Good Love: Champ’s Family Bakery

Champs Family Bakery had its soft-opening this week, and I was able to swing by, as its cases of confections are located dangerously close to my apartment. Co-Owner power-team Megan Blackburn and Brad Baker of Boneshakers took some time to show me around and give me the details on their new endeavor as well as some sacred secrets I am happy to share with you.

Champs is located in the historic, Italian, Graham Ave. neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn on a quiet, tree-lined street. The signage reads like a old-time boxing-gym logo, and the interior – soon to be filled with tables and chairs – has a very Brooklyn, warm, lived-in feeling with exposed brick, wooden ceilings, and terra-cotta tile floor. Resting up against the brick wall were three photos: Mike Tyson, Rue McLanahan,  and Georges Laraque in fancy gilded frames, waiting to be hung. “That whole wall is going to be filled with framed photos of famous vegans”, Brad informed me.

Megan and Brad also informed me that eighty-five percent of the ingredients they’re using are organic, their shortenings are healthy oils that are  non-hydrogenated, and, in addition to being 100% vegan, they’ll soon be offering gluten-free and sugar-free options. The most exciting news happened when Megan spilled the beans about the croissants. That’s right… they will be offering the only vegan croissants in New York.  Flaky, yummy, light, croissants. Did I mention how dangerous it is that I live one block away from this place? With cookies, muffins, scones, cupcakes, cakes, whoopee pies and custom pastries all made on the premises, this is a long-awaited NYC essential: our very own vegan bakery! They’ve even got some Italian flare happening with pignoli cookies, and I am praying that they do some more NYC classics like rainbow cookies, black and whites, cannolis, butter cookies, rugelach, and macaroons. Pretty please?

I sampled the carrot cake cupcakes, which were moist, sweet, perfectly spiced, and topped with a generous mound of cream-cheese frosting. Then I tried the rocky-road cookie, the chocolate-chocolate-chip scone, the chocolate-chip cookie, and finally, the blueberry muffin. I washed it down with iced coffee from Gimme! Coffee, which is possibly the best coffee in NYC – smooth, no acid, and velvety.  I’ll certainly be back for more. If you haven’t been to Williamsburg Brooklyn, now is the perfect time to come for a cup of coffee and a pastry.

The Details:

Champs Family Bakery
176 Ainsle Street (at Leonard St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718 599 2743

Deep Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate is so versatile, satisfying and complex. When I have a craving for a chocolate experience, I don’t want something mediocre – I want drama on my taste-buds. This recipe really enhances the chocolate experience with molasses, espresso, vanilla, almond, and coconut oil – deepening the flavor of the cocoa and allowing it to mingle with new subtleties. This is a wheat-free recipe*

WHAT YOU’LL NEED (makes about 2 dozen):

  • •3/4 cup non-dairy butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • •1/4 cup extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil (at room temp!)
  • •1/2 cup unrefined sugar
  • •1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs molasses
  • •3/4 tsp. salt
  • •2 Tbs egg-replacer (I use Energie or flaxmeal)
  • •1 Tbs vanilla
  • • 1 shot of cold espresso (2 Tbs)
  • • 2 cups spelt flour
  • • ½ cup almond meal
  • • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • •1 cup vegan, semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Directions:

  1. 1. Put the espresso in the freezer to cool it down, then preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream together vegan butter, sugars, molasses, coconut oil and salt.
  2. 2. In a small bowl or mug, beat “egg replacer.” Then add to margarine-sugar mixture. Add vanilla and combine.
  3. 3. Slowly, little by little, add flour, stirring constantly to combine. Continue until all flour is well combined (it will get harder to combine the more flour you add).
  4. 4. Mix in chocolate chips and espresso.
  5. 5. Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Stick it in the oven, and they’ll be ready in about 13 to 18 minutes.

Winter Wardrobe & Cookie Cravings

1. If you’ve been procrastinating on getting a sweater this winter, there’s still time! Loomstate’s organic ‘Bering’ crew sweater is totally wool-free! Check out what else they’ve got on the racks for the current season:

cotton sweater

Loomstate 'Bering' organic cotton sweater, $106 at greenloop

Loomstate Allistair Jacket

Loomstate Allistair Jacket, $288 at Tobi

loomstate

Loomstate organic hoody, $168 at Tobi, Organic Flannel $102 at BlueFly

Organic Woven Cotton Shirt

Organic Woven Cotton Shirt $102 at Greenloop, Slacks $180 at Tobi

2. Support Craftspeople of the Karen Hill Tribe (between Burma & Thailand) by purchasing this gorgeous black scarf.

Neck Scarf

Karen Hill Tribe Scarf, $30 at Gaiam

3. Vegan Gloves are usually ugly or look like you should be in a dirt-bike competition. These simple faux-leather, insulated gloves go with everything and are slick as hell!

Paz Homem

Paz Homem $48.41 at BB

4.Chocolate-Chip, Peanut Butter Cookies!
Cold weather is the best time for pastries. Try this super-easy cookie recipe!

is there anything better than Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Cookies?

Is there anything better than Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Cookies?

What you’ll need:
•3/4 cup margarine (I use Earth Balance)
•2/3 cup nut butter (use peanut, almond, or cashew!)
•3/4 cup sugar
•1/4 cup brown sugar
•3/4 tsp. salt
•2 Tbsp. egg replacer (I use Energie)
•1 Tbsp. vanilla
•2-1/2 cups flour (you can use up to 4 cups of flour — the more flour you use, the denser, chewier the cookie; the amount listed here is for a texture that most people like.)
•1 cup nondairy semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugars, nut butter, and salt.
2. In a small bowl or mug, beat “egg replacer.” Then add to margarine-sugar mixture. Add vanilla and combine. Slowly, little by little, add flour, stirring constantly to combine. Continue until all flour is well combined (it will get harder to combine the more flour you add).
3. Mix in chocolate chips. Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Then, as Laura puts it, “flatten them with a fork, wish them well, and put them in the oven.” They’ll be ready in about 10 to 12 minutes, or when golden brown.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.