Let me tell you something, it is HOT in Tel Aviv right now. Not that I ever had any doubts that summers in Israel were anything less than scorching, but after a year in the climate-controlled comfort of suburban New Jersey, weeks of 90+ degree weather (Fahrenheit, or about 32C for the rest of the world) with more than 70% humidity can shock the system. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the summer – days spent on the beach, cool drinks, warm nights, and everything that comes along with it –but it also means trying to find ways to beat the heat without 24/7 air conditioning. This mostly involves well-placed fans, icy cold drinks, and meals that taste good cold. Enter vichyssoise.Continue Reading…
As my penultimate day in Israel transitioned into my ultimate Israeli night, I realized that despite wanting to enjoy the many delicious vegan meals on offer in Tel Aviv (before setting off on my European adventure), I had a lot of food left in my kitchen that needed to be used up. I also had the good fortune to already be spending my time with friends who needed feeding. After a quick stop at the corner store for some supplemental fruits and veggies, I devised a plan to use up the abundance of herbed polenta chilling in my fridge, as well as the garlic and lentils that had been generously given to me by a friend several months ago (I preferred to save personal food items such as these for when I had guests, so that I didn’t incur the wrath of my ever temperamental roommates should I share anything hailing from the communal pantry). Earlier that morning, I had begun my polenta experiments, attempting to both pan-fry and bake the starchy squares. Baking was the clear winner, from the ease of execution , to the crispy exterior. The pan-fry used too much oil, inducing a veritable volcano of grease, while failing to achieve a crisp and golden outer crust. That morning, I served the polenta with a sauce of succulent caramelized onions and creamy techina (because I didn’t have quite enough onions to serve them alone). This style of polenta preparation had the potential to be not just an upscale snack or brunch, but also a deceptively fancy dinner.
Oh, matzoh balls; the quintessential Passover delicacy. For the past few years, I’ve been on a quest to create perfect vegan matzoh balls. The first recipe I tried used tofu—which I prefer not to use being Ashkenazi—to replace the egg. The matzoh balls definitely held up well, but they were extremely dense. I would have liked a fluffier vegan matzoh ball, but then again, I was just excited to be able to eat matzoh balls at all.
My next attempt at vegan matzoh balls saw the tofu replaced with flaxseed, but I found the density to be about the same. So the year after, I eschewed matzoh balls altogether and made a potato leek soup instead. I had almost given up hope that I would one day manage a matzoh ball that was vegan, kitniyot-free, and fluffy.
Enter Flax Foam
A few innovative individuals took it upon themselves to experiment with different ways of using flaxseed as an egg replacer. Rather than just grinding the flax and mixing it with water, they boiled the flax to extract a thick gel, which looked a lot like egg whites once it had been strained.
They then whipped the flax “whites,” and either folded them into recipes to add airiness, such as mousse, or (in whatever consider a stroke of genius) created vegan meringues. I followed these developments through this thread, and thought, hey maybe this would work for matzoh balls.
So I got to work, boiling and straining the flax, freezing the goop, and whipping it into a light and fluffy mass. I then used the whipped flax in a traditional matzoh ball recipe I found in one of the many Pesach recipe books my mom has floating around.
The results were perfect. I rejoiced in the eating of a light and fluffy matzoh ball that didn’t disintegrate in broth (and tasted great to boot). I served my matzoh balls in an herb-scented mushroom broth, but really they can go in any kind of broth you like.
Fluffy Vegan Matzoh Balls
- 1/4 c flax goop
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp of water
- 1/8 tsp salt (I prefer Indian black salt to add just a touch of egginess
- 1/4 c matzoh meal
Combine the ground flax seed with the whipped flax "whites". Gradually add the matzoh meal, stirring gently until well combined. Let rest for 10-20 minutes.
In a large pot, heat some vegetable broth or salted water until boiling. Wet hands with cold water, and form the matzoh mixture into small balls. Gently drop each ball into the boiling liquid, and then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. I wouldn't recommend cooking the matzoh balls in the soup you plan to serve them in because they will soak up a lot of liquid.
Remove the matzoh balls from the cooking liquid and serve in your broth of choice.
Chag Pesach sameach (חג פסח שמח)!
For the longest time, my grandfather’s mushroom paté, or as we usually call it, “mushroom stuff” was pretty much the only way I’d swallow a mushroom. Mushroom stuff as my grandfather made it was a combination of sautéed mushrooms and onions, mayonnaise, and a hard-boiled egg. While this is an acceptable vegetarian take on chopped liver, converting even liver fans like my dad’s side of the family, it definitely wasn’t vegan.
The Eternal Egg Question
Replacing egg and mayonnaise on Pesach is more challenging than any other time of the year. First, for the egg, I decided to use soaked cashews, to give the paté the same kind of body that the egg brings.
To replace the mayonnaise, I went for the flavors of mayo, namely, fat in the form of olive oil, and some tang, in the form of red wine vinegar. For a little extra “eggy” punch, I like to season the paté with Indian black salt (kala namak), which tastes exactly how I remember sunny-side-up eggs…because I also used to douse my egg yolks in salt.
The Taste Test
The result tastes almost exactly how I remember Grandpa’s paté tasting. It’s good enough, that some years it’s the only mushroom stuff we decided to serve. My version is punctuated by the sweet richness of the fried mushrooms and onions, mixed with a little tang from the vinegar, all married together in a smooth and creamy dip. It’s perfect for spreading onto matzah, whether it’s as an appetizer, at your seder, or a part of your mid-Pesach lunch.
Grandpa Maurice was far from vegan, but he always appreciated good food. I like to imagine he would be proud of my interpretation. He died a little bit before I really started cooking for myself, so I never really got to share my culinary creations with him. Even so, I love that I can still enjoy the food he made for us, even if it is adapted to fit my lifestyle.
A creamy spread punctuated by the sweet richness of the fried mushrooms and onions, mixed with a little tang from the vinegar, all married together in a smooth and creamy dip. It's perfect for spreading onto matzah, whether it's as an appetizer, at your seder, or a part of your mid-Pesach lunch. Preheat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and sweat slowly for about 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have cooked down, and the mixture is golden brown and fragrant. The volume of vegetables in the pan should be considerably reduced from when you started. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Put the mushroom and onion mixture into a food processor, then drain the cashews, and add them as well. Begin to chop the mixture in the processor, and stream in the oil and vinegar while the machine is running. Add the salt and pepper, and pulse again to combine. Taste for seasoning. The mixture should be chopped very, very finely, and should be fairly smooth (but not entirely pureed). Refrigerate until ready to serve. I'm giving quantities for a fairly small amount of paté, but this recipe is very easily increased. It also does not need to be super precise, so feel free to play with the seasonings according to your tastes.
Mushroom and Onion Paté
A creamy spread punctuated by the sweet richness of the fried mushrooms and onions, mixed with a little tang from the vinegar, all married together in a smooth and creamy dip. It's perfect for spreading onto matzah, whether it's as an appetizer, at your seder, or a part of your mid-Pesach lunch.
Preheat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and sweat slowly for about 5-7 minutes until translucent.
Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have cooked down, and the mixture is golden brown and fragrant. The volume of vegetables in the pan should be considerably reduced from when you started.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
Put the mushroom and onion mixture into a food processor, then drain the cashews, and add them as well.
Begin to chop the mixture in the processor, and stream in the oil and vinegar while the machine is running.
Add the salt and pepper, and pulse again to combine. Taste for seasoning.
The mixture should be chopped very, very finely, and should be fairly smooth (but not entirely pureed). Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I'm giving quantities for a fairly small amount of paté, but this recipe is very easily increased. It also does not need to be super precise, so feel free to play with the seasonings according to your tastes.
You can find more holiday inspiration in my Big Vegan Passover Post
As Passover creeps ever closer, my usual worries begin to take hold. What will I eat, where will I eat it, what do I do about cleaning my kitchen, etc, etc. Pesach was once one of my favorite holidays, vegan Passover is the bane of my existence. I used to actively look forward to cleaning the kitchen with my parents, despite being far from an organized kid. More exciting still was exploring the mysteries hidden in the attic when my dad allowed me to come up with him to bring down the Passover dishes.
Even now, I’m hit with a nostalgic whiff of excitement whenever I open the pink plastic box containing the dairy dishes, as I remember how special it felt to use something that we only saw for one week a year. Even better than the attic and the dishes though, was waking up the morning of the first night to find the kitchen completely covered. The counters were covered in plastic, the stove and sink in foil, while the table had a pink tablecloth. To my young eyes, it was like entering into another world; the alternate universe of Pesach land, though I never actually gave it that name.
As for the food, I loved all of the homemade, traditional Pesach food we would eat throughout the week. I also loved a simple piece of matzoh spread with real butter (not margarine…Pesach margarine is actually quite gross) or cream cheese. After the kitchen was cleaned and covered, I would spend the rest of the day helping my mom prepare food for the seder that night.
We would fry up pounds of mushrooms and onions, to be used in everything from “mushroom stuff” (mock liver) to farfal, stuffing made from crumbled matzah. My mom would make chicken soup from scratch, and then shortly before the seder, add big, fluffy matzoh balls. It’s funny to recount this now, but one of my favorite dishes to help make was the brisket. It’s not that I was ever an ardent meat lover (though mom’s brisket was one of my favorites), but her recipe called for browning the meat in brandy before going in the oven, and really, what child wouldn’t like lighting a pan on fire.
Pesach was also the very last time I ever ate meat. When I was 14, Take Your Child to Work Day happened to fall in the middle of Pesach, and so I went to work with my mom in order to get off from school for a day. While I had long ago made the decision to go vegetarian, back then, I would ever so occasionally eat a small amount of animal. By this time, those occasions were very infrequent, but being 14 and rather unprepared for a Passover lunch, I was hungry. After (possible) fierce deliberation, I broke down and ate some of my mom’s chicken salad on matzoh.
I’ve learned a lot since then, especially after giving up eggs and dairy, since much of traditional Pesach cuisine is egg-based. I’ve been flexing my creativity and finding ways to veganize the traditional foods of my childhood within the confines of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Passover customs, which is to say, without beans or rice.
I am the first to admit that it isn’t easy, but for those of you looking to do the same, don’t lose hope! I’ve spent the last few years compiling tips and recipes that are extremely tasty, can be featured at a seder, and are kosher for Passover to strict Ashkenazi standards. In the next few weeks leading up to Pesach, I’ll be posting some recipes, but in the meantime, here is a list of what I usually make:
- Herbed Brazil Nut Cheese (from Vegetarian Times) – I prefer to use almonds instead of brazil nuts
- Fluffy Vegan Matzoh balls (made with flax foam)
- Grandpa Maurice’s Mushroom Paté
- Raw Strawberry Cheesecake (from The Post Punk Kitchen) — last year I made this with blood oranges
- Mushroom gravy
- Egg-free farfal
Chol HaMoed (The Rest of the Holiday)
- Matzoh lasagna or raw zucchini lasagna
- Potato Gnocchi
- Quinoa with Vegetables
- Kale Chips
This year is going to be an interesting Pesach, considering it’s my first in Israel (and without my family). While adapting to cooking here has been incredibly easy, I’m used to relying on my mom’s food processor for Pesach).
Additionally, I may be going on a week-long Pesach program in Tzfat, where we will be doing our own cooking apparently (yay!), but I have no idea what kinds of equipment and ingredients will be available to me. No matter, every year, I remind myself that now is a good time to really bump up on my whole foods and veggies. Maybe this year will be the year I actually listen.
As winter continues to bring frigid weather to the Northeast, I wanted to share one more squash recipe to add to your arsenal before pumpkin season is officially in hibernation. I’m a huge fan of pierogi in general, for any meal of the day, but these make an especially nice fall or winter brunch. I stuff the pierogi with a sweet and savory combination of roasted butternut squash with caramelized onions, enhanced with some rosemary and thyme, as well as some ground hazelnuts which adds just a little something else to the otherwise creamy texture, and nicely complements both the herbs and the squash.
This recipe was originally created for Chopped/Vegan: Brunch, an online cooking competition that was held through The Post Punk Kitchen. While it certainly isn’t the same as competing in a live competition, I really enjoyed the challenge of thinking outside the box and creating something totally new. The mandatory ingredients to use were butternut squash, rosemary, apricot preserves, and popcorn. I used both the squash and rosemary in the pierogi filling, then tossed them in a rosemary scented beurre blanc, drizzled with an apricot balsamic reduction and then crumbled some apricot scented hazelnut popcorn brittle, for a hearty crunch and a lot of fun. I’m including the popcorn brittle recipe, but honestly, if it weren’t for the competition, I would have left it out. These would also be quite tasty paired with some sauteed greens, or tossed in a rosemary olive oil instead of the beurre blanc (in the end, it’s all fat).
Sadly, I didn’t even make an honorable mention, but I’m convinced it’s because my dish wasn’t tasted. No matter, it was gobbled up by my family and coworkers just the same.
I’m also adjusting the recipe here just a little bit by incorporating some mashed potato in the filling. It will help smooth things out texturally, and will cut the sweetness of the squash just a little bit, so it’s more sweet and savory, rather than overwhelmingly sweet. This is also why I’ve cut the cinnamon from the original.
- 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- Dried thyme
- Dried rosemary
- Olive oil
- White pepper
- 1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
- 3/4 c ground, toasted hazelnuts
- 1 large onion, finely diced
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a large baking sheet, and spread the squash cubes evenly. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and then drizzle with an extra tablespoon or so of olive oil. Place in the oven and roast 30-40 minutes, until tender and slightly caramelized. In the meantime, start the onions. Preheat a heavy bottomed frying pan (cast iron skillets are wonderful here) with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and fry gently until golden. While the onions are cooking, place the diced potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, and let cook until the potatoes are tender, 10-20 minutes (depending on how finely diced they are). Remove from heat and drain very well. When the squash is done, place in a bowl with the potatoes and onions, and mashed very well. Season with more salt and pepper, and stir in the ground hazelnuts.
- 5 cups popcorn, popped and salted, and crushed
- 1 c hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
- 1 c white sugar
- 1/4 c maple syrup
- 1/4 c water
- 3 tbs apricot preserves
- 1 tbs earth balance
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
Dissolve sugar in water and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Boil until the temperature reached 270F. Add preserves and earth balance, then boil to 290F. Stir in the salt, vanilla and baking soda, then quickly stir in the popcorn and hazelnuts. Spread on a greased cookie sheet and cool.
Pierogi dough (adapted from Vegan Brunch)
- 3 c all-purpose flour
- 1c warm water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp salt
Pour the oil and water into a large bowl. Add 2 c of flour and the salt, stirring with a fork until the dough starts to come together (then you can switch to your hands). Sprinkle your workspace with flour, and turn the dough out of the bowl and begin to knead. Add the last cup of flour, a little bit at a time, slowly kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. It’s ok if you don’t use the whole cup, or if you need a little more to make the dough not sticky. Before you roll out the dough, start the balsamic reduction.
Sprinkle your workspace with more flour, and roll half the dough to a thickness of about 1/16 of an inch (so really thin, but not see through). Using a circle cutter (or glass) that’s about 3 inches wide, cut circles from the dough, and place on a lightly floured plate while you cut circles from the rest of the dough.
Fill each circle with a teaspoon or so of the filling. Dip your finger in a little bit of water, and use it to wet the edge of the circle. Fold the dough over the filling, creating a little half moon, and then press the excess air our, and seal the edges with your fingers. Make sure the seal is nice and tight so the filling doesn’t escape into the cooking water.
After the beurre blanc and the balsamic reduction have been started, fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil. Gently add the pierogi and cook until they float to the top. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.
Balsamic Apricot Reduction
- 2 tbsp apricot preserves
- 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
Place apricot preserves and the vinegar in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let simmer until very thick and syrupy, about 7-10 minutes.
Rosemary Infused Beurre Blanc
- 1/2 shallot
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary
- 1/4 c white wine
- 1/4 c veggie broth
- 3-4 tbs coconut cream
- Almost a stick of earth balance
Then lightly sauté the finely diced shallot and fresh rosemary, just until fragrant. Add the broth and wine and reduce until there are only about 2 tablespoons of liquid left. Add a tbs or two of coconut cream. Turn off heat. Finish preparing pierogi. To finish the beurre blanc, stir in the earth balance one tablespoon at a time, until a thick emulsified sauce forms. Balance the taste with some extra coconut cream. Serve the sauce over the finished pierogi and add a little touch of the balsamic reduction and some crumbled popcorn brittle. Devour. Devour some more.
As my newsfeed once again fills with reports of another blizzard hitting NY, I can’t help but think about my favorite snow day activities, namely cooking and baking. Of course one would think I do quite a bit of that already, but back when I was in the city, I more often than not was either eating food from work, or got some sort of take out (also I had a microwave and ate a lot of canned beans…). While even then my budget was fairly tight, I did have some leeway and could better afford to not cook all the time. Here, my budget is next to non-existent (I’m on a special program where it’s not impossible to earn money, but it’s not exactly easy), so I do what I can to pinch pennies, which involves cooking almost every day. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, produce, dried beans, and grains are some of the only things that can really be considered cheap here, so I do what I can to eat as much of those as possible. While veganism is definitely a growing trend (found this article on Facebook today), and vegan specialty items are available (they’re also one of the things I miss the most about NY), they’re completely out of my budget. However, that leaves me to really experiment and master new ways of cooking veggies and beans. My newest project has been, “how many different things can I do with lentils” and thus, Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash was born.
Despite burning about half of the lentils when I initially cooked them (my beans/grain cooking method is to put it on the stove and forget about it until it’s done…which only works if there’s more than enough water in the pot to begin with…and I can’t forget about them for too long), I managed to salvage most of them, and cooked away the remnants of the charred flavor through a combination of luck and soy sauce. The umami flavors in the soy sauce make this pie really succulent, and the combination of the meaty lentils with all of the hearty veggies make this a perfect dish to eat in the middle of a storm (or on a pleasantly cool February evening in the Middle East as I did). I topped the pie with super creamy and delicious mashed sweet potatoes, which were scented with just a hint of the tropics from the unrefined coconut oil I mixed in. It was a perfectly comforting sweet and savory bite.
Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
- 1- 1 1/2 c cooked lentils (I used a combination of brown, black and red. Use whatever combination you like, though I would advise against using all red lentils as they turn to much when cooked)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 large leek, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots. finely chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 c mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 c chopped spinach (or other leafy greens)
- 1/4 c tamari or soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp fresh rosemary, lightly chopped
- white pepper
- black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 extra large sweet potato, or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2-3 tbsp oil of your choice (I used a combination of olive and coconut oil)
- 2 tbsp of cooking water or non dairy milk
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leek and garlic and sauté about 5 to 7 minutes until fragrant and softened. Add the carrots and celery and sauté a few minutes more before adding the lentils and the mushroom. Add the soy sauce, rosemary, white pepper, black pepper, and paprika, and let simmer, stirring frequently until all the veggies are soft and the mushrooms are nice and browned.
While the filling is cooking, preheat the oven to 375F. Fill a medium sized pot with cold water, and add the diced sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil of medium-high heat, and cook until tender, about 15- 20 minutes.
When the filling is almost cooked, stir in the spinach and let wilt over low heat for several minutes, while you drain and mash the sweet potatoes, with the oil, salt, and pepper. I generally find the sweet potatoes don’t need additional moisture when they’ve been boiled, but feel free to add the extra liquid if you feel it is necessary. Remove the filling from the heat and pour in a small casserole pan. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes on top, and baked until the top is slightly browned (it’s also possible to just broil the top since everything is completely cooked, but if you do so, watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn). Let cool about 5 minutes and serve.
B’teavon and stay warm!
I’ve previously called this soup “Clean Out the Fridge Vegetable Soup” which is a little more accurate to the situation at hand when I made this. The process of choosing what to put in this soup mostly consisted of grabbing all the veggies from the fridge that needed to be cooked immediately and layering them into a deliciously tasty (and warming soup). I also bulked it up with some barley (you can use rice if you’re gluten free) and chickpeas. This is a soup with all the comfort of a winter meal that is healthy to boot. The best part is, it really can be made with whatever you have on hand. Feel free to substitute potatoes for the sweet potato, or squash if that’s what you have. Add spinach instead of the cabbage, and maybe some bell pepper instead of the tomato. Really, it’s up to you!
Recently, I haven’t been using premade broth in my soups, rather, I’ve just been adding water and seasoning well with herbs, spices and salt. This way, the flavors of the vegetables you use really come through, and you have even more control over the amount of sodium in your food.
Any Veggie Minestrone
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 c carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
- 4 small to medium tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 stalk of celery, quartered (for easy removal. Chop if you actually like celery)
- 1/2 of a cabbage, shredded
- 3/4 c chickpeas, soaked and drained
- 3/4 c barley
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrot and the sweet potato and sauté another 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sautee until slightly reduced, then add the tomatoes and do the same. Season each layer with a little salt as you go. Add the rest of the ingredients and the cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour, or until the chickpeas are tender and the barley is cooked. Adjust seasonings and serve.
I’ve gotten a lot of requests for a food blog in the last few years, and I figured the time was ripe to give in to peer pressure.
This is the “Irish Car Bomb” cupcake, named after the drink (I apologize if you find that drink offensive, but I didn’t make it up). I invented this recipe when I decided to enter the vegan bake-off last February. I think I applied too late (too late for another cupcake anyway), so I didn’t get to compete with it, but I did make it for fun several weeks later as a treat for my coworkers. I then improved on the recipe for my friends 21st birthday a few weeks after that.
This cake is all vegan, all the time. In fact, I considered calling this blog “The Olive Branch” because I feel like a plant based symbol of peace of was an appropriate description my cuisine. Alas, tea, booze and cupcakes have managed to take over, and this is the one that started it all.
This cupcake is a chocolate stout cake, with a Jameson chocolate truffle baked into the center, topped with a homemade “Bailey’s” (or I guess I could just say dairy free Irish creme) buttercream, and drizzled with a Jameson spiked dulce de leche. I know there’s no tea in these, but in order to get to tea time, I had to go through booze time.
I did adapt the cupcakes into a whole cake recently (yesterday) which made me realize that I’m not particularly fond of making whole cakes. From here on out, I will only be taking orders for cupcakes. And now, for the recipe. There are a lot of components, but most of them can be made well in advance.
A note on my cooking: when I cook, I generally tend not to have any kind of recipe, and to just dump things into a pot or pan and see what happens, but I can at least try to guesstimate proportions when I post stuff now. I do use actual recipes when I bake, so those are easier to provide, though they also still generally involve a fair bit of tweaking.
Dulce de (coco) leche (adapted from Alton Brown):
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)
Combine the coconut milks, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds into a size pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the baking soda (the mixture bubbled up quite violently when I did this, so I would definitely lower the heat first). Bring back to a gentle simmer, and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour, remove the vanilla bean, and then continue to cook until it is a dark caramel color, about 2 hours. Turn off the heat and incorporate the whiskey. The thicker the mixture, the stronger you can make it (since you can use the whiskey to thin it out). Strain through a fine mesh sieve and allow to cool. Serve on cupcakes or ice cream (or on a spoon…or finger as was the case last night). Store in the fridge (I keep mine in a squeeze bottle).
- 1 can of full fat coconut milk
- 1 can of light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup of sugar (brown sugar works too!)
- 3/4 cup espresso or strong coffee (I used a heaping tablespoon of instant coffee dissolved into 3/4 cup hot water
- 1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
- Whiskey to taste (about 1 cup, but really, make it as strong as you want it)
Combine the sugar and coconut milks in a pot and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until just slightly reduced, and stir in the coffee mixture. Remove from heat and add the whiskey. Enjoy over ice, stirred into coffee, hot chocolate, soy milk! Store in the fridge.
Jameson chocolate truffles (adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen)
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, with the cream stirred in
- 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, either chips or chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 shots worth of whiskey
Warm coconut milk in a sauce pan over medium heat, until barely boiling. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla, salt and whiskey. Pour in a pie plate or loaf pan and chill until firm. Form into walnut sized balls, using a tablespoon and freeze until ready to use. If you want a stronger truffle, I would reduce the amount of coconut milk before adding more Jameson because we want the ganache to set up firm.
Cupcakes (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsps all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I prefer Cocoa Rouge by Guittard. It has a really deep chocolatey flavor that is exceedingly smooth, rather than bitter)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup stout (I used Brooklyn Brewery chocolate stout. Most Guinness is not vegan in the US)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and fill a cupcake tin with liners.
Combine the milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and let stand (to curdle just a little) while you work on the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the milk mixture with the stout, sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir together until foamy and well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, mixing until well combined, about 2 minutes. Distribute the batter evenly among the cupcake tin, so each is about 3/4 of the way full. Place a frozen truffle on top of each cupcake, and bake about 18-22 minutes. The cake should spring back lightly at your touch. It will not be possible to use the toothpick test for doneness because of the truffle, which should have become encased in batter while baking. Let cool before frosting.
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance (I prefer sticks for frosting)
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp espresso powder
- 1 tbsp whiskey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup vegan Irish Cream
Beat together shortening and margarine until fluffy. Add sugar and cocoa pwder and beat a few minutes longer, until well combined. Then add the espresso powder, whiskey, vanilla and “Baileys” Beat together about 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
To assemble: either pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Drizzle with dulce de leche. Eat and repeat.
Here’s a picture of the full sized cake version. Making this was definitely a case of Murphy’s Law, as one thing after another tried to trip me up. Tweaks I made to convert this include adding more liquid as well as some Earth Balance into the ganache, so as to make it spreadable. Turned out, even though I loved the consistency, I think I over filled the layers, and ended up with ganache oozing out into the icing, so that’s where the chocolate shavings came in. The writing was dulce de leche mixed with confectioner’s sugar in order to stiffen it up a little bit. The birthday boy and friend thought it looked great (though I would have liked to make a cleaner presentation of it), and gave me ultimate praise for taste.
Whew! Well that was quite the recipe typing marathon. I promise I don’t always make stuff that is this complicated, but I can promise it will always be delicious!