Vegan Baklava

This is such an easy dessert to convert to an animal free recipe. I have tried a couple of variations, one with vegan margarine and one with coconut oil. The margarine adds a better depth of flavor and buttery note but, if you are really watching the type of oil or fats you consume the coconut is a great substitution for margarine. This recipe has been tested on my co-workers - food scientists, foodies, and culinary geniuses!- and got a thumbs up so here it is...

Vegan Baklava
revised from my mom's recipe ;)
You can use any size pan you like just cut the phyllo to size. I have used a loaf pan, 9x13 and 8x8 with equal success.
1 box/ pound of frozen phyllo dough ( make sure it is Kosher pareve)
1 pound of walnuts chopped with-
                    2 teaspoons cinnamon
                    2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
1 lb melted fat- margarine or coconut oil etc walnut oil might be interesting too!
Line your pan with parchment paper.
Phyllo is delicate to handle so read the box. Once you begin building your layers cover the sheets with a dish towel to prevent them from drying and shattering. If you work quickly you should not have any problems.
Layer sheets of phyllo and brushing each one with "butter" to about 6 or 7 than layer nut mixture over top. Repeat untill all sheets have been used. Give the top phyllo sheet and good brush of "butter" . Place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Begin the syrup.

sugar syrup
2 1/2 cups evaporated can juice
1 cup water
1 lemon juiced
1 teaspoon cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
the rind of 1 whole orange
1/2 - 1 cup syrup sweetner - I used agave
Preheat oven to 350

Place everything in a saucepan, stir to dissolve sugar,  and bring to a boil. Once it reaches the boil turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. once done simmering remove from heat and add 1/2 to 1 cup sweetner. I have been using 1/2 cup agave since i tend to like things a little less sweet. You could also try rice syrup, tapioca syrup, or honey.  Let this cool.

Remove your tray from the refrigerator and cut the baklava. A pizza wheel makes this really easy. If you want you can sprinkle chopped nuts on the top now or after baking. Place in upper middle rack of oven (preheated to 350) and bake for 45 minutes or until you get  a beautiful golden color. Remove from oven and pour the cool syrup - strained - over the warm baklava. Let cool completely before you taste!
This makes a lot of baklava. I put individual piece in cupcake papers and gift them out in little boxes with a fancy bow.

Macarons - Raspberry and white chocolate

After 5  batches of these french cookies I am finally having some fun with them!

Thanks to all the Daring Bakers for your inspiration!

Apples! Apple Tart with Almond Cream

It all started here!
A lonely little tree with the most gorgeous ruby red apples I had ever seen.

This is the kind of apple the witch tricked snow white into eating!
So bright, so red, and so crispy sweet!  (Yes we tasted as we picked!)

These apples called to me. I was out at Deterings Orchard with my friend A to check out the Apple Days Festival and pick some fruit. We could not believe how gorgeous these ruby beauties were. There were no name plates or signs so we figured these must be a very rare heirloom variety! We both loaded up our buckets with these and some spartans and headed back to the checkout area. Piled up with varieties like honey crips, liberties, kings, Criterion Apples, it just goes on and on until we spotted a box of ruby red apples just like our variety... a gala apple! GAH! really? just a gala? LIke you buy at the grocery store! We drove waaay out to the country to hand pick our own apples and we selected gala apples! And you know what? they are delicouse ... especially when you put them in a pastry crust, spread a little almond cream, place in some GALA apples, slather with melted butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cardomon!

Just gorgouse! Just Gala Apples!