Tag Archives: dessert

“Ode to Oregon” Blackberry and Hazelnut Cake

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Andrew and I celebrated our 2 year “Oregoniversary” this week with a night out in downtown Portland dinner at Cafe Yumm and cocktails at The Original. (Psst, for locals and Yumm Sauce addicts- I just made a Yumm Sauce knock off and will share the recipe soon if Andrew approves it! ) We also celebrated with  this decadent tasting cake containing two of Oregon’s most abundant edibles : blackberries and hazelnuts.  I regretted turning on the oven for the rest of the evening, but the cake really was divine…
Our four day road trip from Illinois to Oregon was one of the most exciting adventures I’ve had, despite dreading it initially (I hate driving). It’s amazing to look back and see how much we have accomplished and how much has changed since we made that blind leap of faith. Honestly, I don’t know if I would make such a leap where I am in my life now. But two years ago I was a little younger, a little more desperate, and sporting some rosy, heart shaped lenses that made anything Andrew wanted to do seem like the best choice for me, too. I would have followed him anywhere. Really. I’m lucky he picked Portland :)
Anyway… that’s enough nostalgia for now! Wanna know how I made this gluten-free, reduced sugar, little gem?
Even though I used blackberries and hazelnuts, you could make this with lots of other combinations if these aren’t readily available to you. Cherry-Almond? Peach-Almond? Strawberry-Pistachio? The possiblities are endless.

Blackberry-Hazelnut Meringue Cake 

*4 egg whites

*1 cup raw hazelnuts

*1 cup sugar (or use 2/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup stevia baking mix like I did)

*pinch of salt

*1 cup fresh blackberries

*3/4 cup whipping cream

*1/2 cup greek yogurt

Directions:

1.) Toast hazelnuts in 350F oven for about 15 minutes, shaking pan every few minutes to ensure even cooking. This will make your house smell amazing by the way! Remove from the oven when fragrant and golden brown, transfer to a dish towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Don’t fuss if there are a few remaining, but do try to get most off. Let cool, then grind to a powder in a food processor or coffee grinder.

2.) Turn oven down to 300F and line to pans of equal size with parchment paper (I did two loaf pans, because that it the only size pan I have two of, but the original recipe used two 9 inch pie tins). Make your meringue by beating the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form (you will probably need an electric beater unless you have crazy strong and fast arms). Beat in two tablespoons of the sugar and then fold the rest of the sugar in, two tablespoons at a time. Fold in the ground hazelnuts.

3.) Divide mixture evenly between prepared pans and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, covering with foil if it browns too quickly. Let cool completely on wire racks before assembling cake.

4.) Meanwhile you can prepare the whipped filling by beating the whipping cream (again, bust out that electric mixer for this job) until thick and fluffy. Mix in the greek yogurt by hand and add a touch of sweetener if desired (I used stevia). If you don’t have greek yogurt, do NOT use regular yogurt- it will be too runny. You can use all whipping cream (1 1/4 cups) also, I used greek yogurt for the health benefits and slight tang it imparts.

5.) When cake is cool, lay one slice on a large plate and generously frost, then dot with berries. Lay the other half on top and frost and top with more berries. Isn’t it pretty? You can eat it now and it will be delicious, but it will be prettier, tastier, and much easier to cut if you let it sit a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

This cake was amazing, but I think if I made it again I would use hazelnut macaroon cookies for the crust and layer it like a berry-licious tiramisu. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Now I just need another excuse to make a fancy dessert…

Well I’m off to Mt. Hood with a couple of my clients for work now. It’s just a short trip (1 day and one night) and lets hope everything goes smoothly!

xo/Nikita

 

Mythical, Magical Figs and Chevre Cheescake

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I went to the grocery store a couple days ago for a bit of lettuce. When I saw these, I stopped in my tracks!

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I hadn’t tried fresh figs until a couple years ago. You can only get them fresh a few months out of the year, which adds to their appeal. They are a rare treat and a delicate fruit. They bruise easily and don’t last long, but that only makes them seem more precious. They are a great source of fiber, and a good source of potassium, manganese, and calcium. But I would eat them even if they weren’t!

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There is something so seductive about figs. Its not surprising they have been the subject of so many myths. Figs trees are in many depictions of the Garden of Eden, and the leaves were what Adam and Eve were said to have used to cover themselves. Romans held the fig tree to be sacred because the she-wolf who suckled Romulous and Remus did so under a fig tree. Figs are associated with Dionysus, the God of wine, and Priapus, a satyr who symbolizes sexual desire. Even the bodhi tree which Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment under is a type of fig tree.

As luscious, sweet and juicy as these gems are on their own, I felt like the first figs of the year deserved a little special presentation. Enter the Honeyed Fig and Chevre Cheesecake Bites with Walnut Crust…

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These combine two of my favorite things: Figs and goat cheese, which incidentally are a lovely combination! I made them in muffin tins because mini things are just cuter and it also helps with portion control! They are even gluten free, utilizing a simple crust of walnuts and dates. I tried to drizzle them with honey before baking, but I’m going to recommend not doing that because it made them very sticky and difficult to get out of the muffin tins!

Honeyed Fig and Chevre Cheesecake with Walnut Crust

makes 6 muffin sized servings

Crust:

*heaping 1/2 cup walnuts

*heaping 1/2 cup dates

* 2 tablespoons rolled oats

pinch on salt

Filling:

*3.5 oz plain soft chevre (goat cheese)

*4 oz low fat cream cheese

*1 large egg

*1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 2-4 tablespoons sugar (I used 2, plus a little stevia. You could probably replace all or most with stevia, but my husband hates it so I have to be sneaky!)

*1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

*1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

Garnish:

*4 large fresh figs

* 2 tablespoons honey

cinnamon for sprinkling
Directions:

1. Preheat your over to 350F and prepare 6 muffin cups by either greasing them or placing paper muffin cups inside. Make the crust by pulsing the walnuts, oats, dates, and salt in a food processor until a crumbly mixture forms that will hold together if you roll it into a ball. Divide the mixture equally among the muffin cups, pressing against the bottom and up the sides to form a crust.

2. Make the filling by combining all filling ingredients in the food processor until well mixed. Spoon this mixture into the prepared muffin cups. Try not to eat it all before it gets there.

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3. Now prepare the figs: Slice the figs into 4-6 pieces each. Heat the honey up on the stove or in a microwave until hot and completely liquid. Toss the figs in the honey and let marinate for a few minutes. When they have soaked up that honey goodness, spoon them over your prepared mini cheesecakes, careful not to drip a lot of honey down the sides. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, then broil for just a minute to ensure caramelization of the figs. Cool for 3 hours or more before serving.

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Enlightenment is not guaranteed, but they do pair well with Harry Potter Fever! Anyone seen the last Harry Potter yet? I did! Loved it!

xo/ Nikita

Super Easy Vegan Pistachio Pudding

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Pistachios make me feel fancy. They are also a great source of protein and fiber as well as vitamin E, folate, copper, and many other vitamins and minerals. A few months ago Andrew and I were at the grocery store together and he saw some Jello mix pistachio pudding and excitedly told me how much he looooved pistachio putting. I looked at the ingredients on the box:

Ewwwww...

Sorry, honey, things like this just aren’t allowed in my cart! However, I do love pistachios and promised him I would make a more wholesome homemade version. After looking at a few more traditional pistachio pudding recipes using egg yolks and whole milk to thicken, I remembered that when I was vegan I used to make the simplest pudding with silken tofu and decided to use that as a base. I swirled some pistachios with agave and vanilla, added a bit of coconut oil to replace the richness of the milk fat and egg yolk, and added that to a creamy silken tofu base. Garnished with a few pistachios and an extra agave swirl, it didn’t need anything else. Andrew was in heaven and proclaimed it “better than Jell-O’s pistachio pudding.” I didn’t think that was much competition… that stuff is scary! But really, this is so delicious and easy to make!

 5 ingredient Vegan Pistachio Pudding:

serves 2-3

*1/2 cup shelled roasted pistachios (I used salted)

*2 tablespoons Agave nectar (or more depending on how sweet you like it. Stevia can be substituted also), plus more for serving

*1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*1 box Mori Nu firm silken tofu (12.3 oz), chilled

Directions:

1. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the pistachios for garnish. Add the rest of the pistachios, the agave, coconut oil, and vanilla to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the tofu and process until smooth again.

2. Spoon into dishes, garnish with whole or coarsely chopped pistachios and an agave drizzle and serve immediately. The ungarnished pudding will keep in the refrigerator for several days as well.

PS: Recognize the bowls? They are the ones we made during our Eugene trip! They make perfect desert dishes.

Rawlicious indulgence

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As the weather finally begins to warm up around here, my body naturally starts to crave more fresh and raw foods. While looking online for some raw inspiration last week, I came across Ani Phyo‘s site and saw that she was coming to Portland for a talk and book signing Thursday! The timing couldn’t have been better. Ani was great! I think her gorgeous looks alone sell a lot of people on eating raw foods- I can’t believe she’s 42! She talked about the benefits of raw foods, and answered questions about eating raw on-the-go or while traveling, eating raw in colder climates, and more. She was promoting her new book, Ani’s Raw Food Asia, but I purchased her Ani’s Raw Food Essentials book because I wanted a more basic book to start. I try to eat a lot of big salads and smoothies (especially smoothies with spinach or kale- my husband thinks I’m disgusting, but it’s such a yummy way to get your greens!) but as far as the more complex raw foods preparation, I really have little experience. I also don’t have a dehydrator yet, which many raw recipes call for.

Raw food, which Ani considers food that is not heated above 104F,  is great because it is unprocessed and retains all the beneficial nutrients and enzymes that nature intended it to have. I personally don’t believe that it’s healthy for me to eat too much raw foods during the colder months because when I do I get very chilled. I have a rather cold constitution. When I did my yoga training we had a class on Ayurveda and I am predominantly Vata with a bit of Kapha.  I try to consume warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne, but even that isn’t enough to warm me! So it’s hard for me to imagine living a completely raw lifestyle while living in Portland, but once it warms up I like to a much higher ratio of raw to cooked foods in my diet.

While raw food diets should be based mostly on vegetables, they also lend themselves well to some amazing desserts! Raw food desserts are generally not low calorie, but they are packed with nutrients and satisfying. Yesterday was my last day of clinicals this semester (!) and so we brought in some treats. I wanted to bring something gluten-free, because a friend of mine in the group is allergic to gluten and I also wanted to bring something raw so I adapted a recipe from Angela‘s no bake date bars to make some amazing chocolate coconut date bars. These were a big hit! I always worry when I bring my “healthy treats” that people will turn up their noses at them, but my class mates gobbled them up!

Raw Coconut Chocolate Date Bars:

Crust:

1.5 cups almonds

1.5 cups dried unsweetened coconut (Angela uses oats and I have used these too with yummy results, but I didn’t have any gluten free oats)

10 pitted and chopped dates

2-4 tablespoons coconut oil (you can use another kind of oil, but the flavor of coconut oil is worth seeking out!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:

2.5 cups pitted dates

2 tablespoons raw cacao or regular cocoa powder

2 tablespoon cacao nibs (optional)

1 teaspoon maca powder (optional but gives a delicious malty flavor)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup pure water as needed

Directions:

Line a 9×9 in square baking pan with parchment paper. Pulse ingredients for crust in food processor until a crumbly and slightly sticky mixture forms. Start with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and add more if your mixture is still too dry. Press 3/4 of this mixture into your prepared pan. Reserve the rest for topping.

Now wipe out the food processor (it doesn’t need to be washed) and add your filling ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup water and adding more as needed to form a thick, spreadable paste. Spread the filling over the first layer and top with the reserved crust, pressing down lightly. Top with a few more cacao nibs if desired. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for a few hours to set up before slicing into 16 squares. Store in the fridge or freezer for longest shelf life.

Have a beautiful day! I get to take it easy today because tomorrow I’m running my first 10k! :D

xo/Nikita