vegansaurus!

11/22/2010

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

Ingredients
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

Instructions
Cake
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.

11/17/2010

(Let’s have sexual relations, Vegan Battleship Chocolate Bundt Cake with Sour Cherry Compote by Terry Hope Romero from last week’s  Top Chef: Just Dessertschallenge.)
The tenth AND FINAL (!!!) episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our 10th AND FINAL guest chef who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! See the first nine here: Chocolate mousse! Chocolate cake with sour cherry compote! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Chocolate cake! Fried pie and ice cream! White chocolate mousse! Cheesecakes! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! Mini cinnamon almond cakes! DO IT. Our next chef makes my absolute favorite candy in all the world and I adore her so here goes:
Allison Rivers Samson is a genius, and that’s about it. Her handmade caramels are IT. They are IT. There is nothing better in this whole entire world. They are the caramel which all caramels, vegan or not, aspire to be. Other caramels spend their entire life in TRAINING to MAYBE one day be a Allison’s Gourmet caramel but they WILL NEVER BE THE REAL DEAL! I might be/am a little drunk but really, GODDAMN. Give them to everyone (read: me) this holiday season and I will ROCK YOUR WORLD. You know how people are haunted by the things they’ve done for a Klondike Bar? That’s me with these caramels. I can’t. So good. Also, everything she sells via Allison’s Gourmet is pretty much the best in its category. I’m talking fudge, toffee, cocoa, brownies, cookies, brittle, I can’t keep talking about this, I’m driving myself crazy with desire! Oh, and in addition to running this amazing vegan bakery and candy shop, she’ the lady behind the excellent Veganize It! column in VegNews, and perhaps even more importantly, the veganizer of my favorite mac and cheese recipe ever. Make it for your friends and family this holiday season and be prepared to have gifts showered upon your face.
As you can see, Allison is more than qualified to veganize the crap out of whatever wackiness Top Chef throws our way. Until then, please enjoy the final three psychos talking various degrees of crazy. Enjoy!

(Let’s have sexual relations, Vegan Battleship Chocolate Bundt Cake with Sour Cherry Compote by Terry Hope Romero from last week’s  Top Chef: Just Dessertschallenge.)

The tenth AND FINAL (!!!) episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our 10th AND FINAL guest chef who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! See the first nine here: Chocolate mousse! Chocolate cake with sour cherry compote! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Chocolate cake! Fried pie and ice cream! White chocolate mousse! Cheesecakes! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! Mini cinnamon almond cakes! DO IT. Our next chef makes my absolute favorite candy in all the world and I adore her so here goes:

Allison Rivers Samson is a genius, and that’s about it. Her handmade caramels are IT. They are IT. There is nothing better in this whole entire world. They are the caramel which all caramels, vegan or not, aspire to be. Other caramels spend their entire life in TRAINING to MAYBE one day be a Allison’s Gourmet caramel but they WILL NEVER BE THE REAL DEAL! I might be/am a little drunk but really, GODDAMN. Give them to everyone (read: me) this holiday season and I will ROCK YOUR WORLD. You know how people are haunted by the things they’ve done for a Klondike Bar? That’s me with these caramels. I can’t. So good. Also, everything she sells via Allison’s Gourmet is pretty much the best in its category. I’m talking fudge, toffee, cocoa, brownies, cookies, brittle, I can’t keep talking about this, I’m driving myself crazy with desire! Oh, and in addition to running this amazing vegan bakery and candy shop, she’ the lady behind the excellent Veganize It! column in VegNews, and perhaps even more importantly, the veganizer of my favorite mac and cheese recipe ever. Make it for your friends and family this holiday season and be prepared to have gifts showered upon your face.

As you can see, Allison is more than qualified to veganize the crap out of whatever wackiness Top Chef throws our way. Until then, please enjoy the final three psychos talking various degrees of crazy. Enjoy!

11/15/2010

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.

Ingredients
Cake
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

Instructions
Cake
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.

Ingredients
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

Instructions
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 veganlatina.com.

11/10/2010

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

The ninth episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our ninth guest chef who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! See the first eight here: Chocolate mousse! Mini cheesecakes! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Chocolate cake! Fried pie and ice cream! White chocolate mousse! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! Red hot macarons! DO IT. Our next chef needs no introduction but you know we’re verbose, so:

Terry Hope Romero is fucking amazing! Seriously, she’s already co-authored your favorite vegan cookbooks (That’d be Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar), but she also recently published VegNews' 2010 Book of the Year, Viva Vegan! Seriously, every single one of her cookbooks is The Best Ever. I’d probably bet my life on the fact that you own at least one of her cookbooks. Not only that, her twitter is hilarious and adorable, and everything about her is totally rad. Also, we’ve heard a rumor that her partner in delicious crime, Isa Chandra Moskowitz (OMG the new PPK is beauuutiful!), might be teaming up with her on this one? We are seriously jumping up and down over here, and you know what cynical assholes we are so this is kind of a big deal.

We’re thrilled to see what Terry does with the crazy challenges that Top Chef: Just Desserts throws her way tonight. Luckily, the bon bon challenge below is the Quickfire, so you know we won’t be torturing her with making something that normally takes two days in five minutes. 


[can’t see the video? watch it on vegansaurus.com!]

11/08/2010

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

Ingredients
Crust

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

Instructions
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!

11/03/2010

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

(No, you’re not having visions, that’s Fried Lemon Pie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream by Bianca from last week’s Top Chef: Just Desserts challenge.)

The eighth episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our eighth guest chef who will veganize the episode’s winning dessert! See the first seven here: Chocolate mousse! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Chocolate cake! Fried pie and ice cream! White chocolate mousse! Panna cotta! Rice Krispy bars coated with chocolate and hazelnut butter! Mini cinnamon almond cakes! DO IT. Our next chef is super-fabulous amazing so let’s DO THIS:

Alexandra Jamieson of Nutrition for Empowered Women! Alex is a super-rad lady on a mission to make us all a little healthier. Her nutritious recipes are my go-to after holidays like Halloween when I feel like I might actually be made of Jolly Ranchers. Also, her Almond Cheese Spread is pretty much the greatest thing since the sliced bread you put it on (to make the most incredible cheese sandwich CHEESE SANDWICH I LOVE YOU). Not only that, she has a boy cat named Sue. That’s not food-related but it just goes to prove how freaking awesome she is. We’ve got a crush, for sure. 

We’re thrilled to see what Alex does with the crazy challenges that Top Chef: Just Desserts throws her way tonight. Now, please watch these maniacs in this video and get ready for some dessert insanity!!


[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]

11/01/2010

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)
Ingredients
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

Instructions
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)
Ingredients
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

Instructions
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
Ingredients
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

Instructions
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!

10/27/2010

 
(Chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, berry compote, and almond milk ice cream by Melisser from last week’s Top Chef : Just Desserts challenge, let’s get it on.)
The seventh episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our seventh guest chef (see the first six here! Chocolate mousse! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Chocolate cake! White chocolate mousse! 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 she’s one of our favorites so let’s DO THIS:
Bianca of Vegan Crunk! You already know how much we love Vegan Crunk, and if it’s possible, the love, it is growing. Everything she makes and eats looks like magic, and I’ve wasted many afternoons staring at her creations. But really, “wasted” is such a subjective term. Some might say I’ve actually been enriching my life with deliciousness. Those people would not be my parents, boyfriend, employers, or dog, but what can I say? She taught me to made perfect seitan two ways, the fast way for when I’m lazy and the slow way for when I’m poor. And if you find yourself in Memphis, she has a Memphis vegan dining guide for you! So helpful! I just adore this awesome, awesome lady.
We’re thrilled to see what Bianca does with the crazy challenges that Top Chef: Just Desserts throws her way tonight. Don’t worry, we won’t make her compete in some ridiculous sweets relay race like The Fonz is doing here with the cheftestants. And by ridiculous, I mean OMG I TOTALLY WANT TO DO THAT.



[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]

(Chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, berry compote, and almond milk ice cream by Melisser from last week’s Top Chef : Just Desserts challenge, let’s get it on.)

The seventh episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts airs on Bravo tonight (10 Eastern/Pacific), which means that we’re ready to unveil our seventh guest chef (see the first six here! Chocolate mousse! Margarita bombes! Toffee brownies! Chocolate cake! White chocolate mousse! 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 she’s one of our favorites so let’s DO THIS:

Bianca of Vegan Crunk! You already know how much we love Vegan Crunk, and if it’s possible, the love, it is growing. Everything she makes and eats looks like magic, and I’ve wasted many afternoons staring at her creations. But really, “wasted” is such a subjective term. Some might say I’ve actually been enriching my life with deliciousness. Those people would not be my parents, boyfriend, employers, or dog, but what can I say? She taught me to made perfect seitan two ways, the fast way for when I’m lazy and the slow way for when I’m poor. And if you find yourself in Memphis, she has a Memphis vegan dining guide for you! So helpful! I just adore this awesome, awesome lady.

We’re thrilled to see what Bianca does with the crazy challenges that Top Chef: Just Desserts throws her way tonight. Don’t worry, we won’t make her compete in some ridiculous sweets relay race like The Fonz is doing here with the cheftestants. And by ridiculous, I mean OMG I TOTALLY WANT TO DO THAT.


[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]

10/25/2010

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.

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

Instructions
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!

Ingredients
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

Instructions
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.

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

Plating
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!

10/20/2010

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 vegansaurus.com!]

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