Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's for Dessert!?

While my friend and houseguest was whipping up an amazing dinner last night, I was standing around the kitchen feeling useless.  Lately I've been hooked, no that's an understatement, I've been absolutely addicted to playing Zuma on my iPhone.  Me, a grown woman with children, wasting time killing brightly colored balls on a screen.  I'm so embarrassed.  They say the first step to dealing with an addiction is admission.  I've been trying to put it down, so like an ex-smoker having nothing to do with her hands, I was awkwardly standing around the kitchen looking for something to do.


Raw desserts are my specialty.  I've been staying away from them for awhile because they're not exactly low calorie, at all, with all the nuts, oils and agave.  But I thought it was only appropriate to contribute a dessert to a dinner made for me in my home (I have the life - my guests do this for me every night, almost).  I happened to have two young Thai coconuts in the fridge that needed cracking, so I decided on making a coconut vanilla creme to top some fresh berries that I had picked up.

Opening a coconut is a synch when you know what you're doing.  The first time I bought one of these babies I had no idea what I was getting into.  Typically it is found in stores covered entirely by a whitish husk.  It is not edible.  That should be obvious, but it wasn't to me.  It wasn't clear to me how to get inside of it, so I assumed that strange white fiber must actually be the coconut meat.  Yuck!  Start with the pointy part of the husk up - that's the side you'll open.  With a knife, cut off the husk in a circle around the top so it looks like the photo above.  (I know people who can open it with the husk still on, but I haven't mastered that.  I think you need a machete or a huge meat cleaver.  Neither of which I ever thought I'd have a use for in my lifetime.)  

With the back side of a heavy knife, whack the coconut shell on 3-4 sides a few good times.  It will crack in it's own little circle.  I try to make that circle as wide as possible.

Pry open the top.  Be careful because the coconut water will start flowing immediately and you'll want to save every single drop.

The cap of this one popped off with the meat still in tact, so I cut a little hole to pour our the water.

Save the water.  It's so much better than the canned or bottled coconut water.  Once you try this, you'll wince when drinking anything else.  Drink after a tough workout.  It's better than Gatorade or any other sports drink.

Spoon out the meat.  Sometimes this is a synch when the meat is thin and gelatinous.  I think the older the coconut, the more meat and less water it has.  Scrape down the insides with a large spoon and pull out.  I try to remove the darker shell membrane, but I've read that it also has some good nutritional properties and blends into the meat easily.

Put the meat of two coconuts (about two cups) into the Vita Mix.

Slice open a vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the beans.  Smells heavenly.  Add to blender.

Juice lemon or lime.  I prefer lime in this recipe, but I didn't have one last night.  Add two tablespoons of juice to blender.

Add remaining ingredients, 1/4 cup agave, 2 tbsp coconut oil, and 1/4 tsp salt and blend in Vita Mix.  It has to work a bit to get through the coconut meat.  I start low for about a minute and switch to high for 2-3 minutes.

That's it.  Refrigerate until served. 

Then I decided I needed to pour it over more than just a few raspberries so I whipped up a batch of chocolate brownies.  Oops.

Here I put a cup and a half of walnuts in my food processor with about 8 pitted dates, 1/3 cup raw cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp vanilla and a pinch of salt.  Process.  It starts out really chunky, then grainy, then it turns into a big ball of chocolate rolling around the inside of the processor.  Then add a handful of dried cherries and process just enough to chunk them up and distribute within the dough.  Add a bit of water if the dough is too dry for your taste.  You can also add a handful of chopped walnuts to the mix.

I should really state that I have HATED walnuts my entire life.  Still do.  I can't taste them, not one bit in this recipe, which is great because walnuts are one of the few nuts that have an almost perfect ratio of omega 3's to omega 6's.  So in spite of the ridiculously enormous amounts of calories in this recipe, it's still good for you : ) - just eat sparingly. 

Press the dough into a small pan or Tupperware and chill until served.

Cut into squares and serve with a healthy dollop of creme and a bunch of berries.  A small serving is really quite enough - a strange thing for me to say, I know!

Serve and eat with friends.  I'm thinking a glass of red wine will go well with this next time. 

I had to add a photo of my friend cooking for me and the family.  She's got this smile on nearly always and brings so much joy to my kitchen and home.

Here are the recipes in a nutshell:

Brownies from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet
1.5 cups walnuts
dash salt
8 pitted medjool dates
1/3 cup cocoa or carob powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp water
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
Blend in food processor.  Press into pan or dish. 

Coconut Vanilla Creme from Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney
2 cups young coconut meat
1/4 cup agave
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
Blend in Vita Mix.  Chill before serving.

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