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.


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!

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