Fourth of July is almost here and my son’s birthday is tomorrow. Michael and his family, Linda and the Costigals, as my grandgirls are called, live in LA with their three rescue dogs. The girls are in Philly and Michael will be tomorrow, too, for the family birthday party. The question for me this morning was, “How to make a dessert Michael likes for the party tomorrow, and do a 4th of July blog post at the same time?” Well, this is how! Think outside of the cake box and make a Red White, Blue and Brown 4th of July vegan dessert!
I’d tested my brand new oven last week using the convection bake mode, and had a Chocolate Torte to Live For that baked successfuly, in the freezer. Easy first step: defrost cake.
I had a carton of cherry tomatoes that were just this side of going bad, a half box of strawberries and a jar of Sweet Balsamic Reduction from the Essential Vegan Desserts Course.
Red, White, Blue, and Brown 4th of July Vegan Dessert
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp agave
- 1/2 tsp lacuma powder, optional
To start, combine the vinegar, sweetener, and lacuma powder in small sauce pan. Place over medium heat and, whisking constantly, bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and continue to cook, at a low simmer, for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until reduced by almost half (about 1/2 cup) or until it nicely coats the back of a spoon.
Once done, remove from the heat. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to chill.
Use, chilled or at room temperature, as a sweet acidic garnish or finishing sauce to a variety of desserts.
A few pointers to keep in mind when roasting fruits.
Be sure to use a hot oven: 425°F for stone fruit, apples, pears; 375 to 400°F for softer fruit, such as strawberries.
Similar to marinating, roasting fruits will add a punch of sweetness and boost of flavor to not-so-flavorful out-of-season fruits.
For the best result and even cooking, cut the fruit into pieces of the same size.
Consider adding: syrup, acidic sweet sauce or a pinch of salt. There is no oil needed, but you can finish with a drizzle of flavorful oil if desired. Be sure any added acid melds with the acidity of the fruit and the sweetener balances sourness during the roasting process.
I varied the roasted fruit in Sweet Balsamic Reduction recipe by using the cherry tomatoes. I roasted them following the recipe for the strawberries, more or less, and then did the same with the strawberries.
Finally, I folded in some defrosted blueberries, since that’s what I had on hand, and plated the Chocolate Torte to Live For with Vanilla Custard Cream (Linda’s favorite). I added finely grated zest of an organic lemon to the pastry cream and the roasted fruit.
To Roast the Tomatoes:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly spray or oil a rimmed baking sheet pan so that any caramelized cooking syrup is easy to wash off, and then line with a piece of parchment paper.
Rinse the tomatoes, shake dry and cut in half with a serrated knife, like this one. If you have a very sharp knife, use that.
Put the tomatoes into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the Sweet Balsamic Reduction. Mix gently until the tomatoes are coated. Don’t wash the bowl.
Spread the tomatoes in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until the tomatoes are broken down and caramelized, 10-15 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
Spoon the tomatoes and any accumulated cooking juices back into the bowl.
Repeat the process with strawberries. Hull the washed and dried berries. Half or quarter them depending on the size. Roast per the tomatoes.
I iced the cake with a thick Chocolate Ganache, and plated a slice with some of the pastry cream, the fruit (tomatoes are a fruit, aren’t they?) with syrup and drizzled reduction on the plate. Sorry, Michael, I ate a slice of your pre-4th of July dessert. But it’s easy enough to make more.
What are you making for the 4th of July? I really would like to know! In any event, I wish everyone a lovely rest of this week, and a nice holiday next week. I’ll be looking forward to watching fireworks over the Delaware River from the terrace in my new apartment in Philadelphia. Then on the 5th, I am off to NAVS Summerfest. My teaching schedule includes an afterboon cooking demo Thurs July 6th and two classes. Who will I see there?