To celebrate the relaunch of my first recipes book Natural Harry (first self-published in 2015) I'm sharing a recipe and detailed step-by-step guide for one of the beautiful and simple raw desserts much loved from the book. Think minimum effort and maximum impact! Not only that, at the bottom of this post under 'cooks notes' I have poured out ALL of my tips, tricks and answers to the most frequently asked raw dessert questions over the years spent making thousands of raw desserts - hopefully it will give you some handy advice!
Every time I enjoy a slice of this delicious creation I'm amazed at the creamy texture and the subtle contrast in flavours. I add berries to many raw dessert recipes as I feel they always gift it with a little lift. In this particular recipe, the raspberries perfectly cut through the subtle flavour of the beautiful creamy filling and delicious chunks of chocolate 'cookie dough'. I hope you love it too! x Harry
Serves: 12 (or more) Prep time: 30 minutes (+ 12 hours soaking + setting time) Equipment: Medium slice tray, high-speed blender, food processor
BASE & COOKIE DOUGH 2 cups (320g) raw almonds 16-18 medjool dates, pitted 1/4 cup (35g) cacao powder 'CREAM' 2 cups (280g) raw cashews, soaked for 8 hours (see cooks notes for optional shortcut) 1/2 cup (125ml) organic maple syrup 1/2 cup (125ml) plant-based milk e.g. almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 pinch salt 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut oil (optional: see cooks notes) TOPPINGS 1/2 cup (65g) fresh or frozen raspberries, roughly pulled apart 1/4 cup (50g) cacao nibs
Line a 15cm x 25cm slice tin with non-stick baking paper.
BASE & COOKIE DOUGH: To your food processor, add the almonds and cacao powder. Pulse on a high setting a few times to evenly break down. Continue to process on a high speed then while keeping the motor running, add the dates one at a time. Continue to process until evenly combined. You should be able to press the mixture between your fingers, just like cookie dough.
Spread three quarters of the mixture out on the base of your tin and press in evenly, pushing right into the corners.
Knead the remainder of the dough together until it sticks well. Pull small pieces of the mixture apart and dot them randomly over the base, but be sure to save some for the next layer. You might like to also sprinkle a few crushed fresh or frozen berries onto the base here too.
CREAM FILLING: Drain and rinse the cashews well. Place all of the cream filling ingredients into your blender or food processor (I recommend a blender to get a super smooth consistency) and pulse to combine before blending until super smooth. Pour a little over the base and spread evenly with a spatula. Break off more cookie dough mixture and place randomly onto the filling. Repeat these steps until all cookie dough and cream filling has been used. Give it a little tap and shake to settle and level the mixture. This recipe is rustic so think random rather than perfect.
Sprinkle the top of the slice with crushed frozen raspberries and cacao nibs and return to the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours to set. I like to leave it overnight.
Remove from the freezer ten minutes before serving. I like to take mine from the freezer and leave it for ten minutes, then slice and store back in the freezer for easy snacking.
COOKS NOTES FOR THE COOKIE DOUGH & CREAM SLICE: Nut free cookie dough - For a nut free replacement for the base and cookie dough try activated buckwheat kernels or sunflower seeds. Do note that the seed option will have a more sunflower seed flavour. If you are swapping for these, instead of pre-blending before adding dates, start to add dates straight away. Nut free cream filling - A nut free replacement for the cream filling is the same volume (cups) in fresh coconut meat or coconut butter (ground desiccated coconut). It's more effort, but not much else will hold up. Unfortunately, both won't achieve a super smooth texture like cashews do. Cacao free - You can use carob powder as a replacement or omit this all together. You could also make half of the base and cookie dough without the cacao to form more of a 'blonde' dough for the chunks through the slice. Use the same method just split in half. Getting fancy - Melted raw chocolate makes an extra fancy topping, see example image above. Make sure your slice has set in the freezer before drizzling. Additions - You could add chopped chocolate though the cream filling before pouring it which is pretty special. Make sure your mixture hasn't heated too much in the blender though as this will melt the chocolate. If it has, just wait for it too cool enough first, then add, stir and pour. On coconut oil - if you are in a cool enough climate, you can remove the coconut oil altogether in this recipe. If you live in a hot climate and are worried it will melt too fast, enjoy it as a frozen dessert or serve to eat straight away! As ice cream - The cream filling is a great recipe base for ice creams (see example image above). Stir in some thawed-from-frozen or fresh berries and chopped choc. Pour into moulds and freeze. Once frozen, dip in melted raw choc. YUM! On sweeteners - I'm a fan of sweeteners in their wholefood form. If you prefer, you can reduce or increase the maple amount to taste or swap for your natural, wholefood liquid sweetener of choice. You could use prunes instead of dates in the cookie dough but they do have a stronger flavour. If you are using dried dates they will not act as an effective binder unless you soak them first. Some of these also contain vegetable oils, so I definitely recommend using medjool dates. These are usually found in the fruit and veg section of your grocery store or supermarket. GENERAL NATURAL HARRY RAW DESSERT TIPS AND TRICKS: Soaking - Ah soaking...it gets people all the time. Pouring water over something and leaving it to sit overnight is pretty easy right? Yep. Usually it's the remembering to do it where we get stuck. It really does achieve a superior end result though and I do recommend trying your best to do it. However, when you are in a pinch and you want to get the whole recipe done in one go, there is a shortcut: simply boil the kettle and add your dry ingredients of choice (i.e cashews) to a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 10-20 minutes before continuing as normal, draining and rinsing well as you would soaked nuts or seeds. Pack a flavour punch - It is all too easy for raw desserts to taste fairly similar when the base ingredients (mainly nuts) don't vary much. The key to the freshest tasting, most 'wow factor' raw dessert is definitely in natural flavour enhancers. Fresh citrus juice such as lemon and lime really is king when it comes to packing a flavour punch in raw desserts. Even finger lime and kefir lime are awesome. To highlight the natural flavours of the ingredients you have added such as berries, ginger etc., a little more lemon or lime juice than you think is usually well worth it. If you are making something more chocolate or cream flavoured (like the recipe above) and don't want that pop of citrus, then I definitely suggest berries to cut through the more sweet and subtle flavours. Other delicious additions that compliment these flavours are fresh ginger, vanilla bean or cinnamon. On your blender and food processor - The base of raw desserts can be very tough on appliances. Some are built to withstand it and some simply are not. Generally, you get what you pay for. All too often I have heard my community tell me that they have gone though a few poorly made lower range appliances to eventually arrive at purchasing something well made that can withstand what they advertise they can do. This can end up more wasteful and expensive in the long run. I have had a Thermomix (combo food processor + blender) and a Vitamix (blender) for 9 years now. They are tough as nails. I look after them of course, but oh my goodness have they made their fair share of raw desserts and smoothies. Both started life as the work horses in the caravan and are now faithful tools I use daily in the kitchen. They were an investment and required some sacrifice in other areas for sure, but I've saved money in the long run. I'm not sponsored by either but I am asked almost daily what I use, hence why I'm sharing here. I have asked my community what they have found to be great quality and have also heard that Magimix food processors and MOD blenders are good too. I'm sure there are others. Texture - To achieve the smoothest texture in your layers of raw dessert you need a combination of a long enough soaking time and a very good blender or food processor. I like to soak my cashews covered and overnight to make sure they are soft enough to break down to a smooth texture in my blender. Storage and thawing - I personally prefer enjoying raw desserts that are properly thawed. For a full cake, you need to allow a longer thawing period. A good way to do that is to remove it from the mould or tin, transfer to the fridge and leave it to thaw there overnight or for at least 8 hours. This ensures it will thaw right through rather than being frozen in the middle and beginning to melt or lose its shape on the outside. Another way to do this is to pre-slice a cake or slice and store in an airtight container in the freezer This is a handy method if you are prepping snacks for work or home and want to pre-portion your raw desserts! Tins & moulds - These days there are fabulous silicone moulds available for almost any shape or sized cake, muffin or slice. These are probably the easiest to use when it comes to removing raw desserts from moulds/tins. The other option is a spring form cake tin or using non-stick baking paper. Swaps - I'm often asked for alternatives to some of the ingredients for various reasons such as allergies or dietary preferences. This is always an option but I cannot promise that the results will be the same. You really can't beat a cashew for what it lends to a raw dessert and if you are replacing dates with prunes, for example, that is going to lend a slightly different flavour. However, it is entirely possible to do. It's also quite dependent on the individual recipes but I can give you some general swaps here, commonly used ingredients are on the left and suggested swaps on the right: Cashews - sunflower seeds, macadamias, coconut butter Almond milk - any other plant-based milk Almonds in a base - buckwheat, sunflower seeds Maple syrup - coconut sugar (but you will have to increase another liquid), date syrup, a clean stevia (again, increase another liquid) Lemon juice - lime, any other citrus Medjool dates - soaked dried dates, any other dried fruit, Prunes, coconut oil + a sweetner Any berry - for any other berry Cacao powder - carob powder, chai powder This recipe is one of over 70 simple and beautiful summer whole food plant-based recipes in my recently re-released original book, Natural Harry. It is a hardcover coffee table/recipe book I wrote and designed back in 2013-2015. In it you'll find all of my leanings and most popular recipes from the gorgeous little caravan we sold raw desserts and smoothies from during summers in our little seaside town. You can grab a signed copy here via my website which will be signed and packed by me and posted in compostable packaging with a Natural Harry calico bag. You can also find them all over Aus in all major book stores as well as independent book stores, boutiques, whole food, health food stores and cafes...it's basically everywhere including major online retailers here.