Back when it was released, we asked Nicole, a prolific cook and guest blogger, to test out The Conscious Cook, by chef Tal Ronnen (of Oprah fame). She sampled the Split Pea Soup, Whole Grain Penne with San Marzano Tomatoes, and Vegan Blackberry Shortcake with Cashew Cream. And according to Nicole, “This cookbook is great. It really, really impressed me!” But she was particularly enamored by the shortcake recipe, which we were given permission to reprint. Today, we’re updating that recipe!
Vegan Blackberry Shortcake with a Chef’s Special Touch
Chef Tal Ronnen is known for his innovative use of ingredients. His creations are wonderful, and I recommend trying the recipe as is, at least the first time. Even so, you might want to or need to make some substitutions. Here are a few suggestions based on ingredient FAQs.
What Can I Use instead of Spelt Flour?
The vegan shortcakes themselves are made with white spelt flour to up the nutritional content, but you can substitute another wheat flour, if preferred. Regular spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or even all-purpose flour are great options.
Black Pepper in Shortcakes? Is it Required?
The black pepper adds warmth, intriguing spice, and making this traditional summer dessert perfect for the cooler times of year. But if you aren’t ready for this bold twist, you can simply omit it. You might opt to add a splash of vanilla or use a vanilla creamer instead.
I Can’t Find Unsweetened Creamer, What Should I Use?
I keep shelf-stable Nutpods on hand just for this purpose. They have a full unsweetened line in plain, vanilla, and a big selection of flavors. But if this doesn’t work for you, you can simply substitute lite canned coconut milk. If you only have regular canned coconut milk, you can use half coconut milk half water.
Can I Skip the Basil?
Basil is wonderful with summer fruit, but you technically can skip it. If you do, there’s no need to let the sauce steep for this vegan blackberry shortcake. You can use it once it has cooled to warm.
Can I use Strawberries Instead of Blackberries?
Definitely! Technically, you can use any berry or even diced summer fruit, like peaches. But the black pepper in the shortcakes goes very well with strawberries, if you are feeling adventurous.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Blackberry Shortcake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
For nut-free vegan blackberry shortcake, use a dairy-free, nut-free whipped cream alternative. See our dairy-free whipped topping guide for options.
- 6 cups fresh blackberries or 2 (12-ounce) bags frozen blackberries
- ½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 sprig fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon light agave nectar, or to taste
- 3 cups white spelt flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 7 tablespoons very cold dairy-free buttery sticks, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup plain unsweetened dairy-free creamer, plus more for brushing
- 1 batch Whipped Cashew Cream
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Place half of the blackberries, the lemon juice, salt, and basil sprig in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently to break up the berries, for about 8 minutes, until the berries are soft and broken down.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce steep for at least 20 minutes, and up to overnight (refrigerated).
- Remove and discard the basil, then pour the sauce into a blender. Puree, then sweeten to taste with the agave nectar and add more lemon juice if needed.
- Push the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve back into the saucepan.
- Gently fold in the remaining whole blackberries.
- When ready to serve, heat the sauce in a pan over low heat just until the sauce is warm and the berries are thawed (if using frozen). Alternatively, chill the sauce in the refrigerator, covered, and serve cold.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the ½ cup sugar, salt, and pepper.
- Add the buttery sticks and cut it in with a pastry blender, fork, or whisk, until fairly even pea-size crumbs form.
- Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the creamer or coconut milk. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, gently stir to make a soft, somewhat sticky dough, being careful not to overwork.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat it out to 1 inch thick.
- Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into 2½-inch rounds and place bout 1½ inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gently press the scraps together and cut out more rounds.
- Brush the tops of the rounds with creamer and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
- Bake the shortcakes in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through.
- Remove the shortcakes to a wire rack to cool.
- Gently stir the cinnamon into the whipped cashew cream.
- Plate the shortcakes and top with the warm or chilled blackberry basil sauce and the cinnamon whipped cashew cream.
More Vegan Summer Cakes
Hot Fudge Sundae Cake (vegan, optionally nut-free & soy-free)
Raw Blueberry Cheesecake (vegan, gluten-free & soy-free)
S’mores Icebox Cake (vegan, optionally gluten-free & nut-free)