• Karina Inkster

Your guide to creating an awe-inspiring 5-item vegan dessert bar!

Updated: Jul 24

Behold: cinnamon rolls, a selection of homemade dried fruits, coconut milk dark chocolate mousse, cherry sorbet, and Jamaican ginger beer. All vegan, all insanely delicious.​​

This weekend my husband and I had his mom, my parents, and my grandma (who's 95!) over for dinner. I made a ton of vegan shepherd's pie; we'll be eating it for days to come! Find the recipe in my book if you're interested.

I also went a little nuts in the dessert department. Those who know me know that I'm obsessed with vegan desserts! (Indeed, I catered my own wedding, which was a giant dessert bar for 45 people.)

Anyway, yesterday's dessert bar featured cinnamon rolls, a selection of homemade dried fruits, coconut milk dark chocolate mousse, cherry sorbet, and Jamaican ginger beer. These dishes all have their own unique flavours, but work together very well in a buffet-style setting.

I'm sharing all five recipes so you can make your own badass dessert bar. Impress your non-vegan friends! Celebrate a special occasion! Make desserts just for the fun of it! Find everything you need below, in one big-ass repository of recipes.

P.S. I'd love to see your creations! Hashtag #karinainkster on Instagram :-)​​

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

[Makes 1 dozen rolls]

This is one of my absolute favourite desserts, and really quick to put together (no yeast means no rising time)!

The Grub:

Dough: 3 cups all-purpose flour 2 tbsp baking powder 2 tbsp sugar Pinch salt 1/3 cup non-dairy margarine 1 cup plant-based milk

Filling: About 1/4 cup margarine 2 cups brown sugar (I use Demerara sugar, which has a nice crunch) 2 tbsp ground cinnamon


The How To: Preheat oven to 400 F and line muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in cold margarine until the mixture looks like small peas (I use a fork and knife). Gradually add plant-based milk, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms around the fork. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl. Gently form dough into a ball. Lightly flour a clean countertop. Knead dough a few times. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick. Spread margarine carefully onto dough rectangle, leaving a 1 cm edge. Spread cinnamon mixture over margarine 1 cm away from edge. Roll up the dough by starting from the long edge. Pinch ends. Slice into 12 slices and place into muffin liners in pan. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until outsides of buns are firm.


Homemade Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is really easy to make yourself (not to mention more economical and less additive-laden than store-bought). I made dried apples, strawberries, and kiwis.

Use your oven:

Set your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sliced fruit onto parchment-lined baking sheets, making sure the fruit pieces aren't touching (you need air to circulate around each piece).

Drying time depends upon the type of fruit you're using and how thinly you've sliced it. My strawberries (sliced into quarters) took about 4 hours. Just check your fruit every so often; it's ready when it's pliable and leathery (but not so dry you can snap it). Smaller pieces will be ready first, so take them out of the oven when they're done and keep drying the larger pieces.

Use a dehydrator:

If you have a dehydrator, you probably already know the drill! Load up its trays with your selected sliced fruit (making sure the pieces aren't touching each other). Set to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and off you go. My kiwis and apples took about 9 hours, and strawberries took a bit longer (10-11 hours).

Coconut Milk Dark Chocolate Mousse

This rich, thick mousse is every chocolate lover’s dream. It’s also extremely simple to make! It's from my cookbook, Vegan Vitality. Once fully chilled, top with fresh berries, shredded coconut, or serve as is. I made fancy-pants chocolate curls for mine. Just take a vegetable peeler to a bar of dark chocolate!

The Grub:

1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk 1 tbsp vanilla extract 7 oz. (200g; or about 1 1/4 cups) 70% or more dark chocolate chips or chocolate bar pieces

The How To:

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring coconut milk to steaming. Make sure the coconut milk doesn’t boil – you want to get it steaming with small bubbles appearing around the rim of the pot.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Add chocolate chips or pieces. Without stirring, let coconut milk and chocolate mixture stand for 5 minutes to allow chocolate to soften. Use a whisk to stir until mixture is smooth.

Pour into 6 small dessert glasses or glass tumblers and chill in the fridge for 3 hours (or overnight).

Cherry Sorbet

You can use whatever fruit you like! I had great success recently when a peach/ginger/lemon combo. I had a massive bag of frozen cherries on hand, grown my a client's dad in BC's Okanagan, so that's what I used yesterday. The method is exactly the same for any type of fruit.

This recipe is a rough guide, since the amount you make will depend on the capacity of your silicon moulds and your food processor.

The Grub:

3 or more cups cherries (or fruit of choice) 1 tbsp lemon zest 2 tbsp granulated sugar Liquid of choice (water, lemon juice, Limoncello, etc.)

The How To:

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until fruit is soft and sugar is completely dissolved (usually about 10 minutes).

Puree fruit with a handheld immersion blender, or in a food processor.

Pour into silicon moulds (I used chocolate and baking moulds) or silicon ice cube trays. I learned the hard way that regular non-pliable ice cube trays don't work! The fruit mixture doesn't harden as much as ice does, so you'd need a serious pickaxe to remove it from regular ice cube trays. You can also try pouring your fruit into a rimmed parchment-lined baking sheet.

Freeze your fruit mixture until a solid; at least a few hours.

Place frozen fruit into a food processor and add a few tablespoons of liquid. Process until smooth, scraping down the bowl a few times and adding more liquid if necessary.

Jamaican Ginger Beer

[non-alcoholic!]

Ginger beer is one of my favourite summertime beverages. Too bad the store-bought versions contain a ridiculous amount of sugar! My version here is a delicious and healthy alternative that won’t spike your blood sugar levels but will still satisfy your sweet tooth. Traditional ginger beer is made with yeast and is fermented over a number of days, but this version is much simpler. Double the recipe if you need more than 4 servings, or to store in a pitcher in the fridge.

(Recipe is from my book, Vegan Vitality.)

The Grub:

1 cup fresh ginger, grated or chopped in food processor 1 lemon 2 cups pure apple juice 3 tbsp agave nectar or coconut sugar Chilled sparkling water to taste (4 – 6 cups)

The How To:

Scrub ginger under running water (you don’t need to peel it). If using a grater, grate ginger. If using a food processor (much faster!), first cut ginger into one-inch pieces, then pulse in food processor.

Cut lemon into quarters. Squeeze juice into medium saucepan and place squeezed slices into saucepan. Add grated or chopped ginger, apple juice, and agave nectar, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Using a fine sieve or mesh tea strainer, strain concentrate mixture into a pitcher or punch bowl. Add between 4 and 6 cups chilled sparkling water, depending on your flavour intensity preference. Alternatively, serve ginger concentrate and sparkling water separately and mix to taste. Makes 3-4 servings.

Making this ridiculous dessert bar? Or some of it? Don't forget to hashtag #karinainkster on Instagram!

Questions? Want vegan health and fitness coaching? Just wanna say hi? E-mail me! I love hearing from you.

Calories and macros on a vegan diet: A free e-book for you!

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Download Karina’s free 32-page ebook that shows you how to track your food, calculate calories, and set macro goals on a vegan diet. You’ll even get step-by-step instructions – complete with a printable grocery list – for how to prep a week’s worth of delicious Buddha bowls in 60 minutes or less.

Coach K's new e-book, Sprouted Gains, is here! Lose fat and gain muscle on a plant-based diet.

Your online vegan personal trainer and nutrition coach. A friendly kick in the butt that inspires and motivates you to live your best, healthiest, most plant-strong life.

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