VEGAN BAKLAVA STUFFED DATES FOR THE WIN!
Join Chef Linda for some tasty vegan Baklava on this episode of #LunchBreakLIVE. Baklava is a Middle Eastern traditional pastry dessert that is known for its sweet, rich flavor and flaky texture. Today Linda shows us two different ways to enjoy this incredible dessert that is sure to be a hit with your friends and family.
ALWAYS BRINGING THE BEST VEGAN DISHES FROM HER KITCHEN
Linda Soper-Kolton came to Catskill Animal Sanctuary in 2012 as a guest chef, intending to teach Compassionate Cuisine cooking classes for a season and then return to her vegetarian and vegan café in Fairfield, Connecticut. Lured by the magic of the sanctuary and the urgency of the mission, Linda stayed to lead and grow the culinary program, inspiring and educating with love, patience, and delicious food. Six years later, she continues to cook, teach, write, and kiss pigs.
Unlike many chefs, Linda did not grow up at the knee of a family matriarch in the kitchen. Instead, her early memories of mealtime included mashed potatoes made with milk powder and potato flakes, Friday’s clean-out-the-fridge “spaghetti surprise,” and a lot of liver. Linda learned to cook out of sheer necessity. In the humble kitchen of her first apartment, Linda spent nights baking, roasting, and simmering for roommates, co-workers, and anyone else she could find. With “food is love” as her mantra, cooking and feeding became her way of nurturing and connecting with others.
In midlife, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a chef when she graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute chef’s training program. Combining her chef’s training with certification as a holistic health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and certification in plant-based nutrition from the Center for Nutrition Studies and eCornell, Linda is driven to love and influence others through compassionate, plant-based eating. When she’s not in the kitchen creating, she’s probably looking for her glasses.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST VEGAN BAKLAVA
These tasty treats were inspired by the Middle Eastern delight, baklava, a sticky-sweet, nutty dessert that punctuates the end of a delicious meal. Baklava is made with layers of phyllo dough but in this much simpler recipe, the flavors of this beloved dessert are stuffed into tender, sweet dates which provide a gentle sweetness. This recipe calls for finishing the dates in two different ways; wrapped in puff pastry drizzled with chocolate and dipped in melted chocolate and chilled for a caramel-like result. You can also enjoy the stuffed dates without either treatment and not be disappointed. If you prefer to make all of the dates wrapped in pastry, you’ll need two sheets of pastry dough (Pepperidge Farm is vegan).
Sweet Vegan Baklava Stuffed Dates
- 18 to 20 Medjool dates
- 1 cup whole raw or roasted almonds, pistachios, or walnuts - or a combination, divided use
- ¼ cup smooth unsalted almond butter
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil refined or unrefined
- 1 sheet puff pastry dough thawed but chilled
- Slice the dates lengthwise to remove the pits. Set aside. Place the nuts on a cutting board and finely chop them: pieces should be small but not dust. Place them in a small bowl, reserving a couple of tablespoons for sprinkling. Stir in the almond butter, syrup, lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt. Use a teaspoon to fill the dates with the nut mixture, packing it firmly inside.
- To wrap the dates in pastry, set out a small bowl with a little water. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lay the sheet of puff pastry on a counter or large cutting board. Roll it out so that it’s about 1 inch wider on all sides. This sheet will wrap 9 dates. Cut along the 2 folded seams, creating three long pieces. Cut each piece into three equal pieces, one for each date. Place one date on one pastry square. Use a finger dipped in water to moisten the edges. Roll the date in the pastry then pinch the seams together to seal. Gently twist and pinch the ends so they stay together. Arrange on the baking tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small pot over low heat. Turn the heat off while there are some chocolate chips still visible, then stir to melt completely. Line a large plate with parchment paper. Use a spoon to gently lower the dates one at a time into the pot. Spoon chocolate over to cover. Lift out and set on the plate. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Transfer the plate to the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Serve chilled.
- Use remaining chocolate to decorate the pastry-wrapped dates. Use a spoon to drizzle a little chocolate over the cooled pastry-wrapped dates. Sprinkle with nuts and let sit for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has set. These are better served at room temperature, do not refrigerate to set the chocolate.
SWEET DESSERT FOR LUNCH
There’s nothing like a delicious sweet dessert for lunch, am I right? This vegan Baklava is the perfect little treat, and it is sure to impress your friends or family at your next dinner party. Go ahead and give these special morsels of heaven a try. If you do, be sure to take a photo of your end product and tag @JaneUnChainedNEWS on Instagram. If you are looking for more vegan recipes to try, be sure to stop by the #LunchBreakLIVE page where we have a ton to choose from. Until next time…keep cookin’!
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Donna Dennison is an UnchainedTV writer, graphic designer, video editor, and IG contributor. Donna is also a creative in the film industry.