07 April 2010

Summer Is Here (a bit too early for my liking)

With temperatures in the high 80s, you'll definitely want something cool and refreshing for dessert. Dipping back into my archives, I found just the thing from June 1, 2009, one of my favorite dishes of last year:

Book Review: Ani's Raw Food Desserts

From June 2009 photos

Is that food porny enough for you? You're practically inside this luscious, tropically flavored, raw, vegan dessert fresh from the pages of Ani's Raw Food Desserts. Her Pineapple Icebox Dessert is like a vegan pineapple cheese cake, but way better because the cream is made from cashews, agave nectar, and coconut oil. It's definitely the best cold, non-ice cream dessert I've had in a year.

It's just in time for summer and a perfect bring-along for a party. Although you'll need to pack it in lots of cold packs or ice inside a cooler because this really needs to be kept cold (otherwise it starts losing cohesiveness).

From June 2009 photos

An important thing to remember about this tasty raw dish is that you can serve small portions of it and still be the hit of the party. The Pineapple Icebox Dessert is rich from all the cashews and coconut oil, but the pineapple cuts right through it. While my friend John Leary and I dined on this delectable dessert, I thought aloud about making it with strawberries instead of pineapple. I'm sure it would be equally fantastic.

Just a note about the topping and crust -- I didn't think there was enough, especially in proportion to the pineapple cream. In the future, I'd make more of that and less of the cream. (Although I did double the recipe and put it into a large container rather than the loaf pan she recommends.)

My review comes after the recipe below.

From the book Ani’s Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009. Find out more at www.dacapopresscookbooks.com.

Pineapple Icebox Dessert


2 cups cashews
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave syrup

1 1/2 cups cashews
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
1/4 cup filtered water, as needed
2 1/2 cups chopped cored pineapple

(In her format, not my usual numbered steps.)

To make the crust, combine the cashews and vanilla in the food processor and chop to a crushed wafer texture. Add the agave syrup and process to mix well. Sprinkle half of the crust onto the bottom of a loaf pan.

To make the filling, combine the cashews, agave syrup, and coconut oil in the high-speed blender and blend until smooth, adding water as needed to create a creamy texture. Spoon the mixture into a mixing bowl, add the pineapple, and stir to mix well. Spoon the filling into the loaf pan and sprinkle the remaining crust on top. Pat lightly. Freeze for 2 hours or until chilled.

Will keep for 4 to 6 days in the fridge or for several weeks in the freezer.

The Review

The minute I saw Ani's book, I felt that there was something familiar about it. It reminded me so much of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World that I had to do a side-by-side comparison. The two books are so similar that I looked to see if it was the same designer (it wasn't). Was Ani enamored by Isa and Terry's little book that could? Did they talk to each other about it, I wondered out loud. John (my John, not Leary above) wondered about the legal implications. [Update April 7, 2010, turns out they were published by the same group.]

I'm sure there's nothing nefarious about this lovely, little raw cookbook. It just greatly resembles VCTOTW in format and style. I just have to be careful about where I put this on the shelf -- especially when I'm looking to make cupcakes.

As far as the recipes go, many are very easily made and look fantastic. I'm going to try carob-ing up the Lavender Chocolate Bars because the photos are drool-worthy.

Overall, if you are in the habit of trying new desserts or want to further your foray into the raw food world, this is definitely the dessert cookbook for you. There are plenty of photos and loads of tips, so you won't get lost at all.

[Update April 7, 2010, I'm nearing the light at the end of the tunnel with my work from school. Expect a new recipe within the week!]


Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for re-posting this! I have an omni-friend who is *loves* cheesecake that I want to make this food. Question--I can't afford coconut oil (that stuff should be made of gold or something for the price--sheesh)...is there a good sub you could recommend? Since it is in liquid form in this recipe, would canola oil be an okay sub?

Thanks for any thoughts/advice! And I am glad you are seeing a light at the end of your work/school tunnel :-)


Deb Schiff said...

Hi Courtney,
Regrettably, canola oil will not be a good substitute because it will not firm up in the fridge, unlike coconut oil. Also, you won't get the amazing coconut flavor that's so important to this recipe.

You could experiment with using more cashews and perhaps a gelling agent like agar, but agar requires cooking and the recipe would no longer be raw.

I'm really not sure what you could use. Perhaps bringing this question to a vegan/raw food forum might yield an answer. Please let me know what you find out. I'm curious now.

Anonymous said...

Darn! I really wanted to impress her with a vegan cheesecake, lol. Thank you for letting me know, though! I guess this isn't the recipe for me...unless I come into money and can afford coconut oil haha. I will ask around and do some more research on my end and let you know if I come up with an acceptable substitute!

Thanks again!