The Vegan Divas Cookbook

Spiced Red Lentil and Coconut Milk Soup

Silent for far too long, the cookbook review department is revving up with a slew of upcoming reviews. The first is The Vegan Divas Cookbook by Fernanda Capobianco. Being on the West Coast, I haven’t ever heard of the New York City bakery which the cookbook is based on.

Fortunately for the hapless baker that I am, the cookbook isn’t limited to just baked goodies. There’s savory plates and treats. And soups too, like the above Spiced Red Lentil and Coconut Milk Soup (page 156). First time using dried lentils, it was easy and much quicker to cook than I had imagined (and I have a wild imagination).

Sugar-free Carrot Cake

Hapless or not, I had to try at least one baked dessert, Sugar-Free Carrot Cake (page 102). Still, I was sweating bullets over the batter. It looked very thick. Was it too thick? I have no idea. Crossing my fingers, the pan went into the oven. I was on pins and needles the entire half hour it was in the oven, I’m just not meant to bake. It actually came out fine, maybe a little on the dense side.

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Peanut Sauce

A very tasty savory treat was the Roasted Kabocha Squash with Peanut Sauce (page 164). If only it wasn’t so hard to cut into, I was afraid for my fingers. It was well worth it though, I pretty much love anything roasted. But there’s gotta be an easier way to cut up the squash.

Orange Tofu Yogurt

Tofu Yogurt My Way (page 30) on the other hand was super easy to make. And you can flavor it any way you like. I went with oranges for an orangesicle kind of a flavor. I didn’t have any granola so it’s topped with walnuts.

While I liked the taste and knowing exactly what’s in it. I didn’t feel like it’s really a yogurt as it doesn’t have any probiotics. One of the reasons why I eat yogurt in the first place is to get the beneficial bacteria. Perhaps it should be “yogurt” in quotation marks.

Raw Chocolate Avocado Tart

Having never tried avocado in a dessert before, I made the Raw Chocolate Avocado Tart (page 96). I really like raw desserts. They seem easier to make, there’s no baking involved. They usually have healthier ingredients and use other sweeteners besides sugar.

While making the filling, I taste tested it and it’s so good, sorta like chocolate pudding. I could have eaten the filling as is, before it even went into the crust. You just know it’s going to be awesome when the individual components are good on their own.

Instead of one 9-inch tart, I made mini ones and froze them for about a week while I was away on holiday. After letting it thaw in the fridge, it’s totally fine. So smooth and rich tasting – no weird avocado taste at all, just chocolatey goodness.

I may never get to New York City to visit The Vegan Divas in person but the cookbook’s easy recipes and gorgeous photos more than makes up for it.

Raw Chocolate Avocado Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart, serves 10 to 12

Chocolate Crust:
2 cups (200 g/7 oz) pecan halves
1/4 cup (28 g/1 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (28 g/1 oz) liquid coconut oil
1/4 cup (74 g/2.6 oz) maple syrup
1 teaspoon (4 g/0.14 oz) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g/0.05 oz) kosher salt

Chocolate Avocado Mousse:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (191 g/6.7 oz) vegan semisweet chocolate morsels
3 small, ripe avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
1 tablespoon (7 g/0.25 oz) arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon (0.75 g/0.026 oz) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (4 g/0.14 oz) vanilla extract
1/4 cup (28 g/1 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup (80 g/2.8 oz) almond milk
2/3 cup (198 g/7 oz) maple syrup
1 tablespoon (15 g/0.5 oz) smooth peanut butter

Make the crust:
Brush the bottom and sides of a 91/2-inch springform pan with vegetable oil and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse the pecans until crumbly (you should have some finely ground pecans and some pieces no larger than 1/4 inch). Add the remaining crust ingredients and pulse until just mixed. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and press it onto the bottom of the pan with slightly wet fingers or a spatula. Place the crust in the freezer to set while you make the mousse.

Make the mousse:
Place the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium (50%) power for about 3 minutes, stopping to stir it every 45 seconds. Set the melted chocolate aside to cool slightly.

Combine all the remaining mousse ingredients except the melted chocolate in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and process until smooth.

Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the mousse into it. Smooth it into an even layer and freeze, uncovered, for about 2 hours until firm.

Serve the tart:
Remove the tart from the freezer and unclasp and remove the side of the pan. Place the tart on a serving plate and allow it to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

From The Vegan Divas Cookbook by Fernanda Capobianco. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Disclosure: I received the book free of charge from the publisher to review. The opinions and experience with the book expressed herein are my own. There was no pay to say.

This post also contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

10 Comments so far

  1. Joey on March 5th, 2014

    That’s not a bad haul from a single cookbook, hope you’re planning some more experiments soon! I’m particularly enchanted by the raw tart – my oven is highly tempermental, so I’m going to give this one a go.

  2. chow on March 5th, 2014

    Joey – Yes, I had a long list of recipes I wanted to try out. The raw tart was my favorite – so good and no oven necessary. :-)

  3. Hannah on March 5th, 2014

    Now that’s an impressive range of recipes! I was very curious about the book, but trying to reign back my cookbook purchases… I didn’t realize there were some savories in there, too. That definitely deserves some further investigation. It all looks delicious, of course!

  4. Andrea on March 5th, 2014

    Sounds like a really interesting cookbook — everything you made looks great. I think the only way to make cutting a squash easy is to only use butternut squash. Or maybe try a pumpkin carving knife. I feel the same way as you do about tofu ‘yogurt.’ It’s the probiotics that make it yogurt. The pie looks so good, but I have the hardest time adding avocado to sweets. I agree they taste great, but I don’t like the idea.

  5. trina on March 5th, 2014

    Beautiful tart!

  6. Lauren on March 5th, 2014

    Wow, the tart looks so good. I will def have to be trying that one out. I have made chocolate cakes subbing avocado in for the egg and it usually works pretty well. Something about the chocolate makes the avo undetectable, even to my omnivorous family :)

  7. LittleMonsterx14 on March 6th, 2014

    wow everything looks delicious and beautiful!

  8. East Meets West Veg on March 13th, 2014

    Yum yum yum! It’s 1:00 am and for some reason I decided to read food blogs. Not such a great idea. My mouth is watering and I want some of that tart right now!

  9. rika@vm on March 16th, 2014

    Thank you for putting up this wonderful cookbook review, I also haven’t heard of that bakery which the cookbook was based on – awesome. And I’m no baker, but these savory plates & treats & no-bake desserts sound pretty good though! I would love to try the raw chocolate avocado tart – I had a black bean brownie with avocado frosting before, which was pretty good! Thanks for sharing this recipe! Yummm!

  10. Pixie on March 27th, 2014

    Get ye a good-quality pair of kitchen-aid scissors….it’ll cut those squash down for you in no time!

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