From time to time, everyone craves one of those experiences that leave you breathless, that makes your eyes roll back in your head and no real sensible words come out of your mouth. They are great for a moment and then you feel kind of cheap and you hang your head in shame because you broke your promise again…no more after dinner thrills.
Well, leave the lights on and parade it in front of everybody, because I’ve come up with one of those pleasurable delights I just can’t stay quiet about. You don’t have to feel dirty anymore. In fact, you could take this one to church.
I figured out very early in my career that people could easily get irate if their steak was under, or over-cooked. They’d get red faced over mushy vegetables, but everybody cheered the guy with the chocolate. Made me want to be a chocolate Easter bunny.
I give to you, a guilt-free dessert that’s actually GOOD FOR YOU. Yes, Elanor, I said good for you. It’s a no-bake Dark Chocolate (not quite) Cheesecake. No dairy, no processed sugar and no gluten. Lactose intolerant–no problem. Gluten-free–come on in. No processed sugar, and it will still smack you in your sweet tooth.
The one thing that brings out the mad culinary chemist in me is dessert. I don’t eat that many sweets, although I certainly can appreciate and enjoy them from time to time. But my goal, my own guilty pleasure, is to create something and send it out to someone and hide so I can watch the expression on their face when they take that first bite…that says it all. No matter what the words are, that facial expression will tell you if you’ve laid an egg, or found the goose that lays the golden ones. This is the latter one…a whole boat load of them.
How can something so good, so decadent, so rich and indulgent be good for you? For starters, the crust is made from ground toasted almonds and cashews that are glued together with a paste made from dry figs and dates. I use fermented organic cacao two ways in this recipe–and a little goes into the crust. The toasted nuts and the cacao give the crust a deep, rich, almost dark flavor. Then comes the good part:
The (not) cream cheese filling is made from the hardened cream in coconut milk that you get by refrigerating overnight 3 cans of full fat coconut milk. When you break through the layer, the water which has separated can be drained off. I also used two beautiful ripe avocados (to give it that buttery, creamy texture). It gives you the feeling on your tongue like you’re eating an amazing Neuchatel. The filling also has dates. I recommend soaking them for an hour or so in warm water to make blending them a lot easier. You want the whole thing to be buttery smooth like ice cream.
**You really need a good food processor, or one of those tall grey blenders that can pulverize a cow bone to process the nuts into meal, and also to blend the filling ingredients.
Next comes 1/4 cup of organic coconut oil (I buy mine at Walmart and love the flavor). 1 2/3 cups of the fermented cocoa powder goes in along with 1 cup of Coconut Palm Sugar. Palm sugar is not processed like white sugar. It’s the juice from a palm tree that is evaporated and screened. It tastes a lot like the burnt sugar on top of a creme brulee…In fact, the whole dessert tastes a lot like a super dark chocolate creme brulee. A splash of vanilla and about 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt finishes it. (I always add a sprinkle of salt in all my desserts, but chocolate especially comes alive with just a touch.) If it isn’t quite as sweet as you’d like, you can always add a small amount of amber agave nectar.
The fermented cacao powder keeps all the great anti-oxidants and is not bitter like dutch cocoa is. What fat there is, is a good fat. Avocados contain good fats as does the coconut oil. Who knew eating a dessert that feels like silk on your tongue and tastes like a really expensive dark chocolate could actually be good for you!! OK, so don’t eat the whole thing–that could be counter-productive–but if you’re like me and you really enjoy a little something sweet from time to time, this is the holy grail of after dinner (or before bed), breakfast treats.
I don’t need a room full of people applauding when I walk into the room after serving this one–their tongues slapping their cheeks is accolade enough. (Think Jed Clampett after he ate something he really liked). Enjoy.