vegansaurus!

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!]

06/14/2010

Ooh look, it’s vegan delights from Sticky Fingers Bakery: South Korea! What, you are saying, Sticky Fingers is where? Oh but it’s true! Vegans are EVERYWHERE and all of us want COOKIES.
So how is Sticky Fingers: Seoul edition? Here is the report from our international correspondent, Carrie Lorig:

Sticky Fingers was good for Korea. There were Mexican wedding cookies which always pleases me. I dragged two meat grinders with me and they said it was better than usual baked goods in Korea. But as far as vegan treats go, it was no America. I would’ve liked some higher quality ingredients and more spices. Still! a very welcome respite in this very not vegan country.

There you have it: pretty all right, especially for the country. Maybe because my traveling centers around the question: “Where can I eat delicious vegan food in this place?” but, I would totally go there. Wouldn’t you? At least for the novelty—which does wear on a person living in a place for a long time. But on a trip, absolutely. You have to explore!
We of course wish Carrie the best of luck with her vegan adventures. Thanks for the trans-Pacific news, Carrie!

Ooh look, it’s vegan delights from Sticky Fingers Bakery: South Korea! What, you are saying, Sticky Fingers is where? Oh but it’s true! Vegans are EVERYWHERE and all of us want COOKIES.

So how is Sticky Fingers: Seoul edition? Here is the report from our international correspondent, Carrie Lorig:

Sticky Fingers was good for Korea. There were Mexican wedding cookies which always pleases me. I dragged two meat grinders with me and they said it was better than usual baked goods in Korea. But as far as vegan treats go, it was no America. I would’ve liked some higher quality ingredients and more spices. Still! a very welcome respite in this very not vegan country.

There you have it: pretty all right, especially for the country. Maybe because my traveling centers around the question: “Where can I eat delicious vegan food in this place?” but, I would totally go there. Wouldn’t you? At least for the novelty—which does wear on a person living in a place for a long time. But on a trip, absolutely. You have to explore!

We of course wish Carrie the best of luck with her vegan adventures. Thanks for the trans-Pacific news, Carrie!

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