I do not have any limitations when it comes to my diet and will pretty much each anything. But I always find it fun and challenging to place some limitations when I create recipes. I think these restraints force me to think outside of the box and well frankly if I can create a dessert that is guilt-free then that means I can eat more of it, right? I often find vegan an/gluten-free desserts to be rather laborious in the number of substitute ingredients needed to simulate an animal product, such as the creaminess of milk or the body from egg whites. They also often taste like the lesser version of the non-vegan thing. I am of the mind that that should never be the case. You do not need to punish yourself to be healthy! My masala chai pumpkin puddings are unabashedly decadent and boldly flavored. There is absolutely nothing that would really indicate that these little beauties are at all healthy. I gave these to TK without telling him how I made them, asked him if he thought they were guilt-free, and he gave me the most confused look and said “are they?” I told him that yes they were vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar free. He gave me another super confused look and said, ” but what about the chocolate on top?” It was such a funny exchange and that is exactly how everyone will react upon eating these. So get ready to laugh at the look of utter disbelief that will appear on everyone’s faces when they dig into these.
I am a big fan of anything flavored with tea, could you tell? Take a look at this chocolate pie, this berry granita, and this mojito. I already have so many recipes, but it never gets old. Tea is such a broad category with so many flavor notes that fall under this umbrella. I will never finish exploring all of its uses. Just like traditional masala chai, black tea is used in this recipe. Unlike it bright vibrant cousin, green tea, black tea adds depth and rich flavors to recipes. What I love about it is the aged maturity that it brings to the table. It is the Indian matriarch with years upon years of life knowledge.
If you haven’t noticed from my previous recipes, I am a big believer in buying and using whole spices. I buy them in bulk because they last so much longer than pre-ground spices. Over the years, I have amassed a pretty significant collection of spices and this has been a game changer in my cooking. This recipe calls for whole spices and really this is the difference between that overly sweet one-note, masked with milk, “chai tea” that you get at your big chain coffee shop and a proper one made in any Indian home. To this tea, I added pumpkin seed milk (other nut milk will also work here) and a bit of top quality maple syrup. We then reduce this to a syrupy thing and it becomes this delicious chai concentrate!
Silken tofu is the main base for this pudding so make sure you buy the best. There has been so much bad talking towards tofu in the past years. Food trends can be so fickle, one day you are the hot new supermodel and the next day you are crying with smeared mascara the side of the street. But we live in an overly complex food world, where you really need to be a responsible consumer. Asians have been eating soy and tofu for centuries and centuries. It makes up a huge percentage of every Asian diet. I refuse to believe in the talk about soy/tofu being bad for you. It isn’t soy that is bad, it’s the soy products and the way the soy beans are being produced and processed that are bad. In short, just read the damn label and do some research into what you are buying.
This pudding would make a great little dessert for your holiday menu. They sit in the refrigerator well and so can be made ahead of time. You really don’t need anymore work on the day of the big meal!
V E G A N M A S A L A C H A I P U M P K I N P U D D I N G
W/ B R A N D Y D A R K C H O C O L A T E G A N A C H E S W I R L S
for the masala chai syrup
1 1/2 cinnamon stick
15 whole black peppercorns
6 slithers of mace
8 whole green cardamoms
1 1/2 inch nub fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon good black tea (such as ceylon or orange pekoe)
1 cup nut milk (I made pumpkin seed milk, but store-bought will work too)
1/4 cup grade A maple syrup
for the pumpkin pudding
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin purée, or make your own
1 pound organic silken tofu
1/2 cup masala chai syrup
nutmeg, for dusting
chocolate powder, for dusting
pumpkin seeds, toasted
for the vegan brandy chocolate ganache
6 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons chocolate powder
1/4 cup maple syrup, or to taste
2 tablespoons brandy
make the masala chai syrup
Use a mortar and pestle to roughly crush the spices. Slice the ginger into large chunks, use the side of a knife to smash the ginger. Add the spices, ginger, black tea, and nut milk to a small saucepan. Over medium high heat, bring to a boil, add the maple syrup, and reduce the heat to low. Gently simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Cover, set aside and allow to cool. Once cooled, strain out the solids.
make the pumpkin pudding
Add the pumpkin purée, tofu, masala chai syrup into a food processor, blend until smooth. Divide the pudding into 6 small glasses, place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to set.
make the vegan brandy chocolate ganache
Make the ganache when ready to serve. To start, the coconut oil must be liquid but not hot. You can melt it in the microwave, but then allow to cool before using. Also, bring the maple syrup to room temp. Add the coconut oil into a medium size mixing bowl, gradually dust in the chocolate powder while vigorously mixing with a whisk. Once all of the powder has been incorporated, add the maple syrup to the desired sweetness, mix well. Finally, add the brandy and give a final mix.
assemble the pudding
Dust the pudding with a thin layer of freshly grated nutmeg. Pipe the ganache into a swirl over the pudding. Finish with more chocolate powder, toasted pumpkin seeds, and fat sea salt.