Nov 27

bourbon balls

I miss my old Kentucky home in one way or another every single day. I miss the people. I miss the porch swings. I miss how the air smells like someone tossed tree bark, fresh-cut grass, apple peel, bourbon and a hint of mint into a mason jar, shook it all up together and then poured it onto the clouds. I miss Kentucky the most around the holidays and lucky for me I get to take a road trip south in a few weeks. Until then, you can find me in my teeny tiny Brooklyn kitchen, rolling up and devouring more chocolate bourbon balls than you thought humanly possible.

Remember when I said you can never have too much bourbon in your food?

I meant that.

Bourbon Balls
Ganache recipe adapted from The Vegan Chef.
Makes approximately 32 large balls (2 inches diameter)

Bourbon Ball ingredients

  • 1 cup fine animal cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (plus more to sprinkle on top later if you choose)
  • 1.5 cups vegan confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 oz vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup+ of bourbon
  • 1.5 tbsp light corn syrup

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance
  • 12 oz. vegan chocolate

The bourbon ball recipe that I’ve used for years includes Nilla wafers, which unfortunately aren’t vegan. The solution? Animal crackers!

Most animal crackers are vegan but be sure to read the ingredients list just in case. I picked up a tub of them at Trader Joe’s and, after eating a few handfuls, measured out a couple of cups and poured them into a sandwich bag.

For this part you probably want to use two bags since tears are likely when you’re smashing the crap out of your crackers.

You could also use a food processor for this part, but what fun is that?

You want the crumbs to be fine but don’t worry too much if a few big crumbs end up in the mix.

Melt your chocolate chips and combine the chocolate, animal cracker crumbs, chopped pecans, 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and light corn syrup into one bowl.

Stir until ingredients are combined.

Pour the bourbon in last, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more to your liking. You can separate the batch at this point, adding more bourbon to one batch and less to another if you have friends that prefer their bourbon balls to sting a little when they bite into them. I have friends like that. They like a good challenge.

Sprinkle some of the leftover confectioners sugar onto your hands so that the balls won’t stick to your fingers when you’re trying to roll them up.

At this point, you can choose to be finished if you want simple bourbon balls that taste awesome and look like powdered orbs of happiness. Refrigerate them for at least 24 hours before serving. 2-3 days is the preferable refrigeration period, but I’ve served them after chilling them for only 2 hours and they’ve still tasted great.

If you want to use a ganache to fancy up your bourbon balls, try this.

Remove the bourbon balls from the refrigerator and wait until they’re room temperature, or pretty close to it, to make the ganache.

Heat the Earth Balance and milk on low until it all melts together. Add the chocolate and stir continuously until melted. You can also use a double boiler.

Stick toothpicks, lollipop sticks, coffee stirrers that you stole from Starbucks or whatever else you have sitting around into the balls. Dip into the chocolate ganache and transfer to a dish lined with parchment paper. Remove the sticks, allow the bourbon balls to harden for 5 minutes and then decorate. Store your pretty bourbon balls in the refrigerator and remove an hour or so before you’re ready to serve them.

Oh and also…

Keep an eye on those remaining animal crackers!

Nov 23

I am thankful for…

this jar of pickles.

I ate the whole thing.

I had to drink 7 glasses of water to keep my tongue from burning off, but it was so worth it.

On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.” – Thomas Jefferson

Nov 18

baked cranberry sauce with bourbon

Do you have enough bourbon in your life?

Not sure how to answer that?

Let me help you.

Are you drinking bourbon right now or eating a food that has bourbon as an ingredient?


Then the answer is no, you do not have enough bourbon in your life.

And if you had said yes?

Well, I still might say that you need more bourbon.

How can you ever have enough?

That’s right. You can’t.

Let’s bake some cranberries swimming in sugar and then pour bourbon all over them.

Sound like a plan?

Baked Cranberry Sauce
Recipe from Bobby Flay

  • 12 oz bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
  • 1 1/4 cups vegan sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup bourbon of your choice (or more)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

In a baking dish, combine the cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Stir it up until it looks like this:

Don’t eat it yet. I know you want to.

Cover and bake for 55 minutes.

Remove from the oven, stir, and bake for about 5 minutes longer. When your cranberries are soft, you’re good to go.

Remove from the oven again and stir in the bourbon. The bourbon should be as strong as you’d like, so add it by the teaspoon and do a few taste tests along the way to find the perfect flavor.

Let the cranberry sauce cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. If you transfer the sauce to airtight containers you can store it for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

Nov 16

red velvet cake

I like to make red velvet cake for every occasion under the sun. I think you should start making it, too. What do you say? This recipe makes a double layer cake for you to share with your closest friends. Or you can do what I did and eat half of it with your fingers while watching a full season of House. To each his own…

Vegan Red Velvet Cake

recipe adapted from Bakerella

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegan refined sugar*
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cups oil
  • 2 cups nondairy milk
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • red food coloring (see directions)

Frosting ingredients:

  • 8 oz. vegan cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup earth balance at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 cups vegan confectioners’ sugar*

*Click here to see my post about vegan sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour two 9 x 9 baking pans.

For the cake:

Combine the flour, refined sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda into a bowl and whisk together.

Next, whisk together the oil, milk, white vinegar and vanilla. You can use any dairy-free milk that you like.

This time, I used vanilla soy milk.

Now it’s time to add the red food coloring. There are recipes out there that use beets to naturally color the cake, but I used Ateco Super Red gel.

This is a highly concentrated gel and you’ll only need a couple of drops if you’re using it. If you’re using a liquid, you’ll need to use more. Just make sure that the kind you buy doesn’t include cochineal/carmine, which is a red dye taken from beetles. You’ll want your wet ingredients to be a bright red color at this point.

When your cake is baked, the color will be a much deeper, darker red. Trust me on this one.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients into one bowl and mix on a low-medium setting for two minutes. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans and then drop/bang the pans on a counter or table a couple of times to burst any air bubbles that you see. Don’t go nuts here, a few air bubbles are okay.

Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes. Ovens vary so once you hit that 30 minute mark, check the cake every couple of minutes by inserting and removing a toothpick until it comes out dry. (I’ve been known to stab my cakes with forks, knives or whatever else I have lying around if I know I’m going to cover the holes with frosting later on).

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

While they’re cooling, let’s make some frosting!

Do you have Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese in your life?

Oh man, this stuff is gooooood.

This frosting is super easy. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix on low-medium for 1 minute.

Go ahead, eat a couple of spoonfuls.

Once your cakes cool, remove them from their pans and frost away!


Did you know that red velvet cake has zero calories in it? It’s true. Don’t question me. Just go with it.

Nov 16

chocolate cake

No, that’s not chocolate cake. That’s Harrison. Harrison likes dairy products. Butter. Sour cream. Ice cream. He loves them all and he misses licking my butter-covered fingertips after an afternoon of baking. And me? well, I like dairy too, but only for the taste. Lucky for me, finding vegan treats to bake that taste just as delicious as dairy-filled desserts has been easy peasy. I give you…chocolate cake with melty frosting!


Too bad they don’t make scratch-n-sniff screens.

Chocolate Cake

recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegan refined sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Melty Frosting

recipe adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen

  • 1/2 cup earth balance, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup vanilla soymilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Make this cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degreees. Lightly oil and flour two 9 x 9 baking pans.

While you’re getting everything else ready, go ahead and brew a cup of coffee

If you’re like me, you’ll want to brew three cups: one for the cake and two for yourself.

Throw the flour and refined sugar in a bowl.

Add in the cocoa…

and the salt

Salt shaker birdie loves to bake

My helper’s tail…

Add the baking soda and whisk until the dry ingredients are well blended.

In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable oil, distilled white vinegar, water, warm coffee and vanilla.

Add the wet to the dry and stir stir stir.

Pour into two 9 x 9 inch cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes.

If you want to eat the cake warm, make the frosting when you have about 5 minutes of baking time left.

It’s so easy, just place all frosting ingredients into one bowl and mix on low-medium speed for 1 minute (or until fully blended)

For a warm, gooey cake, slather the frosting on while the cake is still warm and go to town.

Better have some napkins handy.

Do you have those chocolate chips sitting around? Good. Throw them on top and let them melt into the frosting.

Or not.

Either way, it’s awesome.

Harrison approves (of the smell, that is. I didn’t let him eat chocolate)

You know what else is awesome? Plopping a scoop or two (or three, who’s judging?) of vanilla soy ice cream on top. What, you thought I was going to make my own vegan ice cream, too? Please. I’ve got 30 Rock waiting for me on the DVR.

Nov 16

sugar, sugar

There are several gray areas in the vegan vs nonvegan debate and sugar is one of them.

Refined sugar, brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar do not contain any ingredients derived from animals. However, sometimes the sugar is filtered through animal bone char. The final product doesn’t contain animal products, but the use of animals in production leaves some feeling conflicted.  When sugar is included in a list of ingredients on this blog, you’ll notice that I refer to it as “vegan sugar” There are several solutions and alternatives, and I’ve found that the easiest is to always purchase organic sugar. If the sugar is organic, no animal bone char has been used. Unrefined cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, beet sugar and raw sugar are also processed without the use of bone char.

To learn more about sugar, here is a great article from the Vegetarian Resource Group.

In the meantime, move on to my next post because it’s time for CAKE!

Nov 16

hello from the tolerant vegan

Hello and welcome!
I have started this blog as a way to share my life as a vegan. Most of my posts will be about food because I feel that embracing a vegan diet is the most difficult part of a vegan lifestyle. But sometimes I’ll talk about shopping, or travel or whatever happens to be on my mind. I hope you’ll stick around and join in the conversation. To learn more about me and my struggle with being “tolerant,” click here.