20 April 2010

The Perfect Vegan Scoop (again)

This post originally ran on Oct. 22, 2007. Even after time, the recipe still stands up.Also, if you don't have Mimicreme, you can use coconut milk.

The Perfect Vegan Scoop

This is a double review of sorts, although not so much a review of "The Perfect Scoop," as much as a confirmation of its recipes' flexibility. I was able to completely veganize and make a carob version of David Lebovitz's "Chocolate Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style" without much of a fuss at all. More importantly, I was able to produce a rich, fudgy carob ice cream that is just about the tastiest dessert I've had in a while.

To do this, I used Mimicreme, a new non-soy, non-dairy cream substitute and almond milk for the dairy products. According to the Mimicreme site, the ingredients of the unsweetened version I used comprise: Purified Water, Almonds, Cashews, Bicarbonate Soda, Rice Starch, and Salt. After trying this recipe, I have to say that for the ice cream trial, Mimicreme lived up to its promises. I plan to try it in different applications soon since I have a bit of it left over from this recipe. Any requests for trial recipes??

At first, I had my doubts about Mimicreme since it appeared so gray.

But, I poured out some almond milk and saw that it was around the same hue, and I realized that the color would be completely carob-y when all was said and done. Thus, I stopped fretting about Mimicreme.

One of the primary reasons this recipe is so rich and fudgy is that it contains both carob powder (Dutch process cocoa in the original) as well as unsweetened carob chips. It's a pretty easy recipe, and the most time consuming part of it is waiting for the mixture to chill before freezing it in the ice cream maker. That always takes too long for my taste, so it's best to make it before going to bed, so you can chill your soon-to-be vegan frozen delight over night.

Here's the recipe as I made it:


2 1/4 cups Mimicreme
6 tablespoons sifted carob powder
3/4 cup agave nectar
Pinch of salt
6 oz unsweetened carob chips
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste


1. Whisk together the Mimicreme, carob powder, agave nectar, and salt in a large saucepan, heating until it just boils.

2. Cut the heat and whisk in the carob chips until they melt completely. Make sure you use a silicone spatula to get the carob that might stick in the corners of your saucepan.

3. Whisk in the milk and vanilla until completely incorporated.
4. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend the mixture until completely smooth. (I used an immersion blender, but I poured my mixture into the container I would chill it in before blending.)

5. Chill the mixture for at least 6 hours.

6. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

7. Enjoy!

13 April 2010

Agave MythBuster at Madhava

If you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely check out Madhava's newest resource on agave nectar, Agave MythBuster. Go now, tell your friends!

11 April 2010

Light As Air Cherry Fig Not-ins

From April 2010 photos
As I've said many times, one of my favorite cookbooks is Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. My copy is well worn, especially on pages I've used to make Altered Plates versions of dishes. I've also started to write my alterations on the pages because the slips of paper with my notes sometimes slip out or I make additional changes later.

In the photo above, you can see the outcome of my tinkering with Isa's Fig Not-ins. In my youth, I ate my share of Fig Newtons. These were quite different from the dense cookie of my past. My agave-nectar sweetened cookies were light and fluffy, more cakey than cookie, but lovely.

From April 2010 photos

Because my version uses agave nectar, I was very careful about not letting them brown too much. I'm going to continue to noodle with these a bit because I read on Isa's blog that you could use the dough to make Hamantaschen. My dough was way too wet for that, and I'd like to use coconut oil instead of the shortening to achieve a more butter-like result (however coconutty it may taste).

The cookies have a definite vanilla flavor, but the filling is king. The cherries add a great fruity flavor, while the figs and dates pull it down to earth. These cookies make an excellent light dessert for a big meal or a nice snack on their own.

From April 2010 photos

The upskirt view (can you use that on other descriptions than pizza?) shows how light and cakey this bar cookie is.

From April 2010 photos

Here's a really nice shot of the filling. I used organic Turkish figs and organic Medjool dates from the co-op combined with my favorite dark sweet cherries from Trader Joe's, and omitted the lemon zest. I also used considerably less sweetener overall because the fruit was sweet enough. The most important step here is the blending. I added this because the filling was way too chunky otherwise. As you can see from the photo, I didn't quite divide my dough evenly between the top and bottom, so you might want to do this better than I did (although it didn't affect how tasty these were at all).

Another cookie I used to enjoy as a kid was raisin bars. My mom would by these flat packages of cellophane wrapped bars with a wavy score between each cookie (making them about 3 in. long once separated from their brothers). I'd like to try to replicate those, and will work on that over the summer.

Here is the recipe as I made it, greatly inspired by the Fig Not-ins recipe on page 202 of Vegan with a Vengeance.

Cherry Fig Not-ins
Yield: 24 big cookies or 36 small cookies

1/2 cup dried sweet cherries (unsweetened), chopped
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup dried Turkish figs, chopped
1 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons agave nectar

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/4 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir while you heat it to medium.
2. When it starts to bubble, turn off the heat and either use an immersion blender (my choice, but be careful!) or a regular blender to blend all the big chunks out of the mixture. Set the filling aside to cool.
3. With a mixer in a large bowl, whip the fats with the agave nectar for at least 3 minutes, until they are well combined.
4. Mix in the arrowroot, almond milk, and vanilla until well combined. It will look a bit curdle-y, but that's alright.
5. In a separate bowl or a large measuring cup, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until all are incorporated.
6. Add the dry ingredients to wet mixture to form a light dough.
7. With well-floured hands on a well-floured surface, form the dough into a ball and split it into two. Wrap each dough ball in plastic and let it rest and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
8. When the dough has cooled, take it out of the fridge and its wrapping, and flour a large piece of parchment paper, your hands, and your rolling pin. Take one of the dough halves and roll it until it is about 9 x 15 inches. You can leave this on the parchment paper because it will be your bottom layer. Place this layer on a cookie sheet (I used a pan with 1 in. sides just in case the filling oozed, which it didn't). Roll out your top layer the same way, but set it aside for a moment.
9. Spread the filling thickly, but evenly on top of the bottom layer in the pan.
10. Here's the tricky part, take your top layer, still on the parchment paper, and turn it paper side up on top of the filling layer. Then, gently peel the paper off the top layer.
11. With a pizza cutter, or a sharp, long knife, cut the cookies into the size bars you wish. Do not separate them now. It just makes them super-easy to cut once they are baked.
12. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. When the oven is at temperature, bake the cookies for approximately 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
13. Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then using the edges of the parchment paper, lift the entire batch out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool for an hour before cutting along the same lines you made earlier. Separate the cookies, then let them cool completely.
14. Enjoy!

07 April 2010

Summer Is Here (a bit too early for my liking)

With temperatures in the high 80s, you'll definitely want something cool and refreshing for dessert. Dipping back into my archives, I found just the thing from June 1, 2009, one of my favorite dishes of last year:

Book Review: Ani's Raw Food Desserts

From June 2009 photos

Is that food porny enough for you? You're practically inside this luscious, tropically flavored, raw, vegan dessert fresh from the pages of Ani's Raw Food Desserts. Her Pineapple Icebox Dessert is like a vegan pineapple cheese cake, but way better because the cream is made from cashews, agave nectar, and coconut oil. It's definitely the best cold, non-ice cream dessert I've had in a year.

It's just in time for summer and a perfect bring-along for a party. Although you'll need to pack it in lots of cold packs or ice inside a cooler because this really needs to be kept cold (otherwise it starts losing cohesiveness).

From June 2009 photos

An important thing to remember about this tasty raw dish is that you can serve small portions of it and still be the hit of the party. The Pineapple Icebox Dessert is rich from all the cashews and coconut oil, but the pineapple cuts right through it. While my friend John Leary and I dined on this delectable dessert, I thought aloud about making it with strawberries instead of pineapple. I'm sure it would be equally fantastic.

Just a note about the topping and crust -- I didn't think there was enough, especially in proportion to the pineapple cream. In the future, I'd make more of that and less of the cream. (Although I did double the recipe and put it into a large container rather than the loaf pan she recommends.)

My review comes after the recipe below.

From the book Ani’s Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009. Find out more at www.dacapopresscookbooks.com.

Pineapple Icebox Dessert


2 cups cashews
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave syrup

1 1/2 cups cashews
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
1/4 cup filtered water, as needed
2 1/2 cups chopped cored pineapple

(In her format, not my usual numbered steps.)

To make the crust, combine the cashews and vanilla in the food processor and chop to a crushed wafer texture. Add the agave syrup and process to mix well. Sprinkle half of the crust onto the bottom of a loaf pan.

To make the filling, combine the cashews, agave syrup, and coconut oil in the high-speed blender and blend until smooth, adding water as needed to create a creamy texture. Spoon the mixture into a mixing bowl, add the pineapple, and stir to mix well. Spoon the filling into the loaf pan and sprinkle the remaining crust on top. Pat lightly. Freeze for 2 hours or until chilled.

Will keep for 4 to 6 days in the fridge or for several weeks in the freezer.

The Review

The minute I saw Ani's book, I felt that there was something familiar about it. It reminded me so much of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World that I had to do a side-by-side comparison. The two books are so similar that I looked to see if it was the same designer (it wasn't). Was Ani enamored by Isa and Terry's little book that could? Did they talk to each other about it, I wondered out loud. John (my John, not Leary above) wondered about the legal implications. [Update April 7, 2010, turns out they were published by the same group.]

I'm sure there's nothing nefarious about this lovely, little raw cookbook. It just greatly resembles VCTOTW in format and style. I just have to be careful about where I put this on the shelf -- especially when I'm looking to make cupcakes.

As far as the recipes go, many are very easily made and look fantastic. I'm going to try carob-ing up the Lavender Chocolate Bars because the photos are drool-worthy.

Overall, if you are in the habit of trying new desserts or want to further your foray into the raw food world, this is definitely the dessert cookbook for you. There are plenty of photos and loads of tips, so you won't get lost at all.

[Update April 7, 2010, I'm nearing the light at the end of the tunnel with my work from school. Expect a new recipe within the week!]