My first successful vegan dessert. I feel like such a proud mother; all I need are some scrap-booking materials to capture the moment perfectly. I had tried to make a vegan dessert this summer, desperately hoping the vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe I had would surprise me, but as I was mixing the oily batter, I knew it was all over. I was meeting my friend Vi in New York City that night, and I had wanted to bring her some of my baking that night; my only challenge was that she was vegan and I had never made a vegan dessert before. Gulp. I scoured the internet for recipes: vegan chocolate chip cookies would be my first try. After all, I had been blown away by one vegan chocolate chip cookie at a chocolate festival earlier that year. It convinced me that vegan done right was sometimes even better than traditional baked goods. I went into cookie baking with complete enthusiasm and emerged completely defeated. After that, I was afraid to try again.
But the opportunity to bake vegan again presented itself in the form of a visit to a local high school. Arroyo Paseo High School is a charter school located in City Heights, San Diego, a very ethnically diverse community. I’m volunteering there as part of the Community-Based Science class I’m taking through UCSD. When the professor announced we’d be making our first trip and suggested we do something to get to know the students better, I offered to bake. Everyone eats, and what easier topic is there to discuss with someone you’ve never met before than food? Not knowing the student body well, I thought baking vegan would be the smartest — and healthiest — way to go.
A day later, I realized what I had gotten myself into and started panicking. Apples were perfectly in season and epitomized good health (“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” — though the adage’s utterer probably didn’t mean the baked kind). Though I worried that an apple pie wouldn’t be well received in such a diverse classroom, I doubt anyone would be able to deny its deliciousness.
And no one did. All didn’t go as planned that day and when class ended I was still left with full containers of pocket pies. Luckily, nothing stays quiet at that school for long and soon the cheerleaders were in the room, asking me about the treats. Others came once they heard the talk, and every student gobbled them up.
I had saved two: one for me (to eat and photograph), one for my roommate. She told me it was the best thing I’d ever made: soft and not too sweet. I nearly agreed.
Vegan Apple Pocket Pies
For crust: (recipe from Chloe Coscarelli)
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chilled non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup ice cold water
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Place mixture in a food processor, fitted with the metal blade. Add margarine in small chunks around the top of the dry mixture; pulse until margarine is incorporated, working quickly to ensure it doesn’t melt. Return mixture to the bowl, then add the vanilla and one tablespoon of water, mixing it all with a wooden spoon. Continue to add water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, form into a disc shape, and refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
apples, peeled and sliced thinly
In a medium bowl, place apple slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon and add a splash of vanilla. Mix until all apple slices are well-coated.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. On a clean, dry surface dusted with flour, place dough and roll with a wooden roller (well-floured) until dough is about 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter (I used an apple pocket pie mold from Williams-Sonoma), cut pieces of dough. Place apple slices on one cut piece of dough and place the second on top, then seal the edges with pressure (you could also use a fork to create a pretty edge). Cut a small vent in each top piece so the hot air has a way to escape while the pies are being baked. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.