Friday, April 18, 2008

a sticky vegan teatime treat

I'm back. I've been busy this past week outlining for exams helping Alex wage a prank war upon Harry with other commitments. But I return, triumphantly bearing coconut caramel rolls.

Vegan coconut caramel rolls, no less.

Vegan desserts, as a rule, make me nervous. The dessert traditions of Western cuisine are largely built on a foundation of butter, eggs, and cream. Tinkering with that foundation is a dubious proposition unless you're exceptionally talented or dedicated, of which I am neither. On the rare occasions when I do cook for vegans, I usually retreat to the safety of fruit salad or baked apples rather than trying to make substitutions in non-vegan recipes.

Sometimes, though, the smartest way to tackle an obstacle is to go around rather than trying to barrel through. If you look to Southeast Asia, you'll find a dessert tradition where the coconut is king, and dairy has historically played little or no role, and you can avoid wrangling with pureed tofu or egg replacer altogether.

It's the thought of coconut rice and steamed coconut buns that inspired these spiral rolls. Based on a modified biscuit recipe, they're soft and chewy and coated in fragrant, sticky coconut caramel. They don't take much longer to whip up than a batch of scones, and unless you tell, non-vegans will never guess that they're vegan, either.

Coconut Caramel Rolls

(Makes six rolls.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a baking tray.

Mix together one cup of flour, half a cup of shredded coconut, one teaspoon baking powder, half a teaspoon of salt, and two tablespoons brown sugar. Add half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, one tablespoon of vegetable oil and half a cup of water. Knead for five to ten minutes, until the mixture forms a soft, smooth dough.

Divide the dough into six pieces. Roll each piece out into a strand, and form into coils, cinnamon-bun-style. Place the rolls on the baking tray.

Bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until the rolls are slightly browned on top.

Meanwhile, combine half a cup of sugar with two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar caramelizes, then remove from heat and deglaze with half a cup of coconut cream. If all goes well, you'll end up with a smooth, sticky caramel sauce. (If it clumps, place it back on the stove over low heat, and stir until it evens out.)

Spoon the caramel over the rolls. Allow them to cool before eating.

Serve with tea. Leftovers are good for breakfast.


Cakelaw said...

These sound devine - coconut and caramel - mmm.

Kim said...

I am drinking a cup of coffee right now, and so want one of those. They really do look too good to be vegan. Anything caramel works for me.

Ann said...

Nice! I'm also very nervous about vegan dessert-making, but as you say, this one is a natural!

Alex said...

'twas amazing. I could have eaten those all night.

Katy said...

oh my gosh, that sounds so good. anything caramel is alright with me, but this looks especially delicious!