A Vegan Superchef Shares Her To-Die-For Chocolate Pie Recipe



Merida-veganWe don't toss around the term "Renaissance woman" lightly around here, but Mérida Anderson certainly qualifies. A photographer, artist, designer, and musician, she's also a serious (and self-taught) vegan chef. Known for running a pop-up dining club, Vegan Secret Supper, in Vancouver, Montréal, and New York City, she's now pouring her expertise into a new cookbook.

Vegan Secret Supper: Bold & Elegant Menus From A Rogue Kitchen is a collection of plant-based recipes — think fresh and gourmet vegan dishes, not mock-meat pizzas. "There are so many vegetables and varieties that each season I still can find something I have never cooked with before," Anderson says. "There is always something new to try. And, most times, vegetables don't even need much work to taste amazing."

If the thought of cooking vegan seems overwhelming, it doesn't need to be that way — trust. Anderson is proving it by sharing her kitchen essentials and a seriously to-die-for vegan dessert. (Four words: Ancho. Chocolate. Truffle. Pie.) Get ready to be inspired to cook!

Photo: Courtesy of Danny Rico
vegan-secret-supper-book "Cooking solely plant-based meals can definitely require more attention then a meat-based meal where the meat is the focus, and the vegetable never leads the dish," Anderson says. "Vegetable dishes are gentler and more delicate, though that's not to say that you cannot make an amazingly flavorful and beautiful meal using only vegetables." Here, some of the essential items she recommends for cooking phenomenal vegan meals:

Fresh citrus
"Lemons and limes are great to have around to brighten dishes just before serving and can help cut down on salt."

Sweeteners
"I always have a multitude of sweeteners such as maple. For example, I would use maple in warmer desserts, chocolate and caramel-based desserts."

The right tools
"I think the best appliance a vegetarian or vegan can have is a food processor. It's great for dips, spreads, and dessert prep. And, you need a nice sharp knife, as there is always chopping to be done!"

Fresh herbs
"Fresh herbs are great, if you have an herb garden. I like thyme and rosemary for roasting vegetables, and I sneak fresh cilantro into most everything."

Nutritional yeast
"Nutritional yeast is a must for vegans for adding vitamins and a "cheesy" taste to foods."

Pantry essentials
"Tamari, and different vinegars (like balsamic and rice) are great as well."

Ready to get cooking? Read on for Anderson's ancho chocolate truffle pie recipe.

Photo: Courtesy of Arsenal Pulp Press
ancho chocolate truffle pie 2Ancho Chocolate Truffle Pie With Sea Salt
Makes 8-12 servings.

Ingredients:
⅓ cup (80 mL) coconut oil
4 oz (115 g) chopped chocolate
1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups water overnight and drained 1 14-oz (398-mL) can coconut milk
⅔ cup (160 mL) cocoa powder
¾ cup (185 mL) maple syrup
3 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground cloves
¼–½ tsp ancho or cayenne pepper, to taste
½ tsp salt
1 recipe Nut Crust (below); use chocolate and walnuts

In a double boiler on medium heat, melt coconut oil and chocolate, and set aside. In a food processor or blender, blend remainder of filling ingredients until smooth. While blender is running, slowly pour in melted oil- chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. Pour into 10-in (25-cm) springform pan with pre-baked Nut Crust and chill overnight.

Nut Crust
Makes one 10-in (25-cm) crust.
1 cup (250 mL) nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts), ground
¾ cup (185 mL) spelt flour (for gluten-free: ¾ cup rice flour + 1 tbsp arrowroot powder or corn starch)
1 tsp cocoa powder (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon, or 1 tsp fine ground coffee + 1 tsp vanilla extract)
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp flavored extract, optional (almond, vanilla, orange, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). In a bowl, combine nuts with dry ingredients and make a well. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined. Use your hands, as needed, at the end to combine ingredients. Press into a pie plate or 10-in (25-cm) springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Photo: Courtesy of Arsenal Pulp Press