Dessert

Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl.jpg

By the Gracious Vegan

I owe the base recipe to Forks over Knives, although I introduced the date paste to replace half of the maple syrup. The peanut butter swirl satisfies the craving for salty-sweet and, for me, makes the flavor deeper and more satisfying. You could go whole hog and serve these squares as a dessert with chocolate banana ice cream and my healthy, delicious chocolate sauce

Makes one 8-inch-square pan of brownies

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, extending paper over the edges. 

Wet ingredients. In a small bowl or in a measuring cup, fork-whisk together the following ingredients.

  • 2/3 cup date paste (or you could use another 1/3 cup of maple syrup in addition to what's called for below)

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup

  • 2 Tablespoons smooth almond butter

  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry ingredients. In a medium bowl sift together the following ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Peanut butter swirl. In a separate smaller bowl, fork-whisk the following ingredients together. 

  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I like smooth)

  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add the applesauce mixture into the flour-cocoa mixture and stir until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Drop the peanut butter mixture onto the brownie batter in about 8-9 dollops. Use a knife to swirl and feather it lightly into the top of the brownie batter. 

Bake for 30-33 minutes or until firm. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then lift the uncut brownies out of the pan with the edges of the parchment paper. Let the brownies cool another 5-10 minutes before eating, or let them cool completely. 

Timing: About 50 minutes, then cooling time.

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

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Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

By the Gracious Vegan

Choc Pudding Parfait 16x9.jpg

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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Jam Thumbprint Cookies

By the Gracious Vegan

Jam Thumbprint Cookies square.jpg

In my quest to devise sweet things with no sugar, butter, oil, or eggs, I found several recipes that involved tahini, one of my favorite ingredients. In sweet foods, tahini can taste a little bitter to some people, but I happen to love that edge. If your tastes run toward very sweet desserts, you may not like these, because the sweetness (from date sugar) is mellow. Note that the date sugar makes these dark—they almost look like a chocolate cookie. A winner!

Makes 20-24 cookies

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two sheet or cookie pans with silicone sheets or parchment paper. Whisk together the following ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • 3/4 cup date sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • Pinch salt

In a smaller bowl or in a food processor, combine the following ingredients until they are smoothly combined. 

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 3/8 cup water 

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the tahini mixture to the flour mixture and stir until smooth. If mixture is still crumbly, add water by the tablespoon as needed until smooth dough forms. 

Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the sesame seeds before placing them onto the cookie sheet. 

  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds

Slightly flatten the balls and press a thumbprint into the center of each cookie. They will not spread much, so they can be fairly close together. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes or until the sesame seeds just start to brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven and fill each one with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

  • 1/4 cup raspberry or other jam*

*To make a homemade berry filling, mash fresh, ripe berries (or berries that have been thawed) with maple syrup or agave nectar until desired consistency is reached.

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 45 minutes

Gluten-free 

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Wonder Bars 

By the Gracious Vegan

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When I was in Seattle recently, I bought a Flying Apron Peanut Butter Joy bar. It was incredibly delicious. I set out to create a slightly healthier version by replacing rice and maple syrups with date paste and replacing sugar-sweetened chocolate chips with alternatives. Based on the rave reviews of these bars, I think I’ve succeeded.

Makes 18 bars (3” x 1.5”)

Line a 9”x9” pan with parchment paper.

Mix the following ingredients in a medium-large bowl with a wooden spoon.

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats (the quick-cooking/instant kind, not old-fashioned, which result in a type of chewy texture I don’t like)

  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I prefer smooth) (heat it in the microwave to soften it if it’s hard to stir)

  • 3/4 cup date paste

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 1/4 cup shredded or flaked coconut (unsweetened)

  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds or other roasted seed

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Spread the mixture into the lined pan and spread it out into an even layer. 

Top the mixture with any/all of the following – press the toppings into the bars.

  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) flaked coconut

  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) cocoa nibs

  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) chopped nuts

  • (not whole-food unprocessed) Melt 2/3 cup chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon coconut oil together; spread over the top and sprinkle with flaked coconut or chopped nuts

Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or until set. 

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: 15 minutes to make (if date paste already made), 1 hour to chill

Gluten-free

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Gracious Vegan Carrot Cake 

By the Gracious Vegan

Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting square.jpg

This recipe is an adaptation of Robin Robertson’s recipe for carrot cake. I did the multiplication to have enough for two layers or a 13x9 cake, plus I futzed with the measurements and replaced some of the oil with applesauce. Carrot cake is a bit old-fashioned now, but the autumn-spice flavor and the complex texture are timeless and appealing.

Makes two 8” layers, one 13”x9” cake, or one Bundt cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. For a layer cake, line two 8” round pans with parchment or wax paper. Spray the sides lightly with spray-oil. For a sheet cake, spray an aluminum or glass 9x13” pan with spray-oil. For a Bundt cake, spray a Bundt pan with spray-oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. 

  • 3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (or a combination)

  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients. 

  • 1 + 1/3 cup sugar

  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk

  • 3/8 cup applesauce

  • 3/8 cup canola or other neutral oil

  • 3/8 cup maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Then stir in the carrots and add-ins until just combined.

  • 3 cups grated carrots

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins and/or 1/2 cup shredded coconut and/or 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-40 minutes for 8” rounds, 40-45 minutes for 13x9”, or about 60 minutes for a Bundt cake. The cake should be a definite shade darker than the raw batter, with the edges even darker, and a toothpick or cake tester should come out clean.

For 8” rounds, let the cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks to cool completely. For a Bundt cake, let the cake cool for about 5 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost with your favorite frosting or Vegan Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting.

For Bundt cakes, you can use a glaze (make it after the cake has cooled). Stir or whisk the following ingredients together until smooth.

  • 3/8 cup (6 Tablespoons) vegan butter, melted

  • 1.5 cups sifted powdered sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon nondairy milk

  • Pinch of salt

Add in one or more additional Tablespoons of nondairy milk until you reach your desired consistency. I like mine to be thick, and I pour it onto the Bundt cake slowly, so that some of the glaze drips downs the sides. I top it with

  • 1/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts

Timing: Depends on what size you make

Nutrition: Healthier than many cakes

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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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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 Almond Poppy Seed Cake

By the Gracious Vegan

Almond cake with White Chocolate filling square.jpg

This is a barely adapted recipe from Vegan Richa. The reason I am not simply linking to it is that her recipe is difficult to triple (I rounded some to the nearest familiar measure for ease) and I added extra nondairy milk, because every time I made her recipe it was too thick. Note that the cake will be darker if you use almond flour made from unblanched almond. I think it’s prettier to use blanched, but both ways work well. This cake has a phenomenal flavor as well as texture. It has a moist, delicate crumb.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9” round cake pan with parchment or wax paper, or use a tube pan. Spray the sides of the pan with spray oil.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, mix the flax and milk and let them sit for 5 minutes. 

  • 1 cup nondairy milk 

  • 3/8 cup (6 Tablespoons) flaxseed meal

After 5 minutes, add the following ingredients and mix well.

  • 1/2 cup granulated organic cane sugar

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)

  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract (if lemon flavor is preferred, you can use lemon extract or your desired amount of lemon zest)

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and break up any lumps with a spoon or whisk. 

  • 3 cups almond flour

  • 3/4 cup starch (recommended: 1/2 cup potato starch + 1/4 cup tapioca starch)*

  • 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick from the center comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan. Cool completely before icing. For a layer cake, slice the 9” round in half and fill with Vegan White Chocolate Cashew Buttercream, then top with a berry sauce and berries. Note that spreading frosting on the cut side of one of these layers is difficult, because the crumbs come off the cake and onto the frosting. It works best by piping the filling or turning over the bottom layer so that the bottom of the cake is in the middle.

* A note about starches. Too much tapioca starch (which is the same as tapioca flour) or cornstarch can make baked goods too dense. Too much potato starch (not the same as potato flour) can make baked goods too crumbly. This is why Vegan Richa suggests the blend she does. This cake’s texture is on the crumbly side, which is one reason I like it. You could go half potato starch and half tapioca or cornstarch.

Timing: 15 minutes to prepare it, 30 to bake, and 15 to cool

Nutrition: Mostly healthy, though it contains some sugar

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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Creamy Brown Rice Pudding, Sweetened with Dates (Instant Pot)

By the Gracious Vegan

Rice Pudding 16x9.jpg

Rice pudding with sugar and white rice is a snap. But I wanted to find out if it was possibly to have a truly appealing rice pudding with brown rice and without sugar or any other unhealthy sweeteners. The answer is “Yes!” Blending the dates until smooth is the trick here, as is blending the dates with soaked raw cashews, which add creaminess to the pudding. With creative toppings (also healthy), you can create a dessert that will be tempting to omnivores as well as plant-based eaters, although omnivores who are suspicious of vegan or healthy dishes may not like this one much.

Makes about 4.5 cups

Add the following ingredients into Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker). Lock the lid and set the vent to sealing position. Press the Manual button and adjust time to 25 minutes. Cooking will start.

  • 2.5 cups nondairy milk (use 3 cups if you’ll be fully chilling the pudding—it will thicken as it cools)

  • 3/4 cup brown rice (brown short grain or brown jasmine rice preferred)

  • Pinch of salt

Separately, put the following ingredients into the blender container and let them soak together while the rice cooks. 

  • 1 cup water

  • 3/4 cup pitted, halved dates

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

When the Instant Pot beeps, allow the pressure to release slowly for 10 minutes. 

While the pressure is releasing, blend the dates, cashews, water, vanilla, and cinnamon until they form a smooth paste.

After the 10 minutes is up, press the Cancel button and open the vent. After it depressurizes, open the lid and stir in the date-cashew mixture. The pudding will thicken as it cools. Serve warm or cold.

Optional toppings: 

Nutrition: 100% whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 45 minutes

Gluten-free

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Healthy Chocolate Fudge Sauce (no added sugar, vegan, gluten-free)

By the Gracious Vegan

Makes about 1.75 cups

Chocolate Sauce 16x9.jpg

If you’re eating healthy and just want some sweetness now and then, this fudge sauce is a life-saver. Dates and cashews give it sweetness and creaminess. Nondairy milk and cocoa powder do the rest. It goes with everything!

Let the first three ingredient soak together in the blender container for at least 20 minutes—better would be 30-45 minutes. (You can skip the soaking if you have a high-speed blender and your dates are soft, but I still like to soak, just to make sure everything will get dissolved.)

  • 1.5 cups nondairy milk

  • 2/3 cup pitted, halved dates

  • 1/3 cup raw cashew pieces

After the soaking time, add cocoa powder and blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over very low heat, stirring or whisking continuously (because the dates and cashews burn) for about 5 minutes, until thickened. You can thin it out by whisking in water if you need to at any point.

Serve warm or cold. 

Nutrition: 100% whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 45 minutes if you soak the mixture for 30-40 minutes

Gluten-free


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Pumpkin Ice Cream Sundaes

By the Gracious Vegan

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This super-healthy pumpkin ice cream (no sugar, no added fat) is a great alternative to pumpkin pie after the Thanksgiving meal. It’s easiest if you make it right before serving — then it’s the texture of soft-serve ice cream. If you freeze it, you’ll need to let it sit out for 30-60 minutes before serving to get it back to the right consistency (it ices up a bit).

Makes 3.5-4 cups of ice cream

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor (I have better luck with the food processor) and blend/process on high until a smooth and creamy ice cream forms. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides one or more times. 

  • 3 bananas (cut into ½” cubes and frozen well in advance)

  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree 

  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk

  • 1/4 cup date paste

  • 1.5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Create sundaes with one or more of the following

  • Vegan Whipped Cream

  • Chopped roasted nuts

  • Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, chopped dates)

  • Granola

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: if you already have date paste and frozen bananas, it take about 10 minutes

Gluten-free

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Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake

By the Gracious Vegan

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This miraculous concoction has no butter, oil, eggs, or sugar. The almond flour is the key for moisture and texture, and the dates kick in the sweetness. The result is a dense but not gooey cake—to me, that’s perfect.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease an 8" round cake pan lined with parchment paper.

Sift these ingredients into a medium/large bowl. 

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Add the flour and salt into the sifted ingredients, stir or whisk them together, and set aside. 

  • 1.5 cups almond flour (superfine or fine is best for the texture)

  • Pinch salt

Place the dates and liquids in a blender. Blend until a smooth paste forms.

  • 1.5 cups packed pitted dates

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk

Blend the following ingredients into the date paste for about 30 seconds so that the thickeners are activated.

  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until smooth. Spread the batter in the pan. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving so that it has time to set.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serve with fruit, date-sweetened Vegan Whipped Cream, Healthy Chocolate Fudge Sauce, toasted nuts, and/or chocolate banana ice cream.

Timing: About 50 minutes total, then cooling time

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed WFPBNO

Gluten-free

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Apple Crisp with Date and Oat Crisp Topping

By the Gracious Vegan

Apple Crisp WFPBNO square.jpg

This very healthy version of apple crisp doesn’t sacrifice taste or satisfaction. You won’t believe there’s no butter or sugar. You have to try it to believe it. 

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Peel and core apples. Thinly slice them into a large bowl.

  • 3 pounds Granny Smith apples

Sprinkle the flour onto the apples and toss or fold to coat the slices with flour.

  • 2 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry or other flour

Add the following ingredients into the apples and stir until all apples are coated and the date paste is well distributed. 

  • 1 cup date paste (here’s my recipe for Date Paste

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 large lemon)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish or a glass baking pan. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. While the apples are baking, make the topping.

Topping. Chop the dates in a food processor until they are in small bits.

  • 3/4 cup dates, pitted

Add remaining ingredients and pulse to just combine them. 

  • 1/2 cup oat, whole wheat pastry, or other flour

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

  • 1/4 cup cashew or almond butter

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (instant or old-fashioned) 

  • 1/4 cup flaked or shredded coconut

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

The mixture should hold together enough to make small clumps. If it's too dry, add water, just a tablespoon at a time, to reach a clumping consistency. 

When the apples have baked 35 minutes, remove from oven, spread the topping on the apples, return to oven, and bake 20 minutes, uncovered, or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden.

Serve with Vegan Cashew Cream if desired.

Timing: About 70 minutes

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if gluten-free flour is used

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Date Paste

Date Paste.jpg

Dates are the best whole-food sweeteners for using in a wide range of recipes (as opposed to, say, bananas, which are a great sweetener for some dishes but not as versatile as dates). You can buy date sugar (very tiny dry chunks of dates), but I prefer date paste, which is just dates and water blended into an ultra-smooth paste. If a recipe calls for sugar, honey, or agave, I generally use double or just less than double the amount of date paste. Date paste doesn’t always work as a substitute—you need to test the recipe before, say, using it for a dinner party recipe.

Makes: Amount of date paste made is about the same as the measure of dates you start with

Start with a 3:1.25 dates-to-water ratio (e.g., 3 cups pitted dates to 1.25 cups water). Make sure all pits are removed. Cutting each in half beforehand will help. Do not use commercial chopped dates—the oat flour is not good for date paste.

Use a food processor to make the date paste. (I don’t have great luck with a blender, even a high-speed one, but maybe it will work for you.) You may have to stop and scrape down the sides one or more times. Once it’s smooth, you’re done. It can be frozen and will keep for months in the freezer. 

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: Under 10 minutes

Gluten-free

 

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Vegan Whipped Cream

By the Gracious Vegan

Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake  with Vegan Whipped Cream

Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vegan Whipped Cream

This cashew-based whipped cream has a unique flavor. It’s not the same as dairy whipped cream. Many omnivores like it better. By using date paste, you can make this a whole-food recipe, with no processed ingredients and no added fats or sugar.

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 I recommend soaking the cashews, since you won’t be using a lot of water.) 

  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews

Drain and rinse the cashews and put them in a blender with the following ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup water (or more, if you use date paste)

  • 5 Tablespoons date paste, or 2 Tablespoons maple syrup, or 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (you can omit this; it makes the cream a bit stiffer, similar to the effect of gelatin)

  • A pinch of salt

Blend on high for up to several minutes, until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a sealed container and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to thicken.

The whipped cream will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. It can also be frozen. You may have to whisk or blend it after letting it thaw.

See a brief explanation of xanthan gum.

Timing: About 25 minutes if you use the boiling-water soaking method

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed (if you use date paste); WFPBNO

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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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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