Dairy-Free Chocolate Desserts

by Elizabeth

Based on the interest expressed in the comments of my last post, today I’m sharing three of my favorite “healthier” chocolate desserts. They’re all pretty easy to make but have slightly different personalities.

Tahini Date Fudge
I borrowed this recipe from Aviva Romm’s Instagram post.

3/4 cup dates, pitted, soaked, and chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup – 1/3 cup tahini
1/2 tsp vanilla

All you’re going to do is drop the ingredients in the food processor and process till smooth, but I have a few tips first. Choose Deglet Noor dates over Medjool dates. Everyone says Medjool dates are the sweetest and softest, but this has not been my experience in America. The Medjool dates at the store have been pitted and have dried out already. Even soaking them in hot water does not solve this problem.

The Deglet Noor dates I’ve found here are still soft, even if they’ve already been pitted. I don’t mind pitting them myself if I have to, although pre-pitted is convenient. (I had to pit them myself in Cambodia, where I was thrilled to find any dates at all.) The thing I love about using dates as a sweetener is that they are not only composed of sugar; they are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I still soften my Deglet Noors in hot water and slice them into small pieces, just to make them easier to puree.

Depending on the thickness of the tahini, sometimes you need more, sometimes you need less. Sometimes I add a splash of water if the fudge isn’t coming together. I love tahini. I can eat it plain. But it’s pricy, so I don’t do that very often, only when I’m really craving it.

I don’t like my fudge to be super sweet. I’m going for the flavor of dark chocolate, not traditional fudge. I’ll play around with the amounts of the ingredients until it tastes just right. Sometimes that means adding more dates, other times that means adding more cocoa. The thing I love about this recipe is that it’s very fudgy and rich. Sometimes I make it too thin, and it’s more like cookie dough, but that’s delicious too.

I generally make this for myself only; I don’t share with my children. Store in the fridge.

Chocolate Silk Mousse
I found this recipe in an old vegetarian cookbook somewhere along the lines.

2 packages silken soft tofu
1/3 cup cocoa
scant 1/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla

Open the soft tofu and drop into the food processor; then add the other ingredients. Process till smooth. It takes a little while, but all the cocoa and honey does eventually get distributed in the tofu. And it does have to be soft silken tofu. (Obviously this recipe is only for those who eat tofu!)

This is a very fresh-tasting mousse. It has more protein and calcium than some dessert recipes. You can refrigerate or freeze it. I like it refrigerated, which makes it feel like a mousse or soft pudding. Just kind of dissolves in your mouth. My family prefers frozen, which makes it taste like a chocolate popsicle. Not exactly a fudge-cicle as it’s not quite rich enough for that. This recipe feels satisfying while not overly indulgent.

Coconut Milk Mousse
I adapted this recipe from Mary Vance’s site.

2 cans full fat coconut milk, chilled in fridge
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

You’ll need an electric stand mixer for this one. Chill the coconut milk in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (you can also chill the mixing bowl). Open the coconut cans, and carefully spoon out the cream into the mixing bowl. You don’t want any of the water underneath. Start mixing for a minute or so until fluffy (it might not get fluffy; that’s ok too).

Add the cocoa, coconut sugar, and vanilla, and mix again until fully incorporated. Chill in fridge. This one is so delicious and rich. I love coconut cream by itself (when making curry, I often swipe bits of leftover coconut cream from the can). The flavor of coconut and chocolate here is a big hit in our family. It’s very rich, though, so even though you want to eat a lot at once, you really have to limit yourself to small amounts unless you’re willing to risk a stomachache! Pair it with berries to cut the richness.

A note on chocolate avocado mousse: I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t taste right. After it’s chilled, it tastes almost right, but the avocado just comes through too much. I want to like avocado mousse; avocados are so good for you, and I was looking for a way to get healthy avocado fats in me. But I just can’t do avocado mousse at this time.

After this short detour through RecipeLand, my next blog post will return to my more “normal” blogging topics.

The Best Vegan Cheese Sauces

by Elizabeth

Remember how I said I wasn’t going to have a specific blog focus moving forward? That I was just going to write updates on my life, whether large or small, whether meaningful or mundane? Well, today is a recipe day! The kids and I are still on a much-needed spring break, so I have extra time to share some fun stuff.

The two recipes below are our family’s favorite vegan cheese sauces. Now, I don’t have anything against dairy in principle. I love cheese and yogurt, and half and half goes in my half-caf or decaf coffee every morning. But two of us (including me) have tummy troubles if we eat too much cheese, one of us gets eczema flares from dairy, and another tries to eat mostly plant-based for other reasons.

I have therefore attempted to fill the gap with various vegan cheese recipes. Some recipes require a lot of advance planning because cooked vegetables (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots) form the base of the sauce. Others don’t taste quite right, like cashew-based sauces which are often too sweet and not savory enough. These two recipes are different. They are satisfying and delicious, and if you have all the ingredients on hand, they do not require advance planning (a plus for any cook!).

Cannellini Cheese Sauce
I can’t remember where I found this cheese sauce recipe, so unfortunately I can’t give any credit. But it’s been our family’s absolute favorite until recently, when I discovered a new recipe that has divided us on which sauce is best. So I currently make both (and one family member combines the two).

This sauce has more protein and fiber than most cheese sauces and is an excellent addition to a baked potato bar. It calls for more ingredients than your typical cashew sauce might call for, but they give a depth of flavor to the sauce, so don’t skimp on any ingredients.

1 can cannellini (great northern) beans, drained
3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch turmeric

Blend all ingredients in a blender, then heat on medium till hot and bubbly. You’ll have to scrape down the sides regularly.

The Best (but more complicated) Vegan Cheese Sauce
I found this sauce at Hungry Vegan Mama and thought I’d give it a whirl, even though it called for several ingredients I didn’t normally keep on hand. This is cashew-based, which I mentioned I don’t normally like, but it has so many unusual ingredients that, when combined, create the savory flavor you have been looking for. Yum! This one is especially good on broccoli.

I tend to blend up this sauce and then heat it in the microwave while I blend up the cannellini sauce to heat on the stove. That way I can make two cheese sauces at once without cleaning the blender in between. If you have a high-power blender, you don’t have to soak the cashews a full hour, which is good for my frequent lack of advance planning. I usually start soaking them when I start preparing dinner, and that seems to be enough.

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 1 hour
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
4 Tbsp plain instant mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1.5 Tbsp white miso paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Blend all ingredients on high in the blender, then heat in the microwave (or on the stove). Happy cooking!

Over the last few years of learning to eat and cook in healthier ways, I’ve collected some delicious better-for-you chocolate dessert options. Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to share those recipes sometime.