Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chocolate peanut butter pudding

When I was a kid we had an unofficial Sunday afternoon tradition - every week, after church, my family would sit back from a big Sunday dinner and want dessert. Usually something chocolate, always something quick, and we were almost always out of some key ingredient, like eggs. This is the sort of recipe that would have been perfect for a hot summer Sunday.

It is made without eggs and without milk, it's gluten-free, could easily be adjusted to be nut-free, it's soy-free and has no added sugar and it still tastes amazing. It's just a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry and if you don't happen to keep chickpeas in you pantry now is a good time to start. You can make all kind of good things with them other than hummus, like mock egg salad sandwiches (that is a recipe for another day) and the can I bought to make this was just 99 cents. So whatever your dietary restrictions are in your house, or even if there are none, this is a great recipe to have in your back pocket for when you want something sweet. Plus this requires zero time at the stove, which is a plus when you want something sweet but don't want to stand at the stove.

Since we switched to a vegan diet there have been a few things that I have missed, tasty desserts have been one. It's just taken me awhile to find recipes that I enjoy that are dairy-free (specifically butter-free) and egg-free.  This is one of the best recipes that I have tried so far. It's a simplification of a couple different recipes that I found online and smashed together. I didn't think I'd ever have a tasty pudding again - I was wrong.

By the way - I would have liked to have been able to take better pictures for this post - but I made it late at night after the baby finally went to sleep and didn't have everything I needed to make a light box (because I keep giving all of my poster boards to my kids for their school projects!!) so it is what it is.

1 can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) 
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips 
2 Tb peanut butter

I think that if you didn't have any chocolate chips on hand (oh the horror) you could substitute 2 Tb cocoa powder and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Add it to the aquafaba after it has fluffed.

The first thing you'll want to do is put your can of chickpeas in the fridge and your bowl and whisk for your stand mixer in the freezer. I usually have a few dishes to wash, counters to clean up etc. before I'm ready to start so I did that for maybe 15-20 minutes while everything was chilling. I felt like the more chilled everything was the better foam it formed.

Drain the chickpeas and SAVE THE WATER!! You'll be making something called aquafaba with the water from the chickpeas.

In the picture you can see my method for draining the chickpeas: with my hand crank can opener I made a medium sized slit on one side of the can and a small air hole on the other side of the can. This works really well for me. I just stick the can back in the fridge once the chickpeas have drained and use the chickpeas the next day. 

Drain the chickpeas. Set aside the chickpeas for some other use. Save the chickpea water aka aquafaba. You'll have somewhere around 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup.

Take your bowl out of the freezer. 

Add the aquafaba, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, & 1 tsp vanilla. Blend in your stand mixer on high.
(If you are using unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate chips you can add some powdered sugar here. I'd suggest you add 1/2 cup for unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 cup for semi-sweet.) 

These are the chocolate chips that I used for this recipe. They are available at my grocery store in the natural foods isle. They are allergy friendly (vegan!) chocolate chips. Whatever you typically use or have on hand should work just as well. 

In a large microwave safe bowl dump out 1 cup of chocolate chips and about 1/2 a cup of peanut butter (if you put this much in it turns out like soft fudge)  2Tb peanut butter. If you don't use peanut butter at your home you could use another type of nut butter or sun butter. Make sure to use a big bowl bigger than you need for just the chips and peanut butter, your whole pudding is going to end up in this bowl, so make sure it's a big one.

Zap your chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave for about a minute. I suggest doing this for just 30 seconds at a time, you really do not want to overcook this. You'll take it our once the chocolate starts to get shiny but isn't melted all of the way. The heat in the peanut butter will cause the chocolate chips to finish melting.  

 Stir the chocolate mixture until it's smooth.

 Mix the aquafaba mixture until it's super fluffy.
This part is super important. First you take a couple spoons full of the aquafaba mixture and add it to the chocolate mixture.
 Mix it up really good. The aquafaba will almost completely collapse. That's okay.
 Mix it completely. Then add the rest of the aquafaba fluff. If you decide that you want to add more chocolate chips or more peanut butter this is the method you'll use. Add a little bit of the fluff mixture into your chocolate mixture then add the rest. The first time I made this I did this three or four times before I got something I was happy with.
 Add the rest of the aquafaba fluff. This was a little tricky to mix. I'd suggest doing this in two or three batches.
 At first I was super gentle, folding it in, but it needed a little bit more convincing so I whisked it pretty hard and it didn't loose too much of it's fluffiness.

 I wanted you to see how scary and gross it looks during the mixing phase. 
 Just keep going, it'll be worth it once it's done.
 Almost there!
Cover it with plastic wrap and let that baby chill out for an hour or so. You can serve it in little bowls plain or topped with some crushed up nuts or Oreos, add it to a graham cracker crust to make a pie or do like I did and sneak a spoonful of it from the fridge every couple of hours. (The version I made yesterday stayed like a pudding overnight. The one I made tonight hardened!! It's about the texture of soft fudge. I'll make it again later and if I can make it a little bit differently and not have it harden like that. Maybe too much PB?) If you try this please do let me know how it turned out.

Hat tap: this recipe was inspired by this recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie and this recipe on

Thursday, June 23, 2016

White bean shepherd's pie - version 1

White beans replace the meat in this lovely vegan version of the classic family favorite my whole family enjoyed. This recipe is perfect for a day when you'll be home all day, (like I was - with a sick kiddo) or one of those lazy weekends when you don't mind a more involved, time consuming recipe. I'd encourage you to invite the kids into the kitchen for this one, if they're old enough, to experience the primal act of peeling potatoes or grab some tunes (or a podcast!) and enjoy the solitude.

This is a vegan, allergy friendly recipe but it can easily be made with whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and if you use a soy-free oil spread it will be soy-free too. Worried about what your kids (or spouse) will say about white beans in a shepherd's pie? None of my kids complained about the beans in this, even the pickiest. The beans are barely noticeable in this savory pie. It turned out very mild, and very comforting.

This is the from-scratch version, if you don't count the frozen vegetables, though I'm sure you could replace them with whatever you'd picked from your garden/bought at the farmers market/grocery store/whatever. I'll be posting a quick, weeknight version made with pre-prepared ingredients soon. 

So here is my vegan version of a Shepherd's Pie. It was inspired by something that my daughter sent to me on Pinterest (but had a million ingredients and a gazillion steps) mine has only half a million ingredients and five steps.

Step one: start the broth
You could do this on another day and refrigerate it if you'd like or save some time and use pre-made broth. You can make whatever type of broth you want. I made a corn cob vegetable broth. Broths are super easy if you have the time to let them just sit and simmer and they're pretty hard to mess up. Just cut an onion or two, throw in a couple of carrots and stalks of celery (like three or four, cut in half) a few cloves of garlic and a couple of bay leaves then let it simmer! Because I was making a corn broth I started with a few ears of corn in my water, cut the corn off once it was done cooking, threw the cobs back into the water and then added the other ingredients. 

Step two: prepare the potatoes
So you could literally use whatever kind of potatoes you prefer/are on sale. Just wash 'em, (peel if you want) dice 'em and boil them in some salted water. I used cheap russet potatoes, Yukon would work well and red potatoes would be amazing (just leave the skins on those). Once your potatoes are fork tender, drain the potatoes, mash and add some Earth Balance (vegan butter substitute) and some extra salt. You can mash them however you like. Some people like their mashed potatoes lumpy others prefer silky smooth. If you want the latter add more Earth Balance and whip in a stand mixer, with a hand mixer or immersion blender. 

Step three: strain broth & add veggies
The next step is to drain your broth. I used a metal mesh sieve to strain my broth. I ended up with about twice as much as I needed so I put the extra in a glass jar. 

Then add your veggies. I added a bag of frozen corn, a bag of frozen peas & carrots and two cans of white beans. I used great northern beans but you could also use cannelloni beans (white kidney beans). You could also add mushrooms and extra onions or leeks at this point. Or you could chop some carrots & celery for the veggie filling, whatever you think you'd like or whatever you have on hand.

Simmer the veggies in the broth and add your seasonings. I added some salt, a little bit of pepper and some rotisserie chicken seasoning mix (which is totally the bomb - I use it really often), I also added a sprinkle of sugar because I always think sugar is surprisingly good at making food pop.

Step four: thicken 
Once everything is simmering happily on the stove you can make a corn starch slurry (you could also make one with white flour) I took about 1/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk and 2Tb of corn starch, miked them together and then added that mixture to the broth. Once everything starts bubbling again you're ready to assemble!! Don't wait until it gets thick, it'll thicken in the oven and if you over-thicken corn starch it will break down. 

Step five: assemble & bake
Assembling this is easy-peasy. Dump the veggie mixture in a 9x13 or whatever casserole dish that will hold all your veggie goodness. Top the veggies with your mashed potatoes and stick it in a preheated oven. (I had made my potatoes a bit earlier in the day and had refrigerated them. I don't recommend refrigerating your mashed potatoes. They hardened up pretty badly and made them hard to spread.) How long it takes to bake depends on how hot everything is when you start and how deep your dish is, but I'd plan on it taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 minutes in the oven. 

Serves six to eight.

For broth:
1 large sweet onion or two small yellow onions
4 carrots
4 stalks celery 
4 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves 
Later add:
1/4 cup almond milk
2Tb corn starch

For filling
1 bag frozen peas & carrots
1 bag frozen corn
2 cans great northern beans
Salt, pepper, seasoning mix

For potato topping
2-3 pounds of potatoes
Earth balance butter

Thursday, May 19, 2016