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Sweets for your Sweetie: Desserts Onboard the HHAS + Recipes

On the Holistic Holiday at Sea Vegan cruise, there are plenty of opportunities to satisfy your sweet tooth. Instead of using any cane sugar, honey, fructose or artificial sweeteners, we sweeten our desserts with maple syrup, rice syrup, and agave syrup.

Maple, Rice, and Agave Syrups 101

Rice syrup, agave syrup, and maple syrup are less processed than cane sugar, fructose or artificial sweeteners.

Maple syrup is made by collecting sap from a maple tree and cooking it down to form syrup.

Rice syrup was originally made (and some brands still do this) by a traditional process using just koji (fermented rice) and cooked rice. Brown rice syrup is made from complex carbohydrates and it digests more slowly.

Agave syrup is derived from the carbohydrates present in the agave plant through a natural heating process with no chemicals involved. To produce organic agave nectar, juice is expressed from the core of the agave (the piña). The juice is then filtered to create agave nectar or syrup.

Honey is not vegan, so we don’t use it on the cruise. We also don’t use artificial sweeteners, which are not all natural, and typically are highly processed. Artificial sweeteners are synthesized chemicals that interrupt the liver’s ability to regulate your metabolism.

Sweet Desserts Without Processed Sugar

Over the years, we’ve had multiple cooking classes on the cruise that showcase delicious desserts made without processed sugar. Here are a few recipes from some of our presenters.

Pistachio Chocolate Mousse

This dessert by Chef Eric Lechasseur is heaven for a chocolate lover. It’s also gluten-free! Chef Eric has taught multiple cooking classes on the cruise.

Chef Eric Lechasseur teaching a cooking class


  • 24 ounces silken firm tofu, well drained
  • ½ cup maple sugar
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened nut milk
  • 9 ounces grain-sweetened chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup ground pistachios, divided


  • In a food processor, combine the tofu, maple sugar, and sea salt, and process until very creamy, about five minutes.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and chocolate chips. Stir continuously until chocolate has melted. Transfer to the food processor containing the tofu mixture.
  • Add the vanilla extract and process for a few more minutes.
  • Add ¼ cup of the pistachios and process until well combined.
  • Transfer mixture to a container and refrigerate for a few hours until well chilled.

Oatmeal Cherry Kisses Cookies

This is another recipe by Chef Eric, and is perfect to make for Valentine’s Day! It’s also gluten-free.


  • 1 cup quick gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free baking mix
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • In a large bowl combine the oats, flour, baking powder, sea salt, and coriander.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well to form a dough.
  • Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, drop cookie dough about 2 inches apart onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Super Delicious Mystery Cheeze Cake

Jessica Porter shared this recipe during a cooking class on the cruise years ago. It’s also gluten-free.

Jessica Porter speaking into a microphone


  • ¾ cup of millet, soaked overnight in 2 ½ cups of water
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • ¾ cup cashews, pine nuts, or macadamia nuts, soaked in water to cover overnight and drained in the morning
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup rice syrup
  • 2 cups toasted nuts
  • ¾ cups dates, soaked for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 cup fruit-sweetened jam (used for the topping)
Fresh Berry Topping (optional)
  • 2 cups of fresh berries
  • ¾ cup of apple juice
  • ½ cup of maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • Sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons kuzu


  • In the morning, cook the millet in the soaking water with one pinch of salt for 50 minutes. While the millet is cooking, drain the soaked nuts and place in a blender with lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla, and sweetener. Process until very creamy.
  • Cool cooked millet only slightly and add ingredients to the blender. If you let the millet cool completely it won’t blend well. Process until very, very smooth. Check sweetness and adjust if necessary. Set aside.
  • Make the crust. Grind nuts and a pinch of sea salt into a coarse meal in the food processor. Do not over-process. Add pitted dates to nutmeal in the food processor while running, one date at a time. When it holds together, it’s done. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Pour the filling into the crust that is in the spring-form pan and allow to set-up at least 4 hours.
  • Make topping, if you are choosing to make the fresh topping option. Place the berries, juice, and sweetener in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 more minutes, letting the fruit break down a little. Dilute kuzu in cold water and whisk in, bringing it back to a boil for a minute. Reduce heat, simmer one more minute and remove from heat.
  • When the cheesecake is cool, spoon the fruit jam or homemade topping over the cheesecake or onto individual servings.

Reeses Pie

This is another recipe from Jessica Porter, and perfect for the chocolate-peanut butter lovers in your life!


  • 1 prepared pie crust (or chocolate cookie crust)
  • 1 10-ounce bag vegan chocolate chips
  • ½ cup soy or hemp milk (do not use rice or nut milks)
  • 1 ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 12.3 oz box of silken tofu (firm)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Bake the cookie crust according to the instructions on the label. Cool completely.
  • Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. Whisk in the milk until combined and smooth. Remove and set aside about ¼ cup of the chocolate mixture, and pour the remainder into the pie or cookie crust. Place in the refrigerator and let it cool completely.
  • While the filling chills, combine 1 cup of the peanut butter, tofu, maple syrup and vanilla in a food processor or blender. Blend until very smooth. Pour the peanut butter mixture onto the chilled chocolate filling, smoothing it out, and return to the refrigerator to chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  • To serve, return the reserved chocolate filling to the double boiler and stir in the remaining ¼ cup of the peanut butter. Stir until it is very well combined and very warm. If it seems too thick to drizzle, add some soy milk until it’s runny enough to pour. Drizzle the mixture over the chilled pie in cool designs or use a spatula to spread it smoothly over the whole pie. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes before serving.