Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week 10: VEGAN Coconut Milk Cake with Pineapple-Lime Spiced Rum Filling and Salted Caramel Glaze  »

Welcome to our final Project Just Desserts guest chef veganized recipe, by Allison Rivers Samson! Like last week’s super-fantastico bundt cake by Terry Hope Romero, this beautiful coconut milk cake is a personalized amalgamation of a couple of winning recipes! It looks absolutely amazing, simple and elegant and totally delicious, and we are so, so sad we can’t have any ourselves. Allison, you creative genius, the floor is yours.

Being invited to participate in Vegansaurus’ Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! was a huge honor for me. Although we’re in the midst of gearing up for the holidays here at Allison’s Gourmet, I enjoyed the diversion and was excited by the challenge. We live out in the sticks in Nevada City, Calif., and choose not to have cable. Yeah, we’re like that. However, on a recent trip, I got to see my first episode of the show and immediately fell in love with Yigit. So, although I haven’t watched all the episodes, I did have a favorite chef. Of course I was thrilled when I learned that he was the winner (he’s adorable, gay, and loves Madonna—the only thing missing is a declaration of veganism!). Plus, the “Tasting Menu” theme was just perfect for me since I often describe myself as more of a taster than an eater. The winning dessert itself wasn’t terrifically inspiring to me, so I chose to take several components from the various winning desserts and rearrange them into something more exciting to my palate, even if there was no chocolate to be found. Uh-oh, I know I uttered a negative there, but please stay with me so I can win you back with the caramel part.

Laura spoke so passionately about our vegan caramels, and they’re one of my beloveds, so I knew they just had to show up in my dessert. Pssst…hey Laura…we just unveiled our newest offering: salted caramels! Mmm-hmm!

One of the winning cakes, Muscovado Braised Pineapple & Coconut Cake, was described as “sticky,” which doesn’t sound so good to me when we’re talking cake. Sticky caramels, I get; sticky rice, check; but sticky cake, uh, no thanks. Coconut is always at the top of my list (just below chocolate and caramel) so I made a rich Coconut Milk cake topped with a Salted Caramel Glaze (I told you there would be caramel here!) and a Pineapple-Lime Filling with Spiced Rum. I know how much those Vegansauri like their booze! Oops, did I assume too much? Well, even if I did, make this and take a bite (or 10) anyway. You’ll be glad you did.

Coconut Milk Cake with Pineapple-Lime Spiced Rum Filling and Salted Caramel Glaze
Serves 8

Coconut Milk Cake
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
½ cup coconut milk creamer (original)
½ cup sunflower or safflower oil
¼ cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 Tbsp. real vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ tsp. sea salt
3½ cups unbleached spelt flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda

Pineapple-Lime Spiced Rum Filling
2 cups crushed pineapple, strained, juice reserved
1 cup reserved pineapple juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. spiced rum
2 Tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed

Salted Caramel Glaze
3 Tbsp. coconut milk
4 oz. vegan caramels
1 tsp. salt flakes, reserved for garnish

Make sure you have an oven thermometer—this is crucial to good baking results.
Place a baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom and sides so that the cake won’t stick.
In a large bowl, whisk sugar, water, creamer, oil, applesauce, vanilla, vinegar, lime juice and salt.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and soda. Add to the large bowl with wet mixture and whisk to combine. Do not over-whisk or your cake will be tough.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly.
Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool for at least an hour before frosting.

Pineapple-Lime Spiced Rum Filling
In a small saucepan, combine the pineapple and remaining juice, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Set aside to cool. Then stir in spiced rum and lime juice.

Salted Caramel Glaze
In a small, heavy saucepan on low heat, add caramels and coconut milk. Stir regularly. Once the caramels have completely melted, drizzle over the top of the cake.

To Serve
Use a serrated knife to level the top of the cake. Cut cake in half horizontally to make two layers. Spoon Pineapple Filling on the bottom half and cover with another layer of cake. Glaze the top layer with Caramel Sauce and garnish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of salt flakes. Serve with tannic, fruity Mango Ceylon Tea.

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