Vegan Chocolate Pudding

This was the first vegan pudding I made after we gave up dairy.  It is very easy, although it does take some time waiting for everything to thicken while you stir it.  It’s worth it, though!  As long as you whisk it constantly and don’t use too high of a heat, it is smooth and creamy.  If you are impatient and don’t do those two things…well, plan on some lumps in your pudding.

I tried to make this easier by bringing the cocoa/milk mixture almost to a boil without having to stir it and then adding the cornstarch combo, but I got such awful lumps!  I also forgot to use a whisk.  It was not pretty.  Nobody but J wanted to eat it (which tells you just how easy he is to please with food.)

This recipe easily doubles, triples, or quadruples…but be prepared to take “forever” if you make too big of a batch.  I quadrupled it ~ hey, 6 of us happen to love pudding ~ and I spent a very long time at the stove whisking.  It goes faster with a smaller batch, certainly, but be prepared for 1/2 c. servings.  🙂

Chocolate Pudding

  • 1/2 c. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 3 c. non-dairy milk, reserving at least 3/4 c. to mix with cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch

Carefully stir together the honey and cocoa powder in a saucepan.  It will be poofy at first, but keep gently stirring.  It will begin to get thready and then suddenly fall into creaminess.  Slowly stir some of the milk into the cocoa mixture.  Keep adding a little at a time until the cocoa mixture is well thinned and not stuck to the bottom of the pan where it will scorch.  Add the cornstarch to the reserved milk and stir until smooth.  Add all remaining milk, the vanilla and the cornstarch mixture to the cocoa mixture, whisking until smooth.

Heat over medium-high heat until almost boiling, whisking constantly until thickened.  (Reminder:  the longer you heat this, the thicker it will become…and when it cools it will thicken more.)

Pour into a serving bowl, or individual bowls and cover with plasticwrap (Saran contains no BPA), allowing the wrap to touch the pudding to avoid a skin forming on the top.  Chill thoroughly.

If you want to put this in a no-bake pie crust, allow pudding to become very thick as you cook it.  (Mine was just barely thick enough to cut after cooling when I let it come to a boil with a few large bubbles bursting – watch your hands – while I whisked constantly.)  If you want it super thick, add an extra tablespoon or two of cornstarch to the reserved milk.

Makes about 3 1/2 – 4 cups – or enough to fill a small store-bought graham cracker crust.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

I love pudding.  Usually I make chocolate pudding though, because I’ve always been a bit timid to try to create a vegan vanilla pudding.  I was afraid it just wouldn’t meet expectations.  I’ve made the Mori-nu mixes and they are okay, but fairly expensive ~ and there is a hint of a tofu taste with the vanilla, in my opinion.  It was just easier to make chocolate.  Chocolate covers just about everything.

I have to admit, I was a Jello pudding fiend growing up.  When we gave up dairy for allergy’s sake I tried to make Jello pudding with soy milk.  What a disaster.  If I recall, I sat down and cried.  (I told you I was crazy about it.)  I didn’t think I’d ever get pudding again.  (This was before finding a chocolate recipe.)  I still have micro-pouts about the pistachio.  I am not sure I will ever be able to make that one happen, especially since the flavoring probably has more to do with chemicals and food coloring than the nuts.

This time, however, I just wanted vanilla pudding.  I decided to be brave and experiment.  I made a big batch ~ hey, if it came out well, I knew I’d have to share!  ;D  It was pretty tasty.  I do think that using your favorite non-dairy milk is key.  If you like the flavor of that milk, then you’ll like the flavor of your pudding.  I’ve recently gotten a new soymilk for hubby ~ the boys and I rotate between it, almond milk, and coconut milk with all of us having our favorites ~ and I’m not sure I am as fond of its flavor as I am of Silk’s vanilla…but all Silk isn’t organic anymore and this one was…and it was cheaper.  I think a better tasting soymilk would have made the pudding top notch.  Anyway…use what tastes good to you.  Your pudding will reflect that.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

  • 3/4 c. (12 T) packed cornstarch **see note below
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1 c. evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 1/2 tsp. uncut stevia (may use 1/2 c. more cane juice crystals)
  • scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. vanilla

Mix cornstarch with enough milk to measure about 2 c.  Set aside.  Thoroughly mix remaining milk, cane juice crystals, stevia, and salt in a large pot and heat until nearly boiling, stirring constantly just until the cane juice is dissolved.  Stir cornstarch mixture into the milk, stirring constantly until pudding begins to bubble and thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into serving bowl or individual bowls.  Place plastic wrap over the top, allowing it to touch the pudding, to keep a skin from forming.  Cool on rack for an hour or so.  Then chill completely in refrigerator.

Makes about 8 cups.

**A word about thickening with cornstarch….it can behave in a wacky way.  Sometimes it seems to thicken just right and other times it can leave things anywhere from runny to downright sliceable!  I think I’ve figured out that it comes down to how I measure it and how long I cook it.  You can have a lightly fluffed cornstarch tablespoonful, or you can have it packed into the measuring spoon.  Therefore, I have indicated a packed amount of cornstarch in this recipe.  Then you can be certain how I measured it.  I also have indicated that you need to bring the pudding back to a boil for proper thickening and no guesswork.  In this case, I used 3/4 c. (I know, it sounds like a lot of cornstarch doesn’t it?  But it’s really only 12 T ~ there does that sound better? ~ and it thickens a half gallon of milk.)  The resulting pudding was very thick ~ not quite stiff enough to have made a pudding pie with it, but almost.  In the picture, I used the back of a spoon to squish any stiffer portions into a more picturesque texture.   Next time, I’ll reduce the cornstarch to 2/3 c. for a softer texture.  Let me know how it works for you!

Vegan Ice Cream

Memorial Day ~ can you believe it?  Summer is upon us.  And the thought pops into your head unbidden….ice cream!!!  But can vegans have ice cream?  Of course they can ~ of the non-dairy variety!  Not only are there some marvelous ones available on the market these days, but recipes abound on the internet, too.

Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes I’ve found online use a teeny tiny ice cream maker ~ about 1-1 1/2 quart-sized.  Well, honey, let me tell you…that is not going to cut it with my family!  When all the kids lived at home we had 6 of us standing around the ice cream maker with bowls and spoons in hand waiting for it to hurry and finish.  And we didn’t want any 1/2 c. serving, either.  (Yes, I know…there may be a good reason I’m not a svelte vegan.  But if you saw my kids and hubby and how lean they are….well, it probably doesn’t have much to do with the ice cream.)  Even though this recipe will be for a 1/2 gallon/4 quart sized churn, my personal one is now a 6 quart!  😀  Any extras can be frozen in individual-serving-sized Tupperware for later.  (Note:  it must be thawed a while, as it comes out like a brick due to no weird additives or gums added to keep it from freezing solid.)  Depending on the churn you own/buy this can be made quickly, or take a bit longer.  If you like a soft-serve ice cream, you can churn this and open it immediately to eat it.  Follow your manufacturer’s user manual for proper churning and ice/salt ratio.  (Right now I’d love to get a new churn, because mine isn’t very efficient and leaves the center rather runny while the outer edges are frozen solid enough that the dasher won’t turn any more ~ it didn’t do this when I first bought it.  While my hubby doesn’t like to eat any fruited ice creams much to our chagrin, he does love ice cream the consistency of a milkshake.  So, he gets all the middle stuff and we scrape the outside edges for the rest of us!  I guess we’ll be forgiving then with his other ice cream foibles!  ;))

Because I can control the ingredients, this ice cream has fewer calories than the packaged store-bought variety.  I unscientifically figured out the approximate calories of a cup of vanilla (using the nutrition labels on the ingredients I put into it) and came up with about 143 calories.  This was using full sweetener (rather than substituting any stevia for part of it) and the tofu option.  Not too shabby if you can keep yourself down to 1-2 cups!  Most desserts are more caloric than this.

I am going to lay out my basic vanilla soy recipe for you ~ and I’ll give you other options for different flavors (the really fun part!), ways to substitute for allergies (to soy and nuts specifically**), and sweetener options.  There is a lot of leeway for adjustments in this particular ice cream.  It makes it very easy on you.

*Again, ice cream churns vary ~ so it would be a good thing if you have extra non-dairy milk on hand in case your church is actually bigger than it says it is.  My last 1/2-gallon Rival-brand churn made about 12 cups of ice cream measured out!

Vegan Ice Cream

  • 1/2 gallon non-dairy milk (soy, almond, coconut-not the canned+)
  • 1/2 c. raw cashews (can be more for a richer product – see tofu comment)
  • 1 pkg. Morinu tofu, drained (you may omit this and use a total of 1 c. cashews instead for a richer product.)
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetener (this can be sugar, evaporated cane juice crystals, honey, maple syrup, etc.  You can also substitute 1/2-1 tsp. pure stevia extract powder for 1/2-1 c. of the sweetener.  You may mix and match these sweeteners.  If you make a fruit ice cream, use a can of frozen juice concentrate in a matching flavor, or use white grape for a non-descript flavor to meld well with any fruit in place of the other sugars.  Because the fruit is so sweet, you don’t need the heavier sweeteners, although you could add a little bit of stevia or other choice to boost the sweetness if you have a sweet tooth.)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • vanilla to taste.

Place cashews in blender and add just enough non-dairy milk to blend nuts until very creamy and smooth.  You don’t want any graininess left from tiny cashew pieces.  Add other ingredients with enough milk to blend them.  Pour into a 1/2 gallon freezer container/churn.  Add extra milk until you reach the “fill to this mark” line.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

**For soy allergies, omit the tofu and increase cashews to 1 c. total; use almond or coconut milk.  For nut allergies, omit cashews and double tofu; use soy or coconut milk+.

+Newsflash!  You might not want to use coconut milk for this unless your ice cream maker is very cooperative in it’s freezing nature.  With my wonky freezer I tried using Silk vanilla coconut milk last night after I already had this typed up and ready to post.  I had to laugh ~ some of the coconut fat from the milk was separated from the chocolatey coconut mix and frozen to the side all by itself!  It was tasty, but it wasn’t what I was going for!

Variations:  (The fun part!)

  • Chocolate:  Add 6-8 T. cocoa powder and a bit of almond extract along with the vanilla.  Or you can just use chocolate non-dairy milk instead of vanilla or plain.
  • Strawberry:  Pour part of the blended mix into the ice cream freezer container if you have a small blender.  Use the remaining mix (or all of the mix if you have a large, strong blender) to blend 1-2 c. of fresh or frozen strawberries (if you use frozen, the ice cream will finish faster); pour into the freezer container.  Add more milk to the blender and whiz another 1-2 c. of berries.  You want a total of 3-4 c. of berries.  Almond extract is good here, too ~ just a little.  I find that juice concentrate can work fairly well with this variation, since the berries are sweet, too.
  • Maple Walnut:  Add 1/4-1/2 c. walnuts when you blend the cashews.  Increase salt to 3/8 tsp.  The sweetener should be at least half maple syrup and the other half whatever other sweetener you choose since maple syrup is pricey.  You may add a touch of maple extract with the vanilla if you wish.
  • Pina Colada:  Add 1 1/2 c. pineapple juice, 1 can coconut milk, and a dash of coconut extract to the blender.  Or you may blend up some canned pineapple, too, but that tends to leave a couple of harsh clumps of fibers that aren’t much fun to come across while you are eating.  Another option would be to serve chilled crushed pineapple and shredded coconut on each serving.
  • Mint Chocolate Chip:  In a dry blender, or food processor, briefly whiz 1 c. of chocolate chips until tinier pieces.  Add to the freezer container after the milk mixture.  Add 1/2-1 tsp. mint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil to the blender.
  • Chocolate Chip:  As above, only omit the mint extract/oil.
  • Orange Cream:  (This one I haven’t perfected, but I’ll give you the idea so you can play with it.)  Add orange juice concentrate to the vanilla recipe.  Sometimes it comes out very strong ~ be careful how much you add.
  • Cookies and Cream:  After vanilla ice cream is done churning, remove the dasher and add in crushed chocolate sandwich cookies.  Stir well.  Put lid on and allow to harden according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pumpkin:  (This is a strong pumpkin-flavored ice cream.  Decrease pumpkin for a milder version.)  Add a 15-oz can of pumpkin puree and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice to the blender.
  • Black Cherry:  Use 1 c. apple cherry juice concentrate and 1/2 c. of another sweetener and plenty of vanilla.  Slice/halve 2 c. frozen cherries (to make sure there are no pits) or pit fresh cherries.  Whiz half of them with the blender mixture until fine; pour into freezer container.  Chop remaining cherries with more milk in the blender until in small pieces.  Add to freezer container.
  • Chocolate Cherry:  Combine the chocolate ice cream version with the chopped cherries in the Black Cherry version.  Use full sweetener or the cocoa will be too bitter.
  • Coconut:  Add a can of lite coconut milk to replace some of the milk.  Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of each serving if desired.
  • Chocolate Coconut:  Make chocolate ice cream using Silk vanilla coconut milk for the non-dairy milk.+
  • Rocky Road:  Make chocolate ice cream.  When finished churning, remove the dasher and stir in 1 c. small chocolate chips (or chop regular ones in a dry blender/food processor) and 1/2 c. chopped nuts.

If you think of any other variation ideas, please let me know!  Happy churning!  😀