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I bet you thought I’d completely abandoned this project, right? Right? Wrong, darlings. But I do work in the vegan goodies business, and the holiday season tends to be rathah bizzay, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Despite the radio silence, I did in fact make a couple of items for this blog, it’s just been a matter of finding the time to sit down and write about them! Since I’ve been working through the list of desserts in the Savoy Truffle song in order, that’s how I’m going to finish the song up – one by one – until the grand finale, which will of course be the Savoy Truffle itself. (I actually haven’t a clue about what to do for the savoy truffle but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.)

This installment is all about the cool cherry cream.

vegan cherry mousse

It’s really a sort of vegan mousse. I had planned on using frozen cherries I’d stashed away back in the summer, but those were hijacked for the trifle I put together for family and friends on Christmas Day. So I was reduced to using a can of bing cherries bought from the supermarket. They weren’t organic, and they were packed in a mixture of their own juice and corn syrup. Had I been using pitted, fresh or frozen cherries, I would have made my own syrup with them, which is what I recommend you do. I’ll include a little note at the end telling you how to do this. It’s quite simple, really; which is an adequate descriptor for the remainder of this recipe, actually.

Vegan Cherry Mousse

14oz can of cherries, drained and liquid reserved (about 2 cups pitted cherries)
1 cup sugar
1 box firm, silken tofu, pureed until smooth
1 tub vegan cream cheese (about 8oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp agar powder
dash salt
toasted and crushed pistachios as garnish (optional)

Mix cherry liquid, sugar, agar and salt together in a small saucepan, and bring to a low boil, whisking all the while, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Place the vegan “cream cheese” in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add in the pureed tofu and mix. With the beaters still working, slowly add the cherry syrup until it is completely incorporated and you have a nice pink creamy mixture. Refrigerate this for an hour, stirring occassionally, until it has thickened. Add the vanilla extract. Take the electric beaters to it a second time, on high speed, to incorporate as much air as possible into the mixture. Gently fold in the reserved cherries, keeping four aside as garnish.

Spoon the mousse into 4 serving dishes. Top with a cherry and toasted, crushed pistachios, if desired. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

To make a cherry syrup:
Place 2 cups of fresh or frozen cherries in a saucepan with 4 tbsp each water and liquid sweetener (maple syrup, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar). Bring to a low boil and cook, uncovered, until the cherries release their juice. Let cool.

This mousse was a HUGE hit with the family, and I loved it because it was so simple to prepare.

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Since it was “The Savoy Truffle” that originally inspired me to begin this blog, it only makes sense that I begin with my vegan interpretations of all the delights George Harrison crooned over (and warned us about). What’s nice about this particular selection is, depending on the cookie you use, it could be completely sugar-free, since I call for the use of agave nectar as the main sweetening agent.

An interesting and fun fact about the song Savoy Truffle is that Harrison penned it as a way to rib his friend Eric Clapton about Clapton’s sweet tooth. Apparently all of the treats in the song were actually selections from a box of chocolates Clapton had been gnoshing on, except for the “cool cherry cream” and the “coconut fudge”. But don’t worry, I’ll be re-creating those in due time.

Cream Tangerine
A luscious whipped orange-scented cashew cream layered with tangerine sections and cookie crumbs. Inspired by the first verse of the song Savoy Truffle, by the Beatles.

1 cup “raw” cashews (in quotation marks because the skins of cashews are toxic and must be boiled off; just don’t use toasted/roasted cashews and you’ll be fine.)
1 small can tangerine slices in their juice (not syrup) (mandarin oranges will do in a pinch)*
2 cups white grape juice
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp agave nectar, divided
2 tsp pure orange extract, divided
sea salt
cookies of your choice
tangerine-agave sauce (see below)

Drain the can of tangerine sections, reserving the juice in a measuring cup. Add white grape juice. If necessary, add water to make 4 cups of liquid, total. Pour this into a saucepan and add the cashews. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for until the cashews are soft, about 10 minutes. Cover the pot and let cool enough to handle.

Drain liquid off cashews and reserve it in a measuring cup. Add cashews to your blender or food processor. Add melted coconut oil and begin whizzing. While the blender is still working, slowly add the warm cooking liquid through the top until a thick, smooth cream is formed. Add 1 teaspoon of the orange extract, 2 tablespoons of the agave nectar and a pinch or two of sea salt and blend again. Transfer to a mixing bowl, cover, and let sit in the fridge until completely chilled.

While this chills, make the tangerine-agave sauce. Put the juice back into the saucepan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of agave nectar and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook, uncovered until the liquid has evaporated off, leaving you with about a cup of juice. Remove a few tablespoons into a mug, let cool slightly, then whisk in 2 tsp of cornstarch. Add this mixture into the boiling reduction, along with the remaining teaspoon of orange extract, and whisk until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

When the cashew cream is completely cold, whip with your stand mixer’s whisk attachment, or use your electric beaters. It should increase in volume by nearly 50% or more. The more the better, really. When you feel it’s fluffed up enough, bust out two of your favourite fancy glasses. I used wine glasses but this would look equally impressive in martini glasses or margarita glasses.

Crush your cookies of choice and place a layer in the bottom of each glass. Top with a layer of tangerine sections, then a generous layer of cashew cream. Repeat, using a piping bag on the last layer of cashew cream for that fancy flourish you see in my photo. Garnish each glass with a half a cookie, a section of tangerine, and a scant drizzling of the tangerine sauce. Chill until ready to serve.

*You are welcome to use fresh fruit in this dish, though I’d recommend getting fussy and removing as much of the pith (white stuff and strings) from the tangerine sections as possible. They tend to be bitter, and detract from the texture. Your call, totally.

O-bla-di O-bla-da, Life Goes On

November 2017
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