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

Salted double chocolate ice cream

Salted double chocolate ice cream

You never realize how heavily you lean on someone until you kiss him goodbye and find yourself trapped in a running shower with no one to grab the face wash you always leave above the bathroom sink. When your bike tire goes flat and you’re forced to wheel it a mile and a half to the bike shop because you still don’t know how to replace a tube (and you’re too stubborn to take the bus). Or when you decide to paint the very small, 30 square foot entry way and not even a quarter of the way through taping the trim you give up because This is far too much work for one person (but really it had more to do with the fact that I picked an awful shade of Benjamin Moore sea green). I lean on him. I lean on him so heavily. Part of me wants to apologize for what appears to be a minor codependence, but part of me is over-the-moon thankful for the newfound appreciation.

On his first night out of town, I went to the mall. But it only took about 20 minutes of being surrounded by people walking aimlessly and more people with kids on leashes (seriously, WTF?) for me to realize that I didn’t need anything, I was just filling a void. So I left and took some of the money I saved at the mall and spent it on almondmilk and granola. I’m not usually the granola buying type because, not only is it insanely expensive, it’s stupidly easy to make at home – but I was feeling particularly lazy and I had a fierce granola craving, so I caved. I took the rest of the money I saved and spent it on a big bag of dirt and an assortment of overpriced succulents. Succulents my black thumb will probably end up killing within a matter of months, but that’s ok because I’ve learned to accept this cursed thumb as an inherent part of my being. And before you try sending me links on how to keep these hardy creatures alive: There is no amount of plant education capable of turning my thumb green. I’ve tried everything. Literally, everything.

I rode home with all my new plants and almondmilk and recently-mended tire, and I shoved handfuls of crunchy granola into my face as rain fell from the heavy sky. I parked my bike in the garage then hurried through the front door, where my first instinct was to shout HEY MISTER! but the absence of his favorite pair of Zuriicks quickly reminded me that I was alone. It was just me and the succulents and the flat screen, tonight.

Salted double chocolate ice creamWaffle conesCalifia Farms vanilla almondmilkSalted double chocolate ice creamSalted double chocolate ice creamSalted double chocolate ice cream

We put the television in the bedroom so that we’re less tempted to watch reruns of The Office or Rick Steves Europe. That’s a lie. We put the television in the bedroom because a) that 46” black mass is a total eye sore and b) we have an unusually large bedroom so it was only natural to turn part of it into a sitting area. We made a rule – rather, I made a rule – that we wouldn’t watch it in bed but what did I do the first night I hooked it up? I watched TV in bed. Shamelessly. I gathered all the pillows from around the house and threw them onto the freshly washed sheets, then climbed in with my recently shaved legs (shaved legs + clean sheets = heaven) and sat the bag of granola where Thom’s body would be and a bowl of ice cream went right in my lap. And my god, it was the most gloriously indulgent and relaxing night I’ve had in I don’t know how long. To be able to lay down the middle of the bed and not have to share the granola or ice cream or remote with anyone else? It was nice.

But now it’s Monday and I’d very much like to have Thom back home because there have been four straight nights of eating ice cream in bed. And although I could probably get used to it, I’d like to kiss him and thank him for leaving so that I could come to the realization that a) I can’t do everything on my own (although many times I prefer to think otherwise) and b) it’s ok to lean on someone, as long as you’re letting them lean on you, too.

Salted double chocolate ice creamSalted double chocolate ice creamSalted double chocolate ice cream

Notes: Using Califia Farms almondmilk is a pretty crucial component to this recipe, as they make their milk by pressing the almonds, not by blending them with water. This makes for an extremely smooth, ice crystal-free ice cream, which has not been the case when I’ve attempted frozen treats with other plant based milks. The number of dates you add will determine the sweetness of the ice cream. While I prefer it on the less-sweet side, some people may want something a bit more sugary so add up to six dates if you’d like. Or, if you’d prefer to avoid the whole date situation, replace the dates with 3-4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup. If you don’t have full fat coconut milk, you can replace it with 3/4 cup of raw cashew pieces that have been soaked for at least four hours (although overnight is best if you’re using a normal blender). Simply add the soaked cashews to the blender at the same time you would add the coconut milk, but instead of blending the mixture for 15-30 seconds, you’ll want to blend it for upwards of 2 minutes (or until the mixture is completely smooth).

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

SALTED DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

Ice cream base
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 cups Califia Farms vanilla almondmilk
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
4-6 medjool dates, pitted

Mix ins
1 ounce good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons cacao nibs, optional
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the chocolate and almondmilk. Cook until chocolate is completely melted then add the dates and cook for one additional minute. Transfer mixture to the base of a high speed bender, such as a Vitamix, then scoop the thick, white layer of coconut milk fat off the top of the can of refrigerated coconut milk and add that to the base; blend on high speed for 15-30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least four hours, or until thickened and chilled. Once ready, transfer the mixture the the bowl of your ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the ice cream starts to really thicken, add the mix ins and let the ice cream machine do it’s thing for another 5 minutes. Serve ice cream immediately  or transfer to a freezer safe container. Thaw for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Yield: 1 1/2 pints

Summer fruit pecan crisp

Summer fruit pecan crisp

I spent the last night of astronomical spring in bed with a big bowl ice cream and the Grand Budapest Hotel, which is probably the only perk of Thom working late. Just as I always do, I fell asleep mid-film but was startled awake by gunfire (in the movie, thankfully) that was accompanied by the scent of petrichor being spun around the room by our ceiling fan. It rained. I paused the movie because I had a very unexpected and insatiable urge to run. Sometimes that happens (usually after a good rain) and I don’t fight it because WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT? So I threw on a tank top and those funny shoes with the toes (don’t worry, I was already wearing shorts), and headed out the door just a few minutes shy of 10PM. I ran on the gravel trail, hardly finding my way with my eyes but it didn’t matter because my feet know it by now.

DETOUR: Muscle memory is a funny thing, and something I very much appreciate when I find myself wandering home from the bar in the night.

I ran three laps around the park, which made seven laps for the day which made too many fucking laps and so I went home and ate more ice cream then took a shower and thought about reading the book Thom got in the mail the other day. It’s about child soldiering and appears to be the kind of thing you would read if you wanted to feel miserable about humankind and our inability to take proper measures to protect the small, mostly defenseless, people on this planet. I picked it up, looked over the cover, and then fell face first into bed – hair still wet and in my bathrobe – and woke the next morning, just before the sun, and went to the kitchen to make myself a cup of something caffeinated. I retrieved the book I had left face down on the coffee table and 16 pages in I had to throw in the towel because my mind wasn’t in the place to endure literature on the Rwandan genocide at such an hour. Not with the birds chirping. Not with the morning breeze drifting over the back of my left shoulder. And sure as hell not with the photo of that decaying flower sitting so perfectly at the edge of my peripheral vision.

It’s my favorite photo from the trip, this photo of a passing flower I caught at the Royal Botanical Garden in Madrid. It was surrounded by a mass of vibrant, perfectly bloomed, immaculate flowers but it was the only one that caught my attention and held it for longer than is probably appropriate to stare at something that’s bidding farewell to our glorious planet. It’s petals were stringy and wrinkled, inconsistently colored and tangled in one another and splitting at the ends. But my god, it was so extraordinarily striking that I thought about picking it and preserving it and putting it up on display when we got home. And so I did, but with my camera. So now, each time I see it sitting on the bookshelf looking droopy and lifeless (but stunning) as ever, it reminds me to be a seeker of the light. Even when seven laps around the park doesn’t lead to inner peace or emotional homeostasis; even when your faith in humanity is fractured in just 16 pages of Times New Roman – it is your moral imperative to continue fighting the good fight and to choose to be a glass half-full instead of one that’s half-empty. And when all else fails – when you don’t think you can muster up even another ounce of optimism - sit on the kitchen floor with that pan of leftover summer fruit crisp and I’m fairly certain your perspective will start to shift. Eventually you’ll have the courage to pick up that book and read it without feeling too remorseful because yes, the world is incredibly fucked and twisted, but it’s also massively, overwhelmingly, and jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Glass half-full, remember? Happiest summer, folks.

StrawberriesSummer fruitsSummer fruitsSummer fruitsStrawberries and pecansChopped pecansPecan crumb toppingSummer fruit pecan crispSummer fruit pecan crispSummer fruit pecan crispSummer fruit pecan crisp with coconut whipped cream

Notes: This is not your typical fruit crisp as the filling lacks starch and massive amounts of sugar. It does not, however, lack flavor. But if you’d prefer a traditional crisp with overly sweet and gooey innards, increase the sugar to 1/4 cup (or 1/2 if you’d prefer it super sweet) and mix 1 tablespoon of potato starch with the sugar before adding it to the fruit. Similarly, if your selection of fruit is super juicy, mix 1 tablespoon of starch with the sugar before tossing it with the fruit. If you don’t have the assortment of fruits I used below, feel free to use whatever you have on hand. I made this in an oversized loaf pan, but it will bake just as well in an 8-9″ metal pan or cast iron skillet. If you’re looking for a gluten free option, simply replace the flour with 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten free flour mix. The pecans in this recipe replace the oats that are present in a traditional crisp – so if you’re allergic to nuts or just don’t care for them, substitute an equal amount of rolled oats.

SUMMER FRUIT PECAN CRISP

Fruit base
1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 pint blueberries
15-20 cherries, pitted and halved
1-2 nectarines, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sucanat
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Crumb topping
1/4 cup refined coconut oil
2 tablespoons almond milk
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup sucanat
1 cup unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped

To serve
Coconut whipped cream
Chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F and lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan. Add strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and nectarines to the pan. Combine the sucanat and vanilla bean seeds in a small bowl then toss with fruit; set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the coconut oil and almond milk, and cook just until the coconut oil has melted and the mixture is fairly warm; set aside to cool for a few minutes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, and salt. Drizzle half of the oil mixture over the flour mixture then use a wooden spoon (or your fingers) to combine. Add the remaining oil and continue mixing until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger crumbs. Stir in the pecans then spread over fruit base. Bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes, then serve with a side of coconut whipped cream and pecans. Crisp can be kept covered and refrigerated for up to thee days. Reheat in oven as needed, but I recommend scooping it into ramekins or small bowls instead of reheating the whole dish (unless you plan on consuming the entire thing).

Yield: 6-8 servings

Strawberry almond crumb cake

Strawberry almond crumb cake

I had a post written up about our time in Istanbul. About the day we went to the Grand Bazaar and got locked in a windowless rug shop with what I swear was the Turkish mafia. And I was almost certain they weren’t going to unlock the doors and set us free until we handed over our American dollars for one of those fancy, handwoven kilims that somehow survived decades of existing beneath feet. When I went to look for the post last night – to edit it for run-on sentences and my typical overuse of commas – it was gone. My computer ate it. And unfortunately I don’t have it in me to rewrite it this morning.

Note to self: Properly save your documents.

The kind (albeit pushy) businessmen let us out of the shop without purchasing a rug, which I regretted up until a week ago when I stumbled upon my dream kilim that caused my heart to beat at a rate of about 150BPM. I almost bought it until I realized I should probably seek approval from the person who shares the other half of the bank account because I’m fairly certain waking up to a purchase that costs almost as much as your monthly mortgage payment would be reason enough to initiate the Third World War. I got the ok from a very groggy Thom (Note to self: It’s much easier to convince a person who’s half-asleep) and .293 seconds later we were the owners of an authentic Turkish kilim. I came home early Monday evening and was greeted by a familiar musky aroma; the same aroma I sat in for a good hour while we were confined to that dimly lit rug shop. It’s a smell most people would find offensive, but I find unusually delightful: The smell of a well-loved rug. One that looks so strikingly beautiful against our original hardwood floors that I don’t even care that it’s filled with years of accumulated dirt and other people’s dead skin cells. So there’s that.

Farmer's Market strawberriesStrawbsRaw almondsKilimRDVEStrawbs + crumb dusting

NOTED

Since my inability to properly save documents gave you the short end of the stick this morning, I figured I’d share a few things I found interesting/humorous/useful/downright delicious.

Elon Musk is pretty much the man after my tree-hugging heart.

I’ve been waiting for this for TWO YEARS.

$142,700,000,000,000

I binge watched the second season in 24 hours. I’m going to binge watch this, next.

CONGRATS, FUTURE EGGLADY!

This just came in the mail (!!!!!!!). Have you seen it? Thoughts?

Two of my interweb pals have newly released cookbooks. You should buy them.

The Scale of the Universe

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And dessert.

Everyone should own one of these.

We’re gonna hack the shit outta the six drawer tarva this weekend.

RDVE sold out in 48 hours (good thing I doubled December’s batch), so thanks for that.

CRUMB CRUMB CRUMBINGStrawberry almond crumb cakeStrawberry almond crumb cakeStrawberry almond crumb cakeStrawberry almond crumb cake

Notes: This was originally going to be a raspberry pistachio crumb cake, but when I got 6 pounds of organic strawberries for $4 at the farmers market the other day, I decided I had to go the strawberry route. This makes a pretty small loaf cake (only serving 6) so if you want something larger (like an 8-9″ round or square cake) double the recipe – the baking time will only increase by about 5-10 minutes, so keep an eye (err, nose) on it. If you’d prefer to not use coconut oil in the crumb topping portion of the recipe, you can substitute 1/4 cup melted vegan butter in place of the coconut oil and almond milk. In the cake batter recipe you can substitute any neutral flavored oil. Oh, and the crumble itself is delicious over an assortment of mixed fruits (nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, etc.). There will actually be a mixed fruit crumble coming your way in the very near future.

PS – If you don’t feel like turning on your oven, how about hot fudge ice cream sundaes? WITHOUT AN ICE CREAM MAKER.

STRAWBERRY ALMOND CRUMB CAKE

Crumb topping
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
4 teaspoons almond milk
3 tablespoons cane sugar
2 tablespoons sucanat
Small pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

Cake batter
3/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup cane sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons almond milk, warm
1/4 pound strawberries, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 1 pound loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with oil; set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat (or in a microwave), combine the oil and milk, and heat just until melted; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sugars, salt, and flour. Drizzle the oil mixture over the flour mixture, then use a wooden spoon (or spatula) to combine the mixture until it resembles coarse meal with a few larger clumps. Toss in the almonds then set crumb topping aside.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oil, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Whisk in the almond milk (make sure it’s warm or else it will cause the coconut oil to harden) and flour mixture, alternating in halves; whisk until no clumps remain. Transfer batter to the prepared baking pan and top with strawberries followed by the crumb topping. Bake at 350˚F for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 45-60 minutes then lift from pan and allow to finish cooling on a wire rack. Cake will keep covered, at room temperature, for up to three days. When ready to serve, top with a dollop of coconut whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Yield: 6 servings

Real Deal Vanilla Extract | Batch #3

Real Deal Vanilla Extract

Real Deal Vanilla Extract is now available in limited quantities. As always, product is organic, unfiltered, and aged for a minimum of 12 months. Next batch will be ready early December 2014.

Vanilla beans for Real Deal Vanilla ExtractReal Deal Vanilla ExtractReal Deal Vanilla ExtractReal Deal Vanilla ExtractReal Deal Vanilla Extract