Tag Archives: dessert

Sin-lessy Decadent: Hazelnut-Date Truffles

Hazelnut-Date Truffles

I love getting out of bed on Sunday mornings before anyone else wakes up. It’s my time for making lists, planning my week or simply clearing my head. This morning I’m sitting on our front porch enjoying some solitude and a lovely hydrangea whose blooms are turning to rust. And a cup of coffee. (Note to self: make it a point to spend more time out here.) It’s also the perfect time for me to share my recipe for these Hazelnut-Date Truffles that I made last week. I was in the mood for a decadent, chocolate treat that was easy to make using items I had in my pantry. I also wanted to keep the refined ingredients to a minimum to make these truffles as guilt-free as possible. Since my favorite chocolate candy is Perugina’s Baci (“little kisses” made with milk chocolate and hazelnuts) I decided to go with those flavors in mind. The truffle centers are made with hazelnuts, dates, cocoa powder and hazelnut liqueur. (I use my Blendtec Twister Jar in order to get a super silky texture.) I melted some dark chocolate with coconut cream for a glossy chocolate coating and rolled a few in cocoa powder. All I can say is WOW! The result was part truffle, part caramel, total decadence and no remorse. I paired the truffles with a glass of Frangelico liqueur, but a glass of red wine or port would also be nice. Treat yourself to these Hazelnut-Date Truffles and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Hazelnut-Date Truffles

½ cup dates
½ cup hazelnuts
2 Tbsp. regular or dark cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur

2 oz. non-dairy dark chocolate
1 Tbsp. coconut cream or full fat coconut milk

Place dates, nuts, cocoa powder and liqueur in food processor or high-powered blender. Process until smooth. Remove and portion out into 1” balls. Place on parchment paper. Set aside

Melt the dark chocolate and coconut cream over low heat. Dip the truffles in the melted chocolate and place on parchment paper. (See note below.) Refrigerate until cooled.

Note: You could also roll the truffles in cocoa powder.

24 Sep 2017

The Great Pumpkin: Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait

When he came up the story line of The Great Pumpkin I wonder if Charles Schultz knew that someday millions of people would develop a “Linus Alter-Ego”? I, along with a host of others, look forward to all things pumpkin during the harvest season.

The Great Pumpkin is a holiday figure in whom only Linus van Pelt believes. Every year, Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Invariably, the Great Pumpkin fails to turn up, but a humiliated but undefeated Linus vows to wait for him again the following Halloween. I can relate.

I really look forward to this time of the year. I’m in the habit of buying a few baby pumpkins every time I go to my favorite Amish farm stand. I bake them and freeze the puree to use in baked goodies all year round. I use pumpkin puree in place of applesauce and bananas because it doesn’t impart a fruity flavor to brownies and chocolate cake. I do like pumpkin scones and, now, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. This recipe was inspired by one that I saw on Facebook . The filling is made with pumpkin, cream cheese, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and frozen whipped topping; and the crust had graham crackers, butter and sugar. Yikes! It looked so creamy, spicy and decadent. How could I not try to make this work for me?

It was actually easier than I expected. For the crust I used a mixture of graham crackers and pecans. The fat from the pecans allowed the crust to clump up so that it could stick together in the bottom of a glass. No extra sugar is necessary as the graham crackers are sweet right out of the box. The filling was made with pumpkin, raw cashews, extra firm tofu, brown sugar, lemon juice/lactic acid and pumpkin pie spice. The combination of cashews and lemon juice are what I use as a cream cheese replacement and the tofu gives it a lighter feel. Lactic acid is similar to lemon juice as it adds to the tangy flavor of non-dairy foods. (The one I use is made from sugar beets. You can omit this and simply add more lemon juice.) I used brown sugar on my first go-around. My second attempt was made with dates. Both came out equally delicious, so the choice is yours to use sugar or dates. I processed the filling in a high-powered blender to get a super smooth texture. I can’t say that I would trust a regular blender or a food processor to get these same silky results. The pecan-graham crumble adds a nice textural contrast to the dreamy, creamy pumpkin filling. You can really have fun by dressing up these parfaits by sprinkling candied pecans, granola, crystallized ginger or more graham cracker crumble. It’s all good.

So, the moral of the story is to be like Linus and never give up. Adopting a plant-based diet over five years ago was certainly a challenge for a foodie like me. I’ve had a few disappointing meals and several melt-downs since. I’ve learned to walk away from those recipes that just won’t work for me and move on to ones that do. It’s what keeps me going down this path to wellness. Feed your Linus alter-ego with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Filling:

½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
8 oz. extra firm tofu, pressed
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup brown sugar (3/4 cup dates)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lactic acid (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Crust:

1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 cup pecans

Place all filling ingredients in high-powered blender and process until smooth. Remove to covered container and refrigerate.

Place graham crackers and pecans in a mini-chopper or food processor. Process until the crackers and nuts are finely ground and begin to clump.

Assembly:

Place one or two tablespoons of crust into a small glass or ramekin. Press down with an espresso tamper or your fingers. Spoon or pipe the filling into the glass until the glass is full. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

 

 

18 Sep 2017

Madness to My Method: Mint-Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

There’s a saying that goes “there’s a method to my madness” which means that there is purpose in what one is doing, even though it seems to be crazy. Today’s post is a peek into how my mind works, which I like to think of as the “madness to my method.” A recipe for a mint chocolate chip smoothie popped up on one of my Facebook groups a few weeks ago and it stirred up memories from when I was making my own dairy ice cream. Mint chocolate chip was one of my favorite flavors. Boy, could I go for some right now. So, the recipe that inspired my latest obsession contained fresh mint for flavor and a handful of spinach for color. I don’t know about you, but milk and spinach doesn’t do it for me. One of the first things I discovered about home-made mint ice cream, unlike most commercial ones, is that it’s not green. My approach was to create a smoothie that had a hint of mint and an ice cream-like feeling. I tried a version using frozen peas for what I thought would add a creamy thickness. (Yuk!) I tried using sweet rice as a thickener. I had to soak the rice overnight and steam it the next day, which proved to be too much advance planning for a smoothie. This also resulted in a more “gooey” and less creamy consistency. The chocolate chips were another problem. If I blended them with the other ingredients, they disappeared. When I added them in during the last few seconds they sunk to the bottom of the glass.The flavor of the fresh mint fell flat, so I sent away for a bottle of pure mint extract and put the testing on hold for a few days. While waiting for my shipment to arrive I couldn’t stop thinking about this recipe. What if . . . I just added the mint extract to my go-to cinnamon bun smoothie? What if . . .  I used brown rice instead of sweet rice? What if . . .  I just start from scratch? And the chocolate . . . what if I shave it and stir it in when ready to serve? By the time the extract arrived, I had it sorted out: almond milk, banana, dates, brown rice, oatmeal, mint extract and chocolate shavings. I tend to over-blend my smoothies to get them extra creamy, but that also makes them warm. I find that refrigerating them for a few hours allows the milk to absorb the starch from the oats and rice making for a thicker smoothie. A thicker smoothie helps the chocolate shavings maintain their buoyancy. All of this obsessing paid off with a Mad Good Mint Chocolate Smoothie that’s smooth, creamy, slightly sweet with a tinge of mint and specked with chocolate. Mix up your own batch of blissful madness today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Makes one or two servings

1-½ cups almond milk
1 large frozen banana, sliced
¼ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup cooked brown rice
4 pitted dates
1/8 teaspoon mint extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Shaved chocolate

Combine all of the ingredients, except the shaved chocolate, in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Pour into a glass and stir in shaved chocolate. If you would like a thicker smoothie you can place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

05 Apr 2017

Oh, My Darlings: Pistachio-Date Nests

Pistachio-Date Nest

I wanted to come up with a dessert recipe to go along with a Mediterranean-inspired Valentine’s Day dinner and the first thing that came to mind was Baklava. Baklava is made by layering phyllo leaves, brushing the layers with butter, sprinkling them with walnuts (Greek style) or pistachios (Turkish style) and pouring honey over everything when it comes out of the oven. I didn’t think a vegan version would do this iconic dessert much justice, so I incorporated some beneficial ingredients (pistachios and dates), left out the “taboo” ones (butter and honey), added some chocolate (hey, it’s Valentine’s Day) and named them “Pistachio-Date Nests.” I used Athen’s Mini Fillo Shells because they’re ready to fill and are very cute. The filling is made by processing dates, pistachios and lemon or orange zest into a paste. A thin layer of dark chocolate adorns the top. They’re crispy, chewy, chocolately . . .  and cute. Be a darling and share some Pistachio-Date Nests with someone you love. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pistachio Date Nests

15 mini phyllo cups (Athens fully baked, fill & serve)
½ cup raw, shelled pistachios
½ cup dates, chopped
Zest of one lemon or ½ orange
2 oz. melted dark chocolate (non-dairy)
15 pistachios for decorating

Place pistachios and dates in mini chopper and process until a chunky paste is formed. Fold in lemon zest. Lightly press the filling into the phyllo cups. Spread the melted chocolate on surface of filling and place one pistachio on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

11 Feb 2017

Whole Latte Love: Chia Latte Pudding

Chia Latte Pudding

Valentine’s Day originated as a saint day honoring one or more saints named Valentine. Through the centuries it has turned into a celebration of romantic, or “courtly”, love. We have romantic dinners, drink champagne and indulge in all things chocolate. I wanted to come up with a decadent-tasting dessert that you could enjoy even if you didn’t leave room for it. I think I pulled it off with this Chia Latte Pudding. The base is a chocolate chia pudding that’s sweetened with dates and maple syrup. The chocolate flavor is deepened by the addition of instant espresso. The light and creamy topping is made with silken tofu, dates and bananas. Keep it cozy by serving the pudding in an old-fashioned glass; or make an elegant presentation in a vintage champagne coupe. This Latte Chia Pudding looks elegant, tastes decadent and is simple and healthy enough to enjoy on a regular basis. Why wait until February 14th when you can celebrate love and dessert every day of the year? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Latte Chia Pudding

Latte Topping:

12 oz. soft silken tofu
6 dates
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mocha Pudding:

2 cups almond milk
½ cup chia seeds, processed into powder
12 dates
½ cup cocoa powder (extra dark, if possible)
¼ cup maple syrup
1 Tablespoon instant coffee (if using instant expresso, use less)

shaved non-dairy chocolate and cinnamon for garnish

Place silken tofu, 6 dates, banana and vanilla into blender container. Process on high until super smooth. Pour into a 3-cup container, cover and refrigerate until set.

Measure chia seeds into coffee grinder and process until finely ground. Place ground chia, milk, dates, cocoa powder, maple syrup and espresso powder in blender container. Blend until smooth. Pour into a 4-cup container, cover and refrigerate until set.

To assemble:

Spoon mocha pudding into a parfait glass or other dessert cup. Top with a dollop of latte topping, then sprinkle with cinnamon and shaved chocolate. The ratio should be about two parts of mocha pudding to one part of the latte topping.

04 Feb 2017

Oh, What Fun: Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel, or Yule Log Cake, is a traditional dessert served at holiday time. The traditional recipe consists of a thin sponge cake that’s filled with raspberry jam, rolled up and decorated with chocolate icing to resemble a log. Through the years, other variations have been created that include chocolate cake, ganache and icings flavored with liqueurs. Since the Buche de Noel has turned into an “anything goes” recipe, I thought I might try my hand at a healthy, plant-based version. I used whipped aquafaba (the liquid from cooked chickpeas) to achieve a sponge-like consistency in the cake. The filling is made with silken tofu, non-dairy dark chocolate and dates. I wanted to use toasted hazelnuts and Frangelico liqueur for the cake, but I ended up using almonds and almond extract because that’s what I had on hand. If you prefer desserts that are not too sweet, you can omit the dates from the frosting. I dusted the top with some confectioner’s sugar. If you want to stick with tradition and decorate the outside to look like a yule log, you will have to double the frosting recipe. What I love about this recipe is that you can make different versions by using fruit filling, grated orange rind, different liqueurs or nuts or adding crushed candy to the frosting. Oh what fun you’ll have making and eating this beautiful Buche de Noel. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Buche de Noel

6 tablespoons aquafaba
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin

½ cup (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry)
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 11×15” rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan) with parchment and lightly grease the sides of the pan.

Place aquafaba and cream of tartar in mixing bowl. Using hand-held mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Add xanthan gum and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Whisk together the sugar and pumpkin in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry and mix well. Gently fold in the whipped aquafaba.

Spread evenly into prepared baking pan and sprinkle nuts on surface. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted into center of cake. Remove and let cool a few minutes. (The cake needs to be warm in order to get it to roll up.) Place a clean baking towel on an un-rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Carefully invert cake on top of towel, then roll up. Let cool completely before filling.

Chocolate-Date Frosting

½ cup dates
12 oz. extra firm silken tofu
4 oz. non-dairy dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pour boiling water over dates and let soak about one hour to soften. Place dates and remaining ingredients in container of a high-powered blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

Buche de Noel

17 Dec 2016

Make It Merry: Stroopwafel

Stroopwafel

Stroopwafel

I suspect that most folks go to the liquor store just to “run in” and pick up a bottle or a six pack. Not me. There’s a local store that offers wine tastings on the weekends, so when I go I set aside an hour of my time and make it an event. On a recent shopping trip/wine tasting, I sampled a liqueur calledStroopwafel”. They even offered samples of the cookie that was the inspiration for the beverage. A stroopwafel (literally “syrup waffle”) is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle.It is popular in the Netherlands, where they were first made in the city of Gouda.The cookie is placed on top of a hot cup of coffee or tea so that the caramel softens. Before I stepped away from the tasting table I was already conjuring up this recipe in my head.(I also saw myself sitting by the fire warming my hands around a hot cup of spiked coffee and enjoying a crisp and gooey Stroopwafel.) I’ve made pizzelles before, so all I had to do was come up with a caramel filling. I recalled seeing a recipe for a vegan caramel sauce a few months ago that might work. (I can’t find the original source, so I apologize for not being able to give credit where credit is due.) The original recipe used a combination of oat milk and non-dairy yogurt, but I’ve had success using soy creamer. The recipe looks daunting, but it’s actually quite easy and fun to make. And when you’re done, you can put your feet up and enjoy a hot cup of coffee topped off with a warm Stroopwafel. To make it even merrier you might as well add a splash of the liqueur to your coffee. Make It Merry and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Stroopwafel

You will need a pizzelle maker to make the wafers and a candy thermometer for the caramel.

For the wafers:

1 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk, warmed to room temperature
1 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil

Whisk the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

Place milk and flax meal in container of blender and let it sit a few minutes. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, coconut oil and process until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix them until the batter is totally smooth. The batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.

Heat a pizzelle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place 1 rounded teaspoon (I like to use a melon ball scoop) of batter on pizzelle maker, close cover and grill until golden (about 1-1/2 minutes). You want the wafers to be a little bigger than the size of your coffee cups. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the caramel:

¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of water
5 tablespoons of soy creamer
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or butterscotch liqueur

Note: The caramel will bubble fiercely when the creamer is added to the sugar syrup, so you must use a pot deep enough to prevent the caramel from boiling over and be careful to not get burned.

Place the sugar and water into a deep pot and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and turns a light amber color (355F). Remove from stove and add the creamer, stirring vigorously being careful not to get burned by the bubbling caramel. Let cool just enough to either spread or dip the wafers. The caramel can be re-warmed in the microwave (about 5 seconds at a time) if it gets to thick to spread.

Assembly:

Place a cooling rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet. Take one wafer and dip it into the warm caramel. Place another wafer on top and place on cooling rack. You could alternately use a small spatula to spread the caramel on the wafers. You might run out of caramel before using up all of the pizzelle. You should get about 16 Stroopwafels.

02 Dec 2016

We Have No Bananas: Baked Plantains

Baked Plantains for Almond Milk Yogurt

Baked Plantains for Almond Milk Yogurt

Plantain — is it a fruit or a vegetable? Technically, it’s part of the genus Musa, which also contains bananas. However, plantains are starchier than bananas and not as sweet. A staple in Central and South America and the Caribbean, a popular way to serve plantains is as side dish of fried tostones or maduras. I’ve had them prepared this way once or twice. It’s basically a sponge for oil. Plantains have several health benefits as they are high in fiber and contain potassium; vitamins A, C, B and the minerals iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Why ruin a good thing by cooking them in oil? Well, you don’t have to. Bruce learned about this method of baking plantains from Chef Ramses Bravo at the True North Health Center. It’s as easy as:

One: Buy a few plantains and let them ripen until the skin is completely black. You can start off with whatever shade is available — green (least ripe); yellow (almost ripe); black (ripe and ready).

Two: Place on a rimmed baking sheet or a piece of aluminum foil with it’s edges turned up. (You’ll want to catch every gooey drop of plantain syrup that oozes from the plantain.) Bake at 350F until the skin splits open (see picture below), about 15 minutes.

Three: When the skin splits and the contents start to bust out, remove the plantains from the oven and enjoy as is.

Baked Plantain

Baked Plantain

If  you’re looking to “complicate” your meal prep, you can top off your baked plantain with some non-dairy yogurt and granola as a breakfast treat; enjoy it as a dessert with chia pudding; or serve it alongside your favorite bean burger.

So healthy, so sweet and so simple. You have no bananas? Then try baking some plantains today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

02 Oct 2016

Not Sharing: No Pudge Brownie Sundae

Brownie Sundae

Brownie Sundae

Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes appear on so many restaurant menus here in the States that they’re almost as American as apple pie. They’re usually made with a warm brownie, a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. Imagine eating that after a big meal. Like many other “health-conscience” restaurant goers, I often shared a brownie sundae with my friends. Even after sharing, I still left the restaurant feeling a bit “pudgy” and a little sick to my stomach. I threw together this version of a Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae last night. I just returned from a trip to Kansas and the cupboard was bare. I happened to have a few frozen bananas, strawberries and chick pea brownies in the freezer. I made a quick fudge sauce by melting dark chocolate with soy creamer. I processed the bananas and strawberries in my Blendtec blender and warmed the brownies in the microwave. The sundae was decadent in a delightful way. There was a nice contrast of sweet from the chocolate and tart from the strawberries; warmth from the hot fudge and brownie and cold from the ice “cream”. This No Pudge Brownie Sundae is full of good things that won’t weigh you down so you might not feel the need to share. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

No Pudge Brownie Sundae

  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • 10 frozen strawberries (about 1 cup)
  • 4 squares of chocolate
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons soy creamer or non-dairy milk

Fill a small pot with a few inches of water. Place a small metal bowl on top and add chocolate and creamer. Heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.

Process bananas and strawberries in a high-powered blender until thick and creamy. If it gets too soft, place in freezer for a few minutes.

Heat brownies in microwave until warm. (I usually microwave on 30% power for 1 to 2 minutes. Place a scoop of ice “cream” on top of brownie and pour hot fudge sauce on top.

 

11 Aug 2016

Smoothie Operator: Tropical Blizzard

Tropical Blizzard

Tropical Blizzard

I purchased a Twister jar for my Blendtec blender a few weeks ago, primarily to help process nuts for nut butters and non-dairy cheese. (A little pricey, but after the first batch of peanut butter I knew this was a great addition to my caboodle of appliances.) The Twister jar came with a little recipe book containing a few recipes for frozen desserts. The easiest one is made with frozen banana chunks. That’s it. With the aid of a special lid that has what looks like two paddles, frozen fruit is effortlessly churned into creamy, frozen desserts. Of course, I could not leave well enough alone and decided to freeze a bunch of fruit in small portions just for this purpose. I had an open can of lite Thai coconut milk in the fridge and decided to freeze that in an ice cube tray. And one afternoon a Tropical Blizzard hit our home. What went into my tiny Twister jar as frozen pieces of pineapple, mango, banana and a few coconut cubes scooped out smooth and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. If you want to spike it up a bit, add a splash of rum or other liqueur. The recipe is simply a guide, so feel free to mix it up with whatever you happen to have on hand. I have to go now so I can clear out a shelf in the freezer for all of my blizzard ingredients. I wonder what tomorrow’s forecast will bring. Make yourself a Tropical Blizzard and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Notes: I don’t own a Vitamix so I don’t know how this will process. If any Vitamix owners try it, please let me know. I purchased the Blendtec on-line, but got the Twister Jar at Bed Bath and Beyond so I could use the coupon. I purchased the larger Twister Jar, not the Mini Twister.

Twister Jar

Twister Jar

Tropical Blizzard

Makes one serving

½ frozen banana, sliced
1 wedge of frozen mango, sliced
6 to 8 frozen pineapple chunks
2 cubes of frozen Thai coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)

Place all ingredients into a small blender and process on high until smooth. Serve immediately.

27 May 2016

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