The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Recipes for 'Vegan Chocolate Lovers'

Pumpkin Seed-Chocolate Chip CakeA recipe from Rick Bayless–the iconic American chef steeped in traditional Mexican cuisine which he serves up, with a modern twist, at his Frontera Grill restaurants in Chicago and cooks up on his PBS series–inspired my vegan version (which I submitted to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!).

I spotted the recipe in “Chefs’ Weeknight Dinners” in the July 2014 issue of Food and Wine while on an airplane and knew it would be one of the first new recipes I created once I got back home.

I followed his recipe and method except for the eggs and the chocolate.  For the 3 eggs, I substituted 1/2 cup mashed banana, 1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk, and an additional 3/4 teaspoon baking powder.  I chose banana as I’m not a powdered egg replacement fan and the banana seemed both Mexican and compatible with chocoalte.  (I think pureed pumpkin would also be a nice substitute.)  And for the Mexcian chocolate, finely chopped, I simply subbed vegan mini chocolate chips.  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla and a smidge more confectioners’ sugar for dusting.

The recipe is a cinch to make and very earthy due to the large amount of pumpkin seeds.  It calls for just over a cup of sugar, but the pumpkin seeds are roasted and salted, so this unfrosted cak is not too sweet.

The result is deliciously different without being odd.  The cake has a consistency somewhat similar to a blondie with chocoalte chips.  But its flavor–with the banana virtually undetectable–is all its own, so I think you’ll love adding it to your repertoire.

 

1 3/4 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (any granulated sugar will work)

1/2 cup mashed banana

1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk

Optional: 1 tablespoon tequila

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup softened butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup white whole wheat flour (unbleached all-purpose flour would also be fine)

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 ounces vegan mini-chocolate chip (or chocolate/chocolate chips finely chopped)

2 tablespoons confecitoners’ sugar

Spray a 9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.  Trace around the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper and cut out just inside the line.  Place paper in greased pan and spray again.  Sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds and 2 tablespooons of turbinado sugar.  In a food processor, pulse the remaining 1 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds with the remaining 1 cup of turbinado sugar until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Add the banana, soymilk, optional tequila, vanilla, and butter, and process until smooth.  Add the flour and baking powder and pulse just until incoproated.  Add the chocolate and pulse until well distributed.  Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, gently smoothing to make an even layer over the pumpkin seeds.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean and edges are golden brown.  Rotate the pan halfway though baking.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a plate and carefully peel off the parchment paper.  Dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Photo Credit: Bryanna Barone

Photo Credit: Bryanna Barone

Yield: 24 squares (they are rich and dense, so I cut them smaller than usual)

If you are in need of a healthy bite for graduation parties, these are your ticket!  They are non-vegan male teenager approved (and meatatarian husbands love them too)!

These bars were inspired by my inimitable yoga instructor, Angela Phillips’, scrumptious “La La Bars.”  (Her nickname is La La.)  I call mine Ya Ya Bars after the Ya Ya Sisterhood.

But “brothers” love them too, as noted above.  Having taken the bars to enjoy as soon as my AP Art students got their portfolios assembled on May 9, I suddenly remembered that I didn’t have any pictures of them, so Bryanna snapped this photo before they were all devoured.

When Angela gifted me with the bars, I didn’t ask for the recipe.  So, since I love a culinary challenge, so I just made mine up as I went along.

She uses dates in hers, but my grocery store was out.  So, I substituted pitted dried plums, as I have had great success with my Vegan Plum Delicious Double Chocolate Walnut Cookies and my Vegan Chocolate-Plum Butter Mousse.  Who knew those two flavors were so compatible?  While I have not tried my recipe with dates, feel free to give it a whirl.  My assumption is that they will taste more pecan pie-like and slightly less fruity than my dried plum variety.  Very good, just different.

However you decide to make them, you are sure to love them as much as everyone else.  And thank you, Angela, for the inspiration!

1 cup nuts (I used a combination of walnuts and pecans)

2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut

18 ounces pitted dried plums (make sure they are very moist in a sealed cardboard canister or bag)

9 to 10 ounces vegan chocolate chips, melted

Pinch sea salt

Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil.  In a food processor, finely chop nuts and coconut and transfer to a medium size bowl.  Add plums to processor and pulse until finely chopped.  They will tend to mash together but avoid making a puree.  Transfer to bowl with nuts and coconut.   Using fingers, combine well without compacting.  Pour melted chocolate over the mixture along with a healthy pinch of sea salt, and continue to combine with your fingers until all ingredients are completely incorporated.  Press evenly into prepared pan, cover, and refrigerate several hours or until cold.  Cut into squares and serve.  If you prefer, invert them onto a cutting board, remove foil, and then cut.

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Peeps in Nest with Wooden EggsYield: 8 Peeps

These “Peeps” that I created–which I think look more like Toucans!–were inspired by “Ugly Ducklings” sold at a local Mediterranean restaurant called Azar’s.

I wanted to take the store-bought ones to an Easter dinner on Sunday, but the restaurant was closed and I could find no recipe, so I decided to “wing it,” so to speak.  Fortunately, the ingredients are few.

I’m so glad I did, as they are super simple and so unique!  I apologize for not having them ready to share with you in advance of Easter, but they are nice for spring in general, and certainly next year!

Resting in decorative cupcake liners and tucked, along with softly colored wooden eggs,  into their straw nest, they looked peepin’ adorable and were also a rave in the taste department!

They seem especially appropriate for spring, but the ingredients are pretty season-less, so enjoy all year when a festive presentation and a little decadent bite is in order.

 

Approximately 1/2 cup (or slightly less) almond paste (I purchase it in a can on the baking aisle of the grocery store)

16 pitted dates, opened out (be sure to use fairly moist ones)

1-9 or 10 ounce package vegan chocolate chips

8 whole roasted and lightly salted cashews

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.  Using your fingers, mold a scant tablespoon of almond paste into an egg shape.  Moisten your fingers if your paste seems dry.  Then press into one of the dates, pressing another date over the top to encase the almond paste inside, forming an egg or bird body shape.  Continue with all remaining dates and almond paste.  Cover and refrigerate them for about a half hour.  Melt chocolate in microwave in a narrow deep bowl for ease of dipping.  (For 9 to 10 ounces, I have found that 1 minute on full power, a slight stir, and then 20 to 30 seconds at full power, followed by a good whisking works in my microwave.)  Pierce each date-almond paste ball with a toothpick.  One at a time, dip them into the chocolate, covering completely, and place on prepared baking sheet.  Remove toothpicks and “patch” hole with a dab of melted chocolate if need be.  Then, one at a time, dip half of each cashew into the chocolate and attach it to the top of each “body,” slightly toward one end, with the cashew “beak” curving into the body and touching at each tip–chocolate toward the center–so that it is secure.  Refrigerate for a half hour or until chocolate is hardened.  Arrange as desired and serve.

Note: you will have some chocolate left over, but when it gets low, it is difficult to coat the date-almond paste balls.

Close-Up

 

Just-Dipped Peeps

Just-Dipped Peeps

 

Nest Ready for Peeps

Nest Ready for Peeps

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011Yield: 1-8 inch square sheet cake (a 9 inch pan will make a cake that is too thin)

To make a 9 x 13 inch cake, double recipe and add a few minutes onto cooking time if necessary; avoid overbaking.)

I was introduced to the original version (vegetarian) of this cake at an Oscar’s party when I lived in Nashville.  It is a winner for sure, to be enjoyed in moderation for the occasional splurge…of course. :)

My first attempt at veganizing the recipe was quite tasty.  But the new and improved version is even more so: moister and fudgier.

When this year’s Oscar’s rolled around, I found myself craving this old-school favorite.  Remembering that I had decided my recipe could use a good tweak, I looked up photos of the non-vegan original online and compared them to the photo of my first iteration.  Yep, just based on appearance alone, I knew I needed to do better…and I did.  I’m pretty sure this one can’t be improved upon!

Note: while you are welcome to use Coca-Cola or your favorite brand of traditional root beer, you might enjoy one of the natural brands.

Ingredients

Cake:
    • 1 cup natural sugar
    • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I like white whole wheat)
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine (such as Earth Balance)
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
    • 1/2 cup Coca-Cola, root beer (not diet) or a natural cola/root beer brand
    • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dairy-free buttermilk (5 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons non-dairy milk, e.g. So Delicious Dairy Free Original Coconut Milk Beverage + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar whisked together to curdle)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting:
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar (plus extra, if needed, to yield the consistency you desire, but more sugar makes it lighter in color and less fudgey)
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons Coca-Cola, root beer (not diet) or a natural cola/root beer brand
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans + more for garnish, optional (omit for nut-free)

Instructions

For the Cake:
    1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease and lightly flour an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.
    2. In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
    3. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the margarine and oil. Bring just to a boil and pour over dry ingredients.
    4. Add the cola to the batter, and whisk well to combine.
    5. Dissolve the baking soda in the vegan buttermilk and add it to the batter along with the vanilla extract. Whisk just until combined. The batter will seem a bit thin.
    6. Pour the batter into your prepared ban and bake 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean; avoid overbaking.
    7. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and frost immediately.
For the Frosting:
  1. While the cake bakes, place the confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the dairy-free margarine, cocoa powder and Coca-Cola; bring just to a boil.
  3. Pour the liquid over the sugar, and whisk to combine until smooth.  Whisk in more confectioner’s sugar if necessary.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and pecans (if using), and stir to distribute.
  5. Spread frosting over warm cake. Garnish with pecans if desired.  When cool, cut into squares and serve.  Store, covered, in refrigerator.

 

DSCN0758This is the previous version…see the difference?!

 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the next 12 days leading up to Christmas, it is my pleasure to share some of my most treasured vegan recipes, some old favorites and some brand new, perfect for this grand holiday.

I’m starting with dessert, as this recipe (from 2009) might take a little bit more preparation and planning than the others.  However, when you present this beauty to your loved ones, the smiles on their faces and their oohs and ahs will make any extra little bit of effort entirely worth it.

Named after Southern Living Magazine’s annual cover cake for their December issue, “The Big White Cake” is a bit of a misnomer, for though the frosting is a luscious pillowy white, the cake is German chocolate.  And between the rich layers is a festive–and lightly spiked–adaptation of traditional  German chocolate cake filling with it’s nuts and coconut.  Dried cranberries and citrus make it a true celebration of winter and gift of the season.

Sugared fruit guilds this delicious, impressive lily.  And for all of its wow-power, “The Big White Cake” is really not difficult at all.

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DSCN1677Yield: 4 servings (easily doubles)

Honestly?  You absolutely can’t believe how delicious the marriage of chocolate and the deep, fruity flavor of plums is in this quick and easy four-ingredient mousse (which can be served as a tart by spooning it into a pre-baked shell).

This is a four-seasons treat since it is made with plum butter instead of fresh plums.  (Incidentally, fruit butters are misnomers, as they contain no dairy.)  But, since it is mid-summer, you might garnish it with fresh plum slices along with the mint, whipped topping, and hazelnuts.

That is, if you don’t consume it all before it makes it into the glasses!

10 ounces vegan dark chocolate, melted (I used chocolate chips and melted them in two 1-minute increments in the microwave, whisking after each)

1/4 box extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry

1/2 cup vegan soy creamer (I used French Vanilla)

1/2 cup plum butter (I used Bauman’s  brand–which may be ordered online–made in small batches in Pennsylvania Dutch country from only plums, sugar or white grape juice, lemons, oranges and cinnamon)

Optional garnish: your favorite vegan whipped topping and/or chopped nuts (I like hazelnuts for this dessert) + mint sprigs

In a food processor, combine all ingredients, processing until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  After about a minute, the mousse will be light and fluffy.  After about another minute it will become somewhat denser and darker, yet still silken and fluffy.  Choose our preference.  Divide the mixture among 4 stemmed glasses or small ramekins and enjoy immediately or chill until serving time.

Note:  For individual baked crustless tarts, divide mixture among 4 ramekins coated lightly with non-stick spray and bake in the center of oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until set, but still glossy.  Check after 15 minutes, as tops should not be dry and starting to crack.  Allow to cool before serving, or cover and place in refrigerator until serving time.  Serve chilled.  Garnish if desired.

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Brownikins--Microwave Brownie in a MugYield: 1 serving

Okay, don’t even try to convince me that every once in a while you aren’t dying for a tiny taste of something sinful, and wish you could make a miniature little confection that is quick, easy, and not a killer in the calorie department.

Well, now you can!

NPR was where I first heard about these microwaved brownies-in-a-mug, so I certainly didn’t invent them.  But I do think I have perfected a recipe that needed a little somethin’-somethin’.  I heard the program weeks ago, but I was having a powerful craving last night, so I did a little internet research and gave it a whirl.

I inadvertently overcooked my brownie a little–it keeps cooking for a bit even after you remove it from the microwave–so go easy.  But, even so, I wasn’t 100% sold, despite the fact that the recipe I tried had something like 5,000 “likes.”

I sent the recipe to my sister, Ginny, and she made one for our brownie-loving Papa, but he thought it was a little too rich in the chocolate department.  So, back to my kitchen I went this evening, this time armed with some ideas for how to improve the brownie’s taste and texture, along with some So Delicious Almond Milk Ice Cream (vegan) and a fresh strawberry to perch on top.

YUM!  A winner!  All I needed was a name.  My dear friend Sonya Harmon calls our “little” Great Dane (she’s smaller than her mate, Huff!) “Minnikins,” and I think that is the cutest name for our little gal.  So, since these “mini” brownies are almost as cute, I thought they should be called “Brownikins.”  Thank you, Sonya-kins!

Whatever you call them, you will love them!

And, by the way, you can certainly bake them in a mug as intended, but this recipe doesn’t begin to fill the mug, and I don’t like the brownie batter smeared on the sides after whisking the ingredients together.  So, I whisk it up in a small cup and then transfer into a mini-ramekin (about 1/3 cup) for the cutest presentation ever with a melon ball size scoop of ice cream and baby strawberry.  What’s one more mug to wash?

1 tablespoon canola oil or vegan butter melted

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

2 tablespoons natural sugar

2 teaspoons cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon or less sea salt (I love that little crunch of salt with the sugar.  You won’t need much if you use salted vegan butter, but don’t omit, as it is needed for flavor.)

Accompaniments: vegan ice cream, a fresh strawberry, plus optional vegan chocolate sauce and vegan whipped topping

In a small cup (microwave safe if you plan to cook the brownie in the cup), whisk together melted butter or oil, water, and vanilla.  Then whisk in all remaining dry ingredients.  Whisk until smooth.  If desired, transfer to a ceramic mini-ramekin and cook in a microwave oven on full power for 45 seconds or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or ever-so-slightly moist.  Let sit for a couple of minutes before garnishing and serving.

Photo Note:  Sorry about the quality of the photo.  I was so excited with my creation, that I just snapped it with my phone sitting on the kitchen counter at 8 p.m.: no waiting for optimum lighting conditions!

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German Chocolate PancakesYield: 4 servings

Recently, I returned from a Spring Break trip to visit my family where I made my Papa his favorite vegan brownies.  But he and my Mama both have birthdays coming up, and I was reminded that his very favorite cake is German Chocolate.  So, back home in Virginia and with German Chocolate Cake on my mind, I decided I had to make Papa’s favorite cake as pancakes.

My Vegan German Chocolate Pancakes with Coconut Pecan Maple Syrup are somewhat rich and filling, so I like to eat a stack of three because that looks so nice, but keep them on the smaller side, so as not to weigh myself down for the day.  Other than the flour, soymilk, and pecans–and the coconut to some extent– there is not a lot of nutrition here, so be sure to serve this divine indulgence with a side of fruit and maybe a little vegan yogurt.

Also, in the “rich and filling” department, I have recently started making quesadillas using non-stick spray instead of my beloved canola oil-vegan butter mixture to grease the skillet.  So, for the sake of calorie reduction, I decided to try it with these pancakes and was VERY happy with the results.  But feel free to go for the higher calorie option if you want a bit more rich flavor.  I generally use a couple of tablespoons of each for a 4-serving batch of pancakes.

Thanks to Alisa Free, the “Go Dairy Free” Queen, for publishing the recipe on her popular, one-of-a-kind site.  Click HERE or on the link above to go straight to the recipe.

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Slice of CakeYield:  one 8- or 9- inch layer cake

“Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake???” you may be thinking.  “Ick!,” right?
Wrong!  Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is a long-standing classic for a reason.   But this is one time when I felt that an old standby needed a little boost.  Hence, my Vegan Chocolate Nayo Cake was born.  Click on the link to go straight to my recipe on the Nasoya website, or keep reading for the backstory.
Very generously, Nasoya recently sent me a jar each of their newly reformulated Nayonaise and NayoWhipped sandwich spreads to review.  So, since I had three jars of mayo in my fridge (those two plus my jar of Vegenaise), I decided I should make something that called for a lot of it to use some of it up before it spoiled.
I remembered a very “old-skool” recipe called “Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake,” so I Googled it and got busy with some research.  Many of the recipes I found call for a couple of eggs along with the mayonnaise, but I found one that was naturally vegan except for the mayo, so I started there, substituting NayoWhipped, as it is the sweeter of the two varieties that I was sent.
But I wasn’t completely sold on the cake.  Since vegan mayo contains no eggs, I felt the cake needed more lift.  But more than that, it need more flavor!  I had scanned through the comments on the recipe before I made it and the responses were 180 degrees apart: from the best cake folks had ever eaten to are-you-kidding-I’ll-never-make-this-again.   And, I can see how different palates would interpret the flavor so differently.  It needed work.

More searching turned up a vegan recipe, but it called for applesauce along with the mayo, and I don’t keep applesauce around.  What I really wanted was a recipe that could be made from a standard baker’s pantry.

So, since, unfortunately, our epileptic Great Dane, Minnie, had a seizure in the wee hours of the morning a little while back—time to up her phenobarbital!—I was WIDE awake and decided to hit the kitchen, creating my own version of Vegan Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake that I had been working out in my mind for the couple of days since my first test.
One of the people who commented on that first recipe I found recommended making it with coffee, so that was one of my substitutions, which dramatically helped in the flavor department.  But I punched up the flavor even more with Creme de Cacao (it’s vegan!). I just happened to have some on-hand after creating a Vegan Grasshopper Pie for St. Patty’s Day and, boy, am I glad I did!
Besides the coffee and Creme de Cacao, what really did the trick was some additional natural sugar and some apple cider vinegar, which is not as astringent as white vinegar, and adds very subtle complexity.  I upped the amount of baking soda from 1 1/2 teaspoons to 2, whisking it into the vinegar for some serious fizzing action.  This seems to give a little extra “oomph” to the leavening power of the baking soda.  But I also added just a teaspoon of baking powder for good measure.
The finishing touches were a layer of spiked Chocolate Ganache and spiked Vegan Sour Cream Fudge Frosting.
I am so happy with the end result and just as happy to share it with you and other visitors to the Nasoya website (if you haven’t tried their tofu, I recommend it too!)!

Whole Cake

 

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Grasshopper Pie--Bird's Eye ViewVegan Grasshopper Pies are a varied lot.  Refrigerated, frozen, made from mint ice cream…made from spinach(!), they cover the gamut.

My brand new recipe created in celebration of St. Pat’s Day is as much like the traditional icebox pie as I could make it, complete we Creme de Menthe and Creme de Cacao (don’t worry: both are vegan!).

Click over to One Green Planet–how appropriate!–right HERE for the delicious recipe!

Happy St. Pat’s Day!

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