Saturday, June 30, 2012

Raw Double Raspberry Lemon Dream Cake



My alarm clock went off, and I was all motivated to get my butt out the door and get a run in before the heat of the day hit.  Little did I know, it already had.  I laced up my shoes, and headed out the door and half way down the street I knew the 10 miles would be a struggle.  The sun shined brightly in the sky as if it were taunting me  "Look at you trying to run in this heat...crazy girl."  And yet, I was driven to keep going.  Half way through although feeling misreable and like I had ran through a sprinkler (and I hadn't), the sweat flipped off me in little drops.  "You got this Amy..." I told myself.  When I want to get something done, I get it done and this run was no exception.  Besides...there are people out there who I knew were running longer distances than me that day and they would get it done as well.  To distract myself, I started thinking about what sort of desserts I could make later. 


 
Yes, this always puts me in my happy place.  I had a large amount of glorious local raspberries both red and black and I wanted to make something beautiful and delicious with them.  I was thinking either ice cream, parfait, or raw cheesecake because I was not about to heat up my house with oven usage. I decided on the cheesecake because I was feeling a little more decadent. 


I know...I am a bit addicted to these raw cheesecakes lately, but seriously if you make one and enjoy some then you will be too!  The truth is I crave them.   Their sweet creamy consistency, the flavor of the nut crust and whatever fruit I decide to use in the filling...it is quite magical to me!  

 
Dreaming about this luscious cake sure made the rest of my 10 miles easier.  Once I completed my run, and was thankful that I did, because these are the days that build character.  Not the easy ones.  Did I ever feel like I deserved that cheesecake!  So once I had cooled down and was sipping some ice water, I got to work! 
 
 
The berries made the cheesecake filling the most beautiful hues of purple and pink.  I flavored it with a bit of lemon as well to balance out the sweetness with some tart.  It was cool, creamy, and the perfect dessert for summer in my opinion.  I almost forgot how hot it was outside. 



Raw Double Raspberry Lemon Dream Cake
Makes one 6 inch cake


Crust:
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped

 
Filling:
2 3/4 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight)
1/4 cup coconut water (or filtered water)
1 Tbsp organic lemon zest
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
1 cup fresh organic black raspberries

1 cup fresh organic red raspberries
 
Raspberry Purees:
1/4 cup organic red raspberries
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup organic black raspberries
1 Tbsp agave nectar
 
Cream Topping:
3/4 cup raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/2 cup coconut water
3/4 cup fresh young coconut meat* (or additional soaked cashews if not available)
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and seeds of half a vanilla bean (reserved from filling)
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

fresh red and black organic raspberries for garnish 

Lightly coat a 6 inch spring form removable bottom pans with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process hazelnuts and sea salt in a food processor until the hazelnuts  are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Firmly press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set aside.
To make the filling, drain the cashews and combine them with coconut water, lemon juice, agave nectar, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove the filling from the food processor, and divide evenly between 2 bowls. Place half back into the food processor and add one cup of red raspberries. Puree until smooth and scrape back in the bowl. Add the other half of the filling to the food processor and add one cup of black raspberries, and puree until smooth.

For the raspberry purees, using an immersion blender (or you can rinse out the food processor) combine the 1/4 cup red berries and 1 Tbsp agave nectar and puree until smooth.  Set aside and repeat with the black raspberries and remaining Tbsp agave nectar.

To assemble the cheesecake, drop the filling alternating between the red and black raspberry in about 1 tbspful amounts over crust in the pan, until all is used up, sort of in a checkerboard fashion. Tap on the counter to level (keeping pan level). Drop some of the purees in half teaspoonful amounts over the top of the cake (reserving some for serving) and swirl with a knife to create marbling. Place in the freezer until it is set, 4 to 6 hours, then once set store in the fridge.   


To make topping, drain cashews and blend all ingredients until smooth in a food processor, and set in the freezer about 30 minutes until a frosting consistency. Place in a pastry bag and pipe decoratively around the top of the cheesecake. Garnish with fresh raspberries.  Store leftover cake in the fridge. 

Little Raw Strawberries and Cream Streusel Topped Cheesecakes

 



Creamy Cheesecake, fresh sweet organic strawberries, and a streusel topping...it all sounded like a match made in heaven to me as I thought about it as I was trying to fall asleep.  You know that time when you are supposed to be falling into dream land, but instead wide awake dreaming up fabulous ideas for new things to make?  Well, that is how my mind works at least.  


I guess that is what I get for going on Pintrest before bed and seeing some delicious strawberry cheesecake bars with a streusel topping. I love cheesecake, and I love anything streusel topped! Unfortunately the recipe was far from vegan or healthy...but I knew I could make my own dessert with the same appeal, only healthier. 


I have been addicted to cheesecake lately, so why not one with a strawberry layer and a creamy vanilla layer and sweet fresh organic strawberries in between?  Better yet, set it on a pecan crust and top it off with a crunchy streusel laced with coconut and more pecans.  Perfection, creamy, crunchy and sweet!


 
I had to admit I had a hard time sleeping while I was dreaming about all of this deliciousness I would make the next day!  But it was worth the wait. 
 


Little Raw Strawberries and Cream Streusel Topped Cheesecakes
Makes four 4 inch cakes

Crust:
1 1/2 cups raw pecans
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped
 
Topping:
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried coconut
2 tsp agave nectar
Filling:
2 3/4 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight)
1/2 cup filtered water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp raw coconut nectar or the raw sweetener of your choice
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
1 cup fresh organic strawberries
1 cup fresh sliced organic strawberries

Lightly coat four 4 inch spring form removable bottom pans with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process pecans and sea salt in a food processor until the pecans are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Divide the mixture in two and firmly press half of the crust mixture into the bottoms of the prepared pans. Set aside.  Combine the remaining mixture with 1/4 cup chopped pecans, coconut and agave nectar, and set aside for the streusel.
To make filling, drain cashews and combine them with coconut water, lemon juice, nectar, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove the filling from the food processor, and divide evenly between 2 bowls. Place half back into the food processor and add 1 cup strawberries. Puree until smooth and scrape back in the bowl.

To assemble the cheesecake, pour vanilla filling over crusts in pans, and top with sliced strawberries.  Pour strawberry filling over, then top with reserved streusel, pressing down slightly.  Place in the freezer until it is set, 4-5 hours.  When set, keep refrigerated until ready to serve, or to store.  



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Breeze Martini



I was over at Como Conservatory last week and I decided to take a stroll out to the Japanese garden.  As I walked along the path all I could hear was the sound of the water as it flowed through the stream, and a few birds singing to each other in the trees.  I was enjoying the peacefulness of it all, and I could not help but notice how fragrant the air was.  Although it was a hot day, it smelled of fragrant flowers and herbs.  Thanks in part to the lovely flowering bushes along the path and the aromatic thyme carpet that covered part of the ground.  I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be to have such a place in my own back yard.  




Unfortunately, my own back yard is not so picturesque, but I am happy to have other lovely places to visit.  I decided that a martini was in order yesterday.  I had just had a root canal, and although the root canal itself was not that bad, the shock of the price of it was certainly a big ouch.  




I like to think of pleasant things when the unpleasantness hits like that, so instead of being upset, I decided that I would rather think about the fragrant air and the peacefulness of the garden last weekend when I was making my drink.  I thought it ought to be as aromatic, beautiful and calming as the experience I had had.  




I chose aquavit for a base, as it is so aromatic, and combined it with St. Germain, lavender, lemon and a touch of honey!  I coated part of the rim with lavender as well so I could take in the heavenly aroma as I sipped it.  It was as fragrant as a summer breeze in the garden, and so refreshing!  



Summer Breeze Martini
(Aquavit with Elderflower, Lemon, Lavender and a touch of Honey)
Makes 1

6 ice cubes
4 oz Aquavit
1 oz lemon juice
2 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur 
1 1/2 oz honey lavender syrup*
lavender flowers for garnish (optional)


In a martini shaker add the ice, aquavit, lemon juice, St. Germain, and honey lavender syrup, and place top on shaker. Shake until well blended. Remove glass from freezer and pour the drink into the glass through a strainer, and serve!



*Honey Lavender Syrup:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup local honey
2 Tbsp dried lavander
Heat water until boiling, remove from heat and whisk in agave nectar and lavander, until nectar is dissolved. Chill well before using in drinks.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nectarine and Strawberry Carpaccio with Almond "Chevre"



Sitting in the sunshine on the patio of a cafe with a gentle breeze blowing, sipping cool wine.  Now, that is my idea of a perfect summer evening.  I sit and inhale the aroma of the herbs growing in the pots next to me, and quietly watch the people walking down the street.  The pedal pub rolls by and the people on it are laughing loudly.  Many couples are out for their evening walks or jogs.  I see a girl in a white dress across the street, twirling, and dancing looking like she is having a wonderful time.  Summer is here!


I like to enjoy as much fruit as I can during the summer months, in any form, desserts, drinks, and salads.  This weekend I decided that a carpaccio salad featuring fresh fruit would be lovely! 


I wanted something rich to go along with it, and goat cheese sounded wonderful.  But I am trying to stay away from so much dairy, so I decided to make some out of almonds instead.  It was amazing...so creamy, maybe even better than the real thing, and it complimented the fresh fruit wonderfully!


A drizzle of balsamic syrup, and sprinkle of fresh basil from my herb pot and it was all a quite delicious cobination.  Too bad the people watching in my neighborhood isn't as good as at the cafe.


Nectarine and Strawberry Carpaccio with Almond "Chevre", Basil and Balsamic Syrup
Serves 2

Almond "Chevre":
1/2 cup ground raw almonds*
2 Tbsp organic lemon juice
1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1-2 Tbsp filtered water

1 large ripe organic nectarine, thinly sliced
6-8 ripe organic strawberries, thinly sliced
a few fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
balsamic syrup**

To make almond chevre, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and of chevre consistency. 
Arrange strawberries and almonds on two plates, overlapping the fruits in a pretty pattern.  Place some of the almond chevre on each plate, sprinkle each with the basil, and drizzle each with a little of the balsamic syrup.  Serve! 
*To make ground raw almonds, put almonds in the food processor and process to almond meal consistency.
**You can buy balsamic syrup at a specialty store or make it at home.  To make balsamic syrup, place 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan and bring to a simmmer.  Simmer until balsamic is reduced to 1/4 cup or less and is a syrupy consistency, about 20-30 minutes.  Keep a close eye because it could burn if it gets too reduced. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Little Raw Vegan Peach Raspberry Dream Cakes


I recently came across a quote...
"Life is like a camera, just focus on what's important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives,  and if things don't work out, just take another shot."
I find this to be so true, and lately I have been trying to focus on the positives.  Life is to short to spend dwelling on the past  failures and mistakes we have made.  Why not celebrate the successes?  I see far too many people who are miserable who could be happy if they only let go of the past, and stopped worrying.  I may day dream a lot, and act my shoe size instead of my age sometimes, but at least I am happy and having fun!  Being around the people I love, making fabulous desserts, going for a long run all by myself...these things bring me joy!  



As far as the fabulous desserts go...I recently decided to make peach raspberry raw vegan cheesecake and it made me pretty happy.  I didn't just make one large one however, I decided that I needed to share the happiness and made four mini ones.  After all, who doesn't love cute little mini desserts?



Plus, I had just received the mini pans in the mail after waiting about a week for them to come and wanted to put them  to good use right away!  




The filling was to sit atop a crunchy pecan crust.  I made my usual cashew base because it is so creamy and decadent nobody ever misses the dairy.  I blended half with peaches and half with raspberries to create two pastel beautifully colored fillings to swirl together, along with a raspberry puree!  




They were adorable!  I was wondering why I didn't order these cute little pans sooner!  More importantly though, they were delicious, and just the type of dessert where I sit and enjoy, basking in the deliciousness and forgetting about all the negatives of the day.  Those I shared with enjoyed as well, and making other people happy makes me happy.




Little Raw Vegan Peach Raspberry Dream Cakes
Makes four 4 inch cakes


Crust:
3/4 cup pecans
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped



Filling:
2 3/4 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight)
1/2 cup coconut water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
1 cup fresh organic peaches, diced
1 cup fresh organic raspberries

Raspberry Puree:
1/4 cup organic raspberries
1 Tbsp agave nectar

Cream Topping:
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/2 cup coconut water
3/4 cup fresh young coconut meat* (or additional soaked cashews if not available)
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla and seeds of half a vanilla bean (the other half of the one you used for the filling)
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

Sliced organic peaches for garnish


Lightly coat four 4 inch spring form removable bottom pans with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process pecans and sea salt in a food processor until the pecans are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Firmly press crust into the bottoms of  the prepared pans. Set aside.


To make filling, drain cashews and combine them with coconut water, lemon juice, agave nectar, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove the filling from the food processor, and divide evenly between 2 bowls. Place half back into the food processor and add peaches. Puree until smooth and scrape back in the bowl. Add the other half of the filling to the food processor and add 1 cup raspberries, and puree until smooth.  


For the raspberry puree, using an immersion blender (or you can rinse out the food processor) combine the 1/4 cup berries and 1 Tbsp agave nectar and puree until smooth. 


To assemble the cheesecake, drop the filling alternating between the peach and raspberry in about 1 tbspful amounts over crusts in pans, until all is used up, sort of in a checkerboard fashion. Tap on the counter to level (keeping pan level). Drop some of the puree in half teaspoonful amounts over the top of the cakes (reserving some for serving) and swirl with a knife to create marbling. Place in the freezer or fridge until it is set, 4 hours or overnight (overnight in the fridge, but the freezer might get too hard after a few hours).

To make topping, drain cashews and blend all ingredients until smooth in a food processor, and set in the freezer about 30 minutes until a frosting consistency. Place in a pastry bag and pipe decoratively around the bottom of the cheesecake.  Garnish with peach slices.



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raw Tomato Basil "Ricotta" Tart


Happy first day of summer!  Although, to me it is already summer with the weather we have been having.  As far as I am concerned once June hits, it is summer.  But now that it is official, I thought I would celebrate by making a tomato tart. 


To me, tomatoes are the essence of summer.  My Grandpa has been growing a large garden of just tomatoes and cucumbers for as long as I can remember.  Every week, he gives me a large bag of each, and I live off of tomatoes and cucumbers for lunch.  I love it! There is nothing like biting into a ripe tomato unadorned and straight from the garden!  The flavor is so intense, not like the tomatoes you buy at the store being flown in from elsewhere.


They taste of summer, top them off with fresh basil from the garden and even better! Which is why I thought  a tart featuring them would be lovely!  I didn't want to heat up my oven, and so I decided to make a raw tart.  I have recently been reading Ani's Raw Food Essentials by Ani Phyo, and I wanted to try her pizza crust.  Although it was going to be a tart crust here, not a pizza crust.  It worked beautifully as the tart crust though, and was delicious! 


I then filled it with a rich raw almond "ricotta", and topped it off with those fresh tomatoes, basil and a sprinkle of fleur de sel!  It was delcious, and tasted of summer!  I am looking forward to a summer filled with lots of tomatoes fresh from the garden! 


Raw Tomato Basil "Ricotta" Tart
(Crust adapted from recipe by Ani Phyo)
Serves 2-3

Crust:
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup ground flax
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 small clove garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp water

Cheese:
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp water

One large organic tomato, thinly sliced
A few fresh organic basil leaves cut into chiffonade
fleur de sel

To make crust, combine sunflower seeds, flax, garlic, sea salt and oregano in a food processor and process until finely ground.  Add olive oil and pulse to blend.  Add 1 Tbsp water, and if mixture stays together when sweezed it is ready to use, if not, add another Tbsp water (but not too much because you don't want it too sticky).  Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a removable bottom tart pan and set aside. 
To make the filling, combine the almonds, garlic, sea salt, lemon juice and water in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scoop the mixture into the prepared crust, and smooth out the top.  Place in the fridge to set, about an hour.  Remove the tart from the pan and transfer to a serving plate.  Arrange the tomatoes decoratively on the top, and top with the fresh basil and a sprinkle of fleur de sel.  Serve!



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Maple Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches



Peanut butter always makes me happy.  If I could I would take down a whole jar...but that would be a whole lot of calories and a bit gluttonous so I refrain.  I do have to have a little bit every day because I crave it the way some people crave chips or chocolate.  You can have those, but leave me my peanut butter and I  will be a happy girl.  I realized that it had been far too long since I have made peanut butter cookies last weekend so I decided to whip up a batch. 


However, I love peanut butter and maple together so I wanted to make them maple peanut butter cookies.  If you have not tried this combination, you should, it is absolutely divine.  Especially with coffee!  I decided to make them gluten free as well, using quinoa flour because its nutty quality goes well with the peanuts, and almond flour because it gives such a wonderful texture to baked goods.


Honestly, when I was mixing the dough, it was a bit of an experiment because I was playing with an old vegan peanut butter cookie recipe I had used in the past.  Totally changing it and hoping for the best results.  Lucky me, because they turned out amazing and I can honestly say that they were the best peanut butter cookies I have ever made. 


I didn't stop there with them however....I decided that they needed to be sandwiched together with maple peanut butter ice cream!  I always have some of it in my freezer, as it is my favorite flavor.  The ice cream sandwiches were seriously amazing!  Luckilly I didn't eat them all last weekend or give the rest away, as it is 90 degrees this week and I feel like they are just the treat I need! 


Maple Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches
makes about 12

Cookies:
1 cups almond flour
1 cup quinoa flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup smooth organic peanut butter
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp maple extract
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Peanut Butter Ice Cream:
1 1/2 cups organic full fat coconut milk, chilled
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup smooth organic peanut butter (no sugar added)
1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

For the cookies, Mix together flours, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla and maple extracts.  Whisk the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture until well blended, and stir in the peanuts.  Chill mixture until firm, about an hour in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchent.   Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on the baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with a fork and bake for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned and set.  Let cool completely. 

For peanut butter ice cream, combine all ingredients in a blender, and process until well blended. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to package directions (mine takes about an hour, and is still a little soupy like the consistency of a malt, but firms up in the freezer later). Once done freezing, pour into a container with a lid and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or over night to firm up. 

To assemble ice cream sandwiches, scoop about 2 Tbsp of ice cream onto a cookie and flatten down slightly (be careful because the cookies can be delicate if the ice cream is hard.  If it is too hard, let it sit out a little while before you do this step).  Top with another cookie and press down.  Repeat with remaining cookies. 





Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strawberries and Cream Cake



First off I want to say Happy Father's Day to my wonderful Dad!  He was always the fun parent, the one that would let me eat ice cream before bed, make up funny songs and go on road trips across the country with me. 


But he was also there to support me, cheering for me at my races, helping me with building projects for school or lending me camera equipment.


He may not have been the best cook or baker when I was a kid, but I still enjoyed his PB&J sandwiches and blueberry muffins even if they did come from a box...hey, at least he tried to bake.  Now, I guess it is just better if I bake and share with him.  Monster Cookies are his favorite!  Even if he can't bake, I love him very much!


This weekend I decided to make a strawberries and cream cake.  I don't know why, but strawberries always remind me of my Dad.  Probably because he always bought fresh strawberry pie during the summer, and always had strawberry jam (where as my Mom always bought raspberry).  


It was sort of like strawberry shortcake in cake form with more cream.  I wanted it to be a simple two layer cake.  The cake was to be vanilla scented and fragrant from the almond and coconut flours I had used in the batter. 


It also needed to have plenty of billowy, fluffy cloud like coconut cream and sweet fresh strawberries to tuck inside and cover the top.  It turned out exactly like I pictured, and it was lovely!  Happy Father's Day to all of you dads, I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!


Vegan Strawberries and Cream Cake
Makes 1 6 inch 2 layer cake

6 inch cake pan

Cake:
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp coconut flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup maple sugar or granulated sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup lite organic coconut milk or almond milk
1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Coconut Cream Frosting:
2 cans coconut milk, well chilled (just the top part of the can, the thick part.  Reserve the water for another use)
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sliced fresh organic strawberries

For the cake, a six-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with parchment paper. Coat parchment paper and pan sides with nonstick spray. Whisk almond flour, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk oil, milk, and vanilla extract, together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in cider vinegar and stir quickly. Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. Cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto platter; peel off parchment paper. Let cool completely, then place in the fridge to chill until very cold to make slicing easier (so it doesn't crumble). When chilled, slice cake horizontally in half so that you have 2 layers.
To make frosting, chill a bowl and beaters and place coconut milk in chilled bowl.  Whip until fluffy and the consistency of whipped cream and beat in agave nectar and vanilla.
To assemble cake, place one layer on a plate, and top with about 1/4 cup coconut cream frosting. Spread out over cake layer to the edge. Top with strawberry slices to cover, then another cake layer.  Then place top layer over the berries and spread remaining frosting over top and sides, smoothing out as you go. Top the cake with the rest of the berries.





Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vegan Red Velvet Pancakes with Coconut Cream and Berries



Earlier this week in the deli where I work, an adorable little girl in a pink dress was peering into the salad case.  She got a big smile on her face, started clapping and yelled "Yay!!!"  I couldn't imagine what a five year old would be so excited about in the salad case...but then her Mother, who was standing behind her said "She is exited about the beet salad.  She loves beets."  It was about the cutest thing ever.  A child getting excited about veggies, even better that it was beets!  It was a really beautiful delicious beet salad she was exicted about that my friend Gabrielle made which she was excited about though, so I don't blame her.   But still, I wouldn't have touched a beet with a ten foot pole when I was five, so it made my day to hear her get excited about the beets!  Thank goodness as an adult I can't get enough of beets and I don't hold a grudge against any veggies. 



If you read my blog frequently, you know that it is no secret I love beets and I love to include them in everything including desserts.  So when I decided that making a batch of red velvet pancakes the other day seemed like a good idea, you know where my food coloring was going to come from.  Beets of course, since I am not a fan of fake red food coloring.  And why use it when you can use nutrition packed beets? 



I didn't exactly have a recipe, but what I did was use a simple vegan banana pancake recipe I have been making for a long time, swapping out the bananas for beets figuring they have a similar texture.  It worked wonderfully! 



I served the pancakes with whipped coconut cream and fresh berries.  They were beautiful, and they were delicious!  You would have never known they had beets in the by the taste, but it made me happy to know they were there.






Vegan Red Velvet Pancakes with Coconut Cream and Berries
Serves 2-3

Pancakes:
1 cup gluten free oat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup pureed cooked beets*
1 1/4 cups coconut  milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp maple syrup


Cream:
1 cup full fat coconut milk chilled until very cold (only the thick part from the top of the can)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
coconut oil for cooking pancakes
2 cups fresh berries for serving
maple syrup for serving


In a food processor, combine all pancake ingredients and process until just blended, pour into a bowl and set aside. 
To make coconut cream, chill a medium bowl and beaters in the freezer until very cold. Place coconut milk in the chilled bowl and beat until stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes. Add syrup and vanilla and beat until combined. Set aside in the fridge to keep cold. 
To cook pancakes, preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add a little coconut oil to coat the bottom.  Once hot, add the batter in 1/4 cup amounts (I did 3 at a time, but it depends on your pan), and let cook for about 2-3 minutes on the first side until set and starting to brown, then flip with a spatula and cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side.  When cooked, place on a plate and keep warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining pancakes. 
To serve, top with the coconut cream, fresh berries and maple syrup if desired! 
*About one large beet, I cooked mine by wrapping it in foil and roasting it in a 450 degree oven until tender (about an hour and 15 minutes).  I then let it cool and peeled it, cut it into chunks and pureed it.