Vegan Mini-Chutney & Cocowhip “Pies”
Ready in a (Ginger)Snap

These pretty little mini-pies make holiday pie “baking” a snap. A gingersnap.

I am so happy to share this cheater “recipe” with you, the brain child of my good friend, Mary Beth Watson. It is really just a 3-ingredient lickity-split process.

After one bite, no one will care how little time you spent laboring in your kitchen.

Ingredients:

Anna’s or your favorite brand crispy scalloped (preferably) vegan gingersnaps

Chutney (apple-pecan or, for Christmas, cranberry-orange-walnut “sauce” works nicely)

So Delicious brand Cocowhip or your favorite vegan whipped cream

To make each mini-pie, top one gingersnap with a spoonful of chutney followed by a dollop of Cocowhip. That’s it! Make as many or as few as you need just before serving time.

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Best Vegan Salted Maple Brandy (or Bourbon) Pecan Pie
(Classic Texture)

 

If a traditional pecan pie–with even more pecans–is what you crave, this pie is perfection and as easy as, well, you know.

Most recipes call for 2 cups–or even just 1 1/2 cups–pecans. Why?  Mine calls for 3 for the best filling-nut ratio. This is no time to skimp.

A week ago, I published my other favorite pecan pie, though that one has a more custardy texture, as it is made from a tofu and cornstarch-based custard. Bob the omni liked that one but he much prefers this one, which he eats with his chocolate ice cream that is always in the freezer. He did admit that another flavor of ice cream would be optimal.

So serve either pie with vegan vanilla ice cream and/or vegan whipped cream–perhaps a little drizzle of brandy or bourbon–enjoy, and then let us know what you you think. Happy Holidays!

Note: If you eschew booze, just replace it with 3 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, as Veganegg has a somewhat pronounced, slightly savory, flavor that needs countered with the assertive flavor of alcohol or with an acid.

1 prepared vegan pie crust, homemade or purchased

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Non-stick spray

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons Veganegg

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup brandy or bourbon

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup demerrera sugar

3 tablespoons melted vegan butter

2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Topping: vegan vanilla ice cream, vegan whipped cream like So Delicious Cocowhip

Set out pie crust if frozen. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet, spray with nonstick spray, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and toast for 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together Veganegg with water and brandy or bourbon. Whisk in all remaining ingredients. Set aside 32 pecan halves and spread all the rest into pie crust. Sprikle with sea salt remaining on baking sheet.  Place pie pan on baking sheet, pour filling evenly over the top. Decorate the top with concentric rings of pecan halves and bake for one hour. Pie will seem quite “loose” but will firm up as it cools.  Because of this, you may need to gently reposition some of your decorative pecan halves.

Cool completely, cover, and chill for a couple of hours.  Serve topped as desired.

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Best Vegan Salted Maple Brandy (or Bourbon) Pecan Pie
(Custardy Texture)

I got inspired AFTER Thanksgiving to experiment with pecan pie. The one at our repast was not vegan, so I couldn’t partake.

On a recent trip to Duck, NC, Bob had a scrumptious pecan tart with bourbon ice cream and salted caramel sauce which I had to taste for research purposes. I felt the caramel sauce was overkill. And I knew I wasn’t going to make ice cream just due to time, so I added the booze to the pie and served the slices with purchased vegan vanilla ice cream. Yes, please.

The question for vegan pecan pie bakers is silken tofu or no?  I say yes, as I was never a fan of syrupy pecan pie. So, I like the slightly more custardy texture of this one, which slices beautifully.  I hope you do too.

As I mentioned, this pie is addicting served with softened vegan vanilla ice cream. And while I deemed the caramel sauce too much of a good thing, everyone will look the other way if you drizzle a hint more brandy or bourbon over the top.

  • 1 prepared vegan crust
  • 3 cups whole pecans
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 cup demerrera sugar
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dark molasses
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or bourbon
  • Juice of half a medium-large lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup soft silken tofu
  • Optional: a few vegan chocolate chips
  • Flaky or coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If pie crust is frozen, remove from freezer.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, spread pecans in a single layer on sheet, sprinkle very lightly with sea salt, and roast in oven for 3 minutes.  Set aside, but leave oven on.

In a medium saucepan, combine the vegan butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, corn starch, flour, and sea salt.  Stir and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in brandy or bourbon, vanilla, and almond extract.
In a food processor, process the silken tofu until smooth. Add the maple syrup mixture and pulse again well combined. Reserve 28 of the pecan halves, add half of the remaining pecan halves, and break up the temaining ones as you add. Use a spatula to gently swirl them into the filling. Transfer filling to pie shell. Arrange the reserved pecans on top of the pie in two concentric circles. Dot with chocolate chips if desired.
Place pie on a baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven and bake for about one hour, until the crust is nicely browned and the edges of the pie are set. The center might still be a very slightly jiggly. Remove from oven, sprinkle with just a hint of flaky sea salt like Maldon or just a nice coarse variety and allow to cool completely before serving.
Serve with softened vegan vanilla ice cream (I like So Delicious No Sugar Added) or vegan whipped cream.
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Day 4: Vegan Apple Peanut Butter Streusel Pie–Cooking “The Blooming Platter Cookbook” Julie & Julia Style


Valentines Pie(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

 

I decided to pick a dessert to celebrate Valentine’s Day so I chose the Apple Peanut Butter Streusel Pie. It was this and a clean garage for my man – strange how “gifts” evolve over 22 years of marriage!

I started reading through and it mentions the use of a food processor. Now it is a widely known fact in my home that I absolutely HATE my food processor. Just can’t stand it. My husband feels like I am totally irrational on this point. I admit my first excuse is lame. I tell him there are so many pieces to wash. He points out that we have a dishwasher. Ok true. Then I show him how I can’t seem to ever lock it in without a huge fight. He says…and I love this…”you’re doing it wrong”. So fine…you do it, I say. I cannot tell you the amazing sense of satisfaction I had watching him repeatedly try to lock it into place!! Ahhhhh!! Point made.

When I was very young, my mom taught me how to bake. Basic baking ingredients were affordable and it’s amazing what you can create with flour, sugar, powdered milk and imitation vanilla. If we found a great looking recipe with an ingredient we didn’t have, she would save up and get it for me. So I love to bake for the memories; and for this reason, I am really old school about it. So long story short, it’s a no on the food processor.

This recipe called for coconut oil. Ok that would be under the bathroom counter. I always thought it wWedding Ringsas for making great body scrubs. It never occurred to me to cook with it! I didn’t have enough so I went shopping. While I was standing in front of the overwhelming choices of coconut oils (refined, medium heat, virgin, unrefined) I was so tempted to text Betsy for advice. But seriously, did Julie have an option of texting the great Julia Child? Nope. I’m on my own here, so I chose the virgin, unrefined. It just sounded more vegan to me.

When it came time to make the tart dough, I was skeptical. Coconut oil instead of butter? Surprisingly it really did have the consistency required and it came together perfectly. I pressed it into a heart shaped pan but the sides kept slipping down so I gave up on that and just stuck it in the oven.

With the coconut oil out I just couldn’t resist giving my dry winter hands a spa treatment so I made a quick lemon sugar scrub in the palm of my hand. What could be better? Baking and a spa treatment!! Instant stress relief.

Everything else was a breeze and I was in my element. It was beautiful right out of the oven. I even sprinkled some red sugar over it for a more festive look.

Even though I was super careful to hide the coconut oil and the organic peanut butter, my men were circling it like a pack of wolves – going in, examining it, sniffing it and backing out again. What the hell guys! It’s just heart shaped!! Do they per chance suspect vegan?? Has my cover been blown so early in the game??

So here are the results. My husband kept shaking his head saying it needed more peanut butter (seriously I think he just meant it lacked Jif, his favorite), but he liked the crust saying it tasted like the apples. My son will eat anything and gave it a thumbs up on his way out the door. I, unlike my husband, tasted tons of peanut butter, but I must confess I really missed the butter in the crust and the topping. I do love the fact that the apples were sautéed before going into the oven. Overall thumbs up but sorry, I have to use butter next time. I sure will miss my hand scrub though.

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Barbara’s Vegan Chocolate Tart with Pistachios (plus peanut butter version)

Barbara's Chocolate TartYield: 8 to 12 servings (it is decadent and rich, so a thin sliver may do the trick)

 

This recipe began its life as No Bake Chocolate Cake (which is really more of a terrine) at 101 Cookbooks.

But, my enterprising friend, Barbara Gelpi, simply poured the mixture into a crumb crust–homemade or purchased, plain or chocolate–and voila!: the densest, richest, most delectable tart imaginable with not a bit of tofu in sight.

Though I happen to love tofu, the absence of it removes all the soy, to which some folks are averse, while also removing the need for a food processor.  Considering that my new dog Patsy “retrieved” the blade from the counter where it was draining and ruined it by chewing up the plastic part only–thank goodness–that is a good thing.

Barbara and her husband, Juan, joined me in the preparation of a delectable vegan Moroccan meal last night, so Barbara’s addition of a pistachio garnish was perfectly fitting and tasty, and the green was such a pretty contrast with the warm reddish-brown of the chocolate.  But use any nut you like or no nuts at all.

This tart is sure to become a staple and all of your friends will ask you to bring it when they invite you for dinner.  Heck, they may invite you to dinner just so you’ll bring the tart!

8 ounces vegan chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

1 cup almond milk

1/2 teaspoon allspice, cinnamon, chili powder, etc.

2 teaspoons espresso

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 crumb pie crust

Optional topping: 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios or your favorite nut

Melt the chocolate on the stovetop or in the microwave.  Heat the milk with the spice of your choice, the espresso, and the salt just bubbling.  Whisk the chocolate into the milk.  Allow to cool and thicken a bit, and then pour into crust.  Sprinkle with nuts,  and chill a couple of hours or until cold throughout and set.  It should be firm enough to slice beautifully.  Note: to make peanut butter version, melt 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter with chocolate and sprinkle top with coarsely chopped peanuts.

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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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