Upon first glance at Tal Ronnen’s vegan cookbook, the Conscious Cook, I was completely put off by the use of a chicken-like protein, Gardein, in his recipes. There was a lot of other valuable information and techniques mixed in with those Gardein recipes (why not just use seitan?) so I decided to add it to my collection. I’m glad I did, even if you won’t catch me making “chicken” scaloppini or any other food product found within quotations.

I began by whipping up a batch of thick cashew cream for this dessert. The rich cream can be sweetened with agave to your taste and has more of a velvety texture than traditional cream. The spelt flour shortcakes turned out buttery and important. The black pepper added sharpness and made the shortcake a perfect vessel for a mound of cashew cream and the juicy blackberry sauce that held memories of the basil it was cooked down with.

We ate dessert first.