I’ve been a bit quiet on the internet front as I’ve been enjoying time with family over the holidays. It was nice to have a break from grad school classes and a chance to spend time with people who are dear to me.
One week during the holidays was particularly notable. I got a chance to meet both my new nephews born during that week. It was an incredible honor to be present at one of their births. There is nothing else in the world like the experience or witnessing of childbirth.
Overall the week we went to Minnesota was family filled as I got to visit with my parents, my sister and her family, and my brother visiting from out of the country military service. Since we’ve been back home, the boys have been making pretend road trips to see family. It’s been adorable, but also means all my reusable shopping bags are constantly filled with books and toys.
Speaking of family, this recipe is an adaptation of a family recipe I grew up with. These muffins are like a winter hope. Oranges get so tasty by Christmas. The tang of prime citrus is like rays of sun promising summer warmth. While nature bides her time in the quiet rest of winter, I’ll stay here wrapped up a blanket with fresh baked goodies and a hot cup of tea.
Consider the baking and enjoyment of these muffins part of your winter therapy. The aromatic of orange zest will melt your stress and help you feel energized. Additionally, the studs of chocolate chips throughout these tender wheat muffins will give you an extra mood boost.
Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields 12 muffins
Tender wheat muffins with zesty orange and tasty surprises of semi-sweet chocolate chips throughout. These muffins are reminiscent of winter-y days of childhood.
10 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
⅓ cup honey/maple syrup or ½ cup sugar
¼ cup cooking oil
¾ cup chocolate chips, semisweet
1 ½ - 2 tsp. orange zest (peel from one orange)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with liners or silicone muffin cups.
Mix everything together except the chocolate chips and orange zest. Fold in the chocolate and zest. Fill muffin cups to ⅔ full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Happy Winter Solstice! We are feeling the excitement in our home as Christmas is just a few days away. My preschooler checks the tree every morning to see if Santa has visited. The boys have been busy creating holiday gifts and being kitchen helpers. The youngest loves to taste everything from a mixing bowl; even the french bread dough is tasted with enthusiasm. He then declares, “Mmm, good Mama!” If only that same zest was for the finished meals on the table.
I enjoy making the cookies I had as a child every Christmas. Breaking from tradition, it was my goal to bring you all something that was vegan and more allergen friendly for your holiday cookie plates. This recipe is just that. Peanut butter blossom cookies were the inspiration for this recipe. Tender, crumbly shortbread cookies are the perfect vehicle for combining peanut butter and chocolate. Flecks of sea salt flakes add a little bit of sparkle and bring out the chocolate taste. They are easily nut free if you use sunflower seed butter and refined sugar free.
Here’s to hoping you have a chance to add this to your baking plans this season. Snap a picture of your recipe result and tag Mama Sparrow on social media so we can see it too.
Vegan Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies
Yields 12-15 Cookies
Tender, crumbly shortbread cookies filled with peanut butter and drizzled with chocolate. These tasty treats are vegan, easily nut free and refined sugar free.
10 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
1 ¼ cup flour
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 ½ tsp. applesauce, unsweetened
3 Tbs. peanut butter
2 Tbs. maple syrup
Pinch of salt
2 Tbs. non dairy milk
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 oz. chocolate chips or chocolate
Coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix all cookie ingredients together in a medium bowl until dough forms. Form form into ¾ in. - 1 inch balls - approximately 12-15 cookies. (Chill the dough briefly in plastic wrap if it is too sticky to work with.) Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Flatten the dough balls into slight discs and press thumb in the center to create a little crater. Bake cookies for 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and repress the centers with a spoon. Then allow the cookies to cool.
In a small saucepan, mix the peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the while. The mix should get a nice smooth caramel consistency that has a bit of drizzle to it. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Place the melted chocolate into a piping bag or simply use a ziploc with the corner snipped off. Set aside
To assemble to cookies, spoon about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter confection into each cookie’s thumbprint. Drizzle chocolate over the filled cookies and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Nut free option: Use Sun Butter. Really you could use any preferred nut or seed butter. I did try pumpkin seed butter and it was not quite as tasty.