Sunday, December 23, 2007

Veganizing a Christmas Tradition: An Experiment

Every Christmas morning I can remember, following ripping open all of my gifts (as a child) or enjoying seeing my parents and siblings open what I got them (as an adult), we sat down as a family to my mom's almond puff. There's something about the crispy base crust, the moist puff on top, and of course the almondy frosting on top. Last year for the first time, I didn't get to consume this traditional treat... alas, it is made with eggs!! So this year I was determined to come up with a suitable veganized version that I could at least enjoy along with the rest of my family. I decided to test three different egg replacers (I also replaced the butter with non-dairy butter, what a genius I am): Ener-G, silken tofu, and soy yogurt. Below are my resulting mini- almond puffs topped with pecans (I know, why not almonds? not sure, but probably because my mom loves pecans)...

An up close look at the puff made from Ener-G egg replacer. The dough seemed to have a similar consistency to what I remembered.
And my first bite... I was pretty skeptical. I was somewhat expecting that the puff part on top would be dry, not moist like it should be. But I was pleasantly surprised. Not sure if it was all the frosting, but it tasted remarkably similar to my mom's traditional version!
Can you tell which one's I liked best? The Ener-G and tofu versions were the most authentic with the Ener-G just squeezing by the competition. Unfortunately, the puff made with soy yogurt browned on top and became a bit dry. Glad I tried the other two, because this was going to be my only experiment at first!
And here is the recipe, so you can start a Christmas morning tradition as well!

1/2 cup non-dairy butter, softened
1 cup flour
2 T water
1/2 cup non-dairy butter
1 cup water
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup flour
egg replacer equivalent to 3 eggs (I was pretty generous with the Ener-G egg)

Preheat oven to 350. Cut 1/2 c. butter into 1 c. flour. Sprinkle 2T water over mixture and mix with a fork. Form into a ball and divide in half. On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat each half into a 12x3 inch strip. Strips should be 3 inches apart.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1/2 c. butter and 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and quickly stir in almond extract and 1 c. flour. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Beat in egg replacer until smooth. Divide in half and spread evenly over strips, covering completely. Bake 60 minutes. Cool and frost with glaze, sprinkle with pecans.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 T non-dairy butter, softened
1 - 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 - 2 T warm water

Experimenting in the kitchen was a fun way to spend yesterday, since John left for Boston to be with his family for the holiday on Friday. But on Thursday night before he left, we had our own little Christmas meal to celebrate the holidays.

Dinner included our first Tofurky and the Caramelized Onion Butternut Squash and Roasted Chestnut Casserole from V-con. I was pretty happy with the tofurky, especially since I hear so many mixed reviews. It was an easy main dish, with plenty of leftovers. The casserole is so rich and yummy, the chestnuts just melt in your mouth. Surprisingly, I couldn't find pre-shelled jarred or frozen chestnuts, so John was a huge sweetie to take care of shelling them for me! Give this recipe a try before chestnuts disappear from the shelves till next fall.
No photo, but we had some frozen wedding cake for dessert (for our 3 month anniversary, which is actually today :-) It froze remarkably well! We definitely won't have that in our freezer for the next year....

I have been baking away again today. Hopefully I'll get in a post tomorrow about what I've been up to. Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!


Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

I'm so sorry you two won't be spending your first married Christmas together, but it looks like you made up for it with your lovely pre-Thanksgiving meal. :) Thank you for the recipe, too; it looks delicious!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Happy three-month anniversary!

And yay for Ener-G! I love that stuff. Your puff recipe sounds delicious... and it don't look too shabby neither ;o)

Your early Christmas meal looks amazing, especially that squash casserole!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy said...

The butternut squash looks delicious! So do the puffs - I'll be sure to put them on my holiday baking list next year.

robotslingshot said...

Thanks for the recipe, they look tantalizing! Happy anniversary, and happy holidays too.


Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

that sucks you and yr hubby won't be together this xmas. this is my hubby and I's 1st xmas just to 2 of us (with our dog and cat too . . . they are our family).
everything looks great, by the way.

Anonymous said...

the food looks amazing, thanks for the recipe, have a great holidays.
im sorry you cant be with him.

aTxVegn said...

It's so hard to get anything to puff without eggs, so I must say you did a great job on the breakfast treats! I don't think I've ever eaten a chestnut. That casserole looks so good. Sorry John had to leave you. You should keep yourself busy with more experimenting in the kitchen.

Liz Ranger (Bubble Tea for Dinner) said...

ooh, experiments! I applaud your kitchen science, and the puffs look delicious besides. And chestnut casserole! looks so good. :o

bazu said...

woo hoo- here's to successful veganizing experiments! You should send these in to FoodBlogga's X-mas cookie round-up- we need more vegans representin'!

Lizzy said...

Happy Early Christmas! Sorry you and your huuby are celebrating apart this year.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

amanda, I LOVE how you thoroughly tested this veganized version of the almond puff recipe - sounds like Ener-G and tofu are the best egg-replacers for sure! and thank you for providing the recipe - such a delicious-sounding/-looking Christmas morning tradition you've got there :0)

Oh my goodness the Caramelized Onion Butternut Squash and Roasted Chestnut Casserole look positively delectable!! yum!! I'm not a fan of the Tofurky (I prefer the Celebration Roast myself), but I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it; and how lovely of John to do all the hard work with the chestnuts!! As much as I love chestnuts, I absolutely despite the prep-work, haha.

Happy belated anniversary!! Enjoy the leftover wedding cake in honor of your special day!! :0)

Ashasarala said...

Don't you love when experiments work out? It looks so delicious. =)

Dinner looks great too. I love Tofurky. I don't care what anybody says! The only problem I have with it is the amount of sodium. It's insane! I still like to eat it maybe once a year. =)

vko said...

Happy 3 mo Anniversary! your little pre-xmas dinner looks lovely and that squash casserole has to be made by me very very soon...

tofufreak said...

woot woot! yay for you testing this pate a choux!

i'll be trying this out soon i hope!