Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Cranberries and Almonds

Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Cranberries and Almonds

Elegant AND easy? Yes, please! Serve warm for a quick dinner and pack up the rest to eat chilled for lunch the next day.

It’s funny how pasta shape can impact a dish. While I’ve always enjoyed eating noodles, we’ve been eating them much more often since having kids. I dress them up with so many combinations of sauces, veggies, nuts, and legumes. While our kids love this, it just feels a little fancier than say mac and cheeze and it I think it’s because the orzo is such an elegant shape. There’s cheezy flavor here with by adding nutritional yeast, garlic and olive oil are the background flavors, the cranberries give a burst of sweetness and tartness, while the asparagus and lemon make this dish fresh and bright. Add a sprinkle of toasted almonds, you’ve got a bit of crunch I hope you enjoy this easy recipe, and perhaps it’ll become part of your meal rotation like it has become part of ours!

 

Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Cranberries and Almonds

Serve warm for a quick dinner and pack up the rest to eat chilled for lunch the next day. Pretty, yummy, satisfying and so easy to prepare!
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Crumbs & Caramel

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orzo, uncooked
  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp toasted, sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • pinch crushed red chili flakes, if desired

Instructions

  • Prepare the orzo according to package directions, popping the dried cranberries in to soften during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil a large cast iron pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for about 6-8 minutes until bright green and cooked but still a bit crisp and not browned, tossing in the minced garlic during the last minute of cooking.
  • Add the cooked orzo, cranberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, remaining olive oil, salt and chili flakes. Toss to coat. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted almonds.
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Cranberry Almond Biscotti

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

Who needs a cookie break? These vegan Cranberry Almond Biscotti are brimming with flavor and are sure to satisfy any sweetie cravings. Crunchy on the outside with an ever so slightly chewy interior, they have a very satisfying bite.  The dried cranberries are a burst of tartness in each bite of almond laden biscotti goodness.

I’ve made these almond Italian inspired cookies for years, usually around the holidays. I make a double batch for my dad who loves pairing them with his coffee. When we lived across the country from each other, they kept well even after their week-long shipping trip. He’d then put them in the freezer, pulling one out at a time so they’d last even longer. Turns out my mom loved them as well, just without the coffee accompaniment. Needless to say, I make them a double batch at holiday time now.

The biscotti I’ve tried over the years in many coffee shops have always been very dry with a powdery crumb. I’m not sure if this an authentic characteristic or not, but I prefer a biscotti with a bit more density and chew in the center which is why I like this recipe so much.

Making biscotti is a two-part baking process. First, the dough is formed into wide logs and baked. They cool for a bit and then sliced into biscotti and baked again, turning once. When cutting the biscotti, take care not to crush the logs of dough and to make a clean, quick cut with a sharp knife to get through the almonds and cranberries. I’ve heard a serrated knife is supposed to work well, but I found it just sawed through the dough and cracked the crust making the cookies fragile for flipping. The flipping part is easier with a fork to gently turn each cookie.

If you’re feeling like dressing things up, drizzle each biscotti with a bit of vegan white chocolate.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

These vegan Cranberry Almond Biscotti are sure to satisfy any sweetie cravings! Crunchy on the outside and they have an ever so slightly chewy interior. The dried cranberries are a burst of tartness in each bite of almond laden biscotti goodness.
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Cooling: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 24 biscotti
Author: Crumbs & Caramel

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (e.g avocado or canola)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to blend.
  • In a large bowl with a whisk/electric beater or the bowl of a stand-mixer with paddle attachment, mix together the sugar, oil, non-dairy milk, and extracts. Beat for 1-2 minutes until the mix is well blended and creamy.
  • Stir in the flour mixture. Add the cranberries and almonds, and mix with a large spoon or your hands until evenly incorporated. On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a large ball. Cut the ball evenly in half. Some of the cranberries and almonds might fall out, just press them back in. Form each half into a flat log about 9" long, 3" wide and 1" tall.
  • Gently place the logs onto the baking sheet ensuring there's a few inches between them as they will spread during baking. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to a cutting board and, pressing down firmly and swiftly with a large, sharp knife, cut each log into 1/2" slices. Place each slice cut side down on the baking tray. They can be close together but not touching as they won't spread at this point. Bake for 10 minutes, then gently flip them and bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Cool them on a wire rack. These keep really well in an airtight container, and they freeze well, too.

Notes:

I have found freezing the dough results in a crumbly dough which was hard to work with and a drier biscotti. I recommend baking the biscotti and then freezing them if you're looking to have some for another time.
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Cranberry Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache & Sugared Cranberries

Cranberry Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache & Sugared Cranberries

This moist cranberry chocolate fudge cake is not just a pretty face but has real depth of flavor. The chocolate is enhanced by adding hot coffee and some almond extract. Adding tart, juicy cranberries balances out the sweetness. Top with chocolate ganache and a crown of candied cranberries, and you’ve got yourself a showstopper holiday dessert!

This was the first year I’d tried sugaring cranberries. The kids were so excited about the leftovers from the cake decorating – these cranberries are so much better than candy! I thought they were pretty to put on top of a cake especially during this festive time of year where they look almost wreath-like at the center of the table.

Vegan Cranberry Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake with Ganache and Sugared Cranberries, view top down and table decoarted with Christmas ornaments and holly

A lot of sugared cranberry or berry recipes call for the use of egg whites. I found this egg-free method to be easy and it had excellent results. The sugar syrup attaches to the sugar coating making a nice crisp shell around the berries which holds up well on the cake. I used granulated sugar to roll the cranberries in because that’s what I had, but super-fine sugar would probably give a more even coating. Either way, you can’t go wrong, they are sparkling little gems and are delicious! If you don’t end up snacking on all of the extra sugared berries, they’d look pretty as garnishes for other desserts or festive drinks. The reserved syrup would also be great in cocktails/mocktails.

Tips for a Perfect Chocolate Bundt Cake:

  • Sift! Sifting is a must to avoid bitter lumps of cocoa powder and other dry ingredients in your cake. You might be surprised at how much doesn’t get through the sifter and could have ended up in your cake! Use the back of a spoon to break up the lumps so they sift through.
  • Don’t reduce the amount of sugar or the oil – these are both very important for the structure and texture of the cake. Reducing them or substituting with other ingredients will effect the quality and moist character of the cake.
  • Add the hot water or coffee at the end. I really love how coffee enhances the chocolate flavor but if you prefer not to use caffeinated liquid, you can use hot decaf or even hot water. The hot liquid is added at the end which gets the chocolate to bloom and the intensity of the chocolate flavor and a bit of fudginess happens!
  • Prepare your pan really well to avoid a disappointing situation where the cake sticks to the pan or even tears. For chocolate cake, I spray a vegetable or canola oil all over the inside of the bundt pan, and then dust it with cocoa powder. If you don’t have vegetable oil spray, you can grease the pan with shortening, being sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies. Don’t use margarine/vegan butter, it can sometimes cause more sticking! Once that’s done, turn the pan over, dumping out any excess. The cocoa powder won’t be noticeable once the cake is baked. I also do this just before I add the batter unlike with most other cake recipes where I prepare the pans when I preheat the oven. In the time you mix the batter, the oil can slide down the sides of the deep pan.
  • Once the cake is baked, gently slide a thin spatula along the sides of the cake and around the tube to loosen the cake. Let it cool for 10 minutes. Place a cooling rack over the cake and in one gently motion, turn the cake over so it’s resting on the cooling rack. If the cake doesn’t fall down on it’s own right away, just give it a few minutes. If after 5 minutes, it’s still not down, gently lift the cake pan up a bit and give it a gentle wiggle, side to side and it should come out perfectly.

If you make this Cranberry Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache and Sugared Cranberries, please let me know in the comments below, and feel free to give it a rating! Also, I love connecting on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes. I love seeing what you’re up to in the kitchen!

Cranberry Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake with Ganache and Sugared Cranberries

This moist cranberry chocolate fudge cake is not just a pretty face but has real depth of flavor. The chocolate is enhanced by adding hot coffee and some almond extract. Adding tart, juicy cranberries balances out the sweetness. Top with chocolate ganache and a crown of candied cranberries, and you've got yourself a showstopper holiday dessert!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Sugared Cranberries: 3 hours
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 16 slices
Calories: 482kcal
Author: Crumbs & Caramel

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder plus some for sifting into pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 cup neutral oil (e.g. avocado or canola)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh hot coffee or Americano

For the Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup chopped vegan semi-sweet chocolate, or chocolate chips (~187 g)
  • 1 tbsp neutral vegetable oil (e.g. avocado or canola)
  • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (canned, no gums)

Candied Cranberries

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh whole cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated or super-fine sugar

Instructions

For the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a small bowl, sift 1 tbsp of cocoa powder over the chopped cranberries. Toss to coat. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk, oil, vinegar, and almond extract. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and pour in the hot coffee. Whisk together just until combined. Add the cranberries being careful not to over mix.
  • Spray a large bundt pan with vegetable oil, or grease with shortening (not margarine or vegan butter, this may cause sticking!) and dust with sifted cocoa powder.
  • Add the batter to the bundt pan and bake for 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean or with a few cooked crumbs stuck to it. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before gently inverting onto a wire rack.

For the Ganache:

  • Combine the ingredients for the ganache in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 25 second burst, stirring well each time, until the chocolate it melted and the ganache is smooth.
  • Spoon over the cooled cake once the cranberries are ready so that they stick. If the ganache has thickened by that time, heat for 10 second bursts in the microwave, stirring well each time.

For the Sugared Cranberries:

  • Combine the water and 2 cups of granulated sugar in pot over medium heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves and has simmered for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes (cooling is important so the berries don't burst.) Add the cranberries. Stir gently and let them sit for covered for 2 hours.
  • Drain the cranberries, reserving the syrup for drinks or another use.
  • Place the rest of the granulated sugar or super-fine sugar on a plate. Roll the cranberries in the sugar, ensuring each berry is covered. Carefully scoop them up with a slotted spoon and let dry at room temperature on a baking sheet for an hour or until dry. Place the cranberries over the top of the cake like a crown. 

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 233mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 78g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 2.5mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 3.3mg

Notes:

Make it gluten-free by substituting the flour with a all-purpose gluten-free flour blend and 1.5 tsp of xanthan gum.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @crumbs.and.caramel on Instragram!