It’s been another snowy day in NH. Snowy days call for a little challenge to make things interesting… don’t you think? Maybe it’s a bit of cabin fever that calls me to these things or maybe it’s just me. Either way, I read about a friend making a raw Nutella this morning and I got a craving and had to do something about it. Now, I had the recipe blurb from my friend and I wished I could jump right in from there but alas, no hazelnuts in my pantry! But Nutella is chocolate-HAZELNUT spread, you say… I know. I worried for about a split second that my experiment might not have the depth of flavor that it could have with hazelnuts. Silly to worry. Really silly! This was my day for Rawking it Out! (“Rawking” is pronounced “rocking” really… very cool raw lingo… you can start using it too as you add more raw to your repertoire!)
So I set out with my blender and food processor and lots of nuts and cacao powder and coconut oil and things. My first attempt started with raw cashews, coconut creme, maple syrup and cacao powder in the Vitamix and it really resembled a mealy version of a raw revolution bar. It was almost gummy. I threw it into the food processor and added a few spoons of peanut butter, a couple of dates, some cocoa powder and maybe 1/2 cup of almond milk. I wish I could give you exact measurements because what I have in a jar on my counter is nothing short of pure chocolate cream spread nirvana. I was, however, really in a creating zone rather than a writing zone so I boobed and didn’t jot down a thing!
Hence, experiment #2 which was an attempt to recreate experiment #1. I did things a little differently to make it easier to get a creamy texture with less effort. I also kept this one simpler by leaving out the cocoa powder and peanut butter. It is lighter in color but no less flavorful. Smooth as smooth can be and creamy enough to make you pick up your pen and paper and write home to mom about it!
The long and short of my tale today is that it’s hard to mess up chocolate and nuts. There is room to play here and I think you should. You may have a texture challenge like I did with my first batch, but that was nothing that a little liquid and a lot of blending couldn’t fix. If you end up overdoing it you will have a nutrient-rich chocolate sauce that would be a great fondue-like dip.
Raw Chocolate Cashew Spread
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup almond milk (homemade for raw or store bought for mostly raw)
1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey or a few drops of liquid stevia(choose your favorite veg or vegan option here)
1 tsp vanilla powder (an alternative is 2 tsp of vanilla extract)
½ cup raw cacao powder (I like Navitas Naturals)
1 Tbsp coconut crème or coconut oil
*possible add in’s for a richer chocolate flavor: prepared peanut butter, cocoa powder, chocolate extract
Put everything into a bowl and give a quick stir to combine. Set the bowl aside for at least an hour so the cashews can absorb some of the almond milk and soften. The longer the nuts soak the easier they will be to blend.
Dump the soaked nuts et al into your Vitamix, other high octane blender or food processor and blitz until everything is creamy. Spoon out your creation while trying not to lick the blades clean. An hour or so of restraint will be worth your while if you can stand it because your chocolatey spread will thicken with a hair of refrigeration taking it from the realm of thick dip solidly into the land of buttery spread. Set your kitchen timer if you must: 45 minutes to an hour or even overnight. Then reward yourself with a heaping spoonful of creamy bliss right on its own or even better, slapped onto something salty and crunchy like a pretzel, or trump that and smear it thickly on a great piece of bread (GF bread takes to this spread like a natural!)
Now, you might have thought that rawking the Vitamix and food processor several times already would have been enough for me today. It might have been. But my boys asked for one of their favorite desserts tonight and it is SO easy and SO good that I cleaned the Vitamix in a flash and whipped it up. Not even 2 minutes and we were enjoying this bad boy/good boy…. whatever! This stuff is so good that my 8-year-old always says that the world should know about it… well here you go world!
Raw Banana Ice Cream(makes 4 servings)
4 frozen bananas
1/2 cup almond milk
4 Medjool dates (optional, but truly lovely)
1 tsp vanilla powder
Put everything in the Vitamix and blend until smooth and creamy. Scoop out, grab your spoon and marvel at the wonder of your creation. You won’t believe how creamy and amazing this is until you make it yourself. The thing you need to do is go out right now and buy a bunch of bananas (or two or three), get them home, peel them and break them in half before you lay them out on a baking sheet that you’re going to pop in your freezer overnight. When the banana pieces are frozen you can use them right away or pop them off the tray and into a container to store in your freezer until you’re ready to make ice cream. That’s the hardest part… waiting for the bananas to freeze. Word.
(Your mind is likely spinning with ideas about flavoring this mad creamy cool concoction. Dream away… you can add cocoa or cacao, you can add nuts (about 1/2 cup for this size batch) and flavor extracts (start with 1 tsp), and you can play with other milks. This is the stuff that dreams are made of!)