Friday, August 17, 2012

Healthy Blender Recipes/Excalibur event plus an original recipe!

I am super excited to announce that I was selected as one of 30 Raw food blogger/chefs to be in a fun event with The Blender Girl (aka healthyblenderrecipes) using the Excalibur Dehydrator. I still have NO idea how/why they chose me, but I am not one to turn down an amazing opportunity.  And it was a challenging one too!  If you know me, you already know how much I adore baking, but using a dehydrator is a whole 'nother thing.  I hadn't even started the Raw part of my diet study yet, so the dehydrator had yet to be touched when I said I'd come up with my own recipe for this event. It took me a few days to come up with an idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but after actually trying to put those thoughts into action, and failing miserably three times, I started to get a little nervous. I was absolutely sure I was in over my head. But, I've felt that way before and made it through just fine, so I just kept telling myself to keep moving forward.

When my first idea for pumpkin pie wraps filled with a caramel cashew cream didn't work out (first of all, there's no pumpkins around right now, and second, sweet potato is NOT a good substitute. Yarf.), I tried going in a different direction with a cauliflower pizza crust.  My experiment smelled so good and filled my house with the aroma of a pizza kitchen. I was jazzed. Until I peeked on the progress of my crust.  More like soggy, splotchy, crackly nastiness. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

Once I tasted the pumpkin wrap, I quickly realized I didn't like that texture for a dessert anyway. I wanted something more cake-like, but couldn't find any recipes to give me an idea on where to even start. Since my recipe won't be shared until the end of August, I wanted a dessert that would be fitting for fall, and pumpkin desserts are my favorite for that time of year.  Since I knew the actual pumpkin was not an option, I went a different direction: pumpkin seeds!  They are so nutritious and tasty, it just made sense to give them a try. My first attempt at using them was a bust though.  While *a few* pumpkin seeds are tasty, a whole entire cake made with them...not so much.  So, I compromised and used walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds along with a few dates to keep it all sticking together, and some pumpkin pie spice to give it a little seasonal kick. I knew I wanted a stacking dessert, so I cut this mixture into circles and placed them in the dehydrator.  I wasn't sure what texture I would end up with, so I took some of the cakes out at 6 hours, 12 hours, and then left the final ones in until 24 hours.  I ended up liking the 6 hour texture best. Go figure.

I also used the dehydrator to candy some nuts and pumpkin seeds to give the dessert more texture, and let's be honest, to make it look cute.  I love plating foods and making my meals look fancy.  Heck, why not!? After all, you start eating with your eyes before you actually taste your food anyway, you might as well have fun with it.

The caramel cashew cream took me a few tries because I wanted to make it a) tasty and b) not a pain in the butt to make. I think it turned out well. You gotta love cashews!  From dairy free sour cream, to raw cream soups, to vegan cheesecake, to this yummy creamy goodness...cashews are the queen of the nut kingdom!

The chocolate ganache I had made plenty of times before, as it was from another recipe I came up with for some yummy chocolate tarts! But even that posed a tiny issue with all this unbelievable heat we're having.  It started to melt almost as soon as we took it outside to photograph. But you won't have that problem, because you'll be eating it immediately.  ;)

And finally!  I love salted caramel, and this dessert just screamed SALTED CARAMEL!  I could have gotten more elaborate, but since it was mostly just a drizzle, I kept it easy and simple with just some date paste, and a few other ingredients. You could totally leave this out, but you use date paste for the cashew cream, so you might as well give it a shot.

Photo credit: Melissa Hitzemann, Whirlygig Photography

At first glance, this recipe may look overwhelming and complicated, but each step can be made well in advance and stored for when you're ready to use it. And any leftover candied nuts can be used in salads to give them a fun, sweet and spicy kick!








Recipe:

Pumpkin Cakes
½ cup pumpkin seeds, soaked 4-6 hours
½ cup walnuts
½ cup pecans
2 medjool dates
½ t. pumpkin pie spice
¼ t. salt

Pulse above in food processor until mixture holds together when pressed against the side of the bowl.  Dump out onto waxed paper and flatten/roll out to about ¼” thick. At this point you could cut them into circles with a cookie cutter, or cut into squares, or just leave it as a large rectangle and make one big cake out of it.

Place on teflex sheets in dehydrator at 115 for 6 hours, flipping half way through. I also placed them on the regular dehydrator screens after 3 hours for a drier texture. These can be dehydrated for longer, depending on what texture you want. The longer they are in the dehydrator, the crunchier they become.

These cakes store very well. You could make them days ahead, or even freeze them for a future event.


Caramel Cashew Cream
1 cup cashews (soaking not necessary)
¼ cup date paste
1 T maple syrup (or agave)
2 t. maca powder
2-3 T water, until desired consistency

Blend ingredients in Vitamix or high speed blender until smooth, but still thick. You can always add more spices or sweetener to this until it suits your taste buds.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before use.


Chocolate Ganache
1 cup raw cacao powder (or other cocoa powder)
1 cup maple syrup (or agave)
½ cup coconut oil

Mix all ingredients in food processor until blended.  The mixture will harden once it is refrigerated.  To drizzle on dessert, I put some aside in a squeeze bottle and refrigerated the rest.  You can use a spoon just as easily if you don’t have a squeeze bottle. You may need to take your ganache out of the refrigerator a few minutes to soften before it can be piped.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks, if it lasts that long!  I can eat it with a spoon! 


Candied Nuts
You can use any amount of nuts you like. Just place desired nuts and seeds in a bowl and put just enough sweetener (maple syrup, agave, raw honey) to make sure all the nuts are covered. I added ½ t. of pumpkin pie spice and ¼ t. salt too. Maple syrup and honey seem to work better than agave, in my experience. 

Dehydrate on 115 for 8-12 hours, or until they are dry and no longer sticky to the touch.

These candied nuts/seeds are great to have on hand to use in salads with some dried cranberries! They can be stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag for weeks.

Salted Caramel Sauce
2T date paste
1 t. maca powder
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. salt
1 t. agave

Stir together in bowl, and use a spoon or squeeze bottle to drizzle on dessert. This really adds a little something special to the final dessert, and it’s super quick and easy to throw together. 

This can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

You can arrange this dessert in any way you like, but I drizzled the unrefrigerated ganache and the salted caramel onto a plate, placed one pumpkin cake, then piped ganache, then candied nuts, then piped the caramel cashew cream, repeat.  If you are making one large cake, you could just spread on the ganache and cashew cream, and top with a sprinkling of nuts, and drizzle.  You really can’t go wrong no matter how you arrange these yummy layers!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Please let me know if you make it and what your thoughts are!  

Enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. I laughed SO hard when I read this post. You are just ADORABLE.
    This recipe is a TRIUMPH. Absolutely DELICIOUS and looks GORGEOUS.
    My dinner quests gobbled the whole thing up and were scrambling for note pads to scribble down the recipe.
    Christy - thankyou for spending so much time to create this recipe, and graciously sharing it as part of this event.
    I am so thrilled we are connected now.
    You are AMAZING.

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    1. Thank you, Tess! I *so* appreciated the opportunity! What fun! I'd be happy to be your guinea pig/recipe creator any time! ;)

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  2. This sounds fantastic, but I cannot eat cashews. I realize that they are used frequently in substitute "dairy" recipes as you mentioned. But is there another nut that could be used in place of them? Such as walnuts, pecans, or almonds? Even if they had to be soaked? Thanks!

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  3. Wow, this looks fan-freakin-tastic!! No wonder they chose you!! :))

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  4. I am super excited to announce that I was selected as one of 30 Raw food blogger/chefs to be in a fun event with The Blender Girl (aka ... 2blendergirl.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete