Archive for the 'Dessert' Category

Super Easy Peppermint Bark

Super Easy Peppermint Bark

Need something fun and festive to do while waiting for Santa? Peppermint bark is super easy, even small children can do it. And you probably have everything you need already. Who doesn’t have a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips hanging out in the cupboard? or candy canes coming out of your ears?

You can make as much or as little as you like. Just melt some of the chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time until smooth and melted (small children should not do this part). Crush a few candy canes, use a hammer if you like (small children can and will gleefully do this part).

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate onto the baking tray and spread out to your desired thickness with a spatula. Sprinkle with the crushed candy canes and gently press down.

Refrigerate or freeze for at least 1 hour until the chocolate has completely hardened. Break into pieces.

Super Easy Peppermint Bark

Don’t be sad, the peppermint bark is suppose to be broken into pieces. It makes it easier to share. Store any extra in an airtight container in the fridge. Happy Holidays!

Banana Chocodilla

Banana Chocodilla

When you have a snack attack, who you gonna call? Chocodilla!

I don’t quite remember where I first heard of a Chocodilla. From the name, I thought it would be a giant chocolate Godzilla or something. It’s actually a fast food creation by Taco Bell consisting of chocolate in a tortilla.

Available in other countries but not in the US. I thought I can easily make that. And to make it super easy, I won’t even worry about melting any chocolate, I’ll just make it with Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. And I’ll throw in a banana, you know, to health it up.

Lately, I’ve been seeing chocolate hazelnut spread everywhere. Sadly, most brands have sugar as their first ingredient. Except Justin’s, which list hazelnuts and almonds first. Sure it’s a bit more pricey, probably because there’s more nuts in it. But I usually only get a jar when it’s on sale.

No need for a recipe really, it’s so easy and simple. Just slather the chocolate spread on a warmed up tortilla (I used sprouted whole grain tortillas). Place sliced bananas on one side and fold in half. Cut into wedges and eat. Such chocolatey goodness!

You could also fry it up in a lightly-buttered skillet but I figure I don’t really need the extra butter. But if you’re going to go all out, instead of a banana, have marshmallows and make it into a s’moredilla.

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Mini Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Sandwiches

Mini Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Sandwiches

You didn’t think I’ve forgotten about dessert for the 4th of July, did you? To go along with the Mini Sloppy Joes from my last post, I made Mini Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Sandwiches. Yup, I’ve got a mini food fest going on.

Inspired by San Francisco’s It’s-It, I made a vegan version of their iconic ice cream sandwich – a scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two old-fashioned oatmeal cookies and then dipped in dark chocolate.

I remembered when I first tried It’s-It shortly after I moved to the Bay Area for work. It’s like a deluxe version of a typical ice cream sandwich.

For the cookie part, I went with the oatmeal raisin recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but left out the raisins. For the ice cream, I went with Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island. Both cookie and ice cream are good on their own and so good together. Even before the dip into chocolate.

Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches

Oh, the chocolate. I had a bit of a problem with the melted chocolate being very thick and not at all like how you see on food shows with the chocolate just flowing easily all over.

Apparently, you’re not supposed to use chocolate chips for dipping. There’s special chocolate coating products that have oil or something that helps with the melting and flowing. So instead of dipping, I ended up slathering on the chocolate. It’s not very smooth-looking (let’s just say they’re “rustic”) but the taste is all there.

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

Heavenly Cheesecake From Vegan Pie in the Sky

Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake

I’ve been pretty much overdosing on sweets lately with the holidays and all. But since I recently received Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero to review, I absolutely had to try a recipe or two.

Unable to decide on which cheesecake to make, I half the recipes and made mini cheesecakes. That way I was also able to try out a couple of flavors instead of making one big 9″ pie.

Pictured above is the Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake – such a smooth and creamy texture! So very decadent-tasting, just like regular cheesecake. Unlike some other vegan cheesecake recipes, there’s no packaged cream cheese in these. The creaminess is from raw cashews, banana and silken tofu.

Raspberry Lime Cheesecake

The other flavor was Raspberry Lime Cheesecake, pictured in the middle. Also very good. Never thought raspberry and lime go together but they do. Since I had a bit of the raspberry and lime topping leftover, I plopped some on top of the chocolate cheesecake, pictured below.

Both flavors were easy enough for me, a baking simpleton, to make. The cookbook is written in the same style as the authors’ other books – easy to understand, lighthearted, full of useful tips and suggestions. Besides the cheesecakes, there’s recipes for various pie crusts, fruit pies, creamy pies, cobblers, crisps and tarts.

When I fully recover from the overindulgence of holiday sweets, I have very high hopes of finally being able to actually make a real pie with a real pie crust and everything. I’m so excited!

Cheesecake From Vegan Pie in the Sky

Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake
Makes one 9 1/2 – inch cheesecake

1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust

1/2 cup whole unroasted cashews, soaked in water for 2 to 8 hours or until very soft
1/2 cup well-mashed banana (about 2 medium-size bananas)
1 (12-14 ounce) package silken tofu, drained
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil, room temperature
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Prepare the crust and press it very firmly into the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and move the pan to a cooling rack.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Drain the cashews and blend with the banana, tofu, sugar, coconut oil, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extracts, and sea salt. Blend until completely smooth and absolutely no bits of cashew remain.

3. Set aside 1/3 cup of batter and pour the rest into the crust. Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler or in a glass bowl in the microwave. Stir the melted chips with a spatula until smooth; add reserved batter and stir until smooth.

4. Spoon dollops of chocolate batter randomly onton the cheesecake. Poke the end of a chopstick into a chocolate batter blob and gently swirl the top to creat a marble-like pattern; repeat with the remaining chocolate blobs.

5. Bake the cheesecake for 50 to 55 minutes until the top is lightly puffed and the edges of the cake are golden.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then move it to the fridge to complete cooling, at least 3 hours or even better, overnight. To serve, slice the cake with a thin, sharp knife dipped in cold water.

Graham Cracker Crust
Makes one 9- or 10- inch pie crust

1 3/4 cups finely ground graham crackers (made from 10 ounces of whole graham crackers)
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted nonhydrogenated margarine, melted coconut oil, or canola oil
1 tablespoon plain soy milk or almond milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham crumbs and sugar. Drizzle in the oil or melted margarine. Use a spoon to blend the mixture thoroughly to moisten the crumbs, then drizzle in the soy milk and stir again to form a crumbly dough.

3. Pour the crumbs into the pie plate. Press crumbs into the sides of the plate first, then work your way down to the bottom. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until firm. Let the crust cool before filling.

From the book Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2011.

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 an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

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Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

It’s that time of year for visions of sugar plums dancing in little heads. Only to be surprised to find there’s really no sugar or plums in said sugar plums. It’s actually a dried fruit and nut ball rolled in coconut. Apparently, way back when, “plum” used to mean any dried fruit.

Super easy to make since there’s no baking or cooking involved. With the dried cranberries and apricots, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, there’s a taste of the holiday season in each bite. But you can use pretty much any combination of dried fruits, nuts and spices for a healthy sweet treat.

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums
Makes about 14 balls

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried unsulfered apricots, chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the dried fruit, orange zest and spices, pulse until well-combined. Add the orange juice 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between until the mixture sticks together.

Scoop out about a tablespoon, press together and roll into 1″ balls. Then roll the balls in the coconut. Keeps covered in the fridge for a couple of weeks or so.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

After a prolonged hunt for Cleo’s Peanut Butter Cups and a comment about making homemade ones from Jes over at Eating Appalachia (one of my favorite blogs), I turned the kitchen into a little candy workshop.

Ever since I made the Chocolate Candy Cups from Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet, I like the raw version of chocolate better than regular candy chocolate. And since I’m making my own, I also tried other nut butters.

And not just any ol’ nut butter but Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and Maple Almond Butter. They’re both really good on their own but super good inside of a chocolate covering.

Easy enough to make but sadly, I had a casualty early on. I had filled the silicone cups to the brim. On some of them, I had a heck of a time popping the candy cup out. I stupidly used a knife and accidentally sliced one of the silicone cups in half. It was a blue one. I would not recommend this method of extraction.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Makes about 16 candy cups
Adapted from the Chocolate Candy Cups recipe in Raw for Dessert

4 large medjool dates
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup barley syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
Peanut butter or other nut butter (chilled for easier handling)

Pit and chop the dates, place in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and soak for 30 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, add the soaked dates, cocoa powder, maple syrup, barley syrup and salt. Process until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.

Set out 16 silicone or foil baking cups on plates or a baking pan. It’s easiest to put the chocolate mixture into a sandwich baggie and cut off a bottom corner. Pipe the bottom layer of chocolate into each of the cups.

Place a hunk of peanut butter or other nut butter in the middle of each cup. Try not to have the peanut butter touch the sides, you’ll want the chocolate to enclose the peanut butter. Pipe the chocolate on top to cover but do not fill to the brim.

Chill the cups in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator where they’ll keep for a few days.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

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Halloween Cookie Sandwiches From Zest Bakery

Halloween Cookie Sandwiches From Zest Bakery

Just in time for Halloween, bat-shaped cookie sandwiches from Zest Bakery, a gluten-free bakery in downtown San Carlos (a small town on the SF Bay Area peninsula about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose).

They’re spooky good! Kinda like an Oreo in that it’s a chocolate sandwich cookie with a creamy filling. But so much better.

Not a soft cookie, nor a hard one, it’s somewhere in between. Actually, it’s just about right (I never cared for the hardness of an Oreo cookie). And the creme filling is light and soft. Available in vanilla or chocolate flavor for $1.50 each.

Halloween Cookie Sandwiches From Zest Bakery

While all of Zest’s items are gluten-free, just a few are also vegan. If coming from afar, it’s probably best to call ahead and see what they have available. Or you can special order things. They’re super nice and they know their stuff.

The batch of cookie sandwiches I first looked at were dairy-free and gluten-free but not quite vegan. It had powdered sugar processed with bone char. But they offered to make some that were vegan by the very next day. And instead of just regular ol’ round cookie sandwiches, they surprised me with cute Halloween bats.

Holy smokes, Batman! How’s that for great service?

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Black Velvet Cupcakes From Vegan Desserts

Black Velvet Cupcakes From Vegan Desserts

Before summer gives way to fall, I just had to try the Black Velvet Cupcakes from Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan Desserts. These cupcakes came out perfect! Moist. Fluffy. Yummy. It’s a baking miracle! It really is. You have no idea what horrible baking disasters have emerged from my oven in the past.

Located in the summer section of Vegan Desserts (the cookbook is divided by seasons), the recipe uses the ingenious idea of blackberries for the cupcake’s beautiful color. No artificial coloring!

Black Velvet Cupcakes From Vegan Desserts

Straight-forward and easy to understand, I, a noob baker, was able to follow the recipe without any problems. Although I was puzzled how to make the thirteenth cupcake. My pan only has twelve spots but the recipe said it makes thirteen. I just divided the batter among the twelve and crossed my fingers.

They came out fine. I frosted half of them and froze the other half for later enjoyment. My frosting technique could use a little work, actually a lot of work. It looks like it’s just plopped on top, but it tasted great. Way better than the vegan red velvet cupcakes from Sprinkles, because I made them myself!

To celebrate such a momentous occasion, I’m giving away a copy of Vegan Desserts.

To enter the giveaway:
Leave a comment in this post with your favorite seasonal dessert. Comment must be made by midnight PST on Sunday, September 18th; one entry per person. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.

One winner will be randomly selected (using from the comments received and announced in a new post on Monday, September 19th. Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be randomly chosen. Prize awarded is the cookbook that I paid for with my own hard-earned money (approximate retail value $17.95). I did not drool on it.

Official Rules:
Open only to U.S. residents age 18 and over. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. Void where prohibited by law. Any tax is the sole responsibility of the winner. Winner releases Chow Vegan from any liability arising out of participation in this giveaway or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize.

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

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