Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

A PEACH OF A SUMMER DESSERT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on June 22, 2016

Stuffed Peaches

CHOCOLATE AND WALNUT STUFFED PEACHES

Delicious ripe peaches, one of the summer’s sweetest and juiciest treats of the season, become the perfect perch for plopping an irresistible, walnut-studded chocolate orb into the cavity of a peach half. Can anyone resist chocolate sweetened with nothing more than dates and flavored with almond extract? I sure can’t!

Fresh, sun-ripened peaches play a key role in making this easy and naturally sweet dessert a top choice for a summertime treat. They look so tantalizing, chocolate fans will snap up these gorgeous stuffed peaches in a flash.

The best part is that you won’t need to use the oven or stove-top to prepare this hot-weather dessert–it’s deliciously raw and can be assembled within minutes. And it doesn’t hurt that they look so inviting.

Chocolate Stuffed PeachesI prefer the yellow peaches for this dessert for two reasons. First, they’re firmer and retain their shape and pleasing texture better than the white peaches. The second reason is they can be cut in half and separated without becoming mushy. They’re often called freestone peaches.

Buy the peaches when quite firm and leave them on the kitchen counter at room temperature for only a day or two. That gives them just enough time to be ripe and ready for stuffing.

Generally, white peaches have a higher water content and are not freestone. A day or two on the counter topChocolate Stuffed Peaches and white peaches might turn into a mushy mess when you try to separate the two halves. I confess, though, that white peaches are mighty delicious and my family enjoys them thoroughly.

The secret to separating the halves of white peaches is to cut them when quite firm and use a pairing knife to cut them off the pit. It’s a little tricky, but patience pays off. Overall, though, the yellow peaches are my first choice.

After cutting the peaches in half, I prepare the chocolate stuffing by softening the pitted dates with a little water in the food processor. As I measure the dates, I snip each one in half with a kitchen scissors. That way I can find the one or two pits that were overlooked during the commercial processing–and it saves my processor blades from damage.

Chocolate Stuffed PeachesThen I add the raw cacao or cocoa powder and almond extract and process to distribute the flavors thoroughly.

The next step is to transfer the chocolate mixture to a bowl and add the coarsely chopped walnuts. For coarsely grinding the walnuts I use my inexpensive hand-crank nut mill that can be purchased in a well-stocked kitchen shop.

Be sure to set aside some of the coarsely ground nuts for the topping. Now comes the fun part–rolling the chocolate mixture by hand into 1-inch balls and plunking them down into the peach cavity that’s ready and waiting for its sweet treat!

Chocolate Stuffed Peaches

CHOCOLATE AND WALNUT STUFFED PEACHES

 Yield: 12 stuffed peach halves

6 fresh yellow peaches

 

1 cup firmly packed dates, snipped in half with kitchen scissors

2 to 3 tablespoons waterChocolate Stuffed Peaches

 

2 tablespoons raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

 

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground in a hand-crank nut mill

12 golden raisins, for garnish

3 to 5 fresh mint leaves, for garnish

 

  1. Cut the peaches in half, discard the pits, and set aside.
  1. Stuffed PeachesPut the dates in a food processor and pulse chop a few times. With the machine running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the water and process until well mixed but still very slightly chunky, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add all or part of the remaining tablespoon of water only if needed to moisten the date mixture.

 

  1. Add the cacao and almond extract to the processor and process briefly until completely incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of the ground walnuts and mix well. Put the remaining ground walnuts into a separate small bowl.
  1. Using your hands, form the cacao mixture into twelve 1-inch balls. Press a ball into each of the peach halves. Holding the peach carefully, invert it and dip the top of each cacao ball into the ground walnuts to coat the top of the ball. Arrange the peach halves on an attractive serving platter.
  1. For the finishing touch, poke a golden raisin into the center of each cacao ball. Sprinkle any remaining nuts around the platter and garnish with the mint leaves.

Stuffed PeachesChocolate Stuffed Peaches

Posted in Desserts, Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SOUTHERN PECAN PIE FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 9, 2015

Pecan Pie copyDOWN HOME PECAN PIE

Pecans are native to the American South, and you can bet those creative Southerners put them on the menu every chance they could find. Those delicious little pecans even made the South famous for its pecan pie, an irresistible dessert that makes ex-pat Southerns very homesick.

Many Southern families have their own treasured family recipe–possibly even some handed down from grandma’s or great-grandma’s secret recipe. Years ago, family recipes were so cherished many were kept secret.

I have great respect for those delicious heirloom recipes that bring families together at special times like the holidays. And I also love the way Southerners say pecans– south of the Mason-Dixon line they call them puh cons.

My holiday version has all the eye-appealing and flavorful attributes of its traditional counterpart with the added benefit of being totally vegan. But I must admit that veganizing the recipe was one heck of a challenge.

My first 8 attempts–yes, it actually took 9 tries to get it right–came out too runny or totally soupy. It was maddening and totally frustrating, but I was one determined gal. The goal was to find a way to thicken and bind the ingredients, as eggs would do in the traditional recipe. About the 8th time the top baked perfectly, and I thought I had achieved success at last. But, no! As soon as I cut into it, it was soup.

Taking the place of the eggs is a combination of tapioca flour and flaxseeds that gives the pie its unique, creamy texture. The tapioca flour also performs the double duty of thickening the filling as well as providing an inviting glaze that enhances its appeal. The key was tapioca flour –it worked like magic! Now I’m thrilled to share this recipe that’s from my cookbook The Nut Gourmet.

There are many ways to arrange the pecans on the top. Some people simply sprinkle broken pieces over the filling, but I wanted a pecan pie that was pretty darned eye appealing. If you have the time, start by sorting out beautiful pecan halves of similar sizes for the topping. Then arrange them side-by-side in concentric rings beginning in the center of the pie.

At serving time, make way for those pecan lovers who scramble for a piece of pie!

Down Home Pecan Pie

DOWN-HOME PECAN PIE

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie

Nutty Wheat Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup organic canola oil
2 tablespoons cold water

Pecan Filling
1 1/4 cups coarsely broken pecans

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) dairy-free margarine
1 1/2 cups light or dark corn syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup regular soymilk
1/2 cup tapioca flour, packed

5 tablespoons flaxseeds
1 1/4 cups pecan halves

1. TO MAKE THE PIE CRUST, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet. Combine the pastry flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.

2. Add the oil and mix with a spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Add the water and stir thoroughly until the mixture forms a soft dough and all the water is absorbed.

3. Form the dough into a ball and roll it out between two sheets of waxed paper. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper, place the pie pan over the dough, and invert the dough and pan together. Remove the waxed paper carefully and firm the edges of the crust. Trim the excess crust with a knife. Bake the Crust for 5 minutes and set it aside on the baking sheet to cool.

4. TO MAKE THE PECAN FILLING, put the coarsely broken pecans on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 8 minutes. Immediately pour them onto a dish to cool. When cool, spoon the pecan pieces into the bottom of the pie shell.

5. Melt the margarine over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla extract and bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil 5 minutes and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes.

6. Put the soymilk in a small bowl and stir in the tapioca flour. Set it aside for 5 minutes to allow the tapioca flour to absorb some of the liquid. Don’t rush this step. The tapioca flour needs a full 5 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.

7. Meanwhile, put the flaxseeds in a blender or mini chopper and grind them to a fine meal. Add the flaxseeds and the soymilk mixture to the cooled corn syrup mixture. Stir to combine, and pour the mixture into the blender. Blend for 1 minute, until smooth. Pour over the toasted pecans.

8. Top the pie with the pecan halves, arranging them in concentric circles, beginning in the center. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool thoroughly before chilling in the refrigerator. The pie will firm after it is thoroughly chilled.

Posted in Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Nut Desserts, pecans, The Nut Gourmet, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

POLENTA PORCUPINE PIE

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on April 30, 2014

I’ve only encountered polenta in a savory form, usually served as a side dish. But I often wondered if it would be possible to turn it into a delicious, gluten-free dessert. When a friend invited me for dinner and asked me to bring dessert, she created the perfect opportunity for an experiment.

The texture of polenta was a concern. If polenta is not fully cooked, it can have a rather grainy texture, which would be horrible in a dessert. I also wondered if I could make the dessert sugar-free, since recent studies have revealed health concerns about sugar.

I decided to make a dessert polenta with dried fruits and prepared a simple date paste as the sweetener. As with most kitchen experiments exploring new territory, success often comes after several trials, eliminating this or adding that, or even changing the cooking method or varying the temperature.

Occasionally, magic happens and that first go-around works as if there were a tiny kitchen elf holding my hand and guiding me every step along the process. Amazing! And it looked pretty darned appealing, too!

It was a delicious surprise that also looked enticing enough to bring to a dinner party. When my friend asked what to call this dessert, I hesitated only a moment–and out popped the amusing name. Because of the bounty of fruits, small servings make this dessert go a long way. I actually squeezed 16 servings out of this dessert, but, really, 10 to 12 servings would be more realistic.

Polenta Porcupine copy

POLENTA PORCUPINE PIE

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Fruit Mix

1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely shredded

3/4 cup golden raisins

3/4 cup black raisins

1/3 cup diced dried Turkish apricots

1/4 cup pine nuts

 

Date Paste

2 cups pitted dates, snipped in half and lightly packed

1/2 cup water

 

Polenta

4 cups water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coarse whole grain cornmeal

1/2 cup whole almonds

  1. Line a large, shallow mold, about 9 to 11 inches in diameter, or a 2-quart ring mold with plastic wrap large enough to drape over the sides. Set aside.
  2. TO MAKE THE FRUIT MIX, combine the carrots, golden and black raisins, apricots, and pine nuts in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. TO MAKE THE DATE PASTE, put the dates in a food processor. With the machine running, add the water and process until smooth. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the workbowl. Measure 1 cup of the date paste and set it aside for the recipe. Save the remainder for another use.
  4. TO MAKE THE POLENTA, put the water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. Add the cornmeal and return the mixture to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add the reserved date paste and mix well with a wooden spoon to incorporate it thoroughly. The mixture will become very thick.
  7. Add the fruit mixture a little at a time, stirring continuously, until well mixed.
  8. Working quickly, spoon the mixture into the prepared mold and spread it to the edges. Let cool completely and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
  9. Before serving, invert the polenta pie onto a large platter and remove the plastic wrap. Poke the tips of the almonds into the top surface, gently pressing them in just enough to secure them.

Note:

Commercially packaged pitted dates, may contain one or two date pits that have evaded the pitting machinery. To avoid damaging the food processor blade, I use a kitchen scissors to snip the dates in half before adding them to the processor. The date paste makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Posted in almonds, Desserts, Nut Desserts, pine nuts, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

AWESOME RAWSOME TREATS FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 4, 2012

Avid blogger Lisa Pitman, is a social worker by day, but remains fully engaged in the vegan community during her leisure hours. She holds a Raw Chef Certificate from Matthey Kenney OKC and contributes recipes to One Green Planet and tests recipes for several cookbook authors. She was a vegetarian from childhood and became vegan in her teens. Today she is passionate about her vegan lifestyle, knowing her food choices leave a lighter footprint on the planet. Lisa follows a gluten-free diet also free of refined sugars, oils, and flours. For a taste of more of Lisa’s culinary delights, visit her vibrant blog at Vegan Culinary Crusade .

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I am so happy that vegan food blogs have connected me to amazing people around the world AND has helped me to discover the incredible versatility of the great pumpkin. Seriously, a few years ago I never would have imagined making waffles, pancakes, scones, oatmeal, cheesecake and smoothies with pumpkin. But now it seems like the only way to celebrate the season.

After prepping and baking a couple of pie pumpkins and adding it to everything I could think of, I still had a few cups left of perfect puree.

I planned to freeze the leftovers, but as soon as I thought about using my precious freezer space, I decided to make it worth it by turning the pumpkin into a delicious batch of Chai Pumpkin Ice Cream (recipe below). That’s what you would do, right?

So, I have enjoyed a scoop here and there over the last few weeks but all the pumpkin MoFo posts (I’m looking at you Shellyfish) have inspired me to break out that pumpkin pint and fancy it up.

A spicy, cinnamon, ginger cookie recipe from Sweet Gratitude caught my eye. I knew it would turn my chai pumpkin ice creem into something spectacular.

I weighed out some medjool dates. Then, I combined raw almonds, grated ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla and a pinch of salt, in my food processor.

Until the texture was like a crumbly pie crust. Next I rolled the batter out on a Silpat sheet or wax paper.

Then I cut out circles (make sure you have even numbers). And transferred the cookies to a plate covered with wax paper. Put the plate in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.

Rolled the “in-between” extra dough into fantastic ginger-almond-date balls.

Assessed the flavour.

Before I started assembling the cookies I let the ice creem soften at room-temperature for 30 minutes (right, so take it out when you put the cookies in). Then I topped half of the cookies with small scoops of chai pumpkin ice creem.

Added the top. Pressed the cookies together and smoothed the sides of the ice creem.

I just kept scooping and squishing until all the cookies were partnered up and hugging some pumpkin.

Then I had to assess the flavour again. Working in quality control in this kitchen is one fantastic job. So, there you have it, raw, vegan pumpkin pie ice creem sandwiches.

CHAI PUMPKIN ICE CREAM

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours and drained
1 1/2 cup water
1 TBSP chai spice (I used Arvinda’s Masala Chai but you could use pumpkin pie spice instead)
2/3 cups agave syrup
2 TBSP maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP lecithin
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Combine all of the ingredient, except the coconut oil and lecithin in your blender. Blend until very smooth. Add the lecithin and coconut oil and pulse until incorporated. Chill in your fridge for two hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes. Churn in your ice cream maker for 25 minutes (or in accordance with manufacture’s instructions).
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AUTUMN APPLE CRISP

Over the years I’ve been able to share my passion for apples with my niece and nephews. They can easily recognize JonaGolds and Mutsu’/Crispin and know the “eye to the sky” technique for gently picking each piece of fruit without harming the tree.

Although I am jealous of people who live in places where mangoes grow in their yards and papaya is fresh and fragrant, I am also grateful I live in a city where apple thrive. We have heritage varieties like maiden’s blush, ribston pippin and northern spy.

My favourite treat – apple crisp. I never ask for cake. I just prefer the sweet, apple cinnamon combination. The recipe below is perfect for my celebration as it is both vegan and raw. When you have great ingredients you really don’t want to mess with them.

P.S. I don call adding Vanilla Coconut Bliss messing with anything.

I first tasted this raw version of my favourite treat when Nicole made a cake for our Harvest Brunch. Although I have loved the cooked version for years, this recipe reigned supreme.

RAW APPLE CRISP
adapted from Heathy’s recipe on Sweetly Raw

Serves 4

Crust:
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
3 TBSP medjool dates, pitted

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients until they form a coarse meal. Press half of the mixture into single serving ramekins, mini pie plates or springform pans. Reserve the remaining crumble.

Filling:
3 medium apples, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup medjool dates
2 TBSP raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

In a food processor, puree one apple and the remaining ingredients until smooth. Add the two remaining apples in the food processor and pulse until they break down into small pieces. Do not over blend – you want some apple bits.

Pour the filling onto the prepared crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumble mixture on top. You can enjoy the crisp right away, chill it in the fridge, or warm it in your oven or dehydrator. It is super simple, full of flavour and nutrition – and a great addition to any fall tradition.

Posted in almonds, Canadian Thanksgiving, cashews, Celebrations, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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