What were you doing when you were 12? While I was busy reading the Babysitter's Club and gearing up for a battle with acne, Clara Polito was selling her homemade vegan baked goods at punk rock shows around Los Angeles. The girl was motivated, and it's come to fruition in a big way. At 19, she's releasing her first cookbook. Clara Cakes: Delicious and Simple Vegan Desserts for Everyone! will be available on March 7, and to honor this awesome young woman, we're sharing a few of her recipes.
If your only experience with vegan desserts is the bland tofu pie your well-meaning aunt brings to Thanksgiving each year, you're in for a treat. The book features recipes like strawberry blood orange bars and an Inception cookie that involves an Oreo cookie baked inside a chocolate chip cookie — but our favorite is the irresistible-looking Butterfinger pie Good luck not polishing these off in one sitting...
All recipes in this article adapted from Clara Cakes: Delicious and Simple Vegan Desserts for Everyone!
Butterfinger pie recipe
“Back when I was experimenting for one of my pop-up brunches, I thought of a really yummy pie crust idea: Cap’n Crunch crust. Originally, I paired it with the banana cream filling, which was super-delicious, but then I thought, ‘What if I pulse Cap’n Crunch, butter, aaaand peanut butter together?’ So I tried it and the flavor was surprisingly familiar. It tasted just like the crispy, peanut butter cookie in Butterfingers. From there, this recipe was a no-brainer, Butterfinger pie it is.” — Clara Polito
- 6 cups Cap’n Crunch cereal
- 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 cup melted vegan butter
- 8 ounces vegan cream cheese*
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 9 ounces vegan whipped cream*
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon soy milk
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
*Specialty ingredient, buy ahead
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a food processor, pulse the Cap’n Crunch until it’s mostly crumbs.
- Add the peanut butter and butter and pulse for about 3 minutes. The mixture should just about stick together. Set aside about 1/2 cup of the mixture (Butterfinger crust mixture) for the topping later on.
- Press the pie crust into a pie tin and bake for about 3 – 5 minutes. When the crust looks like it’s cooked together nicely and is slightly browned, it’s ready. Place it on cooling rack.
- In an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, cream together the peanut butter and cream cheese. Blend until smooth.
- Add the whipped cream, soy milk, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Mix until completely smooth, light and fluffy.
- Cook soy milk in small saucepan until it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in chocolate chips until they’re completely melted. Mix in the butter. Set aside.
- Pour the peanut butter filling into the crust. Spread evenly. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over. Sprinkle the reserved Butterfinger crust mixture on top. Chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving.
S’mores bars recipe
“I rarely ate traditional s’mores growing up because: 1. Marshmallows have gelatin, and 2. I’ve never been camping in my life. What I can remember of all these sweet snacks is that the marshmallow always swallowed up all the other flavors. It was too sweet to be able to enjoy the perfect graham cracker and melty chocolate combo. These s’mores bars give you a balanced ratio of a lot of graham-cookie-bar crust, just enough chocolate chips, and a bit of melty marshmallow to tuck it in. I honestly don’t have much of a desire to ever go camping since I can just make these bars in my oven…
“If you can’t find Nabisco plain graham crackers, you can sub Golden Grahams. I think they pack even more flavor in! You’ll want to purchase Dandies Marshmallows from a health food store or online ahead of time.” — Clara Polito
- 1 cup crushed Nabisco plain graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup Dandies Marshmallows, torn in half
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and baking soda with a fork. The baking soda will dissolve. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the vinegar and baking soda mixture to the butter and beat on high until the vinegar is fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add in the dry ingredients on medium speed and beat until it looks like cookie dough.
- Reserve 1/4 of the dough and set aside, you’ll use this later for the topping. Press the remaining dough into the baking pan.
- Sprinkle chocolate chips and marshmallows evenly onto the cookie dough layer.
- Take the cookie dough you set aside and scatter grape-sized pieces over the marshmallows and chocolate chips.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Place on cooling rack and serve warm.
Horchata cake recipe
“Growing up around and in LA, you grow accustomed to seeing those big plastic jugs with iced horchata among a bunch of other colorful juices and lemonades on the street, at restaurants, at farmers’ markets, etc. There are many different variations of horchata, some naturally vegan, some not. I love this horchata cake because you can get away with eating it for breakfast. It’s like a heartier, more delicious Cinnamon Toast Crunch! A heads up, if you wanna make this cake, plan ahead. When making homemade horchata, you have to soak the rice overnight.” — Clara Polito
Yields 12 cupcakes or one 9-inch cake layer (double recipe for a compete cake)
- 1 cup white rice
- 2 cup water
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cup soy milk
- 1 cup horchata (see above)
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut vinegar
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Mix together the rice and water in a big bowl. Cover and let soak overnight.
- Blend the water and rice on high for about 3 minutes. The rice should be really blended. The grain won’t go away completely, but for the most part, it should be gone.
- Pour into a large bowl and mix in the soy milk and sugar until completely combined. Keep refrigerated.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Trace a 9-inch round cake pan on parchment paper with a pencil. Cut the circle out. Coat the cake pan with nonstick spray and flour and place parchment paper circle on top.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the horchata and coconut vinegar. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together.
- Once the horchata and vinegar have curdled for at least 3 minutes, add the oil, sugar and vanilla to the mixture. Whisk until frothy. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until only small lumps remain.
- Bake the cake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center of the cake.
- To take the cake out, place a cooling rack on top of the cake so the tiny legs are sticking up and not toward the cake, then flip the cooling rack and pan altogether, place on a surface and remove the cake pan and parchment paper, slowly. Allow to fully cool before frosting.