Chow Bella

Kimberly Blaess, What Are You Baking?

Even if your oven sits cold all year, chances are you're considering firing it up, right about now. As a holiday twist on our "What Are You Eating?" feature on Chow Bella and "What Are You Wearing?" on Jackalope Ranch, for the next few weeks we'll be bringing you "What Are You Baking?" Complete with a recipe, so you can DIY.
Today we have Kim Blaess, a vegetarian and psychology graduate student who makes living the veg life look (and sound) oh so good.

What are you baking for the holidays this year?
I am most excited to make a drunken apple cake which includes a yummy rum. I am making traditional spritz cookies with a cookie press, pumpkin cranberry scones and, if I have time, a giant cherry and chocolate cupcake.

Favorite holiday treats?
While I love all sweets, it just wouldn't be Christmas without Corn Flake wreaths. It's not
technically baking, however as young girl before I was allowed to use the stove I have fond memories of making these for my family. Another favorite holiday cookie is the spritz cookie. It's so full of that delicious almond flavor and the many designs and frosting/sprinkle options always make them fun to make.

Find out more about Kim, including what she would do if she could get her hands on some starfruit and her recipe for the most simple vegan cake batter ever, after the jump.

Least favorite holiday foods?
This is hard because I like most food. However, I would have to say it's sweet potatoes with marshmallow concoction -- I have never understood how I can like both separately, but can't stand them together.

Any food items on your holiday wish list this year?
I would love to get my hands on some starfruit. I realize they are out of season and hard to find in the desert, but I have been craving a type of baked glazed pear and starfruit crumbly something, topped with cinnamon, homemade granola and vanilla bean ice cream.

Any food-related New Year's resolutions?
This year I am going to try an all raw foods menu for ten days now that I have a new fancy blender -- it is something I have wanted to do for some time. I'm also thinking this is the year to transition from vegetarian to vegan.

The Most Simple Vegan Brownie/Cake/Cupcake Batter Ever
(This recipe was in honor of somebody who passed away who lived the majority of his life as a vegan.)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sweetener (stevia powder, Splenda)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
2. Mix the cocoa powder, vegetable oil, and water together in a bowl. Stir the stevia and sugar into the mixture. Pour the soy milk and vanilla into the mixture and stir. Add the flour and baking powder; continue stirring until the batter is smooth.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges have started to pull way from the sides of the pan, about 35 minutes.

Kim's baking tips: I used Splenda to prevent stevia's funky aftertaste. Also, as vegan baking goes, things are a little more dense so I opt to use a muffin pan. I sprinkle powdered sugar on the top, but frosting, peanut butter or a vegan "cream cheese" could work too because they really come out like mini cakes. Enjoy!

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Kelly Green