What are you doing TONIGHT? Melisser has plans for you!  »

Melisser Elliot, of The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, is signing her adorably awesome book tonight! Jan. 2, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Saturn Cafe in Berkeley! Come eat delicious Saturn Cafe food, eat some (free??) treats from Sugar Beat Sweets (the vegan bakery she founded!) and buy a book! I mean, LOOK AT HOW G-D CUTE IT IS:

See you tonight


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!


Top Chef: Just Desserts, episode six airs tonight, and our sixth chef is revealed!  »

(Red Hot Cinnamon Macarons by Vegan Dad from last week’s Top Chef : Just Desserts challenge, you complete me.)

The fifth episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our sixth guest chef (see the first five here! Chocolate mousse! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! Mini cinnamon almond cakes! DO IT) who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! Well, we’ve got our next fabulous chef and there’s no reason not to tell you RIGHTNOW who it is I just like a little suspense OK fine:

Please welcome Melisser, The Urban Housewife! The crew at Vegansaurus and Melisser go waaaaaay back. In fact, when Meave started the Vegan Brunch Cartel in 2007, Melisser, Megan Allison, Maria, and I were some of the first to join! Soon we were meeting monthly to create amazing vegan brunches from scratch (or if you’re me, amazing vegan mimosas from scratch!). My how we’ve grown (I’m not just talking physically! Vegan food is really good!) and I mean that especially for Melisser; not only is she busy running her awesome blog, moving to Vienna, and perfecting vegan candy corn (MAKE IT! It’s almost Halloween!); she’s now a published author, with The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life hitting the shelves in November! So exciting! We’re thrilled to see what Melisser does with the crazy challenges that Top Chef: Just Desserts throws her way tonight. Hopefully her time in the kitchen won’t include an elbow to the face, as it did for Heather here. Drama rama!

[can’t see the video? watch it at!]


Spekuloos Spread is COMING TO AMERICA ALL RIGHT!  »

Actually, it’s already here! If you haven’t previously indulged, it’s basically a concoction of crushed-up cookies and magic. You spread it on everything and it makes it better! Including OTHER COOKIES. Melisser is obsessed with the stuff and turned us onto it, and we’ve been nuts about it since. Before, it was only available in Europe but now you can eat this shit on everything in the U S of A! AMERICA FUCK YEAH!

Order a bunch and eat cookies topped with cookies TODAY!

And speaking of sweet treats, Groupon has a Maggie Mudd deal, $20 for $40 off a VEGAN ICE CREAM CAKE. Don’t stop, get it, get it!


New vegan website:!  »

Friend of Vegansaurus Melisser just launched an awesome new site that’s set to be the be all and end all of all of (OMG WORST SENTENCE EVER) your vegan make-up needs! She’s looking for people to submit any info they have on vegan makeup lines or letters from companies verifying the veganness (veganity?) of their products! If you can help her out, email! Now, go forth and get beautiful, vegans! Don’t worry, your Birkenstocks will be there for you tomorrow! I kid! For most of you! But not all! Goodnight, sir!


Review: Maggie Mudd!  »

One time when I thought I was giving up sweets for Lent, before I realized that because no one holds me to particular religious beliefs anymore, I don’t have to go through the motions of abiding by the behavioral dictates of a particular time of year (sorry, Jesus; I’m done), my boyfriend took me to Maggie Mudd for one last stomach-filling sugar binge, ostensibly to tide me over until Palm Sunday.

During dinner, I had the aforementioned epiphany, leading my boyfriend to note that this was not getting me out of an enormous ice cream sundae. As if I needed to be talked into it. What’s up, gluttony. We ate at a mediocre Italian place up the street (review to come later, mediocre Italian place with a misleading menu), and then walked down the Cortland Street hill a bit to the teeny little nook that is Maggie Mudd’s storefront.

We walked in, and we stared. We stared and stared and stared. Look, I said, Look at all the sundaes they can make vegan! Look at all the varieties of soy- and coconut-milk ice cream! O the anticipation. Nationally available vegan ice cream is generally, well, off. If it doesn’t have a weird soy aftertaste, it’s grainy, or more icy than creamy, or any other of the myriad problems you can have with food imitation. The best soy-cream product I’d had before our venture to Bernal Heights was Tofutti Cuties, and those things are so full of weird chemicals and saturated fats you might as well be eating Kraft Dinner with a bacon spoon.

Right, so, the flavors, they seemed limitless. The sundaes, decadent. I had the Tarmack, a peanut-butter-chocolate-cookie bits concoction with peanut butter and chocolate syrups. I couldn’t finish it, though heaven knows I wanted to. I let my boyfriend slurp up the last melty bits of it and wished I were as bottomless a pit.

Their lemon-poppyseed coconut-milk-based ice cream is perfection in the realm of non-sorbet frozen citrus desserts. They make the (blessedly) vegan waffle cones in front of you so they are hot when you get them and cool and harden in your hand while the ice cream gently melts.

Minus points for the “non-dairy” whipped topping, which seemed suspect. Of course it could have been the gorging that gave me and my boyfriend both upset stomachs, but you never know with dairy. It’s sneaky and totally out to get you. Plus points for the pints being (nearly) as good as the ice cream in-house. Minus points to every grocery store that doesn’t carry it, though I don’t think that’s Maggie Mudd’s fault. Minus points to their in-store packed pints costing an exorbitant $7—is a pint of a commercially unavailable flavor like fresh blueberry worth that much? A million billion plus points for their cakes, which are endlessly customizable, reasonably priced, and quite lovely.

[photo by Friend of Vegansaurus Melisser, the Urban Housewife!]

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