T&T Challenge: Tofu-Licious Desserts
Native New Yorker Fran Costigan (“the queen of vegan desserts”) is an internationally recognized culinary instructor, author, consultant and pioneering pastry chef who marries healthy eating with sumptuous tastes. The “Fran factor” is that her modern vegan desserts are on par with or better than their traditional counterparts – sans dairy, eggs, refined sugar or cholesterol.
A graduate of the New York Restaurant School and the Natural Gourmet Institute, Fran was a pastry chef in both traditional and vegan kitchens.
Today, she teaches at the Natural Gourmet Institute (including her Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive®, a certification program), and at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Her second book, “More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts,” is designed as a complete course in vegan baking with recipes using only minimally processed organic and Fair Trade ingredients. Follow Fran on twitter: @goodcakesfran
********************ENTER TO WIN!***********************
Today’s giveaway comes from Nasoya, a gift pack (valued at $60) that includes a signature tote bag and apron, the TofuXpress tofu press, recipes and coupons. To enter, answer the following question in the comments section below by 6 p.m. PT: True or False: Tofu and dessert go together. Discuss/elaborate. A winner will be randomly selected from the comments. There will also be a VegNews giveway during my Culinate chat today (1 ET).
With its relatively neutral taste, tofu is the perfect foundation ingredient for vegan (dairy-free and egg-free) creams, mousse, puddings, fillings and frostings. I have been using this excellent ingredient in my dessert recipes for over 15 years with great success, if empty plates accompanied by wows and yum measure success. Yet, when I ask the question “do you use tofu to make desserts”, the answer is often “No I don’t; they taste like tofu. “
T &T virgins and friends, I want to set the record straight. Making luscious tofu-based creams, mousse, puddings, fillings and frostings — without any taste of the bean — is guaranteed, when you heed my simple tips:
* First thing’s first: Tofu is perishable, so check the expiration on the package. Use organic tofu whenever possible.
* Use the type of tofu specified (silken or regular), as they have different textures and properties.
* Drain silken tofu in a strainer set over a bowl at least one hour to overnight.
* Blanch regular tofu in a pot of barely simmering water for 3 to 4 minutes, remove and pat dry. This can be done three days ahead; cover and refrigerate.
* Regardless of which type you use, cream tofu for at least 5 minutes in a food processor, or until not a trace of graininess remains and the tofu is fully incorporated.
* Sweeten as you see fit. Adding a bit finely minced citrus zest enhances the flavor of many tofu-based desserts.
I have selected two favorite recipes to share. The first uses regular firm tofu and the other features silken firm tofu. (For a refresher on types of tofu, check out Jill Nussinow’s Tofu 101 post.)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse
Organic tofu and organic peanut butter are the main players in this better–for-you version of the popular candy treat. From “More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts” by Fran Costigan.
1 (14-ounce) package firm regular tofu, blanched and drained
1 cup pure maple syrup, Grade A dark amber or B
3⁄4 cup organic peanut butter, at room temperature (I prefer smooth)
3⁄4 cup Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup organic cane sugar, ground fine in a blender
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Crumble the tofu into the bowl of a food processor. Process 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup; process 3 minutes. Stop the machine and clean the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times.
Add the peanut butter, pulse to incorporate and process 1 minute. Add the cocoa, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt. Process 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is perfectly smooth and creamy. Stop the processor a few times to clean the sides of the bowl.
The mousse is ready to use, but can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature, garnished with some salted roasted peanuts and chopped chocolate.
*The Elvis: Layer PB Mousse, sliced bananas and Fran’s Ultimate Chocolate Sauce (recipe follows).
*As a cake filling, frosting or eaten right off a spoon — it’s delicious!
*If you’ve some time and a little patience, make chocolate cups to fill with the cream and enjoy better-for-you PB Cups.
Fran’s Ultimate Chocolate Sauce
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 cup dark cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup, grade A dark amber
2 tablespoons canola oil (organic, preferably)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pour the water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Combine the cocoa, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. With the motor running, pour 6 tablespoons of the hot water through the feed tube. Stop the blender or food processor, and clean the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Process about 1 minute, until smooth. The sauce will be thin.
Pour the sauce into a jar with a lid. Refrigerate the sauce for up to one week, or freeze for up to one month.
Soft Orange Cream
(Yield: 1⅔ cups)
This bright-tasting cream compliments fruit salads and plain cake and is lovely used in shortcakes and trifles. Note that the silken tofu makes a softer cream than those made with regular tofu, and that’s the advantage here. From “More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts” by Fran Costigan.
1 (12.3 ounce) box firm silken tofu
1/2 cup organic sugar, finely ground in a blender
5 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon organic canola oil or a mild extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest
Optional: ¼ teaspoon orange oil
Drain the tofu in a strainer set over a bowl at least 1 hour.
Process the tofu in the bowl of a food processor 2 minutes until creamy. Clean the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the sugar and pulse to combine. Process 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and process 3 to 4 minutes, stopping the processor a few times to clean the sides of the bowl.
Pour the cream into a container, cover and refrigerate least 3 hours for the best flavor.