Day 15> In which Jess plays catch-up thanks to an Instagram obsession after a few days of root canal recoup. Continue reading
Vegan MoFo Day Nine > More and more prep for Vegan Supperclub’s private Speakeasy evening. So beyond stoked. Continue reading
What’s about to happen with the following ingredients is so simple, it’s practically a guide to cooking dried pasta. All that takes is water, a generous pinch of salt, and a pot to put on the stove. In this case, … Continue reading
What better time to start putting together a recap about a visit to the Better Living Home and Garden Show than a Boltbus with shaky but semi-reliant WiFi out-of-town? I’m now back home and just last night, started a batch of … Continue reading
It’s now been one month and one week of fresh young coconut withdrawals, and I’ve finally stopped tearing up as I glance at the $2.99 and up, flown-across-the-globe selections around town. It hasn’t been easy (well, the glaring price helps), but somehow, I keep my wallet in my bag. Recently, I caught myself staring at coconut photos in my Flickr and slowly realized, it’s beyond time I shared some of my winter vacation photos from SE Asia. And being that it’s the day after eat-chocolate-in-bed day, I finally knew where to begin.
Let me explain: during my travels, I attended three very different culinary classes: a vegetarian cooking class at Peace Cafe in Siem Reap, May Kaidee’s Cooking School in Bangkok, and Raw Chocolate Prep by De-Hydraded Modern Living Cuisine. I’ll get to the first two classes eventually, because I really want to tell the tale of my love affair with Cambodian Amok and so on, but for now, let me photo document some raw chocolate creations. The class was taught my friend, the charming Jennifer M. Robertson, who I’d met at Vida Vegan Con back in August. Ah, the VVC connection! Jen showed our class how to make a Thai-spiced chocolate smoothie, a rich chocolate torte with a well-textured coconut macadamia crust, assorted raw chocolate truffles, decadent bite-sized chocolate candies with a “royal” garnish, and be still my heart, young coconut-based dark chocolate ice cream with a candied cardamom-pistachio topping. Nearly everything used was organic, all dishes were prepared from scratch, and generous samples were provided of everything.
First up, a Thai-spiced chocolate smoothie with a base of frozen bananas and fantastic heat from local, organic chili peppers. When you ask a class in Thailand if they want their smoothie “spicy”, the response is going to be enthusiastically positive.
Looking back on this photo, I remind myself to breathe.
Starting the ice cream process
For the tart crust.
Prepared raw macadamia and coconut tart crusts. This simply set for a short period of time before filling.
Raw cacao butter based truffles + green tea powder
Raw lucuma powder – so intriguing!
For the chocolate candies. The gold leaves are of a Buddhist design.
Set & adorned (these are clearly my jet-lagged examples)
Cacao nibs, crushed nuts and candied cardamom-pistachios: all raw toppings for the following treat…
Everything I sampled (damn new cashew allergy!) was so lovely, but the young coconut-based dark chocolate ice cream was tops and one of the most memorable flavors of my vacation.
My decorated tart, with dark chocolate mousse and torn flower petals
Jen takes her classes and retreats around the world. Check out the De-hydrated facebook for regular updates.
In a shocking turn of events, this pie is not from the upcoming Vegan Pie in the Sky cookbook. I repeat, this is not an official, Post Punk Kitchen endorsed pie. This creation was inspired by the recent Portland VegFest, Chicago Soy Dairy’s sweet deal on those sweet little ‘mallows, Julie Hasson’s cream pie demo and perhaps the most mind-blowing aspect of all – was poured into a goddamn, pre-made crust. Testing for Vegan Pie in the Sky helped me conquer my fear of homemade crusts, for sure, but you know, sometimes you just find yourself picking up a graham cracker shell or two when you see them on sale in the ‘natural’ aisle at Grocery Outlet.
Inside the graham cracker shell, the only actual grahamy-element here (because every vegan who’s ever searched knows the pain of finding the mysteriously spotted-every-couple-of-years store-bought, honey-free graham cracker), was a rich chocolate tofu mousse, Vita-Mixed with Mori Nu firm silken tofu, melted semi sweet chocolate chips, a bit of coconut milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, based on the Mint Truffle Pie in Julie’s Vegan Diner. To complete the s’moresey scenario, I added broken cinnamon cookies and chopped dandies, along with a layer of dandies on top. It’s recently popped into my head that my kitchen absolutely needs a mini blowtorch, but since I’ve yet to make this ridiculously awesome purchase happen, I broiled the topped pie for 5 minutes. I was quickly happy with the lightly golden color, but freaked out as it rested, as the mallows seemed to harden! No worries, upon arrival to my little happy hour club, my friends and I learned that smush remained, and the pie was a hit, particularly when paired with a microbrew. Classy.
I know there’s maybe two or three people out there who don’t enjoy this dynamic flavor duo, but I cherish it. They’re both quintessential holiday flavors of chocolate candies and candy canes and hot chocolate and all that literal sweetness. Now, around this time last year, I lamented my sadness over the sudden absence of my dear Chocolate Peppermint Vitasoy from the U.S. market (You lucky Canadians! ) Obviously, you can easily make chocolate peppermint milk at home with simple ingredients (hello, cocoa powder + nondairy milk + sweetener + peppermint extract), but I’m holding onto this seasonal convenience item purcashing. The Westsoy Chocolate Peppermint Soy beverage is certainly rich, creamy, and lovely, but I just don’t see it as often (though Food Fight! usually has it – so check there first if you’re on the lookout in PDX). Fortunately for my fellow chocolate peppermint nondairy milk enthusiasts, there’s a new indulgence on the market: Silk Mint Chocolate. I’ve been on the lookout since a friend mentioned it on twitter a few weeks ago, and I practically twirled when I saw it on sale (okay, 2 for $5) at Whole Foods a couple of days ago. Sidenote: I know, Silk and Whole Foods are both somewhat evil for various reasons, but they both offer and do some good, too – not to mention, offering affordable vegan items. I think the whole new Silk organic line separation is utterly ridiculous, but at least the rest is non-GMO. Alas, this is a whole other discussion.
Anyway, if you’re open to buying Silk, just once, I recommend trying this – it’s so smooth and the flavor is just right! Plus, Silk’s market domination hopefully makes this easier to find and enjoy.
If you’re open to mixing these with alcohol, the amateur mixologist in me would recommend bourbon with the creamy Westsoy and vodka with the silky…Silk. Holiday party time with mint chocolate cocktails, indeed. Don’t forget the candy cane stirrer for pure class.
Keeping with this theme, check out what Sweetpea had to offer on donut day:
P.S. The new Trader Joe’s Chocolate Peppermint mix is totally not vegan. Look away quickly or you’ll be just as depressed as I was. Like it’s so hard to make things creamy without dairy. Lame, TJ’s! At least we still have Candy Cane Jo Jo’s…
P.P.S. Now I want everything edible in my life today to bestow this flavor combination….