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!
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.
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
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.
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not low-fat)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ to ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
Makes 2 cups
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.