Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sweeties

Yesterday I inadvertently got into a dessert-making mode... I wanted to make a special treat for Bob, something that I knew that he would love. I didn't want to experiment on him (you'll see what I mean)... So I turned to my all-time tried and true cookbook, Vive Le Vegan! I cannot say enough good things about this cookbook, really. I didn't want to make any of Dreena's cookie recipes because I'm out of maple syrup at the moment, and that ingredient is what really makes her cookies shine. So I turned instead to the Chocolate P-Nut Butter Bars. They were a cinch to make, even though I had to wash my saucepan out twice during the process. And the result? Well...


It couldn't have tasted better if it had tried. Granted, peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven in my book, so these treats started with automatic points before I ever even sampled them. (And that's all I did--sample them! I'm still trying to fit back into my jeans comfortably!) Bob spoke very highly of these as well... with his mouth full, of course.

Then it was time for the experiment. When Urban Vegan announced her Vegans Gone Wild! contest, I knew that I wanted to try and re-create some classic French dessert. The winner?


These cute little profiteroles, cream puffs, which are commonly stuffed with ice cream or sweet whipped cream, and always drizzled with a rich, warm chocolate sauce. I decided to do a twist on both the cream and the chocolate--I made an almond whipped crème and served these profiteroles with a warm mocha sauce. Now, I have to admit before I post these recipes that I am quite pleased with the results of the crème and the mocha sauce... but not entirely pleased with the recipe for the cream puffs themselves. I have never made vegan pastries before so I was winging it on trying to replace the traditional eggs and re-creating the texture and mouth feel of cream puff pastry. I didn't get it exactly right, and I didn't have time to experiment with it again as the deadline sneaked up on me. But darn it, I went to all that trouble so I'm submitting this anyway! They look pretty, right? And they tasted fine, just not perfect. Can't win 'em all...

Almond Whipped Crème (I made this the day before so it would be sure to set)

1/2 cup plain soy creamer
1 tablespoon agar flakes
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 block (6 ounces) lite silken tofu
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Combine creamer, agar, and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until agar dissolves and the mixture becomes translucent and begins to thicken. Remove from heat. In a blender, combine tofu and extracts, and scrape the agar mixture into the blender. Whiz together until well blended and smooth. Chill for several hours. Once set, whiz again in the blender to soften, as it will have become very firm.


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Cream Puff Pastry

3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
6 tablespoons mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch turmeric (for color--may be omitted)

Place flour, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl and stir through. In a saucepan, bring the margarine and water to a boil, then remove from heat and add the mixture of dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, stir vigorously for about one minute. Place the saucepan back over low heat and cook the mixture for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Combine the mashed potatoes, baking powder, and turmeric, and add the mixture gradually to the mixture in the saucepan, mixing well between additions. Form the dough into 12 medium-large balls and drop onto an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.


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Mocha Sauce

10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coffee extract (or more, to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup plain soy milk

Combine the chocolate and water over a double boiler and heat gently, stirring constantly, until melted. Add soy milk as needed to thin the sauce to a pourable consistency. Once the mixture becomes smooth and saucy, remove from heat and stir in the extracts. Use immediately or reheat to serve.


--------------------

To assemble: Slice the cream puff in half, and place a generous spoonful of well-chilled almond crème on the bottom piece. Top with the other half of the cream puff, and then drizzle the warm sauce over the top and serve immediately.

23 comments:

KleoPatra said...

Laura, your dessert for U.V.'s contest... cream puffs were my fave dessert as a kid. They must be amazing. You may not have gotten it "perfect" but it looks perfectly luscious to me. i miss cream puffs!!

And you are such a sweetie to make Bob those bars. He must be feeling better. If i ate those, and i certainly would if they were around, i'd have trouble fitting in my jeans. But wow, would it be worth it!

Monika K said...

What a great idea for the dessert contest! Perfect pastry or no, they certainly had my mouth watering. (-:

VeggieGirl said...

cute profiteroles!! and those p.b. & chocolate bars are to-die-for; but then again, practically ANYTHING made with that classic combination is to-die-for, haha

aTxVegn said...

I used to make cream puffs all the time preveg. It's so fun to make the dough. I thought a vegan version was imporrislbe. Wow, Laura, that's awesome! The bars look fabulous too!

Courtney said...

Your cream puffs are very impressive!

Courtney

laura jesser said...

Kleo, aww--I'm glad the cream puffs brought back memories for you! I'm definitely going to keep toying with this recipe, so I'll keep you posted if I come up with something better!

Monika, thanks! :)

Veggiegirl, I'm with you on that! My favorite candy used to be Reese's cups... These are even better, though, and vegan! Boo-ya!

Diann, I'm determined that nothing is impossible to veganize (except maybe meringue, but ICK)--I just haven't quite figured out how to do it yet! I'm going to keep playing, and I've got some other French classics in the back of my mind as well (crème brulée, pain au chocolat, you name it). I think with enough determination, it WILL work!!

Courtney, thanks so much!

Melissa West said...

Wow Laura! Those desserts are totally over the top. I have tried to make those bars from Dreena's cook book about 3x's now, and everytime they are a complete disaster! I'm usually pretty good in the kitchen, but those bars elude me!

theONLYtania said...

Wow, both of those look great. very neat with the profiteroles.. I'll have to try my hand at them!

So I was on my way back to Philly last night and I found out that the gas gauge doesn't work! It said I had a full tank and then the light came on.. so I went to get gas and it turns out it only had half a gallon! Nooo :(

Brooke said...

I just gained 2 pounds looking at those desserts.

bazu said...

Those profiteroles are a winner in my book. You are a courageous chef to even attempt vegan puff pastry- wow! And the mocha sauce... heaven.

Vivacious Vegan said...

Wow, these look scrumptious. I've gained a few pounds recently so I'm not eating sweets for a while (my main downfall). I've been eating mostly fresh fruit, veggies, and beans. I loved the idea of your hummus with veggie chips below so much that it has been my lunch for the past few days. YUM! I think I"m going to make the curried chickpea salad today for lunch - although I might try to cut back on the veganaise a bit. THanks for so much inspiration.

healthnut said...

Everything looks so delicious! I noticed that one of your recipes calls for "agar flakes". What do these come in and what do they look like?

laura jesser said...

Melissa, I'm sorry you haven't had as much luck with these. I've found that keeping them cold is key--they get melty after just a few minutes of being out of the fridge. I hope you have better results next time because these are worth it!

Tania, NOO!! That's too bad.. Cars with gas gauges that don't work can be useful, you just have to learn how many miles to the gallon you get and then keep track of it in your head. Aww! :(

Brooke, I know--it's the craziest thing! Just from LOOKING! It happens to me too...

Bazu, thanks... I'm just going to have to keep at it, darn it!

Crystal, yes, I'm not eating sweets right now either--I just had one bite of each of these and now I'm laying off, but with a scrawny hubby I don't feel like I should deprive him of sweets just because my jeans get a little tight! I hope you like the chickpea salad. I actually suggest Nayonaise in the recipe, which is waaay less fattening than Vegenaise. Have you tried it?

Healthnut, agar (or agar-agar) is a seaweed that commonly comes in either flake or powder form. The flakes are whitish-clearish looking. It's a vegan gelatin substitute, but I don't think it behaves exactly as gelatin does. You just boil it in liquid until it dissolves and turns clear, and then when it chills it sets up really firm. I've actually only used it a couple of times, though. You can get agar at health food stores, or I suggest trying an Asian market first as it's generally much cheaper there (it's not cheap stuff, really). Hope this helps!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Profiteroles are some of my favorites. Amybe I can come help hubby finish up the batch?

Cool that you found a way to make them vegan too! Yum!

Liliy said...

Those cream puffs look great!

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Profiteroles are a great idea for UV's contest! This post is giving me a sweet-tooth! Love your new "Eden look" Laura! :o)

Vegan_Noodle said...

Sounds like a winner to me! I have fond memories of being in the south of France eating eclairs (pre-vegan days). I will have to try this one out! Thanks for posting the recipe. Good luck in the contest!

vko said...

hello- so impressive, they look completely decadent!

Johanna3 said...

yum! looks so good!

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Eva said...

Hey Laura,
I just discovered this recipe. I am delighted, I miss cream puffs. I will totally give it a try. Have you experimented with it since?
I am hoping to create a vegan croque en bouche :-)

Cheers,
Eva

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