Tag Archives: Vegan

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeWhen you make as many layer cakes as I do, it’s inevitable that someone will ask you to make a gluten-free or vegan one, or one that is both of those things. I used to fear these requests and turn them down across the board, but as time has gone on, I’ve gained confidence, learned new skills, and befriended my NYC ride-or-die, VJ, who just so happens to be a gluten-free vegan. I’m not saying I’m fearless now, but I am saying that I make a hell of a Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIt all started with The Minimalist Baker’s genius 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake, which I made for VJ’s birthday last winter. That recipe’s major appeal is that it’s ridiculously easy—it doesn’t require making flax eggs or using a complicated gluten-free flour blend, instead relying on blanched almond flour, a mix of potato starch and cornstarch, unsweetened applesauce and leaveners. The results are soft, moist, and delicious. I would have been content to only make that cake for my gluten-free vegan friends forever…but then another friend requested a chocolate version for their birthday last May. And so, here we are.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis triple-layered chocolate masterpiece is gluten-free and vegan, yes, but also moist and tender and chocolaty AF—exactly what you want in a layer cake, gluten-free and vegan or not. I used Dana’s (The Minimalist Baker) Vanilla Cake formula as a starting place for the batter, relying on almond flour and potato starch for structure, and swapping in natural unsweetened cocoa powder instead of cornstarch. I’ve traded the applesauce for pure pumpkin purée, mostly because I almost always have a can of pumpkin and almost never have applesauce. The remaining ingredients are the usual baking powder and soda, granulated sugar, salt, and a mixture of almond milk and vinegar, which acts as a vegan buttermilk swap. I also add a little granulated espresso to accentuate the chocolate flavor.

You’ll notice that there is no added fat in the cake batter—this is because there is plenty in the blanched almond flour. In combination with the moisture from the pumpkin and soured almond milk, this cake always turns out soft and springy.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIf you’re looking at this list of ingredients and wondering where to find them, the answer is almost any well-stocked grocery store. Blanched almond flour is available at Trader Joe’s and Costco, as well as my local supermarket. Potato starch is usually in the specialty flours section or the Kosher foods aisle.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeAs for the swoopy, pipeable Vegan Chocolate Buttercream…well, first of all, good luck not just eating it straight from the bowl. It’s as flavorful and creamy as traditional chocolate buttercream, thanks to a base of equal parts vegan butter and coconut oil-based shortening, along cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeI recommend using shortening in vegan buttercream for the textural magic it works in the absence of dairy butter. Shortening is a polarizing ingredient, to be sure, but it’s what makes this butterless buttercream so incredibly luxurious and pipeable. I am a fan of Nutiva’s coconut oil formula, but I’ve used regular Crisco in a pinch with good results. If you are anti-shortening, feel free to swap in an equal amount of vegan butter—I’ve been using Miyoko’s lately and totally love it. With an all-vegan-butter frosting, your results may be a little less fluffy than mine, but I promise they will still be delicious. We’re talking about chocolate frosting here—how could it be anything but wonderful?!Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis buttercream recipe makes a lot—enough to fill and frost a cake and then pipe it to the gills! I have had no problem finding things to do with any leftovers (vegan buttercream candies, anyone?), but if you’d like to do a naked cake or have less frosting around, feel free to halve the ingredients.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeBut really, is there such a thing as too much chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake? I don’t think so, especially on one like this that can feed nearly all my friends! This vegan, gluten-free dessert is as delicious and beautiful as it is inclusive. Heck, that in itself is almost enough reason to make one.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake
adapted from The Minimalist Baker

makes one 3-layer 9-inch round cake

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
~2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons potato starch
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon granulated espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 2 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, granulated espresso, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Divide batter among prepared pans and smooth with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap each pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out with only a few crumbs.

Let layers cool completely in their pans on cooling racks. Run a thin, flexible knife around their edges before inverting to release. Fill and frost as desired with Vegan Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below).

Frosted cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Unfrosted layers may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream
makes enough for a 3-layer 9-inch round cake with piping

4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
8 ounces (1 cup) vegan butter, room temperature (I like Miyoko’s)
8 ounces (1 cup) shortening, room temperature (I like Nutiva)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in dry ingredients in three installments, mixing until combined and fluffy. Mix in vanilla.

Use to frost layer cakes, as a sandwich cookie filling, or to make vegan buttercream candies.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

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Mango Granita

Mango GranitaI first came across a granita recipe in the summer of 2009 and thought “That looks easy and delicious. I’m going to make that.” And then ten years passed.

But I did make granita, and it was/is easy and delicious, and now I’m here to tell you to do the same. Maybe skip the ten years of procrastination though.Mango GranitaMango GranitaIf you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, granita is a semi-frozen Sicilian dessert–basically a classy snow cone. The texture is fluffy and snowy, but instead of being ice flavored with brightly-colored syrup, it’s made from real fruit with very limited added sugar, and you don’t need a special machine to make it.Mango GranitaTo make this Mango Granita, you’ll need:

  • a few pounds of fresh mango. You could probably use thawed frozen if that’s all you can find.
  • lime juice for brightness. Lime and mango are great together.
  • the tiniest amount of sugar to round things out. Yes, ripe mango is already very sweet, but cold temperatures mean that flavor doesn’t always shine through the way it does at room temperature. I like to add two tablespoons of sugar to the entire recipe. That small amount makes a big difference!
  • a pinch of salt for balance. You can leave this out if you want to, but salt is rarely a bad idea.
  • a blender (or food processor), a dish, a fork, and time.

Mango GranitaMango GranitaThe process is simple. Blitz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, then pour the purée into a large dish and put it in the freezer for an hour.Mango GranitaWhen that time is up, remove the dish from the freezer. Starting at the outer edge, use a fork to drag the frozen purée into the looser center. This will begin the process of making fluffy, snowy ice crystals. At first, you may feel like you’re dragging a fork through soup, but an hour later, it’ll be a different story.Mango GranitaAnd then, thirty more minutes will go by and crystals will really begin to form! The grainy texture is the “gran-” in granita.Mango GranitaYou’ll know it’s ready when it looks like this:Mango GranitaMango GranitaMango GranitaMango Granita is as delicious as it is beautiful—light and refreshing and perfect for these sweltering last few weeks of summer! The texture is somewhere between a snow cone and a sorbet. Where you might think this would be icy, it’s super smooth and surprisingly creamy. This is the sort of dessert that is great for any occasion from watching Netflix in your PJs to a cookout to a dinner party. It’s vegan, nut-free, low calorie and low sugar–a wonderful option for a crowd!Mango GranitaMango GranitaBefore I get to the recipe, here are a few more tips for granita success:

  • use the largest dish you can. The shallower the layer of purée, the faster it will freeze.
  • you can use any fruit you like! I love mango, but peaches, melon or berries would be magnificent here!
  • make granita on a day you’ll be spending a lot of time at home. This recipe is low maintenance, but the ice crystals need to be scraped every hour at first and then every half-hour. Give ‘em one final scrape before serving.
  • for the love of everything, don’t wait ten years to make this. Ideally, you should make Mango Granita as soon as possible. Like tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, y’all!Mango Granita

Mango Granita
makes about a quart

3 large ripe mangoes (about 3 pounds), pits & skin removed, sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Combine mango, lime juice, sugar and salt in a high-powered blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a large shallow dish (I used a 9×13-inch casserole). Freeze for 60 minutes.

Remove cold mixture from freezer. Starting at the outer edge, use a fork to scrape/drag the icier edges of the mixture into the center of the dish. Mixture will still be quite loose. Return dish to the freezer for 45-60 minutes before repeating scraping. Continue to scrape every 30 minutes for the next 1-2 hours, or until the texture is fluffy and snow-like.

Freeze until ready to serve. Give one last scrape before serving in small bowls.

Leftover granita will keep in the freezer for about a week. Scrape before serving.Mango GranitaMango GranitaMango Granita

Tomato & Zucchini Confit

Tomato & Zucchini ConfitThis is the last post-vacation recipe, I promise. After today, I will write about things that are not the most perfect little island off the coast of Maine. I will. But first I’m going to tell you about the easiest, fanciest-sounding (thanks, French name!) savory late summer preserve/condiment/what-have-you: Tomato & Zucchini Confit.Tomato & Zucchini ConfitUnlike the other recipes I’ve posted from our trip, this one was not part of the plan. I was sitting on the Swan’s Island Library internet porch on our second-to-last night trying to think up ways to use the last of our produce, when I saw Chanie Apfelbaum* talking about garlic confit in her Instagram Stories. When I got back to the cottage a little later, I proceeded to make confit from some grape tomatoes and zucchini that were languishing in the fridge and toss it with some red lentil pasta. And it was good. So good that we ate it again for lunch the next day. So good that it was the first thing I cooked when I got home to Brooklyn. So good that I’m here writing about it because it’s so good, you should make it.

*I follow a number of Kosher food blogs, as I make many Shabbat dinners and holiday meals throughout the year. Chanie’s is one of the best.Tomato & Zucchini ConfitNow, you’ve almost certainly heard of confit, most likely in association with duck. The word itself comes from the French word confire—literally “to preserve.” A confit is a preserve created by slow-cooking a food in fat or sugar. Today, we’re confit-ing tomatoes, zucchini and garlic in olive oil.Tomato & Zucchini ConfitTomato & Zucchini ConfitTomato & Zucchini ConfitMaking this confit couldn’t be simpler. Start by tipping a pint of grape tomatoes, some diced zucchini and an entire head’s-worth of garlic cloves into a casserole dish. Season them with thyme, red pepper flakes and salt. Stir in 3/4 cup of olive oil and slow-roast until it’s all soft, caramelized, and fragrant. That’s it.Tomato & Zucchini ConfitThe sky’s the limit on applications. Tomato & Zucchini Confit can be stirred into pasta , grains or beans for a quick meal, or used to garnish chicken or fish. For this post, I just spooned it onto some baguette slices that were toasted in olive oil and called it crostini. Really, put this on anything that could use a touch of herby, savory, garlicky tomato & zucchini. (I think you’ll find that that’s most things.)Tomato & Zucchini ConfitI’ve written this recipe so that the oven is at 300F and the confit cooks for about an hour, but you can go even lower and slower (think 250F for 2 or even 3 hours) for greater depth of flavor. I think it’s pretty wonderful as is though.Tomato & Zucchini ConfitTomato & Zucchini Confit is great the day it’s made, but since it’s a preserve, one batch can last a while. Once it has cooled, just pile it into a jar, top it off with olive oil so that none of the tomato, zucchini or garlic is exposed, and store it in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve it, bring the confit back to room temperature. When you’ve had your fill, top the leftovers with more oil and refrigerate the jar again for up to two weeks. If you’re anything like me though, it won’t be around longer than a few days.Tomato & Zucchini Confit

Tomato & Zucchini Confit
makes about 2 cups

1 head garlic
1 dry pint grape tomatoes, whole
1 large zucchini, 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup olive oil

Serving suggestions:
toasted baguette
pasta
cooked grains
beans
chicken or fish

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Separate all the cloves on a head of garlic and peel them; I like to do this by smashing each one with the flat side of a large chef’s knife and slipping off the skins with my fingers.

Place peeled garlic, tomatoes and zucchini in a large casserole dish. Scatter thyme, red pepper flakes and salt over the top. Pour in olive oil and carefully stir to combine. Bake uncovered for 60-75 minutes, or until tomatoes and garlic have begun to caramelize and everything is fragrant.

Let confit cool at room temperature before transferring to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Top with extra olive oil if anything is exposed before storing in the refrigerator. Tomato & Zucchini Confit will keep in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks.

Bring to room temperature before serving. Continue to top the jar off with more olive oil before storing.Tomato & Zucchini ConfitTomato & Zucchini ConfitTomato & Zucchini Confit

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The last morning on Swan’s Island is usually a bit of a bummer. Sure, we’re still on-island for the day, but the thought of leaving on the following morning’s early ferry is looming. We’ve accepted that this will not be the year that we canoe. The only thing left on our “must” list is to hike around the lighthouse. It’s time to buy the things we’ve been eyeing at the vintage/antiques stores all week. To go say goodbye to the couple that owns the general store—after five summers, we’re on a first name basis. It’s time to take our recycling and garbage to the transfer station.*

*It’s not all fairy princess magic time, even though there is something sort of endearing about the whole process. I wish NYC waste disposal were so adorable.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But it’s also time for one last good breakfast. Since VJ bought herself a waffle iron a couple of years ago, waffles have been a vacation must for us. She usually takes the helm on that, veganizing a very good gluten-free mix and serving up breakfasts that I am more than happy to eat on the cove-facing patio, but she politely agreed to my request to “mess with the waffle iron” this year.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Initially, she may have regretted this. I had it in my head that my Cornmeal Pancake batter would work just as well in a waffle iron. Truly, I was so sure of this that I was congratulating myself weeks ahead of time for being such a culinary genius and had practically already written the accompanying blog post.

I should probably mention that I had never made a waffle from scratch before.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}You can see where this is going—the first round was akin to cornmeal styrofoam. Turns out, waffle batter generally needs to be thinner than pancake batter, lest the final product be tough, dry and heavy. We ate the waffles anyway (bad waffles are still waffles), but it took two days and neither of us was particularly jazzed about it. Needless to say, I was a little disheartened, and spent a couple of days writing and rewriting the recipe until I was ready to try again on the final morning.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As I began mixing together dry ingredients and measuring out aquafaba and oil, I started to worry that round two would be disastrous too, but I ladled the batter into the iron anyway. VJ and I had an unspoken agreement that we would eat the results, no matter how awful.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But we were pleasantly surprised. My adjustments—reducing the cornmeal and doubling the aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid/egg substitute)—had worked, producing lighter, softer waffles with crisp edges and a good corn flavor. We finished them in one sitting. No arduous styrofoam-esque breakfasts here!Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Long story short, in addition to my haul from the vintage stores, this vacation also resulted in my purchase of a waffle maker. I’ve been home for about six days now and have already gotten a good return on my investment: I’ve made this recipe four six more times. You know, just to be sure they’re worthwhile. And also because I like having a freezer full of waffles.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 8-10 4-inch waffles

If you do not want/need these waffles to be vegan, two large eggs may be substituted for the aquafaba.

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning/cooking liquid)
6 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the waffle iron:
cooking spray

For serving (optional):
salted butter (traditional or vegan)
warmed maple syrup
seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 200F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Heat waffle iron according to package directions.

Pour vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add just enough almond milk to reach the 1 cup mark. Stir and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together aquafaba, oil, almond milk mixture and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk to combine.

Grease waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour 1/3-1/2 cup (depending on the size of your waffle iron) of the waffle batter into each well of the iron and close the top. Let cook until steam dissipates and the waffles are turning golden at the edges and divots, about 6 minutes.

Transfer cooked waffles to the prepared rack-over-pan and place in the oven to keep warm. Re-grease the waffle iron and cook remaining batter.

Serve waffles with butter, warmed maple syrup, and seasonal fruit, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Leftovers may be layered with parchment, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in the toaster.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Blueberry Popsicles

Blueberry PopsiclesHi there! Long time, no blog.

After last Wednesday’s post, I began writing a Friday Favorites round-up, but then I remembered I was on vacation and so I bailed and went to a watercolor class instead. Blogging is great and all, but I felt the need to Maine* while in Maine, you know?

*Yes, I used “Maine” as a verb.Blueberry PopsiclesThat doesn’t mean I didn’t cook though. Vacationing on a remote island means spending time in the kitchen is a necessity, and for me, a luxurious one. The menu for our trip is meticulously planned every year, but I always make room for playing around. It never amounts to anything anything particularly elaborate (except for pie), but I always add ingredients to the list specifically so I can mess around with them.Blueberry PopsiclesBlueberry PopsiclesThis time around, we already had blueberries (because Maine), maple syrup (because waffles), and vanilla (because I’m a baker) on the list, and I had packed a blender (because salsa), so adding a can of coconut milk, Dixie cups,* and popsicle sticks seemed like logical steps. Because Blueberry Popsicles.

*When at home, I use these popsicle molds.Blueberry PopsiclesThese are the perfect easy summer dessert! They require the bare minimum of effort and ingredients, but deliver big-time on icy texture and creamy blueberry flavor. Oh, and they’re vegan, so your gluten-free vegan co-traveler can enjoy them too.

The batch pictured was made on a Wednesday morning before we went to the beach. They were enjoyed at a dinner party that night, and then at every subsequent meal until we left on Saturday morning. VJ and I both agree that they are good on the first day, but that their blueberry flavor deepens drastically as time goes on.Blueberry PopsiclesThere are four steps to making Blueberry Popsicles:

-blend all ingredients until smooth.
-divide the mixture into cups/molds. It’ll be thick and may seem lumpy, but rest assured that this is normal. Chemistry is weird.
-wait 45-60 minutes before adding sticks.
-freeze until solid.
Blueberry PopsiclesBlueberry PopsiclesAll that’s left to do is unmold and enjoy them on a patio in Maine. Or in your New York City apartment while daydreaming about being on a patio in Maine.

Maine Maine Maine Maine Maine.

Um. Sorry. I’ll try to contain myself.Blueberry Popsicles

Blueberry Popsicles
makes about 8-10 pops

12 ounces (1 dry pint) fresh blueberries
1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blitz until smooth. Mixture may seem thick and lumpy—this is normal and will not negatively affect final texture.

Divide mixture among ice pop molds (I used 3-ounce Dixie Cups). Do not add sticks.

Freeze one hour. Insert sticks. Freeze at least 5 more hours before enjoying.

To release from ice pop molds, place mold in a glass of warm tap water for 30-45 seconds. Popsicles should release easily. If they don’t, place them back in the warm water for 15 seconds before making another attempt.

Store in the freezer.Blueberry PopsiclesBlueberry PopsiclesBlueberry Popsicles