Thursday, January 21, 2010

experimental vegan ginger pistachio pear blondies

I've been trying to become a vegan baker since the betrothed is lactose-intolerant and is allergic to eggs.  He however loves baked treats and eats the conventional ones and gets some mild gastric distress!  Since he isn't vegan, I often use lactose-free milk and substitute almond oil or nut butters for eggs in recipes to make cookies.  This website is a very helpful guide to substitutions.

I thought the blondies I made for the Sugar-fest would be a perfect subject for vegan experimentation since they are dense, and already have fruit and nut flavors, which are key to flavorful substitutions.  I made poached pears the other night, and I thought the leftover poaching liquid* would be smart to use since it would bring additional flavor and be a good liquid replacement for the eggs.  These blondies were delicious, more moist and cake-y than the other ones, but still dense and toothsome.  Like the conventional blondies, we forgot to take a pictures before they were all gone!  Here they are, still in the pan, just out of the oven.  I'm thinking of making a version next week with chocolate chips, dried cherries and almonds.  I like leaving the betrothed with something in the cookie jar when I have to leave town.

Vegan pear pistachio ginger blondies
adapted from the martha stewart recipe
Takes 1 hour
Makes 16 blondie squares

9 tablespoons (1 1/8 sticks) Earth Balance, softened, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar syrup / pear poaching liquid
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brunoised pear, 1 ripe but not very soft bosc pear
3/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter an 8-inch square pan.  Line with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides.  Butter parchment.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix in pears, ginger and nuts so that they are just coated.

In a separate bowl, beat together Earth Balance and sugar until sort of fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and sugar syrup, and mix until combined.  Mix in flour-fruit-nut mixture until combined.

Dump dough into pan and spread evenly.  Bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes.  It's done when a fork inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean.  Let cool for about 15 minutes.  Lift the blondies out of the pan onto a cutting board and let cool completely.  Cut into squares.  They are best within three days.

*  The liquid was made by simmering 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 4 cups water, 4 pears (halved and cored), 4 crushed cardamom pods, 10 peppercorns, an inch of ginger, sliced, for about 30 minutes.  I can never bring myself to throw such deliciousness away, so I substituted 1/4 cup of poaching liquid for 1/4 cup of the light brown sugar.  Poached pears are one of my favorite winter desserts.  Use those pears that never seem to get soft enough to eat plain, or the ones that are grainy and mealy.

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