Food – Rah Rah – Raw Desserts!

Your foray into the tasty genre of raw desserts may begin as a fluke, as one lady learned as she was preparing to host a dinner. The morning of this event, her oven and stove malfunctioned.

While she was able to prepare dinner on the grill, dessert posed a problem. Instead of making a peach-blueberry crumble, she decided to marinate peaches in fresh orange juice and serve them with a sprinkle of sweetened nuts and a dollop of cashew crème, made by blending cashews with maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt in her Vita-mix blending machine.

From this experience she learned that raw desserts, often defined as food prepared with whole-food ingredients in their natural state (nothing is heated above 118°F, to preserve nutritional value), can be just as delicious and elegant as traditional desserts—and they can be a lot better health-wise.

“When it comes to ingredients in the raw desserts repertoire, nuts take center stage. Typically ground in a food processor to create crusts for cookies, cakes and bars, they are also blended to form a base for ice creams, puddings and creams, giving them that smooth, buttery consistency often found in dairy-based desserts.

“Other mainstay ingredients are coconut oil, coconut butter (a creamy paste made from dried, ground coconut meat) and nut butters. For sweetness, unrefined favorites include fresh fruit purées, raisins, Medjool dates, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, stevia and maple syrup. The boiled sap of maple trees, while technically not “raw,” is often used because it is minimally processed; contains manganese, zinc and other minerals; and has a distinct, irreplaceable flavor.

“Any style of dessert, whether raw or cooked, wouldn’t be complete without chocolate. Whole-food forms of chocolate include cacao nibs, cacao butter and cacao powder.” Carob chips or carob powder may be used in raw recipes as a chocolate substitute.

“The technique of making raw desserts is fairly easy. Ingredients quickly come together in a food processor or high–speed blender, and are then set aside in the fridge or freezer.” Since nothing is baked, it is the great flavor of the natural ingredients that makes these healthful treats taste delicious. The Costco Connection, August 2015, E-Commerce & Publishing, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Seattle, Washington.

Raspberry–Vanilla “Ice Cream” Sandwiches
2 cups cashews 2 pinches salt
2 cups water 2 ½ Tbsp. melted coconut oil
½ cup maple syrup 1 ½ tsp. ground cardamom
1 ½ Tbsp. vanilla extract 2 cups raspberries, lightly mashed
Seeds of one vanilla bean
Brownie Crust
2 cups almonds 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Medjool dates 2/3 cup walnuts
1 ½ cups raisins 2 pinches salt
½ cup carob powder 1 ½ tsp. water
Prepare the “ice cream”: In a high speed blender, blend the cashews, water, maple syrup, vanilla extract and scraped insides of the vanilla bean until completely smooth. Add the salt and coconut oil and blend to incorporate. Chill the liquid in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours. Process the chilled, thick cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prepare the brownies: Grind the almonds into flour in a food processor. Add the dates and raisins. Process until they are completely broken down. Add the remaining ingredients and process to combine. Press half of the dough into an 8–inch–square pan. Set aside remaining dough and refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the sandwiches: Once the “ice cream” is done churning (the consistency will be like soft-serve ice cream), mix in the cardamom. Then, gently mix in the raspberries, taking care not to overmix or the berries’ color will bleed. Spread the “ice cream” evenly over the brownie, working quickly to prevent melting. Immediately transfer to the freezer until frozen, at least 6 hours. Once frozen, firmly press the other half of the brownie dough on top. Cut into 1 ½ x 2 ½-inch bars. Store in freezer until ready to enjoy. Makes 15 servings.