Holiday Party Recipes: Fig and Nut Canapes

The holidays are upon us and so I thought there was no better time than to share one of my favorite new finger food recipes from the forthcoming vegan cookbook Vegan Finger Foods (publishing May 2014). This recipe is versatile enough to make it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and especially New Year’s Eve parties.

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Fig and Nut Canapés

Excerpted from Vegan Finger Foods by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes


*Make Ahead

We’ve made many nut spreads in the past, but were never entirely sold on them. Until now! We love the mousse-like texture, creaminess, and whiteness the coconut cream imparts to this spread. These canapés are also excellent without the fig spread, if you’re not in a figgy mood.

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

For the Canapés:

1 1/3 cups (389 g, about 2 recipes) Fig Spread (see below)
One 16-inch (41 cm) long sourdough baguette, cut into 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) slices, lightly toasted
2 cups (544 g) Cashew Almond Spread
2 ripe, firm pears, each sliced into 32 thin wedges
Brown rice syrup, for drizzling
3/4 cup (90 g) chopped toasted walnuts

To make the 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.

To make the canapés: Spread 2 teaspoons of fig spread on each slice of bread, or enough to thinly cover the surface of the bread. Add 1 tablespoon (17 g) cashew almond spread on top, or enough to generously cover the surface of the bread. Add 2 pear wedges per slice. Lightly drizzle with the syrup, using a fork or a honey dipper. Drop a few chopped walnuts on top. Serve immediately.

Yield: 32 canapés, about 2 cups (544 g) cashew almond spread

Fig Spread

8 ounces (227 g) dried figs, stemmed and chopped

Zest of 1/2 organic orange
1 cup (235 ml) fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons (24 g) Sucanat
Pinch fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the spread: Place the figs, orange zest, orange juice, Sucanat, and salt in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and stir; cover with a lid, and let cool. Using a blender, blend until mostly smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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.

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On the other hand

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, mayos, cheeses, or the like. There are even low-fat, soy-free, and gluten-free recipes!