Chai Coconut Mascarpone Cups

This week-end I was craving desserts, in particular yogurt parfaits where you place fruit over yogurt and add nuts, granola or other toppings. I have been experimenting with vegan yogurt, but so far the results have not been to my liking. Yet, I yearned for this rich cream consistency. So, I gathered a few things that I thought would work out and created this!

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Amazingly smooth, rich and thick, this cream is reminiscent of a simple yogurt or mascarpone cheese. I had to add a little bit of excitement to it (even though I was so happy to have cream, I was pretty much already dancing in my kitchen), and so I decided to add some Chai spices: cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper and cloves. This really makes this cream unique and quite spectacular and it reminds me of mascarpone cheese.

Here is what you need for the cream:

  • 250mL of coconut milk
  • 4 tbs of almond powder
  • 4 tbs of coconut oil
  • 2 tbs maple syrup or honey
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 1 cm piece of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of black pepper corns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Topping ideas: Fresh berries, coconut flakes, crushed almonds, shopped dates, chocolate chips, granola, grilled nuts: use your imagination!

Here is what you do for the cream:

  1. In a small sauce pan, heat the coconut milk, oil and sweetener on medium heat.
  2. Crush the cardamon pods in your mortar (or use the back of a spoon). Set aside.
  3. Add the almond powder in the pan and whisk until the mixture starts to thicken up (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the spices and vanilla extract and let them infuse for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick to your liking.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain to remove the spices.
  6. Let the cream set and firm up in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving with your favourite toppings.
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I used some fresh raspberries, coconut flakes and sweet samosas.

I used some of the fruit leather to make sweet samosas (how-to tomorrow). It’s fun and easy! And that cream! So much flavours and the consistency is just smooth and thick and wonderful. Of course, you could avoid using the spices for a mellower flavour. This is a great substitution for yogurt and makes for an easy dessert. Let me know if you try it out and if you like it!

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Perfect Brunch, an “Aux Vivres” review

Aux Vivres is kind of a no-brainer for Montreal based vegans. It holds a special place in my heart as I remember going in there a few months after they had opened and being amazed by their Dragon Bowl. Then, I remember my fun lunches with friends. I also remember multiple birthday celebrations, meetings and fun dates with my boyfriend.

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Romantic roses for Valentine’s Day!

This restaurant has changed so much since its opening. The first time I went to Aux Vivres, it was a little more that a hole in the wall. Now, they have three big sections, a terrace in the back and a separate store. You can also find their products all around the city (and even outside of the city) in different stores and cafes. Quite the success story!

So, on this very cold day (-35C… winter is definitively here!), we stepped out with my amazing (and sadly just visiting) sister-in-law for a nice vegan brunch.

Brunch at this restaurant is quite the event for me: special dishes, chai tea, but still access to all their regular meals. Amazing!

My sister-in-law went for the Huevos Rancheros plate which looked amazingly good with the great sweet potato wedges and black bean puree. She particularly liked the guacamole, but the silence coming from her corner is proof that this was particularly scrumptious.

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The amazing Huevos Rancheros plate

I also went for a brunch plate: The Polenta. I love this plate, and I have to admit that I always take this when we come for brunch. The polenta triangles have a great crunchy texture on the outside but are still creamy in the inside. I also am completely in love with their black bean puree and guacamole. I really enjoy this plate: the flavour combinations and freshness of the tastes are just amazing!

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The Polenta plate

The brunch plates also come with the choice of coffee or chai latte which is really spicy and comforting. Perfect for this cold day!

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Chai Latte

Finally, if you’re not really in for brunch, you must try their Dragon Bowl. This is the go-to option for my boyfriend. He really loves the sauce which has a great salty and slightly sour flavour. Filled with fresh veggies, sprouts, rice and topped with tempeh or tofu, it is very filling and also very satisfying.

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Dragon Bowl

If you are still hungry after this, I recommend trying the uncheesecake. A complete dupe for non-vegan cheese cake, this has a great creaminess and flavour. The berry topic is also quite nice and the crust is very satisfying. Beware that it is not gluten-free, but my sister-in-law still enjoyed it entirely.

If you are in Montreal, you have to try this restaurant out. It is a little bit pricey, but the food is amazing, the service is very friendly and the number of options just great!

 

Teashop, a cafe review

This week has been incredibly busy with work. You see, I have to give in my grades for next Friday, but I am so tired with just the regular teaching stuff that correcting my 197 writing productions (ranging from 200 to 500 words… I seriously need to make these kids work less) is just killing everything happy inside of me.

So when my colleague suggested that we meet in a tea shop to motivate each other (she is a French teacher, so she knows the struggle is real), I jumped on the occasion. When she mentioned a special place where they boiled fresh chai tea, I was very excited.

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I was even happier when the very nice tea-barista (is there a word for a professional tea maker? please let me know!) told me that he could make it with almond milk.

The result: a light, spicy, foamy, perfectly comforting hot drink. Not that anything would make correcting 197 copies on a nice ans snowy Saturday afternoon better, but almost.

So if you are in Montreal, I really suggest you try the Teashop, on Jean-Talon street as it is very friendly, perfect to work and has a very relaxed atmosphere. Give it a try!