Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.
Anyone who feels overwhelmed by the prospect of making dessert probably hasn't made a raw one. This is reason number 158 why they're so wonderful. Of course, reason number one is the fact that they're made with real ingredients, unlike their processed and baked counterparts. When we break most raw treats down to their bare essentials, we're talking about a handful of ingredients; usually nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and spices. Occasionally, a splash of raw honey or maple syrup will make its way in there, but usually the sweetness comes from dates or other dried fruits.
Now that the weather is getting warmer, who can be bothered to bake? While there is certainly a place for a raw dessert in wintertime, like my raw pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, this is the prime time of the year for it. But if you've never tried making one before, it can be a little daunting - what equipment will you need? What will it taste like? What will it look like?
First of all, relax - the beauty of a raw dessert is its simplicity. There is no over- or under-baking. There is no sinking in the middle. And with the exception of nuts, they're naturally suitable for anyone with food allergies or intolerances. Serve a slice of raw vegan pie to a girl with a gluten intolerance and she'll love you forever.
The equipment is perhaps the only tricky aspect of making a raw dessert. It's essential. Since the crust of a pie in this case is made out of grinding up nuts and dates together in a food processor, you'll definitely be needing one in your kitchen. I'm not quite sure what I'd do without mine - it's used at least once a week in our household (sometimes multiple times a day).
Other machinery you might find useful, but not essential: a blender (Vitamix being the most amazing), a coffee grinder (for smaller quantities of nuts and seeds), a dehydrator (I don't have one, but if you're seriously into making raw snacks and treats, it may be a handy, albeit expensive, addition to your kitchen).
What will it taste like? Delicious, mostly because you made it yourself with all those yummy fresh ingredients! Raw desserts aren't overly sweet usually - although that's up to you and how much sweetener you add. As a nutrition advisor, I'm a big fan of making raw treats since they aren't loaded with sugar and still taste great. Add an extra date or two if the sweetness really isn't up to your palate's tastes.
What will it look like? Raw desserts are as beautiful as you can make them. There are some raw vegan restaurants doing incredible things with sweets. Check out this sampler plate from Pure Food & Wine in NYC:
While there are all sorts of chocolate goodies you can create in a raw environment, I enjoy using the season's best fruit. Right now, in England, rhubarb is on my mind. The stalks seem to look bigger and bigger each week I go to the farmer's market and I end up trying to shove them in our tiny fridge when I get home. And strawberries have surfaced too - despite the terrible weather we've been having. So here's my raw take on a quite classic springtime dessert...
Raw Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Prep Time: 15 mins + 1 hour chilling time
Cook Time: 0 mins
Keywords: raw dessert gluten-free soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian wheat free pie spring summer
Ingredients (serves 8)
For the Crust
- 2 cups raw almonds
- 1 cup dates
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of pink Himalayan crystal salt
- handful of unsweetened shredded coconut
For the Filling
- 4 large rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled (6 strawberries reserved)
- 1/4 cup raw honey or maple syrup
- 1/3 cup organic virgin coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
For the Crust
In a pie dish or cake tin with a removable base, sprinkle the shredded coconut to evenly coat. Set aside.
Combine all the other ingredients in a food processor and blend until sticky and dough-like.
Pour on top of the coconut and press into the dish and up the sides evenly. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
For the Filling
Blitz the rhubarb and strawberries in a food processor until smooth (but save 6 of the strawbs for garnish). Strain the fruit mixture, lightly pressing with a wooden spoon to get rid of any excess mixture - save the liquid and drink as a juice!
Return the fruit to the food processor and add the rest of the ingredients. Blitz for a few seconds to combine, then pour into the prepared crust.
Decorate with slices of strawberries.
Refrigerate or freeze the pie for at least an hour to solidify - depending on the consistency of the filling, it may be better kept in the freezer. Simply defrost for 10 minutes before eating!