December 27, 2018
The Christmas season is a time for sweet treats. But why can’t your sweet tooth be satisfied with whole plant based food rather than loads of refined sugar, butter and white flour. I love to have a sweet snack but like to feel that it is providing more than empty calories. Below is the assortment of sweets I made this season. They are all delicious and nutritious and can be consumed without added guilt.
As a bonus, all my Christmas baking this year was gluten free. Although I am not gluten sensitive, my sister and nephew are, and I wanted them to be able to enjoy it all.
All these treats froze well, which is helpful for preparing in advance.
Pecan Bars or Tarts
This recipe is from Feasting on Fruit. The only modification I made was to add some oatmeal to the crust to reduce the amount of pecans used. They are not overly sweet and everyone seems to love them.
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) chopped pecans (Used 1 cup pecans and ½ cup GF oatmeal)
- 1 cup (70g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 8-10 (150g) pitted medjool dates
- 12 (200g) pitted medjool dates
- 1 1/4 cup (300g) non-dairy milk
- 3 tbsp arrowroot starch ((can sub cornstarch or tapioca starch))
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup (150g) pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 350F.
For the crust, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until sticky and clumpy. (I suggest you process the pecans, oatmeal (if using) and coconut first then add the dates through the feeder shoot one at a time while the machine is running.)
Press firmly into a square pan (8×8″) lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
Without washing the food processor, place medjool dates, milk, arrowroot, vanilla, and salt in a processor and process until smooth. Add 1 cup of the pecan halves and pulse them in.
Spread the filling on the crust. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans on top and press them in lightly.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F or until the pecans on top are golden brown. Remove from the oven. Cool. Then refrigerate overnight. Slice into squares and enjoy! Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Or you can make as tarts, as I did. I pressed the crust into the bottom of small silicone molds. Pour filling over the crust and decorate with 1 or 2 pecans, depending on the size of your mold. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the pecans are golden brown. Cool overnight then remove from the molds.
Spice Date Cookies
This recipe is from Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures and makes about 20 small cookies. They are sweetened with dates and contain no oil, just a small amount of tahini. Roll them in sesame seeds for a unique look on your dessert platter.
- 1/8 cup tahini
- 8 medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- Pinch sea salt
- Sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.
Place tahini in a food processor and while running, drop the dates in through the feeding shoot one at a time. Process until dates are finely minced. Add all the other ingredients, except sesame seeds, and process until the mixture forms a ball.
Scoop dough into 1 tbsp balls and roll tightly. Roll in sesame seeds. Place on cookie sheet and press flat with bottom of a glass. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool before removing from the baking sheet.
Rip’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies
From Engine 2 Cookbook by Rip Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn. These are really delicious but a bit too sweet for my palate. When I made the second batch, I changed the 1/4 cup maple syrup to 1/8 cup maple syrup and 1/8 cup pumpkin puree.
- ¾ cup oat flour (use gluten free if necessary)
- ¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats (use gluten free if necessary)
- ¼ cup maple syrup (or 1/8 cup maple syrup and 1/8 cup pumpkin puree)
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 1 tbsp ground flax
- 1 1/3 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup non dairy chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F and line cookie sheet with parchment or silicone mat.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients and stir until well combined. (Note: you can make your own oat flour by blending rolled oats in a blender until a flour forms)
Scoop out dough in 1 ½ to 2 inch balls. Press down to form disk. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until light brown on the edges. Cool
Ginger Molasses Cookies
This cookie recipe is also from Feasting on Fruit. They are sweetened with both molasses and coconut sugar. The only modification I made was to add some fresh grated ginger for a more intense ginger taste. Rather than rolling the cookie dough balls in cane sugar, I opted to press them flat with the bottom of a glass coated with sugar. (moisten the bottom of the glass first so the sugar sticks) These cookies are quite soft.
- ½ cup almond butter
- ½ cup apple sauce
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground ginger (plus fresh ginger for stronger flavour, if desired)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup tapioca starch
- cane sugar for rolling (optional)
Combine almond butter, apple sauce, coconut sugar, and molasses in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Add the baking soda. Mix coconut flour and tapioca starch together. Stir into wet mixture and stir until combined.
The dough should be able to form into balls, if not add a tablespoon or 2 more of coconut flour (or you can drop them by spoonfuls onto your baking sheet rather than roll them). Press the balls flat with a sugar coated glass, if desired.
Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking tray before removing.
This summer, we had three young folk from France staying with us, and Sandra made these for us. Speculoos is traditional for Christmas in Belgium (they lived on the border of France and Belgium). Traditionally, they are rolled out with an embossed rolling pin or speculoos molds, however, I just used a plain rolling pin. Plain but still delicious.
These are generally sweetened with a dark brown sugar, but I used coconut sugar instead. They only other modification to the recipe I made was to substitute the olive oil with almond butter. This recipe is from My Gut Feeling.
- 1 cup brown rice flour + more to sprinkle
- ½ cup tapioca
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
- pinch of white pepper (I used black pepper)
- ½ cup dark muscovado sugar (I used coconut sugar)
- ½ cup almond butter
- 5 tbsp almond milk
In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
Cream oil and sugar for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. If necessary, use a fork to better incorporate the sticky sugar lumps. Beat in half the flour mixture and the milk. Add remaining flour and mix to make a light dough (approx. 10 minutes).
Set aside in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours or overnight to allow the spices to permeate the dough and add extra flavor.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ªF and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sprinkle the speculoos molds lightly with flour. Insert dough into the molds, press firmly and gently roll over using a rolling pin. Trim excess dough horizontally with a knife. Gently remove dough out of mold with fingertips and onto the baking sheet. This is a slow and delicate process but totally worth it. If you don’t have speculoos molds, simply spread the dough and cut it with cookie cutters.
Bake each batch for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the mold you use, or until cookies start to brown.
Let the cookies cool on the tray for 10 minutes before eating or storing in an airtight container.
No Bake Brownies
- 2 cups nuts (I used half walnuts and half almonds, other options are peanuts, cashews)
- 1 ½ cup medjool dates, pitted
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ cup brown rice crisps
- Shredded coconut for topping
Note: that this is too much for a small food processor. Unless you have a 12 cup processor, process half the batch, then dump into a bowl and process other half. Add the crisps to the bowl with the complete mixture.
If using almonds, place in food processor and process until small pieces. Place remaining nuts in with almond pieces and process until small pieces. Add the hemp hearts and salt. Add dates one at a time feeding through the shoot while the machine is running. Add cocoa powder and combine well. Add maple syrup and process until fully combined. Remove mixture to a large bowl and add rice crisps. Mix in by hand.
Press mixture into a 8×8 pan lined with parchment. Press in firmly. If desired, top with shredded coconut. Press coconut into brownie mixture. Chill for 1 hour, then cut into small pieces and store in freezer.
Coconut Cacao Quinoa Bars
These bars are coconut heaven. I use coconut butter (which you can make in your VitaMix using just plain unsweetened coconut just like you would peanut butter) to hold them together, rather than coconut oil.
I found this recipe in a magazine (CookVegan Plant Power for the Planet, Early Summer 2016 edition )in the Glasgow airport while waiting for a flight home. I have since modified it to be whole food.
- ¾ cup pitted Medjool dates
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp Himalayan sea salt
- 1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 50 grams dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 1 ¼ cups shredded coconut
- ½ cup quinoa flakes
- ½ cup cacao nibs
- ½ cup coconut butter, melted
- 1 tbsp brown rice syrup
- 100 grams chocolate
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
Line a 7x4x3 inch loaf pan with parchment paper or use a silicone pan.
Process dates in food processor along with vanilla, salt and cinnamon into a rough paste. Add chocolate, coconut, quinoa flakes, and cocao nibs. Process till fully blended. Melt coconut butter and brown rice syrup together and add to the food processor. Process until well combined. Mixture should stick together when pressed with your fingers. If necessary, remove from food processor and blend with your hands.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Smooth out the top. Freeze for 1 hour. Cut into bars.
Melt the chocolate for the topping over boiling water in a double boiler. Place coconut in a separate dish. Once chocolate is melted, dip each bar lengthwise in the chocolate so the top half of the bar is coated in chocolate. Wipe off excess and dip in the coconut. Place on parchment paper coconut side up. Store in fridge or freezer.
Dark Chocolate Cherry Bites
These are one of the energy balls I made for the Winnipeg VegFest.
This recipe is from Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook and is one of my favorite. They are super easy to make, look fantastic and taste even better. I use the VitaMix to make up a batch of coconut butter.
- 1 cup raw almonds ground into a fine meal
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 grams dairy free dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 275F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Place all ingredients, except dark chocolate, in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Dough will be thick and sticky.
Using a small retractable cookie scoop, or 1 tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop dough out and roll into a firm ball using wet hands to prevent sticking. Place on baking sheet, flattening the bottoms slightly so you have a small round mound.
Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake an additional 15 minutes, watching carefully to be sure they don’t burn. If necessary, bake longer until the mounds start turning golden brown. Remove and cool on baking sheet until cool before removing.
Melt dark chocolate over hot water in a double boiler. When melted, dip the flat base of each macaroon in the chocolate. Place on parchment paper. With a spoon, drizzle remaining melted chocolate over the top of the macaroons. Cool until chocolate is hardened (can place in freezer to speed this up).
Cherry Cha Cha
This popular dessert consists of a date nut base, a cherry filling and a whipped coconut topping. You can make each part ahead of time and assemble the dessert the morning of your dinner to save time. You can also substitute other fruit, like blueberry or peaches, for the cherries. I used frozen pitted sweet cherries.
You can find the recipe with the June 2016 cooking class recipes.
Don’t forget your desserts don’t all have to be baked goodies. Plain fruit is a good alternative too. My dessert table included pineapple, mandarin oranges, fruit compote and roasted unsalted mixed nuts.