Posts tagged ‘dessert’

May 1, 2010

Catching up! Gardening & Chocolate Chai smoothie

Hello all!

I was a very bad blogger last month, but it’s not my fault: I was forced to write five law school exams and one paper. It’s a good excuse, right? Anyway, I don’t have many photos of delicious eats to share with you, as I had no time to make much of anything exciting. Apart from the mouth-watering strawberry moon pies, of course, which were a runner-up in Heathy’s Moonie Pie contest. Congrats to fellow Torontonian Lisa, whose amazing-looking lemon ginger moon pies took the win!

On that note, Heathy’s latest dessert challenge is shaping up to be fun: a contest make the Ultimate Raw Ice Cream Cake! I’m super excited for this one, as Dairy Queen ice cream cakes were always a childhood favourite. The thought of a dairy cake with tons of added sugar and other crap now turns my stomach, but a raw ice cream cake made with natural raw ingredients, like cashews and coconut, is much more appealing. The “challenge” part of this event refers to the fact that we have to come up with our own twist on one of Heathy’s recipes, and I’m mulling over a few ideas. I promise you it will be good – and will be accompanied by lots of photos!

Speaking of contest, I just won one – the Purely Delicious magazine giveaway on In The Raw! The prize is a year-long subscription to the magazine, which is totally awesome because I never see it on newsstands near me. Thanks again, Earth Mother!

Now that I’ve reclaimed my life post-exams, I’ve been working on various gardening projects for the summer. I was lucky enough to get a plot in a community garden not far from my place, and I’m currently planning out which veggies to grow. Kale is an obvious choice, as is chard — both greens are hardy and do well in mid-summer heat, unlike a lot of other more tender greens which flower and go to seed early if it gets too hot for them. I also picked up some heirloom carrot seeds, and I’ll probably also grow beats, green beans, fennel, possibly cabbage, maybe some broccoli, and whatever else seems like a good idea. This will be the first year I’ve gardened on my own, so it will be a learning experience: my goal is to have a steady stream of garden-fresh produce all summer. Thankfully, my mom has decades of gardening experience under her belt and is only a phone call away. I’d also be very grateful for gardening tips and suggestions from you!

I also have a herb garden underway on my rooftop patio. I spent a good part of today potting herbs, and they are looking great! I threw in extra cilantro because I love it, and there’s basil, sage, chives, peppermint, chocolate mint (which will go well in my smoothies!), rosemary and parsley. I’m also going to grow container peas on the patio, since there’s is a pre-existing lattice for them to climb, and they will be perfect for snacking throughout the summer. And finally, a pot or two of kale for emergencies. Although most of my kale will be in my actual garden plot, I know there will be days when I won’t want to bike all the way over to the garden to harvest the green kale goodness!

I’ll leave you with a recipe for a new smoothie I created today – the Chocolate Chai Smoothie. It contains Sun Warrior protein, because it’s a post-gym creation, but feel free to omit it if that’s not your thing. But you may want to add some extra raw cacao powder. Sorry, no picture – I was too hungry!

Chocolate Chai Smoothie

Ingredients

1 frozen banana

1 cup strongly brewed chai tea, chilled (I used one tea bag for this, steeped for 15 minutes)

1/2 cup almond milk

1 scoop chocolate Sun Warrior raw vegan protein powder

1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup ice cubes

Instructions

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Slurp it down!

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March 19, 2010

UliMana chocolates rock my taste buds

First, sorry for not posting for awhile! To be honest, I haven’t been making much in the way of fun raw food because I’ve been hitting the gym pretty hard and cleaning up my diet. My meals have been mostly big green smoothies with Sun Warrior protein, massive kale salads, fruit, sprouts and nuts.

Now, onto more exciting stuff. The awesome people at UliMana recently sent me some of their tasty treats (thank you, UliMana!!!), and I loved them so much that I have to share their deliciousness with you.

First off, what a great company! All of their chocolate treats and other sweets are handmade, raw, vegan and organic. The UliMana website also has a great wealth of information on the benefits of their pure, superfood ingredients, like raw cacao, coconut oil, gojis, maca and hemp. Yummy. But as nice as their website is, the real reason I like UliMana is for their mind-blowing chocolates. Here’s what I got to test out from the Tao of Cacao package they sent:

Goji Cherry Truffle & Dark Cacao Truffle. These babies were pure, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Made with raw organic chocolate, they were creamy and just the right size for a small, sweet, after-dinner treat.

Hemp Brownies. Yum! The hemp gave this brownie a sweet and nuttier flavour.

Date Roll with Chocolate. I was surprised that this was my favourite item! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because the combination of dates and chocolate is always killer… roll them in coconut flakes, and you’ve got a winner.

Chia Moon Drop. This was also a close contender for favourite treat! The dominance of cashews gave it a majorly smooth and creamy texture.

Lemon Fig Pecan Bar. After so much chocolate, it was refreshing to taste something fruit and nut-based. I loved this one so much that I was inspired to create my own version!

Clockwise from top: Chia Moon Drop, Hemp Brownie, Lemon Fig Bar, Dark Cacao Truffle, Goji Cherry Truffle, Chocolate Date Roll

My sweet tooth was satiated after these goodies, but what might have been even better is that I felt light, healthy and energetic after eating them. Raw sweets, eaten in moderation, never have the same effect on me as sugar, flour and animal product-laced desserts used to. The take-home story is that if you haven’t tried UliMana’s raw chocolaty goodness yet, you should go for it. I haven’t seen UliMana on any Toronto store shelves yet, but I’m hoping to track them down in my city soon. They also sell raw chocolate mixes and spreads, which sound equally fantastic. Happy chocolate eating!

February 15, 2010

Valentine’s Day treats

As promised, here’s a quick recap on all the sweets I made yesterday. I had been feeling inexplicably down all day — something that a trip to the gym couldn’t even cure — but finally picked up in the evening after my Valentine surprised my with roses. So I decided to make some chocolate hazelnut truffles, a la Ferrero Rocher. These were totally made up as I went along, and I had no idea how they would turn out. I think I have some thoughts on how to make an even closer approximation next time, but these were still pretty damn decadent.

The specific type of Ferrero Rocher treats I wanted to copy are the ones with a softer milk chocolate hazelnut interior, encased in harder, dark chocolate.  I started by trying to do a raw version of Nutella, and it tasted good but never quite reached the nut buttery consistency that I was looking for. Just not quite smooth enough. Maybe it’s my food processor? Anyway, to make the filling creamier, I ended up making cashew cream and combining the two. Again, it didn’t exactly come out milk chocolatey but it tasted great! I firmed up the filling in the freezer, rolled into balls, then dipped them in chocolate and rolled half of them in chopped hazelnuts.

Not sure what possessed me, but I guess I was on a roll by that point, so I also whipped up some chocolate and blonde macaroons from Sarma’s Raw Food Real World. They just came out of the dehydrator this morning and boy, are they good! Enjoy the photos 🙂

February 12, 2010

Raw date squares

When I lived in residence early on in my undergrad degree, I had to suffer through breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at the campus dining hall. It actually could have been a lot worse — there was a huge salad bar, and an entire vegetarian hot food section. They also had some decent desserts, including my favourite: date squares. At the time, I think my girlfriends and I had deluded ourselves into believing that date squares were a guilt-free dessert option due to the presence of healthy ingredients like oats and dates. They definitely weren’t vegan (I was only vegetarian at the time) and I was blissfully blind to the butter, white sugar, and other crud they likely contained. But they sure were delicious, so I indulged each time they were on the menu.

It occurred to me yesterday that I haven’t had one of my formerly-beloved date squares in a long time, so I set out to raw veganize the recipe. This version is way yummier than the standard cooked/non-vegan variety, with way more nutrition!

Raw Vegan Date Squares

Ingredients

25 pitted medjool dates

1/4 cup water

2 cups almonds

2 cups raw oat groats, ground finely in a spice grinder

1/2 cup maple sugar

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 + 2 tbsp coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

In a food processor, process the dates, vanilla and water until a thick paste is formed. Scrape date paste from food processor with a spatula and set aside.

Grind almonds into a coarse meal in food processor. Reserve 3/4 cup ground oats for later. Add all remaining ingredients and process until well combined.

Press two thirds of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 inch, plastic wrap-lined pan. Spread the date paste evenly on top of the crust.

Add the remaining oat flour to the remaining crust mixture, and process until well-combined. This is the crumb topping for the squares: the consistency should be more crumbly and less firm than the crust. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly on top of the date layer. Press the crumb layer down lightly – enough to make it stick, but not so much that it becomes too firm and compacted. Chill the pan in the fridge for one hour to firm up the date squares before serving.

Makes 20 date squares, at 258 calories/10 g fat per square. Given these are still somewhat high in calories, I think I’ll try cutting way back on the sugar and fat content in the crust/crumble next time, and let the natural sweetness of the dates shine through.

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February 6, 2010

Coconut snowballs

I made Coconut Snowballs last night for a late night dessert, and they didn’t last long! I knew I wanted something sweet, and it was a tough call between these babies and Chocolate Coconut Truffles — both from Sarma’s Living Raw Food. The snowballs won out because they were easier to make, and called for only a few ingredients — brazil nuts, shredded coconut, agave and coconut oil.

They were good! My one complaint is that they were majorly oily. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising, given brazil nuts have quite a high fat content, but next time I’ll probably alter the recipe by cutting out the coconut oil and maybe using dates instead of agave for some extra stickiness.

I wish I had some left for a snack today, but sadly they were all devoured 🙂

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February 5, 2010

Indian-spiced dinner party!

I’ve always loved entertaining friends. I adore creating big, elaborate dinners, complete with wine, dessert and good conversation. Even after I started eating mostly raw foods, I still used to cook up vegan dishes for my omnivorous friends, unsure of what they might think of the raw eats. But as I got more into the raw lifestyle and mastered more and more gourmet raw recipes, I started testing them out at dinner parties. And guess what? My friends love the raw cuisine! When you think about it, what’s not to love? Fresh ingredients, crisp flavours, and all of this without the after-dinner heaviness that we used to experience after eating a rich, cooked meal.

A few weeks ago, we had some friends over for a delicious Indian-themed feast. We kicked off the evening with Black Sesame Paratha, Spiced Cucumbers, and Mango-Green Papaya Chutney from Matthew Kenney’s Entertaining in the Raw. These were tasty little bites! The paratha (bread) base was my least favourite part — the rounds were made from flax, nuts, zucchini and spices, and they were a little on the bland side, but were better in combination with the cukes and chutney.

Next up on the menu was Biryani with Coconut-Curry Sauce from Sarma Melngailis’ most recent book Living Raw Food. (As a side note, this is totally one of my favourite books — every single recipe is a hit!) The biryani is somewhat complex to make, as it involves turning jicama and other ingredients into the rice, dehydrating some veggies, and blending up a coconut curry sauce. It is totally worth the effort, and was a hit with our dinner guests!

Jicama "rice" with nuts, raisins and spices

The real star of the evening, as usual, was dessert — a recipe of my own creation. With the Indian theme in mind, I whipped up two kinds of raw ice cream — vanilla chai, and chocolate — sprinkled on a coconut-pistachio-cardamom brittle, and topped off the creation with chocolate sauce. Delicious!! Here are some photos and the recipe.

Coconut-pistachio-cardamom brittle on its way into the dehydrator

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup cashews

1 cup young coconut meat

3/4 cup strongly brewed chai tea

1/3 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons melted coconut butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender untl completely smooth. Chill in the refrigerator, then run through an ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

For chocolate ice cream, replace the chai tea with water, and add 1/4 cup of raw cacao powder. Add extra agave to taste, if desired.

Coconut-Pistachio-Cardamom Brittle

Ingredients

1 cup pistachios

1 cup dried coconut

1/3 cup agave nectar

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine ingredients into a food processor until just combined. Spread on dehydrator sheets in a thin layer and dehydrate 8-10 hours, or overnight. Flip onto screens and dehydrate a further 8-10 hours. Break into smaller pieces and dehydrate a few more hours, or until sufficiently brittle.

For the chocolate sauce, I blended up melted coconut oil with raw cacao powder, some agave, and a pinch of sea salt, then poured the sauce on top of the ice cream and brittle. The great thing about using a coconut oil-based chocolate sauce is that it hardens on top of the cold ice cream, just like one of those chocolate-dipped soft serve ice cream cones I used to eat in the summer as a kid!

January 30, 2010

Chocolate truffles with a creamy maple butter centre

As promised, here’s a post on my post-beet ravioli dessert the other night: raw chocolate truffles with a creamy maple butter centre! These are like heaven on your tongue… it was impossible to stop at one, and I definitely ate too many. Eating raw cacao before bed is usually not wise, but I think I was so exhausted from the long week that even the usual buzz couldn’t keep me from sleeping. Anyway, these little chocolate bites of awesomeness are not only tasty, they’re also really easy, and require only two ingredients: raw chocolate, and maple butter.

I tend to periodically mix a large batch of raw chocolate, let it harden in a container in the fridge, and keep it on hand for making tasty treats like these. If you’ve never made it before, raw chocolate is remarkably like any regular dark chocolate bar you might come across, and is generally made from raw cacao butter, raw cacao powder, and a form of sweetener. I’ve used the chocolate recipe in Cafe Gratitude’s stunning dessert bible, Sweet Gratitude, and I’ve tinkered around with my own recipes as well. I was in a rush when I made this most recent batch of chocolate, so I kept it simple.

Raw Chocolate

Ingredients

1 cup raw cocoa butter

1 cup raw cacao powder

1/3 cup sweetener (I used agave this time, but powdered sucanat works, as does fine maple sugar)

1 teaspoon soy lecithin (helps with smoothness, not essential)

seeds from one vanilla bean (again, not fatal to omit this)

Instructions

Melt the cacao butter by shaving it into a bowl with a veggie peeler and popping it in the dehydrator at 115F (alternately, you can use a double boiler at a low temperature, or set the bowl of cacao butter in a bowl of hot water). Place all ingredients in blender (high speed is best if you have one) and blend until smooth. Pour into molds if using immediately, otherwise place in container for later use. The chocolate will firm up fairly quickly as the cacao butter returns to room temperature. It’s best to store in the fridge for freshness.

Now comes the fun part. I found some cute little chocolate mold sheets on a trip to NYC over the holidays, and love the little chocolate shapes they deliver. To make the maple butter truffles, start by dropping a teaspoon or so of melted chocolate into the molds. Use your finger to swirl the chocolate up the sides of the molds, as in the photo, and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to harden.

Once the chocolate is firm, drop a dab of maple butter into the molds. Pour additional chocolate into the mold so the maple butter is covered, and the shape is filled. Return the molds to the freezer and give them another 10-15 minutes to firm up. You can then flip the molds upside down, and shake out the chocolates. Voila – your very own maple butter chocolate truffles!

Obviously, there are a zillion potential fillings for chocolate truffles: your favourite raw jam, a coconut mixture, almond butter, ground nuts… the possibilities really are endless. Likewise, you can spice up the chocolate with some mint or orange extract, or some buckwheat groats for crispiness. I’m already planning my next batch!

And in case you’re wondering, no, maple butter isn’t raw, but hey, I’m a Canadian. Maple syrup is part of my heritage!

January 26, 2010

Banana ice cream with almond butter cup candy

Since the name of this blog does contain the word “Candy”, I figure it’s appropriate to write my first real post on a dessert-type meal. Or two dessert-type meals, actually.

I was craving raw ice cream after dinner on Saturday, so I thumbed through the dessert sections of a few of my favourite raw cookbooks. (As an aside, I’ve never felt completely comfortable calling them “cookbooks”. Is “recipe books” more accurate? Or some other term?) Using some tasty-looking ice cream recipes for inspiration, I came up with banana vanilla ice cream with cacao nibs, and chocolate almond butter cup candy.

Banana vanilla ice cream with chocolate almond butter cup candy

Banana Vanilla Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked 2 hours

1 large banana

2 cups water

1/4 cup agave syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Let the mixture chill in the fridge or freezer for a couple of hours, then pour into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

I topped the finished ice cream with a handful of raw cacao nibs, and lots of chocolate almond butter cup pieces. This recipe can be found in Matthew Kenney’s Everyday Raw, and it involves a layer of almond butter mixture sandwiched between layers of chocolate, chopped into little pieces. The photos below documents the process.

Spreading the top chocolate layer

Spreading the top chocolate layer

Chopping up the chocolate almond butter cup candy

Last night, I felt like something decadent after a long day at the library where I didn’t make much of a dent in my to do list. I had lots of almond butter cup left, but no more ice cream, so I decided to whip up some easy banana soft serve, first made famous on the awesome blog Choosing Raw. It couldn’t be simpler — frozen bananas thrown in the food processor for a few minutes — and I think I actually prefer the banana ice cream to the more decadent cashew-based one. Straight-up frozen bananas are closer to nature, and healthier for you, too. Both versions were incredible, and left my sweet tooth satiated.