From a dairy-free cheesecake and orange syrup pud to a devilishly dark chocolate fudge cake and carroty flapjacks, this quartet of vegan sweets proves that thoughtful eating has more than its fair share of guilty pleasures
13 Ruby Tandoh’s chocolate fudge cake
Many dark chocolates are vegan even if they’re not specialist vegan brands, so simply check the wrapper.
Serves 8-10 For the sponge
125g pitted dates, coarsely chopped 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (optional) 100ml boiling water 50ml soya milk 1 tsp vanilla extract 150ml sunflower or almond oil 100g soft light brown sugar 150g plain flour 4 tbsp cocoa powder 2 tsp baking powder 1½ tsp ground ginger 1 tsp cinnamon ¼ tsp chilli powder A pinch of ground cloves A pinch of salt
For the icing
100g dark chocolate 3 tbsp golden syrup 1 tbsp soya milk
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas 4. Grease and line a springform or loose-bottomed round 20cm cake tin.
2 Soak the dates with the bicarbonate of soda in the boiling water for 10-15 minutes, or until softened. The bicarbonate of soda helps to tenderise the dates, but isn’t crucial if you can wait a few more minutes for them to soften naturally in the hot water. Once soft, blend the dates along with their soaking liquid to a puree.
3 Stir together the date puree, soya milk, vanilla extract, oil and sugar in a large bowl, whisking until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together then stir in the baking powder, spices and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and beat vigorously for 1 minute. I usually fold cake ingredients together as gently as possible to avoid “activating” the elastic gluten in the flour, but for this batter the opposite is necessary: as the cake contains no eggs to bind it, we need the gluten for structure. 4 Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35-45 minutes – or as long as it takes for the cake to rise, set and begin to shrink away from the sides of the tin. When it’s ready, a knife inserted into the centre should come out without any crumbs stuck to it. Leave the cake to cool in its tin before turning out (it’ll be very soft and fragile when freshly baked).
5 Once the cake is cool, prepare the icing: melt the chocolate either in the microwave or over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir in the golden syrup, then the soya milk. If it’s very runny, leave it to cool and thicken for a few minutes. Slather it all over the top and sides of the cake, and don’t worry if it looks a little messy – artfully label it “rustic” and you’ll be beyond criticism.
Many dark chocolates are vegan even if they’re not specialist vegan brands
14 Solla Eiriksdottir’s cheesecake with blueberries
You will need to make this at least three hours before serving.
Serves 10 –12 For the filling
450g cashew nuts 240g maple syrup
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla powder
2 tsp probiotic powder A small pinch of salt 160g coconut oil
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
For the crust
150g pecans 280g dried mulberries 60ml coconut oil, liquefied A pinch of sea salt
For the topping
275g blueberry jam 150g fresh blueberries
1 Line a 23 cm-round cake tin with parchment (baking) paper. For the filling, put the cashew nuts into a bowl, pour in enough water to cover, and soak for about 2 hours. Drain and discard the soaking water. Set aside.
2 Meanwhile, make the crust (base). Put the pecans, mulberries, oil and salt into a food processor and blend until it all sticks together, but is still a little coarse. Press the mixture into the prepared pan with your fingertips. Make sure it covers the bottom of the pan in an even layer.
3 To make the filling, put the drained cashew nuts into a high-speed blender or food processor with the maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, probiotic powder and salt. Blend. Add the coconut oil and chia seed and blend briefly. Pour the mixture over the crust and chill overnight in the refrigerator or for 3-4 hours in the freezer until the filling is firm. Top with a layer of blueberry jam and fresh blueberries and serve.
Raw: Recipes for a Modern Vegetarian Lifestyle by Solla Eiríksdóttir (Phaidon)
15 Katy Beskow’s carrot cake flapjacks
The joy of a carrot cake crumbled into a chewy snackable square, these are sweet, nutty and fruity.
4 tbsp sunflower oil 4 tbsp golden syrup 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground nutmeg 150g rolled oats 1 tbsp raisins 1 tbsp chopped walnuts 1 carrot, roughly grated
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6. Line a 30x20cm baking tray with baking paper.
2 In a large bowl, mix together the sunflower oil, golden syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.
3 Tip in the oats, raisins and walnuts and stir vigorously to coat in the syrup mixture, then stir through the carrot.
4 Press the mixture into the prepared baking tray, using the back of a spoon to smooth the top. Bake for 12 minutes, then allow to cool in the tin before slicing into even squares. The flapjacks will become firmer and chewy when cool.
15-Minute Vegan by Katy Beskow (Quadrille)
16 Sue Quinn’s orange and olive oil syrup cake
Fragrant, dense and doused in syrup, this is wonderful as a cake or pudding. If you don’t want to add the orange slices on top, feel free to omit this step.
100ml mild olive oil, plus extra for oiling 3 oranges 425g caster sugar, plus 3 tbsp extra for the syrup About 100ml non-dairy milk 1 tsp vanilla Seeds of 20 cardamom pods, crushed 225g self-raising flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp fine salt
1 Set the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3½. Lightly oil a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking paper. 2 Finely slice 1 orange, leaving the skin on. Dissolve 200g in a pan with 200ml water. Add the orange slices. Simmer gently for 1 hour or until soft. Remove from the syrup and arrange neatly in the base of the prepared tin. 3 Meanwhile, peel 1 of the remaining oranges and blitz the flesh. Pour into a measuring jug, add 100ml oil and enough milk to make 300ml of liquid. Add the vanilla.
4 Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 225g of sugar and half the ground cardamom. Add the finely grated zest of the remaining orange, reserving its juice. Add the oil mixture and stir. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
5 While the cake is cooking, pour the reserved orange juice into a pan. Add the remaining 3 tbsp sugar, 100ml water and the remaining cardamom. Simmer until reduced to a syrup.
6 Poke deep holes in the cake with a chopstick. Pour over the syrup, getting as much into the holes as possible. Spoon any syrup that pools around the edges back over the cake. Let the cake stand for 5 minutes before inverting on to a plate. Release the cake from the tin, then carefully remove the base and peel off the paper. Enjoy warm or cold. Easy Vegan by Sue Quinn (Murdoch Books)