Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vegan Cashew Frozen Dessert


You may not think you want to be eating a frozen dessert in the winter, but this VEGAN CASHEW FROZEN DESSERT  is so creamy and rich – a cross between ice cream and cheesecake – that you may change your mind.

You’ll need a blender. I just used my Osterizer. The cashew cream is very thick, so you’ll have to use an implement to keep it moving. This is always a risky proposition. I have a designated wooden spoon with a chunk missing from its tip which tells the harrowing tale of previous blending escapades. Just don’t insert it too far down the blender jar. Help it move the mass on top while it churns the part below.

The nut crust can be whatever you like for a bit of a crunch. A graham cracker crust would also work. But the toasted hazelnuts and walnuts made it even more special.

Blended Cashew Cream
3 cups—raw cashews, soaked in water
½ cup—fresh lemon juice
½ cup—sweetener (I used maple syrup)
¼ cup—organic coconut oil, melted
¼ cup—medjool or other pitted dates, packed firmly
½ tsp—salt
2 tsp—vanilla

Nut Crust
½ cup—hazelnuts
½ cup—walnuts or pecans
½ tsp—salt
1 Tbl—maple syrup

Soak the cashews in water for as long as you have patience. They will get larger and softer and blend more easily. It still worked even though they only soaked maybe half an hour, in my case.

Meanwhile, toast the nuts in a cast iron pan, stirring them constantly. You can toast the salt right along with them. If you have a coffee/spice/nut grinder, use that to grind your nuts. Grind the nuts after they’ve cooled, or you will be burning your fingers as you try to remove them from the grinder. Why does it sound like I always have to learn the hard way? Pick out any large pieces and eat them, and stir the maple syrup into the rest of the ground up nuts. Press a thin layer of pulverized nuts into a stainless steel cake pan, or whatever you have similar to that which can go in the freezer.

Blend the cashew cream ingredients. This version is tan, so if you would like a paler dessert, just use sugar instead of the maple syrup and dates. You may then have to increase the liquid a bit; perhaps some juice or water. I made my vegan cashew frozen dessert with more maple syrup and dates, but our only objection was that it was too sweet, so I’ve cut back in this version. You will find that after the dessert freezes, so will your taste buds -- it does have to be more exaggeratedly sweet than you might normally like.

Spoon the cashew cream onto the nut crust, cover it with plastic wrap or put it in a plastic bag, and freeze it for several hours. If you try to eat it too soon, it will taste way too sweet and not cut as cleanly as it does after it’s frozen. This would be a good fancy dessert to make the day before a dinner party.
The coconut oil is a strong flavor in this frozen cashew dessert. It also helps to make the texture creamy and the dessert set up nicely. There is more a lemon-coconut flavor than anything, although the cashews, dates, and vanilla also can be tasted.

Serve this in very small slices, because it is way too rich, otherwise. Why can’t more restaurants offer something like this on their dessert menus? Until that future happy day, you will just have to create your own decadence at home.

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