In April, PULSE had our annual fundraiser called PULSEations. It was a big sweet hoopla where we were able to listen to good music, chat with friends and love on PULSE. At the event there was a silent auction where alumni and current participants were encouraged to show off our sweet skills and possibly donate something to be auctioned off.
A few things you should know....
1. I'm not artistic.
2. I don't believe I have auction like talents to give away.
3. I love to bake.
So I came up with a dessert of the month coupon. One lucky person would get home-baked deliciousness once a month for a year. Well... I officially love this. The lucky winners (a couple) have had two desserts so far and I'm including the recipes.
A fun fact you should know, one of them is vegan. SCORE! New recipes. :)
Dessert of the Month #1
Vegan Caramel Pecan Bars
Makes 16 big, gooey bars
For the Crust
2 cups all-purpose ﬂour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
A big pinch of salt
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, slightly softened
For the Pecan Topping
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons melted non-hydrogenated margarine
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure the foil completely covers the sides of the pan, with about 2 inches folded outside over the edges. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare the Crust
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or two knives held together to cut in the margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press down evenly and very firmly, making sure to press the mixture all the way to the edges of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until firm and very lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside.
Prepare the Topping
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and nondairy milk until foamy. Stir in the dark brown sugar, brown rice syrup, melted margarine, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Fold in the pecans and pour the mixture onto the crust, using a spatula to spread the topping evenly.
4. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is rapidly bubbling. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then move it to the refrigerator to finish cooling and setting. Chill for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.
5. To slice completely cooled bars, grab a hold of the foil and carefully lift the whole thing out of the pan and onto a heavy cutting board. Peel away the foil and cut bars with a heavy, sharp knife.
Salted Caramel Pecan Bars: Right after the bars are out of the oven and the topping is still hot, sprinkle the surface very sparingly with your favorite coarse-grained gourmet salt. Cool and slice as directed.
From the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group (2009).
Dessert of the Month #2
Vegan! Raspberry Blackout Cake With Ganache-Y Frosting
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups soymilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (10 ounce) jars raspberry preserves ( reserve 1/2 cup for the batter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup coffee creamer ( if soy creamer is unavailable, soy milk will do)
6 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips ( 1 cup and 2 tablespoons)
fresh raspberries, for decorating and yumminess
1.In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the soy creamer to a low boil. Add the margarine and melt, turn off the heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Let sit for at least one hour. It should have a pourable consistency at this point. If you want a spreadable consistency then refrigerate for an hour.
2.Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 8-inch round springform cake pans with cooking spray. If you don't have springform, then use parchment paper rounds on the bottom of two ordinary 8-inch round cake pans to prevent sticking.
3.Sift together the four, cocoa powder, baking power, baking soda, and salt. Combine the rice milk, oil, 1/2 cup of the preserves, the vanilla, and the sugar in a large bowl and mix with hand mixer or strong fork. The jam should be mostly dissolved with the rest of the ingredients; some small clumps are okay. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until everything is incorporated. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a tooth pick or knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cook in pans.
4.When the cakes have cooled fully, spread one layer of cake with a thin layer of the reserved raspberry preserves (give the preserves a quick mix with a strong fork to get a spreadable consistency); spread a layer of chocolate frosting on top of the preserves. Place the other layer of cake on top and spread its top with preserves. Carefully spread the chocolate frosting over the top, then ice the sides. I like to put a circle of fresh raspberries around the circumference of the top.
So here's to baking 10 more delicious goodies.