Vegan Chocolate Silk Pie with Coconut Almond Cream

Are you sitting down? Because if not, I think you should for what I’m about to say: this pie was possibly one of the best pies I’ve ever made, let alone eaten. This is a serious statement considering how many pies I’ve sampled and/or birthed in my lifetime. It was that good. Like, need-to-keep-eating-past-uncomfortably-full-ness-good.

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Creamy. Silky. Chocolately. Coconutty. Almondy. A little crunchy thanks to the graham cracker crust and the shredded coconut. Yet fluffy thanks to the whipped topping. Sweet, yet rich and bitter. Delectably chocolately. Thick. Luscious. Smooth. One of those pies where you finish your slice and wonder where it went and proceed to lick your plate and fork and the serving utensils and then go back for another slice. What dreams are made of.

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Here’s a plot twist to make this dessert even more flawless: it’s one of the easiest pies you can possibly make. It’s no bake, minimal ingredients, minimal mess, and few ingredients.

And just when you thought this pie could not be any better, it proves you wrong. It’s like this pie the Beyonce of pies. Okay are you ready for this? It’s ridiculously healthy. And you’d never guess. Ever. I make a lot of “healthier” versions of desserts or meals or snacks and a lot of the times they do taste, well, healthier. I like this, but not all people do. You could feed this to the most anti-health-food glutton and they’d never know it was healthy, let alone vegan, or in a million years guess a main ingredient is tofu. You really really can’t tell. My mom agreed: she said she would have never guess and that it was one of the best pies she’s ever had.

I made this pie spontaneously for Thanksgiving. No it is not a typical Thanksgiving pie. This year, it was only my mom and I for Thanksgiving and so we did our own atypical vegan Thanksgiving and made some traditional food like rolls and Brussels Sprouts and roasted vegetables, and some interesting other random stuff, like an Italian-Asian Braised Boy Choy dish and Rosemary-Infused Cranberry Sauce and tempeh.

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We had already had a “classic” style Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings a few weeks earlier, so this was more our play-time and excuse to try new things.

So since I had already made a pumpkin pie this year (I made a pie inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Pumpkin Pie and it turned out great), but with graham crust because I love graham crust and have always thought it’d go well with a pumpkin pie. So since pumpkin and apple and pecan pies have already been on my plate in the past few weeks, I wanted to try something else. And yesterday, I really really wanted chocolate. And graham crust. And a layer of fluffy whipped goodness. With coconut. And almond. I wanted all these things. So I combined them into this perfect, precious, beautifully delicious and wonderful pie.

Protein and fiber and B vitamins from the tofu. Extra protein and fiber and flavonoids from the cocoa powder. MUFAs and PUFAs from coconut fat. The almond extract and sugar don’t add much nutritional value, but they add boat loads of flavor and taste, and compliment the rest of this basically-super-food pie. Ugh. Stop being so flawless, pie. I can’t stop staring/eating.

You must make this. Like I said, it’s the Beyonce of pies. Ridiculously delicious. Coincidentally healthy, and vegan, and almost too easy to make to believe. But one bite, and you will believe. And come knocking at my door thanking me for this recipe, which might be one of my favorites to date.

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Enough talking, I need to polish off the remaining sliver of pie currently sitting in my fridge. Wouldn’t want that one piece to be lonely, now would I? And with that, I leave you with this message: EAT ALL THE PIE! 😀

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 0 minutes, but needs at least 1 hour to set in the refridgerator

Level: Easy

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Ingredients – Crust:

  • 10 graham crackers (about 1 + 1/2 sleeves)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Ingredients – Chocolate Filling:

  • 12 ounce package silken tofu
  • 3/4 cup high quality cocoa powder (I used Godiva)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup almond milk

Ingredients – Coconut Almond Cream:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, left in refrigerator overnight (if you’re short on time and/or not vegan, using a container of regular or non-dairy cool-whip topping would also work well)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut shreds, divided (1/4 cup for topping, 1/4 cup for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (omit if using cool-whip topping)

Directions:

1. Break graham crackers into small pieces and create crumbs from the crackers by either pulsing them in a food processor or mashing them with a large spoon in a plastic zip-lock bag. I like to leave mine a little crumbly, instead of pulsing to a fine powder. I dig texture/the crunch. But you can do what you want. Dump graham crumbs into a small bowl. Melt coconut oil for a few seconds in the microwave and add to the graham crumbs. Add sugar, and mix until all crumbs are moist and the mixture adheres to itself. If you need to add more melted coconut oil, go for it.

2. Press crumb crust mixture into a lightly oiled pie pan, covering the bottom and the edges. Set aside.

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3. In a food processor or blender, combine tofu, cocoa powder, sugar, and almond milk. Puree until smooth. Pour into pie pan on top of crust. Cover and set in the refrigerator.

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4. Open can of coconut milk. Drain off top half and save for another use (great for smoothies, stir-frys, on oatmeal, etc). There should be a solid mass at the bottom of the good fatty stuff. Remove this and place in a bowl. To this, add almond extract and powdered sugar. Whip with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Fold in 1/4 cup coconut flakes. Spread fluffy mixture all over chocolate pie. If you are using a cool-whip substitute instead of coconut milk, simply fold in 1/4 cup coconut flakes and almond extract. This option will also be tasty.

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 5. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup coconut shreds, and extra shredded chocolate if desired. Eat pie. Try to remember to breathe. Eat more pie. Enjoy life. 🙂

Sweet Potato [Turkey Shaped] Bread

This month’s challenge for The Recipe Redux was to re-do a recipe that we remember as a traditional Thanksgiving dish, but make it a little healthier. At first, I had a hard time thinking of anything that specifically stuck out to me as “special” or specific or in need of a re-do. When I had Thanksgiving at one side of the family’s house when I was little, I couldn’t think of anything out of the ordinary that stuck out as a unique dish. Then, when we had it at the other side of the family’s, everything was Italian-ish and already super healthy (like roasted veggies and salads).

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Hmm, sigh. As I’m normally such a nostalgic human, I was a bit shocked that nothing immediately stood out to me. Then, out of no where, I remembered TURKEY BREAD and could not believe that I had forgot this beloved carby pillowy fluffy wonder of the world. This is something my mom would make with us when we were little almost every.single.year. I can recall once in high school hearing there were no plans of turkey bread on the menu and being a demanding little diva and insist it got made. It did. (insert emoji hand flip girl here).

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So what is turkey bread, exactly? Well, I feel like I should preface that there is no turkey or traces of turkey in this bread. It’s a brioche-type soft, fluffy bread that we always shaped into a turkey, you know, to be festive. [Read: my mom said we were driving her crazy and wanted to give us a hands-on project]. But now vegetarians and vegans can have a piece of turkey (bread), too ;-).

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This version of the bread is made healthier and even more festive via use of a sweet potato to provide softness and tenderness that was provided in the original recipe by egg yolks. So yes, I made brioche-inspired bread with no egg yolks, eggs, or butter, and yes, it turned out soft and fluffy and wonderful. In fact, I enjoyed the additional sweetness the sweet potato provided.

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This bread is super fun to make and serve and everyone will love it. As long as you plan ahead with ample time to let the dough rise, it’s pretty easy to make, as well. The assembly is also much easier than it looks if you glance at the directions. Honestly the easiest way to do it is to just look at the picture and try to copy the shape. It seems to work best. Or make your own shape! It’s really up to you; I just hope you do make it and enjoy it!

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I genuinely hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving and long weekend! It’s honestly one of my favorite times of year because matter your religion or background, everyone comes together to celebrate delicious food and family. What is better than that? Have a good one and eat all da noms ! :-).

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Prep Time: At least 4 hours (to allow ample time for yeast to rise)

Bake Time: 20-30 minutes

Level: Medium

Yield: 1 medium-sized turkey bread that would probably be enough to serve as a side for 4-6 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1/2 a pound or 8 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil (can also use other vegetable oil, or non-dairy spread or butter)
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 1 1/4-oz package dry active yeast (~2.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry (can sub all all-purpose flour or oat flour if desired)

Directions:

1. Cut sweet potato into small cubes (about 1 inch pieces) and place in a small sauce pan. Cover potato cubes with about 1″ water above the potatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer until the potato cubes are tender, about 15-18 minutes.

2. While potato is cooking, melt coconut oil in a second small saucepan and add almond milk and stir for about one minute.

3. Remove potato from heat. Strain the potato cubes, but KEEP THE POTATO LIQUID aka the water the potato pieces cooked in. I repeat, do not throw it away. Set it aside. This water has starch in it and you will use it to make your bread extra luscious and soft. Also, it’s basically #reclycing. #ecofriendly.

4. Take potato pieces and place in a medium sized bowl. Mash it and add stir in milk mixture and 1 tablspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Take 1/3 cup potato water and place in a microwave safe bowl or pyrex and heat to 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually take the time to use a food thermometer and check to make sure you’re in this range, or you can kill or under-activate the yeast and all your efforts will be lost! Once it’s in this range, add 1 tablespoon sugar and the sea salt and allow to sit until foamy, at least 10 minutes.

5. When foam is formed, transfer yeast mixture to potato mixture and stir. Add all the flours and mix with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough has formed. Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is elastic-y and you have all your frustrations worked out. Then transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a rolling surface with a small amount of flour or plastic wrap and grab a rolling pin. Punch down the dough (this redistributes the yeast #foodscience) and give it a few good kneads. Then, remove about 1/5th of the dough to make the bird’s body. Set this aside. Roll the rest of the dough into a ball, and flatten with a rolling pin into a giant circle.

7. To make the feathers: cut the dough like you would a pizza into small triangles. Flatten each triangle with a rolling pin, and roll, from narrow tip to thick side (if each were a pizza crust, from the tip to the crust) to form rolled cylinders. They can and should vary in size, as they are wings, and you need a variety of sizes!

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8. Take the 1/5th of dough you set aside. Roll about 80% of that into a small ball for the body of the turkey. Roll out the other small piece into a cylinder, and twist and shape one end of it into a head, with a beak, and add a small bead for an eye. Place onto the body of the turkey, and wrap the neck as desired. Move body onto parchment paper on a baking sheet and begin to assemble.

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9. Assemble feathers onto body by gently pressing the cylinders you rolled out into the body from behind. Place shorter cylinders towards the end, and the longer ones on top. If you need to cut and shape and re-roll a few, do it. Honestly this whole thing is easier to just look at the pictures and try to recreate the shape. Just pretend the dough is delicate play-doh I guess. Okay I spend too much time working with children and playing with play-doh.

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10. Cover turkey with a towel and allow to proof for at least an hour. Don’t skip this step. According to everything I learned in food science, the second rising is more important than the first.

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11. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for 22-28 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and puffed. When you lift the bread’s edges, the bottom should be slightly browned. And/or tap on the bread, and it should sound hollow. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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12. Serve alongside your other favorite Thanksgiving noms and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving :-D.

For more healthy takes on classic Thanksgivng dishes, click around below for awesome ideas from fellow members of The Recipe Redux !

Sweet Potato Latkes with Curried Ketchup

Here is yet another article I wrote for NYU Spoon that I was asked to come up with for the collision of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah or whatnot. I’m not Jewish. But people sometimes tell me I look Jewish. And hand me Jewish pastry things in the streets on Jewish holidays. I tell them I’m not Jewish and they usually just give me stuff anyways. I’ll take it. I grew up an a religious free household so I’ve always been weirdly fascinated by different traditions and holidays and what have you. In fact I took a Jewish literature class at NYU. I was the only non-lit and non-Jew in the class. So that was interesting. Anyways I learned a lot and read a lot. Also a lot of comic books. Apparently those were big in Jewish American lit at some point. All of which have nothing to do with this recipe. Minus potentially relation to Hanukkah.

ANYWAYS….re: the latkes… to be honest I wasn’t sure how’d these turn out in the oven, but I was really lazy, home for like 2 days, had a lot of other stuff going on that weekend. and didn’t want to clean up the mess of pan-frying. So I baked them…and they turned out better that way. Less messy, less greasy, and more delicious?! I’m in. I thought this might be a personal preference since I tend to not like greasy food in general, but even my mom preferred the baked over fried.

The curried ketchup is a must. Not just with these but with sweet potatoes and pan fried potatoes and basically anything and everything you’d usually put ketchup on. I like ketchup. A lot. I used to not like it when I was little. Same with cream cheese. Now I’m overly friendly with the two. #judgeme

So here it is…plugging away another spoon piece. Original link here:

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20-50 minutes
Total Time: 35-65 minutes
Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes)
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil (if using pan-fry method)
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (more if you’re like me and a freak) [side note: Archer Farms by Target makes *the best* curry powder. i’m serious check it out)

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Directions:
1. If using baking as your cooking method, preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Dice the shallot or onion into small pieces and place in a medium bowl.

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3. Crack the egg into a separate small bowl, and whisk.
4. Peel sweet potatoes and using a cheese grater, grate the sweet potatoes into the bowl with onions. Add the flour, baking powder, and cumin and mix well. Add the egg and mix all the ingredients together until all potato shreds are coated with moisture and mix is well combined.

Image5. If using the pan-fry cooking method, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over moderately high heat in a skillet or fry pan. Once hot, reduce heat to moderate and scoop about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture from the bowl and form into a flat patty using hands. Lower gently into oil using a slotted spoon metal or wooden spoon or a pancake flipper. Allow to fry until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the patty and allow the other side to brown for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel. Pat excess oil from the latke and season with salt. It is possible to cook 2 latkes at a time, but take care not to overcrowd the pan. Repeat with remaining batter.

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6. If using the baking method, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture from the bowl and form into a flat patty using hands. Place patties on the baking sheet, with at least an inch between all patties. Bake for 35 minutes, then using a metal tongs, flip each patty and bake an additional 8-15 minutes or until patties are lightly browned. Remove from oven, season with salt, and allow to cool.

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7. To make curried ketchup, place ketchup in a small bowl, add curry powder, and stir until well combined.  Proportions of ketchup and curry powder can be adjusted to taste.

 

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8. Serve latkes with curried ketchup for dipping.

 

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