Peach cardamom pie with coconut oil crust | For Thom, with love

Peach cardamom pie

It’s been a while since I’ve done a FTWL post so I figured that with the fleeting peach season I had better get on it. I feel like I should also apologize for the abundance of pie-like recipes. Thom says I fixate on them. I do. I go on pie binges and although it seems excessive, too much pie is never a bad thing so I’m not going to offer up an apology. Instead I offer a recipe for Thom’s favorite pie. Prefaced with 667 words and a shitload of pictures, and for that I am a little bit sorry. 

I had an epiphany of sorts after we did away with the original wedding plan. Prior to doing so, I can’t tell you how bad I didn’t want to get married and how much that feeling ate away at me. I started getting cold feet. Questioning the empire of love that we built and have worked so hard to maintain. I lost my shit. He lost his shit. We had a tumultuous spring. We screamed. I cried. And then we came to our senses like people usually do when they stop trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. Or something like that.

Have you ever tried imagining your life without the person you love most? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a significant other. It could be your mom or your bother or your best friend. Try it. Close your eyes and try to picture your life without them. Your eyes will probably get wet. You might also laugh. But no matter how you get there – to that place where your favorite person no longer exists – you’re going to realize something: Your life would not be nearly as full and you, my friend, would undoubtedly be worse off. Life would – for lack of better words – kinda fucking suck.

Palisade peachesCoconut oil pie crust in the makingWhole cardamomPalisade peachesCoconut oil pie doughCoconut oil pie crust in the makingCoconut oil pie crustPeach cardamom pie in the makingPeach cardamom piePeach cardamom pie

My life without Thom would likely have eight fewer months of foreign travel. Less chocolate hidden in my half of the closet. I’d probably still be attending Catholic mass, trying hard to beat monotheistic ideals into my brain even though, as a very young child, I never subscribed to the beliefs of organized religion. (Especially not those of the Catholic church, although I am quite fond of Mother Teresa, PJP II, and Papa Francesco.) If not for Thom, chances are I’d still have that crippling psychological illness that lasted damn-near a decade. The one I have yet to talk about here because, I don’t know, maybe there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel comfortable putting that on the table just yet. Or ever. Sometimes I think the only reason I’m alive and well (finally, well) is because of him. I was sick. So sick. Then he came into my life and for the first time I found something that made me want to get better. It took a long time; a lot of love and encouragement, and countless nights confined to our bright blue sofa, him rubbing my back while I writhed in pain and tried my damnedest not to cry in front of the man I hadn’t yet told I loved. Maybe because I didn’t think I deserved him. Probably because I didn’t think I deserved him. He promised me there would come a time when I would wake up and the struggle would be over. I will have come out on the other side. I will have won.

He was right.

I wake up now a much better version of myself, partly because of Thom. Sometimes I’ll roll over, stare at him like a total creep, and think about how fortunate I am that we both found ourselves in shitty life positions in the fall of 2007. We were lost and, for one reason or another, our paths crossed and look at us now: Seven years later we are stronger, happier, and so enamored with one another it’s almost vomit-inducing. It is completely mind boggling and OH MY GOD terrifying to love another human with such intensity. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Congratulations. Those of you who don’t, just wait, it will happen. And when it does, like me, you may question whether you are worthy of another person who loves you more than the sun and the moon and all the stars in the sky. A person who carries you through the worst of the worst, and sees you out on the other end. No pressure, no judgment, just unparalleled love.

So the answer: Are you worth it? I think you know that by now.

For Thom, with love.

Peach cardamom pieFresh out da ovenPeach cardamom piePeach cardamom pie

Notes: Coconut oil pie crust is a real bitch, so follow the recipe exactly. Most recipes will tell you to freeze the oil before cutting it into the flour, but I’ve found this step to be both frustrating and unnecessary and yield a pretty shitty pie crust. I don’t like shitty pie crust. Thankfully I’ve tested this recipe over a dozen times so I promise you won’t be left with an inedible pie. Peach pie is inherently juicy, so if you prefer a pie that holds its shape (Thom does) (I do, too) get peaches that are still a bit firm but a day or two away from being fully ripened. If your peaches are super ripe you’ll want to use 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of starch in the filling, but your pie will still be a bit juicy – that’s just the nature of peach pie. If your peaches are firm, 3 tablespoons will suffice. Try a slice of each peach before using them, as you may want to increase the sugar to 1/2 cup if using peaches that haven’t fully ripened. If you want to make an 8-9″ pie with lattice, you can double the recipe but I recommend just making it in two batches. The recipe below will make enough for an 8-9″ pie without lattice.

PS – If you guys have trouble with the crust, I’ll do a How To post for coconut oil pie crust with more photos and a super detailed description. And options for whole grain, spelt, gluten free (!?!??) etc.

PEACH CARDAMOM PIE WITH COCONUT OIL CRUST

Crust
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour (170 grams)
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
5-6 tablespoons water, ice cold

Filling
2 Palisade peaches, sliced 1/4″ thick (12-14 ounces total)
1/3 cup cane sugar
3-4 tablespoons potato starch (see notes above)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Topping
2 teaspoons soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Sprinkle a 6″ pie plate or cast iron skillet with flour; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Slowly drizzle in the coconut oil, one tablespoon at a time, while using your thumb pressed against your fingers to swirl it around/press it into the flour. Once you’ve added all the oil, continue mixing with your fingers (15-20 seconds) until the mixture resembles coarse meal with larger clumps (see third photo above). Transfer bowl to the freezer for 15 minutes then remove and use your fingers to squeeze the crumbs and break down the hard clumps of coconut oil. Drizzle in the water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix with your fingers until combined (the same way you were mixing in the oil, but in a more gentle fashion). Repeat until five  tablespoons of water have been added. Pinch a piece of the dough together; if it sticks and forms a solid dough, you’re good. If it crumbles, add the remaining tablespoon of water and gently mix until incorporated. Just barely knead the dough (10-15 seconds) (do not overwork the dough) then flatten it into disk, place back in bowl, and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Feel free to wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for up to 24 hours or frozen for up to two weeks. You will need to let the dough thaw/soften before proceeding.

While the dough is resting, whisk the cane sugar, potato starch, cardamom, and vanilla bean seeds in a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced peached and toss until evenly coated; set aside.

Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll out the dough into a large circle about 1/4″ thick. Transfer to prepared pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about 1/2″ overhang. Fill with peach filling, but do not add the juice that’s at the bottom of the bowl – you can, however, spoon up to two tablespoons over top of the peaches. Press the remaining dough into a ball and roll it out until it’s 1/8-1/4″ thick. Cut into even strips (or use a cookie cutter to cut out tiny hearts) and lay over pie to create a lattice. Fold the edge of the pie crust over itself then crimp with your fingers or a fork. Brush with soy milk then sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 400˚F for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cover edges with foil and continue baking for an additional 7-9 minutes.

Allow pie to cool for 6-8 hours, then serve. Pie is best eaten within 24 hours, but will keep for up to three days. Cover loosely with plastic and store in the refrigerator. Reheat as needed.

If you’d prefer to freeze the pie, don’t put it back in the oven after the initial 15 minutes of baking. Instead let it cool completely then wrap in three layers of cling wrap and freeze for up to one month (it may keep longer, but I only kept mine for just over four weeks). Baking time will vary, but will be 15-25 minutes at 400˚F.

Yield: 5 small slices

Hot fudge peanut butter pie

Hot fudge peanut butter pie

I stayed up later than usual last night and went for a longer than long run this morning (it was 55˚F and glorious at 6AM), and I had every intention of coming back and editing the post I wrote about the peanut butter brownie sundaes I ate in the alley with the homeless guys who hang out back, but then I thought, Who wants to read something that long over the holiday weakend? No one. At least that’s what I told myself to get out of editing it. So I have another list for you. One that includes (but is not limited to) things I want, things that make my heart happy, and things that induce deep belly laughs. Enjoy your extra day off, folks!

Are you a morning person? (Petite lady boss with the mouth of a sailor might be the best and most accurate way anyone has ever described me.)

I love a company who listens to their customers.

The best jeans I’ve ever owned.

What Thom wants to name our first kid.

My response to what Thom wants to name our first kid.

Three ingredient peanut butter mousse

If Thom wouldn’t kill me for spending $2,500 on bookshelves, I’d buy these in a heartbeat.

OWNED

I always knew I liked Robin Williams.

My favorite YouTube video. What’s yours?

This is what happens when you let a 4 year old doodle in your sketchbook.

Farmers + urban farming

I’ve always said I’ll never run a marathon but then I found this one and it somehow made its way to the top of my bucket list.

I can’t stop reading this book.

Speaking of books, I’ve been cooking from this and this, lately. And I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

Drink, drank, drunk

Crumbly pie doughWhite chocolate chipsCreamy peanut butterCalifia Farms almondmilkCoconut whipped creamHot fudge peanut butter pieHot fudge peanut butter pieHot fudge peanut butter pieHot fudge peanut butter pieHot fudge peanut butter pieHot fudge peanut butter pie

Notes: I should probably warn you that this pie crust is the crumbly sort and will not cut perfectly clean like your typical pie crust. If you want something more traditional, go this route. Or maybe you’d prefer a graham cracker crust? Pretzel? If you don’t have a scale to weigh the chocolate, you can use just a tad over 1 cup of finely chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips. If you’d prefer to make this with dark chocolate chips, I think it’d be delicious and I have plans on trying it. The toppings are totally optional, but I really enjoyed the pie loaded with the works (whipped cream! hot fudge! peanuts!). If you’d prefer to steer clear of coconut milk, just drizzle the chocolate over the top of the pie and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Or just eat it plain, if that’s your thing. If you don’t use a deep tart pan, you will have leftover crust and pie filling.

This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions are my own, and I think Califia rules.

HOT FUDGE PEANUT BUTTER PIE

Crust
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons Califia Farms original almond milk

Peanut butter filling
6 ounces vegan white chocolate chips
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Califia Farms original almond milk

You’ll also need
Coconut whipped cream
Hot fudge sauce
Dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line the bottom of an 8-9″ tart pan (mine was 2″ deep) with parchment paper and spray with oil; set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S-blade, blend the flour, peanuts, and brown sugar until the peanuts are finely ground. Drizzle in the coconut oil and pulse until sandy. Add the almondmilk and pulse for 30-45 seconds, until the dough is crumbly but sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Pour the crumbs into the prepared tart pan and press it into the bottom and up into the sides. Poke the bottom of the crust with a fork at least 10 times then bake at 350˚F for 14-15 minutes. Transfer crust to a cooling rack until ready to use.

In a double boiler over medium heat, melt the white chocolate chips then off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, mix in the almond milk and whip for 1-2 minutes. To speed up the rate at which the pie sets, you can set the double boiler insert over a bowl filled with ice and beat for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to cool and thicken. Pour peanut butter filling into the pie crust then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours, but overnight is best.

When you’re ready to assemble the pie, top with coconut whipped cream, drizzle with hot fudge (it’s easiest to transfer to a plastic bag and snip the corner), and top with chopped peanuts. Transfer back to fridge to set for an additional 30 minutes, then slice and serve. Pie will keep refrigerated, in an air tight container, for at least 3 days.

Yield: 8-12 slices

Double chocolate almond butter trail cookies

Double chocolate almond butter trail cookies

The mountains have been calling for weeks. Months. Since we returned from our Europe trip. And thanks to a two week break that required zero commitments on our behalf, we’ve been able to spend a decent chunk of time away from the Mile High City. After visiting the Sangre de Cristo Mountains while my not-so-little brother was in town last week, we decided to spend this week in Telluride, where we’re currently nestled within the San Juan Mountains with a hike of one of its tallest checked off of our list. And as you read this, we’re summiting Handies Peak because we can’t leave the area with only one of its 14ers under our belts.

Cacao nibsRaw almondsUntitledDouble chocolate almond butter trail cookiesVanilla bean almond butter

Whether I’m traveling into the mountains, to campus, or around the globe, I like to bring snacks of the homemade variety because buying them is always so ridiculously expensive. And the other problem? Packaging tends to be bulky. Empty containers get in the way and take up unnecessary room once the snacks have been devoured. So my solution has always been the same: Cling wrap. Although there are a variety of ways to store your food to keep it fresh, cling wrap is undoubtedly my go-to when it comes to traveling because it a) allows delicate snacks to maintain their structural integrity, b) keeps them fresher longer than alternative food storage solutions, and c) takes up no more room in my bag than the food itself. I, admittedly, used to be the type who would buy the off-brand cling wrap because I tend to be unnecessarily frugal at times but, at some point, Thom talked me into spending a few extra bucks on the quality stuff and I haven’t reached for the $2 roll, since.

So these cookies. I had them freezing in a double layer of Glad‘s trusty cling wrap for upwards of three weeks, then we packed them up and brought them across the state where they provided energy during our insanely difficult summit of Mt. Sneffels. If you paid me ten thousand dollars to do it again, I probably wouldn’t because I have literally never been as terrified as I was while scrambling to the top of that mountain. When we made the summit I wanted to cry because, truthfully, I didn’t think we had it in us (especially not with Thom being as sick as he is). But instead I pulled two of these cookies from the front pocket of my pack and devoured them within minutes (after taking a few photos, of course). And then I caught my breath, calmed my nerves, and soaked up the immense beauty that resulted due to millions of years of activity in the Earth’s lithosphere.

High fives for plate tectonics, mountain adventures with the one you love, and double chocolate cookies.

Room with a viewWild flowersDouble chocolate almond butter trail cookiesView from Mt. SneffelsMt. Sneffels Southwest RidgeTrail cookie at high altitudeThom making the summit

Notes: I think the first thing I should get out of the way is the fact that these cookies are not exactly fitting for dessert. They’re just barely sweet and are a bit on the dense side, making them great to have for breakfast or as a post-workout snack. The best part about these cookies has to be their versatility – you can replace the chocolate chips with your favorite dried fruit, the maple syrup with your preferred liquid sweetener, the oat flour with buckwheat flour or a gluten free blend, and the rolled oats with rolled kamut or quinoa. If you want to load these up with protein, you can replace 1/2 cup of the oat flour with an equal amount of your favorite protein powder (I’ve used hemp with delicious success), but you’ll want to increase the almondmilk measurement by 2 tablespoons.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER TRAIL COOKIES

1/2 cup vanilla almond butter, recipe follows
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup, room temperature
1/4 cup almondmilk, room temperature
1 1/4 cups oat flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond butter, oil, and maple syrup. Once combined, whisk in the almond milk. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the oat flour, sea salt, and baking soda, and stir with a wooden spoon until a thick dough forms. For cookies that are a bit on the dense side (how I like them) add the 2 remaining tablespoons of oat flour and mix until combined. Add the oats, cacao nibs, chopped chocolate, and almond pieces; mix until evenly distributed. Wrap bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Using a 1/4 cup cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared sheet then flatten with your hands. Bake at 325˚F for 14-15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store cookies in an air tight container or on a plate covered with cling wrap, for up to five days. If you’d prefer to freeze the cookies, wrap each individual cookie in a piece of cling wrap large enough that you can triple wrap it. Allow cookies to thaw for 4 hours before eating. Will keep frozen, wrapped in plastic, for at least three weeks.

Yield: 9 large cookies

VANILLA BEAN ALMOND BUTTER

1 cup raw almonds
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, optional

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds into a fine meal, then scrap in the vanilla bean. Continue processing mixture until the almonds turn into a thick paste (this maybe take 7-10 minutes). Add the maple syrup and continue mixing until the almond butter is at your desired consistency – the longer you blend, the more oil released by the nuts and therefore the runnier the almond butter. I prefer mine to be rather thick, so I blend it for only a few minutes longer after adding the maple syrup.

Yield: 1/2 cup almond butter

208px-Glad_logo.svg This post is sponsored by Glad in effort to save good food from going bad. Freshness, wrapped up. All opinions are my own.
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Salted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

Salted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

I think it’s safe to say that the stress of the wedding was making me certifiably insane. Not the wedding itself, and not the details involved because I pretty much had every tiny detail planned. Right down to our first dance to Jose Gonzales’ Heartbeats that the DJ would scratch about 56 seconds in – a surprise to Thom – because as long as I can remember he’s talked about how epic it’d be to have a “first dance” to Ginuwine’s Differences. And so we would.

There was a grand entrance to Beirut’s Postcards from Italy. And although we weren’t going to get married under willow trees, we were going to get married under trees and the big, blue Colorado sky. I was going to dance down the aisle with my dad, but was working on getting him a djembe so that he could opt out of the whole dancing thing, if he wanted. There was going to be a family-style feast with seasonal, organic eats and so much booze that everyone would be completely shitfaced by the end of the night. This was everything I wanted for a good six months. Rather, everything I convinced myself I wanted because there are certain expectations that come when you decide to make a lifelong commitment to another human being. Expectations to focus on, not only your relationship and the love and devotion but, the people involved who have supported and carried and helped you trudge through the bad and coast through the good. I do not doubt the importance of these people but for me, the significance of a wedding has always been to solidify a pact we made so many years ago. It has always been about us.

After crunching the numbers and looking at the total cost for the wedding, which was only a few grand shy of the amount we saved to spend four months in Europe (insert seriously horrified emoji face), I came to my senses and he did, too. One early spring morning before we were both heading our separate ways we laid across the bed and talked about our dream wedding. What would you do if no one else mattered? Turns out we wouldn’t get married in Denver. We wouldn’t even get married in the States. So I let out a heavy sigh followed by a questioning, Thom, what the fuck are we doing?

Churnin'Califia Farms AlmondmilkSalted chocolate ice creamIce cream cake makin'Coconut whipped  creamFudge swirlSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cakeSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

Four years ago we spread Thom’s dad’s ashes near a little island in County Fermanagh, Ireland. I never met his father, unless you count the time I had to help identify him at the morgue then, well, I guess I did. I always joke with Thom when he gets down about us never meeting that, We did! Chuck was just reaaaaally quiet. It’s a pretty terrible joke but I think if you can’t make light of a heavy situation, you’re not doing it right.

Besides, he laughs every time.

So anyway, I planned a surprise trip to Ireland, contacted members of Thom’s Clan, secretly smuggled the remains of what would have been my future father-in-law onto a plane (there’s a really funny story about that but.. another day) (maybe), and next thing I knew we were having a Gaelic ceremony in the middle of Ireland with people who welcomed us and took us in and loved us like their own. After we spread Chuck’s ashes I gave Thom some time at the end of the dock to say his goodbyes. I remember looking at him in his dark gray suit, watching the way the hazy sunlight flickered and danced on the surface of the water around him, and the way my heart completely shattered because laying your father to rest, after a very unexpected and tragic accident, might be up there with One of the Most Terrible Things a 26 Year Old Has to Do. So I stood there watching him, heart breaking but my love for him deepening and I told myself – and I think I even said it out loud – I will marry this man, in this spot, one day. I will commit to love and protect and ground him, as long as we’re both alive. And I will do so right here, with the powdery speckles of Chuck that have since become one with the land.

And so we are, on 20 June 2015. We’re taking a plane and inviting our favorite humans (plus our beloved wedding photographer) and getting married on that little Island. And afterward we’re hauling everyone back to Dublin for a feast at one of our favorite restaurants, followed by a pub crawl where I expect my ivory gown will get heavily stained with Guinness and Jameson-gingers. But it’ll be worth it.

As for me? The wedding is no longer making me certifiably insane. In fact, I’m over the moon and anxious, counting down the days and laughing at the fact that I tried so hard to go against my instincts when I knew better. Trust that gut, folks. It’ll never steer you wrong. Now, how about some ice cream cake?

Salted chocolate pretzel ice cream cakeSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cakeSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

Notes: I went back and forth debating whether I wanted to make this with pretzel or graham cracker crumbs, but in the end the pretzels won out because I had two big bags of them in the pantry. However, graham cracker or cookie crumbs would work just the same. Or maybe even waffle cone crumbs? Someone please make this with finely ground waffle cone crumbs. I should note that if you’re not into sweet/salty desserts, you probably will not like the pretzel crust. The hot fudge recipe makes just enough to swirl the top of the cake, but I tripled it because I like to keep a jar of fudge in the fridge. If you want to do the same, it will keep for 2-3 weeks. Although the cake looks over the top and complicated, many of the components are made beforehand, making the assembly process ridiculously easy. But I cannot stress enough: Make sure your ice cream is soft and spreadable (but not runny). If it’s not, assembling the cake will be a huge pain in the ass.

This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions are my own, and I think Califia rules.

SALTED CHOCOLATE PRETZEL ICE CREAM CAKE

Pretzel crust
1 1/2 cups finely ground pretzel crumbs
2 tablespoons cane sugar
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons Califia Farms unsweetened almondmilk

Hot fudge
2 ounces good quality dark chocolate
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons Califia Farms unsweetened almondmilk
Pinch of flaky sea salt

You’ll also need
Salted double chocolate ice cream, thawed (1.5x recipe)
Coconut whipped cream (2x recipe)
Pretzel pieces

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper then set a round 8″ cake ring (at least 3″ deep) in the middle. Line the cake ring with a piece of round parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pretzel crumbs and cane sugar then mix in the coconut oil until combined and mixture is sandy. Add the almondmilk and mix with your fingers, just until it’s combined. Take a couple of handfuls of the mixture and press it into the cake ring. The thickness is up to you, but I prefer the bottom layer to be no more than 1/4″ thick. Layer with 1/3 of the softened ice cream and gently use a spoon to spread it over the pretzel crumbs. Don’t press too hard or else you’ll crack the crust. Take a few more big handfuls of the pretzel crumbs (I like this layer to be the thickest) and sprinkle them over top of the ice cream. Transfer the cake and batch of softened ice cream to the freezer for at least 45 minutes, but remove the ice cream 15 minutes before the cake. When the cake has chilled, spread remaining softened ice cream over the pretzel crumbs then add the rest of the pretzel crumbs in your bowl. Cover cake and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Prepare the hot fudge sauce by melting the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat (microwaving would work, as well – but microwaves freak me out so we don’t own one). Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the rice syrup, almondmilk, and salt, then remove from heat. Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

To finish assembling the cake, heat the chilled fudge in a hot water bath (put it in a bowl with boiling water up to the fudge line and let sit for 10 minutes). Top cake with coconut whipped cream, then transfer the hot fudge to a small plastic bag and snip the corner of the bag, making a small opening. Squeeze over coconut whipped cream then drag a knife through it to swirl. Top with pretzel pieces, if desired.

Place the cake back in the freezer and let the whipped topping firm up for 20-30 minutes. To remove the cake from the ring, heat it using a blow torch or wrap the ring in a hot, wet towel for 2-3 minutes. Use a hot knife to slice the cake and serve immediately. Cake will keep in a freezer safe, air tight container for up to four weeks. Let thaw for 30 minutes before serving a cake that’s been freezing longer than 24 hours.

Yield: 12-14 slices

No-bake chocolate-raspberry tart + a giveaway

No-bake chocolate-raspberry tart

The world – my world – feels all sorts of crazy and overwhelming and unapproachable at the moment. Which, in turn, makes me crazy and overwhelmed and unapproachable. I blamed it on the moon and Capricorn and the feelings that come when the astrological forces are strong, but in all actuality it had nothing to do with the supermoon in Capricorn – my world has been chaotic because I’ve done nothing to make it otherwise. So when I woke up this morning at 4AM, unable to fall back asleep with a racing mind and pounding heart – and too burnt out to continue my ritualistic morning reading of GristMother Jones, and NPR Environment – I walked out to the bookshelf and grabbed the first thing that caught my eye, which happened to be the bright orange binding of Eat, Pray, Love. I picked it up, laid on the couch, and before I knew it, it was 7AM and I was nearly finished with the most quote-worthy piece of literature I think I’ve ever read.

Aside from this chocolate-raspberry tart and a giveaway, today I have a quote for you. One I think will serve us well as we step into a new week. I’ve said it before, but I think one of the biggest misconceptions running rampant through our culture is this idea that happiness is a fortuity; that it’s something we stumble upon if we’re in the right place at the right time or if we wake up on the right side of the bed. I’ve also said this before: I think we’re fools to think this way. And I think maybe Elizabeth Gilbert thinks we are, too.

•    •    •

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, it will eat away your innate contentment. – Elizabeth Gilbert

Crust ingredientsGanache ingredientsCrust + Raspberries(Almost) raw chocolateThe Vibrant TableNo-bake chocolate-raspberry tartUntitledNo-bake chocolate-raspberry tartNo-bake chocolate-raspberry tartNo-bake chocolate-raspberry tart

If you haven’t gotten your hands on the beautiful cookbook that is The Vibrant Table, now is your chance because Anya‘s publisher was kind enough to send me a second copy to giveaway to my readers. Although the book is not vegan, a majority of the recipes are and the ones that are not can easily be converted (honey to maple syrup, eggs to flax eggs, etc.). To enter to win a copy of The Vibrant Table, leave a comment telling me your favorite summer treat and why you love it so much. Because I’m feeling generous, this giveaway is open to the whole damn world, through the end of the week. Giveaway is closed and winner has been notified. Congrats, Erin!

Notes: Anya’s original raw chocolate recipe calls for agave nectar and maca powder, but I didn’t have either on hand so I substituted maple syrup and lucuma powder. As a result of the maple syrup, the chocolate recipe isn’t ‘raw’. The mesquite is pretty crucial to give the chocolate it’s deep flavor, but if you don’t have any just substitute equal parts of cacao powder – no big! I used a small loaf pan lined with parchment paper to stand in as a chocolate mold, but if you have a mold I recommend using that as the parchment method doesn’t exactly make for the most photogenic bar or chocolate. If you’re not into the almond + oat based tart crust, this recipe would be delicious with a no-bake sweet biscuit or graham crust. And for those who have an aversion to nuts, use 2 cups of rolled oats in the crust and increase the non-dairy milk to 1/4 cup.

NO-BAKE CHOCOLATE-RASPBERRY TART

Crust
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
Pinch of fine sea salt
6 medjool dates, pitted
2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Chocolate ganache
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

You’ll also need
1 pint raspberries
Anya’s (almost) raw chocolate, recipe follows

Line the bottom of an 8-9″ tart pan with parchment paper and spray with oil; set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the oats, almonds, and salt into a super fine meal. Add the dates and blend just until combined. Add the non-dairy milk (two tablespoons first) and blend until the dough is crumbly but sticks together when pressed between your fingers. If it doesn’t work after two tablespoons, add the third. I do not recommend adding a fourth or else you’ll get a really tough dough. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, press dough into the prepared tart pan and set aside (do not refrigerate just yet).

In a small bowl, stir together the cacao powder and one tablespoon of the coconut oil. Stir until all clumps are dissolved then stir in the maple syrup. Once combined, whisk in remaining coconut oil and pour directly into tart shell. Top with raspberries and Anya’s homemade chocolate (recipe follows) then transfer to the refrigerator to set for at least an hour. Tart will keep refrigerated in an air tight container for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to six.

Yield: 10-12 slices

ANYA’S (ALMOST) RAW CHOCOLATE

Recipe adapted from Anya Kassoff’s The Vibrant Table

1/2 cup shredded cacao butter
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/4 cup cacao powder
2 tablespoons mesquite powder
1 tablespoon lucuma powder

Line a small loaf pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt the cacao butter until liquid then stir in the maple syrup and remove from heat. Sift in the cacao powder, mesquite powder, and lucuma powder and whisk until smooth. Pour into prepared mold and freeze until set.

Yield: 1 small bar of chocolate