of room temp coconut oil

1/2 c. finely chopped candied ginger

1/4 tsp. cinnamon or baking spice

You know the deal...Pre-heat that oven, girlfriend! 450 degrees!

Clean out of buttermilk? No problem! You can make your own with whatever milk you have on hand and a splash of lemon juice. I first learned this trick while making a cake many years ago. I'd forgotten to buy buttermilk at the store, but luckily, my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook was on hand to calm my fears. And, luckily, this trick applies to non-dairy milk too! 

So, measure out your almond milk and then stir in the lemon juice. Set the bowl to the side to let it do its thing while you get your dry ingredients ready. Mix together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt together in a big bowl and get ready to work in the coconut oil.

Now, a note about this. It's really important that the coconut oil is at room temp. Not cold from the fridge or warmed-up in the microwave. It truly needs to be at room temp. If you try to warm it up in the microwave, it's likely that it will melt since the melt point is lower than butter, and then you'll have to wait for it warm back up again to a solid. Trust me...I learned this lesson first hand. Whoops! 

Okay, so your dry ingredients are mixed and your coconut oil is at the perfect temperature because you're the best baker in all the land. So, measure out your coconut oil, grab that pastry cutter, and go to town. Just like with biscuits or a pie crust, you want to cut coconut oil into the flour until the mixture resembles wet sand. Also, I would really recommend using a pastry cutter and not your hands for this project. You really don't want to melt the coconut oil with the heat of your hands 'cause you'll end up with tough and dense cakes. Boo! Hiss!

Once you've cut in the coconut oil, make a well in the center and pour in about half of the soured almond milk. You may notice that it looks a little curdled. Have no fear! That's exactly what it's supposed to do! Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined, make another little well, and pour in the rest of the milk. Add in your candied ginger pieces and mix until it just comes together. 

Turn the dough out of a bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Now comes the trick to making super light and fluffly shortcakes (and biscuits for that matter.). Once you've gently worked the dough into a circle, begin to fold it over itself about 5 or 6 times. You are literally making those delicious flaky layers that we love so much. Be gentle though! You don't need to knead the dough. You're just folding it. 

Now that you've shaped and folded the dough, press it out until you have a uniform level of dough, about 1 inch thick. Then, take a floured biscuit cutter and punch out individual cakes. Once you've run out of places to punch, gently roll the dough back together, press out a new layer, and keep punching out shortcakes until you run out of dough. 

Then, arrange the shortcakes on a bare and ungreased sheet tray so they are lightly touching each other. Then, make a little indention on the top of each one with your thumb. Both of these steps help ensure that the shortcakes will rise evenly. 

Pop those babies in the oven and bake them for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool for about 10 minutes on the tray. Then, gently pull them apart and cool them on a rack or serve them immediately.

These shortcakes are the jam. Seriously. They are so good. They are good for breakfast. They are good for a snack. They are good for dessert. They are just good. Fluffy, lightly sweet, flaky, with little hints of spicy and sweet ginger. Yum!