Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘pitted dates’

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

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

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 »

 
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