Five decadent raw desserts to make this Valentine's Day
These decadent desserts, made with nutrient-rich raw chocolate, are the perfect treat for Valentine's Day. Make them for that special someone - or fall for them yourself…
DRIED FRUIT & CACAO LOLLIPOPS
Kids just love these - especially if they have been involved in making them. I always keep a stash in the fridge and offer them as an afternoon treat to friends when they pop round.
You will need silicone lollipop moulds and lollipop sticks for the moulded lollipops, or alternatively, wooden sticks, a piping bag with a small plain tip, and greaseproof paper for the 'chocolate lace' lollipops.
Makes 16 x 5cm diameter lollipops. Vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free
200g raw chocolate buttons or raw chocolate (80pc cacao), broken into pieces
100g mixed dried fruit and nuts (e.g. raisins, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes, freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries, sliced dried figs and bee pollen)
1. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water), stirring occasionally.
For moulded lollipops:
2. Put some dried fruit and nuts into each of the lollipop moulds, put the lollipop sticks into the moulds, then top with melted chocolate until the moulds are almost full. Smooth out with a knife if you need to. Top the chocolate-filled moulds with more dried fruit and nuts to make double-sided lollipops, arranging in the pattern of your choice.
3. Place in the fridge to set for an hour before serving.
For chocolate lace lollipops:
2. Using a glass as a template, draw circles on greaseproof paper, spacing them out. Fit a piping bag with a small plain tip, then fill the bag with the melted chocolate.
3. Place a lollipop stick on each circle with one end of the stick at the centre of the circle. Pipe overlapping lines of chocolate in swirls inside each circle. Scatter some dried fruit and nuts on top, then pipe a little more of the chocolate on top of the fruit and nuts so they are well attached.
4. Allow to set for 30 minutes in the fridge before carefully detaching the chocolate lollipops from the paper.
CACAO, CHILLI & PEPPERCORN BAR AND RASPERRY BARS
Raw cacao is a mood enhancer. It increases serotonin and affects other neurotransmitters, which make us feel happy. Chocolate-making is very quick and easy: anyone can do it and kids love it. The basics are simply grated cacao butter, raw cacao powder, coconut oil and a natural sweetener. I have suggested some flavour combinations in the following recipes, but do enjoy making up your own.
170g cacao butter
100g coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
170g raw cacao powder
60g light agave syrup
For the chilli & peppercorn bars: 1-2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
1-2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 large pinch of angel hair chilli (or use a mellow smoked chilli, e.g. mulato)
For the raspberry bars: 100g freeze-dried raspberries (or use strawberries)
1 tablespoon raspberry powder
For the chilli & peppercorn bars:
1. Line a 23 x 13cm loaf tin or six mini 13.5 x 6.5 x 4cm loaf tins with clingfilm and grease with coconut oil. Melt the cacao butter and coconut oil in a bain-marie (a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water), stirring occasionally.
2. Add the cacao powder to the bowl of melted oil and butter and stir until smooth. Stir in the agave syrup, adjusting the amount to your taste.
3. Mix in half the chilli flakes until well combined. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Top with the remaining chilli flakes, the pink peppercorns and angel hair chilli. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, or in the fridge for 1 hour, before serving.
For the raspberry bars:
1. Follow the method above for steps 1 and 2.
2. Mix in half the freeze-dried raspberries and half the raspberry powder until well combined. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared mini loaf tins. Top with the remaining freeze-dried raspberries and raspberry powder. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, or in the fridge for 1 hour, before serving.
CACAO & ALMOND DACQUOISE
There's a lot to love about the combination of chocolate, almond and meringue. This cake keeps in the fridge for several days, making it an entertainer's make-ahead dream.
For the chocolate almond meringue:
5 egg whites
Pinch of salt
275g golden caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
40g raw cacao powder, sifted
30g raw cacao nibs
400ml double cream
50g light honey
1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
400g fresh mixed berries
A handful of flaked almonds
2 teaspoons bee pollen
1. Preheat the oven to 150˚C/Gas mark 2.
2. For the meringue, in a clean, dry bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff. Gradually add the sugar, whisking constantly. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Gently fold in the ground almonds, vanilla extract and cacao powder until just mixed through, to retain as much volume in the meringue as possible.
3. Line three baking trays with greaseproof paper and mark each paper with a 22cm circle. Spread the meringue onto the three circles using a spatula or palette knife. Top each meringue with a third of the cacao nibs.
4. Bake the meringues for 1 hour, or longer if necessary. They are cooked when their undersides are free of sticky patches. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool in the oven with the door ajar.
5. Whip the cream, honey and cacao powder until soft peaks form, then set aside. Once the meringues have cooled, spread a third of the cream onto one of the meringues and top with a third of the mixed berries, then top with another meringue and repeat twice.
6. Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bee pollen. The end result will be a decadent tower of chocolatey meringues filled with cream and fruit - a luxurious dessert.
RAW DATE, FIG & BLACKBERRY CAKE
An impressive no-bake cake, with no refined sugar, dairy or gluten, which is very simple to make. The delicately flavoured cashew nut is celebrated here, packed with soluble dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and numerous health-promoting phytochemicals that help protect from diseases and cancers. And it's not just a cake for vegans - everyone can enjoy it!
Serves 8. Vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free.
For the base:
200g pitted dates
6 tablespoons coconut oil
For the cake: 400g cashews
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
Juice of 1 lemon
100g pitted dates
100g soft dried figs
50g coconut oil
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
About 100ml coconut water, adding enough until you have the right consistency
1 punnet (approx. 150g) blackberries, a few reserved for decorating
To serve: 4 fresh figs, quartered
Rose petals (optional)
1. To make the base, blitz the walnuts into a fine crumb in a food-processor. Add the dates and keep processing until it all starts to stick together, before adding the coconut oil. Press into the bottom of a 20cm spring-form cake tin, or adjustable tin. Refrigerate to allow it to set for a few hours.
2. To make the cake, start by soaking the cashews in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain the cashews and put them into a food-processor. Add the cacao powder, lemon juice, dates, figs, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla paste and blend together. Keeping the motor running, gradually add the coconut water and blend until the mixture is of cake-batter consistency - smooth, thick and creamy. This may take up to 5 minutes.
3. Pour over the base, then gently stir through the blackberries, reserving a few for decoration. Smooth the top and let it set overnight, or for at least 12 hours, in the fridge.
4. Serve topped with the reserved blackberries, the quartered figs and rose petals (if using).
This naughty but nice liqueur is perfect for chocolate lovers. Frangelico is made from toasted wild hazelnuts found only in the north of Italy, which are combined with cocoa, vanilla berries and a host of other natural extracts to make up this complex flavoured liqueur.
2 teaspoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons agave syrup, or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Raw cacao powder
A few raw cacao nibs
1. Chill two glasses with crushed ice. Dissolve the cacao powder in about 2 tablespoons of warm water and mix in the agave syrup. Put into a cocktail shaker, add the Frangelico, vodka and vanilla extract and shake for 20 seconds.
2. Tip the ice out of the glass and pour in the contents of the cocktail shaker. Decorate with a little cacao powder and a few cacao nibs and serve.