Category Archives: dessert

Festive Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

These shortbread-y almond thumbprint cookies are flecked with tiny almond pieces and have ruby-like raspberry jam centers. Not overly sweet and with hints of almond flavor in each bite, these crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies are perfect with a glass of almond milk.

I brought these festive cookies to a Vegan Cookie Swap over at Keepin’ It Kind with Kristy! Click here for the easy recipe!

Thumbprint Cookies- Luminous Vegans

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

PS I am currently taking an epic road trip from Atlanta to Oregon. Me + live blogging on the road = fail, but if you’re interested you can check out my twitter and/or instagram feed.

Blueberry Flaugnarde aka Blueberry Custard Cake

Blueberry panstard? Cakestard? No. Stardcake…erm. How about blueberry cuscake? I’m tryin’ to Brangelina this lovely blueberry dessert. Because it is a suprising, yet magical combination between custard and pancake. And shouldn’t all magical combinations of things have their names blended together? 


I saw this on The Misfit Baker’s (now retired) blog awhile ago. And since Neal recently bought a ginormous bag of frozen blueberries (which I also used here), I decided to give it a go. The recipe is super simple and doesn’t have a lot of steps which is something I love about all of Starr’s recipes. This particular recipe is as simple as blend, pour, sprinkle and bake.


It tastes like a delicate blueberry custard with a bit of pancake-feel going on around the edges and bottom. Which is pretty much how Starr described it on her blog, as a mix between custard and pancake.  In fact, that very description is what led me to pin the recipe.

The only mods I made:

  • I was feeling extra non-measure-y, so I just drained and dumped in a whole 12.3 oz box of firm silken tofu in the food processor. This, instead of measuring out 1 1/2 cups of pureed tofu. Seemed about right.
  • Didn’t have a 10-inch spring form pan, so I used an 8-inch baker’s pan. This resulted in a thicker custard cake and I had to bake it an extra 15 minutes as a result.


Even with my janky mods, it came out delicious! I ate it warm. I ate it cold (before I even realized that’s like a thing that French people actually do). In all variations, it was tasty. But my favorite way to eat it was warm with a glass of almond milk.

This blueberry flaugnarde was lovely to eat for breakfast and for dessert! It could even be a great afternoon snack. But of course if I ate it in the afternoon I’d have to follow it with a nice long nap. So if someone asked me what I did that day I could say — oh, I had some blueberry cuscake and an afsnap (afternoon snack and nap).


What custard-y foods do you enjoy eating?

Cinnamon Apple Strudel with a Flaky Phyllo Crust

Cinnamon Apple Strudel with a Flaky Phyllo Crust - Luminous Vegans

It wasn’t long ago that I used to curse at myself any time I used phyllo dough. I would swear off working with it after each and every time.  For every single break or tear (and there were many, still are), I would plead to the phyllo gods— why?! why is this so difficult??

But then suddenly, something shifted. I let go of my normal perfectionism and let the phyllo dough do what it was meant to do. I let it crack. I let it break. And when I placed them on top of one another, I let them have folds and wrinkles. When my lightly buttered pastry brush swept over the folds and caused another tear in the sheet, I didn’t freak. Corners not lining up? I’ve got better things to worry about.

Cinnamon Apple Strudel with a Flaky Phyllo Crust - Luminous Vegans

That’s because phyllo dough, I’ve decided, is magical. It seems that no matter how many rips, tears or lumpy folds I’ve let slip through, it comes out of the oven with a perfectly golden crust. A crust so delightfully crisp that it breaks into tiny buttery flakes under the slightest pressure from my fork.  Phyllo dough has taught me that sometimes letting go yields the best results.

Cinnamon Apple Strudel with a Flaky Phyllo Crust - Luminous Vegans

I’ve used phyllo dough to wrap mushrooms and eggplant and as a crust for vegan chicken pot pie. This time around, I decided to use it with something sweet and autumn-y.

This warm, cinnamon apple strudel comes from Holly at Beyond Kimchee. It’s a simple recipe that has three main components. The sweet cinnamon apple filling, a layer of sugary chopped nuts and bread crumbs and the outer crust. My adaptations were very slight. I’m including them below rather than retyping the original recipe:

Cinnamon Apple Strudel with a Flaky Phyllo Crust - Luminous Vegans

  • I left the skins on my 2 gala apples. Because skin.
  • For each strudel roll, I used 5 sheets of phyllo dough stacked on each other instead of puff pastry sheets for a lighter, flakier crust. I brushed each phyllo layer lightly with melted vegan butter before placing one on top of another.
  • The outside of each strudel was brushed with melted vegan butter instead of egg wash.
  • Before putting the strudels in the oven, I sprinkled a mix of sugar, breadcrumbs and cinnamon on top.

Cinnamon Apple Strudel with a Flaky Phyllo Crust - Luminous Vegans

The individual slices are like portable apple pies with a lighter, flakier crust. It’s probably best to let this cool a bit before digging in. But it’s hard not to want to dive into that delicate crust immediately. Especially when the aroma of sweet cinnamon apples fills the kitchen and I can see the baked apple juices bubbling out of the seams and running down the sides.

Cinnamon Apple Strudel with a Flaky Phyllo Crust - Luminous Vegans

It’s another phyllo dough win for me. And I’m all for any dish that I can eat for breakfast and dessert. I’m beginning to think everything would taste good wrapped in phyllo dough.  This surely won’t be the last time I use it.

Do you use phyllo dough? What are your favorite uses for it?

Simple Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp

Can I just take a minute to tell you how wonderful Neal is. The other day he saw me struggling with food sticking to our main frying pan (see this post for deets). So he surprised me with a new cast iron skillet the other day! I had a cast iron skillet back in the day. Like back in the only eating ramen, microwave-meal days. Needless to say, it got neglected, misused and ended up in the cast iron skillet grave.Simple Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp - Luminous Vegans

I’m thrilled that I’ve been given a second chance with this deceptively simple-looking pan. I’ve been using it non-stop since I got it. I refried the vegan egg in it. Success! I baked brussels sprouts in it and made polenta in it. And after each gentle cleaning and light oiling of my preciousss, I’m dreaming about what to make next in it.

Sunday morning I hopped out of bed and decided to bake a sweet breakfast in it. I don’t hop out of bed. I don’t bake stuff unless desperate. What’s happening to me? What have you done to me cast iron skillet?

Simple Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp - Luminous Vegans

This simple and tasty blueberry apple crisp (adapted from this recipe at The Grit) involves tossing fruit with some flour, sugar and spices in one bowl. Mushing rolled oats, flour, sugar, vegan margarine and spices in another. Pouring them in the skillet and baking. This was one of those free-form-throw-it-together deals, so I only sorta measured the ingredients. The recipe listings are estimates only, but I think it’s hard to mess up fruit and oats. You can use whatever fruit you like, I just used what we happened to have in the kitchen and freezer.

Simple Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp - Luminous Vegans

Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp


For the fruit bottom:

  • 2 gala apples cored and cut into chunks
  • 3 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 2 1/2 tbs flour
  • 2 1/2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

For the crispy oat top:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • pinch of cinnamon and salt
  • 12 inch cast iron pan


Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees. Throw all the ingredients for the “fruit bottom” in a bowl and mix well so all the fruit is thoroughly coated. Pour it in the skillet and let that sit so everything will meld together while making the crispy oat top. Throw all the ingredients for the “crispy oat top” in a bowl. I then used my hands to incorporate everything together so all oats were coated and the margarine was melted. The oats were semi-clumpy and sticky. Crumble oat crisp on top of fruit. Bake for about an hour until the top turns golden and crispy and the fruit filling is all bubbly.

Simple Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp - Luminous Vegans

If you don’t have a 12 inch cast iron skillet, this can still work in a 10 inch or even 8 inch baker’s pan. Of course, you might have to either adjust the amount of fruit used or let it bake longer because it will be thicker.Simple Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp -Luminous Vegans

I love how simple, mistake-proof and tasty this was. One of the things I don’t enjoy about baking is having to measure every single thing out precisely. I was able to eyeball a lot of stuff. This is just one of those dishes where a little less/more flour or a little less/more sugar or margarine just doesn’t seem like it’s going to hurt it. I am so excited to try this out with other fruit. While I really enjoy blueberries, I might go for something that doesn’t give me “blueberry smile” next time!

Simple Skillet Blueberry Apple Crisp - Luminous Vegans

Have you used a cast iron skillet before? What are your favorite ways to use it?

German Plum Cake with Streusel

I have a sweet tooth and I love eating desserts. However, I don’t like making them that often because usually it’s like — measure one million ingredients, now mix the wet stuff in a separate bowl from the dry stuffs that must be sifted grain by grain, next keep the warm stuff in a cup balanced on your nose away from the cold stuff but then slowly add the cold stuff to the warm stuff keeping them separate .

Ok I know I’m exaggerating, but can’t I just twitch my nose like Samantha on Bewitched and have desserts magically appear in front of me?

German Plum Cake with Streusel - Luminous Vegans

Soooo, easy desserts are key for me. When I make a dessert from a recipe* it must:

  • Be simple. The directions should not be a mile long and the ingredient list should be fairly short and include easy to find stuff.
  • NOT involve rising dough as I have an irrational fear of dough-making involving yeast.
  • Look amazing…like something I would stuff in my face hole all day, err’ day. This is an obvious requirement, no?
  • BONUS (not required) if it is a dessert that I can fool myself into believing is also a breakfast dish. Usually the involvement of fruit is key.

When I came across this German streusel plum cake on Seitan is My Motor during Vegan MoFo, it satisfied all three requirements and even the BONUS. The weird thing is that I don’t even eat plums. Plums just don’t make it into my grocery cart. But when I saw this beautiful dessert and how simple it was, I had to have it. Especially when I saw these beautiful plums at the farmer’s market.

German Plum Cake with Streusel - Luminous Vegans

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly which was as simple as make batter, place plums, make and crumble streusel on top. My plums seemed to be slightly bigger. I ended up using five plums total. Here’s a shot of how I laid it out pre-baking below.

German Plum Cake with Streusel - Luminous Vegans

I also used unrefined coconut oil instead of refined coconut oil for the streusel topping because that’s all we have. And I baked it for about 10-15 minutes longer at 320F to get it to that “finished” state (most likely due to oven differences).

German Plum Cake with Streusel - Luminous Vegans

None of these slight alterations (or perhaps errors in the plum layout) mattered. After baking, everything magically “melded” into a beautiful and tasty plum cake with streusel. It was eaten pretty quickly by just the two of us because it was so delicious! I ate it for breakfast. I ate it for dessert. Yes, on the same day. More than once. Thank you to Seitan is My Motor for a fabulous recipe!

Do you have any requirements when it comes to making (or eating) desserts or other dishes?

*These are rough requirements for non-dessert recipes as well.

Easy Banana Pudding Cups


I grew up eating traditional Thai food. But there were several American (mostly Southern) dishes that we would eat on occasion. This was probably due to my pa. He didn’t cook a lot, but there were a handful of American dishes that were his jam.

One of these dishes was sweet banana pudding with Nabisco vanilla wafers. I can’t actually remember if he made this or if he was just a champion at eating it. Either way, this banana pudding dessert was something we both really enjoyed.banana-pudding-cups-8220-1

I’ve made it before using store-bought vegan vanilla pudding packs. This time I wanted to go all Martha Stewart on the pudding and make it from scratch. A couple of recipes from An Unrefined Vegan and The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado got me thinkin’— oh yeah, I forgot cashews can be used for more than just cheese! So the banana-y creaminess of this pudding is amped up with raw cashews.

Layered with organic vanilla snaps (storebought—I don’t have time to Martha Stewart everything!) and fresh banana slices, this dessert is a fresher animal-friendly version of the yellow stuff I grew up with. Yet it still remains creamy, decadent and full of banana-vanilla flavor.


Banana Pudding Cups with Vanilla Cookies


This makes about 1 1/2 cups of the banana pudding. When layered with cookies and bananas, it fills two 8oz cups as shown.

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight (at least 6-8 hours) and drained
  • 4 tbs coconut cream
  • vanilla beans scraped from one inch of a vanilla pod
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 ripe bananas  (if you don’t want your dessert turnin’ dark due to banana oxidation, lightly soak the bananas in a little lemon juice mixed with water before blending or assembling)
  • 6-8 vanilla wafers (I used these or make your own)


Blend the cashews, coconut cream, vanilla beans, maple syrup and 2 bananas in a high-speed blender or food processor until silky smooth. Set aside. Slice the remaining banana. Now, assemble. You can do the layers however you wish. I was pretty random but I think I did cookie, pudding, banana slices…until I reached the top of each cup (about 3 pudding layers). Cover the cups with saran wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours so the cookies soften from the pudding and the pudding firms. Then when it’s ready, crush some more cookies on top and dig in!


What dessert from your childhood do you still love to eat?

Adding Stinky Durian to my List of Favorite Food Oddities

durian sticky rice

Durian. It’s native to southeast Asia and often called the “King of Fruits”. Because of its size? Its pungent odor? Or is it because its thorny outside resembles the spikes of a king’s crown?


photo by Hans A. Rosbach

Regardless of where it got its nickname, it’s a pretty polarizing fruit. Much like natto, it seems like people either love it or hate it. While researching the fruit for this post I found everything from an “I love Durian” facebook page to numerous bloggers dedicating posts to their nemesis, the durian.

I always assumed that durian would be one of those things that I would just never try. The extreme reactions I would often see people have when they ate durian petrified me. Case in point, this guy’s reaction.  Plus, I remember being horrified by the smell as a child.


photo by Hans A. Rosbach

But one day Neal brought home sweet sticky rice from the Asian market. It had this tiny schmear of yellowish stuff on top that I thought was mango so I just ate it —- hold up, this ain’t mango! I sniffed it. Yup, that’s gotta be durian. But wait, I wasn’t throwing up or retching. Could I like this stuff? It was hard to tell because there was only the tiniest bit.

Thus began the quest to find durian in Atlanta. I didn’t find fresh durian at my normal Asian store haunts but I did find it frozen. I let it thaw in my fridge overnight and the next day I gave it a go.

frozen durian


ME: It tastes like a wonderfully sweet custard.

NEAL: I only tried a tiny bit, but it was not good. I immediately wanted to spit out the sweet, rotten-tasting, onion-y mush swimming around my mouth.


ME: It has a strong pungent smell. It smells like durian. I like the smell. I don’t get the onions or stinky feet thing at all that people use to describe the smell.

NEAL: It smells kind of like decaying food compost. Throw in a bit of stinky feet and body odor and you’re getting close. The smell lingers…


ME: Custard, custard, custard!…with a little stringiness. It melts in my mouth.

NEAL: It’s soft and squishy. Like a moldy peach sitting in it’s own oozy juices.


ME: They look like yellow alien pods. Or big yellow larvae.

NEAL: Inside the durian, it looks like a little jaundiced baby alien fetus. It’s yellow. No thanks.


ME: I would eat this all day, errday if I could! (Can’t. This pack was $9.) I would love to find this fresh or whole. It’s just soooo good. I love it so hard! In fact, I want some right now.

NEAL: I might try this again perhaps in the distant future. When my tastebuds have disintegrated.

The King of Fruits polarizes again. It’s almost as if it changes the way it tastes for different people. Maybe it should be called magical fruit. Or tranformers fruit…more than meets the eye.

Nutritionally, durian is rich in vitamin C and B-complex, potassium and also has a high amount of tryptophan. Perhaps that explains my giddiness when I eat it?durian

If you decide to try durian (or perhaps you’re already a fan? maybe you’re the person who started the durian facebook page?)…know that it is perfectly decadent on its own. But it also pairs wonderfully with sweet coconut sticky rice.

durian with sticky rice

For this sweet sticky rice I loosely followed the recipe from Spice Island Vegan. Then I just piled on the duriany goodness.durian with sticky rice

Have you had durian before? If so, what do you think of it? If not, do you think you’ll try some?