Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Tofu Good to be True

February 22, 2014

I love desserts and snacks (who doesn’t?). Unfortunately, they are a perfect example of “too much of a good thing”. I’m always on the lookout for a healthy and tasty option which I can gorge on without doing much damage to my health. Of course, everything is best in moderation, and all rules are made to be followed, right? Well… one can dream.

tofu pudding

chocolate tofu pudding in a jar. everything’s better in a jar, right?

A runner friend who is interested in alternative diets, raw food, and vegan ultra athletes, recommended some recipes from Scott Jurek. I have had limited success with my friend’s previous recommendations but am always willing to try new things. Especially when the new thing is chocolate pudding with ingredients that are already in my pantry! An added bonus: this healthy dessert actually tastes good!

Chocolate Pudding

adapted from Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

  • 16oz tofu
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • 3 T maple syrup
  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Chill for about 30 minutes.

Notes and Variations

It’s easy to get a bit crazy with the ingredients, particularly including only raw options. The original recipe adds chia seeds and suggests cacao nibs instead of cocoa powder. It also uses agave nectar which I don’t keep on hand but can be substituted with maple syrup, honey, or any other liquid sweetener you like. These additions probably add nutrition value which is more important for active ultra runners than it is for an office worker who sits at a desk most of the day.

The recipe also specifies using silken tofu, which I conveniently forgot the second time I made it. The pudding texture was extremely dense, almost like a concrete custard made at popular chain restaurants. Lucky me! I made a healthy version of a popular dessert for a fraction of the cost! If the mixture gets too thick for your liking, just add some water or liquid of your choice (almond milk, soy milk, lemon juice?).


Vicarious Vacation

July 13, 2013

My parents recently took a vacation to New Orleans. Although I was unable to join them, I helped plan the trip, gave them suggestions on where to stay and what to see, and (lucky me!) got a treat when they returned: pralines! So tasty but not really something I’ll make because of how fatty they are.

Since I was involved in planning the trip but not actually there in the bayou with them, I took my own vacation through food. I made jambalaya and pecan cookies (instead of pralines) during their time in New Orleans, all while listening to some old time jazz and zydeco. I think this is my new cheap alternative to a trip: cook the cuisine!

Maple-Nut Wreaths

the assembly of the maple-nut wreaths

Maple-Nut Wreaths

from The Cookie Jar

  • 1 c butter
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2½ c flour
  • 2 c pecans
  • ½ c maple syrup
  1. Chop pecans (easier in a food processor) until very fine.
  2. Toast the pecans for a minute or so to get the most flavor out of them.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter/sugar and mix until well blended.
  5. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  6. Mix ¼c of this mixture in a separate bowl with the pecans and maple syrup. (This is the filling.)
  7. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Use a pastry tube, cookie press, or your hands to form the dough into 4" strips, about ½" thick.
  9. Curl each strip into a circle by joining the ends.
  10. Place a teaspoon of the maple-nut filling in the center of each dough circle.
  11. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes until the bottom of the cookies starts to brown.

Notes and Variations

Despite the number of steps, this is really a simple recipe. The base is a shortbread cookie formed into a ring and the filling is mostly nuts and syrup mixed together. The recipe in The Cookie Jar calls for a cookie press. I had to look it up. It seems superfluous to me. Why not just use a pastry tube with a star shaped tip to get ridges in the "wreaths"? I actually rolled them out by hand which was tricky in my 80F kitchen. To keep the dough from just melting I stored it in the fridge and took out small batches at a time.

In the end, I didn’t have ridged lines in my cookie wreaths, they were a bit thicker than they should be, and I could have cooked them longer than 15 minutes, but they certainly tasted good! Also, I had a bunch of extra filling – a problem which probably would have been solved had the dough wreaths been thinner and not rolled by hand. Luckily, the problem was easily solved by my "assistant" who grabbed a spoon and made the extra filling disappear!

Put the Lime in the Coconut…

August 27, 2010

I held off on posting this recipe for a while even though it’s one of my staples. The reason being that I could not quite perfect it. I have read many variations on this basic dish and tried as many combinations as I could think of. They all tasted delicious but the texture frequently left something to be desired.

The dish? Rice pudding. Best consumed as a steaming bowl in winter, it’s a quick and simple dessert that can be whipped up with just a few common and inexpensive ingredients. In an effort to use what I had on hand, I tried this version of my favorite dessert and decided it was finally time to share… the recipe, not the pudding. Make your own!

rice pudding

Coconut milk rice pudding topped with lime zest. Surprisingly satisfying in the heat of the summer!

Rice Pudding: Coconut and Lime

created on-the-fly by Sarah Johnson


  • 4 c coconut milk (creamy)
  • 1 c arborio rice (short-medium white rice)
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 T lime zest
  1. Combine rice and milk in a pot deep enough so that it only rises halfway to the top.
  2. Cook on medium heat uncovered until boiling.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove cover and add sugar and lime zest.

Usually I use regular milk instead of coconut milk. The coconut milk was ridiculously rich (and high in fat) and gave a nice thick pudding texture. Traditionally puddings are made with milk and eggs. I prefer just to use rice and milk for my rice pudding. If you don’t want to use four cups of milk, you can cook the rice with water then add some milk at the end.

As for the flavoring, it is up to your wildest dreams. In fact, I just started wondering what a pumpkin rice pudding would be like. My guess is very good – use the traditional pumpkin pie spices and a touch of whipped cream on top. Serve it in a graham cracker crust and you have an alternative Thanksgiving dessert!

My staple flavors for rice pudding include various combinations of the following ingredients:

  • lime zest
  • lemon zest
  • orange zest
  • vanilla extract
  • almond extract
  • cardamom seeds
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cocoa powder
  • dark chocolate shavings
  • espresso powder
  • dried cranberries
  • dried currants

So make your own, experiment, suggest some new combos, and enjoy!