01 June 2009

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.

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.


Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

That is the recipe I was thinking of trying out too! You definitely need a food processor for this book, which limits me a bit.

It is the same publisher as VCTOTW, so I believe that is why the similar format. It struck me the same way!

Deb Schiff said...

Well, that would explain it!

You're right about the food processor. Also, to make the cashew cream, I processed the ingredients called for in the recipe, then transferred the mixture to a large, tall container where I blended it with my immersion blender. That got it to be smooth after about 5 minutes of high-speed blending and the addition of more water called for in the recipe.

Just a note about the topping -- it's like a really yummy cashew candy. As the crust, it's like a cookie. Weird, huh? Extremely satisfying either way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! That recipe looks awesome. Question--are all the recipes fairly nut heavy? I am looking for a raw cookbook that isn't too nut based...I am okay with using them, but not in huge amounts in *everything*...


Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Courtney.

While there are some recipes that have no nuts in them, this book tends to use a lot of nuts, seeds, coconuts, and nut butters.

Mahimaa's kitchen said...

lovely dessert.. looks mouthwatering. u have a nice blog here.

Deb Schiff said...

Thank you very much, Mahimaa. I really enjoyed visiting your Indian Vegetarian Kitchen blog.

nora@ffr said...

vat a lovely blog.. i rili enjoyed.. thanx for the review :) keep it up!!

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Nora!