Meatless Monday: Hot Pepper Toastwiches

It seems as if we’ve been running into cream cheese and hot pepper jelly dip at nearly every function we go to, which is something we would never complain about. The combination amazing…and addicting! These toastwiches from Vegan Finger Foods are a new take on the classic appetizer.
Vegan Finger Foods Hot Pepper Toastwiches

This is a twist on the popular cream cheese and pepper jelly appetizer, but made so much better because it’s layered inside of French toast! With a crisp crust and a creamy middle, this is a sweet and savory way to jump-start your taste buds. Whole wheat French bread and whole wheat pastry flour may be substituted, if desired.

Yield: 32 mini sandwiches
3 tablespoons (45 g) vegan cream cheese or Cashew Almond Spread (recipe follows)
16 slices (1⁄2-inch, or 1.3 cm, thick) stale French bread
3 tablespoons (60 g) hot pepper jelly
1 tart apple, cored, cut into thin slices
1 1⁄2 cups (355 ml) unsweetened vegan milk, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (10 g) nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (16 g) Sucanat
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1⁄2 cups (188 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
High-heat neutral-flavored oil, for cooking
1 to 2 tablespoons (20 to 40 g) blackberry or other jam
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup, for serving

Spread a generous 2 teaspoons of cream cheese on half of the bread slices, followed by a generous 2 teaspoons of hot pepper jelly. Top with two or three apple slices and the remaining slices of bread.
Combine the milk and vinegar in a large shallow baking dish. With a fork, stir in the nutritional yeast, Sucanat, and
cinnamon. Stir in the flour and the baking powder. The batter should be thick. Lumps are okay. Add 1 tablespoon (8 g) extra flour if needed to thicken the batter or 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk to thin it.
Heat 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) of oil in a large skillet over mediumhigh heat. When it starts to ripple, reduce the heat to medium. Cooking in batches, dip the sandwiches in the batter, turning to coat them completely. Cook the sandwiches for 3 to 4 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Turn over to cook the second side until golden. With tongs, turn the slices so that the filled edges of the bread also cook. The whole slice should be golden brown. Cut into halves to serve.

Whisk the jam into the maple syrup, and serve on the side for dipping.

For the cashew almond spread:
1 1⁄2 cups (210 g) raw cashews
1⁄2 cup (56 g) slivered almonds
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) water, extra 2 tablespoons (30 ml) if needed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 ml) fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 cup (50 g) coconut cream, scooped from the top of a chilled can of full-fat coconut milk
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt

To make the cashew almond spread: Place the cashews and almonds in a 4-cup (940 ml) glass measuring cup. Generously cover with water. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 8 hours to soften the nuts.
Drain the nuts (discard the soaking water); give them a quick rinse. Place them in a food processor or high-speed
blender, along with the 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) water, lemon juice, coconut cream, and salt. Process until perfectly smooth, stopping to scrape the sides occasionally with a rubber spatula. If you see that the nuts need extra moisture to blend easily, add up to 2 extra tablespoons (30 ml) water, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time. This might take up to 10 minutes, depending on the machine.
Transfer the spread into a medium-size bowl fitted with a lid, and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. After
24 hours, the top of the spread will look slightly crackled, and the spread will be mousse-like; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Vegan Finger Foods

Finger foods are fun eats that span all cuisines. Sometimes called “tapas” or “small plates,” these recipes are perfect for entertaining, or for light meals and snacks. Make a few, and you’ll have a stunning meat-free and dairy-free buffet that will have your friends and co-workers begging for the recipes. This book explores the many types of bite-size munchies, from elegant to casual and savory to sweet, these small, easy-to-prepare sensations will have everyone going in for fourths. Vegan Finger Foods features more than 100 recipes for appetizers, small plates/entrees, snacks and treats that don’t require a fork or any other utensil – other than your fingers. Recipes include ingredients that can be found at almost any grocery store or farmer’s market – no faux meats, cheeses, or the like. There are even low-fat, soy-free, and gluten-free recipes!

Nominated for Best Cookbook of 2014 by VegNews!