Move Over, Gingerbread: Make This Savory Vegan Cheese Chalet
I’ve loved making recipes using Violife, so I was up for the challenge when they asked me to make plant-based snacks for Santa, including this savory twist on the gingerbread house—a new trend. This festive vegan chalet is a modern snack for the modern Santa, and I hope it inspires you to serve the big guy in red some plant-based treats, too.
- 1 beautiful wooden board
- 1 piping bag
- 2 tubs Violife Original Creamy, tempered
- 1 Violife Feta Style block
- 1 Violife Parmesan Style wedge, grated
- 1 package Violife Smoked Favoured Provolone Style Slices
- 2 boxes rectangular crackers of your choice
- 1 box of smaller circular crackers
- 1 red pepper
- 1 bunch of broccolini
- 3 heirloom carrots (different colors, if possible), 1-inch diced
- 3 kumquats (or cherry tomatoes if you are in a pinch), cut into rounds
- 2 mushrooms, stems separated
- 1 pomegranate, seeds separated
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 grilled cheese sandwich, made with Violife slices, cut into triangles
1 cup of Violife whipped Feta Style dip (optional, recipe here)
Note: In advance of the building process, remove the tubs of Violife Original Creamy from the refrigerator, for at least an hour in advance of the chalet build, to bring to room temperature.
Step 1: Exterior walls
It’s best to start with building the walls, which is two crackers per side of the chalet. Add your tempered Violife Original Creamy to the piping bag and cut a small hole in the end of the bag. You will be using this as the mortar that builds up your vegan cheese chalet. Line the mortar on a rectangular cracker, on the bottom and both sides, and securely place it on the wooden board surface. Do this until you have all four walls constructed and secure. Take a moment to fill any gaps with the mortar.
Step 2: Inside stabilizing walls
Inside the chalet, add four load-bearing rectangular cracker walls with mortar so they are secure and can hold the roof up. Next add three pieces of rectangular crackers along the top front of the chalet, followed by two across the back end, adding mortar where required to keep it all together. This will help to keep the roof stable, which is the biggest architectural feat of this whole thing.
Step 3: Roof
Next, add some creamy mortar to the top where you will be placing the grilled cheese triangles. (Be generous with the mortar; this is for Santa, after all.) Gently place the load-bearing roof support pieces in place—these are your grilled cheese sandwich triangles. Now, add more mortar to both angled sides of the grilled cheese. Place your rectangular crackers on top to build the A-shape of the roof.
Step 4: Shingles
Using your piping tip, add a small amount of mortar to each round cracker (these are the shingles) and begin the work on the roof, adding shingles one by one until the roof is completely covered. Fill any gaps with more mortar, particularly along the roof peak. You’ve done the hardest part—building the core structure. Next up: adding style and curb appeal to this vegan chalet with fun and creative decorating.
Step 5: Roof decor
Add a rosemary sprig to the top peak of the roof, affixed with mortar. Then take more mortar along the roofline; this will serve to hold lights in place. While you’re at it, with the mortar in the piping bag, feel free to jazz things up by making some icicles so it looks like they’re hanging from the edges of the roof. How low can you go?
Step 6: Lights
Next add your diced-carrot lights around the entire rooftop. Line the edges of the grilled cheese sandwiches with mortar, and then add your pomegranate seed lights. Your chalet is surely looking stunning at this point. I’m actually packing my bags to spend the night as you read this.
Step 7: Windows
Next, we can add a bit of mortar to the kumquat rounds—these will be the windows. They give the place a bit of razzle-dazzle for maximum curb appeal. The details are what truly make this chalet pop.
Step 8: Front door and landscaping
Every chalet needs a door. Take a Provolone Style slice and measure it against the cracker front of the chalet to ensure it fits on the wall. Cut to size, as per your preference. Add the mortar on the back of the slice and place it against the front wall. Add a pomegranate door knob (affix with mortar) to really pop with color. Optional landscaping, to make it extra: add the whipped vegan Feta Style dip as a pile of snow among the other elements around the chalet.
Step 9: Snow person
Now to make an absolutely adorable snow person. Break off chunks of the Feta Style block, and roll into three balls of various sizes (small for the head, medium for the middle, and larger for the bottom). Use a piece of thyme to hold each ball in place, as well as for the arms of this adorable little thing. Black peppercorns for buttons, diced carrots for a nose, and a mushroom stem for a hat. It’s honestly a perfect addition to this whole wintery chalet scene.
Feel free to add whatever else fits your fancy. For example, a broccolini bush with some broccolini-stem wood piles, or maybe a sled made from a red pepper slice.
Step 10: Snow
For the final step, add your grated Parmesan Style all around on the exposed parts of the wooden board, as well as on the walls, on the roof, and wherever else. Tip: little dabs of the mortar help the snow stick to the walls and roof. This snow effect really ties it all together.
This modern snack for a modern Santa is sure to impress the jolly guy. Happy holidays.