Yesterday was the official start of the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans and we decided to make a king cake. While gathering supplies at the store, we decided to experiment and fill the king cake with Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl spread. The results were pretty delicious and as a result, I’ve updated my Vegan King Cake recipe (here, here) yet again so you can make one of these bad boys yourself!
– I didn’t do exact measurements on how much spread I used so I tried to estimate, I think we didn’t use quite enough so err on the side of more.
– We think this might be good if you also add cinnamon and sugar to the spread. You would need about (1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar and 2 Tbsp cinnamon)
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil or neutral taste oil (we used refined coconut oil)
1/2 Tbsp salt
1oz yeast (we used 4 packets of Fleischmann’s RapidRise Highly Active Yeast)
1 Tbsp Ener-g Egg Replacer mixed with 4 Tbsp Warm Water
Cookie Butter filling:
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl spread (I think we used half a jar in total)
1 pound of powdered sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk or water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl
- To make the Dough, add all ingredients to a mixer with the dough hook attachment, and mix on speed 2 until dough forms and is slightly warm to the touch (about 3-5 minutes). Cover the dough for 1 hour and let sit in a warm area to build humidity to allow the dough to rise.
- Once the dough has risen, find a workspace at least 3-foot wide and flour the surface. Cut the dough into two halves and sprinkle with flour. Roll dough into a 2-foot long strip about 12-16 inches wide.
- Spread Cookie and Cocoa Spread onto the dough evenly using an offset spatula getting the spread as close to the edges as possible. Cut the dough lengthwise into three equal strips
- Roll each strip (like a cinnamon roll) lengthwise forming a long roll. Braid the three rolls together and form a circle with the braids. Place on a baking pan and pinch the ends of the braids together.
- Cover with a large plastic bag (like a garbage bag) and let the dough proof for an hour.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper for 15-18 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Take out and let cool.
- While king cake is cooling, it’s time to make the icing! Mix together non-dairy milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar until combined. You can add an additional 1/4 tsp of liquid to thin the icing if too thick. The desired consistency is close to paste or glue. Melt Cookie and Cocoa spread in a saucepan until it will run off a spoon.
- Pour and spread icing on king cake and use a spoon to drizzle melted spread on top. Hide the baby and enjoy.
We have done less adventuring than I would have liked this year but I figured it was about time I posted about our trip to Santa Cruz Island over Memorial Day weekend. We had been talking about taking a trip to Channel Islands National Park since maybe our first backpacking trip last spring and we finally made it happen. This trip required more preparation as we had to take a boat out to the island and we needed to carry all of our water with us, since there was no potable water at our campsite*. We left early on Sunday morning to catch our boat at 9AM in Ventura. The boat ride was choppy but luckily no one got sea sick. We made it to Prisoner’s Harbor around 11AM and had lunch at a picnic table right on the beach. After lunch, we made the 4 mile hike to the Del Norte Campsite. This was an intense hike for me, lots of steep climbs but we made it. The Del Norte Campsite has just 4 spots but overlooks the Pacific Ocean so the view is perfect. Once we got to our site, we set up our tents, relaxed and napped. We then took a short hike further along the main trail to see if we could spot any of the island foxes we were anxious to see. We spotted one down the road but he kept his distance. Once back at our campsite, we started to cook dinner and a little fox came to investigate the campsite next to us. We watched him from a distance, until he eventually left. We took a short night hike to blow off some needed energy without disturbing the other campers.
In the morning, we got up and had breakfast. While the other campers, broke down their tents to catch the early boat at 11AM. Our boat wasn’t coming until 4PM so we had a lazy morning reading and relaxing. Once some of the other campers left, we got visited by 2 adorable island foxes and took 1000 pictures. Around noon we packed up our gear and made the trek back to the dock. We had lunch while waiting for our boat to arrive and relaxed on the rocky beach. The boat ride back was much smoother and we met a pod of dolphins which we watched swim along with us from the front of the boat. It was amazing! Once back on the mainland, we stopped for a much-needed meal at Pizza Cookery and gorged ourselves on vegan garlic rolls and pizza.
This was by far one of my favorite trips we have done, if you live in Southern California you should absolutely do this! I’m anxious to explore some of the other islands and eventually want to camp at Santa Rosa island, which requires some intense hiking and a 2-3 night stay!
*As we arrived to the boat on Sunday morning we discovered that Scott’s camelback sprung a leak. We made several attempts to fix the leaks but eventually gave up and did our best to drink from his water first. This gave me tons of anxiety about running out of water during our hike to camp but it all worked out and we had enough.
It’s a new year! While I roll my eyes often at the idea of new year’s resolutions, I do enjoy making lists! These are the personal goals I hope to achieve over the next 12 months.
- ADVENTURE – I went camping for the first time on NYE 2014 and have since been on 7 other camping trips. I want to do more in 2015 and with my goal being to go on 10 or more adventures this year. We are already off to a good start as we have two trips in the works.
- TINYLETTER – a few months ago I started a TinyLetter to try to stay in better communication with friends back home or in other places that I don’t communicate with enough. I try to be a bit more personal there but I haven’t sent them as often as I would like. Hoping to get myself on a schedule this year.
- SEWING – Scott got me a sewing machine for my birthday in 2013 and I only made one skirt. I bought patterns and fabric to make other things but just haven’t made the time for those projects. So I’m setting myself a goal to make at least 3 items this year.
- EXERCISE – I got a gym membership in August but only went 4 weeks total in 2014. We are canceling the membership to save money but my goal is to start working out at home until we can afford to reinstate my membership. My fitness goals are to correct my posture and increase my stamina for when we go on backpacking trips and long hikes.
What are your goals for the new year?