Category Archives: Dessert

Here Comes the Sun

A few days ago, I was honored to be given a Sunshine Award by Kiersten from Vegan Awakening (formerly Full of Beans). I can’t explain how fortunate I feel to have found all of you–and the vegan community as a whole–online.

Your posts, friendship, and really, your mere existence, truly do brighten my days. I may think awards like this one are cheesy (from now on, I’m going to say “noochy” instead), but that doesn’t changed the fact that I was nonetheless touched to receive mine; that’s why I want to keep distributing the sunshine! I’ll leave you with an inspirational Austen quote:

“Business, you know, may bring you money, but friendship hardly ever does.”

Oops, that’s not the one I meant. Let’s try this again…

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves…”

So without further ado, here are those bloggers whom I have no notion of “loving by halves:”

Celine from Have Cake, Will Travel
Nicole from Rambunctiously Soft-Spoken
Alex from Cute and Delicious
Kathy from Healthy Happy Life
Jacqueline from Sweet Beet and Green Bean
Naomi Rose from The Gluttonous Vegan
Bianca from Vegan Crunk
Ricki from Diet, Dessert, and Dogs
Susan from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Dreena from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
Hannah from BitterSweet
Mary from Mitten Machen
Kiersten from Vegan Awakening

For those of you that I named, the rules for accepting this award are:
1. Copy and paste these rules on your blog so your award winners could follow.
2. Put the logo flower on your blog or within your post.
3. Pass the award onto twelve bloggers of your choice.
4. Link the nominees within your post.
5. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting about it on their blog.
6. On your blog post share the love and blog link of the person from whom you received this award.

Happy Belated Earth Day!

Challah!

So, my procrastinatory nature won out, and I’m not making my Earth Day post until, well, now. Earth Day is very special to me not only for the reason it’s special to all of you, but also because it’s my veganversary–my 2-year veganversary to be exact! Yes, April 22nd, 2008, I ditched dead animals, dairy, and eggs (man, I wish eggs started with a “d”) for good, and I’ve never looked back except to turn and laugh at the disgusting omnivorous world I left behind.

Of course, being an Environmental Analysis major (on the verge of graduation!) I also love Earth Day for its own wonderful sake, and look forward to Pomona’s annual Organic Dinner, put on by students. The food is catered by Pitzer College’s student-run café, The Shakedown, and supplemented by produce from Pomona’s organic farm. Oh, and there’s also organic dates donated by a nearby California date farm!

This was the second year I’ve helped out with the 200-person dinner (setting up, serving, baking, etc.), and it’s been a blast both times. After much deliberation, Steph and I decided to bake the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows and Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and my old standby chocolate chippers–the Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vive Le Vegan!

Let me tell you, no matter how kick-ass of a baker you are, it is impossible–impossible, I say!–to make 400 plus cookies in under six hours if you only have one oven. Yes, you heard me right. Steph and I slaved over a hot oven from 9:00 pm to 3:30 am in order to bring Pomona students these stacks of organic vegan goodness!

It’s a good thing we did too, because we kind of ran out of food midway through the dinner (and to be honest the food we had this year was NOT as good as last year’s–overly salted teriyaki tofu in lieu of delicious tempeh curry). So, yeah, these cookies were kind of the saving grace of the dinner; and, if I don’t say so myself, they were pretty darn delicious and gorgeous to boot!

Be back soon with the rest of Nicole and I’s time in LA! :) This was just a scheduled interruption!

Deglutenized Peanut Butter Blondies

In Isa and Terry’s newest book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (which you all own, of course, being the good little vegans that you are), we’re told in the introduction, “So here’s a news flash: any of the cookies in this book can be made gluten-free. Yeah, we said it.”

I’m a contracted student baker for the Motley, Scripps College’s student-run coffeehouse, and given the demand from a few of my gluten-intolerant friends on campus, I decided to put the above statement to the test. Of course, I chose to try it out on the Peanut Butter Blondies because they’re, well, peanut butter blondies.

Guess what? Isa and Terry weren’t lying! All I did was sub in Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix, adding in a couple extra tablespoons of flour like the book suggests you do if you’re going the gluten-free route, and I had myself a pan of beautiful, sticky sweet, fudgy peanut butter heaven. I’ve never made these with wheat flour, but I like them enough in their GF form that I don’t really feel the need to test the difference.

Of course, I added chocolate chips into the batter and nixed the peanuts on top because that just seemed like a good decision. I suppose you could do both, but I like the simplicity of a topping-less blondie.

Whether you’re going to make these as written, or gluten-free, I don’t care; just know both options are open, and more importantly, make them right now. :)

The Ultimate Brownies

Um, for all of you who own The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes, Kris is not throwing around the word “best.” In other words, when she calls her recipe for super fudgy brownies “The Ultimate Brownies,” she means it. They are actually what you would want to eat on your ultimate–i.e. last–day on earth.

Yesterday was rainy and dull here in Claremont. I bet a lot of you are scoffing at my complaining about Southern California weather, but I think I can speak for all my fellow Sagehens (yeah, that’s our Pomona mascot…) when I say, we didn’t sign up for this! Anyways, due to said horrible weather, everyone in my suite–including yours truly–was a little grumpy. I decided to bake the most decadent brownies I could find to rectify the situation, and that’s where Kris’ recipe came in!

I used Kris’ peanut butter stripe mixture from her blog as well, and you can see that, I have the same Baker’s Edge brownie pan–so every brownie has at least two edges! I made half without peanut butter though because you never know if some of your friends are brownie purists. Personally, I think the PB only enhances these brownies. :)

I don’t know what kind of magic occurs when you mix the seemingly standard ingredients in this recipe together, but whatever it is, it makes the best brownies you’ve ever tasted. That’s what my best friend Ilana said, and brownies are her favorite food. This girl knows what she’s talking about. Plus, they were this good even when made with whole-wheat flour!

With that perfect flaky top, those lightly caramelized edges, and a texture that’s so chewy and fudgy you can’t even handle it, these brownies are too legit to quit.

If you want to win someone’s affections this Valentine’s Day, I think I’ve just shown you how to do it. And another hint: if I’d had any non-dairy vanilla ice cream, I might now be able to tell you that a brownie sundae would have been the only way to improve upon this perfection. Looks like I’m telling you anyways though–what can I say, I have intuition!

Raw Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s a rainy day here in Southern California (I didn’t sign up for this), and the streets are far too flooded to walk around (I just soaked my tennis shoes on the way to the Campus Center), so naturally, I headed to my blog. There are a few things I could post on, but I’ve always found chocolate to be the best remedy for a gloomy day. So I give you, not just chocolate, but Chocolate Cupcakes from Raw for Dessert!

Yep, the same little cuppies who are now gracing my new header, which a few of you were kind enough to comment on!

These miniature cupcakes are super simple and fun to make, like every other recipe I’ve made from Raw for Dessert (see my review). The “cake” is made of dates, walnuts, cocoa powder, and vanilla, and the frosting of cocoa powder, coconut oil, and maple syrup. My sister was a fiend for these!

They’re moist and rich–just like any chocolate cake should be–baked or raw! Man, I wish I had one of these right now. I’ll have to console myself with the knowledge that I’m going to the LA Babycakes tomorrow! ;)

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

Lean, Mean, and Nineteen

So my baby sister turned 19 a few days ago! We went shopping during the day, and to her favorite restaurant, Pita Jungle, for dinner.

We don’t do birthday desserts at restaurants though.

Instead we come home to homemade cake–in this case, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

This cake is quickly becoming our go-to birthday cake recipe. It’s perfectly moist and sweet (and the icing ROCKS), but, making it with whole wheat pastry flour as we always do, not totally unhealthy.

In decorating, I decided to go for the “Alice in Wonderland” look, because, if you know me at all, you know that the only thing I like more than peanut butter is Alice. :)

I also made a raw carrot cake for me to have since I’m trying to go easy on sugar and gluten right now (of course, everyone else had a little of it too, but they were mostly too full of the baked carrot cake to really have a slice). I’ll post about it soon (maybe with the recipe!) when I review the cookbook that it’s from.

I bought Olivia an intense Phoenix Suns plush blanket for her birthday. This girl is obsessed with the Suns (I’m talking watches-all-the-press-conferences and often-cries-when-players-get-traded obsessed), and is always complaining about the cold at Colgate, where she goes to school in central New York, so this blanket seemed like the perfect gift to both appease her and shut her up. ;)

To Olivia: a year older, but as weird as ever.