Peanut butter, chocolate breakfast bar with dates and figs

Simple, nutrient dense, no baking, no gluten, no added sugar, no added oil, and covered in chocolate.

Ingredients

1/4 cup whole grain teff
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (I use soy)
1T cocoa powder (I use a Dutch-processed, fair trade brand)
A pinch coarse sea salt
1/4 cup unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter (I use crunchy)
1/4 dried, soft figs, stemmed and finely chopped (I use calimyrna)
1/4 dried, soft dates, pitted and finely chopped (I use medjool)
2T boiling water
1T tapioca flour dissolved in 2T  water
80g dark chocolate (I use a fair trade, organic bar)

Optional: Add a little chili to the chocolate. Double the chocolate for more of a dessert. Use cashew or macadamia nut butter or even sesame seed butter as an alternative to peanuts. Add a tablespoon or two of coconut sugar for a sweeter tooth.

Method

In a small, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, toast the teff on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the water and bring the pan to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and and simmer for about 20 minutes (until the teff is pulling away from the sides of the pan), stirring more frequently at the end).

Add the plant milk and cocoa powder. Stir to combine. Increase heat to medium low. Simmer another 5 minutes. While the teff finishes, add the boiling water to the figs and dates and rehydrate a little. Add the tapioca mixture to the teff slowly, stirring continuously until it thickens. Remove from heat.

Mix the peanut butter in with the dates and figs but leave it marbled rather than fully combined. Pour into a 3″ x 9″ loaf pan and let cool 1 hour to setup.

When the bar has setup, turn out of the pan onto plastic wrap top down. Let stand about 15 minutes. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler, two doubled up pans, etc. When the chocolate has melted, turn the bar over. Spoon the melted chocolate over the bar and spread evenly.

Let stand about 30 minutes at room temperature for the chocolate to firm up. Chill uncovered about an hour. Wrap with plastic and chill until ready to serve (at least a few hours, or overnight).

Vanilla cashew frozen dessert with salted date caramel and pecans

A simple but luxurious dessert.

Ingredients

For the bananas
2 medium frozen bananas (about 1 1/2 cups)
1T cashew butter
1/4t vanilla extract

For the caramel
1/4 cup large, soft dates, pitted and chopped
1/4t vanilla extract
1/4t coarse sea salt
1/4 cup hot water

For garnish
1-2t pecans

Method

Soak the pitted and chopped dates in the hot water with the vanilla and sea salt for about 10 minutes. Puree with the vanilla until smooth. Add the sea salt. Puree the banana with the cashew butter and vanilla. Add one tablespoon of the banana mixture to the caramel and stir to combine. Swirl about 1/2 of the caramel with the bananas and stir a little to marble. Spoon out the remainder into an appropriate glass. Garnish with the remainder of the caramel and pecans and serve.

Blueberry, lemon frozen dessert sweetened with dates

A simple, refreshing treat.

Ingredients

2 cups frozen blueberries
1 medium frozen banana (about 3/4 cups)
1T lemon juice
1/3 to 1/2 cup soft, dried dates, pitted and chopped

Optional: 1t powdered maca root. Add more dates for a sweeter dessert.

Method

Blend the blueberries and lemon first. Add the dates and blend. Then blend in the banana. Blend in the maca if you’ll be using it. Spoon out and enjoy.

Blueberry pie rice paper rolls

A simple treat sweetened with dates, similar to hand pie or blueberry pierogi. This recipe easily doubles.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups blueberries (I use frozen)
1/2T lemon juice
1/2 cup packed soft, dried dates pitted an chopped (I use medjool)
1/2T tapioca flour dissolved in 1/2T cold water
1T milled flax seed
1 – 1 1/2T corn starch (depending on the viscosity of the chilled blueberry mixture)
8 sheets rice paper, 7″ size
4t coconut oil, soft but not melted

Optional: Add a pinch of sea salt, ginger or both to the blueberries if you like. Add a table spoon or so of chopped walnuts to the blueberries if you like. Plant-only shortening will work in place of the coconut oil. Add more dates for a sweeter tooth. For more of the standard ‘sugar’ experience with pie, add a tablespoon or so of coconut sugar or dust the final rolls with a little organic powdered sugar, etc. Eat them unbaked for a chewier but quicker treat. A little vanilla frozen dessert also goes well with these.

Method

Warm a wide-bottomed pan on medium heat. Add 1/2 cup blueberries and lemon juice. Heat about 5 minutes, or until the blueberry juice is beginning to thicken. Mash a little if necessary. Pour off the juice and about half of the blueberries into the dates. Puree as smooth as you can. Add the date mixture to the pan. Return to a light simmer.

Add the remaining blueberries. Warm until heated through (about 2 minutes). Stirring constantly, add the tapioca mixture and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes to cool uncovered. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

When the blueberries have setup, add the flax, then the cornstarch and mix until even. Add warm water to a large frying pan on low heat. Add a sheet of rice paper. Remove the sheet when soft and transparent (a few seconds up to 30 seconds depending on the temperature of the water). Don’t overcook.

Working quickly, lay the sheet on a clean dry surface, and then wrap as you would a burrito. Add 1/4 blueberry mixture to the horizontal middle of the rice paper, toward the vertical bottom. Fold the bottom up over the filing, fold in the sides and roll up. Spread 1/2t coconut oil evenly over the top of the roll. Set aside.

Add a second sheet of rice paper to the water.For the second sheet, place the first roll in the middle and wrap carefully (so that the first roll is now wrapped with two sheets of rice paper). I hold the second sheet in my palm, but a board will also do. Spread 1/2t coconut oil evenly over the top of the roll when wrapped. Repeat until you’ve used up the blueberries.

While the rolls dry a little, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake on a nonstick or lightly oiled baking sheet for 10 minutes on a lower rack. Move to a higher rack and broil for 5 – 10 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and crispy. Ovens vary; use the colour as a guide. Remove from heat, let stand a few minutes to cool and then enjoy them crispy or let them cool longer to soften the texture.

Note, you can wrap two ways: with the bluer (“the top”) side face up or down. Top up will lead to a more even roll. Top down will make for a nicer presentation. Whichever you choose, it’s important to roll evenly and gently using a rice paper sheet without holes or tears to ensure your rolls don’t leak. Expect your rolls to stick a little as you handle them. Go slowly and gently!

Coconut milk, white miso panna cotta with blueberries and marmalade candied walnuts

For the panna cotta:
1, 14 ounce can of coconut milk (unsweetened)
1T (heaping) of white miso
1/4 cup of sugar
1T of agar flakes

I added 1t of lemon juice to mine, but be careful with this. Lemon and lime are hard on the agar’s chemistry.

Bring the coconut milk to a light boil on medium heat
Add the sugar and the miso.
Stir until dissolved (I used an immersion blender).
Add the agar, whisking as you do.
Turn down the pain to medium low.
Let it simmer very lightly for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently until the agar is well dissolved.
Let stand 10 minutes to cool.
Sweeten to taste (it shouldn’t be overly sweet).
Pour into ramekins and cover.
Chill for about 2-4 hours to setup (depending on how cold you keep your refrigerator).

For a simple, non-flambe version of the blueberries:
1 cup of blueberries
1 pinch of sea salt
2-3T of agave nectar (to taste)
1T of water
2t of arrowroot powder

Heat the berries on medium with the salt and 2T of agave nectar in a pan with a lid.
Simmer for 5-10 minutes once they start to release their juices and you have about 1/4 cup of liquid.
Add 1T of water to the pan if the blueberries if you need additional moisture.
Whisk the arrowroot with the water.
Add the arrowroot to the pan to thicken, stirring constantly.
Let the mix stand for 15 to cool.
Add additional agave nectar if you don’t find it sweet enough.
You can then chill it if you prefer you berries cold.

For the walnuts
1/4 cup of walnuts (large pieces preferred)
1T of marmalade (I use seville)
1t of plant-only margarine
1 pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375F
Mix the marmalade, margarine and sea salt.
Mix in the walnuts, coating thoroughly.
Add the walnuts evenly to a lightly greased pan.
Oven roast for about 10 minutes (give or take) until the walnuts are shiny and lightly browned.
Spoon out and let air dry for about 10 minutes.

You could also add ginger or fresh zest to this, but I didn’t have any handy.

 

 

Whiskey, triple sec and fleur de sel salted butterscotch

(Plated here with a chocolate cashew and white miso frozen dessert, dark cherries in agave and a little coconut oil, and a ‘cup’ of melted bittersweet, fair trade chocolate).

1T of coconut oil
1T of agave nectar
3/4 cup of whiskey* (scotch is traditional)
1/4 cup of triple sec*
1t of black strap molasses
1t of lemon juice
1/2 cup of unsweetened soy milk
1t of corn starch dissolved with 2t of water
1 good pinch of fleur de sel

In a pot with a lid, warm the coconut oil and add the agave for 3 minutes.
Add the whiskey, triple sec and lemon juice.
Bring to a light boil and let simmer for 2 minutes.
CAREFULLY light the pan (this produces a lot of fire).
Let the alcohol burn off, and use the pot lid to put the fire out if necessary.
Simmer on low until reduced to syrup (about 1/4 cup).
Add the soy milk and molasses.
Simmer on low until reduced to about 1/2 cup.
Add the dissolved corn starch, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens.
Add fleur de sel to taste.

If your soymilk curdles or separate, reduce and then puree before thickening with corn starch.

*It’s rare, but not all whiskey or triple sec is produced without using animal products at various stages of production.

Lemon, coconut milk panna cotta with blueberries and a chocolate, teff brownie crust

Teff is a versatile, nutrient dense cereal grass commonly used in Ethiopian cuisine. If you’ve had injera, you’ve likely had some teff; cooked as a whole grain, it’s also an easy to prepare and flexible alternative to corn meal in many savory, polenta style recipes.

In this application, the grain is cooked whole to give it a soft, chewy cake-like texture. Along with the cocoa powder, the white miso, and the blueberries, it provides a rich but not too sinful dessert. No baking required.

Ingredients

For the teff brownie:
1/4 cup of teff
1 cup of water
3T of cocoa powder
3T of agave nectar
2t of black strap molasses
2T of coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

For the panna cotta:
1 1/2 cups of coconut milk*
1T of white miso
1T of lemon juice
1T of agar flakes
3T of agave nectar
Pinch of sea salt

For the blueberries:
2 cups of blueberries
2t of lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup of sugar
1T of arrowroot powder dissolved in 1T of cool water***

Instructions

Prepare the teff, the panna cotta and the blueberries in that order.

For the teff, in a pan with a lid, bring 1 cup of water to a boil.
Add a pinch of sea salt, the teff, and the coconut oil.
Reduce to very low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat, add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine.
Spoon the teff out into a 6″ pie plate (or similar) to cool and smooth with the back of a spoon.
It will be a little gooey and sticky at this point still — that’s expected.
Refrigerate uncovered while you make the panna cotta.

For the panna cotta, bring the coconut milk to a light boil (you won’t need a lid).
Add all of the ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine.
Simmer lightly for 15 – 20 minutes to dissolve the agar.
Aim to reduce the liquid to one heaping cup.
Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.
Pour over the brownie and return to the refrigerator uncovered.

For the blueberries, warm a pan on medium heat.
Add half of the blueberries, lemon juice and sea salt, and stir to combine.
If the blueberries are slow to start, or don’t produce much moisture, add 1 to 2T of water to the pan.
Once the blueberries have started to lose their moisture, add the sugar.
Stir to combine, and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the remaining blueberries and cook for another 5 minutes.
Whisk the arrowroot with the water.
Add the mixture to the blueberries slowly, stirring continuously until thickened.
The blueberries should be quick thick.
Let stand to cool 5 minutes.
Pour the blueberries over the panna cotta.
Refrigerate for about 15 minutes uncovered.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

*To reduce the amount of fat from the coconut milk substitute a cup of unsweetened soy milk. The result will be lighter but not quite as rich.

**Although manufacturing processes are changing, some commercial table sugars are still filtered/bleached using animal bone charcoal. As a rule, organic sugar, beet sugar and a number of other types are not filtered using this kind of a process at all. Agave and other liquid sweeteners also provide substitutes, although you may need more thickening agent in this recipe.

***You can use corn starch in place of arrowroot powder if that’s what you have on hand. Add the mixture slowly and no need to add the whole amount if you don’t need it.

Chai panna cotta with warm marmalade custard

The chai and marmalade give this simple, no-bake dessert a rich set of complementary flavors.

Ingredients

2 cups of coconut milk, 1/2 cup reserved
2T of agave nectar
1T of white miso
1T of agar
4 bags of chai tea*
1/2t of cinnamon
1/4t of cloves
Additional agave to taste
3T of marmalade (I use a seville marmalade)**
1t of arrowroot powder whisked with 2t of water

For the panna cotta, bring the coconut milk to a light boil (you won’t need a lid).
Add the coconut milk, miso, agar, agave, cloves and cinnamon.
Stir thoroughly to combine.
Add the tea bags.
Simmer lightly for 15 – 20 minutes to dissolve the agar.
Aim to reduce the liquid to around one heaping cup.
Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.
Remove and gently squeeze the tea bags.
Stir, and pour into two ramekins and cool uncovered for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
Cover and chill at least 4 hours to setup.

When ready to serve, heat the 1/2 cup of coconut milk on medium in a small sauce pan.
Reduce by about 1/3.
Turn out the panna cotta from the ramekins carefully.
Add the marmalade.
Stir until dissolved.
Whisk the arrowroot with water.
Add slowly to the marmalade mixture, stirring continuously until thickened.
Spoon the custard over the panna cotta.

*The quality of the tea is what makes this dish. Choose one you like with a good balance of spices.

**If you don’t keep marmalade on hand, a little vanilla extract (1t) and some agave nectar (2T) will give you a nice vanilla custard instead. In that case, use 2t of arrowroot to compensate for the other binders in the marmalade. And just a reminder that some sugar is bleached using animal bone charcoal. Organic sugar is typically unbleached.

Raspberry Cobbler

There are lots of variations on cobbler topping, ranging from a doughy, cake-like topping to a something more like an upside-down pie with a flaky crust. This is a simple, rustic and easy to prepare version with lots of room for modifications. This version is also berry-heavy. You can safely change the berry to topping ratio to suit yourself (just remember this will change the cooking time).

For the berries:

6 cups of raspberries
2T of lemon juice
1/4 cup of corn starch*
2 cups of sugar*
A pinch of sea salt

1 cup of whole wheat flour
2t of baking powder
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup of plant-only margarine (or 2-3T of coconut oil)
A pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375F
Toss the berries in the lemon juice.
Add the salt, sugar and corn starch and stir thoroughly to combine.
Mix the dry ingredients.
With a fork, cut the margarine into the flour (or you can put pats of the margarine onto the batter once you’ve poured it — this is a pretty traditional way of doing it).
Add the liquid ingredients and stir to combine.
Put the berries in a baking dish with a lid (a large one in this case, so that you have at least a inch between the berries and the top of the dish).
Pour the batter over the raspberries in an even layer (but don’t worry too much about it — cobbler is a rustic dessert).
Bake covered for about 30 minutes.
Bake uncovered for about another 30-40 minutes until the topping has browned lightly and is cake-like.

*Adjust the amount of sugar to your taste and to the ripeness/sweetness your berries. Some white table sugars are still filtered using animal bone charcoal. Organic, sugar beet, sugar, agave nectar and other substitutes. When the raspberries are particularly ripe, I often replace some of the sugar with dates and dried figs to sweeten the cobbler. If you use other berries, like blueberries, you’ll need a little more cornstarch but a little less sugar.

Apple crumble with whiskey and white miso

The whiskey adds nuanced sweetness and the white miso, a little salt and extra depth of flavour to this simple, seasonal dessert.

Ingredients

For the apples
4 large apples, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
1/3 cup of hard wheat flour
1T of lemon juice
1T of white miso (use a sweet style)
1t of dried ground cinnamon
1/4t of dried ground cloves
1T of coconut oil
1/4 cup of sugar*
3T of whiskey*
A pinch of sea salt

For the streusel

1 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup of hard wheat flour
3/4 cup of sugar*
1/3 of a cup of coconut oil
A pinch of sea salt

Directions

Preheat the over to 350F.
Blend the liquid ingredients and the spices for the apples.
Toss the sliced apples in the flour.
Add the mixture to the apples and flour.
Toss until the apple are well coated.
Blend the ingredients for the streusel until coarse.
Add the apple mixture to a 9″ pie plate.
Distribute the streusel evenly over the apples.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the streusul is starting to brown lightly and the apples are turning golden.
Let cool for 1 hour and serve warm or refrigerate.

*It’s rare, but some whiskeys are still made with the use of animal products. Cane sugar is also bleached in some cases with animal bone charcoal. Agave nectar makes a reasonable substitute for the whiskey (use 1T). A growing number of table sugars are not refined using animal bone charcoal; organic sugar and beet sugar typically are not.