Over 2 hours

Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

By the Gracious Vegan

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I am not a huge pudding fan, but combined with chocolate crumbs and whipped cashew cream, this pudding knocks it out of the park. It’s delicious and healthy at the same time.

Makes 3 cups of pudding and 1 cup of chocolate crumbs  

Soak the cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews

Blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth. 

  • The soaked cashews

  • 2 cups water

  • 3/8 cup (6 Tablespoons) maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 2 Tablespoons almond butter

  • 1.5 Tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the mixture into a saucepan, stirring often with a whisk, and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce the heat immediately and boil on low heat for 1-2 minutes, until it thickens up. Transfer to a bowl or other container and put into the refrigerator to cool for at least 3 hours. 

Make the chocolate crumbs separately by putting all ingredients in a food processor or small blender (like a “bullet”).

  • 1/2 cup dates

  • 1/2 cup almonds (I like toasted, but raw works too)

  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1/2 Tablespoon water

  • Pinch salt

Make parfaits in ramekins, ice cream dishes, or other kind of individual containers. Or make a layered pudding in a larger dish. Alternate layers of pudding and crumbs, then top with:

 Timing: Hands-on time 25 minutes; total time 25 minutes + 3 hours cooling time

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving (9): 181 calories, 10g fat, 1g sat. fat, 23g carbs, 3mg sodium, 3g fiber4g protein 

Gluten-free

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Vegan Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting

By the Gracious Vegan

This frosting goes well with the  Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake .

This frosting goes well with the Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake.

I don’t like frosting with a lot of vegan butter and shortening in them. I kept experimenting with combining a smaller portion of vegan butter than usual with some whipped cashew cream. The problem was that the water used in the whipped cashew cream made the frosting watery. So I approached it another way: I melted the vegan butter and had it serve as a liquid for whipping up the cashew cream. After you blend them together (with a few other ingredients) until the cashews dissolve, you refrigerate or freeze the mixture, then use a mixer to make it fluffy. I wish it could eliminate the chilling step, but I haven’t found a way to do so.

IMakes about 1.75 cups

Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes (even if you have a high-speed blender).

  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces

Melt butter in a small container in the microwave (or on the stove). 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter

Put the melted butter and soaked (and well-drained) cashews in the blender. Add the following ingredients. Blend on high under you have very smooth cream. 

  • 2 Tablespoons water 

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • A pinch of salt

Add powdered sugar and blend again until smooth. 

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar

Transfer to a container or the bowl you use with your mixer. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 4 hours (or freeze for 2 hours). Then whip it with a mixer on high for about 2 to 3 minutes until the frosting is smooth and as fluffy as you can get it. 

Timing: Over 2 hours because of the needed chilling

Nutrition: Not healthy, but better for you than frosting made with butter and shortening

Gluten-free

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Gracious Vegan Pecan Pie

By the Gracious Vegan

After I went vegan, I thought I would never get to eat pecan pie again. I was fine with that--I could sacrifice that easily for the sake of animals--but there was a certain wistfulness in saying goodbye to a favorite dessert. But lo and behold, vegan cooks had been working on it! I found Tofu Mom's site, and she gave me a great basis for this recipe. The crust is one I'd been working on for a long time. I tinkered with the filling proportions and believe I've got it just right. Yum! 

The pie.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

Arrange the pecans in a single layer in the bottom of uncooked crust (see crust recipe below).

Pie crust in 9-10” deep dish pie pan

  • 1 + 1/4 cup chopped pecans (not toasted)

Process the following in a food processor or blender, or mix with a hand-held mixer until very smooth.

  • 3/4 cup firm silken tofu

  • 2 teaspoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)

  • 1 cup dark corn syrup

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons melted vegan butter

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Gently pour mixture over nuts. Bake for 60-75 minutes at 350°F or until it looks like it's starting to solidify - it will set up completely as it cools. You may need to cover the crust so it doesn’t burn (check after 45 minutes). Cool completely before serving.

Crust for dessert pies. Makes 2 crusts – you only need one for this pie – you can freeze the other one in disk form.

Put these in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

  • 2 + 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I use 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour & 1 cup white)

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Add the fats and pulse as much as needed to get a texture with pea-size pellets of butter/shortening.

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, cut into ½” cubes (refrigerated)

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening refrigerated, then cut into ½” pieces (refrigerated)

Transfer to a bowl. Add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, drizzling it around the rim of the bowl. Use a kitchen fork to gently mix the water in, trying to wet as much of the dry mixture wet as possible.

  • 6 to 7 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

To determine if the mixture has enough water, gather some in your hand and press it against the bowl to see if it will hold together. If not, add more water sparingly, about 1 teaspoon at a time, adding only enough for it to form a mass. Too much liquid and/or overworking the dough will toughen it.

With floured hands, press the dough against the side of the bowl, forming 2 balls. All the crumbs should adhere to the balls and clean the bowl. If not, add a few drops of water. Flatten the balls into two 4- to 5-inch disks.

Wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes or longer before rolling out, because the gluten strands need time to relax. After chilling, I let mine sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes before rolling, because otherwise it’s too hard. (You can make ahead and refrigerate for 3 days or freeze for much longer.)

For this pie, roll out one crust and lay it in the bottom of a deep dish 9” or 10” pie dish.

Timing: About two hours, including making and chilling the crust

Nutrition: This isn't a very healthy dish. Let's not kid ourselves

Gluten-free if you make a gluten-free crust

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Almond Goat Cheese 

By the Gracious Vegan

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Creamy, salty, sharp, soft white cheese on crackers or in sandwiches or salads is delicious. There are so many ways to enjoy this goat-cheese-like almond cheese. The preparation is a bit fussy, but all the steps are necessary — I’ve provided ways to speed up the process so it doesn’t have to take overnight, unless you want it to.

Makes one 6-inch round

Place almonds in a medium bowl, and cover with 3 inches cold water. Let soak at least 6 hours. Or pour boiling water over the almonds, cover, and let soak for an hour. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water.

  • 1 cup whole blanched almonds (I used blanched slivered almond to speed up the soaking)

Purée soaked almonds and the following ingredients in a blender or food processor (I find that the blender works best) until very smooth and creamy. It may take several minutes. 

  • 1/2 cup cold water

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

The next step is to drain the mixture of liquid. You can do it two ways. 

Spoon the almond mixture into a handkerchief (used for kitchen purposes only!) or three layers of cheesecloth. Bring the corners together and twist the fabric around the cheese, forming into a ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Place the ball in a colander, with a bowl underneath, and chill for 12 hours or so, then discard excess liquid.

Or you can work more quickly and press the wrapped ball with paper towels; once the paper towels are wet, replace them with new dry paper towels. With this second method, the drying out will take only about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer it to the lined pan. Flatten it to form a 6-inch round about 3/4-inch thick. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until top is slightly firm and very slightly browned. Cool, then chill for at least 2 hours.

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed (WFPBNO)

Timing: About 2 hours using the quickest methods, plus 2 hours to chill after baking

Gluten-free

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Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with Gingersnap Crust

By The Gracious Vegan

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Make this for Thanksgiving and you will be showered with praise. It’s not whole-food unprocessed, but it’s incredibly delicious and can show omnivores how good desserts can be without dairy and eggs.

Makes: 12 slices

Preheat oven to 365° F.

Crust. Use a food processor to break down the gingersnap cookies into crumbs

  • 9 ounces gingersnap cookies

Add the following ingredients and process briefly until incorporated. 

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 5 Tablespoons vegan butter, melted

Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch springform pan and pat with your hands into the bottom and up the sides (about 1 - 1.5 inches). Bake the crust for 5 minutes.

Sweet potato layer. Process the following ingredients in the food processor until smooth.

  • 1.5 cups cooked sweet potato (18 ounces baked or microwaved, skins removed)

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup tofu (I prefer firm silken tofu that comes in the vacuum pack) (see more tofu needed below)

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Carefully spread the sweet potato mixture over bottom of pie shell.

Pecan layer. Sprinkle the pecans over the sweet potato layer.

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Process the following ingredients in the same food processor.

  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup

  • 3/8 cup tofu (same recommendation as above)

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the corn syrup mixture gently over the nuts and smooth it out evenly. 

Bake for 60 minutes or until the top is bubbly and the filling looks almost fully set. Cool on wire rack.

Serve with Vegan Whipped Cream.

Timing: Hands-on time 30 minutes; Total time 90 minutes + cooling

Nutrition: About equal processed and unprocessed ingredients. 

Nutritional information per serving: 336 calories, 13g fat, 3g sat. fat, 52g carbs, 255mg sodium, 2mg fiber, 3g protein 

Gluten-free if gluten-free crust is used

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Rich and Creamy Vegan Tiramisu

By the Gracious Vegan

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Faces light up when you announce that dessert is tiramisu! This version will please tiramisu lovers and may create some new ones. The cashew cream gives dairy-based mascarpone cheese a run for its money. No sacrifices with this vegan version. 

Makes 10 servings

Cake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray two 8” x 8” square pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together 

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour if desired)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup applesauce (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 2 Tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.

Fill each prepared pan with batter and smooth. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely before assembly.

“Mascarpone.”  Blend the following ingredients together in a blender until a very smooth, thick texture is achieved. Chill.

  • 2 cups cashews, soaked in cold water at least 2 hours (or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes); even if you have a high-speed blender, I recommend soaking the cashews for this recipe
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon white miso

Espresso Soak. Stir the following ingredients together in a bowl or measuring cup.

  • ½ cup amaretto liqueur
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons instant espresso powder

Chocolate shavings. Use a vegetable peeler and shave the side of the chocolate bar until you have a pile of chocolate shavings.

  • 1.5-ounce vegan dark chocolate bar 

Assembly. You can make your tiramisu in one large glass or ceramic dish. Or you can make individual servings in ice-cream or other glass dishes, or even make free-form mini-tiramisu’s and serve them on a platter - lovely for a dessert buffet. 

Start with a layer of cake, then spoon some espresso soak onto the cake and let it seep in. Then layer on some mascarpone and then chocolate shavings. Repeating the layers at least once makes the dessert look beautiful. End with mascarpone and chocolate shavings.

Timing: hands-on time 40 minutes, total time 2-3 hours

Nutrition: This isn’t a healthy food – it’s healthier than dairy-based tiramisu, though. 

Nutritional information per serving:           

419 calories, 18g fat, 4g sat. fat, 54g carbs, 44mg sodium, 3mg fiber6g protein

Gluten-free if you adapt the cake recipe and use gluten-free flour

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Polenta with Sautéed Mushrooms

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By the Gracious Vegan

You can use any cooked grain or pasta for this dish. Sautéed mushrooms can also be used as the basis for quesadillas or as a topping for burgers, baked potatoes, or toast. 

Makes: 5 servings

Polenta: in the morning. Put these together in a medium saucepan and let sit all day.

  • 1 cup polenta (not instant)

  • 4 ½ cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

In the evening. Put the saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil, whisking about every minute. Once it boils, turn the heat to very low and let the polenta simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so, stirring or whisking about every 5 minutes to smooth out any lumps, until the mixture is very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Stir in nutritional yeast and take the pan off the heat. The polenta is ready to serve.

  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

The mushrooms. While the polenta is cooking, sauté the following ingredients in broth, 5 minutes or more, until the shallots are transparent and soft.

  • Up to ½ cup vegetable broth, starting with 2 Tablespoons (see additional broth needed below)

  • 1 large or two small 2 shallots, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced, grated, or finely chopped

Add the next group of ingredients and cook over medium-high heat 5-8 minutes. Mushrooms should have released their liquid and started the softening process.

  • 1 pound white button or cremini mushrooms, quartered or sliced

  • 1 pound wild or other mushrooms, cut or torn into pieces or slices

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

  • Add the flour, stir, and continue to cook, about 1 minute.

  • 2 teaspoons flour of your choice

Add the next ingredients and turn the heat up. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender, and the surrounding broth is thick.

  • ½ cup dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc or dry vermouth (optional, or more broth)

  • ½ cup vegetable broth

  • 2 teaspoons porcini mushroom powder (optional, but it adds a lot of flavor)

Remove from the heat, stir in some freshly ground pepper and the parsley, taste and adjust salt.

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Timing: Hands-on time 30 minutes, total time all-day soaking + 30 minutes  

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 166 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat. fat, 30g carbs, 22mg sodium, 5g fiber7g protein

Gluten-free

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Overnight (or Instant Pot) Chai-Flavored Hot Cereal

By the Gracious Vegan

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Warm and comforting on a cold morning, this cereal is also packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, and other important nutrients. If chai spices aren’t your thing, you can go without the spices or substitute your favorites. I tried using ground spices, but it didn’t work nearly as well—once you have cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, and ginger on hand, this is a snap. Update: see how to make it without the overnight soaking with an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker.

Makes 4 servings

The night before (or at least 2 hours before). In a very large glass or ceramic bowl or casserole dish, combine these ingredients.

  • 1 cup whole grains (steel-cut oats, millet, barley, spelt, kamut, quinoa, or a combination)

  • 4 cups of water

  • 2 Tablespoons flaxseed meal (optional but very good for you)

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • Seeds from 6 cardamom pods (or ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom if you can’t find the pods)

  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 5-10 grinds of fresh black pepper

Microwave the mixture on high, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Then stir and microwave it again for 4 minutes. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.

In the morning. The cereal is ready. Just remove the cinnamon sticks, heat the mixture, and divide it among 4 bowls (or storage containers for serving later in the week). Serve with any or all of the toppings below.

  • Plant-based milk (almond, soy, cashew, oat, etc.)

  • 1-2 teaspoons hemp seeds per serving

  • Chopped almonds

  • Sweetener (date sugar, date paste, banana, sweetener with stevia brown sugar or other)

  • Fresh or dried fruit

Alternative cooking method: Use the multigrain or manual setting on your Instant Pot. Decrease water to 3.5 cups. Program the Instant Pot for 5 minutes. Use the 10-Minute Natural Release Method.

Timing: hands-on time 15 minutes, total time overnight (or at least 2 hours); with Instant Pot, about 30 minutes total

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional content of this dish depends on the combination chosen. I’ve used the following combination to calculate the amounts below: half-quinoa, half-steel cut oats with ½ cup of soymilk, 2 teaspoons hemp seeds, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and ½ Tablespoon chopped almonds

300 calories, 9.5g fat, 1g sat. fat, 42g carbs, 55mg sodium, 3g fiber, 13.5g protein

Gluten-free if made with gluten-free grains

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Have-It-Your-Way Smoothie

By the Gracious Vegan

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You don’t need yogurt or even tofu to make a great, healthy smoothie. Buckwheat groats and nuts deliver protein, healthy carbs, and almost half the recommended daily amount of fiber. This recipe encourages you to play with fruits and flavors to keep from getting bored. The optional super-foods add high levels of antioxidants and other helpful nutrients.

Makes 1 serving

Soak the groats and nuts overnight (they can be soaked together in the same bowl).

  • 3 Tablespoons raw buckwheat groats

  • 3 Tablespoons nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)

Drain and rinse the buckwheat and nuts. Put them in a blender, add the remaining ingredients, and blend on high until smooth.

  • 3/4 cup water (or more if smoothie is too thick to blend)

  • 1/2 frozen banana

  • Optional superfoods (highly recommended):

    • 1/2 Tablespoon flaxseed

    • 1/2 teaspoon amla powder

    • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric

    • Sweetener (2 dates, ½-1 Tablespoon agave nectar, a spoonful or two of date sugar, brown sugar, 1 package sweetener with stevia, etc.)

Your choice of:

Zesty Mango

  • ¾ cup frozen mango cubes

  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Peachy Comfort

  • ¾ cup frozen peaches

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger powder

Gingery Blueberry

  • ¾ cup frozen blueberries

  • ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Mixed Berry Matcha

  • ¾ cup frozen mixed berries

  • 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

Total time: Overnight + 10 minutes (hands-on time 10 minutes)

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free

Nutritional information per serving:          

380 calories, 14g fat, 1g sat. fat, 63g carbs, 4.5mg sodium,12g fiber, 11.5 g protein

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Banh Mi Sandwich with Seitan

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I developed this recipe for a recent "Tempeh and Seitan" demo for Northwest Veg here in Portland. You could switch out the seitan with tempeh or tofu. “Banh mi” is the Vietnamese term for “bread,” specifically a baguette-type roll that is a basic staple in Vietnam. There was a French presence in Vietnam for hundreds of years, leading to this fusion bread. The Vietnamese version has a thinner crust and contains rice flour as well as wheat. 

Here are the layers, starting from the bottom:

  • 6-7” Banh mi bread roll (or a section of baguette or other roll—whole grain preferred), split lengthwise (but leave them connected)

  • A swipe of sriracha mayo on top and bottom sides of the roll (2 or 3 parts vegan mayo to 1 part sriracha) (oil-free may recipe by Kim Campbell can be found on this site.)

  • Thinly-sliced jalapeño, optional

  • Fresh chopped cilantro leaves

  • Thin slices of English cucumber (made with a peeler, mandoline or knife)

  • A handful of pickled carrot and daikon radish (see recipe below)

  • A layer of Seitan for Banh Mi (see recipe below)

  • More sriracha on top, if desired

Pickled vegetables (enough for 4 sandwiches). These can be made up to several days ahead (in fact, that improves the flavor).

Pour the pickling ingredients into a glass or plastic container with a lid. Shake or stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.

  • 1.5 cups water­, warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

  • ½ Tablespoon salt

Add vegetables. Add more water if needed to cover them. Secure the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. It's best to give them several hours, if not a couple of days, to pickle them. 

  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned/grated/thinly sliced

  • ½ daikon radish, peeled and julienned/grated/thinly sliced

Seitan for Banh Mi (enough for 4 sandwiches)In a shallow dish or a Ziplock gallon bag, mix the marinade ingredients together.

  • 2 Tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped (from frozen is fine)

  • 1/4 cup date paste (or 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar)

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced or chopped

  • 1.5 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese roasted sesame paste or tahini

  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Add the slices of seitan and let them marinate for at least 20 minutes (preferably several hours).

  • 8 ounces seitan, sliced into thin slices

A few minutes before assembling your sandwiches, heat a large skillet on the stove. Pour the seitan and all the marinade into the skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the marinade is mostly absorbed, anywhere from, say, 3 to 10 minutes. 

Timing: About 2 hours, including soaking. Hands-on time is much less, about 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Not gluten-free unless you substitute tofu or tempeh for the seitan and use gluten-free bread

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Gracious Vegan Fruitcake

By the Gracious Vegan

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Fruitcake without candied fruit, just dried fruit! What a joy! This recipe has been a long journey for me, but it's been worth it. It all started with a "Wall Street Journal" mention of a recipe by Brian Paul, which I can't find online anymore. I had to veganize it, and it took about 5 years (making it once a year) to get right. But now it works incredibly well, and it's delicious.

The Fruit and Rum. Chop everything up into small pieces with a heavy, sharp knife. (The vegan cake batter doesn’t hold large fruit pieces together well; having small pieces is key to the cake not crumbling.) Place in a gallon Ziplock bag. Of course, try your own combination of fruits if you like -- aim for a total of about 2 pounds of dried fruit. 

  • Dried apples (6 oz.)

  • Dried pineapple (4 oz.)

  • Date bits (4 oz.)

  • Dried apricots (4 oz.)

  • Golden raisins, currants, or dried blueberries (4 oz.)

  • Dried cranberries (4 oz.)

  • Dried cherries (4 oz.)

Pour ¾ cup of Myers's dark rum (golden rum also fine) over the fruit bits, close the bag, toss them, and let them sit for a few hours to absorb the liquid. If they absorb the ¾ cup, add more in ¼-cup increments.

The Nuts. 1.5 pounds pecans, well chopped (again, the vegan cake batter has trouble holding large nut pieces together).

The Pans. I use four disposable 8” x 4” aluminum pans, or sometimes 3 of those plus 3 smaller pans (so that I can give them away as gifts). Loaf pans, ring molds, or other pans are fine, too. Coat aluminum pans with cooking oil spray. For others, spray and line with parchment paper. Don't use waxed paper.

The Batter. Whisk these together in a small bowl. Let sit 10 minutes while you prep the next ingredients.

  • 3/4 cup warm water

  • 3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed

  • 1 Tablespoon Ener-G powder

Sift together in a bowl or bag

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 Tablespoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2.5 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons cloves

  • 2 teaspoons allspice

  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon mace

Combine these in a small bowl. 

  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Start batter. Cream together 5 minutes or until fluffy

  • 1.5 cups sugar

  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine (room temperature)

Add flaxseed-Ener-G mixture and beat until combined.

Alternate dry and wet ingredients and use low speed to combine without over-beating.  

Put the soaked fruit in a very large bowl—discard (or otherwise dispose of…hint hint) any extra rum that the fruit did not absorb.

Spoon the batter on top of the fruit in the large bowl, then add the nuts. Use a wooden spoon or just plunge in with your hands. Mix it all up. You will have a mixture that is mostly fruits and nuts with just enough batter to hold it together.

Assembly and Baking. Place the finished batter in the prepared pans, pressing down very well to fill in the corners. You can fill the pans almost to the brim because the cake will rise only slightly.

Place the pans in the lower third of a 275 degree oven for about 1 hour and 50 minutes, until a knife or testing stick comes out clean, the top is golden brown, and the fruit on top starts to change to darker colors. Timing is extremely variable. Small cakes will cook quicker, and larger cakes take longer. Test each cake separately and take it out as soon as your tester comes out clean. To paraphrase the old Orson Welles wine commercial: "We will take no fruitcake from the oven before its time."

When the cakes are done, let them cool on racks in their pans. When they are cool, use a plastic knife to loosen any stuck spots as you gently remove the cakes from the pans.

Sprinkle the cakes all over with rum or juice to get the outsides good and moist. Enclose them in plastic bags or, if you use aluminum pans, put them back in their pans and enclose the pans in plastic bags or cover well with plastic wrap or foil.

We like to eat one loaf starting on Day 2, like a Beaujolais wine. Other loaves we let mature in the refrigerator or other cool space for at least a couple of weeks to blend the flavors. If they seem to be getting dry, sprinkle on more liquid, but don't make them wet and soggy. After 3 months or so they lose their tastiness, so enjoy within 3 months.  

For chocolate-covered fruitcake. Slice the fruitcake.  Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Spoon and spread the chocolate on one side of the slices, laying each on a sheet of waxed paper, then coat the other side and let harden in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Timing: About equal processed and unprocessed ingredients

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Ultimate Vegan Brownies

By Veganbaking.net

Link to Ultimate Vegan Brownies recipe

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GV comments: I have tested a lot of vegan brownie recipes in my day and this one comes closest to the traditional brownie taste and texture. It's chewy on the inside with a crisp coating on the outside. The chocolate flavor is just the right one. I was amazed at how this brownie "clicked" when I took my first bite. "Now that's a brownie." 

Timing: Because he recommends cooling the brownie completely before eating, this takes 2-3 hours, so you need to plan ahead.

Nutrition: These are not healthy.

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Rum-Raisin Shortbread Cookies

By Martha Stewart

Link to Rum-Raisin Shortbread Cookies here.

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GV comments: Three major flavors pop out one at a time in your mouth when you eat ones of these tiny gems: the buttery shortbread, the rum, and the currants. I use vegan butter, and the results are wonderful. 

Timing: The recipe calls for soaking the currants in the rum overnight and another hour for chilling the dough, so this requires pre-planning. 

Nutrition: These are not healthy cookies. Sorry. 

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Gracious Vegan Linzer Cookies

By the Gracious Vegan

Photo by  mt 23 on flickr

Based on a non-vegan approach from Fine Cooking, this recipe results in melt-in-your-mouth Linzer gems. The combination of almonds and hazelnuts (instead of almonds alone) is brilliant! And the absence of eggs makes these morsels more like shortbread than many Linzer cookies. That's the right direction to lean. These cookies make amazing gifts at holiday time, because most people don't want to take the time to make them. Everything tastes better when you wish you had the time to make it, then someone else does it for you.

Several hours before baking:  In a food processor, process the nuts and 1/2 cup flour until the nuts are finely chopped. Stop the machine occasionally and feel the nuts with your fingers—make sure they aren’t getting too close to nut butter. Some skin from the nuts is fine.

  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

Add the following to the processor and pulse to combine.

  • 1.5 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Cut the margarine into ½” cubes and add to the flour mixture; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Don’t over-process.

  • 7 oz. (14 Tbs.) chilled vegan butter

Transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the Ener-G "egg" over the flour mixture and toss gently to combine.

  • 1.5 teaspoons Ener-G plus 3 Tablespoons cold water, mixed together separately

The dough should hold together when pinched. (If it seems dry, sprinkle on a bit more water.) Gather the dough into two balls and knead briefly just to blend. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 2 to 3 hours.

To bake: Heat the oven to 325°F. Cover your cookie sheets with parchment. Generously flour a work surface. Roll one ball of the dough 3/16 inch thick. (Keep the rest in the refrigerator, and if the dough warms up to the point of being sticky while you’re working with it, return it to the refrigerator.)

Cut out as many 2-1/2-inch rounds as possible, rerolling the scraps to make more rounds. Arrange on the cookie sheets about 3/4 inch apart. Cut 1-1/4-inch holes (or use cute Linzer cutters) in the center of half the rounds. Reroll these center scraps to make more cookies.

Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.

To assemble, spread a heaping ½ teaspoon preserves on the underside of the whole cookie rounds.

1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Top with the doughnut-shaped cookies, bottom sides against the preserves. Just before serving, sift confectioners' sugar lightly over the cookies.

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Timing: Around 4 hours, most of which is chilling and baking time. 

Nutrition: Significant fat, sugar, and refined flour

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Almond Cookie Dough

By Fine Cooking

Link to Almond Cookie Dough recipe

Almond Cookie Dough.jpg

GV comments: I substitute vegan butter for the dairy butter, and this recipe works perfectly that way. I can't decide on my favorite variation. If I had to, I'd pick the Chocolate Thumbprints, but all three are gorgeous and delicious. This dough comes together very fast in the food processor (under 10 minutes). The longest part is the chilling time (2 hours or overnight). These are fabulous as part of holiday cookie gifts or as part of a holiday buffet. 

Timing: Making the dough, about 10 minutes; it needs to chill for at least 2 hours; then the cookies take 15-25 minutes to bake. 

Nutrition: Not very good for you--mostly vegan butter, white flour, and sugar

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Chocolate Infinity Pie

GV comments: This phenomenal recipe could become a staple in your repertoire. It comes out perfect every time--no trickiness here. And it's relatively healthy. There's a package of tofu in the filling, but none of my guests have yet guessed it. The divine crust and creamy chocolate texture of the filling win people over. Frankly, they don't care what's in it. 

Timing: Over 2 hours, but that's only because it needs to be chilled for 6 hours to firm up. The active preparation takes less than 30 minutes.

Nutrition: Healthier than most pies... The chocolate chips and maple syrup are the only processed foods.

Gluten-free

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Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies

By Alice Medrich via 101 Cookbooks

Link to Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies recipe.

GV comments: I once had a whole wheat version of this type of cookie, called a Whole Wheat Sable (the LA Times appears to have landed permission to reprint this recipe here). When I volunteered to lead a workshop on buckwheat, I wondered if there was possibly a buckwheat version of it, and, lo and behold, there is! By the same pastry chef, Alice Medrich. I adore the buckwheat version, because it has a kind of sandy texture in your mouth. It's not sweet like chocolate chip cookies--it's much more subtle. You will keep eating them to figure out why you like them so much. Vegan butter works very well with these.

Timing: Over 2 hours (because you have to chill the dough). Active time is less than 15 minutes to make the dough and shape it into a log, and a few minutes here and there to cut and bake the cookies.

Nutrition: Mostly fat, sugar, and refined flour

 

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Sanctuary Dip

By Isa Chandra [Moskowitz]

Link to Sanctuary Dip recipe

GV comments: In quest of good vegan dips, I found this one, and because it was from Isa Moskowitz, I tried it. Little did I know that this recipe would fulfill my quest for the holy grail -- an oil-free vegan ranch dressing that sacrifices none of the flavor or texture of mayonnaise-based dressing. Wouldn't you know it that she combined tofu and raw cashews? The first time I made this, it came out runny, and my guests and I had to put a hand under our carrot and celery sticks to keep the drips from hitting the carpet. It took that first evening to realize that I didn't have an annoyingly drippy dip on my hands: I had a perfect ranch salad dressing! Woo hoo! It's very important to blend this for at least a minute and a half (that's what it takes with my Kitchen Aid blender). It may take less with a Vitamix or more with other blenders. The cashews really need to get the dissolved state so that the dressing is perfectly smooth (except for the dried dill, which is added at the end). 

Timing: once the cashews have soaked for 2 hours, it only takes 10-15 minutes.

Nutrition: only a teaspoon of agave nectar keeps this from being 100% whole-food unprocessed; so much better than oil-based dressings

Gluten-free

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Festive Cranberry-Pear Tart in a Walnut Shortbread Crust

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GV comments: This tart is a favorite whenever I make it. It looks gorgeous, bursts with the flavors you crave in the autumn, and is quite forgiving -- the crust is pushed into place rather than rolled, the fruit is not uniformly sliced and arranged, and the streusel top is much easier than a top crust. I use vegan butter instead of dairy butter, and instead of an egg yolk and half-and-half I use non-dairy creamer or milk. It works perfectly -- easy to veganize. It takes some time, but it's worth it for a special meal. 

Time: About two hours, start to finish

Nutrition: About equal processed/unprocessed 

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Cuban Black Beans

By the Gracious Vegan

I don't remember where I found this recipe, but it's a real winner. With the overnight soak of the beans and the several hours of cooking, it takes some time, but the end result is worth it. The flavor is subtle and noticeably different from Mexican beans. You could use these beans as the centerpiece of a meal -- on top of rice or baked potatoes, perhaps. Surround that with a green salad and some roasted sweet potatoes or some corn, and you've got yourself a winning meal. Black beans are super-healthy, and the added vegetables in this dish add fiber and nutrients. 

Rinse beans and sort out any dirt or gravel.

  • 1 pound black beans

Cover with water by 2 or 3 inches, add the pepper, and let sit overnight

  • 10 cups water
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped fine (this is the first of two green bell peppers)

Next day:

Bring beans to a boil in their soaking water (if it's not one inch above the top of the beans, add more to get to that level), then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. DO NOT ADD SALT YET.

While the beans cook, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the following:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped fine

Transfer these sautéed vegetables to the pot of beans when they are tender. Then add

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Let simmer for one hour more.  Then add

  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons dry white wine

Let cook for one more hour.

Garnish any way you like: cilantro, tomatoes, etc.

Timing: Overnight soak then about 3 hours of cooking

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food (all whole-food unprocessed if you leave out the olive oil)

Gluten-free

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