Category Archives: Desserts

Truffle Mania!

These past three months have been the most challenging three months of my life. They say bad things come in threes, and I believe that holds true for multiples of three as well. However, through sheer grit and determination, perseverance, and strength of will, I have survived. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Helping me these past months were these truffles. Very easy to make, they are no-bake little treats of bliss for when you need a pick me up. I went through a truffle phase after this, with a different combination entering the food processor every time. Here are two that I tweaked repeatedly until they were perfect. Carrot cake or Chocolate Maca – your choice. Enjoy!

*Notes* For freezing, the best method I have come up with is placing the truffles on a baking sheet and freezing them individually. Once frozen, I store them in Ziploc bags. If you skip the individual freeze step they still work, but sometimes they stick together in the bag.

I have added gluten free and nut free options for these recipes. I’ve tried them all, and these are the combinations with the best success. I actually prefer the gluten free truffles, as sometimes where I get my gluten free oats they are out of stock. But they always have quinoa flakes!

The Maca powder is a splurge item. It adds a carmel flavour to the truffles, and also assists in cell repair. Perfect for stress! I bought my bag of Maca powder at the health food store for $9 2 years ago – a little goes a very long way! If you don’t have any, omit the maca and have chocolate truffles instead 🙂

Carrot Cake Truffles

1 ½ cups carrots, grated

12 dates, soaked in ½ cup water

1 cup oats (Certified Gluten Free if req. Substitutions that are fantastic: Quinoa flakes, millet flakes, or buckwheat flakes)

¼ cup coconut flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1” piece ginger, roughly chopped

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cardamom

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

1)      In food processor, grate carrots. Remove and set aside.

2)      In food processor, puree dates until paste forms, adding soaking water as required.

3)      Add oats, coconut flour, salt, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and lemon juice. Puree until well blended.

4)      Add 1 cup grated carrot and puree until smooth.

5)      Add remaining carrots and pulse to combine.

6)      Shape into 1 tbsp. truffles. (I just scooped and froze, but if you want to be fancy, roll them into balls) Freeze until ready to eat!

7)      Optional: These thaw quite quickly and become a bit mushy. To serve on dessert tray, bake at 375oF for 10min.

Makes 34 truffles

Chocolate Almond Maca Truffles 

1 cup oats (Certified Gluten Free if req. Substitutions that are fantastic: Quinoa flakes, millet flakes, or buckwheat flakes)

1 cup raw almonds (To make nut free, use raw sunflower seeds. Decadent nut free truffles – dry toast the sunflower seeds on medium heat in a sauce pan until golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool in a bowl)

2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

½ tbsp. maca powder

7 dried dates, soaked in ¼ cup water

1 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of salt

Cinnamon, nutmeg to taste 

Variations: add instant coffee, cardamom, and/or cayenne

 Directions:

1)      In small measuring cup, soak dates in ¼ cup water and vanilla.

2)      In food processor, pulse ¾ cup oats until a flour

3)      Add almonds. Pulse until mealy in texture

4)      Add date mixture. Pulse until dates pureed.

5)      Add all remaining ingredients. Puree until dough forms, adding water as necessary

6)      Shape into 1 tbsp. truffles (Again, if you want to be fancy, roll them into balls). Freeze until ready to eat! 

Makes 28 truffles


An Ode to Tahini

I am a tahini addict. I love the stuff. Some may shudder at the thought of eating it straight out of the jar, but I consider that on par with peanut butter straight. Heaven. So often tahini is a backup singer in a recipe – unappreciated and unassuming, you only notice when it’s not there. Hummus. Falafel. Fudge. Halva. Dressings and sauces. I am often hesitant to use my favourite ingredient in such applications, as I feel that the list of ingredients and flavour combinations are not up to tahini-standards. And so, to all my fellow tahini-lovers out there, I offer you these three ‘recipes’ (I use the term loosely) that feature tahini as the star. And rightly so!

Tahini-Miso Dressing

This idea originally came from a flip through Veganomicon. As a single cooker, I never ever make salad dressing. Too many mason jars have ended up with interesting bacteria cultures from half-finished dressing. I took the idea of tahini and miso, added my own single-serve ratios, and method from my single-person Asian peanut sauce (taught to me by a former roommate). As the title suggests, this dressing combines tahini with miso, another favourite ingredient. A dash of vinegar or lemon juice for acidity, and you have an amazing dressing for any salad you create.

1 tsp. tahini

1 tsp. miso

1 tsp. white vinegar, lemon or lime juice

1) In a measuring cup, combine all ingredients.

2) Whisk vigorously with a fork, until the vinegar acts as an emulsifier and everything is combined. Adjust viscosity by adding water (1/4 tsp. at a time).

3) Serve!

*This recipe is easily scaled up for the size of your salad. Just keep the 1:1:1 ratio of tahini:miso:vinegar, and you’re set!

Simple Tahini-Sriracha Crudités

Lovely Lovely Vegetables!

Lovely Lovely Vegetables!

I have been known to eat an entire plate of fresh vegetables from the farmers market for lunch. There is nothing wrong with this! And my favourite way to eat these vegetables is with this simple presentation. The tahini and Sriracha are a marriage in heaven, while still letting the vegetables shine through. After all, when you have farmer’s market carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes, you don’t want to wreck that freshness with a heavy dressing.

This isn’t really a recipe, as such. Arrange your raw vegetables of choice on a plate or in a bowl. Drizzle tahini on top (to taste). Finish off with Sriracha. Enjoy!

Tahini + Sriracha. Amazing.

Tahini + Sriracha. Amazing.

Frozen Banana Tahini Molasses Split

As the saying goes, desperation is the Mother of invention. This dessert was born from the need desire to have banana soft serve one summer evening. However, it was also over 40dC, and the frozen bananas were turning into an unappetizing brown mush before even exiting the food processor! Add to this all those extra dishes, and I went the lazy route. Since I have yet to make my banana-date soft serve – this dish is the dessert of the summer!

Similar to the crudités, slice a frozen banana into approx. 1″ long pieces. Split each piece in half, and place the banana pieces flat side-up on a plate. Drizzle tahini overtop of the banana pieces. Follow up with blackstrap molasses. Enjoy!

Tahini + Blackstrap Molasses. A perfect topping for frozen bananas. Divine!

Tahini + Blackstrap Molasses. A perfect topping for frozen bananas. Divine!

I hope these three simple ‘recipes’ featuring tahini bring you as much joy as they do me. Try them out – I can think of no other ingredient that can hold its own with miso, Sriracha, and blackstrap molasses with such delicious results! Oh Tahini, I love you so.


Sancocho and Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

This Latin feast is compliments of Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Once again, Terry delivers massive Latin flavour that will make you exercise all your restraint to not eat the whole thing before making it out of the kitchen. I am a novice to Latin food, but these recipes that I have previously written about (and with more to come!) have me seeking out Latin food wherever I can!

Sancocho

Sancocho: The Latin Sambar.

The Sancocho could be best described as a Latin Sambar – they are so similar in fact I often get the two confused! They are both soothing, spicy, comfort foods in a bowl. Sancocho is coloured the distinctive Latin Chorizo “hue” with Annatto spice, the Latin turmeric. The rest of the seasoning is the standard Latin combination of oregano and cumin, supplemented with some thyme and heaps of onions. The soup is loaded with veggies: carrot, yucca, green plantains, tomatoes, and corn. Lima beans add the protein element, and are deliciously creamy. For those with Lima issues, Fava beans, edamame, pinto beans, or even chickpeas would be a wonderful stand-in. I made some modifications to the recipe – I hate corn. With a passion. Thus I omitted the corn on the cob from my soup, and I think it didn’t suffer from intent at all! Although I will not deny – eating corn on a cob in a soup sounds pretty cool. I also added some spinach at the end, because greens in soups are never wrong! The resulting soup is soothing, delicious, and exotic enough to make you think you can cook any Latin dish you desire. (I may be delusional.) This is the perfect soup to usher in the not-quite-ready spring produce but tired of the winter standards of squash and potatoes.

The recipe can be found on p. 154-155 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake: Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and all around delicious!

The Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake is a surprise all in of itself. The frosting is actually Dulce de Batata, which is an orange-infused sweet potato pudding. Yes – sweet potato! I have never had sweet potato as part of a dessert before (or any non-savoury application after the Mashed Sweet Potato and Marshmallow experiences of my childhood – ick), and so I knew I had to try this cake just for that reason. To make the Dulce de Batata is relatively easy – basically boil sweet potatoes to a mash, and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan. A helpful tip: use a lid when you reach pudding consistency, otherwise you will end up with sweet potato splatters all over your kitchen. The aroma from this dish was what really surprised me – it was very difficult not eating the entire pot as soon as it was made. The sweet potato taste isn’t pungent, and the cinnamon and orange pair wonderfully.

The chocolate cake is a typical chocolate cake, but with the addition of ‘spice’ cake spices and orange juice. It pairs well with the dulce de batata, and again isn’t a sweet cake. I used a combination of quinoa and buckwheat flour, and it came out wonderfully moist, and had a great crumb. The instructions say to cook the cake as one layer, and then cut the layers in two. I could foresee that disaster, and instead opted to cook two layers of cake separately, and reduced the cooking time. To “frost”, you smear as much dulce de batata as you can on the top of one half, add the second layer of cake, and frost with the remaining dulce de batata. The combination is phenomenal, and definitely something you could serve to company and bask in the compliments. Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and with the hint of orange, it is a chocolate cake you will crave. Especially so for people who are not partial to sweet desserts, and usually avoid chocolate cakes for this reason. I froze my leftovers and ate the rest like cake pops, and I think I liked that serving style even better than eating it fresh!

The recipe can be found on p. 236-239 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Sancocho and Chocolate Dulce de Batata cake – the latest Latin offerings that have continued to open my eyes to the delicious offerings of the Central and South Americas!


Asure (Noah’s Pudding)

Asure

Asure (also known as Noah’s Pudding) is a refreshing end to a Turkish meal. Many Turkish desserts are composed of some variation of phyllo pastry, laden with honey and pistachios. But not this one. Legend has it that when Noah was busy counting the animals, Mrs. Noah was frantically cleaning the pantry and whipped this dessert up with all the contents. As a result, there are as many variations of Asure as there are pantries! After copious amounts of research, the required elements for Asure are as follows:

1) Grain: barley, rice, bulgur wheat
2) Dried fruit: apricot, figs, raisins, currants, cranberries
3) Nuts: Walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts
4) Flavour: orange peel, rose water (1-2 tsp.), vanilla, orange juice
5) Beans: broad beans (lima beans), black-eyed peas, chickpeas, white beans

From there, you can create your masterpiece! A recipe written just the way I cook! I have made variations for breakfast, similar to the Chinese congee. Of course, it makes a wonderful dessert as well, similar to rice pudding. Also note that Noah must be a slow counter – this recipe takes 1-2 days to make due to bean soaking time (and lack of pots in my kitchen), but it makes a LOT. It freezes exceptionally well: to warm up, take one serving straight from the freezer and add a dash of water. Microwave on high until you reach pudding consistency (~3min.) Packed full of nutrition and delicious too boot – that’s a dessert you can feel good about eating for breakfast!

Asure

1 cup barley
1 cup dried white beans
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup short-grain rice
1 cup raisins OR currants
1 cup sugar OR molasses (to taste)
10 cups water
10 dried apricots, diced
10 dried figs, diced
1 tbsp. orange rind
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Optional garnishes: crushed walnuts, crushed pistachios, soaked and diced dried fruit such as figs, apricots, currants; pomegranate seeds …

Directions:
1) Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add barley and cook for 10min.
2) Turn off heat and leave barley to soak overnight
3) Repeat steps 1-2 for white beans and chickpeas in separate pots
4) Add 4 cups water to barley, white beans, and chickpea pots
5) Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until barley, white beans, and chickpeas are cooked (note: each has a different cooking time!)
6) In 16 quart pot, add 10 cups water
7) Add cooked barley, white beans, chickpeas, uncooked rice, and orange rind. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15min.
8) Add all other ingredients. Cook on medium 15-20min, or until rice cooked. Stir occasionally and add water as necessary – should have the consistency of tapioca
9) Turn off heat and let rest for 30min.
10) Pour into small bowls and add optional garnishes

For the version shown above, I used all the beans and grains listed. My dried fruits were figs, dates, apricots, and currants. I didn’t add any sugar as the dried fruit made the porridge sweet enough for me! I added a tiny splash of rose water which made the porridge smell amazing and added an extra layer of ‘exotic’ taste.


Queen Elizabeth Cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake I Recipe

*Note* This is not my picture. The cupcakes disappeared too quickly for me to get a good one. Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com.

Ironically enough, I first experienced Queen Elizabeth Cake in a tiny coffee shop tucked away under the shadow of Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, Canada. Ironic because the Quebecois are potentially the most antagonistic “subjects” of the Commonwealth towards the British, and don’t much care for the “English” in general. Yet it was in this cute cafe that my friend and I experienced Queen Elizabeth Cake.

The cake itself has an interesting history: the Queen Mum would make it herself for the sole purpose of bake sales with proceeds going to the Church of England. Apparently Queens can cook too! (More information can be found here). It is a date cake with a coconut frosting reminiscent of German Chocolate Cake frosting. It’s not too sweet, and an excellent pairing with an afternoon cup of tea. Both my friend and I loved sneaking away to this small cafe and having a cup of tea with a small slice of cake before perusing the local indie music store. Since then, the cafe is no longer, I am a vegan, and she is a celiac. So, for her birthday I took it upon myself to take these memories of afternoon tea and cake and make a cake just as good – if not better – than the Queen’s. Two weeks of research went into this project, with numerous chicken-scratch recipe drafts. Finally, I had it. The result? “Amazing! They sure didn’t last long!” So take a slice of history and make this vegan, gluten free version of the Queen Mum’s classic – but you don’t have to share it with the Church of England!

 

 

Queen Elizabeth (Cup)Cake

Cake:
1 cup boiling water
1 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp. plain yogurt OR 2 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
+ 1 tsp. canola oil
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup silken tofu, pureed (puree then measure)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
¼ cup glutinous rice flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions:
1) In small bowl, pour boiling water over dates. Soak until water tepid
2) In small bowl mix flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nuts
3) In large bowl cream together tofu and sugar. Add vanilla, yoghurt, and half of the soaked dates. Mix.
4) Add flour mixture in batches, mixing to combine as you go
5) Fold in remaining dates
6) Spread batter into greased 9×13” pan, or lined muffin tins
7) Bake at 350oF for 30-40min. (20-30min. for cupcakes), or until pass the knife test
8) Cool

Icing:
1 cup flaked coconut
½ cup almond milk
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. water until smooth

Directions:
1) In medium saucepan mix milk, sugar, and vanilla
2) Add cornstarch slurry and cook over medium-high heat stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens
3) Cook for 1 min while boiling. Remove from heat.
4) Stir in coconut
5) Allow to cool until warm before spreading onto cake

 

 

 

 


No Bake Nanaimo Bars

Decadent, delightful, and delicious! Bet you can’t eat just one!

Nanaimo bars: Canada’s contribution to the culinary scene. Traditionally a Nanaimo bar is composed of a chocolate walnut graham cracker and coconut bar base, a custard middle layer, and a bittersweet chocolate coating.  Nanaimo bars were a big treat growing up, and would appear once every five Christmas’. Although one of my favourites, I would always leave the custard on the plate and the crunchy chocolate top annoyed me when it meant that the delicious bottom got smooched into the custard when biting in. So I decided to change all of this, and make these healthy, decadent Nanaimo bars that far surpass the original!

My creative criteria were as follows:

1) Due to the heat wave, absolutely no cooking! This means no oven, no stovetop. As a result, these Nanaimo bars are 100% raw!
2) No coconut to bind the base
3) Ditch the custard, and make the top less crunchy (but no less chocolaty!)
4) Make the bars as nutrient rich as possible, in case of a power bar emergency (or guilt complex for eating half the pan!)

I was successful on all four counts. The stove stayed off, no coconut was used in production, and the custard was ditched for a banana soft-serve pudding. The topping is a no-bake ganache that retains the bittersweet chocolate flavour but allows you to bite into every delicious morsel of bar. Finally, with my substitutions the bar is roughly equivalent in nutrition to a Larabar, complete with the appropriate protein:glucose ratio for the perfect post-workout snack. The bars themselves don’t take long to make, and with the chill time between layers you have the opportunity to clean the food processor, if you are so inclined. So dig into these decadent bars with zero guilt and enjoy this modified Canadiana treat!

Recipe notes: This recipe can easily be made gluten free if you use gluten free oats. Also, due to size variations of dates this recipe has only been tested with dried dates. 60g. dried dates is roughly one cup, but 60g. Medjool dates may only be 1-2. Finally, I keep all my bananas in the freezer for banana soft serve creations. I’m sure the filling layer would work with fresh bananas, but you may have to chill the layer longer to allow the filling to set.

Filling flavour suggestions: Although the one below is similar to the classic custard, why not mix and match flavours? Any soft serve flavour would work here. Top choices would be adding 1-2 tbsp. peanut butter, or a fruit medley mix – let these bars be your canvas!

No-Bake Nanaimo Bars

Base:
1 cup rolled oats, divided
60g. dates (~15 dried) *if dried, soaked in 1 cup water, reserve liquid
1 cup almonds
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
1) In food processor, pulse ¾ cup oats until flour consistency
2) Add almonds and cocoa powder. Process until crumbly
3) Add dates, vanilla, and cinnamon. Process until dough forms. *If using dried dates, add reserved soaking water as required
4) Add remaining ¼ cup oats. Pulse to combine
5) Press into greased 9×13” pan. Chill in freezer.

Filling:
5 tbsp. almond milk or soy yogurt (or other non-dairy milk and yogurt offerings)
¾ cup frozen banana, sliced
¼ tsp. vanilla
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:
1) In food processor, process all ingredients until smooth.
2) Spread on top of base. Freeze.

Chocolate Ganache:
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
½ tsp. ground flaxseed

Directions:
1) In food processor, process all ingredients until smooth.
2) Pour over filling. Freeze.


Sweet and Nutty Stuffed Plantains

Roasted plaintain stuffed with cayenne walnut crumble and topped with Daiya cheese

Stuffed plantains – my first Latin dessert experience. Before this dish, I didn’t really understand the hype of plantains. I had tried them before in a variety of dishes, but they had never wowed me. I am guilty of substituting sweet potatoes for plantains more than once. But what the pupusas started with their plantain contribution this simple dessert finished. Not one for sweet desserts, this dish has a nice bite to it and is a delectable way to finish off any meal – Latin or not! They are also a 5-star way to start your day – I ate one for breakfast to beat the Monday blahs, and successfully beat them all the way to lunch!

The dish itself is very simple to prepare, and as Terry suggests very versatile in stuffing components. First you roast the plantain like you would a baked potato – wrap it in foil and stick it in the oven at 375oF for ~30min. Then comes the fun part – the stuffing! This stuffing is a simple crumble with brown sugar, walnuts, and a dash of cayenne for a nice surprise kick. Slit the plantains lengthwise and stuff to the best of your ability. If some stuffing doesn’t make it into the plantain, leave it in the pan! They crisp nicely and you can sprinkle it over the finished product. Sprinkle with some lime juice for a nice tart flavour, and finally top with Daiya cheese. The cheese is optional, but I couldn’t resist the strange combination of a crumble, a fruit, and melted cheese. Pop the stuffed plantains back into the oven to roast uncovered for ~15min, and you’re done! The plantains take on a sweet caramelization flavour, almost like a subtle baked banana. The lime juice and the cayenne really stand out, cutting the sweetness of the plantain and stuffing nicely. The cheese adds a touch of salt and a different flavour that make the dessert extra unique. I couldn’t get enough of these delicious desserts!

Other stuffing ideas could be a simple crumble like in a rhubarb crisp, or just the cheese, or even just roasted with a sprinkling of cayenne and lime juice. Depending on your sweetness threshold, I imagine chocolate, pie fillings, or even a simple syrup of butter and brown sugar would also be delicious. To store leftovers (if you have any!) I wrapped them in tinfoil and froze. To eat, just unwrap and go! Like a stuffed plantain popsicle, they are even better than frozen bananas topped with tahini and molasses, and I didn’t know that was possible!

Terry includes in her book Viva Vegan! a 4-page Ode to the Plantain (pages 115-119). How to ripen (like an avocado), which plantains work best for what cooking method, how to roast, how to stuff, how to make crisps, fries, and so on. After tasting this dish, I understand both the hype and the lengthy review and will be guilty no more of substituting with sweet potatoes!

The recipe can be found on page 117-118 on Google Book Preview here: Sweet and Nutty Stuffed Plantains. However this dessert alone is worth checking out the book at the library!


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