Black Sesame Seed Cake

My mother used to make a sesame seed cake recipe that she found in the NEW YORK TIMES. She frosted it with chocolate ganache and it was so delicious it never lasted more than one meal in our household. I’ve been searching for years trying to find that original recipe without any success. However, recently I’ve found several gluten-free sesame seed cake recipes, one of which I’ve adapted here. Of course, if you can have eggs, go ahead and substitute back the one egg for the flax gel. This makes one 8×8″ square or round cake so for a two layer cake, double the recipe or make it twice.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ baking pan. In a medium size mixing bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons warm water

Whisk together and let sit for approximately 5 minutes until it forms a gel. To it add:

1/2 cup date sugar

1/3 cup Spectrum shortening (or vegan butter or margarine at room temperature)

1/4 cup black sesame seeds (or toasted regular ones if you prefer the taste)

I just used a spoon to mix this cake together but feel free to use a hand mixer. Combine the above until smooth and the shortening is incorporated. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (minus 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir in the liquid ingredients before adding:

2 cups oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (or guar gum)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Stir until all ingredients are combined. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with chocolate or carob ganache if desired (see recipe under Sauces, Condiments and Dressings).

Vegan Carrot Spice Cake

I’m updating this recipe. Just spoke with my son and daughter-in-law who said it was good but it wasn’t sweet enough! I admit, I don’t like my desserts as sweet as most people so I’ll adjust the recipe so that those of you who want a sweeter cake can still use this recipe.

I love carrot cake but I love my carrot cake to be more like a spice cake with some carrots in it. So unlike most carrot cakes, I add more spices. If you don’t, feel free to stop with the cinnamon. I was easily able to divide this cake into two bowls and mix some ground walnuts into one bowl (for my son and his family) and some chopped dates and pumpkin seeds into the other for me. This cake only takes one bowl and is fairly easy to mix even for me with 2 rotator cuff tears.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2, 8″ baking pans (I used one square and one round so that I knew which was which!). In a medium-large bowl, combine:

3 tablespoons ground flax

7 tablespoons warm water (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon)

Whisk to combine and then let sit for 5 minutes or so to form flax gel. When ready add to it:

1/3 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Whisk or stir to combine and then add:

1 scant cup unsweetened fruit sauce (apple, pear, peach, oh pineapple would be good) [I actually only had 7/8 of a cup and it worked fine]

1/2 to 1 cup date sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Stir or whisk to combine. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

Stir or whisk to combine (by now the whisk will be having a difficult time so use a hand mixer if necessary). Add:

1 cup grated carrots

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 cup oat flour

Stir to combine adding another 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk if necessary. Stir in:

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, feel free to mix it up using chopped pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or dates, chopped raisins, cranberries, or dried pineapple also work (Optional)

Spoon the batter equally between the two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (I would actually bake it about 5 minutes more after the toothpick comes out clean). Don’t worry if it’s slightly overbaked since gluten-free baked goods take longer to cook than regular ones, it still comes out fine.

Remove from oven and let cool, on a cooling rack, for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before frosting or serving. For faster cooling, place in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Serves 8-12.

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

1 large or 2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil (coconut would also work)

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc. (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Plum Cottage Pudding

Cottage pudding is a basic fruit pudding that’s often used to make fruit puddings. It’s a lot like my recipe for blackberry pudding. Very easy to make, the consistency of a muffin batter, it can be used to top a variety of fruits or can be baked on its own and served with sauce such as my mother’s hard vanilla sauce, or a fruit coulee. If you’re looking for a fairly quick and easy to make dessert, a fruit cottage pudding is a good answer. Delicious with any kind of whipped topping, sauce, or frozen vanilla dessert. Serves 8.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In the bottom of an 8″ cake pan, pour:

1/4 cup avocado oil or spread 1/4 cup vegan butter or margarine

Spring the fat with:

1/4 cup date sugar

Line the pan with fruit slices. I used plums cut in half and then eighths to fit between the halves but all slices works just as well. Cut and place cut side down:

5 plums (be sure to remove the pits first!)

Sprinkle with:

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Set the pan aside and make the pudding. In a small bowl make the flax gel by combining:

1 tablespoon ground flax

3 tablespoons hot water or aquafaba

Set aside for about 3-5 minutes. In a medium size bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup date sugar

1/2 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (feel free to use more to your taste)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Once dry ingredients are combined, add:

1/2 cup avocado oil (or melted vegan butter or margarine)

2/3 cup non-dairy milk

1 flax gel from above

Stir to combine until incorporated, batter should be the consistency of muffin batter. Spread over the fruit and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding

It’s called a pudding but it’s more like a cake in consistency. Easy to make but takes a while to bake. The only suggestion I have is to be sure you have enough people to eat it before you make it or else you’ll end up eating the whole thing yourself, it’s that delicious! Sweet, moist, and very satisfying. If you can use coconut milk, do so for a more authentic flavor. And it calls for batata, purple skinned and white meat sweet potatoes. The original recipe notes that orange sweet potatoes (the ones we’re mostly use here in the U.S.) can also be used but double the flour (and I would decrease the sugar as well).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9-10″ cake pan (I used my 7″ casserole dish which also worked fine, just harder to slice). Peel and cut into chunks:

2 pounds batata sweet potatoes (about 3 medium sized ones)

Place the chunks in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are finely grated. Put into a medium bowl and add:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (coconut milk if possible, I used my oat milk)

2 tablespoons avocado oil (omit if using coconut milk, just add 2 tablespoons more of the coconut milk)

1 cup date sugar (or coconut if you can use it)

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (I used 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) – or cardamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional) – or coriander

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix together to combine and then add:

1 cup brown rice flour

Stir in the flour and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, uncovered. While it bakes in a small bowl combine:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons avocado oil (omit if using coconut milk)

1 tablespoon date sugar (or coconut sugar)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

dash of cinnamon (optional)

After 45 minutes, pour the above mixture over the pudding and continue to bake for another 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve hot for a softer pudding or cool for about 15-20 minutes for a firmer texture. Serve with a non-dairy whipped topping if desired.

Chickpea Frozen Dessert

I love chickpea brownies and carob chip cookies but it never occurred to me to use them in a frozen “ice cream” until I saw a recipe on Pinterest. I’ve had to adapt it slightly to omit the nut butter and chocolate but it is very delicious, lusciously smooth and creamy. I added some carob powder but flavor it any way you like – some strong coffee in place of half the non-dairy milk, carob chips, or using various seed or nut butters will add various flavors. Also, using various extracts or oils could add different flavors, instead of vanilla extract, use some mint, orange, lemon, or even butterscotch flavored extracts.

In the bowl of a blender place:

1 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained

1/2 cup dates (I used chopped but if using whole dates, be sure to soak them if they’re dried so that they will break down in the blender)

1/4 cup seed butter – tahini, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, etc.

1/3 cup protein powder (any kind or flavor)

1/4 cup carob powder

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend until the dates are broken down and the mixture is smooth. If one is available, put mixture into an ice cream freezer for 30-40 minutes and then transfer to individual serving dishes to freeze or eat immediately. If an ice cream freezer isn’t available, transfer to individual serving dishes and freeze for 1-2 hours or until you want to eat it!

Carob Pudding

This is a very quick and easy pudding to make and tastes creamy and rich just like one made with milk and cream. I garnished mine with roasted pumpkin seeds but if you can have one of the plant based whipped creams, that would work even better.

Put in a medium saucepan (2 quart):

2 cups oat milk (any milk EXCEPT soy would work)

about 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup carob powder

1/4 cup agave nectar (or 1/3 cup honey or date syrup)

Whisk until well blended. Place over medium high heat. In a small bowl whisk:

1/2 cup oat milk

3 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca flour

When the carob mixture begins to steam showing that it’s getting hot, pour in the arrowroot mixture and begin whisking the pudding as it will thicken quickly once the mixture comes just to a boil. Continue whisking until it thickens. Remove from heat and add:

1/4 cup carob chips (Optional but makes for a richer pudding)

1 tablespoon vegan butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk until smooth. Pour into ramekins and cool. Cover with small amounts of plastic wrap to keep the pudding from forming a skin (I actually like the skin the best so I don’t mind it). Makes 4-6 servings depending on the size of your ramekins (or old-fashioned pudding bowls!).

Sweet Potato Pie Squares

I ate only one little slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and its one of my favorites so I thought about the pie squares that were so popular in the 70s and 80s, especially those lemon and pumpkin ones and decided to see if I could make an allergy free alternative. Low and behold, no pumpkin in the cupboard but sweet potato puree in excess. And they turned out sooooooo good! Creamy and delicious. I topped the pan with roasted pumpkin seeds which added a nice contrast of textures to the dessert. If desired, of course, pumpkin could be substituted but probably you’d want to add more sweetener and I’d recommend using coconut or date sugar rather than additional liquid.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse until combined into a crumbly texture:

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup date sugar

1/2 cup vegan margarine or cold olive or avocado oil (it will get thick and turn white when frozen or chilled for a day or two)

When crumbly, press into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan. Mix in a medium bowl:

1 can sweet potato puree or 2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes

1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (any except soy)

1 tablespoon avocado oil

2 tablespoons corn starch or arrowroot

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/3 cup pumpkin seed protein or any protein powder you have on hand

1/4 to 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Whisk together until combined and smooth. Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the seeds if desired, and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Chill thoroughly before cutting. Top with a non-dairy whip if desired.

Blackberry Cobbler

My father’s favorite dessert! Growing up we had a blackberry patch in the back yard and every August, we’d go pick the blackberries, always getting our arms scratched from the thorns. Most went the freezer (and our mouths) except for a few cups that immediately went into the house and put into a buttered casserole dish. Some flour and cinnamon went over them and then a cottage pudding spread on top for a crust, hot water and sugar and into the oven. My father always ate it with vanilla ice cream, obviously not something I can do. This is a dessert best served warm. The recipe serves 6.

Grease an 8″ casserole dish. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl combine:

3 cups blackberries (or raspberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, etc.)

2 tablespoon tapioca flour (don’t have any? use 2 tablespoon all purpose gluten-free flour)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Pour into the casserole dish. Into the bowl you used for the blackberries, combine:

1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon date sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir to combine then add:

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

Using a fork, work the margarine into the flour mixture. Add:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

Combine until mixed but don’t over mix. Spoon on top of the berries and spread to cover most of them. Pour over the top of the cobbler:

1/4 cup date sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup hot water

Most of the date sugar should wash down into the berries. The little sugar on the top will form a sweet crust when baked. Bake the cobbler for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cobbler crust comes out clean. Serve warm with vanilla frozen dessert or whipped topping, or I like it just the way it is although sometimes I top it with a vanilla mousseline sauce.

Pastry Sauce:

Put into a saucepan and stir to combine:

2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot)

1/3 cup date sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir into the mixture:

1/4 cup non dairy milk (any will do EXCEPT NOT soy)

Whisk to make sure it’s lump free before adding:

2 cups non-dairy milk

Heat over medium heat whisking constantly once it starts to get hot until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and add:

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

Whisk to combine. Serve hot or chill for a vanilla pudding.

Vegan Carob Soufflé

I would never have thought I could make a soufflé without eggs but here it is! And delicious although perhaps not quite as fluffy as an egg soufflé. Very easy to make, just be sure it’s coming out of the oven immediately before you want to serve it because it does fall quite quickly as it cools off. Impress your vegan friends with this one! And of course, you can use chocolate instead of carob.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. This makes only 3 soufflés but is easy enough to double. Prepare the ramekins but spraying with a non-stick spray and then dusting them with a mixture of:

1 teaspoon carob powder

2 teaspoons date sugar

This allows the soufflé mixture to rise without being gripped by the ramekins surface. Next, mix together:

1 tablespoon psyllium husk (I used flaked)

3 tablespoons cold water

Whisk together to mix and set aside. The next step is to melt together:

1/2 cup unsweetened carob chips (or chocolate chips)

1/4 cup vegan margarine or butter (I used 1/4 cup of avocado oil)

Melt in either a double boiler over (not in) water over low heat or place a metal bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. Keep over low heat so that there isn’t a lot of steam emerging which could break the carob or chocolate. While this melts, in a medium sized bowl beat:

1/2 cup cold water

2 teaspoons aquafaba powder*

3 tablespoons date sugar

1/4 teaspoon guar gum

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

If you don’t have any aquafaba powder, use a cup of liquid aquafaba that you’ve reduced over heat to 1/2 cup. This requires a stronger mix of aquafaba so the powder is the easiest way to go. [It’s readily available online.]

Start beating the mixture on the lowest speed of your hand or stand mixer. Beat on low for 2-3 minutes then increase the speed to medium, again beating 2-3 minutes before finally increasing the speed to the highest setting and again beating 2-3 minutes. Trust me, you’ll say after the second stage that the mixture looks like stiff peaks but don’t stop there! This needs the third stage of the beating to keep it’s fluffy texture when folded into the carob mixture.

Once the chips are melted, remove from the heat and whisk together the fat and carob before adding:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons date sugar (optional depending on your family’s sweet tooth!)

1 tablespoon all purpose gluten-free flour

2 tablespoons carob powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

the psyllium mixture you set aside earlier

Whisk together to combine and then spoon in the aquafaba mixture. Carefully fold in the whipped aquafaba (it’s okay if a few streaks remain). Spoon into the prepared ramekins. Mixture should reach almost to the top of the ramekin. Bake for 20 minutes – DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN WHILE COOKING – the mixture should reach the top of the ramekin. Serve immediately.