Vegan Nesselrode Pie

You’re probably sitting there scratching your head wondering what this pie could possibly consist of since the recipe seems to have vanished in recent years. I, myself had never heard of it until a dear “foodie” friend brought it up to me around the holidays. As soon as he mentioned candied fruit I was interested. This is because I am one of the few that actually adores fruitcake, but let me assure you right now that this pie is nothing like fruitcake – please don’t run away scared!

Traditionally, the pie is made using a flaky crust with a bavarian cream filling that has been lightened using egg whites before gently folding in the candied fruits. The candied fruits are often accompanied by chestnuts or sometimes even cauliflower. Other recipes have used lady fingers or chocolate wafers to create a more crumbly cookie crust. Sometimes there is a fluffy whipped topping placed over the bavarian cream filling with a dusting of chocolate shavings.

According to Larousse Gastronomique, The French food encyclopedia, there are a number of dishes containing chestnuts that were named after the 19th century Russian diplomat Count Nesselrode. There aren’t many other details as to why these dishes were named after him, but I think it’s safe to assume he was quite a big fan of chestnuts. Regardless of the why or how I am grateful that this recipe exists and that my friend introduced me to it! Its popularity in the US was due to a wonderful woman named Hortense Spier who served this at her restaurant as well as supplying them to a good many others in NYC during the 1950s. Back then this particular pie was as well known as lemon meringue, banana cream and coconut custard – whatever happened to poor nesselrode?!

Seeing that I have been eating and cooking vegan for a few years now I have been much more courageous in my attempts to “veganize” recipes that sound very… unvegan? The friend who told me about this retro recipe was so excited for someone to express an interest in nesselrode that he purchased an entire case of the pre-made candied fruits filling called “Raffetto’s Nesselro”. After each attempt of a different recipe he would give me a new bottle of the Nesselro in exchange for a few pieces of my experiments. Finally, we agreed that this last version was worth sharing with the world! He is truly hoping (and seems to believe) that this will begin a resurgence of Nesselrode Pie. I would love to be responsible for that, but for now I’m hoping someone out there will just give this a chance 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nesselrode Pie Recipe (Vegan)

Chocolate Cookie Crust

1.5 Cups Chocolate Cookie Grounds
5 Tablespoons Earth Balance (I use soy-free), melted

Filling

6 ounces silken tofu
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon agar flakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
.5 tsp almond extract
.5 tsp lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
10 oz Nesselro Fruit Topping, drained
1 tablespoon Dark rum
2 14 oz cans of Full Fat Coconut Milk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Chocolate Cookie Crust

1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.) Place cookies into a food processor or blender and process until they are finely ground. No processor/blender? No problem! Put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and pound away with something like a rolling pin.

3.) Melt the first 5 tablespoons of Earth Balance Buttery Spread of choice (I always use soy-free).

4.) Transfer finely ground cookie crumbs into a large bowl, sprinkle a few shakes of cinnamon, pour the melted EB over the top, and stir until combined.

5.) Pour crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and, using the bottom of a cup or your fingers, press firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Bake until fragrant, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

For the Filling & Topping

1.) Whisk 1/2 cup almond milk with the cornstarch, set aside. Using a sieve drain your jar of Nesselro Fruit Topping, set aside.

2.) Pour the remaining 1/2 cup almond milk into a small saucepan with the Agar flakes and whisk over medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble turn the heat down to low-medium and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep mixture from burning to bottom of the pan. Add the granulated sugar and allow to cook for another minute.

3.) Turn the heat back up to medium-high and slowly pour/whisk the almond milk cornstarch mixture in and bring to a light boil (about 30 seconds). Turn heat back down to medium-low and allow to cook for 5 more minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

4.) Remove pot from the heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of EB buttery spread until completely combined. Set pot aside to cool for a bit while you prep the remainder of the ingredients.

5.) Place the tofu, extracts, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender with the warm custard mixture and blend until fully combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and place in the refrigerator (or freezer if you want to eat this pronto!) to chill while you work on the coconut whipped cream (Coconut whipped cream recipe found below).

6.) Remove the bowl of custard and delicately fold in about a third of your coconut whipped cream. Gently fold in the Nesselro Fruit Topping with the dark rum, if using.

7.) Transfer the custard filling to your cookie crumb pie shell, spread the remaining coconut whipped cream on top, and finish the pie with a dusting of dark chocolate shavings.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1.) Place two cans of full fat coconut milk upside down in your refrigerator the night before. Place a large bowl in the freezer while you’re at it!

2.) Once you’re ready to open the cans of coconut milk turn them right side up again, open and pour out all of the excess liquid into a separate container (great to save for smoothies!).

3.) Extract the coconut cream from your cans of coconut milk into the large chilled bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, to taste, and whip it all up using an electronic mixer with beaters!

*  Don’t forget to grate some chocolate shavings over the top! I used the Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso beans. The hint of coffee really intensifies the chocolate flavor. 

Easter Pop-tarts

Image

I didn’t even make these in the spirit of Easter, but they certainly look like something that belongs at an Easter gathering, don’t they?

The nerd inside of me absolutely loves video games, and cooking, playing games, or researching one of those two usually always take up any free time that I have, hehe. These little toaster cuties were created for a contest relating to my most current game obsession (Final Fantasy XIV). They were meant to look like a popular creature to the FF series called a chocobo. Sadly, I didn’t win, but I’m sure if the judges could have tasted them I would have been a winner! Here is what my official entry looked like:

Image

Most pop-tart recipes that I find online are filled with a lot of fake butter or shortening, which I’d like to stay away from unless I really need it. I decided to give a favorite pie dough recipe a go at being my pop-tart’s crust, and I must say that it worked wonderfully. Using that dough recipe (which doesn’t even require chilling) along with the simple filling made these pastries very simply and quick. This was my first attempt at royal icing, and all it turned out to be was a royal mess in the kitchen.

Pop-tart Pastry Dough (originally pie, but in disguise as a pop-tart here)
Recipe acquired from here: Happy Herbivore

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 whole banana, cold
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raw sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
½ tsp salt

Directions:
1.)  Combine flour and banana (a slightly unripe, still greenish banana is best) in a food processor, pulsing until there are no whole banana pieces left and you can mold the mixture (think play-dough).
2.)  Transfer it out on to a clean surface and incorporate 1-3 tsp of warm water. You want enough water so that the dough is wet and not crumbly or dry, but not so wet it becomes sticky or hard to work with. Again, think, “play dough”. Roll it out using a glass (such as a drinking glass) until it’s very thin. I find picking the dough up and moving it as I roll it out help keep it from sticking to my clean surface.
3.)  I rolled my dough into about an 8×8 square, and then I sliced that into 8 smaller rectangles.
4.)  Place 1 tbsp of filling in the center of 4 of your dough-rectangles, and cover each of them with 1 of the bare rectangles. Using a fork close up each of the sides to create your classic pop-tart pastry. Prick the top a couple of times to allow steam to release while baking.
5.)  Carefully move your pop-tarts to a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top is golden.

Peach Jam Filling

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups frozen peach slices
2 tsp sugar (optional, depending on how sweet the peaches are!)
1 tbsp Chia seeds
3 tbsp water

Directions:
1.)  Add everything to a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Once the peaches and chia seeds “gel” together remove the pan from the heat.
2.)  Empty the contents into a food processor, and pulse a few times to get a jam-like consistency.
3.)  Now your filling is ready for the pastries! I had a little leftover, but it was heavenly spread onto some Ezekiel toast the following morning. : )

Royal Icing
Recipe acquired from here: Royal Icing

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar (I used organic)
1 ½ tbsp almond milk (or any non-dairy milk you prefer)
2 tsp light corn syrup
¼ tsp vanilla extract
food coloring of your choice

Directions:
1.)  Whip the sugar, almond milk, corn syrup, and vanilla until thick and smooth.
2.)  Divide the icing into small bowls to color individually and frost. Allow pastries to sit at room temperature to harden.

Notes: I don’t have a pastry bag for fancy decorating techniques – I simply used little zippy bags to fill with the colored frosting, snipped a tiny tip of a bottom corner, and used that as a decorating bag. 

Thin Mints, Pocket Pies, and Cheezy Hot dog Pizza.. Oh my!

Image

I was hesitant to even bother posting anything because it seems that all I ever make are sweet treats. Quite the contrary, but it’s always dark by the time I make my savory meals, and there are never any left overs to take pictures of the following day (that’s a good thing though, right?). I promise that I am going to make a point of it to get some snaps of savory dishes that I make – the blog is feeling very one-sided and boring without a few here!

This weekend is going to be the Oscar’s, and a few friends are coming over to watch the show with us. Us girls have already begun planning our menu, and let’s be honest here… we’re a bit more excited for the snacks than we are about the actual program. Actually, for the past few weekends we have all been gathering together to make new and yummy dishes. The Oscar’s just happen to give us a new excuse to eat snacks for dinner, rather than create a traditional well-balanced meal!

Last weekend we made buffalo cauliflower pizza, Mac&Cheeze with little hot dogs also atop a pizza crust, thin mints, and pocket cherry pies. Unfortunately, I have no stellar pictures of the pies or the pizza dishes (they were taken in terrible lighting with my iPhone), but I did salvage a couple of the thin mints to have a proper photo-shoot the next day!

ImageImage

Image

 There was even some left over cherry pie filling that I saved, and I had intended on putting on top of pancakes. This was before it occurred to me last night before I fell asleep that it might be kind of amazing on top of some oatmeal (I often think of food before falling asleep, strange I know). It turned out being even better than I imagined.

 Tonight we are having alfredo with penne and a broccoli/spinach mixture folded in. For dessert we’re going to use up those little crumbly unsightly peppermint cookies to create a homemade chocolately mint blizzard. I will report back with my findings 😉

Happy Fasnacht Day!

Image

If anyone is reading, hellooooo (said in my best Jerry Seinfeld belly button speech, of course)!
My pancakes last week were pretty disappointing.. I’m not sure if they would be worth mentioning. I took a few sad-looking pictures, and they were a bit off-putting. They tasted yummy, but the pictures didn’t really do them justice, and I figured I would wait to post anything until they looked as appetizing as they tasted. The topping this time around was peaches and “cream” so, you have that to look forward to reading about once I finally get it down!

A friend of mine and I have been quite busy with our vegan cooking adventures. We made Eggplant Parmesans from the Oh She Glows blog over the weekend, and they were the best I have ever tasted! Don’t you hate when you get a vegetable doused in so much oil you feel guilty for eating a normally super healthy veggie? I know I do, and her eggplant parm was baked to a crispy perfection. The week before that we made Super Bowl treats with her recipe of baked onion rings that were also quite num nums. I whipped together my own batch of buffalo dip (John was having withdrawals from Buffalo Chicken dip that used to be a weekly splurge), and a veganized taco dip. We were so antsy to get eating that neither my friend or I remembered to take pictures of the deliciousness… It’s all right though, I told her and the boys that it just means we will have to make it all over again to eat! No one could contest to that 😉

This same friend was having a craving for fasnachts yesterday (Fat Tuesday). I grew up in California, and I moved to the East coast a couple of years ago. Prior to moving here I had never celebrated Fat Tuesday or heard of anything called a Fasnacht. John made it very clear during our first year of dating that fasnachts were very important in securing your good luck throughout the year and ever since there have been fasnachts to be eaten during this time of the year. Last year was a mess trying to create a sugar free adaptation…and when my friend requested a vegan version this year I knew I would not be bested by anything called a “fasnacht” ever again! I went on a mission to find a recipe, and you wouldn’t believe how challenging it was to find one. I ended up modifying a plain ol’ fasnacht recipe because it seemed easy enough to convert it over to a vegan version. Thankfully, I was right and they turned out wonderful! They are so simple to make and very delicious, I highly recommend giving it a try 🙂 If you bake them they are not all that bad for you at all!

 Vegan Fasnachts
*Adapted from here: Original Fasnacht Recipe
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup soymilk (I used Edensoy, but I will be testing unsweetened almond milk out next week)
2 packets of yeast (I Used Hodgson Mills rapid rise)
1/4 cup + a sprinkle for the milk/yeast mixture dry sweetener (I Used coconut palm sugar)
1/2 cup warm mashed potato
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 Cup non-dairy chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil

For the fasnachts:
1.) Sprinkle yeast over warm non-dairy milk, add a pinch of sugar and set aside for 5 minutes allowing yeast to grow.
2.) Combine flour, potatoes, salt and sugar. Add the milk/yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your mixture for 3 minutes. (I used my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the dough hook, and it worked perfectly!).
3.) Turn the dough out on a floured bowl and knead for a for minutes until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.
4.) Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut the donuts. You can cut a square donut (traditional) or use a glass and cut one donut and use a shot glass to cut the hole. (I used my pizza cutter, and I made 16 smaller rectangle-shaped fasnachts).
5.) Place the cut donuts on a floured cookie sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30-40 minutes.
6.) Heat a half inch of oil in a large skillet or electric fry pan. (heat to about 360 degrees). Slide donuts in and fry for about 2 minutes, turn and finish cooking until golden brown. This was a little tricky for me.. I think since I made my fasnachts a bit smaller than the original recipe instructed I only needed to cook mine for about a minute and a half total in the oil. As you can see below, my first batch were a little too dark.. tasty none the less!
7.) Remove donuts to rack to drain and cool slightly. Toss with powdered sugar or glaze with the following recipe.
*Alternatively, you can bake these! I did an experiment of baking 6 of these delicious puffs of dough, and John actually preferred them the healthier way (wow!). To bake them I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees, placed them on a lined cookie sheet, and let them bake until they were brown on top (this was about 12 minutes for me). 

For the chocolate glaze:
1.) Begin to melt the chocolate chips and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2.) Once about 2/3 of the chocolate is melted turn off the heat, and continue to stir until all of the chocolate is melted.
3.) Dip your fasnachts into the chocolate glaze top side down and then allow to rest for as long as you can manage!Image

Cowboy Cookies

Image

Sooo.. this isn’t exactly a recipe that I adapted into a Vegan version, but they are delicious none the less!

My boyfriend, John, was diagnosed as diabetic last year, and he has been quite unhappy with all of the new medical bills that came with it ever since. We have a couple of friends who told us about the Engine 2 diet and instructed us to check out the Forks Over Knives
documentary. John doesn’t like anything requiring much muss or fuss, but I watched the documentary, and I began eating a plant-based diet right away. I convinced him to follow the E2 28 day challenge (found on their website: Here) so that we could test if it would indeed lower his blood sugar. In result of this I hadn’t been too awfully adventurous in my cooking. I simply followed the meal plan, and I didn’t deviate from it in order for his blood sugar readings to be the most accurate. The good news is that his blood sugar levels have dropped by 60 points! He is quite the busy guy, and it’s tough to exercise much. We recently got him a new pair of running shoes, and we’re convinced that with this new style of eating combined with exercise will keep his blood sugar in check 🙂

Anyways, the point of this little story was to explain why this new blog has been so action-less since the holidays. This 28-day challenge is winding down, and I have a ton of ideas rattling around in my head for recipes I want to “veganize”.

These cookies are the first recipe in a long time that I played around with. There is actually a vegan bakery relatively close to where we live, but the owner isn’t all that friendly and that makes it tough for me to want to continue shopping there. I love supporting local businesses, but not so much when they act like a snot =/ Well, went off topic again, but the inspiration for these cookies was this local vegan bakery. Even when I wasn’t eating a vegan diet I loved the “Cowboy Cookies” that this bakery offered. The bakery is located right next to my old orthodontist’s office, and I would get a few every month! As the years went on, the owner became more entitled, preachy, and a lot less friendly and this seemed like the perfect time to create my own. I’ve finally done it, and here is the recipe for anyone else to enjoy!

 Vegan Cowboy Cookies
Adapted from “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar”

Wet Ingredients
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or any other non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla

 Dry Ingredients
1 1/3 cups oat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup dry sweetener (I used coconut sugar)
1tbsp flaxmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

 Mix Ins
1/2 – 1 cup oats (I used 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (toasted)*
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup semi-sweet or any other non-dairy chocolate chips (I used the mini Enjoy Life brand)

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.) Combine the almond butter, applesauce, and sugar until combined. Then toss in the vanilla, almond milk, and flax meal.

2.) Add the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then mix. Once combined add the whole-wheat pastry flour and mix until combined.

3.) Add the oats, chocolate chips, toasted pecans, and coconut flakes.

4.) Once combined spoon cookies using a tablespoon or cookie scooper and place onto a foil/parchment/silpat covered cookie sheet. Press the tops of the cookies down just a smidge so that they resemble the shape of cookies. You could also roll the cookies into a ball then smoosh down into a puck-shape if you want them to appear more fancy. I made half of my batch using that method, but I liked the more rustic look of just throwing them down onto the sheet — it made them more rugged like a real cowboy!

5.) Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies. If there are left overs just place them in an airtight container for a couple of days or even in the freezer for about a month. Good luck with that though.. mine never seem to last through the night!

*Note: To toast the pecans I placed them on a baking sheet for 8 minutes with the oven at 300 degrees.

I hope that someone out there finds this, and they get to enjoy these yummy morsels!

-Miche

Vegan Fruitcake Cookies

Fruitcakecookies

Hello world! Is there anyone out there? I’m not sure if anyone will ever read this, but I decided to put it out here into the world-wide-web just in case. Since Thanksgiving I have eaten a vegan plant-based diet, and learning to cook what feels like completely from scratch. It was pretty intimidating in the beginning, and I was afraid that this meant my all-time favorite annual Christmas activity (baking Christmas cookies!) would come to an end this year. After reading many blogs and trying out a few recipes (with success!) I have been slowly regaining my confidence in these new skills following vegan cooking methods/substitutions. I decided that the one culinary goal I was going to set for myself this holiday season was to “veganize” my favorite Christmas cookie: a recipe for Fruitcake Cookies by Ina Garten. After experimenting a bit during this week leading up to Christmas I came out with a winner that I honestly cannot spot the difference between the two! This new version is just as yummy, healthier, and follows my new diet. Mission accomplished, and I plan to keep setting goals of “veganizing” all of my old favorite non-vegan dishes. If there is anyone that happened to stumble upon my little post, hello! Please try out this recipe and tell me if you enjoyed it as much as I do:)

Fruitcake Cookies:
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Fruitcake Cookies

Ingredients:
8 dried figs
4 ounces raisins
1 ounce dried cherries
1 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 ounces chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick non-dairy butter (I used an Earth Balance buttery stick)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup sugar (I used an organic coconut palm sugar)
1/3 cup light brown sugar or turbinado sugar
1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seed + 3 tbsp water)
1 1/3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
Directions:
Remove the tough stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, maple syrup, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

The next day…

Get your chia-egg ready so it can get gooey while you prep the rest of the ingredients!

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or old-fashioned elbow grease), cream the non-dairy butter,cloves, sugar, and brown/turbinado sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the chia-egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t over mix! Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll the dough into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm (when I’m impatient I put it into the freezer for a little over an hour, hehe)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden. I was able to get 28 cookies from this!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season:)

-Miche