Tag Archives: dates

Truffle Mania!

These past three months have been the most challenging three months of my life. They say bad things come in threes, and I believe that holds true for multiples of three as well. However, through sheer grit and determination, perseverance, and strength of will, I have survived. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Helping me these past months were these truffles. Very easy to make, they are no-bake little treats of bliss for when you need a pick me up. I went through a truffle phase after this, with a different combination entering the food processor every time. Here are two that I tweaked repeatedly until they were perfect. Carrot cake or Chocolate Maca – your choice. Enjoy!

*Notes* For freezing, the best method I have come up with is placing the truffles on a baking sheet and freezing them individually. Once frozen, I store them in Ziploc bags. If you skip the individual freeze step they still work, but sometimes they stick together in the bag.

I have added gluten free and nut free options for these recipes. I’ve tried them all, and these are the combinations with the best success. I actually prefer the gluten free truffles, as sometimes where I get my gluten free oats they are out of stock. But they always have quinoa flakes!

The Maca powder is a splurge item. It adds a carmel flavour to the truffles, and also assists in cell repair. Perfect for stress! I bought my bag of Maca powder at the health food store for $9 2 years ago – a little goes a very long way! If you don’t have any, omit the maca and have chocolate truffles instead 🙂

Carrot Cake Truffles

1 ½ cups carrots, grated

12 dates, soaked in ½ cup water

1 cup oats (Certified Gluten Free if req. Substitutions that are fantastic: Quinoa flakes, millet flakes, or buckwheat flakes)

¼ cup coconut flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1” piece ginger, roughly chopped

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cardamom

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

1)      In food processor, grate carrots. Remove and set aside.

2)      In food processor, puree dates until paste forms, adding soaking water as required.

3)      Add oats, coconut flour, salt, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and lemon juice. Puree until well blended.

4)      Add 1 cup grated carrot and puree until smooth.

5)      Add remaining carrots and pulse to combine.

6)      Shape into 1 tbsp. truffles. (I just scooped and froze, but if you want to be fancy, roll them into balls) Freeze until ready to eat!

7)      Optional: These thaw quite quickly and become a bit mushy. To serve on dessert tray, bake at 375oF for 10min.

Makes 34 truffles

Chocolate Almond Maca Truffles 

1 cup oats (Certified Gluten Free if req. Substitutions that are fantastic: Quinoa flakes, millet flakes, or buckwheat flakes)

1 cup raw almonds (To make nut free, use raw sunflower seeds. Decadent nut free truffles – dry toast the sunflower seeds on medium heat in a sauce pan until golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool in a bowl)

2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

½ tbsp. maca powder

7 dried dates, soaked in ¼ cup water

1 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of salt

Cinnamon, nutmeg to taste 

Variations: add instant coffee, cardamom, and/or cayenne

 Directions:

1)      In small measuring cup, soak dates in ¼ cup water and vanilla.

2)      In food processor, pulse ¾ cup oats until a flour

3)      Add almonds. Pulse until mealy in texture

4)      Add date mixture. Pulse until dates pureed.

5)      Add all remaining ingredients. Puree until dough forms, adding water as necessary

6)      Shape into 1 tbsp. truffles (Again, if you want to be fancy, roll them into balls). Freeze until ready to eat! 

Makes 28 truffles


Asure (Noah’s Pudding)

Asure

Asure (also known as Noah’s Pudding) is a refreshing end to a Turkish meal. Many Turkish desserts are composed of some variation of phyllo pastry, laden with honey and pistachios. But not this one. Legend has it that when Noah was busy counting the animals, Mrs. Noah was frantically cleaning the pantry and whipped this dessert up with all the contents. As a result, there are as many variations of Asure as there are pantries! After copious amounts of research, the required elements for Asure are as follows:

1) Grain: barley, rice, bulgur wheat
2) Dried fruit: apricot, figs, raisins, currants, cranberries
3) Nuts: Walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts
4) Flavour: orange peel, rose water (1-2 tsp.), vanilla, orange juice
5) Beans: broad beans (lima beans), black-eyed peas, chickpeas, white beans

From there, you can create your masterpiece! A recipe written just the way I cook! I have made variations for breakfast, similar to the Chinese congee. Of course, it makes a wonderful dessert as well, similar to rice pudding. Also note that Noah must be a slow counter – this recipe takes 1-2 days to make due to bean soaking time (and lack of pots in my kitchen), but it makes a LOT. It freezes exceptionally well: to warm up, take one serving straight from the freezer and add a dash of water. Microwave on high until you reach pudding consistency (~3min.) Packed full of nutrition and delicious too boot – that’s a dessert you can feel good about eating for breakfast!

Asure

1 cup barley
1 cup dried white beans
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup short-grain rice
1 cup raisins OR currants
1 cup sugar OR molasses (to taste)
10 cups water
10 dried apricots, diced
10 dried figs, diced
1 tbsp. orange rind
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Optional garnishes: crushed walnuts, crushed pistachios, soaked and diced dried fruit such as figs, apricots, currants; pomegranate seeds …

Directions:
1) Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add barley and cook for 10min.
2) Turn off heat and leave barley to soak overnight
3) Repeat steps 1-2 for white beans and chickpeas in separate pots
4) Add 4 cups water to barley, white beans, and chickpea pots
5) Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until barley, white beans, and chickpeas are cooked (note: each has a different cooking time!)
6) In 16 quart pot, add 10 cups water
7) Add cooked barley, white beans, chickpeas, uncooked rice, and orange rind. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15min.
8) Add all other ingredients. Cook on medium 15-20min, or until rice cooked. Stir occasionally and add water as necessary – should have the consistency of tapioca
9) Turn off heat and let rest for 30min.
10) Pour into small bowls and add optional garnishes

For the version shown above, I used all the beans and grains listed. My dried fruits were figs, dates, apricots, and currants. I didn’t add any sugar as the dried fruit made the porridge sweet enough for me! I added a tiny splash of rose water which made the porridge smell amazing and added an extra layer of ‘exotic’ taste.


Queen Elizabeth Cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake I Recipe

*Note* This is not my picture. The cupcakes disappeared too quickly for me to get a good one. Photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com.

Ironically enough, I first experienced Queen Elizabeth Cake in a tiny coffee shop tucked away under the shadow of Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, Canada. Ironic because the Quebecois are potentially the most antagonistic “subjects” of the Commonwealth towards the British, and don’t much care for the “English” in general. Yet it was in this cute cafe that my friend and I experienced Queen Elizabeth Cake.

The cake itself has an interesting history: the Queen Mum would make it herself for the sole purpose of bake sales with proceeds going to the Church of England. Apparently Queens can cook too! (More information can be found here). It is a date cake with a coconut frosting reminiscent of German Chocolate Cake frosting. It’s not too sweet, and an excellent pairing with an afternoon cup of tea. Both my friend and I loved sneaking away to this small cafe and having a cup of tea with a small slice of cake before perusing the local indie music store. Since then, the cafe is no longer, I am a vegan, and she is a celiac. So, for her birthday I took it upon myself to take these memories of afternoon tea and cake and make a cake just as good – if not better – than the Queen’s. Two weeks of research went into this project, with numerous chicken-scratch recipe drafts. Finally, I had it. The result? “Amazing! They sure didn’t last long!” So take a slice of history and make this vegan, gluten free version of the Queen Mum’s classic – but you don’t have to share it with the Church of England!

 

 

Queen Elizabeth (Cup)Cake

Cake:
1 cup boiling water
1 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp. plain yogurt OR 2 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
+ 1 tsp. canola oil
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup silken tofu, pureed (puree then measure)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
¼ cup glutinous rice flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions:
1) In small bowl, pour boiling water over dates. Soak until water tepid
2) In small bowl mix flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nuts
3) In large bowl cream together tofu and sugar. Add vanilla, yoghurt, and half of the soaked dates. Mix.
4) Add flour mixture in batches, mixing to combine as you go
5) Fold in remaining dates
6) Spread batter into greased 9×13” pan, or lined muffin tins
7) Bake at 350oF for 30-40min. (20-30min. for cupcakes), or until pass the knife test
8) Cool

Icing:
1 cup flaked coconut
½ cup almond milk
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. water until smooth

Directions:
1) In medium saucepan mix milk, sugar, and vanilla
2) Add cornstarch slurry and cook over medium-high heat stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens
3) Cook for 1 min while boiling. Remove from heat.
4) Stir in coconut
5) Allow to cool until warm before spreading onto cake

 

 

 

 


The Ultimate Guide to Ice Cream

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

Banana-Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses and Pistachios Toppings previously posted here

Nothing hits the spot like ice cream. Delectable and delicious, it is a wide open canvas for your flavour imagination. I started experimenting with formulas for the best ice cream ever, and I am my own worst critic. I wrote down every trial. I used a food processor, a blender, and once a whisk. I don’t own an ice cream machine, so all my trials also included the elusive method to get silky smooth texture and not ice crystals after it froze solid. The result? This guide that will hopefully help you satisfy your every frozen treat craving. No ice cream maker required. From the quick-and-dirty single serve ice cream with one main ingredient, to a formula for sorbets and sherberts for a fresh fruity splash, and the decadent version for when you need to get chip faced. All flavour combinations have been kitchen tested by 3 separate kitchens with rave reviews. But don’t let this list be the end of your creativity! I have other ideas for flavours that haven’t been kitchen tested yet such as Oreo ice cream, S’More ice cream with a chocolate base and mix-ins of graham crackers, mini-marshmallows, and dark chocolate squares with caramel filling, or even avocado-mango-tequila for a Mexican night. I love throwing things in a food processor and creating flavour profiles. For the adults who have just had a horrible day, Kahlua, vodka + espresso, gin, or even tequila are also welcome additions to this ice cream – call it a mudslide and drink it out of the bowl. Life is always better after a mudslide!

A note about the secret ingredient: Bananas. Frozen bananas have magical properties. When placed in a food processor, it turns into the consistency of Dairy Queen soft serve, and doesn’t really taste like bananas. Just by adding ½ tbsp. of cocoa powder, you can barely tell that you are downing a bowl of fruit it tastes so much like real chocolate ice cream. Which means of course that you can have two bowls!

A note about kitchen appliances: I have tried to make ice cream in a blender, and was unsuccessful every time. I needed too much liquid for the blender to actually blend for it to be classified as ice cream. But I hear amazing things about a VitaMix, so if you have one of those I’m not stopping you from trying! And if all you have is a blender consider the following dessert smoothies.

Perfect Ice Cream: The Formula

Bases:
Single Soft Serve: One-Ingredient Magic
1 medium banana, frozen and sliced (½-¾ cup sliced)

Sorbets and Sherberts
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh fruit, sliced
2½ cups water or non-dairy milk (flavour dependant)

The Decadent
2 large bananas, frozen and sliced (2 cups sliced)
½ cup soy yoghurt
¼ – ½ cup non-diary milk

Flavours:
Some suggested flavour combinations/stir ins:

– Vanilla: 1 tsp. vanilla

– Citrus additions:
o For the liquid, use juice such as orange, grapefruit, or cranberry
o 1 tsp. orange, lime, and/or lemon juice
o Grated orange, lime, and/or lemon rind

– Date Flavour:
o 8 dates, pitted and chopped
o 1 tsp. vanilla
o ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
o 1 tbsp. honey, agave, or brown rice syrup (optional)

– Chocolate (and Nut Butter):
o 2 tbsp. cocoa powder (or carob powder)
o 1 tbsp. nut butter: peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, etc.
o 1 tsp. vanilla

– Fruit Explosion:
o 1 cup frozen fruit

– Pumpkin Pie:
o ½ cup pureed pumpkin
o ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
o ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
o ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
o Dash of ground ginger, ground cloved

– Suggested Sorbet Combinations:
o Tropical fruit and coconut milk
o Fresh citrus fruit and combination of same fruit juice, lemon, and lime juice
o Fresh berries and choice of liquid

– Suggested non-dairy milk and yoghurt: soy, almond, coconut, hemp. Rice milk may work but may be too thin.

Stir-Ins and Toppings:
Add any of the following as the mood fits:
– Frozen fruit: wild berries, chopped mango, apples, dates
– Nuts: pistachios, peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans
– Bonus items: chocolate chips, brownie/cookie dough pieces, dusting of cocoa/carob powder, sprinkles
– Toppings:
o 1:1 ratio tahini:molasses
o 2 tbsp. chocolate chips melted, with ½ tbsp. nut butter stirred in

Directions:
1) In food processor, puree all Base ingredients until smooth.
2) Add desired Flavour ingredients. Pulse to combine.
3) For Single serve add Stir-ins and Toppings. Enjoy!

4) For Sorbets and Decadent, pour into glass bowl and freeze until begins to harden, ~4h.
5) Pour mixture back into food processor. Process until smooth.
6) Add Stir-ins. Transfer to final freezer container.
7) To serve, add Toppings. Enjoy!

I hope you find this guide helpful. Any suggestions are always welcome!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Single Serve
3 ingredients + one food processor = Nirvana!

     

Banana Mango Single Serve:
1/2 cup frozen banana, sliced + 1/2 cup frozen mango, cubed + dash of vanilla


Banana Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses Topping

I have a love affair with frozen bananas. Consuming fresh bananas to me is akin to some sort of creative torture, but when frozen the bananas lose their texture and penicillin-like mouth coating and become something entirely different and delicious. My favourite snack is a piece of frozen banana dipped in peanut butter or sunflower seed butter. This mad love for the frozen fruit made me search out and ultimately create my own ice cream after recovering from the price shock of a pint of non-dairy ice cream. Who needs to shell out $7.50/pint when you can make it at home?

I have a base ‘recipe’ which is more of a guideline, which I tweak as the mood strikes. This particular version was created to match my Egyptian feast and so to keep with the theme I made banana-date ice cream. I remembered reading from a Vegan MoFo post that a popular dessert topping was tahini and molasses, and since my love of tahini knows no bounds, I decided to give molasses a shot at stardom. Too often molasses is disguised in bread products – it needed its chance in the limelight! Finally, I added some pistachios to sprinkle on top for a little crunch. The end result was a delectable, not-too-sweet, dangerously addictive (but thankfully healthy) ice cream that I cannot get enough of!

Banana Date Ice Cream

1 3/4 c. frozen bananas, sliced
6 pitted dates
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. water, or your favourite non-dairy milk for extra creaminess

Directions:

Before you start:
It is important that the bananas are frozen first. This is super easy – peel and throw into the freezer on a cookie sheet. When frozen, just stick in a Ziploc bag to use later!

Tip: If you are using dried dates, soak them in 1c. water for ~10min., to soften. Use the water as your liquid in the recipe.

1) Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary. To adjust for consistency, add water as necessary
2) Pour mixture into a glass bowl, cover, and place in freezer. Freeze until the mixture is somewhat frozen, ~4h. I usually judge by the sides of the bowl are solid, but the centre is still poke-able with a spoon.
3) Pour mixture in food processor. Process until smooth. This step is very important! It helps prevent ice crystals from forming in your ice cream.
4) Pour mixture into final storage container (yogurt containers, old nut butter jars …) and place in freezer.

To serve, take out of freezer and let thaw for ~5min to make the scoops look nice and pretty.

Tahini-Molasses topping:
2 tsp. tahini
1 tsp. Molasses – this can be date molasses if you are feeling fancy/have it, or the normal cooking molasses, blackstrap molasses, or whatever is in your pantry.
*Note: you can adjust the quantity to taste or to the amount of ice cream you have. The ratio is 2 parts tahini to 1 part molasses.

Directions:
1) Drizzle tahini and molasses on top of ice cream
2) Add shelled pistachios for extra decadence

Update: For more soft serve ideas including flavours, toppings, and mix-ins, check out my post Ultimate Guide to Ice Cream. Banana Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses Topping was so addicitve I had to go crazy and try other combinations to find the next addiction!


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