This was a bittersweet Vida Vegan Con. I’ve been at all three. VVC111, we were told would be the final Con. The first two were in Portland, OR. VVC111 or VVCATX, took place in Austin, TX. At the first VVC, I was honored to be a presenter. I owned that I did not blog. T’was ok. I needed help with my dessert demo and Julie Hasson’s daughter Sydney offered. So did a culinary student named Kristen Davenport. Both women were outstanding helpers. Kristen finished school and began selling vegan desserts from her a wildly successful dessert truck. This year she welcomed Vida Vegan Con to the third birthday party of Capitol City Bakery!!
My connecting flights were on time and smooth despite concern due to storms in Texas. On the last leg, from Atlanta to ATX, I tweeted, “Anyone on flight 833 going to VVC?” Sure enough Crissie Reichert from Run Crissie Run was sitting a few rows ahead. We agreed to meet at baggage claim and share a ride to conference hotel. Within a few minutes, we decided we were in reality long time friends, and that Crissy would nab the last seat for Chad and Derek Sarno’s Wicked Healthy Popup Dinner Saturday night at Swoop House. Among those sitting at our long table, which was in view of the kitchen, were VegNews Publisher Colleen Holland, Miyoko Schinner, and Miyokos’s Kitchen sales manager Whitney Heuer, Crissie, Betsey Carson from Delicious TV, HuffPo Meatless Monday columnist and Feeding the Hungry Ghost author Ellen Kanner, and Angela from Miami’s Seed Food and Wine Festival. You can find thorough reviews of the dinner and Vida Vegan Con, both with great photos on these two blogs:
But back to our arrival in Austin: Crissy and I dropped our bags and were eager to get to the Officially Unofficial But Totally Official Meet and Greet at the Buzzmill + Golden Spike, but first I wanted to say hi to my roomie for the Con, the Terry Hope Romero.
It was HOT and HUMID. I pulled on my sunhat and had a cold beer, followed by a taco and ice cream from Sweet Ritual. All vegan, of course.
The Vegan Bazaar on Friday was packed with vendors and visitors. Everyone flocked to the gigantic jackfruit at the Uptons Naturals table, and sampled the very good jackfruit tacos too. My 3:30pm Dessert Demo, would’ve been impossible without the help of VVC attendees Amanda, Alison, and Jessica. We had to be fast on our feet with rules for demo changing, even while we were setting up on stage, but no biggie. That’s the way demo classes roll. I talked about just this during my The Art of the Cooking Demo on Saturday. (How’d I find such great assistants? I put out a request in the Vida Vegan Con Facebook, group of course.)
Following is the recipe I made for at the demo. Note that I have posted the complete recipe for the Vanilla Custard Filling from Vegan Chocolate but I did not use the agar, as I wanted this to be a pouring cream to serve with berries. A naked (uncoated) Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle, made with Theo Chocolate 70% and So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage was set on each the servings and I must say, I enjoyed hearing all weekend, “wow, those were good!”
RECIPE: VANILLA CUSTARD CREAM
A typical pastry cream, or stirred custard, is made on the stovetop using milk or cream, egg yolks, and starch. Butter may also be an ingredient. Flavorings include vanilla, chocolate, coffee, or liqueurs. A properly made pastry cream is silken and luxurious––and loaded with artery-clogging fat. This recipe, on the other hand, is made in a blender from a base of heart-healthy cashews. Use the custard in the Intensely Chocolate Trifle or to fill the Éclairs, both recipes in Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy Free Desserts Spread a layer over a ganache-filled cookie crust, or spoon it over fresh fruit, which is what I did for the tastings at Vida Vegan Con 2015.
Makes About 1 1/2 Cups / 360 ML
Note: As I wanted to make a pouring cream at Vida Vegan Con, I did not add the agar powder. But I wanted you to have the full recipe, so you will find it here. And, by the way, I’ve stirred in ganache to make chocolate cream and while I am all about chocolate, my latest obsession is Lemon Scented Vanilla Cream. Just add finely minced zest of organic lemon and a bit of strained juice to taste.
- 5 ounces / 142 grams whole cashews, rinsed and soaked 4 hours to overnight
- 1 cup / 240 ml canned full-fat unsweetened coconut milk, well-stirred (do not use light)
- 6 tablespoons / 79 grams organic granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml mild-tasting extra-virgin olive oil or any neutral oil
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 3/8 teaspoon agar powder
- 1⁄8 teaspoon guar gum
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml pure vanilla extract
- Seeds from 1 2-inch / 5-cm vanilla bean, or increase the vanilla extract to 1 tablespoon / 15 ml
- Drain the cashews in a strainer. It is important that the cashews are drained well before using. In a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, blend the cashews, coconut milk, sugar, oil, and salt, starting on low and quickly increasing the speed to high for 2 minutes, until the purée is smooth, thick, and warm.
- Add the guar gum and the agar. Blend starting on low, and quickly increase the speed to high. Blend for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture boils; it will actually sputter. If you hear the motor laboring at any point, or if the cream stops moving, use the tamper to push the cream until it starts moving again.
- Immediately pour the cream into a container. Stir in the vanilla extract and seeds, if using.
- Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight. The custard will thicken as it chills. Stir before using.
Recipe reprinted from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan (Running Press), photo Kate Lewis