Vegan Apple Cinnamon Rolls With “Cream Cheese” Icing (Optional Overnight Instructions Included)

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Christmastime is all about traditions! One tradition my family holds near and dear is that, on Christmas Eve, a sweet treat is prepared to be enjoyed the following morning while opening presents. It’s always one of two things: donuts or cinnamon rolls. This year it will be the latter of those two and that recipe is what I’m going to be sharing with y’all today!

Now, of course, it’s hardly ever the same recipe from year to year whether it be donuts or cinnamon rolls. I am, after all, a person who likes to get creative in the kitchen. So this year, I decided to do cinnamon rolls with apples in them and a light, lovely “cream cheese” icing rather than a heavy frosting -although I do love a good frosting! The whole apples and cinnamon rolls combination thing is a match made in Heaven -which makes sense because pretty much every sweet apple recipe out there, including my own apple cake, has spices of some kind in it!

It all gets started with some warm water, white sugar, brown sugar, and a packet of yeast. These things get combined and then they get left alone for about 10 minutes so that the yeast can bloom. While the yeast is blooming, now is the perfect time to get some “butter” melted down -we’re gonna need 4 tablespoons of the stuff. It’s also a good time to prepare the Ener-G Egg Replacer, according to the instructions on the box, for 1 egg.

After the yeast has been allowed to bloom for about 10 minutes, the melted “butter” and the egg replacer you prepared a moment ago can get added along with a little apple cider vinegar and just a bit of salt. Stir to combine then it’s time to add some flour. You’re going to start with 2 cups of flour and then, should you need more (and you probably will), you’re going to add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time. My dough required the 2 initial cups plus about 6 more tablespoons of flour to come together as you see below. When the dough has come together, place a towel over the bowl and set it somewhere to rise for 2 hours.

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After 2 hours has passed, grab a round cake pan and generously grease it. Set your prepared pan aside for a moment. Next, the green apples required for the rolls can be washed, peeled, cored, and then cut up into 1/4″-1/3″ cubes. Set these aside for a moment.

On a large pastry board or your clean and dry counter top, sprinkle out some flour and then turn out your dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangular-ish shape about 9 inches wide and 13 inches long. Over top of your rolled out dough, room temperature “butter” gets smeared and then brown sugar gets sprinkled on. Then, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice join the party and, last but not least, the apple cubes you cut earlier get tossed into the mix. Once the apple cubes are on, give them a gentle pat with the palms of your hands so that they hunker down into the dough a little better.

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Beginning on the longer side closest to you, start rolling up the dough as tightly as you can without squishing everything out. Continue to roll the dough away from you until you have reached the end of the rectangular-ish shape. If the ends of this log o’ dough are perhaps a little thin or wonky, feel free to cut those off. To cut the rolls, cut the dough in half and then continue to halve the remaining sections until you have 8 even rolls cut.

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Place your rolls into the pan you prepared earlier and then cover them tightly with plastic cling wrap. If you’re making these beauties overnight, place the covered pan into your fridge and then, in the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and let the rolls rest on the counter for 1 hour prior to baking. If you want to enjoy these rolls on the same day, let them rest for 45-60 minutes on the counter, or until doubled, and then bake them off. Either way, the temperature and time remains the same -the oven should be preheated to 350 degrees and the rolls should bake for 25-28 minutes. When the rolls are done, they will need to cool slightly before you can ice them.

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Either while the rolls are baking or while they’re cooling slightly after baking, make the icing by combining “cream cheese” with almond milk, powdered sugar, and some vanilla in a bowl. Beat these ingredients together with a hand mixer and then, when ready to serve the cinnamon rolls, pour the icing on top of them evenly.

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Vegan Apple Cinnamon Rolls With 'Cream Cheese' Icing

  • Servings: 8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed + 4 tablespoons brown sugar, packed (for filling)
  • 1 packet active dry original yeast
  • 4 tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted + 3 tablespoons vegan “butter,” room temperature (for filling)
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 1 egg (follow instructions on box)
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see step 2 for details) + more for rolling out dough
  • 1 1/2 green apples, washed, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4″-1/3″ cubes
  • 2 generous teaspoons cinnamon
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Cloves to taste
  • Allspice to taste
  • 4 tablespoon vegan “cream cheese”
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water with white sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and yeast. Stir gently to combine then let this mixture rest for about 10 minutes so that the yeast can bloom. While the yeast is blooming, melt 4 tablespoons of “butter” and prepare the Ener-G, according to the instructions on the box for 1 egg, if you haven’t done these things already.
  2. After the yeast has been allowed to bloom, add to the yeast mixture the melted “butter,” prepared Ener-G, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour to this liquid mixture starting with 2 cups. Should you need more (and you probably will), add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together. (My dough required the 2 initial cups plus about 6 more tablespoons of flour.) When the dough has come together, place a towel over the bowl and set it somewhere to rise for 2 hours.
  3. After 2 hours has passed, grab a round cake pan and generously grease it. Set your prepared pan aside. Also, prepare the green apples required, if you haven’t done so already, by washing them, peeling them, coring them, and then cutting them up into 1/4″-1/3″ cubes. Set these aside for a moment. On a large pastry board or your clean and dry counter top, sprinkle out some flour and then turn out your dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangular-ish shape about 9 inches wide and 13 inches long. Over top of your rolled out dough, 3 tablespoons of room temperature “butter” get smeared on. Next, sprinkle across the dough evenly 4 tablespoons of brown sugar, the cinnamon, and then the nutmeg, cloves, and allspice to taste. Lastly, the apple cubes go on. Give those a gentle pat with the palms of your hands so that they secure into the top of the dough a little.
  4. To roll the dough up, begin on the longer side closest to you and start rolling the dough away from you as tightly as you can without squishing everything out. Continue to roll the dough until you have reached the end of the rectangular-ish shape. If the ends of this dough roll are perhaps a little thin or wonky, feel free to cut those off. To cut the rolls, cut the dough roll in half and then continue to halve the remaining sections until you have 8 even rolls cut. Place your rolls into the pan you prepared earlier and then cover them tightly with plastic cling wrap.
  5. If baking the rolls the next day, place the covered pan into your fridge and then, in the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and let the rolls rest on the counter for 1 hour prior to baking -get the oven preheated while they are resting on the counter. If making the rolls on the same day, let the rolls rest in their covered pan at room temperature for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size, then bake them off. Whether making the next day or the same day, the temperature and time remains the same -the oven should be preheated to 350 degrees and the rolls should bake for 25-28 minutes. When the rolls are done, let them cool slightly outside of the pan for about 10-15 minutes before icing.
  6. Either while the rolls are baking or while they’re cooling slightly after baking, make the icing by combining “cream cheese” with almond milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat these ingredients together with a hand mixer and then, when ready to serve the cinnamon rolls, pour the icing on top of them evenly. Cinnamon rolls will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. To reheat, if desired, microwave a single roll for 15-20 seconds.

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Week 6: Vegan Spice Loaf Cake with Orange “Cream Cheese” Frosting & Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie – Facebook Poll Question Winner – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

It’s the final week of my Thanksgiving recipe series, y’all! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it. Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes I’ve shared, be sure to post a pic on social media and tag it with the hashtag for this series (#aCITSIthanksgiving) so that I can see your beautiful Thanksgiving feasts. Okay now, it’s time to talk desserts!

No Thanksgiving menu is complete, in my mind, unless there’s a pie, which I’ll get to a little further down in this post however, I want to talk about another dessert first. You see, while I feel that a pie is obligatory, I also feel that a non-pie dessert is obligatory too. For the non-pie dessert this year, I decided to do a loaf cake. This gingerbread-esque cake is loaded with the spices of the season (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger) and is topped with a refreshing orange “cream cheese” frosting!

It all gets started with the combining of the wet ingredients. Once those have been thoroughly whisked together then the dry ingredients (including all of those lovely spices) get added. When the cake batter is smooth it gets poured into a greased and floured loaf pan then popped into a preheated oven where it will bake for about an hour.

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While the cake is baking up, you can make the orange “cream cheese” frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, equal parts of vegan “cream cheese” and vegan “butter” are combined with a little bit of fresh squeezed orange juice. Once smooth, turn the mixer down to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.

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When the cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. Over top of the frosted cake I like to sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon as well as some orange zest which, as you might notice, is missing from the final photo below as I accidentally tossed my orange zest down the sink! Hot tip: don’t toss your orange zest down the sink. (But do toss it on this cake!)

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Vegan Spice Loaf Cake With Orange 'Cream Cheese' Frosting

  • Servings: 8-10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray + flour for pan
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 (4-ounce) snack cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup vegan “butter,” melted + 2 1/2 tablespoons for frosting, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegan “cream cheese”
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • About 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange + cinnamon for dusting over frosted cake (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan for use in a moment by spraying the inside with nonstick cooking spray then coating it with a light dusting of flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, 1/4 cup melted “butter,” and the vanilla. When smooth, add in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until smooth again then pour cake batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  2. While cake is baking, make the frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl where you’ll use a hand mixer, combine 2 1/2 tablespoons softened “butter” with 2 1/2 tablespoons¬† “cream cheese” and 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice. Beat until smooth then reduce speed to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.
  3. When cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. After frosting the cake, lightly dust the top of it with some more cinnamon and the zest from 1 orange (optional). Finished cake can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days -just be sure to bring the cake back up to room temperature before serving.


And now, my dears, it’s time for pie!

I asked y’all in a poll on Facebook how you liked your pecan pie to be made, in pie form, in cake form, in cookie form, etc., and overwhelmingly people picked “in pie form.” I too love pecan pie as an actual pie but I wanted to do a slightly different take on this southern classic to make it something truly special for this series. What was that different take? Well, traditional pecan pie filling has a lot of corn syrup in it but I opted for a decent amount of maple syrup instead. The maple syrup offers up more flavor than the corn syrup and it also changes the texture of the pie. The normal texture of a pecan pie is kind of gelatinous and gloppy but the texture of this pecan pie is creamy, ooey, gooey, and caramel-like (see picture below). I’ve made and enjoyed a lot of pecan pies over the years but this is seriously the best and it couldn’t be easier to make!

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For this pie, you’re going to use your favorite premade (and vegan) pie crust or make your own using one of the many wonderful vegan pie crust recipes all over the internet! Pop your pie crust into a 9-inch glass pie pan (if not glass then the oven temperature will need to be increased by 25 degrees). Poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process then set the pie pan in the fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking -this allows for a flakier pie crust. Now, it’s time to make the filling for our pie.

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To make the filling for our pie you’ll combine egg replacer (Ener-G) with maple syrup, brown sugar, a little bit of corn syrup, some vegan “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer the pie filling for another 2 1/2 minutes -continue to whisk occasionally throughout this time. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment while we move on to the next step.

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Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because we’re dealing with hot stuff here) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into a preheated 325 degree oven and bake for an hour.

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When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving.

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Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie

  • Servings: 10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Pie crust of your choosing for a 9-inch pie pan
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 3 eggs, prepared according to instructions on Ener-G box
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, halves or chopped or a mixture of the two styles

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees if using a glass pie pan or 350 degrees if using any other pie pan. Prepare the Ener-G for 3 eggs, if you haven’t done so already, in accordance with the instructions on the box then set this mixture aside for a moment. Put the pie crust of your choosing into your 9-inch pie pan then trim it to fit and poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process. Place the pie pan in fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking. Move on to making the pie filling.
  2. To make the pie filling, combine in a saucepan over medium-high heat the Ener-G you prepared a moment ago with the maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer for another 2 1/2 minutes, still whisking occasionally. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment.
  3. Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because it’s hot) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into your preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving. Finished pie will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

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When your mama asks you to make her birthday cake, you hit pause on your damn diet and you make your mama a birthday cake. #MamaDidntRaiseNoFool

What kind of cake did she want? Chocolate! And boy, did I ever deliver. This cake, my chocolate cake, is so light, fluffy, insanely moist, and decadently rich. If you’re a fan at all of chocolate cake then you simply must try this recipe. (If you don’t, they will revoke your “chocolate cake fan” card -of this I’m sure.) For my mom, I finished it off with some caramel frosting but you could use pretty much any frosting you’d like to top this bad boy. With that said however, you could also seriously just eat this cake naked -as in hey there, frosting haters, it’s perfect for you too!

Besides being delicioso, this cake is also very easy to make. The first step is to whisk together the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The wet ingredients for this little lovely include a heap load of sugar (always count sugar as a wet ingredient), almond milk, some of the deepest darkest coffee you can find, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce. Once all of that has been thoroughly combined, it’s time to add the dry ingredients in. The dry ingredients include flour, cocoa powder, some leavening agents, and a little salt. The batter should still be fairly liquidy upon whisking the dry ingredients in and that’s exactly what we want because liquid equals moisture.

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The next step is to pour the cake batter into a prepared pan -I used a 13×9 pan which I greased with a little “butter” and then lined with parchment paper. (The greasing helps keep the parchment paper down while you’re pouring the batter in.) Now, you could also use this batter to make cupcakes, or 2 (9-inch) rounds, instead of a 13×9 cake. Should you elect to make either of these I’d suggest that you start your timer with 30 minutes, rather than 45 minutes which is how long the 13×9 will bake for, and go from there.

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When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out nearly clean. And as with any cake, be sure to let it cool completely before applying frosting -if you’re frosting it, that is. Like I said, it’s moist enough that frosting is totally optional.

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Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: as a 13x9 cake, serves 12-16
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Vegan “butter” for greasing pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup dark coffee, brewed (Make sure this is measured as an actual cup rather than a coffee cup -I used my Keurig, made the largest cup size, then measured out 1 cup worth.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Burnt caramel frosting or the frosting of your choice (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare¬†a 13×9 pan by greasing it and then lining it with parchment paper. (The grease helps the parchment stay put when you’re pouring the batter in later.) If you’re not wanting to make a 13×9 cake but rather cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, prepare those pans as needed instead.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar with the almond milk, coffee, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce, and whisk until smooth. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk again until smooth. (The batter will still be pretty liquidy but that’s exactly how we want it to be!)
  3. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the 13×9 cake comes out nearly clean. If doing cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, start with 30 minutes on the timer and then check the cakes with a toothpick and see if more time is needed. When done, if frosting or decorating, let cake cool completely first.

Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

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Sweet, buttery, and a little toasty -that’s what this frosting is.

It was inspired by my mom who asked me to make her a chocolate cake with caramel frosting for her birthday. I knew that I could totally handle the chocolate cake part but the caramel frosting part? I hadn’t made vegan caramel before, let alone attempted a caramel frosting. Thrown for a loop, I decided to turn to that wonderful world of information that we call the internet where I learned that you can make vegan caramel using unsweetened, full fat coconut milk. With a little tweaking on the ideas I found online, I managed to come up with a recipe for a caramel frosting that has a slightly burnt, toasty flavor to it which contrasts nicely with the overall sweetness.

Now, it’s not the quickest frosting to make but it is pretty easy.

First things first, you’re gonna grab a small pot and pop it onto your stove over medium-high heat. Pour in a can of coconut milk and then add in some vegan “butter,” a little brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to simmer. Here’s where the time factor comes into play -you’re going to let this simmer for 1 hour, whisking it about every 8-10 minutes.

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When an hour has passed, add in a dash of vanilla then carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, slowly add in powdered sugar (scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed) until the desired consistency is reached.

Since I was frosting a 13×9 cake, which was remaining in it’s pan, I opted to kept the frosting on the softer side adding only 2 cups of powdered sugar to it. If you’re using this frosting for cupcakes or cookies though, where it needs to really stay in place, you’re going to want to add more powdered sugar. And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

  • Servings: enough to frost a 13x9 cake
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk with “butter,” brown sugar, and salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, whisking occasionally.
  2. Turn the heat off and add in the vanilla. Carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, add in the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. For a softer frosting, for a non-layered cake, add 2 cups of powdered sugar. For a more stiff frosting, for layered cakes, cupcakes, or cookies, add a little more powdered sugar until you reach the consistency desired. (And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)