This post starts a new direction for me personally in the world of all things sweet. No matter how much I love and yearn for refined sugar and floury baked goods (and always will) that are laced with heavy cream, caramel, or topped with meringue, it is my inner health nut that yearns for a healthy and long term option to satisfy cravings. The answer to this issue for me is in the form of raw desserts.
I became aware of raw food desserts during the years I spent living a vegan lifestyle. Not much into cooking or baking at that time due to time constraints, I often bought all my food pre-made. Being a dessert junkie I obviously had a specific need to discover my sources of vegan desserts which were mostly raw desserts, pre-made from Whole Foods.
For those folks unaware of what a raw dessert is, I have taken this excerpt from Wikipedia in which 'raw food veganism' is described this way:
" A raw vegan diet consists of unprocessed, raw plant foods that have not been heated above 40 °C (104 °F). Raw vegans such as Douglas Graham believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost much of their nutritional value and are less healthful or even harmful to the body. Advocates argue that raw or living foods have natural enzymes, which are critical in building proteins and rebuilding the body, and that heating these foods kills the natural enzymes and can leave toxins behind. However, critics point out that enzymes, as with other proteins consumed in the diet, are denatured and eventually lysed by the digestive process rendering them non-functional. Typical foods included in raw food diets are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains and legumes."
In addition, Vegans do not consume or use anything that is an animal or that came from an animal. You would be amazed the animal by-products that exist in everything from food to your deodorant and toothpaste, film, and even charcoal to filter wine. The only reason I ended my vegan diet was due to a health issue in which the doctor said my diet exacerbated my problem. In the following years with new doctors and after painfully changing my diet, I came to find out he was full of it. Much of what I learned and followed stays with me and I want to make some efforts to add more of those ways back into my world, starting with one dessert at a time.
I present you with the Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake taken from Ani Phyo's book, 'Ani's Raw Food Desserts'. I wanted to start with a recipe that had simple ingredients, was easy to follow, and was chocolate.
What impressed me the most was how fast it was to put this together. I made this dessert while I was in the midst of dinner preparations and really did not take any time to make it look pretty, smooth my frosting, etc. And while you can use a food processor as the instructions call for, I actually used a Vitamix blender instead...much easier to clean. It was kind of a relief not to have to wait for the baking and cooling process before frosting once that was all over.
I also enjoyed the chocolatey taste and didn't have the awareness that what I was eating was made of fruits and nuts. The raspberries give it a brightness and balance that is much needed. I think next time I may do individual mini tarts with the cake bottom, frosting middle, and all raspberries on top. I personally felt the double layer cake was a tad too much cake.
3 cups dry walnuts
2/3 cup unsweetened cacoa powder or carob powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pitted Medjool dates
1/3 cup semi-soft pitted medjool dates
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup ripe avocado flesh (from about 1 medium avocado)
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup raspberries
To make the cake, combine the walnuts, cacao powder, and salt in the food processor and pulse until coarsely mixed. Avoid over-processing. Add the dates and pulse until mixed well. Shape into 2 stackable cakes of desired shape and set aside.
To make the frosting, combine the dates and agave syrup in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the avocado and process until smooth. Add the cacoa powder and process until smooth.
To assemble and serve, frost the top of one of the cakes with half of the frosting and top with raspberries. Stack the second cake on top and frost the top and sides. Serve immediately -or- place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to firm up.
The cake on its own will keep in the fridge for many weeks.
The frosting will keep separately in the fridge for 1 week.
The assembled cake with raspberries will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.