Vegan Coquito

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Coquito is a delicious Puerto Rican coconut drink served around Christmas and New Year’s Day.  The creamy, velvety beverage can be enjoyed either with the addition of rum or its own for those who want a non-alcoholic drink.

It is a great “something different” to drink during the holiday season when most festive drinks overdose on pumpkin or peppermint.  It is so easy to make and is just about as error-proof as it gets.  Sweet, creamy, coconutty, cinnamonny goodness.

So traditional coquito is absolutely not vegan as it usually involves condensed milk and eggs but all it takes is a couple of tweaks to make it a treat almost everyone can enjoy.  I used light coconut milk for this but if you long for a richer mouth feel feel free to use regular coconut milk (you want to use the one in the can not the coconut milk used as a milk substitute). Personally, I feel the rum is totally optional but if you feel it is a need I say bring it.  The rum could also be set to the side and mixed into each individual glass, as needed. Continue reading

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Canelita

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Spiced tea.  A nice warm, spicy beverage to soothe any ailment you may have.  It is especially good when dealing with a case of the sniffles.  The warmth of the cinnamon really helps calm any cough while the star anise lends a great licorice flavor.  Although this tea is pretty tasty on its own a little sweetener doesn’t hurt. Continue reading

Vegan Mexican Cocadas

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Although cocadas vary greatly from country to country the Mexican version resembles a macaroon.  Flakes and flakes of coconut are mixed with condensed milk to form airy poufs of sugary sweetness that then get baked.  The end result is a concoction with a crunchy outside and a soft, chewy gooey center.  Yum.

So for this version I decided to nix the traditional condensed milk and use a vegan version making the dish dairy free.  If you want to go nut free as well, to skip the walnuts as they are totally optional.  Trust me the vegan version is just as sweet, just as gooey, just as coconutty and just as delicious as the traditional version. Continue reading

Tembleque

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You cannot go wrong with coconut custard.  Puerto Rican coconut custard is rich and delicious.  A hint of cinnamon and sugar add great flavor to this decadent coconut dessert. This tasty treat has a creamy, smooth texture, but is still firm to the touch.  It stands somewhere between a custard and gelatin.  As a bonus, this Puerto Rican favorite is easy to make.  It takes just a few minutes in front of a stove and a few hours in the refrigerator- and dessert is done.  A sweet tropical treat to finish any meal. Perfect for any fans of coconut desserts. Continue reading

Mexican Brownies

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Time for dessert.  Then again it is always time for dessert?  It is hard to resist ending a meal without having something sweet so why not end it with brownies.  Not just any brownies, Mexican brownies.  They are a bit of a cheat but the end result is still delicious.  I use store bought brownie mix (I know, I know) to make these extra special brownies.  A simple addition of cinnamon and cayenne pepper turn them into an incredible dessert.  Top them with cajeta, a goat’s milk caramel, or dulce de leche and you get these wonderful slightly hot, spicy, sweet, chocolaty brownies that are heavenly.  Nirvana is a good way to explain the result. Continue reading

Mexican Capirotada

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Mexican style bread pudding, capirotada, consists of a mixture of veggies and fruits such as onions, tomatoes, apples and raisins on top of stale bread, nuts and cheeses. It is a staple during lent. The day old bread is moistened with a simple syrup infused with several warm spices. Capirotada is a balance of sweet and savory; although this recipe lends more to the sweet side. For this recipe I used apples and apricots and a bit of mild Monterrey jack cheese in order to keep it more on the sweet side (that’s how I like it) but some recipes involve sharper flavors like onions and cotija cheese. The ingredients are up to you. I am sure there is no way to ruin bread pudding! Continue reading

Pumpkin Empanadas

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Why is there this misconception that pumpkin is only a fall time favorite?  It is always time for pumpkin.  And pumpkin empanadas, or turnovers, of course.  Oh they are sooo good.  Buttery, flaky and soft on the inside.  I especially love how fragrant they are.  Be ready to have a kitchen filled with aroma of pure deliciousness. Continue reading

Café de Olla

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Coffee is coffee.  Wrong!  This old school method is very different from that of the tried and true coffee maker.  When drinking coffee is meant to be relished this is the way to do it.  This is definitely not an I’m-late-and-running-out-the door kind of coffee.  It is an I-have-nothing-but-time-on-my-hands-let-me-sieze-the-opportunity-to-slowly-enjoy-my-coffee coffee.  The rich, sweet, spiced aroma leaps out of the mug and entices you to sit down.  It grabs you by the hand and gently reminds you to savor the moment.  Enjoy it.  Continue reading

Orange-Infused Camote Enmielado (Candied Sweet Potato)

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If you ever visit Mexico you will notice the vendors lining the streets and sidewalks selling snacks to passersby.  Some vendors offer some sort of candied vegetable or fruit (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, banana, etc.).  It is more of a snack than a full fledged dessert; just something to munch on while you walk through the streets.  Most of the time it is a sugary sweet treat, swimming in syrup.  The kind that drips down you arms and you eat hunched over so not to stain your clothes with the gooey caramelized syrup. Continue reading

Vegan Toasted Almond Horchata

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Several Latin American countries consume horchata, a rice and milk beverage often infused with cinnamon.  It is rich, creamy and sweet.  What more can you ask for?  Served chilled, horchata offers a great way to refresh oneself on a warm sunny day (or when it is freezing cold outside and you want to convince your brain you are not witnessing rain outside but instead you’re on the beach in Cabo.  Eh, either/or). Continue reading