Over the next few posts we are going on a slight diversion from the cake-based goodness you are used to, and instead will be talking about dessert. Specifically, vegan desserts, and I will be giving you the recipes for two that I tried recently. This was a new challenge for me, as I am not vegan myself, and have had basically no experience in this type of cooking. However, I was asked to make dessert for a family dinner and one of my cousins who would be in attendance is a very committed vegan. Now, whilst the easy option was to make a fruit salad or the like I decided that I didn’t really want to do that – rather I wanted to make a dessert that everyone could eat and enjoy – one that was vegan without looking vegan!
Now this is easier said than done, as the majority of desserts include some form of animal product, whether it be eggs, butter, cream or honey. Coupled with the fact that Max is strongly allergic to banana (another ingredient often used in vegan cooking) made it quite a large challenge! So I did what every sensible person does in this situation and hit Pinterest.
I decided that I would make a trial run of several desserts, having never attempted vegan cooking before. I selected three contrasting desserts, made mini tests of each of them and had a taste test! The three recipes were a coconut and vanilla panna cotta, a chocolate and orange mousse and a lime cheesecake. Two out of the three were successful, and the third (the lime cheesecake) was not unsuccessful – it tasted great, I just need a better blender!
Today then, I present the first of these recipes – a vegan coconut and vanilla pannacotta served with a caramel macadamia tuille and both dried and macerated pineapple. This recipe could also be used successfully for non-vegans as the flavours themselves are lovely (I actually adapted the recipe from a non-vegan version!)
Vegan Coconut and Vanilla Pannacotta, Macadamia Tuille and Pineapple (Two Ways)
- 20g vegetarian gelling agent
- 150ml/5floz rice milk (or your preferred milk equivalent)
- 150ml/5floz cream substitute
- 25g/1oz caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
- 100ml/3flz coconut milk
- 50g macadamia nuts
- 50ml/2flz orange liqueur
- 100ml/31/2floz water
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 tsp liquid glucose
- Pineapple and edible flowers to decorate
Place the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla pod and heat until the sugar dissolves, before removing the pan from the heat. Stir in the coconut milk, ensuring the mixture is completely smooth. Add the gelling agent to the pan and bring to the boil, ensuring that you stir constantly. Cook for two minutes before removing from the heat and pouring into metal ramekins. Place in the fridge to set for at least two hours.
Crush the macadamia nuts in a pestle and mortar, before placing on a baking sheet and gently toasting for a few minutes (keep your eye on them – I can promise you that if you even think of leaving them, they will burn!) Place the liqueur, water, sugar and glucose in a pan and cook over a high heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Allow it to become a nice amber colour, before removing from the heat and pouring onto a silicone baking mat. Spread it with a spatula until it is very thin,and sprinkle with the macadamia nuts. Cut out four discs (about 2in in diameter) and allow to cool completely.
Peel and de-eye the pineapple, before cutting very thin slices using a large broad-bladed knife. Lay these on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at gas mark 1 for about 1 hour until they have started to dry out and the edges have gone golden, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven and leave to dry completely. You can create pineapple flowers by placing the slices in muffin tins to cool. Cut the remainder of the pineapple into cube and place in a bowl with a little lime juice and sugar.
To complete the dish, Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and remove from the mould, loosening with a sharp knife as necessary. Place in the centre of the plate and place the tuille on top. Position pineapple flowers to one side, and add cubes of pineapple. Finish with an edible flower.
And there we go – my first vegan dessert! In two days time, return for chocolate mousse – vegan style!