Countdown to Thanksgiving 2014–Dessert: Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache

Pumpkin-Spice Chocolate Cake with Spiced Espresso GanacheOur Thanksgiving tradition is in transition this year. For over 20 years, Joe’s and my families have gathered at our home in VA Beach to celebrate my favorite holiday.

Birth, death, illness, divorce, and distance–the stuff of life–altered the guest list from year to year, but essentially our culinary tradition remained intact, alternating between traditional-with-a-twist and very non-traditional thematic feasts: Cajun, Thai, American Diner, and more.

Finally, though, my parents have gotten to the age (81 and 86) where neither the drive nor the flight from MS is comfortably manageable, though my father still works part-time as an engineer and just drove them to and from Texas where my mother’s siblings live.  

Last November, Mama took a spill in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in North Carolina on their way home–I told them that place was dangerous!–and they ended up in the local hospital.  She was fine, if shaken, but the writing was on the wall.

So, though it made all of us a bit sad–as my mother said, “You think things will always be the same”–I suggested that we meet in New Orleans, an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from their home and a not-too-terrible flight from here.  Grateful and enthusiastic, my folks booked us into the Chateau LeMoyne, a family favorite, and I made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Broussard’s, another family favorite since childhood.  Joe is game–he thinks it’s the right thing to do– if a little skeptical, as it’s not “his” city in the way that it is ours; my sister and I were weaned on The Big Easy.  And, though the decision was made too late for them to be with us this year, Joe’s sisters and our niece are hoping to join us every other Thanksgiving if our NOLA tradition continues.

Wherever you will be, whoever you will be with, and for whatever reason, my sincere hope is that you will find yourself deeply grateful for life’s gifts, even if, like us, they represent a “new normal.”

As a gesture of gratitude, over the next three weeks, I will serve up three new recipes–one per week–for a perfect, if slightly non-traditional, vegan feast.  And I’m starting with dessert!  Enjoy this moist, richly autumnal, and complexly flavored cake.  It was a hit for a friend’s recent birthday and I’ve made it again for a small dinner tomorrow night for two girlfriends.  Were we going to be at home, it would certainly be on our Thanksgiving menu.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Yield: 1 10-inch bundt cake


1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk

1 tablespoon vinegar

1  3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 3/4 cup turbinado sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)

1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 tablespoon vanilla

Spiced Espresso Ganach (recipe follows)

Garnish: chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick spray and set aside.   In a small cup, whisk together soymilk and vinegar and allow to curdle and thicken.  Place all dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl in the order given, and whisk to combine.  Add remaining wet ingredients including soymilk mixture and whisk 50 strokes or until lumps disappear.  Avoid overbeating.  Transfer into prepared bundt pan and bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   (65 minutes is perfect in my oven.)  Allow to cool completely in pan, loosen around edges, top with serving plate, and and invert.  Spoon ganache around the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the inside and outside edges and sprinkle with walnuts.


*Spiced Espresso Ganache

1/2 cup plain non-dairy creamer (soy or  coconut)

6 ounces chocolate chips

1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

1/48to 1/4 teaspoong round cinnamon (adjust to suit taste)

Heat creamer to barely bubbling.  Add chocoate chips.  Allow to sit a couple of minutes and then whisk together until smooth and completely combined.  Whisk in instant coffee or espresso powder and cinnamon.  Allow to cool until a thick pourable consistency.

*I like to double the recipe, using the whole bag of chips, and save half for another decadent purpose!

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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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Vegan Pumpkin-Maple Ice Cream

Here in VA Beach, fall comes late so it can be quite warm this time of year.  Therefore, when my “good” vegan gal pals on “Good Reads” suggested that we all post a recipe inspired by pumpkin to celebrate the mid-way point of Vegan MoFo 2011, I decided to make mine a quasi-warm weather recipe while featuring this quintessential cool weather ingredient.

I love pumpkin as much as I do sweet potatoes, which is to say ” a whole lot!” so I was all in.   And I love it in both savory and sweet dishes.  This one is a not-too-sweet, but plenty sweet enough (that one’s for you, Lee!), maple-infused pumpkin ice cream.  I serve mine with sweetened Cashew Cream and a cinnamon stick.  But it would be delicious, say, with my Pepita Caramel Syrup (which is equally good on my Vegan Pumpkin-Bourbon French Toast) or with Pepita Brittle.

True confession:  I tried a new recipe I found online, experimenting with adding some additional flavors.  The recipe was a bust–maybe it was the Tequila and lime juice I added (seriously!)–as it never hardened enough to make brittle, but it also wasn’t soft enough to serve as a sauce.  Plus, I discovered a very important lesson: cinnamon and chipotle chili powder, when combined, taste like a Red Hot!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never cared for Red Hots, and certainly not on my beautiful pumpkin ice cream.  So much for being creative.  I did, however, discover that I LOVE lime zest sprinkled over the top of the not-so-brittle brittle.  I’m going to keep experimenting and be back to you when the results are worthy of Blooming Platter readers!

For now, I hope you enjoy my newest creation!

Yield: approximately 1 quart

1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk, divided

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

3/4 cup soy creamer

2/3 cup natural sugar

1/3 cup maple syrup

1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree (feel free to substitute homemade)

3 cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon maple extract

Garnishes:  sweetened Cashew Cream, cinnamon stick halves, and/or Pepita Caramel Syrup

In a small cup or bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup soymilk with arrowroot until completely combined, and set aside.  In a 2 quart saucepan, combine remaining soymilk, soy creamer, sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, and dry spices.  Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture just reaches a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in arrowroot mixture.  The custard will thicken noticeably and quickly.  Whisk in vanilla and maple extracts.  Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate until cold, approximately 2 to 3 hours or overnight.  Remove cinnamon sticks, whisk again, and freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s directions.  Store in freezer.  Serve with a dollop of sweetened Cashew Cream, half of a cinnamon stick, and/or with Pepita Caramel Syrup.


For 150 fresh seasonal recipes, including some some fabulous fall fare, I invite you to check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Vegan Cranberry-Walnut Streusel

Yield: one 9 x 13″ cake

This is the moistest cake you may ever eat. And it becomes even more so as it sits (well covered of course).

The cake was inspired by a recipe I saw for a dried cranberry-nut pumpkin cake. I didn’t think the dried cranberry and nuts sounded very good in the batter. So, thinking that I wanted to make something that didn’t require frosting, but that was more than just a “naked” cake, I thought of a streusel topping. Then it occurred to me that I could add the dried fruit and nuts to the streusel. Eureka! Goldilocks would agree that the combination is just right.

I crave this cake perhaps most especially at breakfast because it functions well as a coffeecake. But I hope you will enjoy it anytime you please!

For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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Vegan Dehydrated Pumpkin Powder from Barry Farm Foods

If you’re not familiar with dehydrated pumpkin powder, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite kitchen companions. I am an absolute “freak” for pumpkin, but sometimes the water content is too high for the desired results, meaning that in order to achieve a rich pumpkin flavor, sometimes the dough or batter becomes too moist.

Enter dehydrated pumpkin powder. I order mine from Barry Farm Foods, but if you “google” the product, you will find a variety of sources. Barry Farm sells theirs in 4 ounce bags, but you can also purchase it from other sources in one-pound jars and even in bulk.

I use it in my Vegan Chewy-Crisp Pumpkin Cookies, but I want to experiment with it in a pasta dough.

They also carry a variety of other powders, like artichoke, for which I have big plans! Mmm…

Image Credit: Barry Farm Foods website. (Note: in actuality, the powder is not this yellow; it’s more yellow than what you might think of as “pumpkin-colored,” but it’s not electric!)

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Vegan Thai Pumpkin-Coconut Milk Flan–A Thanksgiving Favorite Thai Style

Yield: 8 servings

For this Thai-inspired version of my go-to Pumpkin Flan, I simply substituted coconut milk for the soy milk. We had our Thanksgiving meal as a late lunch sans dessert at around 2:30 p.m. and then went to a 5 p.m. screening of “A Christmas Carol.” When we got home to have dessert, we were starving and it was dark outside, so I didn’t get a photograph of it. Therefore, I’m re-posting the photographed version of it made with soy milk, as it looks virtually identical. However, for our Thai meal, I combined vegan sour cream with a little maple syrup and spooned that over each serving, garnishing the tops with walnut pieces and a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice. I should have made two flans, as virtually everyone wanted seconds.

1-12 ounce block of firm Silken Tofu (drained)
3/4-1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup coconut milk
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch (you may alternatively use 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, but the result may be slightly more cakey than custardy)
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup brown sugar (this is not a really sweet custard, so add another ¼ cup brown sugar if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Custard: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8-9 inch round glass or ceramic pie dish. Place all filling ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth and completely combined. Scrape into the pie dish, gently smooth top, and bake 45 minutes (but check every 5 minutes beginning at 30. When you touch the top, it should not leave a mark and, when jiggled, it should move slightly, but appear mostly set.) Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack and, if not serving right away, chill, covered. Serve chilled or at room temperature with topping and garnish.

about 1/2 cup vegan sour cream
3-4 tablespoons maple syrup

Whisk together until well combined. Chill if not using immediately.

Garnish: a sprinkling of walnut pieces and pumpkin pie spice

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Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Vegan Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 1-9 x 13″ sheet cake

I took this cake to school today as a day-before-Thanksgiving treat for my Advanced Art and AP Studio class. It was a hit. One of my students described it as having the texture of pumpkin bread but a little more cakey. I agree. It is a slightly more dense cake or a slightly less dense bread. Regardless of how you look at it, it is moist, yummy, and it slices really nicely.

The original recipe calls for chocolate chips and nuts with no frosting, but I’m not a big pumpkin and chocolate fan, so I omitted the chips and I sprinkled the nuts on top in case a “picky” student wanted to pick them off. The recipe also calls only for cinnamon, but I use pumpkin pie spice and much more of it than the 1/2 teaspoon specified. And, finally, I used brown and turbinado sugars instead of the white called for.

You can bake the batter in loaf or Bundt pans, but sheet cakes are so easy to transport and don’t require as much cooking time as the others. However, sheet cakes seem to need frosting, so I just made one of my favorite go-to recipes and added maple extract.

Vegan Pumpkin Cake:
3 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar (I actually used 1 cup brown and 1 cup turbinado sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Add oil and pumpkin. Mix well by hand or on low-medium speed of an electric mixer just until combined and no lumps remain. Scrape into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Frost with Vegan Maple-cream Cheese Frosting and garnish with walnuts or pecans.

Vegan Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup vegan butter (I like Earth Balance), softened
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, softened
approximately 2-3 cups powdered sugar
approximately 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk (or plain, vanilla or vanilla lite)
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together first two ingredients on high speed. Add powdered sugar and soy milk with mixer turned off and then slowly bring the speed up to high to completely incorporate it, adding approximately 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of milk at a time until desired consistency is reached. If too thin, add more powdered sugar; if too thick, add more soy milk. Beat in maple extract.

Approximately 1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces

Cake Source: Adapted from

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Vegan Thanksgiving Menu 2009

You won’t miss the turkey—nor the butter, milk, eggs, or marshmallows—in this Thanksgiving meal.

For my November vegan cooking colum, “The Veggie Table,” published in today’s edition of the Virginian-Pilot, I created an entire vegan feast—including a main dish with plenty of protein—that could, quite possibly, satiate even the non-vegans at your table.

The pretty and tasty star of this meal is a creamy puree of baked sweet potatoes and cannellini beans encased inside flakey and buttery Phyllo dough. On the side is my from-scratch version of that old family favorite: green bean casserole with crispy onion topping along with pureed parsnips like you’ve never tried. Simmering them in soy milk for extra creaminess is only one of my secrets. Dessert is a silky pumpkin flan with a salted pecan and faux-caramelized sugar topping. Deceptively decadent, it is even packed with protein and vitamins.

Celebratory and extra-special—yet simple to boot—this menu won’t leave anyone feeling excluded, except maybe the turkey, and he’ll thank you for it.

Note: Each of these recipes is also posted separately with individual photos. For another vegan vegetable side dish to accompany this meal, try my Vegan Maple Mustard Roasted Brussels Sprouts on this site.

Vegan Sweet Potatoes and Cannelini Beans in Phyllo Dough
Yield: 4 servings (easily doubles)

3 medium sweet potatoes, baked or microwaved until tender
I-14 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons orange or apricot marmalade
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (available at health food stores and some grocery stores near the flour)
1 tablespoon dry or 3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
Garlic salt or powder to taste
Onion powder to taste
Coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 sheets Phyllo Dough, thawed and covered with a towel
Generous ¼ cup vegan butter, melted
2 tablespoons dried rubbed sage

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scoop flesh from sweet potatoes into a medium sized bowl and mash well. Stir in beans and mash just to gently break them up. Stir in remaining filling ingredients until well combined. Stir together butter and sage and, with a pastry brush, oil bottom and sides of an 8-inch square metal baking pan. Working with one sheet of Phyllo at a time, fold one side down to make about a 9-inch square. Fit into bottom of pan and tuck edges in so that dough fits flat, brushing with sage butter as you go. Repeat 3 more times. Spoon filling onto bottom crust and smooth top. Repeat crust procedure with remaining four sheets, this time laying them on top of the filling to make a top crust. Place pan in center of oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool approximately 10 minutes, and cut into four squares. Serve warm.

Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Yield: 6 servings

9 ounces frozen green beans, thawed in colander, drained and patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3-4 stalks celery, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
2-3 medium-large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast (available at health food stores and some grocery stores near the flour)
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened soy milk
Coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Optional garlic salt or powder to taste
Optional onion powder to taste
1 2/3 cups French’s Fried Onion Rings in a can, divided into 2/3 cup and 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 1 ½ quart casserole dish. In a large cast iron skillet or heavy saucepan over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add onion, celery, garlic and a pinch of salt, and sauté, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened. Meanwhile dissolve flour in a few tablespoons of the milk. When vegetables are soft, sprinkle with nutritional yeast and stir well to coat. Add flour and milk mixture plus remaining milk, stir well, and cook for about 3 minutes or until mixture thickens and flour loses its raw taste. Season to taste with next four ingredients. Remove from heat and stir in green beans and 2/3 cup onion rings. Spoon into oiled baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, gently stir, sprinkle top with remaining onion rings and return to oven for 5 minutes. Serve immediately, if possible, so that onion rings are crispy. To do ahead: bake casserole for first 30 minutes, cool to room temperature, and store, covered with foil, in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 350 degree oven, covered, and, when hot, uncover, top with onion rings and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Vegan Lemony Parsnip Puree
Yield: 4 servings (easily doubles)

4 parsnips, peeled, ends trimmed, and cut into ½” thick slices
Unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled, and diced
2 medium-large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1 tablespoon vegan sour cream
Zest of one lemon
Coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Optional garlic salt or powder to taste
Optional onion powder to taste
Optional Garnish: parsley and additional lemon zest

Lay parsnip slices into large cast iron skillet and pour in enough soy milk to just barely cover the slices. Heat over medium-high to simmering and continue simmering until parsnips are tender and milk has cooked down and thickly coated the parsnips; this may take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, in a medium cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add onion, garlic and a pinch of salt, and sauté until vegetables are softened and golden. Place parsnips, any remaining milk, onion and garlic into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add remaining three ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down bowl with a spatula as necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and optional garlic salt and onion powder. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley sprigs and additional lemon zest. If you are not serving the dish immediately, cool puree to room temperature, cover and chill without garnishes. When ready to serve, reheat in microwave, garnish and serve.

Vegan Pumpkin Flan
Yield: 8 Servings

1-12 ounce block of firm Silken Tofu (drained)
½ of a 13 ounce can pureed pumpkin or about ¾ cup
1 cup unsweetened, plain, vanilla or lite vanilla soy milk
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch (you may alternatively use 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, but the result may be slightly more cakey than custardy)
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup brown sugar (this is not a really sweet custard, so add another ¼ cup brown sugar if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 teaspoon vegan butter
½ cup pecan pieces
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons water
½ cup brown sugar

Optional Garnish: 1 box Soy Whip

Custard: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8-9 inch round glass or ceramic pie dish. Place all filling ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth and completely combined. Scrape into the pie dish, gently smooth top, and bake 45 minutes (but check every 5 minutes beginning at 30.) Let cool to room temperature and, if not serving right away, chill, covered. Serve chilled or at room temperature with warm topping.

Topping: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, add pecans and salt, and toast, stirring frequently, until light golden brown which should take a very few minutes. Remove from heat and scatter nuts over the top of custard. In a small microwave-safe cup or bowl, mix together water and brown sugar. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and pour evenly over the top of custard. Serve immediately with or without dollops of Soy Whip.

Optional Garnish: Pour Soy Whip into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until soft peaks form.

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