Miles and miles of chocolate bon bons!
Vegansaurus has brought on world-class vegan chefs like Terry Hope Romero and Robin Robertson for their Project Just Desserts: a veganizing of each week’s winning recipes from this season of Top Chef: Just Desserts. Full disclosure of my secret guilty pleasure: I’m a huge Top Chef fan. Sometimes I have to close my eyes when there’s a gratuitous amount of animal flesh on the screen, but I am such a foodie at heart that I love watching the creativity and the cooking process, even when I have to squint and pretend that the cheftestants are actually working with tofu. I loved the inaugural season of Top Chef: Just Desserts because there were so many stunning desserts being produced. And as it turns out, other vegans were guiltily watching and getting inspired right along with me.
For the ten weeks of the show’s duration, Vegansaurus published vegan versions of recipes from each week’s episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts as created by our favorite chefs, authors, and bloggers. These whiz kids took recipes laden with eggs and cream and turned them into beautiful, animal-friendly dessert creations that rival anything that a non-vegan pastry chef could produce. From macaroons to mini-cheesecakes, the ten entries in Project Just Desserts are completely drool-worthy. And with Top Chef: All-Stars starting tonight, you can get inspired by the recipes below and then take on whatever the cheftestants come up with this season.
After speaking with Laura, one of Vegansaurus’ bloggers and the brave soul who tried her hand at veganizing the first week’s recipe, I was totally inspired to tackle some of the recipes from episode nine. Read on for our interview and the four chocolate truffle recipes I whipped up.
SuperVegan: Top Chef has been around for a while, but you decided to tackle this particular season of the show. Why Just Desserts?
Vegansaurus: Well, [Vegansaurus editor] Meave emailed me with the idea of veganizing Top Chef: Just Desserts and then we brainstormed for awhile about decided getting vegan chefs, cookbook authors, and bloggers to do it so that we didn’t go completely crazy doing every episode ourselves and then also, if people with baking and cooking talent do it, the recipes will be actually good! Also, it’s pretty easy to veganize savory dishes, but desserts are much more complex!
SV: Have you or your guest chefs found anything particularly challenging about veganizing these recipes?
Vegansaurus: Oh yeah… Vegan Dad was freaked out about the Meringue but did an amazing job. Actually, I think everyone has had a momentary freak out when they learned what they would be veganizing. But seriously, everyone has rolled with the punches and every single recipe looks absolutely amazing.
SV: How has the response been from your readers?
Vegansaurus: Everyone seems super into it! I think a lot of us vegans are (closeted?) reality food show fans. It’s because we’re all crazy into food, I think.
SV: Can we look forward to future veganizations of Top Chef or other cooking shows at Vegansaurus?
Vegansaurus: MAYBE. I mean, should we? Would people want to see a whole season of the regular Top Chef veganized? I’m not sure… desserts are so fun but I mean, what will people do if like the winning dish is Chicken Cacciatore? Just use Gardein? Maybe if people did their own take on the recipes, that could be fun? Am I asking a lot of questions?
On the quickfire challenge in episode nine, Top Chef contestants were asked to create four chocolate truffles with which to tell their life stories. I chose four recipes not so much about telling my life story but more about which wouldn’t take me thirty-six hours to make. I’m stingy like that. Thankfully, the chocolates I ended up with were super-delicious and fairly easy to put together. Check ’em out and give one or two a try!
Almond Butter and Blueberry Bon Bon
8oz smooth almond butter
8oz dark chocolate (I used Scharffenberger Semisweet 62% Couverture Bar, but any dark will do!)
1/4c. blueberry preserves, pureed
Melt the almond butter and dark chocolate together in a double-boiler over low heat.
In a greased bon bon mold (or ice cube tray, which works just as well!), pour in some of the melted chocolate/almond butter mixture until the molds are 1/3 full. Then fill another 1/3 with the pureed blueberry preserves. Top the final 1/3 with more of the melted chocolate mixture. Put the mold in the fridge or freezer until solid. Makes about 24 truffles.
When the truffle centers have solidified to a clay-like texture, you can hand roll them into a rounder, more truffle-y shape.
Chocolate Bon Bon with Roasted Banana Filling
2 small bananas
4 T. brown sugar
1/2c. soy creamer (I wanted to use MimicCreme but couldn’t find any, so I opted for Wildwood Soy Creamer)
2oz. corn syrup
12oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 T. vegan margarine
4oz. dark chocolate (preferably darker than the other chocolate you used, but no biggie if they’re the same — I used a 70% for this part)
Preheat oven to 400F.
Put the bananas and the 4T. brown sugar into a pan and roast them for about 30min. or until softened. Puree in a food processor until very smooth.
Meanwhile, bring the cream and corn syrup to a low boil. Pour it over the chocolate and whisk until all chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the 3T. butter and the banana puree and mix until as smooth as possible.
Pour the mixture into a greased pan and put into refrigerator or freezer. Allow to cool until it is the texture of clay (I don’t think it will ever completely solidify, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it in too long), and then cut or roll by hand into desired shapes.
Melt the 4oz. darker chocolate over low heat in a double boiler, then use a fork (or your fingers, if you’re feeling sassy) to dip each truffle filling into the melted chocolate. Place each truffle onto a greased baking sheet and put into the fridge or freezer until solid. Makes about 48 truffles.
I wish I had done a better job of decorating the truffles but I didn’t think of using the lemon zest or the coconut until after they were frozen. I challenge you to do better!
Rolled Truffle with Green Tea and Lemon
5oz. soy creamer
1oz. matcha green tea powder (I found Rishi Tea brand at Whole Foods)
12oz. dark chocolate
2 T. lemon juice
4oz. dark chocolate (again, try to get a darker chocolate for this 4oz than the other 12oz you used)
a teaspoon or so of lemon rind for garnish
Chop the 12oz. dark chocolate finely in a food processor.
Boil the soy cream and the matcha powder over medium heat. Once boiling, pour into the food processor with the chocolate and blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice while the blender is still running and allow to mix for another minute.
Drop the mixture by tablespoon onto a greased baking sheet and put into the fridge or freezer until cooled to a clay texture. Roll each by hand into a ball.
Melt the 4oz. chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. Use a fork or your fingers to dip each truffle center into the melted chocolate until fully coated. Sprinkle a few small pieces of lemon rind on the top of each truffle. Place onto a greased baking sheet and put into the fridge or freezer until solid. Makes about 36 truffles.
Coconut Ganache with Pineapple Jam
For the pineapple jam:
2c. finely chopped fresh pineapple
2 T. water
For the chocolate:
1/2c. coconut milk creamer (this one!)
4oz. corn syrup
1/2c. pineapple jam
12oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
3T. vegan margarine
4oz. dark chocolate (darker than the other 12oz, if possible)
shredded coconut, for garnish
First, make the jam: Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a caramel — thick and browned and bubbling — then add the chopped pineapple. Drop the heat to low and cook pineapple until everything is thickened and gooey. Cool.
Next, make the chocolates: Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer over medium heat, then pour the hot liquid over the chopped chocolate. Whisk together until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Whisk in the pineapple jam and margarine until mixture is as smooth as possible.
Pour the mixture into a greased pan and put into refrigerator or freezer. Allow to cool until it is the texture of clay, and then cut or roll by hand into desired shapes.
Melt the 4oz. darker chocolate over low heat in a double boiler, then use a fork to dip each truffle filling into the melted chocolate. Sprinkle a few pieces of shredded coconut on top to pretty things up a bit. Place each truffle onto a greased baking sheet and put into the fridge or freezer until solid. Makes about 48 truffles.
This pineapple jam was so delicious that I not only put it into one of my truffles, but I also spread it over pancakes and ate it by the spoonful. VICTORY.