Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week nine: VEGAN Battleship Chocolate Bundt Cake with Sour Cherry Compote!  »

Does our ninth guest chef really need another introduction? You guys, it’s TERRY HOPE ROMERO! She is a PROFESSIONAL. She wrote her own post! She commented on the episode! She veganized AND personalized the original recipe so you will want to and be able to make it yourself. Did she time her recipe to sync up with National Bundt Pan Day? Possibly, the woman is magic. And here she is!

When Vegansaurus asked me to participate in the veganization of the most recent winning recipe of Just Desserts it was my perfect excuse to pull away from the computer and open up a fresh bag of vegan sugar. And of course vicariously live through the pain and triumph of the contestants, but at home and without the fuss of wearing pants. Who knows, maybe you’re not even wearing pants while reading this post. But I know you like dessert; either way I now salute you with cake.

However, last week’s show was a nightmare of confectionery request: teetering towers of anniversary sponge layers, buckets of fondant and food coloring (oh, Zac), all smothered in mounds of buttercream. Where are the glistening crèmes, chocolate ganache or decadent tortes, Just Desserts? How mean a challenge was that? And don’t get me started on decorating: after baking thousands of cupcakes by now, with a pastry bag full of frosting I don’t often go beyond a swirl or a dollop. Who has precious time to spare when honest, tasty vegan cake is what the world needs right now?

This to-the-point recipe stars a fluffy chocolate cake brushed with brandy syrup. Syrup-brushed cakes stay fresh longer, plus you have the thrill of soaking dessert with booze. I love the easygoing joy of serving cake with ice cream: pair it either with homemade Greek-style frozen soy yogurt, or your favorite vanilla soy or coconut-based ice cream. Chocolate and cherries is a favorite combo of mine too, so the sour cherry compote (also kinda Greeky) stays. It’s the ideal compliment to the sweet cake and tart, gently sweetened soy froyo.

I do like cake, even if I sound a little curmudgeonly, and my preferred way to enjoy it is pure and with a modest touch of creamy or fruity, like in this recipe. The buttercream may be gone, but I’ve kept the “battleship” name in honor of the awesomely strange and bold choice of chef Danielle’s serious grey tint for the frosting of her winning monument to octogenarian love. An unfrosted Bundt cake embodies that certain something—massive, tall, and ready for both love and war. Seriously chocolatey dessert warfare, that is.

Battleship Chocolate Bundt Cake with Sour Cherry Compote
makes one cake; serves 1 cake monster or 12 others
Time: 45 minutes bake, about 10 to mix

A Bundt pan adds a badass sculpted look to this tender, fluffy chocolate cake that gets additional depth from modern-day chocolate soy milk and old-fashioned strongly brewed coffee. Serve naked as-is, or tastefully dress it up with a brushing of brandy syrup and swoosh of sweet & sour cherry compote.

3 Tbsp. finely ground flax seed
1 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
1¼  chocolate soy or almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup canola oil
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
(tip: Brew extra-strong coffee, stronger than you could actually drink, for a fully flavored cake)

Brandy Syrup
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
2 Tbsp. brandy (Metaxa is Greek brandy if you want to keep the theme going)

Sour Cherry Compote
8 oz. dried cherries
2 ⅓ cups pomegranate juice drink
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Spray a 12-cup Bundt cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large measure cup combine hot coffee and ground flax seed and set aside for 5 minutes, then stir in chocolate soy milk. In a microwave-safe, large bowl melt chocolate at 50 percent power (or melt chocolate over a double boiler, whatever works for you) for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then stir chocolate with a rubber spatula until melted. Stir in canola oil and sugar and mix to thoroughly combine.

In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Form a well in the center, scrape in the chocolate mixture and then pour in about half of the coffee mixture. Mix just enough to moisten ingredients then add remaining coffee mixture, stirring to combine. Do not over mix, only make sure no remaining dry flour mixture remains. Pour batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to get every last drop from the bowl to the pan. Bake undisturbed (no peeking!) for 45 minutes then test center of cake with a wooden toothpick: toothpick should come out clean—a few crumbs are OK. Do not over-bake cake. Remove cake from oven and cook in pan for 15 minutes. Place a serving plate on top of cake and invert pan, lightly tap top of pan before removing. Allow cake to cool another 10 minutes then brush with brandy syrup. Brush with syrup several times, making sure to cover both outside and insides of Bundt cake.

Brandy Syrup
In a small saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes until sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat, cool for 2 minutes and stir in brandy.

Cherry Compote
Heat pomegranate drink in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming and simmering. Add cherries, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. In a food processor puree cherries into a chunky mixture with agave nectar and wine vinegar. Taste and adjust sweet/sour flavor with lemon juice and more agave if desired. Compote will thicken slightly as it cools.

Frozen soy yogurt with orange flower water
Serves 4 to 6

In homage to Danielle’s intriguing Greek yogurt ice cream here’s a simple frozen soy yogurt lightly sweetened with agave and flavored with orange flower water. Remember that orange flower water does not taste like oranges: it has a light floral flavor commonly found in Mediterranean sweets. Can’t find it? Omit it and add more vanilla extract (or a little almond extract).

This soy frozen yogurt should be served immediately after freezing in the ice cream maker. If packed and frozen for more than an hour it will get overly hard and require thawing. Either way, this froyo is tart and light; add more agave for a sweeter yogurt or use sweetened plain soy or coconut yogurt.

24 oz. plain soy or coconut yogurt, unsweetened or sweetened
½ cup or more to taste light agave nectar
2 tsp. orange flower water (not orange extract!)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl beat yogurt until smooth, then stir in agave nectar, flower water and vanilla. Taste and adjust sweetness by adding more agave if desired. Freeze according to ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 minutes should suffice for a firm frozen yogurt. Serve immediately with cake and warm compote.

To serve, use a very sharp, think knife to slice cake into thick slices and serve with 2 or 3 generous tablespoons of warm cherry compote and a scoop of frozen yogurt/ice cream. Serve immediately! Great with dark roast drip coffee or strong Greek-style coffee.

Terry Hope Romero bakes her cake, eats it too and likes to pretend she’s cooking on a pirate ship when in her home kitchen base in Queens, NYC. She is co-author of Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and her most recent book is also her first solo, Viva Vegan! 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers. Visit her at


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week eight: VEGAN Mini Sweet Potato Cheesecakes with Puffin Potato Chip Crust and Vanilla Sugar!  »

Episode eight of Top Chef: Just Desserts was another two-dish winner, so guest chef Alexandra Jamieson chose Mascarpone Cheesecake with Cap’n Crunch and Tarragon Sugar over a pink pavlova with grapefruit curd and meringue. Considering the devil of a time episode five’s red hot macaron gave Vegan Dad, we completely understand her decision. Her choice has nothing to do with the quality of her veganized dessert, however—she was insanely creative, making these adorable little vegan cheesecakes with Kettle Chips and sweet potatoes that your Vegansaurus could eat alllll day.

Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, we are only able to show you one small photo of Alex’s lovely little finished cakies. Please accept our humblest apologies, and try to make do with this image of the original dessert instead. While this isn’t the first time we’ve been without proper pictures of the final vegan product, we do hope it will be the last. We hope you don’t let this cloud your judgment of our wonderful chef’s creation! Our apologies made, let’s get cooking.

Mascarpone Cheesecake with Cap’N Crunch and Tarragon Sugar becomes
Vegan Mini Sweet Potato Cheesecakes with Puffin Potato Chip Crust and Vanilla Sugar!
Yield: 1 dozen


1½ cup Barbara’s Puffin Cereal
1 cup Kettle Sea Salt Potato Chips
4 Tbsp. unbleached white flour
1 Tbsp. organic sugar
½ cup Earth Balance, melted

Sweet Potato Cheesecake
½ cup Tofutti cream cheese
zest of one lemon
⅓ cup sweet potato puree
⅓ cup organic sugar
pinch salt

Vanilla Sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp. organic sugar

Tart shell
Combine the cereal, potato chips, flour, and sugar in a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Pulse about 15 times until the ingredients become a sandy mixture.
Stir in melted Earth Balance to combine.
Press 1 Tbs. of the mixture into silicon or metal molds and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Bake at 325 for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and cool completely.

Sweet potato filling
Combine the cream cheese, lemon zest, sweet potato puree, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process until totally smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Vanilla sugar

Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the black seeds. Combine the vanilla seeds and organic sugar in a spice grinder and grind until powdery.

To assemble, remove the cooked tart crusts from their molds and top with 2 to 3 tsps. of filling. Sprinkle on a few pinches of vanilla sugar and serve.

That sounds delicious, pals! Much better than boring old extra-creamy mascarpone, which as we know is part of a creepy government plot to get us all to buy more cheese. We are on to you, and the next time we want baby cheesecakes we are making them with sweet potatoes and tofutti. You can find more of Alexandra Jamieson’s excellent recipes online at Nutrition for Empowered Women, and soon at Week in a Weekend! Her books include The Great American Detox Diet and Living Vegan For Dummies, and Vegan Cooking For Dummies will be released on November 20! Thank you so much, Alex!

Remember to let us know if you try out any of the recipes in our Project Just Desserts series; we would love to see your dishes. Wednesday is the ninth and penultimate episode, so do come back!


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week seven: VEGAN Fried Lemon Pie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream!  »

The first six episodes of Top Chef: Just Desserts have had clearly established winning dishes; not so episode seven. For the Restaurant/Sweet Shop War, the judges awarded an entire team of three the win, without clarifying which of the seven total desserts the team made was their favorite. This left your Vegansaurus in a quandary too: despite guest chef Bianca’s skills, asking her to make seven desserts in four days was ridiculous. So we made an executive decision, for the good of our readers and, really, humanity: we asked her to make Morgan Wilson’s fried lemon pies. Bianca, being totally awesome, not only created these beautiful little pies and the accompanying ice cream, but used one of the first recipes ever posted on Vegansaurus in her work. Extreme talent and flattery? Wherever it’s legal to marry ladies and pies, that’s where we’re going, with the pies and their maker, to live fattily ever after.

Fried pie with lemon curd and salted caramel ice cream
Yields 12 pies and about 3 cups ice cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (adapted from The Vegan Scoop)
1 cup soymilk, divided into ¼ cup and ¾ cup
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. soy margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups plain soy creamer
⅛ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk together ¼ cup of the soymilk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
Place the soy margarine, brown sugar, and one Tbsp. of the soymilk in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the margarine is melted and the brown sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining soymilk, soy creamer, and the salt. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.
Once the mixture is boiling, stir in the soymilk/cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. A film may form on the top, but just stir that in. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to instructions.

Vegan Lemon Curd (recipe by Melisser Elliot)
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (from about 10 small lemons)
½ cup water
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
⅛ tsp.sea salt
Zest of 2 lemons, grated with a microplane grater
⅓ cup plain soy creamer
2 Tbsp. soy margarine

Combine the lemon juice, water, sugar, cornstarch, and sea salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and stir in the lemon zest. Heat on medium, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a full boil (about 10 to 15 minutes). Allow to boil for one minute undisturbed. The mixture will be thick and start to turn a little clear. Remove from heat.
Stir in the soy creamer and soy margarine. Whisk until margarine is melted and everything is fully combined. Allow the lemon curd to cool to room temperature in the saucepan. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.

Fried Pies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp.sea salt
1 tsp.baking powder
⅓ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. bourbon (I used Wild Turkey)
2 cups canola oil, for frying
2 Tbsp. sugar, for sprinkling over the cooked pies

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
Cut in the shortening. Pour the water and bourbon into the dry mixture. Stir to combine. Lightly knead the dough to form a thick dough ball. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Separate the dough into 12 equal-sized balls. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out one dough ball into a 5-inch circle.
Place one tablespoon of lemon curd in the center of the circle. Lightly spread it around, leaving plenty of room around the edges.
Fold half of the circle over and press edges to seal. Crimp the edges with a fork and transfer the pie to a plate. Repeat with the other 11 dough balls.
Cover the plate with plastic wrap and place the uncooked pies in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill.

To cook, heat 2 cups of canola oil in a large sauté pan with sides. Heat for about 10 minutes, or until the oil reaches 375 degrees—you can test the temperature with a metal candy thermometer.
When the oil is hot, place as many pies into the pan as will fit without touching each other. Fry for about 5 or 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Remove the pies from the hot oil using a metal slotted spoon. Allow to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Sprinkle pies with sugar while they’re hot. Repeat with the rest of the pies. Serve with salted caramel ice cream.

Chef’s notes: The filling sort of stuck to the sides of the inside of the pies, so they look a little hollow, but when I bit into one, lemon filling squirted all over my face so it’s definitely there. I also found that once cooled to room temperature, the pies can be wrapped in waxed paper and kept for a couple of days.

Thanks, Bianca! These pies look AMAZING and you are the best! We are so impressed! Remember to let us know if you try out any of the recipes in our Project Just Desserts series! We would love to see your dishes. Come back Wednesday for the eighth episode preview!


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week six: VEGAN Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Mousse, Berry Compote, and Almond Milk Ice Cream!  »

It’s the sixth week of our Just Desserts challenge, and time to add another fantastic vegan dessert to the list of our guest chefs’ accomplishments! Last week ambitious Canadian Vegan Dad showed us those amazing Red-Hot macarons; today, all the way from Vienna, Melisser brings us Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Mousse, Berry Compote and Almond Milk Ice Cream! Woo!

While it seems like this recipe has 1 million components, they are all pretty easy to make. Luckily, there are some shortcuts you can take, which I’ve included because I am a cheater and cheaters always win. That, and I went to five grocery stores just to get the items I needed for this dish; Vienna is the land of specialty grocery stores where you can buy no more than six items at a time. Anyway, back to you! Make this and impress your friends and family. If you time it right, you can make the ganache the night before and then everything else while the cake bakes and cools, so you don’t spend 15 years making a dessert that will be eaten in 15 seconds.

Dark Chocolate-Tea Ganache
Dark and delicious ganache! How can you go wrong? This is made into a thick layer of ganache that’s frozen and placed on top of the cake. Make this first or ideally, the night before.

1½ cups nondairy creamer
14oz/400g dark chocolate
1 teabag of Darjeeling black tea
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1. Bring the creamer to a boil, and infuse the tea bag for 4 to 6 minutes, then remove.
2. Bring the creamer and the maple syrup to a boil, add the chocolate in three steps, using a spatula, taking care not to add air bubbles.
3. Pour the mixture in to a 9x9 pan. Freeze until firm. When ready, with a very hot knife cut into squares the size of your cake slices.

Chocolate Cake
This is a delicate chocolate cake that comes together quickly and works well for desserts with lots of other flavors going on, so the cake isn’t the focus of the dish. If you want to keep this in your recipe box for other desserts, double the ingredients, and to add depth of flavor, throw 1 Tbsp. of espresso powder in there!

¾ cup all purpose flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
¼ cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
⅔ cup soy milk
1 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees/162C
1. Add the vinegar to the soy milk and let it stand for 5 minutes
2. With a whisk, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
3. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla, and soy milk mixture; mix to combine, taking care not to overmix; a few lumps are fine.
4. Pour the mixture into a 9x9 pan that is lined with parchment paper or lightly greased.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched. Allow to cool completely, then slice in to small squares.

White Chocolate Mousse
First we make custard, then we melt vegan white chocolate in. Sound easy? It’s not too bad! I used Bonvita white chocolate, which is available here in Europe. If you can’t get any at your local shop, take to Vegan Essentials or make your own! If you wanted to serve this topped in custard with no white chocolate, I don’t think anyone is going to die, as it’s heavy on the custard already.

¾ cup nondairy creamer (or nondairy milk)
3 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. nondairy creamer
3.5oz/100g vegan white chocolate, broken in pieces

1. Whisk the cornstarch in to ¼ cup of the creamer, set aside.
2. Bring the other ½ cup creamer, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium-low heat.
3. Lower the heat and add the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
4. Simmer the mixture over low and allow to bubble and thicken to a pudding-like consistency, stirring often.
5. Once thickened, add the vanilla, then the white chocolate pieces in to the mixture, stirring until melted.
6. Once the white chocolate is melted and combined, add the 1 Tbsp. creamer to thin the mixture out and give it a smooth consistency. 
7. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool completely. It can also be chilled until ready to assemble. If your mixture has lumps, you can break them up with a hand mixer before serving.

Chocolate Plaquettes
Do you need these? No. Do you want these? Maybe! I plated it with white chocolate shavings on top and skipped the dark chocolate slice in the middle, but I didn’t win, Yigit did, and he says plaquettes! His instructions are here.

Black Cherry and Blackberry Jam
This was already vegan in the Just Desserts recipe, hooray! Personally, I would be happy with some store-bought jam on the side, but you overachievers can go ahead and make this, so the rest of us look lazy. The original recipe is here.

Almond Milk Ice Cream
So, the almond milk ice cream that caused many vegans to shout “YAY!” at their TV screens? Totally not vegan. It should have been called MILK and EGG ice cream with a bit of toasted almond. If you want to make ice cream, I suggest you check out Hannah Kaminsky’s A La Mode e-book, but personally, I topped this with store-bought ice cream. Yes, I cheated! And WHAT?! Turtle Mountain has you covered for almond flavors.

1. Take one piece of the cake, place a piece of the (optional) chocolate plaquette on top, then place the dark chocolate ganache on top of this.
2. Pipe a line of the white chocolate mousse on one side of the ganache, leaving the other side empty.
3. Place the white chocolate plaquette or chocolate shavings on top of the mousse.
4. Place a small amount of the jam on the side of the plate, enough to hold the ice cream on top. Scoop a small amount of the ice cream on to the jam.

Can we all say a great big danke schön to Melisser for her hard work? Maybe you want to check out her thisclose-to-published book? Keep up with her cooking, travels, and whatnot at The Urban Housewife. Have you tested any of the previous recipes? If you do try this or any other one of our veganized versions, please let us know, and send some pictures! Play along! We’ll see you all on Wednesday for the seventh episode preview!


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week five: VEGAN Red Hot Cinnamon Macaron and VEGAN Mini Cinnamon Almond Cakes!  »

Welcome everyone to the fifth installation of Project Just Desserts, featuring our fourth guest chef, Vegan Dad! Remember how he’s great? Super-great, even! Last week Robin Robertson made a beautiful mango panna cotta with mango sorbet, açaí coulis, and basil-lime syrup; this week, Vegan Dad took on winner Morgan Wilson’s Red Hot Cinnamon Macaron “Earring.” Instead of the accompanying candy “ring,” Vegan Dad did his own version of a cinnamon candy petit four, a Mini Cinnamon Almond Cake! So creative! And this was a real challenge: he had to make a vegan meringue! Vegan Dad asked us to point out that his meringue “is not the holy grail of vegan egg whites,” but look at the photos of the plain meringue and of the macarons—he has nothing to apologize for. Good heavens. Would you like to see? Let’s go!

Cinnamon Macaron
Makes 24 macaroons
¼ cup Ener-G egg replacer
6 Tbsp. ice cold water
2 Tbsp. soy protein isolate
⅛ tsp. xanthan gum 
¼ cup fruit sugar
¼ cup icing sugar, sifted
75g fruit sugar
10g water
110g almond flour/meal
110g icing sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer
½ tsp. red gel food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
1. Mix together egg replacer and water then beat on high in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peak form. Add soy protein isolate slowly, then add xanthan gum.
2. Slowly add first measure of fruit sugar and the icing sugar and beat until incorporated.

3. Heat the 75g of fruit sugar with the water over med to medium high heat until it reaches 230 degrees. With the beater running, slowly dribble the sugar mixture into the bowl and beat to incorporate. The mixture should peak like you see in the picture.
3. In a separate bowl sift in the almond meal and the icing sugar. Add cinnamon. Blend together water and egg replacer in a small bowl, then add to the along mixture with the food coloring. Blend into a paste, then fold into the “egg white” mixture.
4. Transfer mixture into a piping bag, then squeeze out equal portions onto the prepared baking sheet trying to make the mounds as high as possible.
5. Prepare and bake one sheet at a time for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm and dry. Let cool then remove from baking sheet.
6. To serve, pipe some Red Hot Buttercream in between two macarons.

Red Hot Buttercream
¼ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup margarine
1¾ cup icing sugar, sifted    
½ tsp. red gel food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla
⅛ to ¼ tsp. cinnamon oil (depending on how hot you want it)
1 to 2 Tbsp. soy creamer

1. Blend together shortening and margarine in a stand mixer or with a hand blender until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until smooth.
2. Add food coloring, vanilla, and cinnamon oil and blend well. Add in enough soy creamer to make a creamy icing that still holds its shape.

Mini Cinnamon Almond Cakes
Makes 24 mini cakes
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup almond meal
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup margarine
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup fruit sugar
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Sift together dry ingredients into a large bowl.
2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk margarine until soft, then add icing sugar and beat to incorporate. Then add fruit sugar. When fully incorporated, slowly add in almond milk and the extracts. They wont actually blend together, but the idea is to get little bits of margarine swimming around in the liquid.
3. Add wet to the dry and mix to incorporate. Spoon batter into a nonstick mini-cupcake pan (24), filling the batter up to the top and smoothing it flat.
4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean. They will not brown up much, so just make sure they are baked through. Remove from pan and cool upside down on wire racks.
5. When cool, dip the bottom into the cinnamon glaze, shake off excess, and let cool.
6. To serve, slice off the rounded top, then carefully slice in half (use a small serrated knife). Pipe butter cream frosting in between the layer and serve.

Cinnamon Glaze
¼ cup cinnamon hearts
¼ cup water
1 tsp. margarine

1. Heat cinnamon hearts and water in a small pot over high heat. Stir constantly until cinnamon hearts have all melted and the mixture is smooth and slightly thick.
2. Whisk in margarine, then keep over low heat while you dip the cake tops in.

There you go! Two delicious-sounding, delicious-looking recipes from your/our/somebody’s Vegan Dad! Has anyone tried making any of the previous recipes yet? For reference, you can find them all here. If you do test out one of our veganized versions, please let us know! Send some pictures! Give a review! Play along!


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week four: VEGAN Mango Panna Cotta, Açaí Fluid Gel and Mango Sorbet with Basil-Lime Syrup!  »

Last week, Celine Steen gave us peanut butter krispy bars and toffee fudge brownies, and they were scrumptious, right? Like your at-home efforts turned up 1,000 percent. This week Just Desserts got all complicated and fancypants again; luckily our guest chef is the super-skilled Robin Robertson; we felt confident that the head of Global Vegan Kitchen could manage something as nonsensically complicated-sounding as Mango Panna Cotta, Açaía Fluid Gel and Passion Fruit Sorbet—with Tarragon Syrup, of course. Musn’t forget the tarragon.

Robin, because she is great, includes some small lessons with her recipe, so there is nothing more to say about her triumph, besides CONGRATULATIONS! and AMAZING!, maybe. Therefore we proudly give you over to Robin Robertson!

Three out of four of the main components of this dessert challenge are already vegan, so I’ve concentrated my veganizing efforts on the mango panna cotta. Literally “cooked cream” in Italian, a panna cotta is traditionally made with heavy cream and gelatin—definitely not vegan.

Even though the other elements of this dessert are already vegan, I still wanted to give them some kind of makeover, so I reworked them to be more accessible for the home kitchen. I mean, I can’t be the only one who doesn’t own a liquid nitrogen tank. And is it just me, or does “açaí fluid gel” sound like something you’d rub into a patch of dry skin? Call me crazy, but I think desserts should not only taste delicious, they should sound appetizing as well. It’s an added bonus if they don’t take all day to make, and if you can actually buy the ingredients at the supermarket.

So here you have it: my veganized version of mango panna cotta, as well as my own easy-and-accessible spin on the accompanying “fluid gel,” sorbet, and “tarragon” syrup.

Ready to serve!

Vegan Mango Panna Cotta, Açaí Fluid Gel & Mango Sorbet with Basil-Lime Syrup

Mango Panna Cotta
Instead of serving the panna cotta in slices, I went for the more traditional individual mold. To replace the cream, I used coconut milk, since it goes so well with mango, but soy creamer or a cashew cream (such as MimicCreme) can be used instead.
1 cup coconut milk
¾ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. agar powder
1 cup pureed mango
1 cup tofu cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the coconut milk, sugar, and agar, in a pot and let sit for 5 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the coconut milk mixture with the mango, tofu cream cheese, and vanilla, and process until smooth. Quickly transfer the mixture into individual cups or molds. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To unmold, place a plate over each mold and invert onto the plates. If it doesn’t come out easily, set each mold in warm water for a few seconds or run a knife along the edges of the mold.
Açaí Fluid Gel
I was surprised to find that my local supermarket has açaí juice. Still, I think “açaí coulis” has a better ring than “açaí fluid gel.”
⅓ cup açaí juice
1 tsp. agar agar powder

Combine the acai juice and agar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate to set until needed. When ready to use, blend the mixture in a blender to liquefy.

Basil-Lime Syrup
I just couldn’t bring myself to use corn syrup and grapeseed oil to make the syrup, and I thought basil would be a better match than tarragon (plus I have a lot of fresh basil on hand and zero tarragon). I think my basil-lime syrup is more appetizing and certainly easier to make. Best of all, it contains no oil or corn syrup, or tarragon, for that matter.
¼ cup lime jelly
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water

1 cup fresh basil leaves, blanched, shocked, and squeezed dry
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, lime jelly, and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar and melt the jelly. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Transfer the mixture to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and set aside until needed.

Ready for show!

Mango Sorbet
The original recipe calls for passion fruit juice, and I can say with certainty that there is no passion fruit juice available within a 60-mile radius of my home. I made a mango sorbet instead, using whole fruit instead of the juice for a richer flavor. Since the mango is subtle in the panna cotta, I like getting an extra wallop of mango from the sorbet. I went with a curved slab shape for the sorbet instead of a scoop to juxtapose the Bravo set-up. (The sorbet is cut into cubes for the scaled down dessert photo.)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cups diced fresh mango
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
In a blender or food processor, combine the mango and lime juice and blend until smooth. Add the cooled sugar syrup to the mango mixture and process until smooth.
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the mixture is finished churning in the machine, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 1 to 2 hours.

Fresh raspberries
Fresh mango
Vegan chocolate

In case you are too lazy to cannot find the link to the left, click here to read the Project Just Desserts archive. Please let us know if you attempt Robin’s recipe, or any of the recipes past or future! Send photos! Play along!


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week three: VEGAN Peanut Butter Krispy Bar and VEGAN Toffee Fudge Brownie!  »

Last week, guest veganizer Janet Hudson made gorgeous margarita bombes three ways, a recipe that nicely synced up with our last week of really summery weather. For the third installment of Vegansaurus’ Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef, we are pleased to introduce Celine Steen! As you know, Celine is the proprietor of the highly regarded Have Cake, Will Travel, and the author of several cookbooks. For her challenge, she needed to recreate the winning recipe from a school bake sale, something particularly suited to her vegan talents.

Celine being a superstar, she decided to veganize both the winning dessert and the second-place dessert, so lucky us, we get two recipes this week! The first is for Eric Wolitzky’s Peanut Butter Krispy Bar, spelled that way because he used fancy brand-name cereal. Also he baked for something like a billion children, which is why the those proportions look insane. Celine cut them down to regular, one-household size for you, of course, but never mind that: Let’s bake some tasty rectangular prisms!

Vegan Peanut Butter Krispy Bar
The first topping will appear darker than the one used on the show, since semi-sweet chocolate is used rather than milk chocolate. If you find affordable and tasty vegan milk chocolate, by all means, this will be delicious too.

Puffed cereal layer
¼ cup nondairy butter
¼ cup water
¼ cup light agave nectar or light corn syrup
⅓ cup granulated sugar
4 to 6 cups puffed rice (or other puffed cereal; quantity may vary depending on the size of the puffed cereal chosen)

Middle layer
1 cup (132 g) semisweet chocolate
½ cup plus 2 Tbs (140 g) natural peanut butter, at room temperature or slightly heated, to combine easily
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs (140 g) store-bought or homemade vegan hazelnut chocolate spread, at room temperature or slightly heated, to combine easily

Top layer
1 cup (132 g) bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbs (42 g) natural peanut butter
1 tsp light agave nectar or light corn syrup

Puffed cereal layer
Melt nondairy butter; set aside.
Combine water, agave/corn syrup and sugar; cook to soft ball stage. Whisk melted nondairy butter into soft ball sugar.
Pour over puffed cereal and fold together well. Add enough cereal so that it is coated and moist.
Pour mixture into an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment or wax paper and coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread out evenly, press down firmly with more parchment or wax paper to minimize the mess, and let cool.

Middle layer
Melt chocolate using bain-marie method or microwave. Combine with peanut butter and chocolate spread. Pour and spread this mixture over cooled puffed cereal preparation. Let cool to set up.

Top layer
Melt bittersweet chocolate, peanut butter and agave/corn syrup.
Pour and spread over bars.
Let entire pan cool overnight.
Cut into desired shapes. Stores well in the freezer.

The proportion gigantism continues in the second-place recipe, Malika Ameen’s Toffee Fudge Brownie, aside from which they also look kind of gross. Sure, a cup of heavy cream, that seems, um, reasonable, but 22 eggs? Not while Jack DeCoster’s still Mister Egg USA. Thank goodness for Celine and her mighty veganizing powers!
Vegan Toffee Fudge Brownie

1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened coconut cream (makes for a buttery taste; can be found at international markets. Use any other nondairy creamer if desired)
½ cup light agave nectar or light corn syrup
½ pound (227 g) nondairy butter, cut into cubes

Non-stick cooking spray or nondairy butter
3.5 ounces (100 g) 70 percent chocolate
¼ cup plus 1 Tbs (70 g) nondairy butter
3 packed Tbs (39 g) light brown sugar
½ cup plus 2 Tbs (115 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 g) blended silken tofu
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup (60 g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ sheet of toffee, cut into good-sized chunks*

1. Have a Silpat-lined baking sheet and a large offset spatula handy.
2. In medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar and agave/corn syrup.
3. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil without stirring. Brush sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar.
4. Add butter and continue to cook without stirring until mixture becomes light brown.
5. When mixture becomes light brown, begin to stir with a heatproof spatula until it becomes a caramel color and thick enough to be poured without spilling. The whole process may take up to 15 minutes.
6. Carefully pour mixture onto Silpat-lined sheet tray and spread to about ¼-inch thickness.
7. Let toffee cool and store it in the freezer.

1. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt chocolate with butter over a bain-marie or use the microwave, if you are a soulless baker like me.
2.Transfer into a large bowl and, using an immersion blender, combine with sugars, tofu, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla until smooth. Fold in flour, baking powder and toffee chunks.
3.Bake at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Mine were done after 26 minutes: you’ll know they’re ready when the top is set and the sides pull away from the pan.

There will be leftover toffee, which keeps well in the freezer. The brownies taste great straight from the freezer, too.
*Larger toffee chunks tend to stay whole in the brownies, as opposed to smaller ones that melt almost completely. Regardless, you’ll definitely taste the toffee.

We are so grateful to Celine for veganizing two recipes for us! If you don’t already read her blog, what is wrong with you? She writes recipes for six cookies at a time! Because sometimes you only want to make six cookies! I can’t believe no one’s offered her a deal specifically for one-to-two-person recipes; this is the USA, we are DUMB and LAZY and math is for immigrants and their children. In case you are too lazy to find the link on the left, click here to read the Project Just Desserts archive. Please let us know if you attempt Celine’s recipe’s, or Janet’s margarita bombes, or Laura’s mousse torte, or any of the recipes to come! Send photos! Play along!


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week two: VEGAN Margarita Bombe with a Lime Cookie, Tequila Mousse and Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée—three ways!  »

Last week, Laura made an incredible-sounding vegan double-chocolate mousse torte to inaugurate Vegansaurus’ Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! For the second week, we are honored to welcome the proprietor of Vegan Feast Catering, a.k.a Wasabi Peas, a.k.a Janet Hudson to veganize the winner’s dessert, a "Margarita Bombe with a Lime Cookie, Tequila Mousse, and Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée." Sounds insane, right? The elimination challenge was to make a dessert “inspired by a cocktail,” and all their theme ingredients came from “behind the bar,” which is to say, liquor, juice, and garnishes.

In comparison to winner Erika Davis' recipe, Janet substituted agar agar for gelatin, MimicCreme and her famous nut cream for heavy cream, soft tofu for egg yolks, and ground flax seeds in water for eggs. That’s not a lot of substitution, right? Well, first you have to figure out what substitute vegan ingredient would be appropriate where; then you have to know how to manipulate them into behaving like the non-vegan items they’re replacing. Janet, however, is a talented vegan chef, and she came up with an incredible recipe that you could, if you dared, replicate at home! Oh man, you think you’re ready for these bombes—you’re not ready. Too late, here’s Janet!

Trio of Vegan Margarita Bombes, by Janet Hudson

This winning dessert has five components: a lime cookie base, luscious mousse, surprise custard filling, saucy tequila coulis, and fresh fruit topping with a salty kick. And this one is vegan. Top this, Top Chef.

Citrus Crème Brûlée
2 cups MimicCreme or soy creamer
1 cup  soft tofu
¾ cup raw sugar
1 vanilla bean scraped
zests of ½ lemon; 1 lime; ½ orange
3 Tbsp agar agar, bloomed in ¼ cup warm soy creamer

Tart Dough
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup raw sugar
½ cup vegetable margarine
flax seed to replace 2 eggs
zest of 1 lime
2 pinch salt

Tequila Mousses
¾ cup each vanilla sauce ( ¼ cup each flavor)
4½ cups non-dairy whipped cream or nut cream (1½ cup each flavor)
6 tbsp agar agar, bloomed in warm fruit juice (2 Tbsp each flavor)
Tequila to taste
½ cup each: strawberry puree; orange juice; grated melon in Midori Melon Liqueur, to taste

Tequila Compote
1 cup lemonade
zests of ½ lime; ½ orange
3 Tbsp cornstarch

Trio of Vegan Margarita Bombes unsliced, by Janet Hudson

Crème Brulée
1. In a bowl mix sugar, tofu and zests. Bring MimicCreme/soy creamer and vanilla to a boil.
2. Temper hot and cold mixtures together and add agar agar. Bake at 325 degrees till set; this will take approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool down until very cold.

Tart Dough
1. Mix sugar, butter, salt, and flax eggs until creamed. Add lime zest and flour, and mix until incorporated. Place in cooler for 15 minutes; then roll out to ¼-inch thick and cut with 3” round cutter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Tequila Mousse
Prepare three bowls: melon, strawberry and traditional.
1. Whip nut cream to a soft medium peak. Warm the vanilla sauce with each flavor and add the agar agar. Allow to cool a bit and fold in cream. Refrigerate until cool.
2. Scoop the crème brulée with a small ice cream scoop. Pour a little mousse into individual round molds, place the crème brulée bomb in the middle, and cover with more mousse. Place in the freezer to set.

Tequila Compote
1. Bring the sugar, juices and zest to a low boil. Then tighten a little with cornstarch and add the tequila to taste.
2. Slice some thin lime wedges, strawberries and melon. Set aside.

Paint a plate with the coulis, place the lime cookie on the plate, and unmold the bombe in the center of the cookie. You may cut in half as you wish. Sprinkle with some lime zest and garnish with sliced fruit or lime wedge. Top it off with some coarse sea salt.
Yields six servings: melon, strawberry, and traditional, or a total of 18 bombes.

Trio of Vegan Margarita Bombes, by Janet Hudson

We cannot thank Janet enough for making these for us. The most unbelievable part is that she is this creative on a daily basis! Now ideally, we’d have been onsite to witness her genius in action, and then we’d have eaten them all up (perhaps with a mezcal cocktail), but sadly distance kept your Vegansaurus from devouring these brilliant little bombes immediately after plating. We’ll all just have to make our own, just like you. Let us know if you attempt this recipe, or Laura’s mousse torte, or any of the recipes to come! Tell us how well you did, send us photos! Play along!


Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Week one: VEGAN Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte with Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce!   »

Last week Meave wrote about a super-secret project that we’re unleashing on the world, and THIS IS IT: we’re veganizing the winning dessert recipe from each week of Top Chef: Just Desserts. FOR SERIOUS. And not just us—we’re getting famous vegan chefs and bloggers to do it, too! All your favorites, making you brand-spanking-new vegan dessert recipes, inspired by television! If this isn’t the American Dream, I don’t know what is.

So, tune in (ha!) to Vegansaurus each Monday, when we present the veganized version of last week’s winning dessert, with a recipe you can all try at home! SO HOT.

Since week one is for chumps, I did it. I mean, who cares who won or got kicked off in the beginning? Nobody, that’s who. Especially when the Boy Raised Vegan was blowing edible glitter (“disco dust!!!!!!!”) all over his dessert, and one of the judges was basically one of us, except that we know that “It was like a party in my mouth!” is not something you say to people who make food, if you ever want them to take you seriously. Also, we are not 33-year-olds still in our teenage Rockabilly phase, with a website full of pictures of ourselves posing with our sexxxxxy tattoos and our shiny pompadours, all pouty and smouldering. I don’t know what says “genius pastry chef” more than a muscle tee and a wallet chain, really. But even though I’m not a for-real pastry chef, I do my fair share of at home baking shenanigans AND I am the WebMistress for, so I should (I said SHOULD) know SOMETHING. 

The first week’s winning dessert was a Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte with Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce. So we’re off to an easy start WHAT NO WE’RE NOT. Bravo published the original recipe online, so thankfully, I have that to start with, unlike winner Heather Hurlbert. But then, look at that recipe. HELLO CONFUSING. Damn, why are people so fancy? Why couldn’t the winning recipe be Oreo Sundae (that is simply a sundae topped with Oreos. BAM!). Oh, well…here goes!

[image courtesy]

VEGAN Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte with Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce! (the exclamation point means I made it!)

Sable Cookie Base

1 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose white flour

Chocolate Shavings
Dude, just shave a dark chocolate bar. No need to get crazy.

Dark Chocolate Mousse (adapted from Mori Nu recipe)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup amaretto (liquor! yes!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 packages Silken Lite Firm Tofu

White Chocolate Mousse (straight stolen from Bitter Sweet)
3 ounces White Chocolate
1 10.14-ounce Container Whippable Soy (or Oat) Cream (divided)
3/4 teaspoon Agar Agar Powder

Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut creamer (or you can use soy! whatevs!)
1 cup chocolate chips
Zest of one orange
1/4 cup Grand Marnier

1. Make the shortbread. This is quite easy as you can use your favorite recipe. YOU’RE DONE! If you don’t have a favorite, I’ll start mine. SO: preheat your oven to 350 F, and lightly grease a baking sheet.  

2. Cream margarine and powdered sugar until combined. Add vanilla and salt, then slowly fold in flour and combine until it’s a big ball of dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then roll out onto your greased baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, and let cool. 

3. Start dark chocolate mousse. This recipe is hella easy. Melt chocolate chips in microwave oven with 2 Tbsp. of water. Thoroughly blend tofu in a blender or a food processor. Add melted chocolate, amaretto, and vanilla to the tofu and blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. 

4. Make white chocolate mousse. Since this is Bitter Sweet's EXCELLLLLLENT recipe, I’ll make you go over there to use it. You can make the white chocolate per Hannah’s instructions, or you can buy some!

5. Make Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce: Make a dry caramel with the sugar, deglaze with the coconut creamer, pour over chocolate chips, melt that down, add zest, put in the Grand Marnier. DONE! This veganized especially well.

6. PUT THIS BITCH TOGETHER: Cut off a chunk of short bread and plate it. Put some dark chocolate mousse on top of it, then top that with some white chocolate mousse. Pour the Grand Marnier sauce over that and, if you want, shave a chocolate bar on top of that and add some orange slices. INSANITY.

This was mighty, mighty tasty. Something that would surely impress any omni-crowd, and make vegans start naming babies and buildings and cities after you. No joke. Because my plating was terrible messiness, I don’t have pictures of my creation and I KNOW that’s a huge no-no, so I will be making it again (the things I do for you people!) and adding photos later on in the week. The dessert actually wasn’t as intimidating as it seemed at first glance; it’s just two types of mousse over a shortbread cookie, with a delightful, boozy sauce. Pretty easy, and pretty impressive. I’ll make it again, at least once, as I need some damn pics. Until then, a Google drawing of my masterpiece:

Now, stay tuned (ha! again!) for next week, when a REAL FAMOUS VEGAN CHEF or BLOGGER takes the stage, ready to take on Project Just Desserts: Veganizing Top Chef! Ow!

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