Almost raw vanilla nut tiramisu
I sat cross legged on the couch early one morning last week, hypnotized by the clanking of the radiator and the accompanying hissing that indicates the boiler has kicked on in the basement. My eyes were fixated on the east-facing windows and the blanket of darkness that sat just beyond them. My heart pounded so hard I could feel it in my temples. My mind wandered to far off places. And then I had a realization that popped into my head at almost the exact same moment the neighbors across the alley flicked on their lights: I couldn't remember the last time I was genuinely unhappy.
My brow furrowed. My eyes may have filled with tears. And then I spent the next hour on the couch thinking about what shifted. What in me changed that resulted in what felt like an abundance of undeserved happiness? Then I remembered. It was that moment tucked between when we got back from celebrating the holidays in Ohio and just before I left for Morocco. That span of 24 hours where I unpacked and repacked and ran around town like a mad woman, and in the midst of the chaos Thom admitted that, for a long time, he felt like he came last. Hearing those words literally rendered me speechless. I didn't know what to say. Partly because it came out of left field but mostly because he was right: he did come last. I thought about how terrible I would feel if the tables were turned. I thought about saying fuck Morocco and staying home. And I thought about how much I needed to change that; how much I needed to change myself.
That was step one. Admitting there was a problem. Step two? A promise. One I didn't think I would keep but one I knew I had to at least try because I owed that to Thom. I've always said how much I dislike New Year's resolutions but I was relieved of some contract work at the end of 2014 so the new year felt like a pretty good time to go all in and say, You know what? You're my #1. His happiness, his well-being, his wants/needs/desires - they all became my top priority. Before checking emails or testing recipes or planning what no longer feels like an impossible wedding.
You're probably wondering what this has to do with my happiness. So did I. And that morning on the couch I realized that something pretty incredible happens when you actually start putting the things that matter at the top of your to-do list: you inadvertently become overwhelmed with the kind of happiness you only read about in fiction novels. The kind of happiness that seems unattainable until you wake up one day to find it staring you straight in the face. It's the good stuff that makes your days feel long but effortless. Full but not overly so. And for that you get affirmation. Fulfillment. Peace of mind. For that you get to look at the world with a new set of eyes that make it damn near impossible for anything to kick you too far down.
And now comes the unsolicited advice. Don't let the distractions in your life construct an artificial wall between what you think you have to do and what you actually should do. Because eventually that wall will crumble. And that person who loves you to the moon and back? That person who always puts you first despite the fact that you continually put them last? That person who would literally give up everything they had to make you happy for just one day. One minute. One second? You want that person around when the wall crumbles, even if it is by your own volition. Because that person matters.
In fact, I’d venture to say that person is all that matters.
Notes: If you want to replace the herbal coffee with the real stuff, knock yourself out. But if you're going to indulge in this in the evening hours, I don't recommend it. Traditional tiramisu doesn't have any coffee in the actual cream filling, so if you want to go the traditional route you can replace the herbal coffee with equal amounts of raw almond milk. To preserve raw status, replace the oats with 3/4 cup of almonds and the maple syrup with 12-14 medjool dates (but you'll have to add about 1/2 cup of raw almond milk).
ALMOST RAW VANILLA NUT TIRAMISU
1/4 cup vanilla nut herbal coffee grounds
2/3 cup hot water
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup thick rolled oats
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 medjool dates, pitted
2-3 tablespoons vanilla nut herbal coffee (from above)
2 cups raw cashews, soaked 4+ hours
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons vanilla nut herbal coffee (from above)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast, optional
Pinch of fine sea salt
Add the herbal coffee grounds to the base of a French press (or other coffee making device) then cover with water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes then pour into a small glass; set aside as you will be using this in each component of the recipe.
In a food processor fitted with the S-blade, blend the almonds, oats, and sea salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and blend just until combined. Add the coffee, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough sticks together when pressed between your fingers (I used just over 2 tablespoons). Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let sit at room temperature (to dry out) for a few hours. Alternately, you can press the mixture together to form large crumbles and divide them between 5-6 small jars.
Strain the water from the cashews (make sure you get as much of it out as you can) then add them to the base of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the maple syrup, herbal coffee, and lemon juice then blend on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the nutritional yeast, if desired, as well as the salt; blend until combined.
To finish assembling the tiramisu, divide and drizzle the remaining herbal coffee between each of the jars then top with the cream filling. Dust with cacao powder and sprinkle with cacao nibs and slivered almonds, if desired. Transfer jars to the freezer and chill for 1-2 hours. Tiramisu will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator, but I doubt it'll last that long. You can seal the jars and store them in the freezer for as long as you want, but you'll have to let them thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before consuming.
Yield: 5-6 small jars