Dessert

BROWNIES

Fills a 9 x 13 pan with approximately ¾-inch thick brownies

The comfort food of desserts is definitely the warm, fudgy, gooey brownie.  These are a rare treat in my house, yet still healthier than animal-laden varieties.  I like to add a little crunch with chips (chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.), but these are delicious as is.  Enjoy!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sweetener
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tbsp ground flax or chia seeds + 3 tbsp hot water (“egg”)
  • 1 tsp extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • OPTIONAL:  ½-1 cup chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients, sans sweetener.  In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients, plus sweetener.  This includes your “egg,” which should be prepared separately before adding it to the rest of the wet ingredients.

Slowly mix your wet ingredients into your dry until a dough forms.  That’s right, this mixture will likely be more dough-like than batter-like, although different sweeteners and oils may change the consistency slightly.  Point is, don’t be concerned if what you expected to be a drippy batter turns out thick.  🙂

Mix in your chips or save them to sprinkle on top.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 backing pan or dish (I prefer glass).  Spread your dough evenly throughout and top with chips, if you’d like.  Lightly press any toppers into the dough with a spatula before heading into the oven.  Bake for 20-22 minutes for a fudgy brownie or 23-25 minutes for a cakey brownie.  Enjoy!

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CAKE

Makes 12 cupcakes or one 8 x 8 square or round cake

I don’t make dessert (in the traditional sense) a part of my diet very often, but when I do, I often want cake!  My cake formula doesn’t eliminate the dreaded fat and sugar that comes with this dessert, but I have found ways to make smarter choices and use less of the unhealthy stuff.  This cake can be made gluten-free and nut free, too!  Complete with frosting, if that’s your bag.

For the cake:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-1 ½ cups plant milk (depending on the flour)
  • ¾ cup sweetener
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 vegan “egg” substitute (i.e. mashed banana, applesauce, etc.)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (a binding agent, if using gluten-free flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½-1 tsp extract (depending on the flavor intensity)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Up to ½ cup specialty ingredients (chopped nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, citrus juice/zest, etc.) (optional)

For the frosting*:

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh or steamed fruit (depending on the fruit)
  • ½ cup powdered sweetener
  • ¼ cup room temperature natural vegan butter
  • 1 tsp citrus juice (to preserve the color of the fruit)**
  • ½-¼ tsp extract (depending on the flavor intensity)

*If you’re like me, I’ll sometimes chow down on a cake without frosting! Add it or don’t. 🙂

**I would avoid food coloring unless you can find an all-natural variety containing plant pigments. Some varieties come from animals and others are made artificially with chemicals.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your “egg,” whether that involves scooping, mashing, combining, etc. in a large mixing bowl.   Mix together all of your wet ingredients in the same bowl. Separately mix all dry ingredients. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, slowly incorporate the dry into the wet until a smooth, pourable batter forms. Stir in any specialty ingredients, if using.

Pour the cake batter into a greased square 8 x 8 baking dish or round baking dish, or evenly into 12 lined muffin cups. Place the cake/cupcakes in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My mom always told me that it’s better to over bake a cake (and under bake a brownie); nothing worse than goopy batter in the middle!

Set your cake on a cooling rack for an hour or two. Speed the process by placing it uncovered in the fridge.

While the cake is baking, make your frosting. First, puree the fruit, citrus juice, and extract to a smooth, pourable consistency. Beat together the sugar and butter/shortening, slowly incorporating the pureed fruit mixture until an icing-like consistency is achieved. You will probably have some fruit puree leftover. Cover and chill in the fridge for an hour to stiffen it up, at which point it will be more spreadable and less pourable.

When your cake (or cupcakes) is cool, frost and decorate (if you want), and dig in!

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CHIP COOKIES

Makes 24-30 small cookies

“Chips,” while traditionally chocolate, can really be almost anything, from dried fruit to chopped nuts to shredded vegetables (a la carrot cake).  See what you have on hand and get creative.  I developed this formula based on Thug Kitchen’s almond butter chocolate chip cookie recipe, using dark chocolate covered ginger.  Yum!

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup plant milk
  • 2/3 cup sweetener
  • ½ cup oil or nut/seed butter
  • 2 tbsps flax or chia seeds
  • ½-1 tsp extract (depending on flavor intensity)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients, mixing as you go.  Lastly, stir in your chips.  Grease 2-3 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.  Place heaping spoonfuls of cookie dough approximately a 1.5 inches apart.  Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the cookie edges are golden brown.

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COOKIE DOUGH TRUFFLES

Makes 16-18 truffles

You have to try these to believe it:  truffles made with BEANS that taste like COOKIE DOUGH (yes, the capitalization was needed for emphasis)!  You’ll be amazed at what happens when you combine beans, nut butter, and chocolate chips for a dessert that is low in added sweetener and just as satisfying as eating that dough that comes in a log.

  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans (e.g. garbanzo, great northern, cannellini, etc.)
  • ½ cup seed or nut butter (nuts/seeds ONLY)
  • 1/8 cup+ liquid sweetener (e.g. agave syrup, maple syrup, etc.)
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount depends on flavor intensity)
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt (optional)
  • ½ cup chips (e.g. chocolate, dried fruit, chopped nuts, etc.)

Combine all ingredients—except the chips—in a food processor and run until smooth. Transfer dough into a bowl and stir in chips. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, form into balls and roll in your hands until smooth. Ready to eat immediately! 🙂 Store leftovers in the fridge.

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DESSERT SMOOTHIES

Serves 2-3

These smoothies are dessert-like in their creamy consistency and flavor profiles. Unlike many traditional desserts, however, they’re so healthy, you could eat them for breakfast, a meal, or a snack, too, guilt-free. Experiment with transforming desserts that you love: Think pumpkin pie, banana splits, peanut butter cups, etc. No matter the sweet treat in mind, bananas are the key to achieving the richness that we crave in desserts.

Specialty ingredients will include those specific to the dessert that you’re trying to replicate in smoothie form. Consider things like fruit, unsweetened cocoa powder, and nut butters. As with my togurt formula, you could use another sweetener if your blender isn’t strong enough to break down the medjool dates.

  • 2 frozen bananas (or fresh bananas and ice)
  • ½-1 cup specialty ingredients
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
  • ¼-½ tsp extract of choice (optional, and amount depends on flavor intensity)
  • Pitted medjool dates as needed for sweetness
  • Juice or plant milk until desired consistency (start with 4 oz)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Taste and adjust specialty ingredients as necessary.

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CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Serves 4

I took inspiration for this formula from some light reading one day at my doctor’s office. She gave me a short magazine entitled Healthy Eating for Life, sponsored by The Cancer Project. Contained within was not only valuable research and information about diet and cancer prevention, but also a collection of delicious vegan recipes. I altered the mag’s chocolate mousse recipe to create the formula that you see below.

Specialty ingredients, as is the case with my dessert smoothie formula, might include fruit, nut butter, or fresh herbs or spices. This is another formula that encourages creativity. You could, for example, use a fruit flavor-infused dark chocolate to really make your mousse unique. You can chill this mousse in individual ramekins or in a pie plate, with or without a crust. Crust allows you even more opportunities to be creative, influence your mousse’s flavor profile, and add texture. Ginger snap? Graham cracker? Mint cookie? If you plan to use a crust, whenever possible, try to make your own – and try to make it vegan.

As you may have discovered in perusing my other formulas, I am a big proponent of sweetening dishes with medjool dates, but in this case, I would highly recommend your sweetener is smooth to start with to achieve a true mousse-like consistency.

  • 1 block (14 oz) silken tofu
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (sans milk fat) or chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 + 1/8 cup plant milk
  • ½-1 tsp extract of choice (amount depends on flavor intensity)
  • 1 tbsp sweetener (optional)
  • ½-1 cup specialty ingredients (optional)

Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate into your plant milk. It doesn’t need to completely melt, but rather, soften enough to puree easily. Let cool for a minute or two and transfer into a blender with all remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour into your serving dish(es) of choice, with or without a crust, and chill for at least two hours. After chilling, I like to top mine with fresh fruit and/or chopped raw nuts before digging in.  🙂

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FRUIT MOUSSE

Makes 24 mini-cups

So, I tried to make vegan cheesecake and failed.  😦  Despite all of my research and taste-testing along the way, it appears I have a lot to learn about conquering this traditionally dairy-based dessert.  I’m happy to report, however, that the failed cheesecake filling made for an amazing mousse!  Now I have two protein-packed mousse formulas to work with that focus on totally different flavors and textures.  Make this mousse in individual servings as it won’t hold its shape if you make into a pie and slice.  Enjoy!

For the crust (optional):

  • ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit (no added oil)
  • ¼ cup raw, unsalted nuts/seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsps oil or nut/seed butter
  • ¼-½ tsp seasoning (spices, salt, etc.)

For the filling:

  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight
  • 1 cup raw fruit
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • ½ cup liquid sweetener
  • 1 tbsp oil*
  • ½-1 tbsp combination of spices, extracts, fresh herbs, etc. (optional)
  • 2-4 tbsps garnish (raw seeds, nuts, herbs, spices, citrus zest, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc.) (optional)

*I only used oil because all of the cheesecake recipes I researched called for some oil. I don’t know that it is essential to mousse, so you may be able to opt out of it. I won’t know until I try making this again at some point!

If using, put all of the ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until well-combined, but sticky. Press into your individual serving vessels of choice.  Place crusts in the freezer to firm up.

Drain and rinse your cashews. Put all of your filling ingredients (except the garnish, if using) in a blender and puree until silky smooth. Pour over prepared crusts, garnish, and place in the fridge to chill.  Make sure your individual mousse cups are in a container that you can put a lid on. Remove from the fridge when you’re ready to serve.

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FRUIT PIE

Makes 1 pie

This formula was inspired by cherry season, but you can certainly use berries or another fruit such as apples or peaches.  Making fruit pie is a process with many steps and some wait time, too, so plan to make it on a day when you can laze around the house in your PJs.  This pie is also lower in sodium, fat, and sugar than most traditional pies made with animal products, and of course, it’s cholesterol-free.  Woo!

For the crust:

  • 2 cups flour (+ ½ cup for dusting your work surface)
  • 1 cup mashed fruit or vegetable (e.g. banana, potato, applesauce, etc.)
  • ¼ cup chilled oil (+ 1 tbsp for greasing the pie plate)
  • ¼ ice cold water (literally, float ice in it while you’re prepping other ingredients)
  • 1 tbsp sweetener (+ 1 tbsp for topping the crust once the pie is assembled)
  • 1 tsp spices (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened plant milk

If necessary, peel and steam or boil your fruit/vegetable of choice and cool completely in the fridge or freezer.  Place this fruit/vegetable in your food processor first to puree.  Next, add all remaining ingredients except the water and plant milk.  Start the food processor and stream in the cold water (sans ice) from the top as the ingredients come together.  You should end up with a semi-sticky dough (similar to that of my bread formula).

Sprinkle ¼ cup of the remaining flour onto your preferred work surface.  Empty the dough onto the surface and knead with your hands just until the flour is incorporated and the dough is less sticky.  Place in a bowl, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Prep fruit for the filling while you’re waiting.

For the filling:

  • 4 cups cherries, berries, or another raw, chopped fruit (e.g. apples, pears, peaches, etc.)
  • ½ cup sweetener
  • ¼ cup cornstarch or arrow root
  • ½-1 tsp extract (depending on flavor intensity)
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt

By the time you’re done preparing your fruit (i.e. peeling, chopping, steaming, etc.), it’ll be time to preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Retrieve your chilled dough and separate into two balls:  one is approximately 2/3 of the dough and the other 1/3.  Use remaining flour to dust your work surface and roll out the larger ball.  It should be approximately an 1/8 of an inch thick and in as much of a circle shape as possible – perfection isn’t necessary.

Grease your pie plate.  Carefully lift your smooth, flat circle into your pie plate and press down to coat the entire inside of the plate.  Make sure that this is as even in coverage and thickness as possible.  Again, perfection isn’t necessary.  Pinch the edges of the dough (if that’s your thing!) and mix up your glaze (plant milk + remaining sweetener from crust formula above).  Use a kitchen brush to glaze your crust and poke holes in the bottom to vent.  Set aside remaining glaze.

Pre-bake the crust—without the filling—for 10 minutes.  During baking time, roll out the smaller dough ball to the same thickness as the base and cut into your shape of choice.  Want to keep things simple?  Make a nice, smooth circle that you can use to cover the filling completely (slice vents on top).  If you’re feeling adventurous, use a pizza cutter to create strips for a traditional lattice pattern, or use a sharp knife to cut out other shapes.

Once the bottom crust is out of the oven, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Combine all filling ingredients and pour into the pre-baked crust.  Gently top your filling with the remaining dough, pinching the edges to connect it with the bottom crust.  Glaze the top crust and vent if necessary.

Place the pie back into the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the top crust is golden brown and crisp.  Let cool before serving.

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HAYSTACKS

Yields 24 haystacks

This remixed version of the classic American snack “puppy chow” will satisfy your sweet tooth with both crunch and creaminess.  This formula is incredibly adaptable and can really be tailor-made to your flavor and texture preferences.

  • 7 ounces unsweetened/minimally sweetened crunch (i.e. cereal, crackers, chips, pretzels, nuts, etc.)
  • 12 ounces vegan chocolate (chips or bars)
  • ¾ cup nut or seed butter (nuts/seeds only)
  • ¼ cup garnish (i.e. powdered sugar, sprinkles, chopped nuts/seeds, desiccated coconut, etc.) (OPTIONAL)

Using a double burner*, melt your chocolate and nut/seed butter together over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  Once melted, pour the mixture over your crunch element and stir to combine.  If the combination seems too runny, you can always add more crunch.

Use a spoon to dollop small heaps of the mixture onto baking sheets lined with silicone baking pads or parchment paper.  They will eventually solidify if left on the counter top, but the process is expedited in the fridge or freezer.

Once solid, you can top your haystacks with or toss them in a garnish, if you wish.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

*Don’t forget to protect yourself from steam that might escape your double burner.  I wear gloves start to finish in the process of melting chocolate and don’t remove them until I’ve poured the chocolate out of the melting vessel. 🙂

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NICE CREAM

Serves 3-4

We all scream for nice cream!  This rendition of ice cream (vegan, of course) gets its creaminess from frozen bananas.  Assuming you don’t add candy or animal products to your nice cream, this dessert can actually be quite nutritious!  It is made with a version of my dessert smoothie formula and comes together in minutes.  Top with your sauce of choice and coconut whipped cream for a true sundae experience!

  • 2 frozen bananas (or fresh bananas and ice)
  • ¾-1 cup specialty ingredients
  • ¼-½ tsp extract of choice (optional, and amount depends on flavor intensity)
  • Pitted medjool dates as needed for sweetness
  • Juice or plant milk until desired consistency (start with just a splash)
  • ¼ cup extras for mixing in by hand (optional) – think nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc.

If you plan to make whipped cream to accompany your nice cream, place a mixing bowl in the fridge to chill while you prepare the other components.  Combine all ingredients (except the extras) in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Scoop the mixture into a bowl and fold in any extras you are using by hand. Cover and place in the freezer while you prepare your toppings (if any)

Chocolate sauce*:

  • ½ cup plant milk
  • 3-4 pitted mejool dates (depending on size)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

*Chocolate not your thing? You could also make caramel or melt nut butter to top your nice cream. 🙂

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Pour into a sauce pan on the stovetop over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for about five minutes until sauce has thickened slightly. Cool to a palatable temperature before serving.

Leftovers? Store in a glass container in the fridge. Heat and add additional plant milk (if necessary) to thin out when using again.

Whipped coconut cream:

  • 1 can coconut cream or full fat coconut milk
  • Powdered sweetener to taste (start with ¼ cup)
  • ¼-½ tsp extract (depending on flavor intensity) (optional)
  • 1 pinch-¼ tsp spices (optional)

Chill your can of coconut cream/milk in the fridge overnight. After your nice cream is tucked away in the freezer and your sauce is cooling, remove your chilled mixing bowl from the fridge. Empty the can into the bowl and whip with a hand or stand mixer until smooth and creamy, about a minute. Add sweetener (and extract and spices, if using) and continue whipping until smooth and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. This whipped cream will not quite achieve the height and stiffness of dairy whipped cream, but it will become a bit fluffy nonetheless. Store any extras in the fridge.

Assemble your nice cream sundae and absolutely, enjoy!

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THUMBPRINT COOKIES

Makes 24-28 cookies

Large holiday meals = leftovers.  I designed this formula with a whole lotta leftover cranberry sauce in mind, but you could certainly use another type of fruit preserves.  These holiday-inspired cookies are not too sweet and can be whipped up year round.

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup homemade preserves (jam, cranberry sauce, etc.)*
  • ½ cup nut/seed butter
  • ½ cup liquid sweetener
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant milk
  • 2 tbsps chia or ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount depends on flavor intensity)
  • ¼ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt (optional)
  • 2-4 tbsps garnish (cocoa powder, raw nuts/seeds, coconut flakes, etc.) (optional)

*Homemade is best so that you can control the quantity and quality of ingredients.

Mix your butter, sweetener, extract, and milk, ideally using an electric stand mixer. Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients until a thick, pliable dough forms.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out a heaping teaspoon of dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Place the ball in the center of your palm and press your thumb into it to create a well for your filling. The “walls” of the well will be approximately ¼ inch high and the well itself about half the height. Gently coat the dough in your garnish, if using.

Line the wells up on a baking sheet that is lightly greased or lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad. The cookies will not expand much, so they can be fairly close together. Dollop approximately a teaspoon of filling into each well. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and lightly browned.

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