5 Vegan Holiday Desserts That Will Please Everyone in the Family

5 Vegan Holiday Desserts That Will Please Everyone in the Family

By Editor, November 20, 2017

Courtesy Vogue.

When Matthew Kenney, world-renowned vegan chef and author of Plantlab, cooks for the holidays, he doesn’t try meat knock-offs—you’ll find no tofurkey on his table. Instead, he looks for a dish that “absolutely captures the spirit” of Christmas, or Hanukkah, or New Year, or whatever day that’s cause for a celebration.

Take Christmas Day, where he’s planning a black truffle pizza, a roasted pumpkin with cardamom sauce and a squash green sage cream. But even Kenney knows that during the holidays, the appetizers, entrees, or side-dishes aren’t the stars of the show. It’s the desserts, the delectable sweet treats that inspire ballets and children’s dreams. And Kenney’s mastered vegan ones that taste like an utter indulgence, not sad attempted copy-cats of traditional dairy and egg-filled confections.

Below, he shares his signature festive desserts, from a pumpkin chocolate pie to sweet potato maple tart to blueberry cookies. Even your steak-and-eggs-loving dad will be tempted to try.

apple pie
Photo: By Adrian Mueller

1. Apple Maple Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Almond Maple Caramel (makes four 4-inch pies)

Pie Dough

3 cups rice flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup cold palm shortening, cut into small pieces

7 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ tablespoons sugar, for topping

Blend the dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in the shortening. While pulsing, drizzle in the water, vinegar, and vanilla. Continue pulsing until just combined, but do not overmix. Divide dough into quarters, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, flatten slightly to create circular disks, and refrigerate dough for 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.

After the dough has rested, remove 2 tablespoons of the dough from each disk (this will be the topping), rewrap the 2 tablespoons of dough in plastic and place it back in the refrigerator. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into 6-inch rounds, and place into 4-inch ring molds, making sure to create an even layer of crust across the bottom. Trim any extra dough from the top of the ring mold and combine it with the reserved 2 tablespoons of dough. Sprinkle the 1½ tablespoon sugar over top of the crust. Wrap the ring molds in plastic and refrigerate once more, for 45 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Apple Pie Filling

1½ pounds apples, about 5 apples, peeled and cored

1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 tablespoon tapioca flour

2 tablespoons rice flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut each apple into 12 wedges. While still cutting the apples, place the finished apple wedges in a bowl of acidulated water (add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to water) to prevent oxidation. After all the apples are cut, remove them from the water and mix with the sugar, tapioca flour, rice flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice, and coconut oil. Distribute the apple mixture evenly among the 4 pie crusts in the ring molds. Crumble the reserved 2 tablespoons of pie dough on top of the apples and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Vanilla Bean Cream (makes 1 quart)

11⁄4 cups cashews, soaked

3⁄4 cup young coconut meat

½ cup agave

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup almond milk

Seeds from 2 vanilla beans

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 cup coconut oil

Blend all ingredients, except the coconut oil, in a high-speed blender, until very smooth. Reduce blender speed to low and slowly stream in the coconut oil. Return speed to high and blend until smooth. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate. Spin ice cream according to machine instructions and store in the freezer.

Matthew Kenney’s Sweet Potato Maple Tart
Matthew Kenney’s Sweet Potato Maple TartPhoto: By Adrian Mueller

2. Sweet Potato Maple Tart with Pistachio and Pepita Crust, Sous-Vide Sweet Potatoes, Chocolate Sauce, Ginger Cream and Sweet Potato Vanilla (serves 12)

Pistachio and Pepita Crust

3 cups pistachios

1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 dates, soaked

1⁄4 teaspoon pink salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture becomes a crumbly dough. Mold the dough into a 12-inch tart mold.

Sous-Vide Sweet Potatoes

3 cups sweet potatoes, medium dice

1 cup maple syrup

Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Makes 1⁄2 cup

Place all the ingredients in a vacuum bag, seal, and sous-vide for 1 hour at 156°F.

Chocolate Sauce (makes ½ cup)

1⁄4 cup maple syrup

1⁄4 cup cacao powder

1 pinch salt

Blend all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Place in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to serve, or up to 1 week.

3. Pumpkin Chocolate Pie with Chocolate Crust, Sous-Vide Pumpkin Filling, with Coconut and Cardamom Cream (makes 6)

Chocolate Crust

4 cups raw almonds

1 cup coconut flakes

6 dates, soaked

3 tablespoons cacao powder

Sous-Vide Pumpkin

3 cups pumpkin, medium dice

1 cup agave

1 cinnamon stick

2 each cloves, whole

Pumpkin Filling

3 cups sous-vide pumpkin

11/2 cups cashews, soaked

11/2 cups maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

3 tablespoons sweet potato flour (dissolved in a 1/4 cupfiltered water)

1 teaspoon pink salt

3/4 cup coconut oil

Coconut and Cardamom Cream

Makes enough to fill two 11-inch pastry bags

5 cups coconut meat

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water

⅔ cup agave

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon coconut oil

3 teaspoons ground cardamom

1 pinch salt

21/2 teaspoons agar


Using the pastry bag, make dots of the coconut and cardamom cream, covering the top of pie completely. Slice into pieces and serve.

Photo: By Adrian Mueller

4. Blueberry-filled Linzer Cookies

3 cups almond flour

2 cups coconut flour, divided

3/4 cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or liquid sweetener of choice 1 tbsp lemon zest

1 to 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

In a food processor mix the almond flour and 1 1⁄2 cups of the coconut flour until well combined. Then add the remaining ingredients and process until dough is formed. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water in order to make the mixture soft enough to work with. With a rolling pin, roll out dough to be approximately 1⁄4 inch thick—you want the dough to be thin. Using a linzer cookie cutter, cut into linzer shapes, making an even amount of cookies. Cut half of the cookies with a circular cutout and half without. Dehydrate for 10 to 12 hours or until the cookies are very crisp.

Date paste

1 cup dates, pitted

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup dates, pitted

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a vita-mix, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. You may want to use more or less water depending on how dry the dates are.

Blueberry jam

3/4 cup blueberries 1/2 cup date paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Place in the dehydrator for 2 to 3 hours until jam becomes slightly thick.


Spread about 1 tablespoon blueberry jam on a solid cookie and top with a cutout cookie to make a sandwich. Dust with reserved coconut flour.


5. Fresh pomegranate seeds are like little jewels on top of these tasty bites.

Hands-on Time: 15 min. | Total Time: 15 min. | Serves: 8 | Difficulty: Easy


  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest
  • 24 assorted Pepperidge Farm Cracker Trio crackers
  • 3 Tbsp. pomegranate arils


    1. In the bowl of a food processor combine cream cheese, feta, cream and lemon zest. Process until smooth.
    2. Transfer cheese mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip or food storage bag with corner snipped off. Pipe cheese mixture onto crackers. Garnish with pomegranate arils.
    3. Refrigerate leftovers.

    Nutrition Information

    Per serving: Calories 160, Calories from Fat 100, Total Fat 11g (17% DV), Saturated Fat 6g (30% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 35mg (12% DV), Sodium 270mg (11% DV), Carbohydrates 11g (4% DV), Dietary Fiber 1g (4% DV), Sugars 3g, Protein 4g, Vitamin A 6%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 8%, Iron 4%.

Published: 12/12/17



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