Significant fat/sugar/processed

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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Vegan White Chocolate Cashew Buttercream

By the Gracious Vegan

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After I included vegan white chocolate chunks in a contest-winning cookie recipe last Christmas, I decided I wanted that flavor in a cake frosting. Many experiments later, I have arrived at this solution. This frosting also serves well as a filling, as I show in this photo with the Gracious Vegan Almond Poppy Seed Cake.

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

When they are done soaking, rinse and drain them. Then put them in the bottom of a blender and add just enough water to barely cover them. Blend on high under you have very smooth cashew cream. Set aside. 

Separately cream butter with a mixer on medium speed.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter at room temperature

Very carefully melt the white chocolate. Use a double-broiler or a microwave (for the microwave, start with 45 seconds, stir, then 30 seconds, stir, then 10-second increments). Stop heating the chocolate when there are still a few small lumps of unmelted chocolate in the bowl and stir them smooth. Do not let it cool much before adding to the butter, or else there will be chunky pieces of chocolate in the frosting. Add to the creamed vegan butter and whip on medium until creamy.

  • 3.5 ounces vegan white chocolate chips or roughly chopped bar chocolate

Add powdered sugar, and cream on medium until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. 

  • 1.25 cups powdered sugar

Stir in the following ingredients and beat on high for about 1 to 3 minutes until the buttercream frosting is smooth and fluffy. 

  • Cashew cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • A pinch of salt

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Not healthy, but vegan/plant-based

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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Gracious Vegan Pie Crust (Savory and Sweet)

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By the Gracious Vegan

I owe the gist of this recipe to Carole Walters. I veganized it, played with the proportions, and adapted it for savory pies (like my Vegetable Pot Pie). This dough is easy to make, easy to handle, and is reliably flaky. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry cutter or a couple of table knives to cut the butter and shortening into the flour. 

Makes 2 crusts

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

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour (I use 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup white)

  • 1 teaspoon sugar for savory pie OR 1 Tablespoon for sweet pie

  • 1 teaspoon salt for savory pie OR 1/2 teaspoon for sweet pie

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 or frozen)

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

Add about 4 Tablespoons of water and pulse lightly. Then add a couple Tablespoons more and pulse lightly. Then add 1-2 Tablespoons as necessary until, when pressed against the bowl, the dough holds together.

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

Scoop the dough against the side of the processor bowl, forming 2 rough balls. Bring each of them out onto a sheet of wax paper. Shape each into a dough and flatten it into a 4- to 5-inch disk.

Wrap each disk in the wax paper or plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes or longer before rolling out. If too hard to roll out, let it sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

Storage: The dough will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer. To thaw, you can either move it to the refrigerator for 12 hours or more, or let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours.

Timing: About 45 minutes, including chilling time

Nutrition: Crusts have a lot of processed fat, so they are not particularly healthy

 

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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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Gracious Vegan Caramel Sauce

Date-based caramel sauces taste wonderful, especially in raw sweets and as dips (for example, my Caramel Walnut Dip for Fruit Slices). Unfortunately, date-based caramel sauces don't always work well in cooked baked goods like my Oatmeal Caramel Chocolate Bars. So I've had to look around for a solution. I've yet to find a vegan caramel sauce in a jar that I can buy, either in a store or online. I've tried many recipes and finally triangulated several to come up with my own. There are many caramel sauce recipes that use a "dry" technique (heating the sugar without any liquids), but those work best with refined sugar, the kind filtered through animal bone char, which I won't use. So this solution isn't as fancy as caramel sauces using that technique, but it's delicious nonetheless.

Makes about a cup

In a saucepan, combine these ingredients.

  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup organic cane (white) sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened nondairy milk

Cook over medium heat until sugars dissolve, then allow the mixture to continue to a boil. Let it boil about a minute, but no more. The whole cooking process will likely take somewhere from 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the vegan butter. Pour into a heat safe container and use immediately or let it cool. Store in refrigerator, where it will last about a week.

  • 2 Tablespoons vegan butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Timing: About 10 minutes

Nutrition: Not healthy

Gluten-free

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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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Oatmeal Caramel Chocolate Bars

By the Gracious Vegan

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These decadent bars won the very competitive family cookie contest last year. I dipped them in chocolate for the contest, but I don't recommend that unless you need a huge win. They are plenty rich without an extra coat of chocolate. The caramel sauce makes the difference between these cookies and other oatmeal chocolate bars. It adds a depth of cooked-sugar goodness that you can't get any other way.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray a 9" x 13" inch pan. Lining the bottom with parchment is optional if you need an absolutely smooth removal of bars.

Combine the following. The mixture will be very crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup (1.5 sticks) melted vegan butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.  Let the crust cool slightly (about 10 minutes) then sprinkle the chocolate chips and chopped nuts over the crust. Mix them together before sprinkling over the crust. 

  • 1.5 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mix the following together and then drizzle over the chocolate chips.

Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. You will need to break it into small pieces to cover.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes (until golden). Let the bars cool before cutting.

Timing: Between 45 and 60 minutes plus cooling time. This doesn't count what it might take to make vegan caramel sauce.

Nutrition: Significant fat and other processed ingredients

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Gracious Vegan Easy Apple Tart

By the Gracious Vegan

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I kept adapting this recipe from an old (non-vegan) original. Finally it is right. There are many ways to make apple pies and tarts, but this one remains a favorite because it's so easy. Everything is mixed with a food processor. You don't have to roll out the crust--you just press it into the spring form pan with your fingers. It's easy to tell when it's done by the color of the crust. The taste of the vegan cream cheese (not my favorite food) is masked by what you mix in with it. And, best of all, everyone likes it, vegans and non-vegans alike.

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Crust: Cream together in food processor:

  • ½ cup vegan butter (room temperature)

  • ¼ cup organic cane sugar

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Add and process until just smooth:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Press this dough with your fingers (floured, if they stick) into the bottom and up the side (2”) of an 8” or 8.5” spring form pan. Make sure to repair cracks so that there are no holes.

Filling: Process in the food processor until smooth:

  • One 8-ounce package vegan cream cheese

  • ¼ cup organic cane sugar

Add and process until smooth:

  • 1/3 cup almond meal

  • ½ Tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Pour this mixture into the pastry-lined pan.

Apple Topping: Combine these in a medium bowl:

  • ¼ cup organic cane sugar

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Add apples and toss with the sugar mixture (or stir with a spatula)

  • About 3 cups peeled, thinly sliced or chopped apples (2 large or 3 small-medium apples) (I like Golden Delicious, but Braeburn and Granny Smith work well too; avoid McIntosh)

If you chopped the apples, spoon them evenly over the cream layer. If you sliced them, arrange them in a circular pattern.

Almonds: Sprinkle almonds on top:

  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then reduce to 400° and continue baking about 25 minutes more, until the cream cheese layer doesn’t jiggle. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooking rack.

After at least 30 minutes of cooling, remove the rim and bottom of the pan. For an extra-special touch, after the tart has cooled, warm up a few tablespoons apple jelly and gently brush them over the top, avoiding the almonds.

Timing: About 2 hours, including cooling time

Nutrition: Significant fat and other processed ingredients

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