Vegan Buche de Noel–with Chocolate Mousse Filling and Mocha Buttercream Frosting

Finished CakeYield: 12 servings (at least)

Vegans need not a rolled cake if you take advantage of my many experimentations with both ingredients and technique…

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.

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.  But then I made two more rolled cakes according to another recipe and with considerable experimentation on my part in order to perfect the “sponge” to avoid dreaded cracks.

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

1 cup soy or other non-dairy milk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

3/4 cup natural granulated sugar (I use demerera)

2 tablespooons cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola or other neutral vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Vegan Chocolate Mousse (recipe follows)

Vegan Mocha Buttercream (recipe follows)

Garnishes: sliced almonds, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon sticks, powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a rimmed 10 x 15″ pan with non-stick spray.  Line with one sheet of parchment paper and spray lightly again.  Sprinkle a tea towel with a little powdered sugar in a 10 x 15″  rectangle.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together soymilk, vinegar, and flaxseed meal and set aside to curdle, making a thickened vegan buttermilk.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in canola oil, vanilla extract, and soymilk mixture.  Whisk together for 100 strokes until smooth.  (Whisking for a portracted time like this will develop gluten and, hence, structure.)  Transfer batter into prepared pan and gently smooth into the corners.  Bake for 12 to 13 minutes or just until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for 3 minutes and then invert onto prepared tea towel.  Carefully peel off parchment paper.  With a very sharp knife, trim 1/8 inch of cake from all of the edges.  Working from a long side, fold the excess inch or so of towel over the edge of the cake and carefully roll up like a jelly roll.  Tuck edges under and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Carefully unroll, avoiding trying to flatten the cake completely.  Gently spread with Vegan Chocolate Mousse.  Reroll and place seam side down on a serving platter, nestling it onto a flattened side from the previous rolling.  Cut off both ends at a diagonal and position 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.

 

Cake Before Rolling

 

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.

 

 

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Cleo’s Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Treats

Go Max Go Cleo's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Treats--VerticalYield: 4 treats

If you think peanut butter cups are good, try peanut butter cups topped with layers of creamy vanilla ice cream and decadent chocolate ganache for a frozen peanut-topped treat.

If she’d had to chose, Cleopatra certainly would have chosen these over Mark Antony!

The Good Folks at Go Max Go Foods sent me a bounty of bars recently, so stay tuned for more creations and visit them on Facebook!

2 packages Go Max Go Cleo’s peanut butter cups (each package contains two cups) or the vegan peanut butter cup most readily available in your area.

1 pint vegan vanilla ice cream, softened and stirred until creamy

1/4 cup vegan soy or coconut creamer

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Garnish: 4 large peanuts or 2 teaspoons chopped peanuts

Line 4 muffin tins with 4 muffin liners and place one Cleo’s peanut butter cup in the bottom of each.  Top each with 1/4th of the ice cream, smoothing the tops.  Freeze.  Meanwhile, heat soy creamer to just before simmering on top of stove or in microwave.  Whisk in chocolate chips until smooth.  Cool to room temperature and top each ice cream treat with one-forth of the ganache, smoothing the tops. Garnish with one large peanu tor 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped peanuts.  Refreeze for at least 2 hours.  To serve, remove each treat from the muffin tin, which may require a knife to pop it loose.  Peel off muffin liners and discard, serving on top of fresh liners, if desired.  Allow to soften slightly before serving with a small sharp knife for the initial slice through the bottom.

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Vegan (and Parve) Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream (with mousse option)–A Tofutti Exclusive!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 3Yield: 1 quart

This is the perfect summer-into-fall recipe!

I love the challenge of developing recipes exclusively for Tofutti Brands, Inc.  When they recently requested a parve recipe for pumpkin ice cream, I mentally created the recipe for a Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream, as I wanted to use their Better than Cream Cheese; and then I set out on a hunt for certified parve products in our local Kroger.

Imagine my delight when every single ingredient I wanted to use, save graham crackers, qualified, provided I chose specific brands!  And I was able to substitute matzo meal for the graham crackers in the crumble topping with a wonderful outcome.

Parve or not, I trust you will rave about this beautifully colored, creamy textured ice cream like my guests have.  And you might be as excited as I was to learn that it is delicious served as a mousse before freezing!

Note: the specific brands of products listed are pareve.  If you adhere to a Pareve diet and choose other brands, be sure to look for the identifying symbol on the package.  Also, when selecting Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese–or Better than Sour Cream–please note that they company offers two kinds:  one contains transfat and one does not; I opt for the latter.

 

 

 

8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Sugar in the Raw natural turbinado sugar

1-15 ounce can Libby’s pumpkin puree

1-15 ounce can Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

“Graham Cracker” Crumble Topping (recipe follows)

 

Place Better than Cream Cheese, sugar, and pumpkin puree in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add cream of coconut, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves and process until completely combined, again scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Chill mixture for several hours, freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions, transfer to a covered carton, and chill for several hours to “ripen.”   Serve sprinkled with “Graham Cracker” Crumble Topping, if desired.

Chilled, but not frozen, this delectable ice cream base makes a beautiful, creamy mousse.

 

“Graham Cracker” Crumble Topping:

1 cup matzo meal

3 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw natural turbinado sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

5 tablespoons melted Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread, melted

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients with a fork.   Press into a 1/4-inch thick circle on prepared baking sheet and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown; check after 20 minutes. Allow to cool, and break into pieces or crumbs of the desired size. Store in a covered container at room temperature.

Note:  For parve maple syrup, sea salt, ground spices, and vanilla extract, look for brands like Camp, Dan-D’s Foods, Danon Foods, Gefen, Liebers, Now Foods, Pereg, Prima, Sobeys Foods, Sobeys West, Victorian Epicure, etc.

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Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #1: Apple, Pear and Dried Apricot Crisp with Chai-Scented Streusel

Apple-Pear-and-Dried-Apricot-Crisp-with-Chai-Scented-Streusel-ToppingSomehow it happened yet again this year: Thanksgiving is only one day away!

I saved the sweetest for last: this simple crisp with a twist in the form of the Chai spices in the streusel.

It goes together in a snap and disappears even faster.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Seeing Red: My Vegan Red Velvet Ice Cream Takes the Cake!

DSCN1904Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

My all-time favorite cake now as vegan ice cream!

So, move over Duff Goldman and Blue Bunny brand…there’s a new Red Velvet Ice Cream in town!

Red Velvet is the signature cake of my Aunt Bessie of Dallas, TX.  She honestly makes one like no other.  It was, in fact, the recipe used for the groom’s cake at Joe’s and my wedding.

After veganizing Aunt Bessie’s recipe so that I could still partake, I have gone on to create recipes for vegan Red Velvet Pancakes, whoopie pies, shortbread cookies, and more, but never ice cream.  Never, that is, until now!

Several years ago, Ben and Jerry’s was running a competition for the next great ice cream flavor and I decided to enter with Red Velvet.  Contestants had to submit a video, so a friend came over and shot it, but then she encountered technical difficulties and, alas, I was unable to submit it.  Since then, Red Velvet ice cream has been made available commercially, but not in a vegan version, at least not where we live.  Recently, I got a powerful craving for it and set out to recreate that inimitable cake flavor in an ice cream.

And, oh my goodness, my recipe really does taste like the cake!  My secret?  Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese as a substitution for the buttermilk in my aunt’s recipe–tangy but with the kind of body one wants in an ice cream.  And, are you ready?  Vinegar!  My aunt’s recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of white vinegar that lends to the cake its signature flavor.  And the same is true for the ice cream.  I add it while churning so as not to curdle the custard.

This beautiful concoction really does take the cake!

Thanks to Tofutti for posting it on their website!  Just click HERE for the quick and easy recipe.

 DSCN1908

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Luscious Vegan Lavender and Creme de Cacao Ice Cream (with optional Fresh Figs)

DSCN1830

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

A perfect ending to a perfect party!

Every year for the last four, my husband and I have hosted our annual Julia Child Birthday Bash on the Saturday night nearest to her birthday.  This year, the party was on August 10.

At around 7:30 each year, 10 or so of our foodie friends gather for a potluck celebration like no other!

This year, while I toyed with a birthday cake in honor of the ‘ole gal, I opted for this Provençal-inspired ice cream instead.  And I think everyone was glad I did!

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (thickens without crystallization)

1 cup unsweeteened soymilk

2 cups soy creamer

1/2 cup natural sugar

Pinch sea salt

1 tablespoon dried organic lavender buds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Creme de Cacao

Garnish: fresh fig halves

In a small cup or bowl, whisk together arrowroot powder and 1/4 cup soymilk.  In a 1-quart saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup soymilk, soy creamer, sugar, salt, and lavender, and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.  Remove it from the heat and immediately whisk in arrowroot mixture causing the mixture to thicken considerably.  Stir in vanilla and Creme de Cacao. Pour into a medium bowl, straining if desired (I don’t).  Cool the custard to room temperature, cover, and chill for at least 3 hours.  Freeze in an electric ice cream maker (mine is a Cuisinart) according to manufacturer’s directions.  Transfer to a covered freezer-safe carton, and freeze until stiffened.  Serve garnished, if desired, with fresh fig halves.

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Vegan Fresh Fig Cupcakes with Vegan Lemon-Brandy Buttercream Frosting

DSCN1847

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

These may possibly be the moistest cupcakes you will ever put in your mouth!

A pint of fresh figs from a local farm market that needed used fairly quickly resulted in these beautiful confections.  The lemon in the buttercream frosting  provides a subtle but bright contrast to the cinnamon-scented fig cupcakes, while the brandy flavoring (use real brandy if you have it–my husband forbids me, jokingly–sort of–to use his)  accents their ripe, earthy fruitiness for the perfect summer wedding of flavors.

Vegan Fresh Fig Cupcakes

1 cup soymilk (unsweetened or plain)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I have used rice wine vinegar in a pinch and it works just fine)

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (this is what I keep on-hand, but unbleached all purpose is fine)

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons natural sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup walnut oil or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

18 to 20 small-medium fresh figs, stemmed, and pureed in a food processor

Vegan Lemon-Brandy Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Garnish: 12 fresh fig halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a small cup or bowl, whisk together soymilk and vinegar to make a vegan “buttermilk.”  When it curdles, whisk again and set the mixture aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the soymilk mixture, oil, and vanilla extract.  Stir just until all ingredients are well combined and no lumps remain.  Stir in the fig puree until completely combined.  Fill muffin cups no more than 3/4 full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, and then remove cupcakes from tin.  Place frosting in a pastry bag (mine came from the Dollar Tree!) fitted with a star-type tip, and pipe on top of cooled cupcakes in concentric circles, spiraling high.  Top with a fresh fig half just before serving.

Vegan Lemon-Brandy Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup vegan butter

4 cups powdered sugar, divided

2 tablespoons soymilk (unsweetened or plain)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon brandy flavoring

Zest of 1/2 large lemon

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together shortening and vegan butter.  With mixer on low, beat in half of powdered sugar and half of soymilk.  Repeat.  Beat in vanilla, brandy flavoring, and lemon zest, and then turn mixer to high and whip until creamy-fluffy.

 

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Vegan Sour Cream-Raspberry Ice Cream with White Chocolate Chips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt your farm market this morning, be sure to pick up a pint of raspberries for this luscious treat that is super simple to prepare.

Made with Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, it boasts the perfect sweet-tart balance with a consistency I describe as (vegan) butter, wrapped in (vegan) cream, wrapped in silk!

Team Tofutti loved it so much, they posted the recipe on their site, and you can quickly access it by clicking HERE.

Happy Summer Saturday!

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Vegan Chocolate-Plum Butter Mousse–A Transcendent Flavor Combination with Just 4 Ingredients!

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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