Raw Cacao Pudding

Raw Cacao Pudding

This recipe is sort of like a raw, vegan take on store-bought pudding cups!  To be honest, I rarely ate pudding cups when I was growing up since my mom only ever made pudding from scratch.  I loved to act as her kitchen assistant when she made pudding, even though I was the only one in the family who didn’t like the end result.  No matter how carefully I stirred the milk, there would still be lumps in the finished pudding, and I hated the layer of scum that formed across the top of the pudding while it chilled.  I always avoided pudding and thought that it just wasn’t the dessert for me, until I tried it again after going vegan.
This recipe for raw pudding avoids all of the downsides of the regular dairy-based version, and is incredibly quick and easy to make.  It was inspired by the recipe for “Carob Pudding” on pg. 73 of Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen, but uses cacao instead of carob and includes the addition of a bit of agave nectar.  I’ve experimented with many other recipes for raw pudding using ingredients like bananas, dates, cashew butter, or almonds, but this concoction is definitely my favorite.  At first, I thought that avocado, banana, and chocolate sounded like a crazy combination, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the results!
I usually use a Hass avocado, but I’ve also made the pudding with a Pinkerton and a Bacon avocado with almost no difference in taste.  I prefer the pudding when it’s chilled, and one great thing about the pudding is that it completely bypasses the standard problem of avocados and bananas turning brown if they’re exposed to the air, since the pudding is already brown.  In my experiences, the amount of cacao powder that’s called for in the recipe is the smallest amount that can be used to make sure the pudding achieves the desired color.  If you decide to use less cacao, the results will still be delicious, but the pudding may look a bit like swamp sludge (as in the photo below) because of the greenish undertones from the avocado.  Of course, you can add more cacao powder if you want the chocolate flavor to be more intense, though you might also want to increase the amount of agave nectar to balance the cacao’s bitterness.
This raw chocolate pudding makes a great healthy snack or dessert, and I hope you’ll consider giving it a try!

Cacao Pudding

Cacao Pudding
Adapted from “Carob Pudding”
Yield: 1-2 servings

1 banana
1 avocado
2 heaping teaspoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons raw agave nectar

Place all ingredients into the work bowl of your food processor and blend until completely smooth.  Refrigerate until chilled and enjoy!

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July 25, 2009. Raw. 7 comments.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I know I’ve said it before, but I am continually impressed by how easy it is to make delicious ice cream using frozen bananas!  Adding nut butter is a wonderful way to make the dessert richer, so this Peanut Butter Ice Cream is one of my favorite flavors to make.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

As usual, there isn’t a real recipe for this ice cream since I always just guesstimate the amounts, but I usually use a few frozen bananas, a generous amount of peanut butter, a dash of coriander and cardamom, and a little bit of agave nectar.  I use crunchy peanut butter because I like the texture it adds to the dessert, but smooth peanut butter would also be fine if that’s what you prefer.  Peanut butter and coriander is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and since this is a dessert I always add cardamom too.  If you don’t care for the combination of peanut butter, coriander, and cardamom, you could use other additions instead, such as maple syrup instead of agave for a Maple Peanut Butter Ice Cream.  The dessert is completely raw except for the peanut butter, and it’s quite healthy as far as desserts go.  I’m always in the mood for a spoonful of this ice cream, and I definitely recommend giving it a try!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

July 15, 2009. Frozen Desserts. 5 comments.

Coconut Muffins

Coconut Muffin

I’m a huge fan of coconut milk, and it’s one of my favorite ingredients to use in both sweet and savory recipes.  Since I tend to avoid baking with oil or margarine, the fat in coconut milk is also a great way to boost the richness in my baked goods.  This recipe for Coconut Muffins is very basic, but the end result is luscious and decadent without being too sweet.
The coconut flavor in the finished muffins is not overwhelming at all, so if you want a heavier coconut flavor, I would suggest substituting coconut extract for the vanilla.  Also, I usually use light coconut milk since it’s easier to find and moderately healthier, but if you prefer regular coconut milk then the muffins will still be delicious.  Also, if you like a sweeter muffin then it might be a good idea to increase the amount of sugar in the recipe to suit your preferences.
One of my favorite variations on this recipe is to make piña colada muffins by adding pieces of chopped pineapple to the finished batter (my sister said that this variation was her favorite out every muffin I’ve ever made).  Adding pineapple also helps to make the muffins a bit sweeter without requiring additional sugar.  If adding pineapple, it’s important to cut the pieces very small so that they don’t just sink in the muffin cups and make the bottoms of the muffins soggy.  Although I’ve never tried it, using dried pineapple pieces should also work well, though it would probably be best to partially rehydrate the pineapple pieces by soaking them in water before adding them to the muffin batter.  Another delicious variation is to add chocolate chips, melted chocolate, or ever cocoa powder to the batter to help satisfy chocolate cravings.
No matter how you choose to make these muffins, I hope that you’ll like them as much as I do!

Coconut Muffins

Coconut Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk (a generous 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut (plus more to sprinkle on top)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl (or a liquid measuring cup), combine coconut milk, applesauce, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and stir just to combine, then fold in the shredded coconut.  Spoon batter into muffin cups and sprinkle additional shredded coconut on top.

Bake for about 20 minutes and allow the muffins to cool before removing them from tin.  Enjoy!

Coconut Muffins

July 5, 2009. Muffins. 37 comments.