Friday, August 05, 2022

VEGAN WHITE CHOCOLATE LEMON MOUSSE CAKE

No-bake cakes and treats are a must for hot summer days. While I do love baking and have been known to bake even during the summer heat, at times, these are irreplaceable.
Citruses and chocolate are a signature summer flavour combination for me. So tangy and refreshing, yet sweet at the same time. The perfect pairing.
One other thing I love about this cake is the texture contrast. The biscuits stay ever so slightly crunchy, and the mousse is dense and creamy. Topped with a cloud of whipped plant cream, it is simply perfect for a hot summer day. Especially if served with a tall glass of icy cold lemonade.
On a final note, while I do love almost every cake slightly frozen, this one is not to be placed in the freezer. The biscuits can, and will, get unpleasantly dry, and then soggy as they stand at room temperature. It truly is best served well chilled.


Ingredients
For the lemon mousse filling
500 millilitres lemonade, freshly made or shop-bought and unsweetened
100 grams granulated sugar
80 grams cornflour
100 millilitres cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
100 grams vegan white chocolate, chopped
120 grams vegan block butter, diced
For the biscuit base
300 grams vegan petit beurre biscuits (27 pieces)
150 millilitres water
1 tablespoon elderflower cordial
For serving
100 millilitres plant double cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted

Preparation
To make the filling, pour the lemonade into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the sugar, and place the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together the cold water, sifted cornflour, and vanilla, and reserve. Once the lemonade comes to a gentle boil, add in the cornflour mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens, about two minutes.
Remove the lemon custard from the heat, let it cool down slightly, and add in the vegan white chocolate and vegan block butter. Whisk, gently at first, then a tad more vigorously, until it melts and entirely blends into the filling. Cover the top with a piece of cling film or baking parchment, and let it cool down.
Once ready, beat the filling with an electric mixer on high for about a minute or two, until creamy, and then set it aside. Whisk together the cordial and the water, preferably in a wide, shallow dish. To assemble the cake, line a small rectangular cake tin (18x18 cm), ideally with a removable bottom, with cling film or baking parchment, for easier serving of the cake.
Divide the biscuits into three equal parts, making sure each layer of them fits snuggly into the pan. Dip each biscuit of the first layer into the diluted elderflower cordial, then line the bottom of the tin. Spread half of the lemonade filling over the biscuits gently. You can pipe on the filling and then spread it out, if that is easier and more comfortable for you.
Dip the next batch of biscuits into the cordial, and lay them gently on the filling. Once again, spread the filling in the same fashion, and then top the cake with the last remaining biscuits dipped in the cordial. Whip the cream until soft peaks form, and spread it all over the top of the cake. Place the whole pan in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Decorate cake as desired, and serve. Yields 9 servings.

Friday, July 29, 2022

VEGAN BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE DOUGHNUTS

If you love dough desserts as much as I do, you are definitely familiar with how wonderful freshly baked doughnuts are. Barely left alone to cool down slightly, and then enjoyed bite by bite.
Sweet and fluffy yoghurt dough, tangy vegan blueberry cheesecake filling, and a brown sugar topping of dreams. An absolutely wonderful dessert year-round, but especially marvellous when fresh blueberries are in season.
Although I usually make my doughnuts on the smaller side, these are large; each of them is a generous serving of deliciousness. They are truly best served with a cup of strong coffee, and even some additional blueberry preserves, for good measure.


Ingredients
For the fluffy vanilla dough
550 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
75 grams light brown sugar
150 millilitres warm water
30 grams fresh yeast
150 grams vegan vanilla yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
45 millilitres vegetable oil, divided
For the blueberry cheesecake filling
200 grams vegan cream cheese
100 grams brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
150 grams fresh blueberries
For the topping
50 millilitres vegetable oil
50 grams light brown sugar

Preparation
To make the doughnuts, sift the flour into a large bowl, add in the salt, whisk very well, and set it aside. Crumble the fresh yeast into a separate bowl, add in the brown sugar and the warm water, and set it aside for about 10-15 minutes so the yeast can activate. Once it is bubbly and ready, make a well in the centre of the flour, add in the yeast, yoghurt, vanilla, and the oil, and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms. It should not stick to your hands, but if it does, let it rest for about 15 minutes, and then knead it again. This way, the dough, and the baked doughnuts, will be fantastically soft. Place the kneaded dough into a large clean bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise, at room temperature, for about an hour, or until doubled.
When the dough is ready, transfer it to a lightly floured surface, and knead it briefly. Roll it out to a large rectangle, and cut it into 16 squares. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sugar, and the cornflour. Once smooth, mix in the blueberries. Place a portion of the filling onto each dough piece, close it up, and shape each of them into a ball. Make sure the seams are nicely closed, so the filling doesn't run out during baking. Arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
Brush each of them with the vegetable oil, and generously sprinkle them with the brown sugar. Let them rest and rise, covered, for about 30 minutes more. Just before baking, brush them with the reserved oil, and bake in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 12-15 minutes. Make sure they do not overbake, and they stay soft. Once baked and done, remove them from the oven, and let them cool down a bit before serving. Yields 16 servings.

Friday, July 22, 2022

VEGAN RASPBERRY CUSTARD STRUDEL

First time I had a sweet dough strudel, I was about five or six years old, and I remember clearly my Grandmother telling me to be careful, because the filling was still molten and hot. Being myself, I did not listen. Regrets were had that day.
However, despite all of that, my love for sweet dough desserts was born. Fluffy dough, aromatic filling, and just enough tartness to give a nice balance to the dessert. Just heavenly with the afternoon coffee.
If you do not have fresh raspberries, frozen ones can be used as well, just drain them well and use the liquid they release instead of the water, to dissolve the cornflour.


Ingredients
For the soft vanilla dough
400 grams plain flour
200 millilitres water
50 light grams brown sugar
25 grams fresh yeast
45 millilitres vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon salt
For the raspberry custard filling
400 grams fresh raspberries
100 grams light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
40 grams cornflour
45 millilitres cold water

Preparation
Start by making the raspberry custard filling, as it needs to be somewhat cool when assembling. Place the fruit, sugar, lemon juice, and the vanilla paste into a heavy saucepan, and place it over medium-high heat. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornflour and the cold water. Once the fruit starts to simmer, start to stir until it comes to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, stir in the cornflour mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, or until thickened and glossy. Remove it from the heat, and set it aside to cool.
Pour the tepid water into a large bowl, add in the sugar and the vanilla, and mix well. Crumble in the fresh yeast, mix briefly, and then let it dissolve and activate. When it starts to become bubbly and fragrant, add in the oil, and mix well. Finally, sift in the flour and the salt, and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft and sticky dough forms. It should not be overly sticky, but if it is, add another tablespoon of flour. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rise, at room temperature, for about an hour, or until doubled.
Once the dough is ready, transfer it to a floured surface, lightly knead it, and roll it out into a large rectangle of about 5 millimetres thickness. Whisk the custard vigorously to loosen it up, and spread it evenly all over the dough, making sure one of the edges is clean, so the strudel can be sealed nicely. Starting from the longer edge, gently roll the dough into a tight roll. Press and seal the roll really well, so the filling does not leak out during baking.
Place the strudel on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, seam side down, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rest and rise for about 30 more minutes in a warm place. Just before baking, generously mist it with room temperature water, and bake, in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Let it cool down completely, so it firms up, and then slice and serve. Yields 12 servings.

Friday, July 15, 2022

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CARAMEL FROZEN CUSTARD

I must preface this recipe by saying that I grew up not liking ice cream. There were a few ice cream bars I did enjoy, but nothing that would make me swoon. Years later, I realised that the reason I disliked shop-bought ice creams was how sweet they were. And they still are, at least to me.
Although it is a dessert, it is meant to be sweet, too much sugar can almost drown out the flavour of the ice cream. Especially vanilla, my favourite. And that is how this little frozen gem came to be. Just to my liking, with a rich chocolate flavour, and a delightful caramel aftertaste.
If you like, you can add a teaspoon of instant espresso powder to the dry ingredients, and it will turn this ice cream into a coffee lover’s dream. Or alternatively, serve it with a freshly brewed espresso, and enjoy.


Ingredients
800 millilitres full-fat coconut milk
70 grams cornflour
200 grams dark brown sugar
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
small pinch of salt
100 grams dark chocolate (70%)
50 grams vegan block butter


Preparation
Pour the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and shake it lightly, so the sugar distributes nicely. Take another medium bowl, pour in about 100 millilitres of cold milk, add in the cornflour, vanilla bean paste, cocoa powder, and salt, and whisk until completely blended. Reserve the rest of the milk.
Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and let the sugar melt and caramelise slowly. Once it starts to brown around the edges, slowly and gently move the melted parts towards the centre. Let it cook for about 7-8 minutes, until it becomes a deep amber colour. Once fragrant, very carefully pour the reserved milk into it. Let it cook for a minute or two, until all of the caramel melts, then pour in the cornflour mixture.


As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking. The more the batter heats up, the more vigorously it should be stirred, to prevent burning. Once it comes to a boil, cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. It should resemble a cooked custard. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute or so. Add in the butter and chocolate, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Cover the top with cling film, let it cool down to room temperature, and then place it into the refrigerator for a few hours. Once chilled, freeze it in your ice cream machine, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer it to a container and freeze until firm (about 4-6 hours). Yields 1 litre of frozen custard.

Friday, July 08, 2022

MINI VEGAN CHERRY STRUDELS

Growing up, this kind of miniature strudel was made mainly during spring and summer, any time that the family would get together, either for a Sunday lunch, or for a religious observation, such as slava. At times, they were made even smaller, quite handy to serve and enjoy, I have to admit.
This recipe is an adaptation of my paternal Grandmother’s strudel recipe which she used to make not only with cherries, but at times with sweet cherries, apples, quinces, any fruit that was available to her. I opted for cherries, as I do love tart desserts, especially with that tiny crunch from the brown sugar.
You can make the filo parcels as large or as small as you like, but do be mindful that the smaller parcels will keep their shape slightly better. If it is too wide and flat, it will be even flatter once cooled. Spoken from experience.
Although you can serve them with a dusting of icing sugar, they really need no further adornment. Just let them cool down slightly, and thoroughly enjoy with a cup of coffee.


Ingredients
500 grams filo pastry sheets, 16 pieces
700 grams fresh cherries, pitted
30 grams semolina
100 grams Turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
150 millilitres tepid water
75 millilitres vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preparation
Place the pitted cherries into a strainer, and set them aside. This will remove some of the liquid they release. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, semolina, and cinnamon, and set it aside. In another medium bowl, mix together the oil, water, and vanilla, as this will be used to brush filo sheets. Lay one filo sheet flat on the work surface, brush it generously with the oil mixture, and then place a portion of the cherries in the centre of the sheet.
Sprinkle the semolina mixture on top, and fold the sheet into a nice, small parcel. Repeat this with the rest of the filo sheets and cherries, and arrange them on a large baking sheet, lined with baking parchment. Brush each of them with the remaining mixture of water and oil, and bake them immediately in a preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 20 minutes. Once they are baked, remove them from the oven, let them cool down on the baking sheet for about 20-30 minutes, and serve. Yields 16 servings.