A vegan chocolate dessert that tastes great. No, really

This comforting chocolate pudding ticks most boxes, and not just for vegans

Vanessa Greenwood’s vegan chocolate pudding. Photograph: Harry Weir

Vanessa Greenwood’s vegan chocolate pudding. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

It is always good to have a go-to dessert that everyone will enjoy when entertaining. A sign of the times is that in recent years many cookbooks include lots more wheat and dairy-free alternatives. As someone who belongs to a family who are marginally lactose intolerant (self-diagnosed admittedly), we have been pleasantly surprised at the array of lactose-free spreads, milk, ice-creams and cheeses available. 

Now that we are experiencing a meteoric rise in people’s appetite for vegan food you can be more confident preparing delicious treats once you have a canny knowledge of ingredients that can be used as substitutes or alternatives in standard baking. 

So what does it mean if you want to bake a vegan dessert – the prospect of which can flummox even the most adventurous baker. Don’t let the idea scare you. In a nutshell, it means no eggs, no dairy and as vegans abstain from all animal products . . . no honey. Rather than rule out 90 per cent of people’s top desserts, you’ll be amazed at how many sumptuous desserts you can bake that can be made vegan and that non-vegans will also enjoy. 

This comforting chocolate pudding ticks most vegan boxes. With lots of households in study mode at this time of year, this could be just the dessert to lift the spirits on the eve of the Leaving and Junior Cert exams, especially if someone is vegan.

Look out for the vegan logo on chocolate, sold in some speciality food shops.  Nóbó (the Irish dairy-free ice cream brand) has recently brought a delicious vegan chocolate bar to the market. Select Stores in Dalkey village has an excellent range of vegan chocolate, all of which is competitively priced so it is worth stocking up while there. Some high-quality brands may not actually have the vegan logo on their labelling, but I have been reliably informed by elite vegans that the “organic” Green & Black’s chocolate passes the litmus test.

Variation

Any unprocessed plant food is vegan, so you can also add fruit and nuts to this recipe. For a special occasion why not blitz frozen summer berries with sugar to make a coulis to serve alongside the hot pudding.  

Vegan chocolate pudding

Serves 6

Ingredients

100g dark chocolate (min 65% cocoa solids)

1 large ripe banana (or two small bananas)

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g dairy free spread (plus extra for greasing)

100g caster sugar

120g self-raising flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

pinch salt

75ml oat milk (plus extra if needed)

Method

1. Grease a shallow ovenproof dish. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan.

2. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water (or melt and stir at 10-second intervals in the microwave). Set aside.

3. Using either a small food processor or a handheld stick blender and a jug, blitz the banana and maple syrup together. Stir the puréed banana into the melted chocolate. Add in the vanilla essence.

4. Cream together the dairy free spread and caster sugar until smooth. Mix in the chocolate/banana mixture to a smooth batter.

5. Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder and salt and in two batches, mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

6. Add in all or as much of the oat milk as needed to give a smooth, thick, but slightly loose batter.

7. Pour the batter into the greased ovenproof dish.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the outer surface looks set, and the mixture is still slightly softer in the centre (this indicates that the pudding will be deliciously oozy in the centre).

9. Serve straight from the oven.

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