Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cacao Fudge Ripple Icecream- vegan

See the chocolate swirls and the fudge pieces?

You won't believe this is vegan!
If ever there was a recipe with the power to convince sceptics that vegans do not miss out, this is probably it. It's rich, creamy and sweet with caramel, chocolate and fudge flavours and a lovely gooey texture that's really satisfying. Despite all this though, the only cane sugar here is in the fudge; the ice cream itself uses coconut sugar (which gives the caramel flavour) and the chocolate ripple sauce is made using agave. I made the fudge myself using our recipe from here,  (omitting the cherries) but you could save time and effort and buy some vegan vanilla fudge. I've tried the one from Sainsbury's Free From range- in fact I got the inspiration for our own fudge recipe from it- and I'm sure it would work really well.

Here's the recipe for you to try; you don't need an icecream maker, but I did use a high speed blender, which got plenty of air in and broke up the ice crystals nicely to give quite a soft finish. It makes just under a litre of icecream, with some cacao sauce left over for drizzling or to use in something else.
About 150g vegan fudge, chopped into small cubes/ broken into small pieces
2x 13oz cans coconut milk
1 3/4 cups coconut sugar
2 tsps vanilla essence
2 rounded tabs cacao powder
2 tabs agave nectar

  • Whizz up the coconut milk, coconut sugar and vanilla essence in a blender and put in the freezer until partly frozen.
  • Meanwhile, mix the cacao and agave together for the chocolate syrup.
  • Blend the icecream again to break up any ice crystals,
  • Return to the freezer.
  • When the icecream is firm again, carefully stir in the fudge pieces and make swirls of chocolate syrup. (I couldn't wait for it to get firm enough, so my fudge pieces all sank to the bottom of the tub!) Reserve any leftover syrup for serving on top of the icecream if you like.
  • Freeze until solid but scoop-able.

Do you have an "I can't believe it's not vegan" recipe in your repertoire that's great for impressing your omnivorous friends or family? If so, do let us know by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Vida Food Dehydrator Product Review

Pride of place on the worktop: our new Vida dehydrator
 We were delighted to hear from Vida Appliances offering us a dehydrator to review, and took them up on it straight away! We already have an Excalibur dehydrator, but although it's excellent, because of its size and the amount of power it takes we don't use it as often as we would like, so this smaller machine was right up our street.

It sits on the worktop without taking up too much space, or you could easily keep it in a cupboard when not in use. We've kept it out so far, because as you can see, it's quite an attractive-looking model. It is round, has 5 plastic racks for drying and a clear lid on top, with a base unit where the minimal controls are; an on-off switch, an LED timer and a temperature dial in degrees C.

A close-up of the simple controls
The instruction manual is rather uninformative, as they often are, but then the controls are so simple to understand and use that you don't really need it. However, for dehydrating newbies it would have been good to include a few recipes to start off with. (Fruit leather, kale chips, seed crackers and courgette rolls all spring to mind...) Beyond some safety advice, there is also no information about the finer points of use, such as whether you should put the foods straight on the racks or on greaseproof paper etc. So trial and error it was, then...
Take a good look at the easy-to-clean trays...
... and the first thing we tried was kale chips- after all, you can't go far wrong with those, can you? After washing the kale and tearing it up I massaged in a little olive oil, seasalt, smoked paprika, chilli powder and yeast flakes then spread them out directly on the racks. As long as you follow the advice in the manual about putting smaller pieces on the lower racks, they should dry evenly. After only 2 hours- and believe me, that's not long at all in dehydrating terms- at 65 degrees, they were done. Result! We all love munching on kale chips, and regular readers will know that it's one of the few ways I actually enjoy these nutritious greens so I made sure I got my share ;-)
Encouraged by this success, I then tried something new; chewy ginger rhubarb pieces. They came out soft and tangy after about 3 hours on the highest temperature, but the recipe needs refining to get the balance of flavours right so we're not publishing it yet. These I started off on greaseproof paper until the initial moisture was driven off, and then I put them directly on the racks to increase air circulation while as they finished off.
Two positive things struck me as I used the machine:
Firstly, it's a lot quieter than the Excalibur, and if like me, you cook with music playing or the radio on, you will hardly notice it.
Secondly, it is really easy to clean. We are used to using and cleaning various gadgets appliances in the course of cooking a day's meals, such as a juicer, blender or food processor so it was really good to use something that actually fits in our average-sized sink like the racks do. and to be able to wipe the base clean with a damp cloth.

And the best thing of all about this dehydrator? The price: you can get it from Vida's website (see the link in the first paragraph of this post) for £29.99 and on other websites for about the same, or a little under. At 230-260W it's not expensive to run, either, at nearly 10 times less output than an oven and almost quarter of the wattage of many microwaves. Bear in mind that a large Excalibur dehydrator is 600W too. (When working out how much energy you will use compared to other appliances, though, remember to offset the dehydrator's lower wattage against its much longer operating times.) At the Yogi Vegans we believe passionately that healthy, plant-based food should be available to all and this dehydrator now puts kale chips, fruit leather, raw crackers and all kinds of goodies within reach of many more people. You can now make them yourself for very little initial outlay instead of buying expensive, ready- dried products from the shops! In fact, we've been inspired to think about creating a whole new bunch of raw recipes with our Vida dehydrator, so stay tuned...

Disclaimer: We were not required by Vida to write a positive review, so this article is our own unbiased opinion. Anyway, we think that the merits of this product speak for themselves!