Thursday, September 17, 2009

De-stressing with Dessert

When I feel emotionally drained, stressed or otherwise out of sorts, I find the most soothing thing to do is to get into the kitchen. As I begin chopping, mixing, molding and, yes, tasting, I feel myself relaxing, my posture softening, my breath slowing, my mind quieting. I work on instinct, sometimes referring to various recipe books or websites, but always tweaking things as I go based on my personal culinary sensibilities and the ingredients that I happen to have on hand.

These truffles are something that just sort of happened during one of my evening de-stressing sessions. I really liked the idea of a maca-cacao truffle, something that I'd seen in Matthew Kenney's book Everyday Raw, and I also had some juicy prunes sitting around. I thought their richness would be wonderful with cacao, but wanted to sweeten the mixture a bit more so brought in the dates, honey and a splash of orange juice. The almond-brazil nut combo came about because of their different flavors and fat contents; they balance each other perfectly here. Cinnamon came in at the last second and I really like the subtle spice it adds to the maca coating (after all, I'm still an American girl at heart, and as obsessed with cinnamon as the rest of my compatriots).

Not every kitchen experiment is blog-worthy, but I was really pleased with how these turned out. Give them a try, or use them as a jumping off point for some inspiration of your own. Please share your creative results in the comments section!

Rich Cacao Maca Truffles
Makes about 20 truffles

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup brazil nuts
1/2 tasp Himalayan salt
1/4 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup pitted dates
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup + 1 heaped Tbsp cacao powder
juice of 1/2 an orange
a few drops vanilla extract
2 heaped Tbsp maca powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine almonds, brazil nuts and salt in food processor and grind to a powder. Add prunes, dates, hon ey, coconut oil, cacao powder, orange juice, vanilla and 1 heaped Tbsp maca powder. Whir until a sticky dough comes together. Place in the freezer for 1/2 hour.

Put the remaining 1 heaped Tbsp maca in a shallow bowl and mix in the cinnamon. Roll truffle dough between your hands into small balls, then roll in maca cinnamon powder to coat.

Another recipe I came up with recently on a rainy Sunday (gotta love rainy Sundays, I feel entirely justified spending the entire day in the kitchen and not out frolicking in the sunshine) is a new twist on oatmeal raisin cookies. You may have also noticed that I love oatmeal raisin cookies. I've tried a few recipes, and the truth is, they're all good. This time around I subbed soaked buckwheat for oats, which worked a treat. I like using buckwheat in raw versions of baked goods because they create a really satisfying doughy texture. These cookies are sweet, soft and slightly spicy - everything you want a oatmeal (or buckwheat) raisin cookie to be.

I use honey here - beautiful, raw, local honey - because it really deepens the flavor. There are differing opinions out there on the use of honey, as some people prefer to avoid all animal-related products, but I personally find it to be health-giving and utterly delicious. I've heard that eating local honey is a good remedy for hay fever, too. Personally it makes more sense to me than using agave imported from the other side of the globe, but there are times when I prefer the runnier texture and more subtle flavor of this sweetener in more delicate recipes. Follow your own instincts.

Buckwheat Raisin Spice Cookies
Makes 9-12 cookies

1 1/2 cups almonds, divided
1 cup buckwheat, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates
1/3 cup raw honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Grind 1 cup almonds to a fine powder in a powerful blender, food processor or spice grinder. Remove and set aside.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup almonds in a food processor and pulse a few times until the almonds are chopped into small pieces. Remove and set aside.

Combine buckwheat, dates, honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and cardomom in food processor. Whir until the mixture comes together. Slowly add in the 1 cup of almond powder and continue whirring until you have a solid dough. Add a little bit of water if necessary. Remove to a large mixing bowl.

Stir almond pieces and raisins into the dough. Scoop out heaped tablespoons of dough and arrange on dehydrator sheets. Dip the spoon in water and press down the tops of the cookies with the back of the spoon to create even circles. Dehydrate for 2-3 hours on one side, until firm on the outside, then flip onto dehydrator screens and dehydrate another 4-5 hours for a soft cookie, longer for a firmer cookie.


Mike said...

Is it me, or you did not mentioned the quantity of the raisins in this delicious recipe?

Correct me if I am wrong, but I am going to add a 1/2 cup of golden raisins.

Thank you for sharing recipes. I am new to this blog, but I believe this is one of my favourites so I will revisit you over and over again :)

Raw GastroGnome said...

Hi Mike, thanks for picking up my omission! I think 1/2 cup of golden raisins sounds great. You could really use any type of raisins or other dried fruit that you love. Wouldn't dried cherries be amazing?

Hope to see you here again soon!

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