Yield: 12 servings (at least)
I regret that I didn’t have time to experiment with this recipe until after Christmas, but it is so exquisitely beautiful and delicious that I can’t wait a whole year to share. Plus, a winter log cake should be appropriate at least through February, no?
Important note: it is far easier and quicker than it may look from these instructions. And well worth any effort…
After conducting considerable research online, I chose a recipe for Vegan Swiss Roll on the Allergy Mums website (thank you!), filling it with my favorite chocolate mousse and frosting it with my longtime favorite mocha buttercream. The creator of the “sponge” claims that it doesn’t crack and, indeed, her photo is picture perfect. However, I found that not to be the case.
Still, my accomplice and good friend, Janie Jacobson, a healthy foods cooking instructor and cookbook author, and I were unperturbed because the luscious frosting hid any cracks completely. Some Xantham Gum might prevent the cracking, but I am not a gluten-free cook and don’t find the stuff appealing. Plus, it is very expensive.
I have now made two of these cakes–one for an impromptu post-New Year’s tea party and the other for a postponed 12th Night Party on Saturday night. It was a rave both times.
In terms of decorating, yes, I know about aquafaba, though I confess to not yet trying it, and I was afraid it might not work for the meringue mushrooms typically used to decorate these yule logs. So I devised my own decoration of sliced almonds to suggest shelf-like mushrooms that grow on tree trunks. Some sprigs of rosemary and cinnamon sticks lend a woodsy note–with rosemary being a surprisingly enticing aroma with chocolate–and a light dusting of powdered sugar suggests a hint of snow.
Someone told me it was the prettiest Buche de Noel she’d ever seen and another that it was my best dessert creation yet. That makes this recipe good enough to share with you.
Vegan Buche de Noel
Vegan Sponge Cake (recipe follows)
Vegan Chocolate Mousse (recipe follows)
Vegan Mocha Buttercream (recipe follows)
Garnishes: sliced almonds, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon sticks, powdered sugar
Make sponge cake according to directions. Carefully unroll, pinch together any cracks, and spread evenly and gently with Vegan Chocolate Mousse. Reroll, using parchment to assist, leaving the seam-side down. Cut off both ends at a diagonal and assemble the log on a serving platter, positioning cut pieces to resemble sawed off limbs. Frost with Vegan Mocha Buttercream Frosting. Lightly drag a fork lengthwise down the trunk and cut branches to resemble bark. Garnish as desired with sliced almonds, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon sticks, and powdered sugar.
Tent with foil and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before serving time. Slice with a sharp or serrated knife.
Vegan Sponge Cake (from Allergy Mums website,directions slightly adapted )
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup caster sugar + a little more for sprinkling (hard to find, so just process granualted sugar in a food processor until finer, but not a powder; do not substitute confectioner’s sugar)
6 tablespoons melted vegan butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 taspoon baking soda
1 cup dairy free milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a shallow 9 x 13″ baking pan (like a jelly roll pan, but smaller), line with parchment paper, and grease again. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and vegan butter. Then whisk in the vanilla, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda followed by the milk. Whisk for 50 strokes and then spread into prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, testing with a wooden pick in the center for doneness.
Sprinkle a large piece of parchment paper with a little more caster sugar. Invert the baked cake onto the parchment and peel off the paper. Tripmshort edges if they are at all browned or crispy, as that will impede rolling. Roll up cake very slowly, using the parchment paper to assist. Leave rolled up until cool (this is a departure from the original recipe).
Vegan Chocolate Mousse
1/4 cup chocolate soymilk
6 ounces extra-firm silken tofu
1/4 cup natural sugar (I like demerara)
4.5 to 6 ounces vegan chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet), melted and slightly cooled (basically, half of a bag of vegan chocolate chips which tend to come as 9 to 12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond or peppermint extract
Pinch sea salt
Place the soymilk, tofu, and sugar to the food processor, and process until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the melted chocolate, extracts, and a pinch of salt. Process for several minutes until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Vegan Mocha Buttercream Frosting
1/3 cup vegan butter, softened
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in about 2 teaspoons of water (I have also used a Starbucks espresso pod, torn open, and sprinkled in undissolved which works beautifully)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons non-dairy creamer (soy, coconut, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with coffee and cocoa powder. Turn mixer off, add 1/3 of confectioner’s sugar and a tablespoon of creamer, and beat until creamy. Repeat with remaining confectioner’s sugar and creamer, ending with last third of sugar scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Adjust consistency with additional confectioner’s sugar or creamer as desired. Beat in vanilla until incorporated. If a darker color is desired to contrast more with almonds, add more dissolved coffee, cocoa powder, or both.
Yield: approximately 2 pounds of nuts
These addicting nuts are perfect for New Year’s Day football watching or any time a protein-packed and exquisite snack is in order.
For years Ina Garten’s recipe for Rosemary Cashews was my go-to for snacking and gift-giving. But I found myself craving something with a little more complex flavor and a little less sweet. So I began experimenting and this was my favorite delicious result. You may substitute pecan halves if you like, but they will likely require less cooking time.
This recipe easily doubles or triples. I triple it and use a large roasting pan.
For gift-giving, I like to package the nuts inside a resealable plastic sandwich bag inside a tin to prevent the tin’s interior from becoming messy.
28 to 32 ounces roasted and lightly salted or salted cashews (the cans I purchase at Bed, Bath, and Beyond come as 28 ounces)
1/3 cup vegan butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon adobo (from a can of chiles in adobo)
Zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional but delish)
1/2 teaspoon natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all ingredients in a 9 x 13″ baking pan, and taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently until fragrant and lightly golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.
My adored late mother (sadly, she passed away on October 2), Sallie Gough, and I made this candy every Christmas, but it is indescribably buttery, silky, and crunchy any time of year…say, for a New Year’s Day party.
I made it this year for my annual Christmas, Channukah, Curry & Confections party–where it was a big hit (any leftover crumbles are divine over vegan ice cream)–and made a batch to leave with my father and sister before I left their home in Mississippi and returned to Virginia after Christmas.
1 pound butter/vegan butter
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
8 to 12 ounces vegan dark or semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup or so sliced, slivered or finely chopped almonds
Butter a cookie sheet with shallow sides and set aside. In a saucepan with a heavy bottom over medium heat, bring butter and sugar to a simmer, stirring frequently. Whisk together water and corn syrup in a small cup and stir into butter and sugar mixture.
Attach candy thermometer to side of saucepan without letting the tip touch the bottom, and continue to cook mixture until it turns a golden amber color and registers about 300 degrees on the thermometer. You may have to cook it to 350 degrees to achieve the desired color.
Pour immediately onto cookie sheet and spread evenly. Allow to cool completely. Melt chocolate and spread over toffee. Sprinkle with nuts and store in refrigerator until cold. Break into pieces and return to refrigerator, covered.
Roll and cut cookies aren’t just for Christmas anymore…
These family favorites hail from my late paternal grandmother. Not a sugar cookie and not a sand tart–they are their own special thing–she shipped them from Houston to wherever we were spending Christmas, or kept them for our arrival at her house. When she moved to MS, we sometimes made them together. And after she passed away, we have kept the tradition alive in MS and VA.
Often, I have made them for gifts, packaged in tins from the Dollar Tree and tied with festive ribbon. Practically legendary, they were the subject of a food feature I wrote for The Virginian-Pilot, and my sister and I included them in the program we created for Mam-ma’s funeral, so the tradition could spread beyond our family.
Not to sweet, my family prefers them a tiny bit over-browned. These cookies freeze and ship beautifully.
1 pound vegan butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
Vegan egg substitute to equal 5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two baking sheets and set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs/egg substitutes, one at a time, until well combined. Beat in vanilla and baking powder.
With mixer on low, add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing just until dough forms. It should be tender, but not sticky, and hold its shape nicely.
Working with small amounts of dough at a time (about 1/8th), on a lightly floured work surface, roll to about a scant 1/4-inch thick and cut with favorite cookie cutters. Place cookies about 1-inch apart on prepared pans and bake about 13 minutes or until golden brown, rotating pans halfway through.
Cool cookies slightly on pans, and then remove to racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in airtight tins or containers.
Since my husband passed away on July 30, I don’t eat or cook as much as I once did. But when I do, I try to make it extra-special as with this beautifully festive, deeply flavorful, but not-too-sweet dessert.
It is liable to be the prettiest guest with the best taste at your holiday table.
Wine Poached Pears
1 bottle (750 ml) vegan shiraz or other red wine (check out Barnivore for a nice list)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 medium orange, cut into 6 slices
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup sugar (I use demerera)
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
4 ripe pears, preferably with stems on for best eye-appeal
Coconut Cream (recipe follows)
Pomegranate seeds (life is too short–and, trust me, I know, to seed a pomegranate, so I buy the seeds in a carton; but here are simple directions for seeding your own)
Optional garnish: 4 star anise pods
Place all ingredients, except 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, in a large (4 quart) pot, partially covered, and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear so that it will sit upright. Using a mellon baller, core from the bottom to remove seeds and any membrane. Then carefully place each pear, on its side, into the simmering wine and simmer about 25 minutes, turning after 10 to 15 minutes, or until very tender but not breaking down. Adjust heat, if necessary, to maintain a perky simmer. Remove pears to a container or serving platter.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup to poaching liquid, orange slices and cinnamon stick and boil, uncovered, until reduced by about half. Liquid should be syrupy but pourable and will thicken as it cools.
For each serving, place an orange slice on each dessert plate, top with a pear, and spoon some of the red wine reduction over the top and around the base. Follow with the Cococnut Cream. Garnish with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and, if desired, a star anise pod.
1 cup coconut cream (1/2 of 15.5 ounce can; note: if cream and liquid are separated, remove both, whisk or process together, and measure out 1 cup, refrigerating remainder for another use)
1 tablespoon sugar (I use demerera)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean pod (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Place all ingredients, except lemon zest, in small microwave safe bowl, whisk together, and heat for 2 to 3 minutes in 1-minute increments, whisking after each, until thickened to a sauce consistency. Whisk in lemon zest.
From her perspective, in matters as important as food, tradition should rarely be tampered with, and that includes her “Texas Trash,” aka Chex Mix. But, alas, her daughter is an endless culinary tinkerer and so, having had my annual fix of Mama and Papa’s vintage “Trash” over the Christmas holiday, I came home wanting to give some food gifts to my treasured local freelance clients and wanting just as much to try a new Chex Mix riff I’d been fantasizing about. Airplane travel lends itself to such ruminations.
Though there are some four or five bastardizations–to my mother’s way of thinking–on the back of the Rice Chex box, I had in mind an Asian-inspired version that would borrow the ground Nori sheets from my delectable Vegan Hurricane Popcorn with a Twist. Not knowing how the recipients would feel about seaweed in their Chex Mix, I went easy, creating just a subtle hint. But if a pronounced flavor is more to your liking, use an extra sheet–or two–of Nori.
Consider yourself warned: this stuff is habit-forming. Even my husband–who prides himself on not eating snack foods, yet his normal non-vegan diet is far from anything to brag about–loved it. And its addictive qualities cannot be traced to one ingredient; rather to the contrasts of textures and shapes and, most especially, to the way the seasoning seeps into and adheres to certain tidbits more than others–creating a buttery richness here and a tangy saltiness there–so that no two bites taste quite the same.
Note that, as with all baked goods, the cooling process is just as important as the baking itself, so be sure not to shortcut my quick and easy instructions.
Once cool, the mix can be beautifully stored for keeping or giving in cans–coffee, nut, Pringles, etc.–wrapped in decorative paper. For the uncoated cardboard-lined cans, like the Pringles ones that students give me, I like to place the mix in a resealable sandwich bag first. Actually, I do it for all for extra insurance.
Go ahead, just try and resist!
12 cups Rice Chex (1-12 ounce box)
2 cups Wheat Chex
5 cups “Sesame Nut Mix” (I use this Kroger brand mix of sesame sticks and roasted and salted peanuts and cashews; if your grocery store does not sell something similar, just combine roughly equal amounts of the three key ingredients; substitute crispy noodles from the Asian food aisle or even thin pretzel sticks of you can’t locate sesame sticks, and add a drop or two of sesame oil to the butter mixture if desired.)
1 cup vegan butter, melted (I use Earth Balance, but this is a good opportunity for me to tout my vegan friend and fellow blogger and cookbook author, Bryanna Clark Grogan’s, homemade palm oil-free “Buttah”)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (feel free to use a “lite” variety)
2 to 3 sheets Nori, one sheet at a time torn into small pieces and ground in a spice grinder until very fine, but not quite a powder)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I use Lawry’s brand)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Optional: pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 3oo degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine cereal and sesame nut mix. Stir soy sauce, Nori, nutritional yeast, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and optional red pepper flakes into melted butter. Drizzle evenly over dry mix and combine, using your hands, trying to coat every piece with the butter mixture. Place pan in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring really well from the sides and corners to the center, every 1o minutes. To cool, spread mixture out in a thin layer on kitchen counter or baking sheets lined with paper towels or brown paper grocery bags. Cool completely. Store in airight containers or in ziplock bags inside airtight containers for extra protection for about a week.
Having stayed in the New Orleans French Quarter with my family over Thanksgiving, I returned home with Corn Maque-Choux on my mind. None of the versions that tempted me on menus there were vegan, so I was obsessed with giving it a try in my own kitchen.
Though corn is quite the summer vegetable, I was craving this Cajun mainstay, so I used frozen corn, and it was delish. Many versions of this recipe abound so, after consulting several, I just started cooking from memory.
I rather like my take on this standard: slightly spicy from dried pepper flakes and a hint of smoked paprika, in addition to the requisite fresh thyme. Plus, with it’s flecks of red bell pepper and green onion, it looks very festive for the holidays.
Plannig to make it a while ago–but becoming sidetracked–and having already purchased the produce, I realized I still had it on hand, yet I am heading out of town on Monday. So, I had to use it up and, in a flash, realized that the Maque-Choux packaged in small glass canning jars that I happened to have would make a very festive food gift for guests at a luncheon I was privileged to attend at noon. (Stay tuned for recipes from close friend Trish Pfeifer’s inspired meal.) So, I went into high gear, also making a Vegan Fresh Fennel and Cranberry Chutney and bird ornaments from recycled Kleenex boxes–tucking all three with alittle tissue inside holiday gift bags–before going to yoga at 9:30 (okay, I was late: 9:40!). Thank goodness Minnie wakes me up early!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bell peppers, diced (I used a red and an orange, but both red or 1 red and 1 green is nice too)
4 celery hearts, diced
6 green onions, sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2-12 ounce packages frozen corn (about 5 1/3 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plain coconut creamer
1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occastionally, for about 3 minutes or until softened. Add celery, and do the same. Stir in green onions and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for another minute or two. Add corn and cook, still stirring occasionally, until defrosted and heated through. Sprinkle with pepper, smoked paprika, dried pepper flakes and flour, and stir to combine. Drizzle creamer and soymilk over the top and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until flour no longer tastes raw and mixture is thickened. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve or spoon into an airtight container(s) and refrigerate.
Today, I woke up and suddenly realized that–having been preocupied for the last week–I had a little leftover fresh produce in the fridge, but I’m headed out of town for a week, and it would spoil before I returned.
Invited to a Christmas luncheon at noon, I decided to whip together a couple of things to give as gifts to the other guests. Fortunately, I had a set of 4 ounce canning jars that were perfect filled with the chutney, tucked into small gift bags with an additional jar of Vegan Corn Maque-Choux, a little tissue, and simple little bird ornaments that I also whipped together using recycled Kleenex boxes with beautiful patterns.
It was a busy morning, as I still got to yoga at 9:30 (well, 9:40!), and to the lovely luncheon at the home of close friend, Trish Pfeifer! (Stay tuned for some of her delcious recipes!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups diced fresh fennel (1 bulb + a little bit of the stalks)
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, fennel, and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 mintues or until softened. Add garlic and saute, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add cranberriesa and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add water and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until most of moisture is evaporated, or about 10 minutes, lowering heat if necessary. Stir in wine, and let simmer, still stirring frequently, for anoter 10 minutes or until thick and pulpy. Adjust salt, sugar or vinegar if desired. Remove from heat, let cool, place into an airtight containers(s), and tie with ribbon and a star anise, if desired.
My dear artist friend, Sheila Giolitti’s, cranberry tarts were delicious at an intimate Christmas luncheon I was privileged to attend yesterday. Try these festive two-bite desserts at home: the filling was basically homemade cranberry sauce–just use the recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries–with orange zest and spices–use ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves or whatever you liked–spooned into purchased and baked phyllo shells (buy them frozen; most brands are vegan, but check the ingredients). Flaked coconut was the perfect snowy topping.
Yesterday, I made “tweet,” I mean sweet little recycled bird ornaments for some friends who would be at a Xmas luncheon, and wanted to share my so-simple-it-is-embarrassing approach with you. You still have time before Christmas and they would make great gift tags too.
Nowadays, cardboard Kleenex boxes have the most beautiful patterns, so I purchase ones I love (even though they don’t show in the aluminum tissue box covers I put them in), and then save them once the last Kleenex is used.
Remembering I had some lovely ones in my paper drawer, I simply cut-out a bird template, traced it onto the inside (the non-patterned side) of the tissue boxes–flipping it over so that I had a front and a back–glued them together, weighted them to dry (next time I’ll try double-sided tape), trimmed any edges that didn’t match up, punched a hole near the neck, and knotted a piece of twine through the hole. Done! Everyone loved them, and they truly are charming.
The one depicted I gave to our host and hostess, Ken and Trish Pfeifer; Trish photographed it and sent it to me. You’ll notice that it’s little beak is solid gray. That was dumb luck! That particular Kleenex box had a band of solid color around the edge and I just happened to lay the template on the backside so that it lined up perfectly. But even if such things don’t happen, the results are still delightful.
Have a Happy DIY Holiday!