BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen is typically the year that one bridges the gap from childhood to adulthood, coming of age through the lens of tradition. Though not much really changes, aside from the ability to achieve legal employment, the number symbolizes great expectations for any young pup. But what about an actual pup? Age ain’t nothing but a number, especially now that my old lady clocks in at 77 years old in dog years. She may not be on the path to a promising career at this rate, but she does still have plenty to look forward to, like cake, for starters.

Inspired by the need for softer treats to better suit her particular dental situation, cake-like cookies seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Cookies aren’t quite enough to celebrate such a significant event, though, so I turned to my favorite cookie with an identity crisis: The whoopie pie (or in this case, “woofie” pie.) It’s definitely not a pie, despite the name, and much more like a mini-cake than a sandwich cookie, but semantics aside, they’re hard to resist. Using carob to keep them dog-friendly rather than chocolate, they look just as delicious as their traditional counterparts, but you might want to stick to the classic to suit a human palate. Added sugar is something my baby simply doesn’t need in her diet, so these treats look much sweeter than they actually taste. Additionally, dogs shouldn’t get excessive amounts of salt, so you’ll notice that it’s lacking in this formula as well. Regardless of what it does and doesn’t contain, Isis didn’t care much as she wolfed down her birthday surprise in record time. It may not be as grand as the plated dessert I lavished on her a few years back, but I’d like to believe it was met with equal appreciation.

Woofie Pies

Carob Sandwich Coookies:

1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Carob Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 Cup 100% Carrot Juice or No Salt Added Vegetable Stock
1/4 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Puree
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Cream Filling:

1 Cup White Potatoes, Peeled, Diced, Boiled, and Mashed*

*Potatoes are safe for dogs to eat, but you must be very careful about their preparation. The potatoes must be thoroughly and completely cooked- Never feed a dog raw potato. Likewise, never use any potatoes that have any green parts, as those are highly toxic to dogs. For a more complete list of foods to avoid when cooking for canines, check here.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or silpats.

Carob can be rather clumpy, so be sure to sift it before measuring if necessary. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, carob powder, baking powder and soda, distributing the dry goods equally throughout the mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the carrot juice or vegetable stock, vinegar, pumpkin puree, and oil, stirring lightly to break up the pumpkin. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry, and mix with a wide spatula just until the batter comes together with few lumps. There’s no need to beat it completely smooth, but make sure that there are no pockets of flour remaining.

Use a small cookie scoop or two spoons to portion out equal, walnut-sized dollops of the batter on your prepared baking sheet, spaced about 1 inch apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 6 – 9 minutes, until the edges are set and a toothpick inserted into the centers pulls out cleanly. Let cool completely on the sheets before filling.

For the cream filling, simply mash the cooked potato until it’s completely smooth and spread about 1 – 2 teaspoons on the flat side of one cookie. Top with a second, and repeat until all the cookies are filled. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Makes 24 Cookies or 12 Filled Woofie Pies

Printable Recipe


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Twenty-Three

In the most minimal fashion, much like the twenty-second year preceding it, my twenty third birthday came and went. There was ice skating with my dad, a shared lunch, a black and white movie at home, and cake; no party, and no candles. Not so much a day of celebration as a day of rest, which sounds just about right to me.

Birthdays of mine have been historically bad days in the past, taking into consideration both apocalyptic winter weather and borderline psychotic meltdowns, so this quieter, uneventful rendition was a merciful change of pace. Less a marker of having arrived at some milestone, I found the date reassuring, a small checkpoint within the greater journey. I’m still here, twenty three years later, and it’s beginning to look like I may just be here in another twenty three as well. Imagine that.

Corresponding with my laid back non-celebration, the cake at hand was simple, unfussy- Homely by some estimations. All I wanted was a dark, moist, spicy gingerbread cake, one that reminded me of The One That Got Away. Ten years ago, scouting out a location for my Bat Mitzvah, I chose the final restaurant based solely on the gingerbread cake served for dessert. Dripping with caramel and finished with a fluffy halo towering over the plate, it’s now all I remember about that meal. In my youth and excitement, it never occurred to me that the event would be catered, and I would never see that beauty of a cake again. In fact, the restaurant has since gone out of business, just to close that book entirely.

So I made it for myself, ten years later. (Ten years. 10. It bears repeating because it seems wildly impossible that so much time could have passed.) Even if there were no candles and no fanfare, it was the perfect ending to my non-celebration.

Gingerbread Blackout Cake

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Black Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
6 – 7 Teaspoons (2 Heaping Tablespoons) Ground Ginger
2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Cup Brewed and Cooled Coffee
3/4 Cup Molasses
3/4 Cup No Sugar Added Pumpkin Butter or Apple Butter
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Canola Oil

Vegan Butterscotch Sauce (From Vegan À La Mode, coming soon!) or Caramel Sauce, and Whipped Creme

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan; Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and spices. Whisk well to distribute all of the dry goods throughout, and double-check that there are no clumps.

Separately, mix the coffee, molasses, pumpkin butter, sugar, and oil until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry, and stir with a wide spatula to bring the two together. Being careful not to over-mix, stir just until the batter is smooth and not a second longer. Transfer the batter into your prepared baking pan, smooth out the top, and pop it in the oven. Immediately turn down the heat to 325 degrees, even before you close the oven door.

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean- Perhaps with a few moist crumbs sticking to it but certainly not wet. Let cool completely before slicing and serving with butterscotch sauce and whipped creme.

If time allows, this cake does get better with age, so try to make it a day or two in advance for the flavor profile to become more nuanced and balanced.

Makes 16 – 20 Servings

Printable Recipe

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