Gracious Vegan Fruitcake

By the Gracious Vegan

Gracious Vegan Fruitcake square.jpg

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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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

Gracious Vegan Easy Apple Tart square.jpg

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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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.


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Cookie Dough Truffles Vegan Gluten-Free

By Vegan Richa

Link to Cookie Dough Truffles Vegan Gluten-Free recipe

GV comments: My sister made these on my birthday this year. All I can say is "WOW"! All the omnivores loved them, too. They're not super healthy, but they have much less fat than regular truffles. I recommend them highly!

Timing: Under an hour, including time for the melted chocolate to set in the fridge

Nutrition: About equal processed/unprocessed


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Raw Snickers Slab

By Livia's Kitchen

Link to Raw Snickers Slab recipe

GV comments: Wow, I never thought I'd taste a Snickers bar again, but this is very close and, in my opinion, BETTER than a real Snickers bar. This is more wholesome, even as it captures that caramel-nougat-peanut combination that screams "Snickers!" You'd never guess that the ingredients are mostly super-healthy: oats, maple syrup, dates, almonds. You'll have to brush off your metric-conversion skills, since this recipe is from the UK, but it's worth it.

Time: About 45 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food

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Northwest Blackberry Crisp

By the Gracious Vegan

Oregon and Washington are "blessed" with an invasive wild blackberry whose informal name is the Himalayan blackberry, although it evidently is native to Western Europe and was brought here in the late 19th century. The thorns are unbelievably large and sharp, but the berries bake up like regular blackberries...and the price is right! You can find them everywhere. I adapted my fruit crisp recipe especially for these berries -- this one is low in added fat and a definite winner.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, combine 

  • 1.5 cups blanched almond flour/meal
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Pour these over the mixture and stir them in with a spoon or your hand until you get uniform crumbs.

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (or grapeseed or walnut)
  • 1 Tablespoons agave nectar

In a separate large bowl, gently fold these together

  • 7-8 cups wild "Himalayan" blackberries (or regular blackberries), well rinsed and dried
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Put the berry mixture in a small ceramic or glass casserole dish (I use a rectangular one, but any shape is fine, or even a ceramic pie plate). Sprinkle over the top of the fruit

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Sprinkle the almond meal mixture over the brown sugar. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. (My oven runs cool, so I set mine at 360 degrees.) 

Timing: around 60 minutes

Nutrition: Mostly whole-food


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Fruit Crisp Theme and Variations

By the Gracious Vegan

Fruit crisp is successful in so many different ways: I couldn’t pin down just one favorite recipe for this one. I’ve presented a number of mix-and-match alternatives—choose one topping and one filling. Try them all!

Fruit Crisp Theme and Variations.jpg

Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Topping (choose one)

 Option 1: Almond Goodness

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour and sea salt.

  • 1.5 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In a small bowl, combine oil and agave. Stir wet ingredients into dry and set aside.

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

 Option 2: Traditional Strudel

Mix until crumbly

  • 1 cup flour (or ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour and ½ cup instant oats)
  • 2/3 cup evaporated cane sugar

Use a pastry cutter to cut in. Set aside at this point or after stirring in the optional add-in.

  • 5-6 Tablespoons margarine

Optional: stir in

  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts or chopped walnuts

 Filling (choose one)

 Option 1: Pear Cranberry

Place all these together in a large bowl; toss together until fruit is coated.

  • 4 ripe, medium pears (about 1.75 pounds), each peeled and each cut lengthwise into 16 thin slices
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Option 2: Keeping it Simple

Cut up fruit and put in a baking dish

  • 4 cups fruit (apples, blueberries, pears, peaches, raspberries, etc.)

Toss fruit with

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Spread brown sugar over the top of the fruit

  • 1/3 to ½ cup brown sugar

Option 3: Strawberry

Toss together

  • 3 pints strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
  • 1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Option 4: Cranberry Orange

Toss together

  • 3 cup cranberries (one 12-ounce bag)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • Finely grated rind of one orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoon orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier)
  • ½ teaspoon minced, dried orange peel (optional)

Place mixture in an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish or equivalent size.

Sprinkle topping over fruit. Bake for 45–60 minutes (for pear-cranberry version, cover for first 45 minutes), until fruit is soft and bubbling and topping is lightly browned.

Timing: 60-120 minutes

Nutrition: About equal processed/unprocessed


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Apple Raisin Cake

By The Gracious Vegan

The recipe for this lovely and very reliable apple cake is adapted from Gourmet magazine. My friend Jo found the recipe, and another friend, Patty, veganized it. It doesn’t need frosting, but you could dust it with powdered sugar,  top it with an apple or cinnamon glaze, or—my favorite—top it with a dollop of whipped coconut cream.  

Preheat oven to 350⁰. Use cooking spray to coat 12-cup bundt or tube pan. Wipe off excess with paper towel. Gently flour if your pan needs it. 

Create egg substitute in a small bowl by whisking together

  • 2 Tablespoons Ener-G powder
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Sift together in a medium bowl 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together separately in a large bowl

  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 generous teaspoon vanilla

Fold the flour mixture and the egg replacements into the wet ingredients until just combined.

Fold in apples and raisins and spoon into the pan. Even out the batter.

  • 3 Cortland or Empire apples, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • ½ cup raisins

Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean. Check after 55 minutes, but it may take up to 75 minutes. Cool in pan or rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Timing: Over 2 hours

Nutrition: About equal processed/unprocessed

Not gluten-free

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