Vegan adventures + winning recipes

I’m starting to gear up for the first-ever Vida Vegan Blogger Conference happening in a little over a week. Words can’t describe how excited I am. When I heard about it almost a year ago, I immediately bought a ticket and started planning a vegan girls’ getaway, which will include three days in Portland and five days in San Francisco. On my way home, I will also be making a three-day stop in British Columbia for my good friend Anita’s wedding.

With that being said, I do have lots to accomplish work-wise before jetting off. I’m currently filling two jobs as the associate and managing editor at a trade magazine and my co-workers have been working diligently to help me put our current issue to bed (a.k.a. ready for print) before I leave. With all their hard work, I’ve been thinking they deserve a sweet treat.

What better way to reward a job well done than with a winning recipe? As you may know, YUM Universe recently celebrated its first birthday with a party-themed recipe contest, and Lisa’s party perfect petit fours finished in first place among four other fabulous finalists. If you know Lisa, you’d agree that her passion and enthusiasm for celebrating the delicious flavours of whole, minimally processed foods inspires us all, and so her recognition in this contest is well deserved.

Not to mention the fact that her winning petit fours are brilliant! These tiny treats are a fun way of reinventing the classic cake with layers of raw ice cream, making use of soaked cashews, vanilla beans and cherries for a complementing flavour combination. I made them over the weekend, but subbed the cherries for raspberries, and my co-workers were in awe of them. If you only make one dessert before the end of the summer, I’d highly recommend this one.

Peanut caramel and chocolate tart

Thank you to everyone who left comments on my last post. I really enjoyed reading the feedback and suggestions on what you would like to see more of on this blog. The winner of the Wilton mini doughnut pan, selected by random.org, is Hannah of Wayfaring Chocolate! Please email me your mailing address so I can send it out to you!

Now, on to dessert.

I don’t remember the last time I bit into a Snickers bar, but I’d imagine it tastes something like this sinfully delicious tart, which was the perfect ending to a meal with my brother- and sister-in-law last Saturday. They came to the city for the day and I suggested they stop by for dinner and drinks before heading home that evening. With little time to prepare, I whipped up Angela’s creamy 15-minute avocado pasta, a salad and bruschetta for our meal, and, lucky for us, I just happen to have this new recipe creation in my freezer for dessert.

It’s a little nerve-racking when I share my dessert experiments with others, not knowing if it should have been tweaked just a little more. Thankfully, this peanut caramel and chocolate tart came out just as I had intended. The combination of a light peanut crust (adapted from my pistachio-poppyseed crust), toasted peanuts and caramel (made from a base of brown rice syrup and peanut butter), and a smooth dark chocolate ganache turned out to be a sophisticated, vegan version of the popular candy bar I grew to love as a child. The best part? No sugar or butter or other non-vegan ingredients are required. Enjoy!

Birthday and a giveaway

One year ago today, this wee little blog was born. Since then, with the gentle encouragement of a few kind readers and friends, what started as a tiny, modest blog has evolved to become what it is today.

When I started ADC last year, I wanted to celebrate vegan baking (and unbaking) in all its glory, and show the world that vegan food is delicious, creative and fun! But this long-time hobby has also become an art to be mastered. Now, I’m a little bolder in the kitchen, developing a sincere passion for experimenting with new ingredients and processes, and learning from my successes and failures along the way.

 

This blog has also helped me rediscover my love for photography and develop my own voice in the world, and was the catalyst for vegan outreach endeavours. More importantly, I have become part of a compassionate community of individuals, locally and worldwide, who not only share a passion for delicious food, but also genuinely care for each other, who lend an ear, encourage one another, speak up, and have helped me create a space where I feel safe and accepted, willing to log my recipes and put my work on public display.

Of course, this isn’t a proper birthday party unless there are gifts, and so I’d like to give you one! Just for fun, one lucky reader will receive a Wilton mini doughnut pan because I love mine. If you’d like one, just leave a comment before Monday, August 8 at midnight, and tell me what you want to see in the coming year on ADC [Sorry, this giveaway is over]. More reviews? More raw recipes? More giveaways? Don’t be afraid to tell me your thoughts.

Raw Mini Pie Challenge

Now that we’re at the peak of the summer season, the abundance of fresh produce gives us reason to create new recipes that don’t involve turning on the oven. With that in mind, Lisa and I have a new recipe challenge for you: raw mini pies!

 

Raw foodies will agree that raw pies are much easier to make than traditional baked versions, and we’re hoping you can come up with a winning recipe. Flavours can range from old-fashioned classics like apple or pumpkin pie to unique results of your own creation, utilizing local, seasonal ingredients or other delicious flavours. From fruity to chocolaty, nutty to creamy, the sky is the limit when it comes to formulating your perfect pie recipe. Luscious toppings and sauces can also make your pie a showstopper.

Just in case you missed the last two recipe challenges, they have resulted in a collection of sensational sweets that may inspire you to join the fun. (Did we mention there are prizes, too?) A quick look around the web will show that some pretty fantastic pies have already been discovered: Lisa’s OMG applie pie, Susan’s strawberry cream pie, Heathy’s pumpkin mousse pie, and Lori’s California mud pie. So are you ready to get started?

Just like our previous challenges, we’re asking that you use only raw ingredients that have not been heated beyond 118 degrees. Nothing that comes in a can, no soy, no store-bought coconut milks, almond milk, oat milk or rice milk sold in tetra packs will be allowed. Instead, look for raw nuts, fresh or dried coconut, seeds and dried fruits that can be turned into milks or flours. You can use coconut sugar, stevia, raw agave, lucuma, dates, raisins or maple syrup (an allowable exception to the raw rule) to sweeten your mini pies. Feel free to play with fresh fruit, raw cacao or dried spices and have fun inventing new flavour combinations.

The perfect party cake

Veg-based foodie site Yum Universe (YU) is turning one on August 12, and they’re celebrating with a birthday-themed contest, which involves creating a plant-based, party-themed, whole foods recipe. To me, birthdays are always worth a little extra effort in the dessert department—you’ll never see me making a birthday cake using a boxed mix and frosting from a can, no ma’am. To me, life’s special moments are meant to be celebrated, and for Yum Universe, that comes with a six-layer brownie blizzard ice cream cake.

I was first inspired to create such a decadent cake after seeing the gorgeous photos of the raw peanut butter cup ice cream cake on Sweetly Raw. However, since I don’t currently own an ice cream maker or Heathy’s ice cream cake e-book, I knew I’d have to rely on my own knowledge and experience to get the job done.

I know the recipe instructions below look like they could fill a 100-page handbook, but trust me when I tell you it’s not that bad…and it’s totally worth it. Just think about how proud you’ll be when you can pull off a healthy, whole-foods-based ice cream cake that looks like it came from Dairy Queen. Those dairy- and sugar-loaded DQ cakes were once a childhood favourite of mine, but the thought of eating one now just turns my stomach. Lucky for us, this cake is made with natural, raw and vegan ingredients, like cashews, cacao and coconut, which is much more appealing.

Are you ready for the ride? Here we go…
Layer 1—dense, chocolatey, brownie cake base
Layer 2—smooth, light vanilla soft serve
Layer 3—creamy macadamia nut caramel
Layer 4—almond and chocolate cookie crumbs
Layer 5—more vanilla soft serve, but with thick brownie chunks
Layer 6—topped with a smooth chocolate ganache and more brownie chunks