As Easter is this week, I’ve felt inspired by all sorts of sweet breads and chocolatey desserts, it’s like Christmas- but in April! It has been a while since I’ve done any sort of homemade bread so this week, I decided to roll with this idea of praline. And boy, oh boy did it turn out to be a gem.
I had a packet of pecans lying around that I had to use soon, and nothing beats ye olde combo of caramel and pecans. At this point, I had also started craving cinnamon rolls but there was no way that I would break apart these 2 culinary lovebirds with that common tart cinnamon. So, pecans and caramel, rolled up to look like cinnamon rolls? Sure, let’s go with that.
At the last minute I decided to use up the almonds that were hogging my shelf space, and as I had a jar of vegan caramel sauce in the fridge, I thought it might be fun to incorporate that too. And ta-da, the outcome was this masterpiece! Fresh out the oven, this could not be any closer to oven. Despite the use of caramel and extra brown sugar, this bread manages not to be overly sweet, and the use of buttermilk over regular milk makes it super soft. Do your family a favour and make this for Easter- I only advise you to make 2 batches as it probably won’t last long!
Vegan Sticky Praline Pull Apart Bread
For the vegan caramel sauce:
- 1×14 oz can coconut cream (just leave a tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp salt
For the bread:
- 2 cups vegan buttermilk (2 cups non dairy milk+2 tbsp vinegar)
- 2 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 and ½ cups self raising flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup of the vegan caramel sauce
Start by making the vegan caramel sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut cream and brown sugar over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is at a rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence and salt. Add to a glass jar and refrigerate for an hour. Will keep for a week in the fridge.
Then move on to the bread:
- Heat the buttermilk to about 30°C (or the recommended temperature on your yeast packet) and dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm buttermilk. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and foaming.
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre, and pour the buttermilk mixture and vegetable oil into the middle. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together then remove to a floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and elastic. If the dough is too sticky then add flour in, one tablespoon at a time until it holds. Set aside and allow to rest 30 minutes, whilst you prepare the filling.
- Add the pecans and almonds to a large roasting pan and roast at 200°C/400°F for 15 minutes, or until darkened and very fragrant. Allow to cool at room temperature before crushing to small pieces using either a food processor or a meat hammer. Add to a small bowl along with the brown sugar. Reserve a ¼ cup of this mixture for topping the dough.
- Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. Once the dough has rested and you’ve prepared the filling, roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 9×13 (I just eyeballed it and made the dough slightly smaller than the baking pan). Spread the vegan caramel over the surface of the dough, leaving a ¾ inch border. Sprinkle the nut/sugar mixture over the surface of the dough in an even layer.
- Starting at the longer end, roll the dough into a long cylinder, as if you’re making cinnamon rolls. I would advise that you transfer the dough to the baking pan you’re using at this point. Use a paring knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to make incisions in the dough, every 1 inch. Be careful not to cut all the way to the bottom of the log. I just pulled and twisted any loose ends, but you don’t need to do any more as far shaping the dough goes.
- Once you’re done shaping the dough, sprinkle the extra brown sugar/nut mixture you’d set aside earlier over the dough. If desired, you can also drizzle any extra caramel sauce you have left over the dough. Bake the bread in an oven at 180°C/350°F for between 35 and 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Let sit for at least 10 minutes at room temperature before slicing and serving. Best served warm and on the same day that it’s baked.
Today is a monumental day. Why? Car aujourd’hui I bring you the first vegan dessert to be published on this blog.
To be frank, it was about time anyways. Through the many cheesecakes we’ve shared, the soups we’ve slurped and the burgers we’ve devoured, I decided that it was time to switch it up a bit.
As I’m sure you all know, I have decided to permanently cut meat out of my diet. With the full knowledge of the atrocities that are committed everyday in the animal farming industry coupled with the significant impact on the environment that meat consumption is responsible for; I decided that enough was enough and it was time for me to act. I couldn’t stand by and support/ignore what was happening, whilst being fully aware of what was happening. So I stopped eating meat. As the goal is to eventually cut animal products out of my diet and my closet, I decided to pay tribute to veganism today with this cheesecake.
If you’ve never made a vegan dessert before, then fear not! The process is ridiculously simple. Start by preparing your vegan chocolate and your passionfruits.
You’ll need 2 cups of soaked cashews for this recipe, they should be left for at least 8 hours, but if you don’t have time then you can soak them in boiling water for an hour.
The almonds, pecans and oats are then blended to create a coarse meal. Maple syrup is drizzled in and that forms your base! The base is then frozen for 15 minutes to firm it up.
All the cheesecake ingredients are then pulsed in the blender, poured on top of the base and this is frozen for 4 hours. You take the cheesecake out of the freezer, spread it with the passionfruit pulp/sauce, let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature and you’re good to go! Happy cheesecaking friends!
Raw Vegan Passionfruit White Chocolate Cheesecake
makes one 9 inch cake or 15 cupcakes
For the base:
- 2 cups rolled oats (uncooked)
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ cup maple syrup
For the cheesecake:
- 1 and ½ cups cashews, soaked overnight in cold water or for 1 hour in boiling water
- 1×14 ounce tin of coconut cream or 1×14 ounce tin of coconut milk refrigerated overnight
- 250g of vegan white chocolate, melted (may replace with an extra cup of soaked cashews if you’re not into white chocolate)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp ginger
For the passionfruit topping:
- 1 cup passionfruit pulp (from about 12 passionfruits)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp cornflour + 2 tsp water
- Start with the base. In a food processor, pulse the oats, almonds and pecans until you have a coarse meal. With the motor running, pour in the maple syrup and pulse until the meal starts to bind together. Switch off the machine and dump the base into a 9 inch springform pan or add a tablespoon of base to 15 cupcake holders (no need to grease it first). Pat the base down into an even layer and freeze for 15 minutes.
- Move on to the cheesecake filling. Add all the cheesecake ingredients to a food processor and pulse until creamy and no large chunks of cashews remain in the mixture. Scoop on top of the frozen base and use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth into an even layer. Return to the freezer and freeze for 3 hours.
- Finally make the passionfruit topping. Add the pulp and the lemon juice to a medium saucepan on low heat and bring to a boil. Pour the dissolved cornflour into the mixture and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
- When ready to assemble, release the cheesecake from the springform pan to a cake stand. Use a spoon to smooth the passionfruit topping on top of the cheesecake. Let the cheesecake sit for 15 minutes to defrost aaaaaand you’re ready to cut and serve! Store leftovers in the freezer, but make sure to leave it at room temperature for 15 minutes before you slice and serve each time.
Confession Time: I have loathed peanut butter since I was 7 years old.
Before I was 7, I loved peanut butter and put it on virtually everything I ate. From crackers to sandwiches to rice (it’s a Zimbabwean delicacy along with kale and peanut butter) I could not get enough of the stuff. Until one unfortunate occasion when my peanut butter addiction punished me with an upset stomach. From that day onward, peanut butter was my mortal enemy. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups stopped being enjoyable, my PB & J sandwiches were PB deficient and Heaven knows what I would do when presented with a stir fry drizzled with peanut sauce.
I was perfectly happy to condemn myself to a nut butter-less life until I came across the most wonderful granola bars ever. And the worst part is: they were peanut butter flavoured. You can only imagine how confused my taste buds were. All the work I had put into disliking peanut butter in the previous 10 years had gone to waste. Feeling guilty, I decided to give it another chance.
And that opportunity led itself to where we are today, with these wonder-bars. With an apricot jam filling, every bite is jam-packed (haha) with that sweet fruity flavour and you don’t have to feel guilty because there is NO SUGAR in these bars. Bonus: they’re also paleo, vegan and full of everything that could ever be good for you on Planet Earth. We got almonds, we got chia seeds, we got oats, these bars will make your tummy so happy. The bars are the perfect balance of chewy and crunchy, so your teeth won’t break when you bite into them, but your jaw won’t get tired from chewing them. Have I got your attention yet?
Apricot Almond Chia Granola Bars with Yogurt Drizzle makes 8 bars
2 cups oats
1 cup almonds, sliced or whole is fine, you could use pecans if desired
1 cup dried apricots, any other kind of dried fruit is okay
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup apricot jam (optional)
Greek Yogurt Drizzle:
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp honey
For the granola bars:
- Grease an 8×8 baking pan and line with parchment paper
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the granola bars and stir until well combined. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat together the peanut butter and honey, stirring often until blended together. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence. Pour the peanut butter and honey mixture into the dry oat mixture and mix well until fully coated. You’re welcome to use your hands to make sure to really incorporate the wet ingredients.
- Press half of the granola bar mixture into the greased baking pan. Make sure that the base is fully covered. Press down to make sure you have an even layer. Microwave the apricot jam on high for 30 seconds to make sure it’s pourable. Pour the hot jam over the first layer of the granola bars and use a butter knife to make sure it’s spread evenly. Cover with the remaining granola bar mixture and press down to make sure you have an even layer. Freeze for 2 hours, then slice into 8 bars and return to freezer.
For the Greek Yogurt Drizzle:
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Greek Yogurt Drizzle and mix until combined. After cutting the bars, drizzle the drizzle (fo’ shizzle) over the bars and freeze for 30 minutes or until set. If desired, you could dip the bars into the drizzle and let set, drizzle side up. Store these bars in the refrigerator for up to a month.
This recipe was adapted from these Blueberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Granola Bars by Half Baked Harvest.