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.
Cream Puff Pastry
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
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.
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.