Help me solve this dessert challenge!
April 24, 2011 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Help me solve this dessert challenge!

I've been asked to bring a dessert to an event this week. Here are the "rules" and limitations:
• To feed 12-15 people.
• Cannot include dairy.
• Should fit in with an "international" theme (we are in the U.S. and any dessert that is not traditionally American in some way is encouraged); however,
• Greek desserts are specifically excluded - desserts from any other nationality or culture are welcome.
• My dessert-making skills are average, at best.
• Store-bought is OK in a pinch, but homemade would be much better.
The best idea I’ve heard yet is apple strudel. Do you have anything that fits these criteria that I should also consider?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions/recipes.
posted by cheapskatebay to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Baklava! (It's a traditional Turkish dessert.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:31 AM on April 24, 2011

Does butter count as dairy? Because it's hard to bake w/o butter, I think.

Is Turkish baklava radically different from Greek baklava?

Otherwise, chocolate raspberry pavlova.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:35 AM on April 24, 2011

Pavlova hits every bullet point.

Well, it's simple, but not easy to get perfect. You might want to make a trial run, or buy one, though I can't remember if I've seen them in stores in the USA.

For added bonus foreign points, it was invented in either New Zealand or Australia (contested), and is traditional in both, and was named after a Russian ballet dancer.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:39 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ooo, I actually have something! As long as you buy/make a non-dairy pie crust, you're all set with this. It doesn't require baking, just blending and refrigerating. Incredibly decadent and rich!

Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart

2 1/4 cups of cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups of maple syrup
1 cup coconut butter (available at health food store)

I'd give you a recipe for crust but it requires fancier equipment so just buy a 9" Keebler (or whatever) pre-made crust at the grocery store. Brush it with some egg white and put it in the oven at 375 for 5 minutes. Then, allow to cool.

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Taste to make sure it's not grainy (if it is, keep blending). Pour into crust. Chill for minimum of 3 hours. Cut with a warm knife that's been run under hot water. Dry it between each cut.

This is a raw food (except for the cheat on the pie crust).
posted by hermitosis at 9:40 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gyongdan: Korean sweet rice cakes often made with red bean paste in the center. It's a bit of work, but it's easy enough to make a lot of them if you're making any at all. And seriously tasty.
posted by brina at 9:42 AM on April 24, 2011

(For the international angle I just recommend that you garnish with coconut or some other tropical item. Or just plant a miniature Eiffel Tower in the middle and say, "Well, I tried.")
posted by hermitosis at 9:42 AM on April 24, 2011

Thai sticky rice with mango!
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've made that exact chocolate pavlova before (though with strawberries instead) and it is amazing!
It's what immediately came to mind when I read your askme. Make sure you have parchment ready. It can be a tricky little thing if it sticks. It did take me a few tries to get my pavlovas right.

There is also this recipe for brown sugar pavlova which sounds delicious but I haven't tried to make yet, and I like the technique of using cake pans. if you can substitute the cream/sour cream part of it for something non dairy it might be another option.
Pavlovas are fantastic and not nearly as well known as they should be in this part of the world.
posted by newpotato at 10:42 AM on April 24, 2011

I was going to say, I love pavlova, but cream is usually a key ingredient, no?

You could do something like a Bakewell tart, which is very British, and just buy or make a crust made with shortening instead of butter (not as good, but will still work).
posted by SoftRain at 10:51 AM on April 24, 2011

posted by markblasco at 10:58 AM on April 24, 2011

Vegan mexican chocolate cake. It's super-easy, just follow the directions to the letter. I've made this cake with and without the cayenne basically probably a hundred times. (The cayenne isn't hot; it's just a deepening of the flavor. Use the minimum amount suggested in the recipe.) It's very portable and easily feeds 12-15 (assuming they don't all want giant slices and assuming that there are multiple desserts present). To double it, just straight-up double everything.

For frosting, I actually often make a chocolate cinnamon frosting using vegan margarine, confectioners' sugar, water or almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa. I bet it would be really good with melted chocolate in the frosting instead of cocoa. What you do is cream the margarine together with some confectioner's sugar then add a dash of vanilla, a tiny bit of salt and cinnamon, liquid and chocolate to taste. You can, for example, decide that it's too chocolate-y and add more sugar, and so on.
posted by Frowner at 10:58 AM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I came in here to also say "Thai sticky rice with mango!" So yummy, pretty easy, meets all criteria.

Alternatively, you could make a fruit gazpacho. In Morelia, Mexico "gazpacho" does not mean the tomato-y cold spanish soup, but an amped up fruit salad. Basically, you finely dice whatever fruits/maybe veg. you want (a really good standby is mango, pineapple, jicama). Then pour on orange juice, lime juice, then sprinkle on top a mild dark chili powder and little bit of crumbly mexican white cheese. You must use the chili powder and cheese even though it sounds weird, it's delicious! Oops, but I guess that's dairy. Anyway, maybe just chili powder or just have the cheese available for anyone who wants/can consume it. Eat with a spoon and a straw.

There is a traditional Hawaiian coconut custard/pudding dessert (dairy free) called Haupia which is super easy to make!
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:59 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is Turkish baklava radically different from Greek baklava?

The Greeks borrowed it from the Turks. My point was that it isn't Greek ethnic food as such. Its origin is the Ottoman empire.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:45 AM on April 24, 2011

How about a tarte tatin? French, super-crazy-easy, looks impressive, and can easily be vegan adapted for no dairy. Here's a vegan tarte tatin recipe. You can use any fruit, really, but apples are traditional.
posted by kerning at 12:27 PM on April 24, 2011

Coconut flan or pudding or creme brulee :)
posted by Neekee at 1:02 PM on April 24, 2011

Dairy-free applesauce cake. My English mother used to make it.
posted by fifilaru at 1:18 PM on April 24, 2011

How abouthalva? Not 100% vegan because of the honey, but there's no dairy in it. And it's pretty simple to make.
posted by blueskiesinside at 2:03 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pannacotta with coconut milk. Serve with fresh fruit.
posted by bunderful at 2:21 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here is the link to a delicious vegan Vietnamese banana coconut bread pudding. Holds really well, can be made in advance.
posted by jennstra at 3:38 PM on April 24, 2011

I bake a fair amount of vegan desserts. Here's a pie I made last year. It was the surprise hit of Thanksgiving!

Ginger creme pie
It is vegan, hence the "creme" label. It can be altered for other flavors--be as creative as your liquor cabinet will allow.

I used Snap liqueur, which I think is still only available via mail order and so very worth it. It smells like fresh gingerbread cookies and more or less inspired the whole pie.

12oz silken tofu
8oz Tofutti cream cheese
2/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger (if you don't have any, just up the powdered ginger)
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
¼ c Snap ginger liqueur
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 box gingersnaps
1 stick (8 TBSP) Earth Balance vegan buttery stick

Preheat 350F
Crust: put gingersnaps in a ziploc bag and crush them. You may be able to do it by hand, or use a rolling pin or other handy crushing device (seeing them driven before you, lamentations, etc. not required). Melt the buttery stick and mix well with the crumbs. Pat into a pie plate, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

1. Drain tofu and put in blender (Cuisinart will also work fine)
2. Add Tofutti
3. Blend
4. Add sugar and spices
5. Blend for 3 minutes, periodically scraping the sides
6. Mix cornstarch and Snap
7. Add and blend
8. Pour into pie crust
9. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and place on counter, away from heat (I intended to decorate it with crystallized ginger at this point but forgot)
11. Allow to cool to room temperature (2-3 hours)
12. Chill overnight or for at least 10 hours
13. Eat!
posted by gingerbeer at 5:44 PM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am not a vegan and I swear that that pie is fantastic - taste and texture are beyond reproach. My vegan sister-in-law has to fight me for that pie.
posted by rtha at 6:28 PM on April 24, 2011

There is a Finnish or Swedish pudding which is made from semolina/farina cooked with berries (lingonberries are traditional, but strawberries work too) and some sugar. After the semolina is cooked, you whip it (using a mixer) until it is light and fluffy.
posted by vespabelle at 10:42 PM on April 24, 2011

um, I should have previewed... alas.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 6:35 AM on April 25, 2011

Thanks, all. I made a cayenne-free but otherwise close-to-the-recipe version of the vegan chocolate cake, and it was well-received. Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond; there were a lot of great answers!
posted by cheapskatebay at 7:02 AM on April 27, 2011

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