Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I love waking up to delicious homemade breakfasts, especially on the weekends when there is no rush and I have time to set up the table with more eye-appealing foods. Don't you feel a little spark of happiness right when you wake up and suddenly remember that there is some yummy breakfast awaiting you in the kitchen? That nice feeling is, obviously, even better if someone has prepared that said breakfast for you and all you have to do is to sit down, relax and feel like a modern day Marie Antoinette (minus the cut-off head).
These Apple Cinnamon Muffins have been in my 'to do' list for a while and now that the weather is slowly turning more chilly, warm spiced sweets are very on point. I can't resist to these extremely tender muffins paired with my favorite rooibos chai latte. They are very big (small muffins look boring to me, they were born to be BIG and filled with chunks) so I guarantee you'll feel full with one.
I had some pecan nuts leftovers and my sister had the great idea of making a caramelized topping with them, we raised the muffins bar with it!
Muffins like these ones (easy to prepare but very delicious) will brighten up your dullest mornings.
By the way, this is the muffin pan I used so you can make an idea of how big they will come out.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
(makes 6 jumbo muffins)

1 cup apple chunks (1 large apple approx.).
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
2 tsp baking powder.
1/2 tsp baking soda.
1 free-range egg (or 1 "flax egg", 1 tbsp flax meal plus 3 tbsp water).
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp organic whole cane sugar.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1/3 cup sunflower oil.
1 cup low-fat natural yogurt (or soy yogurt).
3/4 cup pecan nuts, chopped.
2 tbsp pure maple syrup.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease your muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Chop pecan nuts, pour maple syrup over them and mix with your own hands...it's gonna get sticky but so worth it!
In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, mix well.
In a separate bowl beat eat and sugar until fully incorporated and pale. Add in the oil, yogurt and mix again, you should get a soft paste. Remember that when making muffins the batter doesn't necessarily need to be very worked, I always mix on low-medium speed.
Wash, peel and core the apple. Drizzle with lemon juice to keep them from browning.
Cut the apple into small dices and finally stir into the mixture.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and sprinkle over the pecan topping.
Bake for 30-35 minutes approximately until golden brown on top. 
Let the muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.


Spiced Sweet Potato Blondies

It's been two quiet weeks here at Cinnamon Girl but those who follow my bakery ramblings on Facebook already know that I was celebrating my birthday (september 18th, mark your calendars for the next year! hee hee), seizing the last days of summer and of course eating cake, lots of birthday cake!
Now it's time to go back to the routine, the blogging tasks, recipes testing and also time to burn off those extra calories of my delicious birthday cake!
Days begin to get shorter here and the air is not so warm anymore...yes, ladies and gents, autumn is here and seems like my body isn't ready for it cause I caught the first cold of the season but despite the runny nose and being half deaf, it's all good. That didn't stop me to bring you a new recipe with a nice autumn-ish touch: sweet, moist and dense Vegan Sweet Potato Blondies. These are certainly dense and sweet so I changed up the recipe a bit to suit my taste and make them not too overwhelming sweet: the original recipe calls for 2/3 cups of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, well I thought that was too much so I kept the same amount of dark brown sugar but reduced the other one to 2/4 cups.
Baked sweet potatoes...mmmmm...probably one of my favorite scents in the whole wide world and a healthy sweet treat that I love to enjoy when it's cold and gloomy outside (gosh, I can't believe I'm already using the words 'cold' and 'gloomy' again...fall season is definitely here, I guess).
To me, thinking about homemade bread, pumpkin muffins and all things warm and cozy that you can do when it's chilly makes the transition from summer to fall a tad bit more bearable.
I'm sure that these delicious squares will help you beat the autumn blues for sure!

Receta en español aquí!

Spiced Sweet Potato Blondies
(Recipe adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar)

(Makes 12 blondies)
3/4 cup baked orange-colored sweet potato, mashed.
1/2 cup sunflower oil.
2/4 cup sugar.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar.
1/4 cup nondairy milk.
2 tsp vanilla.
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour.
1/4 tsp baking powder.
1/4 tsp salt.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1/2 tsp ground ginger.
1/4 tsp ground allspice*.
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.

*Allspice is also known as Jamaica pepper.

Line the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch square brownie pan with parchment paper and spray the sides with a little nonstick cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Mash the baked sweet potato with a fork until it's pureed.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potato, oil, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, and vanilla until smooth. Don't worry if a few small chunks of sweet potato remain in the batter.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and all-spice. Mix just enough to moisten, then fold in the nuts. Do not overmix.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan and level the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, take care not to overbake. Blondies are done if a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
Allow the blondies to cool at least 30 minutes for the texture and flavor to fully develop, then slice into 12 squares.
Store in a covered container.


Healthy Mojito Pops

It's already the second week of september and seems like everybody is saying goodbye to summer and the vacations...oh boy! How time flies! Feels like it was yesterday when I was making plans for the holidays and writting and endless list of things to do and new recipes to try during summer and, all of a sudden, my birthday is approaching (*insert dramatic-apocalyptic music*) and pumpkin season is right around the corner. Actually these days I've seen several food websites and blogs where they are already talking about Halloween, pumpkin pies and all-autumn things. 
Summer isn't officially over and it's still (super) humid and hot here in Barcelona. Thinking about coats, rain boots and chicken soup are the last things on my mind.
We're still in time to enjoy refreshing, sweet and yummy frozen desserts because summer ain't over, because these pops are healthy and because...Mojito!
My Healthy Mojito Pops are the frozen version of Jason Vale's (aka The Juice Master) Healthy Mojito Juice: it tastes literally like a mojito minus all the sugar and the alcohol, so delicious! I was so amazed after the first taste, you can really enjoy this classic cocktail with zero guilt.
I'm now a declared fan of Jason Vale's juices, they are all amazing and super delicious. I'd have never thought that celery, beetroot, spinachs and any veggie your mind can imagine could make such a perfect team with fruits!

Now let's seize the last days of summer! 
Healthy Mojito Pops
(yield: 6 pops approx.)

2 limes, peeled.
4 handfuls fresh mint leaves*.
8 handfuls green seedless grapes.

*Reserve a few mint leaves to decorate each pop.

Put grapes, lime and mint leaves into your juicer. Juice everything together. 
Pour the mixture into your popsicle molds and alternate with some thin lime slices and a few fresh mint leaves.
Freeze and insert wooden pop sticks 30-40 minutes approximately after they have been transferred into the freezer.
Depending on the size of your popsicle mold you will get more or less pops. 
Do not forget to cover them with tin foil paper and keep them away from food with strong odor.


Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream

I knew I couldn't let August pass by without an ice cream recipe...and oh boy! ,this is not your average homemade ice cream, this is, my fellow chocoholics, THE ultimate ice cream recipe!
When I posted my Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies from the cookbook Vegan Chocolate, Fran Costigan (the author of this wonderful book) asked what would I try next and I had no doubt: "Ice cream!", I answered. My previous attempts at making homemade ice creams resulted in containers full of something looking more close to crushed ice than actual ice cream. But since every single recipe I tried from Fran's book has been a great success I knew this one wouldn't disappoint me.
This Vegan Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream has everything you could wish for in a scoop: extremely creamy, flavorful and delicious chocolate ice cream with chunks of very fudgy brownies and a generous drizzle of thick chocolate sauce. You want more? Okay, I bring you two additional add-ins: chopped pistachios and hazelnuts. It's seriously the best chocolate ice cream I've ever tasted, my family loved it and we all concurred in how creamy it was. It's amazing how good a homemade ice cream can taste. I'll make more this weekend cause it was gone in a flash and everybody is asking me for more.
Taking pictures of ice creams can be a bit of a challenge, specially if you live in a hot humid area like I do. Thankfully I had the best photo assistant that day (aka my sister) and I'm really happy with how the photographs came out...plus not a single scoop of ice cream went to waste! ;-)
Shake off the dust of your old ice cream maker and run to the kitchen, you're still in time to make an amazing ice cream at home before summer ends (but I guarantee you, this one's so good you'll want to make it even in winter).

I suggest you to plan ahead this recipe so you'll save time in the kitchen and enjoy this ice cream in less than you think.
1- Soak cashews overnight.
2- Make the brownies and the cashew cream. Once the brownie cake is cold freeze until you need to use it. Refrigerate the cashew cream (up to three days).
3- Don't forget to put the churning bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer. To make sure it's fully chilled I put mine at least 24 hours before using. This always depends on what type of ice cream maker you own.
4- Make the ice cream. While the ice cream hardens you can prepare a yummy chocolate sauce and some other toppings.

NOTE: one recipe of the Very Fudgy Brownies makes more chunks than you'll need for this ice cream. Keep the leftovers in the freezer until you need them to make more ice cream (I'm pretty sure you'll have enough brownies to make 3 ice creams).

Receta en español aquí!

Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream
(recipe from 'Vegan Chocolate' by Fran Costigan)

1 1/2 cups cashew cream.
1/2 cup almond milk.
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar.
2 tbsp pure maple syrup.
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder.
1/8 tsp xanthan gum.
One pinch of fine sea salt.
3 ounces/85g frozen brownies.

- For the Basic Cashew Cream:
1 cup whole raw cashews, rinsed and soaked overnight.
2/3 cup water, room temperature.
1/4 cup pure maple syrup.
1 tsp pure vanilla extract.
1/4 tsp xanthan gum.

Chocolate sauce.
Chopped pistachios and hazelnuts.

Cashew Cream:
This basic cashew cream is very easy to make. You just need to put the rinsed cashews into a blender, add the water, maple syrup and vanilla and blend. Gradually increasing the speed, blend for 1 minute until the cream is smooth and no small bits of nuts remain unblended.
Add the xanthan gum with caution, making sure it doesn't touch the sides of the blender. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds and increase the speed to high to blend for 1 more minute. Refrigerate until needed.

Ice Cream:
Blend together cashew cream, almond milk, sugar, maple syrup and cocoa powder on high speed until all ingredients are completely combined and the batter is smooth. If you use a blender this will take you only 1 minute.
Sprinkle the xanthan gum directly onto the mixture. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds to avoid the xanthan gum to go all the way to the sides of the blender and then increase the speed to high. Blend for 1 minute and finally add a small pinch of salt.
Pour the ice cream base into a wide flat container (it is important to store it in a flat container to prevent ice crystals from forming, avoid any kind of pints). Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours approximately until it's completely chilled before churning. The colder (NOT frozen) your base is, the creamier your ice cream will be.
Pour the cold mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's directions. I churned mine for 30 minutes.
Cut the cold brownies into small pieces and refrigerate again until needed.
Add the brownies at the very last minute of churning, this way the chunks won't break.
Transfer the ice cream using a silicone spatula to the flat container. Cover and freeze for 1 to 2 hours until the ice cream is hard enough to scoop.

While the ice cream is in the freezer we can prepare some delicious toppings like a thick chocolate sauce to pour over. I made the Thick Fudge Sauce also from the same book (for those of you who have it, the recipe for this chocolate sauce is in the page 277).
If you want to make this ice cream look super fancy, chop a small handful of your favorite nuts and sprinkle on top. I chopped raw pistachios and hazelnuts.


Lemon Macadamia Cookies

Can't believe I haven't posted any recipe since late July, hmmm...I guess when you're having fun (and a lazy ass too), enjoying summer holidays and spending some quality time with your loved ones time flies! 
I know I said this blog would remain 'open' during the summer holidays but I felt like I really needed a little break from social media and spending hours in front of my laptop writing recipes and editing food pictures. Instead of blogging till late at night I've been chilling at home, watching funny movies (I so needed some good laughs!), drinking fresh homemade lemonade made by my sister and eating yummy mangoes like there's no tomorrow, yep, they are my ultimate obsession.
My oven hasn't been on vacation though, in fact I have quite a lot of pending recipes to publish and I can't wait to show them all to you. 
Summer calls for fruity recipes and I love anything lemon/lime-based. These Lemon Macadamia Cookies have everything to make them the perfect summer cookies: a lively touch of fresh lemon, soft chunks of macadamia nuts and a nice lightly-cakey texture, soft in the center but firm along the edges. Plus they are healthy and guilt-free! These cookies are vegan (which means dairy-free), sugar-free and contains a good proportion of whole-wheat flour. 
Let's begin with the recipe!

Click aquí para la receta en español!

Lemon Macadamia Cookies
(makes 2 dozen cookies)

2/3 cup agave nectar.
2/3 cup sunflower oil.
2 tbsp nondairy milk.
1 tbsp ground flax seeds.
Grated zest of one lemon.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
1 cup whole-wheat flour.
3/4 tsp baking soda.
A rounded 1/4 tsp fine sea salt.
1 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts.

Preheat oven to 325ºF (163ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together agave nectar, oil, nondairy milk, flax seeds and lemon zest until smooth. Sift in the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt and mix to form a soft dough. Fold in the macadamia chunks.
Scoop generously rounded tablespoons of dough (remember to leave enough space between cookies as they will spread a bit) onto the baking sheets. 
Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Store in a tightly covered container.