2 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse With Citrus + Lychee

Lychee is one of my favorite southeast Asian fruits, second only to mangosteen. Its pink-white flesh is glossy, delicate and aromatic…the vibrant taste is absolutely unique. Think of a grape, but juicier, with smooth floral, rosy notes and pear undertones. Even comparing it to a grape is slightly insulting, because its freshness and flavor is on an entirely different level.

lychee fruit (1 of 2)

Clearly, lychee is my valentine this year.  Lychee is also considered a lucky fruit in Chinese culture, symbolizing family abundance and harmony, so this dessert would be a fun fusion dish for Lunar New Year gatherings this weekend. Red and golden hues make a lucky color palette. Continue reading

Chinese Five Spice Gingerbread Cookies

Happy Christmas Eve, y’all! 2017 is coming to a close–I can barely believe it! I’m in the mood to bake spicy cookies and drown my stress in hot chocolate, how about you?

Needless to say, grad school life has kept me quite occupied this year. I actually got sick twice this semester (currently still recovering)–which is absolutely insane to me, because I hardly ever get sick. This semester seriously took a toll on me. I have another year left–my thesis looms ahead! Cue the tears and hot chocolate…and Chinese five spice gingerbread cookies.

gingerbread scene final-B

Chinese five spice, ngũ vị hương in Vietnamese, is one of my favorite things to reach for in the kitchen. It has a complex balance of flavors: sweet, savory, sour, and bitter. Around this time last year, I shared a savory recipe featuring it–Fusion Jackfruit Bao Bites. This year, I’m showing you how I decided to throw it into some cookies…it turned out to be a success at a vegan Christmas cookie swap I went to, so I decided to refine the recipe to share with you!

Finishing Process2

Chilling the dough before and after rolling keeps cookie shapes intact–but I also like the cute mistakes that occur when I forget to chill the second time, like this little dancing cutie!

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Harry Potter Butterbeer Macaroons // The Plant Philosophy Collab

ICYMI, Margaret (The Plant Philosophy) and I have been getting magical in the kitchen with some Harry Potter themed treats, including Polyjuice Potion and Felix Felicis Potion!

 

Last week when Margaret and I got together to collaborate on more Harry Potter recipes, we had some issues with our initial recipe ideas. Plus there was a torrential downpour most of the day, so we struggled to get good lighting for our photos. Maybe we would’ve had better luck with a sip of Felix Felicis. 😉

Harry Potter Butterbeer Macaroons | plantcrush.co

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Bite-Sized Coconut Macaroon Nests

Say hello to the cutest dessert I’ve ever made, inspired by spring and nature!
Mini Coconut Macaroon Nests | plantcrush.coCrunchy on the outside, tender and chewy on the inside, these little coconut macaroon bites are best enjoyed soon after they’re taken out of the oven. They are decadent and delicate at the same time. To compliment the macaroons’ rich coconut flavor, I topped them with fresh juicy blueberries for some tart sweetness.

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Christmas Superfood Bark

Chocolate bark is one of my favorite things to make for the holidays! In the past, I have often sprinkled crushed candy canes on top of my chocolate bark, but I’ve been wanting to use healthier toppings. I’ve also been inspired by this healthy chocolate base without refined sugars!

I immediately thought of pomegranates and pistachios for toppings–the colors are perfect for Christmas and they go well with chocolate!

Pomegranates are loaded with Vitamin C, can help your body fight cancer, and improve your metabolism! Pistachios are packed with nutrients, fiber and healthy fats, plus they’re rich in cancer-fighting vitamin E.

Not only are these ingredients gorgeous, they are rich in immune-boosting antioxidants, minerals and vitamins! Why would I not want to sprinkle my chocolate with them? Superfoods > crushed candy. 🙂

Christmas Superfood Bark!

The resulting bark was beautiful in both appearance and taste–silky-smooth, rich chocolate, accompanied by refreshing bursts of juicy, tart pomegranate arils, and finally, a nice crunch from the pistachios! I was amazed at the contrast and harmony of it all. Love! Continue reading

Rustic Savory Mushroom & Green Bean Crostata

The holidays are here and that means it’s pie season. I much prefer galettes and crostatas, though, and they are so much easier than pie!

A crostata (or a galette) is a free-formed pastry, which is why I love it so much. Usually it’s a dessert Savory Rustic Veggie Crostatadish, filled with seasonal fruits, like this apple galette I made, but it can also have a savory filling! Like potatoes, or tomatoes, for example. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to attempt a savory crostata for a while, and I finally got to make one and record the measurements this week!

Inspired by comfort food and pretty pastries, this is like a dressed up version of a green bean casserole. I actually like it better, because the herbed crust is so delicious! This is great for Thanksgiving, or for dinner on a relaxing Sunday evening.

Please note: the measurements below are for two crostatas (I couldn’t just make one!), but feel free to half them if you don’t want to make that much!

Rustic Savory Mushroom & Green Bean Crostata

Rustic Savory Mushroom & Green Bean Crostata
(makes 2 crostatas, 5-8 servings)
Total time: 2 hours

Herbed Crust 

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry purpose flour, chilled
  • 1 tiny pinch sea salt
  • 2 t organic sugar
  • 1 cup chilled non-dairy butter (I used Earth Balance this time–I want to experiment with a coconut oil crust in the future! Do any of you use Nutiva products for baking?)
  • 6 T fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used 2 T each of thyme, parsley and sage)
  • 4-5 T ice water
Method:
  1. Pulse the flour, sea salt, and organic sugar in a food processor until well incorporated.
  2. Cut the non-dairy butter into the flour mixture, using a fork. Don’t worry about making the butter pieces small—sugar cube sized chunks are fine.
  3. Process in the food processor until you get a coarse, crumbly mixture. Clumps are fine here. Halfway through, add the herbs.
  4. Add the ice water to the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Pulse after each tablespoon & assess if you need to add more water each time you do–you want the dough to just come together.
  5. Divide your dough in half and carefully dump each half on two separate pieces of saran wrap. For each round of dough, take the plastic and wrap it around the dough, shaping it into a flat disc as you go. Watching Martha Stewart do it is helpful! 🙂
  6. Chill your dough in the fridge for at least an hour (or overnight). While your dough is chilling, you can prepare the filling!
Green Bean & Mushroom Filling

I used Fork and Beans’ Green Bean Casserole recipe, with several of my own adjustments (noted below).

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz fresh green beans, chopped and boiled until just tender—put them in ice after straining so that they stay fresh. Once they are cold, take them out of the ice and let them dry on a paper towel.
  • grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 2 T garbanzo flour (or regular all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth–all I had on hand was phở broth, so I just went with it, but it actually turned out amazing! It made everything very aromatic! 🙂
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • a generous dash of garlic powder
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
After finishing step 3 on Cara’s recipe, I transferred the creamy mushroom sauce to a large mixing bowl and added the green beans to it. 

Assembling the crostataRustic Savory Mushroom & Green Bean Crostata

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Take the chilled dough rounds out of the fridge.
  3. On a floured surface, roll the dough rounds into rough circles.
  4. Transfer the dough rounds to two glass pie pans (mine were 8 inches in diameter), or a baking sheet.
  5. Spoon the green bean and mushroom filling onto the dough, leaving about 1 1/2 inches at the edges. Fold all edges of the dough towards the center. Food52 has some good tips for this.
  6. Brush the crust with some almond milk or melted nondairy butter.
  7. Sprinkle the whole thing with breadcrumbs or almond parmesan, to your taste. Last night, I made some herbed breadcrumbs with my favorite Ezekiel bread, so I used those! Check out my Facebook for the herbed breadcrumbs recipe.
  8. Lower the oven’s heat to 350 degrees F and bake the crostata for 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is golden. I let mine bake a little longer because I wanted it to be extra toasty!

Enjoy, and I hope everyone has a beautiful time with their family this weekend! Thank you for reading!

Lavender Hot Chocolate + Coconut Whip

Lavender Hot Chocolate I am a fan of all things lavender, especially lavender lemonade. I’ve been dying to try lavender hot chocolate. I saw a recipe for it on à la mode’s blog a while back, and it was simply gorgeous. Truly inspiring. I had to veganize it. While my photos may not be as amazing as his, I think the hot chocolate tasted divine, especially with this genius coconut whipped cream from Oh She Glows.
Decadent Coconut Whipped Cream

My friend just pointed out to me that this looks like the moon and stars! Not my intention, but I like it!

This drink is cozy and elegant—my kind of Valentine’s Day treat! I live for the joys of relaxation and authentic simplicity, no superfluous roses or overpriced dinners here, thank you.

My friend told me a rose hot chocolate might be more suited to tomorrow’s holiday, but I’m just so obsessed with lavender. It’s done.

Delicious Lavender Hot ChocolateThis recipe makes enough to serve two, so you can share it with your sweetheart for a charming end to your evening. If you’re single and have a 20 oz mug, then it serves one. More hot chocolate for me! ^.^

Food-saving note: You really only need a couple dollops of coconut whipped cream, so you’ll have coconut milk leftover–I’m going to use my leftover coconut milk to make this easy caramel sauce from Oh, Ladycakes!

Vegan Lavender Hot Chocolate
inspired by à la mode
(makes 2 normal servings, or 1 generous serving)

Total time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 t dried lavender buds (available at Whole Foods or any natural grocery store)
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped uniformly (use at least 70% cacao—I used Theo’s brand, available at Kroger or Whole Foods)
  • 1/6 cup pure maple syrup (or to your taste)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • coconut whipped cream, for serving (optional, but it gives the BEST creamy texture–be sure to chill several hours beforehand. You can get the canned coconut milk from Kroger or the Asian market.)

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, heat the nondairy milk and lavender buds over medium heat. Whisk occasionally and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let the lavender steep for about 5 minutes.
  3. Strain the lavender and return the milk to the saucepan, on low to medium heat. Add the chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Whisk until the chocolate is melted, and everything is incorporated and frothy. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour into mugs and serve with dollops of coconut whipped cream. Mix it up to incorporate the creaminess throughout the whole drink.

Gorgeous Lavender Hot Chocolate

Mmm…it looks like a galaxy and tastes like a combination of two of my favorite things—Earl Grey lattes and chocolate. It’s perfect!

Next time, I’m going to try making this with Dream Nondairy’s creamy sweet chocolate bar. I hope you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day, whether you are celebrating with someone special or your awesome self!

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Have any other lavender-related ideas? If you try the recipe, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Related articles:

Merry Christmas!

Vegan Hot ChocolateHi everyone,
I would just like to make a post dedicated to sincerely wishing my readership a very merry Christmas (or happy holidays, if you prefer)! Thank you all for following my blog–I appreciate your readership more than I can express in words!

In honor of today, I am sharing the following Christmas/winter playlist and some handpicked related articles below from my favorite places on the internet (I’ve also included some of my recipes for your reference).

If you have a quiet moment this holiday, feel free to check them out if you’re interested in reading about what’s usually on my mind during the Christmas season (and all year, really–yummy food and world peace are always relevant in my book).

I hope your holidays are filled with love and light, and I wish you and your families all the best for the upcoming new year.

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15 Last-Minute DIY Foodie Gifts (That Your Friends Actually Want)

The holidays are upon us, and the window for finding gifts is quickly closing. Rushing to a busy mall is the worst thing to do right now. At the last minute, sometimes you start hallucinating and any DIY gift may sound appealing, but let’s skip the fruitcake and chocolate-covered pretzels, shall we?
YES VEGAN NUTELLA FROM LESLEYHere’s my handpicked list of thoughtful DIY vegan foodie gifts for your loved ones. These gifts won’t break the bank and most of them can be put together in an hour or two, with a few exceptions (gifts that take more than two hours are noted below).

  1. Homemade vegan Nutella: Last year, one of my best friends (Lesley, who runs the awesome Crafts and Magicks blog) made batches of vegan Nutella for me and our other vegan buddies. This is at the top of my list because Nutella is something that I personally missed from my childhood, and receiving a homemade vegan version was one of the most thoughtful and lovely gifts I’ve ever gotten. Always Order Dessert and Chocolate-Covered Katie have recipes for vegan Nutella from scratch.
  2. Caramel sauce: Caramel is another luxury that is taken for granted in the non-vegan world. Vegan caramel is hard to come by, so a bottle of this caramel sauce would be much appreciated by any vegan with a sweet tooth. I definitely recommend Oh Ladycakes’ caramel sauce recipe–I have tried it and gotten great results. It’s gorgeous stored in a bottle, to be drizzled in hot chocolate, or on pancakes or waffles for breakfast on Christmas morning.
  3. Flavored sugars and salts: I love this idea SO much. High Walls Blog has instructions to make rose salt, Mexican cocoa and lavender sugar as gifts. Presented in little glass jars or containers, these are truly elegant edibles that will get used.
  4. Brownies in a jar: Chocolate is a no-fail in my book. Check out Vegan Richa’s vegan brownie mix in a jar recipe. The post also includes instructions for single-serve brownies in a jar, which I think is genius.
  5. Homemade hot cocoa mix: A classic edible gift–check out Oh She Glows’ meltable hot chocolate discs. Last year, I made this candy cane hot cocoa mix from the Free People blog. My friends said the mix was too pretty to drink, but they drank it and enjoyed it anyway. Tehee.
  6. Chocolate bark: Beautiful, simple and customizable. Dark chocolate or rice milk chocolate both work, depending on your preference. Try this fruity chocolate bark recipe from Love and Olive Oil, or my berry nut chocolate bark recipe.
  7. Candied citrus peels: These make nice gifts for pen pals or relatives who live far away. Fresh Love Daily has a recipe for candied orange peels that can be made in an hour and a half. I would dip them in chocolate to make them even better.
  8. Truffles: Although these treats sound fancy, truffles really aren’t that hard to put together. Impress your friends with this decadent vegan truffle recipe from Inhabitat.com. I’ve made these before, and they aren’t hard, but they require some time (about three hours). If you don’t have that much time, my Harry-Potter themed snitch truffles take about an hour.
  9. Candy bars: Candy bars are another luxury that I don’t eat on the regular, because their vegan availability is limited or pricey. Go Max Go makes vegan candy bars (available at Whole Foods or other health food stores), but for homemade vegan candy bars, Cara from the Fork and Beans blog is definitely the expert. She created several vegan candy bar recipes for Halloween, but they could just as easily be used as Christmas gifts. I would recommend her Kit Kat bars, no-bake Twix bars, and peanut butter cups–all of which are vegan, gluten-free, and can come together in about an hour or less! She also has a pretty sweet recipe for vegan candy cane kisses, if you can get your hands on some vegan white chocolate.
  10. Flavored syrups: This is a gift for coffee-lovers who like to make their own drinks at home. Annie’s Eats has a recipe guide to make four different kinds of DIY flavored syrup, without the high-fructose corn syrup: vanilla, raspberry, coconut and caramel. The last recipe calls for caramel sauce–I would use Oh Ladycakes’ caramel sauce.
  11. Snowball cookies: Also known as Mexican wedding cookies, these are fun and adorable cookies that will melt in your mouth. Check out Chocolate-Covered Katie’s recipe.
  12. Pesto: Combined with a package of dry pasta, a fresh baguette, or by itself, pesto makes a good savory gift. There are many ways to make vegan pesto. For guidance and inspiration, take a look at Hell Yeah It’s Vegan’s walnut basil pesto, or Food52’s simple vegan pesto.
  13. Indoor herb garden: Besides the vegan Nutella, this is probably my favorite idea on this list. I seriously need to make myself one of these…I can’t count how many times I have wistfully wished for fresh herbs within my reach while cooking (once, in a poorly planned phở adventure, I went to six stores in search of fresh basil–NEVER AGAIN). Design Sponge has a tutorial for a clean and simple herb garden in a wooden box. For a more eclectic look, try re-using tea tins, as shown in this guide from Canadian House and Home.
  14. Chai tea mix: Pair a tea mix with a good book and you’ve got the gift of a relaxing afternoon. My New Roots has a masala chai tea concentrate mix that would be gorgeous wrapped up in a cheesecloth bag or a small jar. Include instructions with your gift.
  15. Herb-infused olive oil: Herb-infused oils can serve as kitchen decor and open up more possibilities in cooking. The Free People blog has a guide to make this gift in two hours, with three flavor infusion ideas.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays with your family! Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year 🙂 Please let me know what posts you would like to see on my blog in the upcoming new year with a comment below!