Tag Archives: cake

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

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Lean, Mean, and Nineteen

So my baby sister turned 19 a few days ago! We went shopping during the day, and to her favorite restaurant, Pita Jungle, for dinner.

We don’t do birthday desserts at restaurants though.

Instead we come home to homemade cake–in this case, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

This cake is quickly becoming our go-to birthday cake recipe. It’s perfectly moist and sweet (and the icing ROCKS), but, making it with whole wheat pastry flour as we always do, not totally unhealthy.

In decorating, I decided to go for the “Alice in Wonderland” look, because, if you know me at all, you know that the only thing I like more than peanut butter is Alice. :)

I also made a raw carrot cake for me to have since I’m trying to go easy on sugar and gluten right now (of course, everyone else had a little of it too, but they were mostly too full of the baked carrot cake to really have a slice). I’ll post about it soon (maybe with the recipe!) when I review the cookbook that it’s from.

I bought Olivia an intense Phoenix Suns plush blanket for her birthday. This girl is obsessed with the Suns (I’m talking watches-all-the-press-conferences and often-cries-when-players-get-traded obsessed), and is always complaining about the cold at Colgate, where she goes to school in central New York, so this blanket seemed like the perfect gift to both appease her and shut her up. ;)

To Olivia: a year older, but as weird as ever.

An Afternoon at Animal Acres

Excuse the excessive alliteration!

This is an insanely belated post, but there was no way I could let it go unshared! Last month, my vegan friend Stephanie took a group of us to Animal Acres Farm Sanctuary, just an hour and a half away, to celebrate her birthday. It was a lovely visit, full of every farm animal imaginable, all of whom were as amiable as can be! (I’m sorry! I can’t stop with the “A” words!)

We were greeted by curious goats of all shapes and sizes.

I know this is how I look when I’m eating. What about you guys?

And then came the ducks. Oh ducks, how I love you. One of my favorite childhood storybooks was Make Way for Ducklings. :)

Stephanie AND the duck cooperated for this photo…

And I thought this was hilarious (though most likely, no one else did…): all of a sudden, all the ducks just walked away in a line. I bet they had some official business to attend to.

Next up, piggies! Some piggies at Animal Acres take naps.

And some take baths.

Seeing the cows may have been my favorite part of the day though. They’re so gentle and loving. Um, you got a little something hanging from your mouth there, buddy. :)

Me and a happy cow.

You didn’t think we could celebrate a birthday without cake though, did you? Even if you did, I knew I couldn’t disappoint my readers by omitting the obligatory food porn. ;)

Animal Acres ordered this cake from a nearby bakery called The Whole Wheatery, I believe. Wasn’t it gorgeous?

Chocolate with super thick coconut frosting.

It was only fair that after enjoying our own food, we feed the animals! Except they prefer popcorn.

Turkeys may like me, but I could not find a chicken that would let me hold it for the life of me! (Okay, so one eventually let me pick it up, but I had to earn it!)

Going to a sanctuary like this is a definite must for vegans! It reminds you of who you’re fighting for. It’s a great place to take your non-vegan friends as well because who knows? Cuddling with a friendly chicken could be what it takes to forge that connection between the chicken on their plate and the chicken in their lap.

Raw Week So Far

Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to update for about 2 days now, but I’ve been transitioning from Photoshop to Aperture and having some issues therein with uploading my photos. Anyways, as I said in my last post, I’m eating 100 % raw this week–well, just Monday to Friday because my mom and sister and I are going to a spa with wonderful (non-raw) vegan food in Tucson this weekend. My main reason being a general cleanse, I guess, but honestly I just think it’s fun and I have some raw cookbooks/recipes I’ve wanted to dabble in.

So far, it’s been great! And I’m sure under normal circumstances, I would be able to report feeling amazing eating only living foods, but it just so happens that I’ve sorta been having appetite/digestion issues the past few weeks, so I honestly feel pretty crummy. I went to my doctor about it today, so hopefully they clear up and I regain my desire and physical ability to pig out on amazing vegan food soon!

I started Monday morning with a Green Smoothie with spirulina! This was my first time trying spirulina, and I was a little squeamish of a potential fishy taste, but you really couldn’t tell it was there once blended with the other ingredients, which were mango, banana, spinach, and enough water to blend.

Spirulina, for those of you not in the know, is a supposed superfood–blue-green algae with unusually high amounts of protein (and a complete protein at that!), essential fatty acids, B vitamins (including B-12), various minerals, and healthy photosynthetic pigments. It really does turn smoothies a vibrant shade of deep green!

I think I just had a salad for lunch, but for dinner, I pulled out all the stops and made raw sushi: Carpe Diem Carrot Almond Paté Nori Rolls from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, which has a lot of living recipes. Pre-rolling:

I filled ’em with zuchinni, carrot, and cucumber matchsticks, alfalfa sprouts, and cilanttro leaves. I also made an impromtu sauce to accompany them out of raw almonds, pineapple, shoyu, coconut extract, garlic, and some spices. It was pretty good if I don’t say so myself!

The paté was delicious–gingery carrot almond dill deliciousness!–and I thought the whole roll was good at first…but after a piece or two, I started to get some little gag reflexes, and I realized that I just can’t stomach the fishy taste of nori, which I’ve never had if you can believe it! I never even had fish as an omni (only shrimp), so that characteristic fishy taste is just really foreign and revolting to me. I can take it in small quanities, like in miso soup, but this didn’t fly! Thankfully, my dad promised to eat the other three servings it made in the near future, so I don’t have to feel wasteful.

We had some really good friends over for dinner that night, our old neighbors, Kerry and Jen, and their adorable kids, Jackson and Frannie. For the dinner party, I made Isa’s Raw Strawberry Cheesecake from the PPK blog. I halved the recipe because she said it made 16 servings (!), and as a result, mine was much thinner than hers…and less pretty, I know! :(

It’s basically a pecan-almond-date crust with cashew-strawberry-agave filling. I even messed up a bit, putting too many cashews (the ones meant for the frosting) into the filling, and it was still delicious! I was worried everyone would be too weirded out by a raw dessert, but thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong–everyone loved it!

The crust is totally the best part. The sea salt in it makes all the difference, and contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of everything else.

Served in a pool of Strawberry Coulis:

For Tuesday’s breakfast, I had a yummy raw fruit bowl with mashed banana, mango, raspberries, figs, and dates, topped with leftover strawberry cheesecake filling and live granola that I made myself: Queen Esther’s Live Granola Funk from Vegan Fusion (seriously, what’s with these recipe names?!) It’s soaked buckwheat groats mixed with blended soaked dried fruit, spices, and sea salt. And the coolest part is that I don’t even own a dehydrator. Instead, I used the most natural dehydrator in the world: the sun! Living in Arizona has its perks! Most raw recipes call for dehydration between 104-115° F, which is pretty much all day, every day here!

My granola was a little too bland, but I think that’s because I used dried cherries instead of dates (thereby decreasing the sweetness a lot). Plus, in the bowl, you don’t even notice. You just get a nice crunch!

For dinner that night I made Aiyah’s Garden Living Corn Chowder from Vegan Fusion again! This was absolutely fab. Raw corn, avocado, onion, ginger, garlic, and cayenne blended into oblivion and topped with more fresh corn, red bell pepper, and flavorful cilantro. Dayummm. This soup makes me feel light and happy. Perfect for summer!

The only changes I made were subbing cucumber for celery and leaving out the jalapeño (and adding extra cayenne) because I didn’t have any of either. I don’t think it lost anything in translation! Tomorrow I plan on making raw chili and sweet potato chips! Yay! :)

I’ll try not to be better about posting from now on! I think all my photo importing/organizing/editing/uploading should be a lot quicker and easier with Aperture.

NYC Goodies, July 4th Concert, and the Ridiculous Fantasy Cake of My Dreams

Hey guys! I wanted to include NYC and NJ in my Portland travel post, but maybe it’s better on its own. Two posts for the price of one. Actually, that doesn’t make any sense. Just keep reading.

Here’s some shots of the lovely farmer’s market my friend Jo and I walked through:

We then headed over to Sacred Chow for a lovely brunch! We both ordered the Tempeh Hash, crumbled seasoned tempeh with hash-browned sweet potatoes and browned onions, topped with diced fresh tomatoes & parsley, because who wouldn’t want that? Steamed collards on da side, yo.

This dish would be so easy to make at home too! I’ll definitely have to experiment with it.

Fortunately for us–or should I say me? Jo’s not as insane as I am–Peanut Butter & Co. was literally right across the street from Sacred Chow:

You know I picked up a jar of Mighty Maple! (It’s the one I can never find in stores…) Jo nabbed a Dark Chocolate Dreams, which I’m pretty sure is the best one, so it was a good choice as a popper of her PB & Co. Cherry! We may or may not have snacked on it straight out of the jar as we walked the NYC streets on our way to our 4th of July concert in the park…

Speaking of said concert, it was maybe the best concert of my life. First of all, it was free. Second of all, I was with my 2 best friends, Jo and Grace (who are both in NYC for the summer), and my wonderful aunt and uncle, Showie and Mickey (who came in for the show). Third, and most importantly, it was JENNY LEWIS and CONOR OBERST. Together. In one show. (They even sang together!) They are literally my two favorite artists of all time–I am more intimately attached to their music and work than I can explain. If it helps ring any bells, Jenny is also the lead singer of Rilo Kiley, and Conor is the leading man in Bright Eyes. Anyways, add the fresh air, sunny breeze, and 4th of July buzz, and this concert was basically heaven for me.

Jenny Lewis and band member Jonathan Rice:

“Because institution’s like a big bright light,
And it blinds you into fear and consuming and fightin’
But in the desert underneath the charging sky
It’s just you and God
But what if God’s not there?
But his name is on your dollar bill
Which just became cab fare…”



“Like the citrus glow off the old orange grove
Or the red rocket blaze over Cape Canaveral
It’s been a nightmare to me
Some 1980’s grief
Gives me parachute dreams
Like old war movies
While the universe was drawing
Perfect circles for infinity…”

In the city, we also went to Viva Herbal Pizzeria (vegetarian with plenty of vegan options) and Lula’s Sweet Apothecary (an entirely vegan old-fashioned ice cream parlor), but unfortunately, my camera died. :( However, I’ve found some pics on Flickr of other people’s food from both, so I’ll use those (Hope that’s okay!)

At Viva, I had a slice of the Zen (super anti-oxidant) pizza: green tea-herbed miso tofu, green tea basil pesto, shiitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, carmelized onions, sundried tomato, roasted garlic, on a green tea herbed spelt crust. This was hands down the best pizza I’ve had since going vegan (not that I’ve had a lot…).

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user, Roboppy)

Jo got the Canja: diced onions, tomato and garlic marinated in hemp oil, roasted hemp seeds, hempseed nuts, hemp-herbed basil pesto, kalamata olives, tempeh, and roasted garlic on hemp-herbed spelt crust with hemp herbed-miso tofu. What a mouthful! They really integrate hemp into every element of the pizza, don’t they?

At Lula’s I had a Sundae with both Carrot Cake and Peanut Butter Fudge Nut-Based Ice Cream with Hot Fudge, Strawberry Sauce, Crushed Ginger Cream Cookies, and topped with Coconut Whipped Cream and a Cherry! It was as good as it sounds. Next time I’m getting a banana split!

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user, Vanessa52)

Jo and I also had a really wonderufl time in Long Beach Island, NJ at my grandma’s beach house. The house and the island are seriously one of my favorite places in the entire world. They’re everything you could ever want in a vacation spot (actually, I could live there…). Everything there is so classic, from the old-fashioned ice cream parlor (not that I condone its business), to the kooky mailboxes shaped like lighthouses and flamingos, to my grandma’s back deck and upper patios overlooking the bay. Three days was not enough.

Speaking of not getting enough, this cake, OMFG. My grandma surprised me, Jo, my dad, and my cousin Matt–all the summer birthdays–with a cake one night! When she first brought it in, Jo and I obviously appreciated the gesture, but never in a million years presumed that we could actually have some. And then my grandma told us it was vegan and that she had grilled the shop, Foodies, where she bought it, on the ingredients. I don’t know if Jo and I were more touched that she went through the trouble to find this cake, or more amazed that you could even get a vegan cake on that tiny island–and peanut butter at that! I dub this wonderful creation Chocolate Peanut Butter Devastation Layer Cake.

The bottom layer is chocolate cookie crumb cake. I could honestly swear that the middle layer was just straight peanut butter (which isn’t a problem for me obviously, but still–whoa), and the top layer was a very rich chocolate mousse. It was even better cold, straight out of the freezer!

Now that I’m home, I’ll be posting more regularly, so stay tuned!

Sweet Potato Soup, White Bean Hummus, Pretty Pasta, Fruit Tart, and Pudding Cake

Sometimes there’s just no way to group the subject of your post into anything more than an eclectic title. This post is kinda just a buildup of the past couple days, so you’ll just have to deal with it!

A couple days ago, I made the Nutty Sweet Potato + Kale Soup from Kath Eats Real Food after seeing La Belle Vegan enjoy it! :) I followed the recipe except I added a Tbs of PB into the actual soup because, well, why not?!

This soup is insanely wonderful. It’s really thick and creamy, and it has so many yummy ingredients–sweet potatoes, peanut butter, vanilla, raisins, kale, garam masala–what’s not to like? Don’t let the fact that vanilla and kale are in the same recipe scare you! Also: it tastes way better the next day!

Next up are a few things I made for a dinner party for our friends, the Levenbergs (This is a little shout out to you guys if you read this! We had so much fun last night!). For an appetizer, I made the White Bean Hummus with Thyme and Basil from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan (and Dreena just posted the recipe on her blog. Coincidence?), and my sister and I made homemade whole wheat pita chips for dipping (just cut up some pita into triangles, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and garlic powder, and bake at 350ish for 20 or so minutes, flipping halfway through).

It comes out a lovely pale, almost sea-foam, green color, and it tastes as good as it looks! Bursting with the flavor of fresh herbs.

The main course was Whole-Wheat Shells with Asparagus, Peas, Feta, and Mint from the April issue of the Vegetarian Times. I’m always a bit skeptical making magazine recipes because I feel like they’re not as tried ‘n true as cookbook ones and I’ve had a couple so-so magazine meals, but I’m glad I went for it here because this dish came together beautifully. I used Sunergia Mediterranean Herb Soy Feta (I wanted to make my own–there’s a recipe for almond feta in the same issue, but I neglected to notice that it had a shiitake load of prep time until the day of, so that was a no go). On a quick side note, I can’t recommend Sunergia enough! Their feta is possibly the best soy cheese I’ve ever had in terms of how well it resembles the real thing. It has a nice salty, tangy bite to it, and the same crumbly texture. Definitely try it out if you can!

My favorite part of this recipe was that every ingredient was green. Asparagus, peas, basil, mint, green onions. The varying verdant shades were really gorgeous, and the dish was light and fresh.

For dessert I made the Fruit Tart from the Joy of Vegan Baking. It has a Shortbread Crust (with only 3 ingredients!) that is brushed with jam (I used strawberry), topped with Pastry Cream (I made the banana variation, which I highly recommend), decorated with fresh fruit, and finally, glazed with more jam. Here she is half naked:

And fully clothed:

You almost don’t want to cut it up. Almost.

Last, but not least, and from a completely different night, Chocolate Banana Pudding Cake! I know, I know, calm down. Try to resist jumping up and down with excitement. This is a recipe that will be in Dreena Burton’s new cookbook that she was kind enough to let me test as a veganversary present of sorts. Thank you so much, Dreena! I wasn’t able to make it for my veganversary because of school work at the time, but I made it last night to celebrate my 21st birthday…3 weeks late, haha. It probably seems weird that I made my own birthday cake, but I love baking so much, that it would have been torture for me to sit back and watch someone else make it! I’d never made a pudding cake before, and the concept of pouring boiling chocolate water over a pan of cake batter just prior to putting it into the oven was intriguing to me.

Here it is fresh out of the oven:

You’d never know there was any pudding-y goodness lurking under there, would you? At least until…

Wha-BAM!

God bless you, Dreena. My mom said this may have been the best vegan dessert she’s ever had–and with me as her daughter, she’s had A LOT–and I just might have to agree.