Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Peanut Bites

Date caramel is one of my favorite indulgences.  Throw some dates in a food processor and boom: caramel! Okay, the "boom" may require scraping down the bowl of your food processor repeatedly, but eventually you'll end up with a beautiful, golden, creamy caramel.  This recipe is nothing fancy at all.  I just had a craving for date caramel, but decided to go a step further by dipping it in chocolate.  And with peanuts in the mix, these were reminiscent of Snickers bars.  Awesome.  Nougat-less, homemade vegan Snickers bars are fine with me. :)


Makes 6-7 large pieces 

Caramel Filling
10 large, soft pitted Medjool dates (they should be squishy)
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1-2 tablespoons water (as needed to help with blending)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts 
  1. Blend all the caramel filling ingredients (except the peanuts) in a food processor until smooth. (this will take some time and scraping) 
  2. Transfer the caramel to a bowl and fold in the peanuts. 
  3. Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons), place mounds of the caramel peanut mixture onto a plate or cutting board lined with parchment paper.  Flatten each mound with wet fingers if desired. (the mixture will be sticky)
  4. Place the caramel-peanut mounds in the freezer while you make the chocolate coating.
Chocolate Coating
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder
1-2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar or maple syrup (to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
  1. Blend all the chocolate coating ingredients in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Using a fork, dip the caramel-peanut mounds in the chocolate until completely covered and then place them back on the parchment paper.  Top with chopped peanuts if desired.
  3. Place the chocolates in the freezer to set.  (30 minutes or overnight; uncovered is fine)
I used a cookie scoop to make these, so they were pretty big.  You can probably squeeze out a dozen pieces if you make smaller mounds. For the coating, you can also melt a cup of chocolate chips with a teaspoon of coconut oil over a double boiler instead of following the recipe above. Up to you!

There's no need to thaw these before eating.  They're great straight out of the freezer. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.  But I'm leaning towards good.  :)

Enjoy!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

No-Bake Avocado Lime Tart

As seen in my last post, I'm really digging mini or single-serve desserts. For one thing, it prevents me from eating an entire full-sized cheesecake. (Gasp) And it also lets me try out different recipes without using up a ton of raw organic cashews, which aren't cheap, yo.  In this case, I only had 1/3 cup of cashews on hand anyway, so I could only take the single serve route.  I also wanted to make something to decorate with these beautiful golden raspberries from the farmers' market.  A little baby tart seemed like the perfect backdrop. :)


Makes one 4-inch tart (like one of these)

Crust
1/2 cup raw walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
4 soft pitted Medjool dates
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon water (if needed to help with blending)

Filling
1/3 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for a few hours; drained and rinsed)
Flesh from 1/2 of an avocado
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 to 1 tablespoon water (if needed to help with blending)
Berries or other fresh fruit for garnish (optional)
Hemp seeds for garnish (optional)
  1. Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture blend)
  2. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom and sides of your mini tart pan. Set aside.
  3. Blend the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth.  Add the water to help the mixture blend, if needed. (Depending on your blender's size and power, it may take a while to get the mixture smooth)
  4. Spoon the filling mixture over the crust and smooth out the top.
  5. Place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight until completely set.
  6. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Top with fresh fruit and sprinkle with hemp seeds, if desired. Serve chilled. (If left out at room temperature for too long, it'll soften and melt)

This was so creamy and delicious.  As I mentioned it my last post, the Blendtec Twister Jar is great for blending small batches. However, a good personal blender or mini food processor will also work just fine.

I only added the avocado for creaminess, but now that I'm looking at the beautiful green filling alongside the chocolate crust, I'm thinking vegan grasshopper pie!  So, I think 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract would be a nice addition to the filling mixture.  Basically, it would be my last post, but with avocado used for color instead of spinach. :)  Something to try next time.

Enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

No-Bake Mint Chocolate Cheesecake

I don't know about you, but I love the combination of chocolate and mint. I'll take it in any form...especially in the form of a cheesecake. :)  This recipe is for one mini 4-inch cheesecake (...since I probably shouldn't be left alone with a full-sized one).  If you'd like to make an 8-inch round or square version, you can double or triple the ingredients.  The spinach is only used for color-- you won't be able to taste it at all.  I also made a version using only mint leaves for both color and flavor, but it tasted a little funky. I'm not sure if my mint was bad or if I maybe used too much or too little, but in the end, I went with spinach and peppermint extract.  I never knew cheesecakes could taste so refreshing until now. (and not in a toothpaste kind of way)


Makes one 4-inch cheesecake (like one of these)

Crust
1/2 cup raw walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
4 soft pitted Medjool dates
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon water, if needed
Pinch of salt

Filling
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for a few hours or overnight; drained and rinsed)
1 banana
A handful of baby spinach (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons coconut palm nectar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Pinch of salt
A handful of vegan chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until a sticky mixture forms. (If your dates are dry, add the water to help the mixture blend)
  2. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of your mini cheesecake pan.  Set aside.
  3. Blend the filling ingredients together in a blender until smooth. (Depending on your blender's size and power, it may take a while to get the spinach leaves fully blended)
  4. Pour the filling mixture over the crust.  Sprinkle some chocolate ships over the top of the cheesecake, if using.
  5. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight until completely set.
  6. Let the cheesecake thaw for 15-20 minutes before slicing.  Serve chilled. 
Pretty simple, huh?  I really loved the flavors here.  And the miniature size was great, as it didn't take up too much space in my crowded little freezer. One slice/wedge was also the perfect size for a sweet treat after (or before!) dinner.  I will note that the vibrant green color diminished somewhat in the freezer.  This is likely due to the absence of lemon juice, which would have helped to prevent browning.  In any case, it was still green and tasted good, so who cares!  

This mini-sized recipe would work well with a powerful personal blender (e.g., NutriBullet) since the small amount of filling ingredients may not blend as easily in a full-sized blender (I used a Blendtec Twister jar).  It'll still work, but it might just take some extra scraping to get the spinach fully incorporated. But even if there are a few visible specks of spinach in your cheesecake, it'll still taste great. (think rustic!)

Enjoy! :)