Whole Life Magazine

December 2013/January 2014

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Page 21 of 43

s JuDtesserts B In a season of ind a dessert sprea ulgence, d th and nourishes at pleases the palate the body is a g ift to treasure etween Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, we gift each other delights of exceptional taste, specifically cookies, cakes, pies and candy. Consequently, we also may give (and receive!) ancillary gifts we'd prefer to avoid—extra pounds, sugar imbalance and food sensitivity reactions. Chefs with a vegetarian, vegan and sensitive-eater clientele have endeavored to solve this dilemma by developing desserts that reconcile a collective craving for comfort, sweetness and flavor with the realities of everyday eating. They accomplish this either by adapting classic recipes or creating new delights. Eric Lechasseur of SEED Kitchen, Venice Beach and pastry chef Serafina Magnussen of West Hollywood's Crossroads both approached the art of vegan dessert-making from personal necessity—for him, reactions to the classic French ingredients of eggs, butter and cream; for her, gluten sensitivity. Both employ what Magnussen calls a "mad scientist" perspective—experimenting with different ingredients to achieve flavor and texture that will appeal to all palates. "[Taking] away butter, eggs and cream is challenging," Magnussen acknowledges. "However, the most satisfying part is making desserts that make those eating them not feel like they're missing anything." The process demands they do their homework on substitutions. For example, Magnussen found that whole spelt flour has high nutritional value and a sweet, naturally nutty taste. And coconut milk, they both discovered, adds richness and body to a recipe, especially in something like a mousse. Magnussen adds that she purposely portions everything small, the idea being that it's more fun to have an assortment of little bites, rather than overindulge in large servings. Encino-based Fond of Cakes owner Jennifer G started creating gluten-free and healthier desserts for her husband with gluten sensitivity. "On many occasions, I've 22 wholelifetimesmagazine.com WLT-DEC-JAN-11-24-10pm.indd 22 served all of my guests gluten-free cakes, and they have been widely accepted as regular baked goods. They don't taste like they are (made with) modified ingredients," notes the chef. "What it all boils down to is that when we eat whole, real foods, we become satisfied faster." Two-time James Beard Foundation "Rising Star Chef ' nominee Matthew Kenney explains he uses the flavor of a beloved traditional dessert as a starting point, rather than try to replicate a traditional dessert with vegetarian or vegan ingredients. "One of the beauties of raw food is that correctly prepared desserts involve no compromise in flavor and texture," explains Kenney, who founded Santa Monica food-prep school M.A.K.E. "While some recipes won't translate, ganache, crusts, fillings and ice creams made with raw/vegan ingredients are super-rich. We do a pumpkin tart for the holidays with a filling made from cashews, carrot juice, fresh pumpkin, spices, maple, coconut 'butter' and agave. It tastes like a chilled pumpkin pie, and the flavor is not diluted with egg or dairy." Kenney doesn't always announce that a dessert is raw or vegan. "[My approach] is more about enjoying food all of the time rather than experiencing deprivation some of the time," he says. M Café chef Lee Gross agrees that successful desserts starts with identifying the textures, flavors and mouth-feel people associate with holiday season desserts before swapping out the traditional ingredients for healthier ones. And Morgan Simons, founder of Pi Bake Shop in Studio City, adds that using seasonal produce is just as important in sweet recipes as it is in savories. "When food is consumed seasonally, it's better," she assures. "If you use fruits that are flavorful, sweet and ripe, you don't need to use additional ingredients like sugar, fats and so on, and you end up with a product that is delicious no matter what." By Elyse Glickman 11/24/13 10:34 PM

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