Archived Story

Satisfy your sweet tooth

Published 10:07am Thursday, March 27, 2014

A couple years ago a fellow vegan foodie shared with me a recipe for raw turtle truffles. I was totally impressed by how simple it was to convey this classic confection with raw, natural, healthy ingredients that I started expanding on the recipe and using it to build and create new delectables.

Raw desserts are so exciting to me because the recipes use really clean and simple ingredients such as cashews, pine nuts, hazel nuts, raisins, dates, citrus juice, maple syrup, raw cacao, dried coconut, apricots, and other dried fruit, nut, or seed combinations.

I once convinced myself that a raw cheesecake made of cashews, dates, flax, coconut, and orange juice was basically the same thing as eating trail mix. I then used this justification to eat half of the pie. It wasn’t hard to do.

You get the idea.

Using dried fruits and citrus juice to sweeten, and nuts for richness, really does create a much healthier way to indulge and satisfy our sweet cravings.

One of the best treats to come of my raw dessert experimentation period were caramel coconut balls. These are scrumptious and easy to just keep popping in your mouth. They are perfect for those of us with a sweet tooth who have to watch sugar intake because they are sweetened solely with dates.

I made them a couple weeks ago for a friend who has a major sweet tooth, but was sick and trying to avoid sugar. They were gone in moments.

Try serving these at a party or just to your loving friends and family. They turn out really pretty, so you could even wrap them up as a gift.

Raw Coconut Caramels

1 cup well packed dates, pitted and soaked overnight (if necessary)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened, natural dried coconut shreds

1. Place the dates, nuts, and vanilla in a food processor fitted with the metal “S” blade. Pulse until smooth, scraping the sides often.
2. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour to firm up.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the coconut in a shallow bowl.
4. Remove mixture from freezer, and using a scoop or 1 teaspoon measure, form small balls. Roll the balls in the coconut and place on parchment. Repeat until all the caramel mixture is used.
5. Place baking sheet in the freezer for an hour to set up. Allow the balls to soften about 5 minutes before serving. Store in freezer in an airtight container for up to one month if they last that long!

Kat Barry, a St. Joseph, Michigan native, is owner of Kat’s Hot Cakes vegan catering, and co author of “The New Chicago Diner Cookbook: Meat Free Recipes from America’s Veggie Diner.” She also develops recipes for eHow.com, where you can find over 30 of her vegan instructional cooking videos. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Kat currently resides in Chicago, and in her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, sampling local spirits, listening to live music, and getting outdoors. Follow @katshotcakes on twitter. Kat can be reached via email at: kat@katshotcakes.com.

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