Archive for the 'Dessert' Category


Banana Pudding with Vegan ‘Nilla Wafers

When I step into a bakery, I often look right past the popular cupcakes and cookies and opt instead for a cup of banana pudding. Smooth and creamy with a bit of crunch from the vanilla wafers…what could be more satisfying? This version is 100% vegan with soy milk, soy whipped cream, and vegan vanilla wafers. It makes about four servings.


1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tbs corn starch

about an inch of a vanilla bean (recommended) OR 1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups soy milk

1 tbs Earth Balance

2 ripe bananas

about 2 cups Soy Whip

about 1 cup crushed vanilla wafer cookies

(Lots of supermarkets sell store-brand ‘nilla wafer cookies, and I know I’ve seen vegan versions before. Of course, things like that have a way of becoming much harder to find when you actually need them, so I ended up making some from scratch. I modified this recipe, substituting an Ener-G egg for the real egg and Earth Balance for the butter. The vegan batter was a bit crumbly, so I rolled them into balls and flattened them with my palms, rather than piping them onto the baking sheet, as suggested. They came out great!)


Combine the sugar and corn starch in a small mixing bowl. If you are using a real vanilla bean, cut it in half the long way, scrape out the inside, and add that to the sugar mixture.

Heat the soy milk in a small saucepan. If you are using vanilla extract, add it to the soy milk.

Stirring over low heat, slowly add the sugar mixture to the soy milk, mixing to combine.

Continue heating and stirring. The sugar should dissolve and, after a few minutes, the mixture should thicken to almost to a pudding consistency.

Take the pudding off the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes, then move it to the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

If you haven’t already, crumble the wafer cookies. I put mine in a ziplock bag and hit them with a rolling pin.

Cut the bananas into thin slices.

When the pudding is completely cool, take it out of the refrigerator and add about two cups of soy whip. Mix to combine.

Assemble the pudding in individual glasses or in a larger glass bowl.

Begin by spooning in a layer of the pudding:

Then add a layer of banana:

and a layer of cookie crumbs:










Add a second layer of each:



















and a final layer of pudding:

I topped mine with a bit more whipped cream and some cookie crumbs. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Chocolate Hazelnut Rolls

Notella” idea #2: Rolls with a Twist

For a new take on the classic cinnamon roll, consider using your chocolate hazelnut spread as a filling. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but it was just what I hoped for. Neither the dough nor the filling is too sweet; the sugary frosting has that area covered. The hazelnuts play an important role as well, contributing both flavor and crunch.

This recipe takes a while to make, but it’s not especially work intensive. Most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise. You can do most of the work the day before you plan to bake them, if you like.

Finally, if you’ve already used up your notella on…I don’t know…banana surprise muffins, perhaps, or if you’re just looking for a regular old cinnamon roll recipe, I’ve provided instructions for that as well.

This recipe makes seven rolls.

(An odd number, I know, but it fits nicely in an 8 inch square or round baking dish.)


For the dough:

1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tsp + 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup canola oil, plus extra for the bowl

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)

2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

For the chocolate hazelnut filling:

about 1/3 cup homemade chocolate hazelnut spread

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, optional

For a traditional cinnamon bun filling:

1/4 cup melted Earth Balance

1/2 cup sugar

2-3 tbs ground cinnamon

For the frosting:

1/4 cup Earth Balance

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 heaping tbs cocoa powder

1 tbs non-dairy milk


In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar. Mix with a fork until yeast is dissolved, then set aside to proof for 5-10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk, oil, and 1/4 cup sugar.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

When the yeast looks foamy, add it to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, approximately one cup at a time, and fold it in with a spatula.

On a clean, floured work space, knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball, about 3-5 minutes.

Coat a clean mixing bowl with oil and place the dough ball in it to rise. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and place in a warm location. It should rise until it has approximately doubled in volume, about an hour or an hour and a half. When it’s ready, it should not spring back up if you press the top with your finger.

When the dough has finished rising, place it on a lightly floured work surface. Punch it down and knead once or twice. Then, roll it into an 8×12 inch rectangle.

If your chocolate hazelnut spread has been in the refrigerator, microwave it for a few seconds until it is an easily spreadable consistency. Then spread it on the dough. Leave about a 1/2 inch border. If you like, you can spread some of the chopped hazelnuts on top of the notella.

(Note: If you prefer the traditional cinnamon filling, just brush the melted Earth Balance on the dough and sprinkle an even layer of sugar and cinnamon over top. Still, leave a 1/2 inch border.)

Beginning at one of the short ends, roll the dough tightly to form a log.

Cut the log into seven rolls. I like to use thread to cut through the dough, but a sharp knife should do the trick as well. If the ends of the log are messy, cut them off and discard them.

Place the rolls in a greased 8×8 square or 8 inch round pan and top with the chopped hazelnuts (optional).

If you plan to bake these as soon as possible, set the pan aside so that the dough can rise for a second time. Pick a warm place again, and leave the dough for 45 minutes – 1 hour. It should expand to fill the pan.

If you plan to bake these within 24 hours, cover the pan and put it in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees, until the tops turn golden brown.

To prepare the frosting, just beat all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer.

I waited a few minutes for the rolls to cool, then I applied the frosting in a zig zag pattern. I used a plastic bag with a small hole cut in the bottom as a makeshift pastry bag.

Serve warm.


Banana Surprise Muffins

Last week, I posted a recipe for “notella,” a chocolate hazelnut spread. Though it’s good simply as a topping for baguettes or fruit, I keep thinking of more new ways to use it. Maybe I’m obsessed; I can’t help it. For the next several posts, this blog will be all notella, all the time.

Notella Idea #1: Muffin Stuffin’

When baking, it’s usually best to have a plan. I do my best to avoid surprises because I find that baking surprises are almost never good. Sure, there’s the rare occasion when a minor ingredient substitution leads to a recipe revelation, but surprises in my kitchen are usually more like “What’s that burning smell?” or “Did I forget to put sugar in this?”  These little muffins, on the other hand, prove that there is such a thing as a pleasant baking-related surprise. It might even be the happiest surprise of all: “How’d that chocolate get in there?” (Just don’t give them to anyone with a nut allergy, or the surprise won’t be nearly as pleasant.)

Makes about 4 dozen mini muffins.


2 very ripe bananas

1/2 cup  vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

about 1/4 cup vegan chocolate hazelnut spread, refrigerated


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash the bananas. Add the margarine (at room temperature), sugar, and vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and fold them into the wet. Mix well.

Refrigerate batter for 20-30 minutes.

Line a mini muffin pan with cupcake papers. You could probably use a regular size cupcake pan (and bake for a few minutes extra), but I haven’t tried it.

Take batter out of the refrigerator and spoon a little into the bottom of each paper (column on the far left). Use enough batter to cover the whole bottom of the paper, but don’t fill it up more than 1/3 of the way.

Spoon little balls of the refrigerated notella into the middle of each cup (column second to the left). Each ball should be about the size of a really big pea. Or I don’t know, two peas. Just make sure there’s room around it.

Spoon more of the cake batter on top of the notella balls (column second to the right). Make sure the notella is covered on all sides.

These don’t rise very much, so don’t be afraid to fill the papers just about to the top (column on the far right).

Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops feel firm to the touch.


Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

In college, I spent a semester abroad in Paris. Contrary to what I often hear about the French and their attitude towards foreigners, I found Parisians to be very friendly. I was there during the months leading up to the 2008 election, and when strangers heard my accent they would smile and say “Obama?” I wasn’t sure exactly what the question was, but I would answer, “Oui, Obama!” and we would give each other a thumbs-up. I never felt alienated for being an American in Paris…I did, however, feel alienated for being a vegetarian in Paris.

In traditional French restaurants, the only vegetarian meal is often a salad. When I would go to a bakery and ask for a vegetarian sandwich, I would usually get a dirty look and a suggestion of chicken or tuna. And that is the story of why I subsisted for four months on mainly baguettes and spreads to put on the baguettes.

My topping of choice for bread, crepes, and fruit was always Nutella, but I haven’t had any since I’ve returned to the States and to my healthier vegan diet. Today I decided to make a vegan version of my old favorite, adapted from a blog post by David Lebovitz. It won’t be perfectly smooth like Nutella from a jar, but it’s perfectly tasty. It’s Not-ella.

Makes about 12 ounces.


1 1/6 cup blanched hazelnuts

1/6 cup whole almonds

1/8 cup non-dairy creamer

3/8 cup plain soy milk

5.5 oz vegan dark chocolate

1 tbs maple syrup

2 tbs granulated sugar

pinch of salt

A note about the ingredients:

Try to find hazelnuts that have already been stripped of their skins; stripping them yourself is a pain. David Lebovitz suggested, in his post, that you can probably omit the almonds and use all hazelnuts instead. I like David Lebovitz and he’s probably right, but I also like almonds, so I left them in. For the non-dairy creamer, I used sweetened Mimicreme. I would have preferred Silk, but I couldn’t find it today at the store. Finally, though any vegan dark chocolate should work (including chocolate chips), I used a chocolate bar called Alter Eco.


Spread the hazelnuts and almonds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.

Put the creamer, soy milk, and chocolate in a microwavable bowl. Heat in the microwave until the chocolate is melted, stopping at 30 second intervals to stir.

When the chocolate is melted, add the maple syrup, sugar, and salt and stir to combine.

Once the nuts are lightly toasted, put them in the bowl of a food processor. Grind them as finely as you can.

Add half of the chocolate mixture to the nuts and process until smooth.

Scrape the sides of the food processor with a spatula and add the rest of the chocolate mixture. Again, process until smooth.

Transfer the Notella to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. It will thicken a bit when it’s cold, so you might want to microwave it for a few seconds before serving it as a spread.

Wondering what to do with all this Notella? Stay tuned to Vegan Valentine!


Chocolate Bread Pudding

Here at Vegan Valentine, we take Valentine’s Day very seriously. This represents Part Three: The Final Part of my Valentine’s Day installment.

When you want a rich, chocolatey dessert but you don’t have a lot of time, you can whip up this recipe with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. (…Do most people keep baking chocolate in their kitchen?) It makes two servings, so it’s perfect for a romantic dinner. If you’re just cooking for yourself, you can keep one in the refrigerator and heat it up the next day. (Or eat both. I won’t tell.) The best part is: if you have a 2 cup microwavable liquid measuring cup, you can prepare all of the batter in there. And you know what that means: fewer dishes, and my life’s goal is accomplished.



2-3 cups cubed bread, preferably a day or two old

1/2 cup plain soy milk or almond milk

2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberries and/or seedless red raspberry jam (optional)

Soy whip (optional)

You will also need two ramekins or some sort of little dishes that you can put in the oven.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut your bread into cubes that are no bigger than an inch on all sides. I used a day-old loaf of Italian bread, but any white bread should work.

In a microwavable bowl or liquid measuring cup, melt the chocolate with the soy milk, stopping to stir at 30 second intervals.

When the chocolate is melted, add the sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth.

Put one layer of bread cubes in the ramekins. Pour about 1/4 of the batter in one dish and 1/4 in the other. Try to make sure all the bread is covered in chocolate.

Put another layer of bread cubes on top of the first and repeat.

Fill a baking dish with about an inch of water and place the ramekins in the dish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until chocolate looks set. Be careful taking them out of the oven. The first time I made these, I dropped one on the floor. That was sad. Don’t do that.

(Don’t worry if yours looks more dry when it first comes out of the oven. The liquid goes to the bottom, so I just mixed it up.)

Serve warm with raspberries and seedless red raspberry jam for a Valentine’s Day -appropriate look, if you like that kind of thing. Personally, I prefer to keep fruit far, far away from my chocolate. Soy whip, on the other hand, I have no problem with.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Fortune Cookies: Take Two

I tried making fortune cookies again today, and I’m much happier with this version of the recipe. The only difference is that I used Earth Balance instead of canola oil, and I used a tablespoon more of it. The extra fat gave the cookies smoother, less cake-y texture, and I think the added saltiness of the Earth Balance helped tone down the sweetness of the recipe.

Just a note: don’t expect these cookies to be exactly what you get at Chinese restaurants. They’re a little moister and chewier. To me, that’s a good thing, but it’s really a matter of personal preference.

Here’s the new version. Like the old one, it makes six large cookies.


1/4 cup Earth Balance

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup soy milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the Earth Balance and sugar. Add the soy milk and extracts.

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly.

The baking and folding processes are just as described in my previous post. I hope you enjoy these, blogosphere!


Fortune Cookies: Take One

This was my first attempt at a vegan fortune cookie recipe. I’m not 100% happy with the result…the cookies were a little bit too sweet for my taste and a little bit too cake-y for a fortune cookie. I’ll make some changes and try again in a couple days, but I thought I’d post this in the meantime. Clearly, I’m in the over-enthusiastic early stage of blogging. Also, my mom really liked them.

This recipe makes six large fortune cookies.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup soy milk

3 tbs canola oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

You will also need paper, scissors, and a pen, for writing the fortunes.


First, write your fortunes. Don’t use regular printer paper, because you will be folding it into a warm cookie and the moisture would ruin it. You could try using ribbon or parchment paper. I used vellum, which is a plasticized paper that you can buy at most craft stores. I cut it into 6 inch by 1/2 inch rectangles, and then I wrote the fortunes on with a regular old pen.

Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and make the batter. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet to the dry and mix thoroughly. It should be pretty thin and soupy.

Prepare your baking sheets. I used a silpat, but you could also use parchment paper or cooking spray.

Pour the batter slowly onto the cooking sheet until it spreads into a circle with about a 5 inch diameter. Since you won’t have much time to fold each batch of cookies after it comes out of the oven and before it cools, only put two cookies per sheet.

Place your cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown. Let the cookies cool for about one minute. If you let them cool too much longer than that, they will become too crispy to fold.

Turn your cookie upside down on the counter and lay a fortune across the top. Now you’re ready to fold it into a fortune cookie. Be prepared to mildly singe your fingers; no big deal. There are two steps to folding your cookie. First, roll it into a tube with the ends slightly overlapping:

Second, gently fold the tube by pushing the ends away from you with your thumbs and pushing the middle towards you with your other fingers. Hopefully, these arrows help:

After the second fold, it should look like this:

Repeat with the second cookie on the sheet, working as quickly as you can. As they cool, these get much crispier and harder to fold. At this point, if you haven’t already, you can put your next pair of cookies in the oven to bake and fold.

These cookies are best served the same day that you bake them.

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