Vegan Desserts in Jars – Cookbook Review and Pumpkin Cream Brûlée Recipe

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I received the cookbook, Vegan Desserts in Jars, Adorably Delicious Pies, Cakes, Puddings and Much More by Kris Holechek Peters.  I was very excited flipping through the book since we would be going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, sharing dinner with my sister and brother in law (the vegans) and in charge of making dessert.

 

I realized the best thing about this book is inspiration for making dessert to go.  I know the jars are trendy in some restaurants however they are quite practical.  Since we had quite a drive for Thanksgiving, a pie may not have traveled as well, however these little jars with lids on were super easy to transport.  I’m going to keep this in mind for other potluck and school occasions.

 

The other thing I like about desserts in jars is the individual servings.  There is no bickering between my kids about the size of the slice or dollop or dessert.  Your jar is your jar.  You can experiment too with various size jars and vessels. Though many of the recipes are for 4 oz. canning jars which means you can reuse and try a variety of individual pies, cakes and puddings.  Canning jars can be found easily online and even at the hardware store.  Mine are from The Container Store which has a variety of styles and sizes in stock now for the holiday.  There is a section of the book that talks about jars and options.

 

I skipped the brûlée part mostly because there were so many things vying for space in my mom’s ovens.  So we made the suggested coconut cream.  I’ll be using that for all kinds of dessert toppings (or eat right out of the bowl).  I must warn you my sister, the vegan did not eat the pumpkin brûlées and that’s because she doesn’t like pumpkin pie and the consistency.  I somehow forgot.  However everyone else loved them.  My mom seemed disappointed at first because there was no traditional pie.  However we bought one from the Whole Foods bakery last minute to please the traditionalists and non traditionalists.  However it seemed the brûlées went faster.  Even though I’m not expecting any vegan guests, I’m already flipping through to see what to make for the next holiday dinner,…perhaps S’mores in a Jar or Rustic Rhubarb Cakes or Raw Pecan Pie or all of them!

Book Review:

Pros: variety of flavors and textures from pies, to breads, to custards etc.  Most of them are quick to make and convenient to transport. Great for vegans as well as those with dairy allergies.

Cons: powdered sugar wasn’t specified as “vegan”, which many vegans do not eat (see blog about bone char) . May have to invest in canning jars.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée (page 74, Vegan Desserts in Jars)

Creamy, spiced pumpkin with a crisp sugar crust is as elegant as it is comforting.

Ingredients

¾ cup non-dairy milk of choice

½ cup raw cashews

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar, divided

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)

¼ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1∕8 teaspoon salt

Makes 6 crème brûlées

Directions

Set aside six 4-ounce canning jars.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and cashews. Let them soak for about 30 minutes. Place the milk and cashews in a food processor or blender container. Purée until creamy. Add ½ cup of the sugar and the remaining ingredients, and blend until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 2 minutes.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Fill each jar to just under the brim, leaving about ¼ inch of space. Refrigerate the jars until ready the serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar over the top of each jar. There are two options for brûléeing the desserts: using a propane brûlée torch or by broiling the tops of the desserts. If using a torch, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If broiling, place the jars on a rimmed baking sheet and turn the broiler on high. Place the jars under the broiler, with about 2 inches of space between the jars and the element. Keeping a watchful eye (the sugar burns quickly), heat the jars until the sugar caramelizes and becomes brown, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the heat intensity.

Note: Don’t feel like messing with the brûlée part of crème brûlée? This recipe is just as delicious as a lovely custard. Dollop some Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111) on top and call it good.

Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111)

This coconut whipped cream is deceptively simple and will change your life.Be sure that you use good old canned coconut milk, rather than the boxed coconut milk beverage, so the fat content is correct.

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not low-fat)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ to ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Makes 2 cups

Directions

Refrigerate the coconut milk for at least 3 hours, overnight if possible. Open the can and scoop out only the hard, white coconut cream, leaving the watery part in the can. Place the coconut cream in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and ¼ cup powdered sugar. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whip the cream until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar, if necessary, to your desired sweetness.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. Store the coconut cream covered, in the fridge, for up to 4 days.

 

 

 

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Sprinklebakes by Heather Baird – Cookbook Review (Dessert Porn)

 

Did that get your attention?  The best way I can describe Sprinklebakes, Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist is dessert porn.  I am not kidding.  The cover is not exciting or sexy, but the images inside are beautiful and sinful and I can’t stop looking at the book.  These are all the beautiful things I wish I could make but don’t have the creativity, time or patience.  Although I am inspired and there are some approachable recipes and ones which I hope to build my confidence and venture deeper into Heather’s artistry.  Heather has a sprinkle bakes blog, but unfortunately I can’t get any of the photos to load, so you’ll have to visit another time.

In looking at some of these pictures such as hand painted cookies (literally Mehndi Hand Cookies), sugar sculptures (Dale Chihuly-Inspired Candy Bowls) and outrageous “mixed media” creations (Anatomical Heart Cake) I try to make myself feel better in knowing that the author was a painter before turning her creative skills to sweets.  Thus her artistry may never be mine.  However I can aspire and learn from her text and instructions on color theory, brush strokes, sculpture molds, candy making and more.   In the meantime I’ll practice on her more simple but delicious recipes for tart shells, pastry creams, cupcakes and candies.

 

Book Review

Pros: amazing photos, comprehensive dessert cookbook for many creative and tasty recipes, thorough instructions

Cons: some recipes may be intimidating and overwhelming for some while inspirational to others,  time consuming, some items require much planning and purchasing online

I used Heather’s tart crust and pastry cream recipes and combined them to make a wonderful berry fruit tart on Memorial Day.  See my photo below.  I liked that this was using her recipes to make my own creation because I didn’t have to compete with one of her images.  And it was a big hit for looks and taste.

So my kids asked me to make it again last weekend for a friend’s dinner party and it didn’t work as well.  I don’t blame the recipe, I blame myself.  It was one of those days when there’s too much to do and you try to squeeze in making a dessert.  Do you do that too?  Yes, I was a bit ambitious for the events of the day.  I wasn’t as patient with cooking the cream, so when I went to take it out of the refrigerator it had not set properly and was quite runny.  This of course I didn’t discover until I was going to assemble the tart 15 minutes before leaving for said friends’.  We ate it anyway.  That’s what friends are for.  Kind of a shortbread cookie with berries and cream.  Still tasty, but not as lovely as Memorial Day.

Here’s the tart crust recipe which is very versatile and I will use over and over with various fillings and fruits this summer.

TART CRUST page 89 from Sprinklebakes

YIELD: Approximately 2K cups, enough for 8 to 10 small apples, 20 crab apples, or ½ pound grapesor cherries

This tart crust is remarkably easy to make and comes out perfectly every time. It takes just a couple of spins in the food processor to have beautiful buttery pastry dough.

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

3 tablespoons sugar

K teaspoon salt

½  pound (1 stick) cold butter, cut into ¼ -inch cubes

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 egg yolk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water

1. Generously grease a tart pan with vegeta­ble shortening.

2. Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined.

3. Add the butter and zest and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some small pea-size butter lumps.

4. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and water and pulse until just incorporated and the dough begins to form large clumps.

5. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Gather the dough together and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc or rectangle, depending on what shape pan you are using.

6. Press the dough over the bottom and up the sides of the pan in an even layer with well-floured fingers. Chill the shell for 45 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

8. Lightly prick the bottom of the shell many times with a fork, and bake until the sides are set and the edge is golden, about 20 minutes.

9. Cool the shell completely in the pan on a rack.

SUGGESTIONS FOR TART SHELL USE

Chocolate Tart: Fill the baked, cooled tart shell with cooled liquid chocolate ganache. Refrigerate until set and serve with fresh whipped cream and raspber­ries.

Lemon Blueberry Tart: Fill the baked, cooled tart shell with freshly made lemon curd. Refrigerate until set. Top with fresh blueberries and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Tropical Fruit Tart: Fill the baked, cooled tart shell with vanilla pastry cream. Top with slices of kiwi, pineapple, and mango and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

 

 

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Cake Ladies Cookbook Review and Applesauce Spice Recipe

So my oven as you know has had a few issues lately (like ruening off in the middle of my whoopie pies).  But a few days later a repairman came to fix it.  Probably is when he came, it turned on no problem.  Isn’t that always the case?  He probably thought I was crazy.  So he left and we discussed a new part that I may need to be sure it doesn’t happen again.  As soon as he left, since the oven was working I got out Cake Ladies, Celebrating a Southern Tradition by Jodi Rhoden.  I had been reading the stories of these lovely southern women (chefs, cooks, moms, grandmas, etc) who loved to make cakes as part of their heritage.

 

We were heading to friends for a large playdate so I thought I’d make and bring the Applesauce Spice Cake from Lois Mims in Pine Apple, Alabama.  Lois’ story is about using her intuition to cook and not measuring or writing things down.  Luckily she estimated for this recipe to share in the book.  And luckily my oven remained working through the baking.

Review

Pros:  Fun stories of real women living in the south and the importance of their baking to their family, community and history.  Lovely, inspiring pictures.   A cake for everyone and every occassion – even vegan cupcakes.

Cons: Each recipe is by a diffrent lady, thus some are not as consistent or exact (heaping teaspoons etc).  Not surprinsigly, many are time consuming recipes.

Applesauce Spice Cake

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 cups self rising sugar divided

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 heaping teaspoon clove

1 cup applesauce

1 cup whole shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped*

Glaze

3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar*

 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.

Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the Batter

Combine the oil, eggs, and sugars in a stand mixer.  Beat until light and fluffy and fully creamed.  Add 1 cup of the flour, and spices and beat until just combined.  Add applesauce and combine.  Then remaining flour.  Combine.  Add walnuts and fold in with a spatula.  Beat until just combined.

Bake the Cake

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.  Place pans in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides of the cake pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from oven and cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes before inverting onto racks to cool completely.

Make the Glaze

In a separate bowl combine the milk and the powdered sugar.  Mix with a fork or whisk until no lumps of powdered sugar remain.

Assemble the Cake

When the layers are cool, place the first layer on a plate.  Drizzle 1/4 cup of the glaze overt the first layer to cover the surface.  Allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides a little.  Place the next layer on top of the first and repeat with remianing glaze.  Applesauce spice cake can be kept at room temperature covered for up to one week.

*Lois Kitchen Wisdom

“Way back yonder we didn’t have no mixer.  When my mama used to fix the cake we had to beat it 300 strokes every time.”

(Note: I substituted peacans since I didn’t have walnuts.   Also I sifted the powdered sugar for the glaze to be sure it was smooth)

 

 

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