My friend and trusted voice in food media, Shivani Vora, hosted a soiree of desert tasting by Fernanda Capobianco of Vegan Diva and wine pairing by Alexa Elman. The spread looked like it had been shipped from the finest French Patisserie in Paris. Chocolate was definitely the prevailing theme, but there was also an assortment of the non-cocoa variety, such as cookies with a hint of curry, carrot cake and macaroons. As I chomped my way through the fifth dessert, something became apparent to me. The desserts were decadent (AKA buttery) and yet they didn’t leave behind that unappealing residual mouth feel. The palate felt clean as opposed to waxy.
I felt perplexed by it after all, on a cause and effect level, it didn’t make sense. I took my questions directly to the source itself ‘Vegan Diva’, brain child of Capobianco. It was simple, her desserts were Vegan, but thoughtfully vegan. Apparently, she was right. I have had many vegan deserts before, and they have never tasted like this. Creamy and soft as opposed to hollow and generic and cookies that would crumble like any sable cookie should, the deserts made me question everything I knew about pastry and quite frankly science.
Fernanda was kind enough to open her factory doors to me where I witnessed a very alternative pastry kitchen. Jars of what looked like brown gravel but turned out to be brown sugar, bottles of coconut oil, the finest of maple syrup and bins filled with spelt, it was clear that this lady had a vision and despite the odds, she was ‘going for it’. The result; a sweet scent of donuts, chewy macaroons, and of course what we later whipped together with her Pastry Chef Milena Molina, airy chocolate mousse, spiced with cayenne and cinnamon.
It was surprising how the amalgamation of dairy free chocolate, tofu and cane juice could yield such a creamy and gourmet experience that could rival it’s non vegan counterpart. It really was. Not only is Vegan Diva available at the gourmet retailers, it is also served at Francois Payard – one of the cities finest French Patisseries.
Don’t be afraid to make this dessert as it is the most approachable dessert you will ever make and check any preconceived notions you have of vegan deserts (especially the tofu) at the door, because this is the real deal.
2 ½ packages of extra firm Mori-Nu Silken tofu
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup Sucanat (dehydrated cane juice)
2 cups vegan, kosher and non-dairy chocolate chips
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1) In a large food processor, combine tofu, Sucanat, vanilla extract and salt. Process for 7 minutes until all ingredients are fully incorporated
2) In a double broiler, place chocolate chips and canola, melt ingredients slowly so the chocolate doesn’t scorch. Stir constantly.
3) When chocolate has fully melted and is smooth and silky, place in food processor with all ingredients and process 5 minutes, incorporating everything from the sides of the food processor
4) Refrigerate for 4-5 hours. Serve topped with raspberries or cocoa nibs