Expert Vegan Cooking Tips
Quick, Fuss-Free Holiday Desserts
by Dreena Burton
In the midst of the holiday season we have a mountain of tasks and endless "To dos". And what about parties? Undoubtedly you will have more than one day when you need to whip up a dessert but are short on time - and patience! These fast, no-fuss dessert ideas are ridiculously simple but will taste like you spent all day preparing them.
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You will need to start stocking your pantry and freezer with essential ingredients for making an amazing dessert in a moment's notice. Make sure you have these items:
With your ingredients on hand, you are now ready to whip up any number of desserts in a flash! Try one or more of these ideas:
- Non-dairy ice creams
- Prepared vegan pie crusts (graham, chocolate cookie, or traditional pastry)
- Frozen berries or other fruit
- Maple syrup or other honey alternative and vanilla to make your fruit sauces
- Prepared vegan chocolate sauce
- Mori-Nu pudding mate mixes and Mori-Nu silken tofu, or other prepared vegan pudding
- Dark chocolate dessert cups (miniature or larger size)
- Toasted nuts like pecans, almonds, and walnuts
- Unsweetened shredded coconut, which you can toast if you like
- Chocolate or carob chips
- Vegan cookies or biscuits
- Soyatoo whipped topping
- Fresh fruit like kiwi or berries
Ice Cream Pie
One of my very favorite desserts is to use non-dairy ice creams to make pies. For this, you should have some good quality ice creams stocked in your freezer. Buy 2-3 quarts or 4-5 pints, in whatever flavors you like.
You will also need a pre-made pie crust. I prefer a vegan graham cracker or chocolate cookie pie crust, but you can also use a pastry crust. (If using a pastry crust, be sure to pre-bake the shell in advance; a cookie crust does not need to be pre-baked.) You can make your own crust, of course, but when looking to save time, keep a couple of these pie crusts in your pantry if possible. I use the Wholly Wholesome brand of graham and pastry pie crusts and have terrific results with them.
To make your pie, simply soften the ice-cream in the fridge for a half-hour or more. You will need one quart, or 2-3 smaller pints. Scoop the softened ice-cream into the pie crust, gently distributing to level out some (it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth or flat, it can have some lumps and bumps!) Then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until you are ready to serve. This is another benefit of making ice-cream pies - you can make them days, or a week in advance of when you actually are serving them! This is the ultimate in dessert convenience! Then when serving, remove pie from you freezer and let sit at room temperature for 5 or more minutes to soften enough to slice. Then, drizzle with a store-bought vegan chocolate sauce, or make a fruit sauce with some frozen fruit (detailed below).
Another wonderful idea for those pre-made pie crusts is to fill them with Mori-Nu pudding mixes. These mixes come in vanilla, chocolate, and lemon flavor. While I am a huge chocolate fan, I really enjoy the lemon and vanilla puddings for these pies. Blend the pudding as directed on the package, and then fill your pie shell. Embellish the pie and top with fresh fruit such as sliced kiwi, or with some toasted coconut or nuts, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Of course, you can also use prepared non-dairy puddings if you prefer.
Pudding- Filled Dark Chocolate Dessert Cups
You can also use these Mori-Nu pudding mixes is to fill dark chocolate dessert cups! Prepare your pudding, fill the cups, and then simply top with sliced fresh kiwi or strawberries or a few pomegranate seeds. Or top with some Soyatoo whipped topping and grate dark chocolate over top. Voila - an impressive looking, super easy, incredibly delicious dessert! If you can find dark chocolate (often Belgian chocolate) dessert cups in your grocery or specialty store, then keep a few packages in your pantry… this simple dessert is sure to impress!
Ice Cream Sundaes
Finally, one of my all-time favorite desserts when you are having guests at your home is to make elaborate ice-cream sundaes! Again, use soy ice creams, and including 2-3 varieties is fun. You can use attractive parfait glasses, and set up a buffet table of sorts. Your guests can choose their flavors of ice cream and toppings, personalizing their gourmet ice-cream sundaes! Have a mix of toppings including Soyatoo cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate or carob chips, toasted nuts or coconut, fruit sauce (again, made from your frozen berries or fruit), and store-bought cookie or biscuit crumbs (simply crush the cookies in a Ziploc bag or bowl). Your guests will delight in making a dessert perfectly suited to their taste buds and appetite, and you will have little - to no - work at all!
To make that fruit sauce I've mentioned, it is as easy as blending some frozen strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries in a blender along with a touch of maple syrup, pure vanilla, and a squeeze of lemon if you like, adjusting sweetness to taste. You can make this sauce in advance and keep it refrigerated.
Don't forget that the idea behind these desserts is fun and ease. So, you can use other ingredients that you prefer, like caramel sauce instead of chocolate sauce, or vegan white chocolate chips instead of carob or chocolate chips. The possibilities really are endless! Just remember that when making desserts, the cook is obliged to taste test the product along the way!