Vegan St. Patrick’s Day: A Roasted Asparagus Sammie and a Grasshopper Pie!

It finally feels like spring though, don’t get me wrong, I adore winter with its bare bones and harsh beauty, but it is nice to step outsdie without my body tensing up.  Actually, it does in a kind of conditioned response, but then relaxes again immediately.

So, with spring veg like asparagus on my mind and St. Patty’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d re-post a Vegan Puff Pastry Sandwich Filled with Roasted Asparagus, Green Pea Hummus and Vegan Orange-Chipotle Mayonnaise that I created one year especially for the occasion, and a delish mint-chocolate Vegan Grasshopper Pie, kindly posted by Tofutti, that I created another year, also for this greenest of holidays.

Yes, with its layers, the sammie is a little more effort than the typical BUT it is worth it.  And you can whip up the humms and mayo in a flash while the asparagus roasts and the puff pastry bakes.

Get your leprechaun on!


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Vegan Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ganache Tarts

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache TartsYield: 4- 41/2 inch tarts

(Note: just scroll down a bit to skip the back story.)

Recently, I was longing after salted caramel and chocolate ganache tarts taunting me from the bakery case at Starbucks.  So when I read that coconut sugar–the last of the Navitas Naturals products I had the privilege of taste testing–is known for its caramel-like flavor, I knew exactly what I would make.  I just wasn’t sure how.

The ganache is, of course, simple with vegan chocolate chunks or chips melted with the non-dairy creamer of your choice.  However, the caramel and the chocolate crust were another matter.

I have a go-to no-fail recipe for caramel sauce, but this caramel needed to be firm enough to cut through without oozing all over the plate.  But not so hard or sticky that follow-up dental care would be required.

So, I veganized a caramel tart filling recipe I found online that called for sugar, cream and butter.  But the amount of sugar proved woefully skimpy and I could tell the filling wasn’t going to stiffen, so I added another 1/4 cup.  That still didn’t do the trick even after some refrigeration, so I decided to return the mixture to a saucepan and cook it to either the soft ball or firm ball stage.  Ultimately, I decided on the latter.  A good decision, as it turns out.

The coconut sugar is rich brown in color and definitely boasts a different flavor than either granulatedor brown sugar.  Instead of the molasses notes of the latter, coconut sugar really does have a distinct, if subtle, hint of caramel-like flavor, as billed.  And I liked it a lot.

For the chocolate crust, I didn’t want a cookie crumb variety but a bona fide rolled tart crust.  It’s a little more work, but worth it, according to one of my experienced tasters, who mentioned how tasty the crust was.  I found the perfect recipe online thanks to Martha Stewart, a longtime trusted source,  ex-con though she may be–ha!   I easily veganized it by substituting vegan butter for its dairy cousin, and the resulting dough was ideal: tasty, not too sweet (though I did add an extra tablespoon of sugar), and beautifully manageable.

I had planned to place a pecan half on top along with a sprinkling of Maldon flaky sea salt, but all I had in the freezer were pecan pieces, so a cashew half was the perfect buttery topknot.  I ordered my Maldon online, but any super flaky salt–like snow flakes–will do.  Coarse sea salt will work in a pinch.

Two of the tarts went to our vet and his wife, an LVT who also manages their practice because, together, they are responsible for saving the life of our beloved and food-obsessed 85-lb Great Dane X via text and phone call on Sunday, as she had swallowed a (vegan) burger whole when I had gone upstairs to get my camera to photograph it.  All would have been fine had said burger not been topped with a 3-inch red plastic toothpick speared through a dill pickle slice.  The purge “cocktail” they coached me through worked like a charm and all came up the way it went down.  The remaining decadence went to a dear friend, along with an arm-knitted scarf, whose birthday was on Wednesday.  All were delivered in the snow late Monday afternoon which, if a little dicey, was a lot of fun.

Both sets of recipients–one, a self-proclaimed salted caramel and chocolate afficianado and the other a foodie and outstanding cook in her own right–pronunced every morsel of these tarts utter perfection.  And, of course, I hope you will agree!


Chocolate Rolled Crust

2 cups flour

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or any granulated sugar; I typically use demerara)

3/4 cup cold butter, cut in small cubes

1 teaspoon espresso powder dissolved in 1/3 cup cold water (or 1/3 cup cold brewed coffee)

Place four, cocoa powder, sugar and butter cubes in food processor and pulse until butter resembles small peas.  Drizzle with coffee and pulse until dough comes together, scraping sides as necessary, adding a few more drops of coffee or water if necessary to make a pliable dough.  Turn onto a work surface lightly sprinkled with cocoa powder and knead a few times.  Press into a 1-inch thick rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 45 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator and let rest for 5 minutes.  Roll out to 1/8 inch thick between pieces of parchment paper.  Place however many 4 1/2-inch tart pans will fit on dough and, with a small paring knife, cut out circles around them, allowing enough width to fit in sides of pans.  Gather up scraps, kneading a couple of times, and rerolling in order to have enough dough for all 4 shells.  Fit each circle of dough into the tart pans, press onto bottom and sides and trim edges.  Lightly prick bottom and sides and, for extra assurance against puffing and shrinking, place a square of parchment paper in each, weigh down with raw rice or dried beans, and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove paper and rice or beans and bake an additional 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.


Vegan Caramel Filling, Chocolate Ganache, and Garnish

1 cup coconut sugar (or any granulated sugar; I typically use demerara)

2/3 cup plain non-dairy creamer

1/3 cup vegan butter

Vegan Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)

4 whole or halved cashews

1/2 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt (or the super-flaky sea salt of your choice)

Place coconut sugar, non-dairy creamer and vegan butter in a small saucepan (I used a non-stick pan) and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan with tip immersed in the caramel, but not touching the bottom of the pan, and cook to the firm ball stage (250 degrees) or just below (245 degrees).  Remove from heat and pour caramel into tart shells, dividing evenly.  Cool, spread a circle of Vegan Chocolate Ganache on top allowing caramel to show around hte perimeter, garnish with a nut and a pinch of sea salt, cover, and refrigerate.


Vegan Chocoalte Ganache

1/4 cup plain non-dairy creamer (I typically use soy or coconut milk)

1/2 vegan chocolate chips or chunks (I like a dark chocolate variety)

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine creamer and chococlate.  Heat for 30 seconds, whisk, heat for another 30 to 60 seconds, whisk again, and cool.  Note: you may have some ganache left over.

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Vegan Spiced Cranberry-Orange Tarts in Phyllo Shells

Cranberry TartsMy 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.

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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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Vegan Grasshopper Pie–Happy St. Pat’s Day!

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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One Green Planet Published My Vegan Snickers-Inspired Chocolate, Caramel and Peanut Butter Pie–Outrageously Delish!

This decadent pie takes “layers of flavor” to a whole new level, proving that 1 + 1 = 10!  Six, actually, but who’s counting?!

Wait until you try my Cream of Coconut-Peanut Caramel Layer!  Try not to eat it all like candy before assembling the pie. 🙂

Find the surprisingly simple recipe and back-story HERE at One Green Planet!

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Vegan Ginger-Streusel Pear Pie from The Blooming Platter Cookbook is Now Available on One Green Planet! And there’s a bonus: My Vegan Cinnamon Stick-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Before the last of the winter pears are gone, I bet you might like to bake some up in this special pie from The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

It was recently published by the good folks at One Green Planet and you can access itby clicking HERE.

Its crust has a secret ingredient–now known to be healthy–that yields a perfect flaky, yet tender, crust that’s a cinch even for novice bakers to manage.  And you won’t have to wait very long to have this beautyon the table because of my stove top pre-cooking method.

Make it a la mode:  As a bonus, you can also access my Cinnamon Stick-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe which was created especially for this pie, but is delicious on its own.
Thanks to Team One Green Planet!  Enjoy, everyone!

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Vegan Fresh Fig (or Other Fresh Fruit) and Cashew Cream Crostada with Rosemary Caramel Sauce

Yield: 4 tarts

Until now, I’ve always used sweetened cashew cream as a topping.  But something made me wonder what would happen if I baked it as a filling in a darling little tart that I call a crostada because they seem a little Italian, especially when bathed in my glistening Rosemary Caramel Sauce, inspired by my love of my vegan cheese spreads, fresh figs, and rosemary.  So what did happen?  The emergence of one of my favorite desserts of summer!  But when figs aren’t in season, top them with any soft or lightly sauteed fruit.  And feel free to mix and match the herb you add to the sauce to best complement your choice of fruit.

1/2 cup Cashew Cream (recipe follows; must begin making the day before you plan to use, as cashews soak over night)

2 tablespoons natural sugar or confectioners’ sugar (the former will lend a hint of crunch, while the latter will yield a smoother product)

approximately 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Crostada Dough (recipe follows)

2 fresh figs (or other soft fruit, such as banana slices, lightly sauteed in vegan butter and a pinch of sugar)

Rosemary Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Cashew Cream (this recipe entitled “Chantilly Whipped Cream” is from The Blooming Platter Cookbook, page 153):

Note: this recipe will yield approximately 2 cups, more than you need for the crostada, but you’ll enjoy having it on hand.

2 cups raw, unsalted cashew pieces, divided

2 cups water, divided

6 tablespoons confectioners sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place 1 cup of the cashews in a medium bowl and cover with 1 cup of the water.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.  Drain and rinse the cashews in a colander.  Transfer the cashews to a food processor, add the remaining one cup of water and process until creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.  Add the remaining cup of cashews and process another few minutes , or until thick and creamy, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  The mixture should have enough body to hold a peak.  Add the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and process until combined.  Taste and adjust flavoring if necessary.  Transfer the cream into an airtight container and chill for at least an hour before using.  Remove 1/2 cup of the cream to a small bowl, and return the remainder to the refrigerator.  Into the 1/2 cup of cream, stir the 2 tablespoons of natural sugar and optional lemon zest.  Set aside.

Crostada Dough (this recipe is from The Blooming Platter Cookbook, page 168):

Note: this dough is the world’s easiest and best-behaved around.  I’m just sayin’…I  thought I had added too much ice water, but I just pulsed it a couple more times, lifted out the ball, and placed it on my very lightly floured surface, turning it over once to coat both sides, and it was perfect.

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)

pinch of sea salt

3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated coconut oil (semi-solid at room temperature; now considered part of a healthy diet!)

Scant 1/3 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper, or use a seasoned baking stone, and set aside.  Combine the flour, salt, and coconut oil in a food processor, and pulse a few times until the coconut oil is evenly distributed and the dough looks like coarse sand.  Begin adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times after each, just until the dough comes together.  It should be slightly moist, but not sticky, very easy to handle, and formed into somewhat of a ball.  Lift it out of the  processor, gathering up any loose bits, and divide the dough into fourths.

On a very lightly floured surface, shape each into a small disk and then roll out, using a lightly floured rolling pin, to about 5 inches in diameter.  The dough should be quite thin, but not so much so that it will tear.  Gently lift each dough circle and place on prepared baking sheet, gently reshaping if necessary.  (I like to use the tried-and-true method of rolling the circle of dough around the pin, transferring it to the baking sheet, and then unrolling in place)


Place  2 tablespoons of cashew cream in the center of each circle of dough, gently shaping it into a disk with a generous border of dough.  Gently fold the edges of the dough over the outer edge of the filling, pleating the dough as you go.  Be sure to leave an opening in the center in which to place the fig half.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes, but check periodically to avoid over-browning.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, as soon as the crostada are easy enough to handle, use a metal spatula remove them to a wire rack.  With the back of a spoon, make a depression in the filling of each tart and nestle a fig half, cut side up, inside.  Place each tart on a serving plate and drizzle withe the Rosemary Caramel Sauce.  Serve immediately and pass extra sauce.  These crostada are best served just after baking or, stored, covered, in the refrigerator and allowed to come to room temperature.

While tarts bake make sauce:

Rosemary Caramel Sauce

4 tablespoons vegan butter

1 cup natural sugar

1/2 cup soy creamer

Pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon minced rosemary

Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Place butter, natural sugary, soy creamer and salt in a one quart saucepan over medium heat.  Cook and stir or whisk frequently for about 5 to 7 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in rosemary.  Allow to cool slightly and then taste to determine if you want to add the vanilla.  I prefer it without as it dulls the lovely flavor of the rosemary.  Use right away or pour into a bowl or jar and allow to cool.  Refrigerate any leftovers tightly covered.  Reheat to use.

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Vegan Almond and Fresh Plum Tart

Yield: 8 servings

My go-to press in savory quiche and tart crust gets the sweet treatment with this elegantly rustic dessert. I simply added a little natural sugar to the dough and filled the partially-baked shell with a silky-smooth almond filling crowned with perfect little domes of fresh plums and a feathery dusting of powdered sugar. It’s the perfect way to end a summer meal or, for that matter, begin a summer day with a cup of tea. (Thanks, Diane and Mike, once again, for the gift of these plums from your tree.)

Vegan Press-in Sweet Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat flour (I used all-purpose in the photograph, as I didn’t have enough whole wheat, but you can combine the two to get the benefits of both)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup natural sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened or plain soymilk, lite or regular

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the oil and milk over the dry ingredient mixture and work around with a fork or fingers until all of the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to an 8-inch tart shell with a removable bottom and press the crust firmly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. The bottom and sides of a glass accomplish this task nicely. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Let crust cool for 3 minutes, and then fill evenly with almond filling. Arrange plums, cut side down, in rings on top of filling, placing close together. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until almond filling is set. Let cool to almost room temperature, dust with powdered sugar and serve. Refrigerate leftovers, covered. Note: this crust, made with whole wheat flour, makes beautiful, sturdy 4-inch tart crusts that hold up even when removed from the tart pans and slid off the removable bottoms. Like the larger crust, I bake them 10-12 minutes before filling.

Pie Crust Source:


1-12 ounce box firm Silken tofu
1-8 ounce can almond paste, broken up into small pieces with fingers
1/2 cup natural sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt

Place all ingredients in bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until very smooth, scraping downsides of bowl as necessary.

approximately 20 small fresh plums, halved and pitted

Optional Garnish:
a tiny bit of powdered sugar sifted over the top

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