homemade vanilla extract

I recently experienced sticker shock at the grocery store while shopping for vanilla extract, which prompted me to instead purchase vanilla beans and vodka. Time to make homemade vanilla extract!

First, I checked Barnivore to find a vegan-friendly vodka and settled on a pint of Skyy. Then I found two empty jars with lids. You can use one large jar, but I’m going to divide my batch and give my kitchen cohort Sue a jar of homemade vanilla extract so that she can bake something yummy for me.

extract_fixins

Slice four or five vanilla beans down the middle and split each one, place them in the jar(s), and cover with vodka. Seal tightly and let sit for at least 5 weeks. The longer they stew, the stronger your extract will be.

vegan fudge

Vegans love decadent goodies too! Bettina in California submitted this simple and delicious recipe.

6 Tbs. vegan margarine (we used Earth Balance)
3-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup soymilk
1 cup walnuts, pecans, etc., chopped (if desired)

Lightly grease a pan with vegan margarine. Place all ingredients, except for nuts, in a double boiler. Place over simmering water and stir until smooth. Add nuts (if desired) and pour mixture into prepared pan. Chill.

cranberry walnut oatmeal

This delightful breakfast dish is baked in the oven, warming your kitchen on a chilly morning and scenting your home with a cinnamon fragrance. You’ll love it!

2 1/2 cups almond milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a medium-size baking dish (8″ x 8″ or larger) with margarine or canola oil.

2. Mix first five ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in oats, cranberries, and walnuts. Pour into baking dish. Cover and bake for about 35 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the oats are tender.

Substitution suggestions: Instead of cranberries, try dried currants, golden raisins, or dried apricots. Try toasted almonds or pecans instead of walnuts.

pistachio brittle

Timing is everything when making candy, so prepare your utensils and measure your ingredients before you begin. A candy thermometer will ensure optimum results. Sue says this brittle is so tasty, it’s totally gift-worthy.

Cooking oil spray
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Grease a large cookie sheet with cooking oil spray and set aside. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium heat until bubbling begins. Increase heat slightly until sugar mix comes to a full rolling boil, and insert candy thermometer. Boil, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 300° (in about 5 to 10 minutes).

2. Remove thermometer; add nuts, vanilla, and baking soda to sugar mix. Stir quickly and immediately pour onto prepared cookie sheet. Work quickly, and spread mixture evenly. Allow to cool completely before breaking into small pieces.

sue’s vegan chocolate walnut cake

When a reader asked for a vegan chocolate cake recipe, Sue took up the challenge in the test kitchens. The results are delicious.

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
3 Tbs. vegan cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine
5 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cold water

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large mixing bowl, stir first six ingredients with a wire whisk. Add remaining four ingredients. Mix until smooth (about 1 minute).

2. Grease a 9x9x2 pan with canola oil or cooking oil spray. Pour batter into pan and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool; dust with powdered sugar.

HIGH-ALTITUDE (over 5000 ft.) adjustments:
Add 1 Tbs. flour and reduce oil to 1/4 cup. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes.

best ever vegan oat nut date bars

Our friends at The Vegetarian Site claim that this is one of their favorite desserts of all time. Try it and see for yourself!

filling:
3/4 pound dates, chopped
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1 cup water
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

crust:
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup vegan margarine (never hydrogenated)
1 cup unrefined sugar

1. In medium saucepan, combine dates, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (approximately 8 minutes). Remove from heat and cool. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and walnuts.

2. In separate mixing bowl, sift flour, salt, and baking soda. Add oatmeal, applesauce, margarine, and sugar. Combine well. With wet hands, press half of the oatmeal mixture into a greased 13x9x2-inch or 11x11x2-inch pan. Spread with filling. Cover with remaining oatmeal mixture.

3. Bake at 350º for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool to room temperature and cut into squares. Refrigerate if desired. Enjoy!

More vegan recipes from the Vegetarian Site are available here.