Friday, 15 October 2010

Who Says Vegan Desserts Have to be Boring?

As many of you know, my daughter suffers from multiple food sensitivities, the biggest being dairy. I find the safest diet to feed her when she is home from university is vegan - and I am thankful for all the delicious vegan fare available, especially the Asian and Mediterranean cuisines that have taught me that vegan can be seriously flavourful. But what about dessert? More importantly, what about ice cream?

Creamy, Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love
Cathe Olson
Softcover, 8x9.5 in, 160 pages

We are ice cream people, and this is what my daughter misses most. To the point of having some sometimes and paying for it later. Cathe Olson has come up with 225 recipe for making vegan ice cream, sherbets, sorbets, shakes, bombes, sundaes and more - at home. All you need is an ice cream maker, which are fairly easy to find in most housewares stores. Mine is the type with the removable, freezable bowl.
The recipes allow for choice of non-dairy milk, which is nice as we don't tend to eat a lot of soy. We used almond milk for the recipe below and it turned out quite tasty indeed. Obviously it won't be quite as creamy as a custard-based traditional ice cream, but it was smooth and cold and delicious. It passed the non-vegan husband test with great accolades. No more going without ice cream!

Rum Raisin Ice Cream
Makes 1 generous quart

This flavor requires some advance planning. Start soaking the raisins and chilling the soymilk the night before you plan to serve the is ice cream. Freeze it in the morning and by the afternoon the ice cream will be ready to dish up. 

¾ cup raisins
¼ cup dark rum
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup soymilk or other nondairy milk
½ cup granulated sugar of agave syrup

Combine the raisins and rum in a small bowl. Cover and let soak for 3 to 12 hours.
Place the coconut milk, soymilk, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Freeze  for 20-25 minutes, or until fairly firm.
Add the soaked raisins (and any of the remaining rum in the bowl) and process for 5 more minutes., or until the raisins are evenly mixed in. You may need to stop the ice-cream maker and mix with a spatula a few times if the churn gets clogged. The finished ice cream will be quite soft. Transfer it to a freezerproof container and freeze for several hours, or until it reaches the desired consistency.

Note: in addition to hardening the ice cream, the freezing time will allow the flavor to develop.

Easy Delights for Everyone
Jennifer Cornbleet
Softcover, 8x9 in, 128 pages

This is a book of vegan, gluten-free, raw desserts that may even be more healthy for you than your dinner! The ingredient lists are nice and short, with easy to find items and easy to follow instructions. The primary sweeteners are agave syrup and dried fruit, specifically date paste - I love this as the dried fruits don't seem to spike the blood sugar the way processed sugar does. Jennifer covers a broad range of desserts and includes basic recipes including almond milk, cashew creams, raw vegan pastry cream, and lemon curd. She also includes an Essential Information section with information on ingredients and equipment used in the book, and even has a companion website so that you can learn more about raw food. 

We whipped up these very tasty cookies, below, which are also perfect for the lunch box - an afternoon pick-me-up. (I had actually likened them to Roger Ramjet's Proton Energy Pills when I put them in said lunch sacks, but was told that reference might date me!)

Lemon-Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies
Yield: 24 cookies

These nutty cookies, punctuated by bright red, tart cranberries, will light up any holiday party.

1 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
¼ cup raw pistachios (unsoaked)
Pinch salt
8 pitted medjool dates
1 tsp lemon zest (see page 8)
¼ cup dried cranberries

Place ½ cup of the almonds in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Set aside in a small mixing bowl.
Put the remaining ½ cup of almonds and all of the pistachios and salt in the food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add the dates and lemon zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Don't over process; chunks of almonds and pistachios should still be visible. Add the dried cranberries and pulse briefly, just until mixed.
Remove the cookie dough from the food processor and place in a medium mixing bowl. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the dough into your hand and squeeze it firmly until it sticks together. Roll it into a 1-inch ball and flatten it slightly to make a cookie. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. Roll each cookie in the ground almonds and place it on a plate. Chill the cookies in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.
Stored in a sealed container, Lemon-Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer.