Photography by Ilaria Biuso
2 years on, I still love this!
Well hot damn, welcome, Mister Coconut Sugar, you sexy beast, such a pleasure to meet you! Where ya been hidin’ all this time?
So a couple weeks ago I made a discovery, which took a quick turn down Obsession Lane. Yes, coconut sugar, you are my one and only and I don’t care ‘cos let’s face it, things could be a lot worse … For instance, coconut sugar is derived from the flowers of the coconut palm and requires virtually zilch processing (or so says the packet at least baha!), and being a “wholesome” “organic” ingredient means that no chemicals or bleaching agents are added ... Sometimes, you just gotta believe the blurb because you so desperately WANT to believe it!
2 cups cashews, soaked in cold water until soft – about 3 hours
1½ cups water plus 1 Tbsp for the cream
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp coconut sugar plus a sprinkle for garnishing
¼ cup white chia seeds
3 Tbsp canned coconut cream
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut shavings / flakes
3 cups of frozen raspberries, thawed
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 Drain cashews, and in a food processor, whizz 1 cup of the cashews with 1½ cups water, the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the coconut sugar (and if you’re like me, and feel so inclined, pop an extra spoonful from the bag in your mouth too … ), for a minute or so – the consistency will be watery and bitty from nuts, almost like a thick nut milk.
2 Add this to a big bowl with the chia seeds, stir, and set aside for 30 minutes until the chia seeds have absorbed all the liquid and become soft and plump. Stir from time to time.
3 Rinse out the food processor if you’ve got the motivation to do so, then blend the remaining cashews with the rest of the coconut sugar, coconut cream, vanilla extract, and the tablespoon of water, until it is thick and ‘creamy’. You may have to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl a couple of times.
4 Crank a small frying pan atop a low heat and toast the coconut flakes until they are lightly browned – which happens sooner than you’d expect so keep an eye on them. When ready, spread them out on a paper towel to minimise residual toastage and over-browning. Coconut flakes
5 Now comes the fun part – you can get as OCD about the presentation of these as you like – feel free to opt for perfectly clean layers, or like me, include a bit of default mess in there and encourage the oozing of berry juice between layers! Anyway it’s pretty straightforward – just add a small dollop of the chia seed mix to a glass, followed by some of the cashew cream, and top it with some of the raspberries.Repeat these layers until the glasses are full.
6 Garnish the deserts with the remaining raspberries and a mini-scatter of blueberries, a pinch of coconut flakes and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar, then EAT! Or pop them in the fridge for something to look forward to later.
Coconut sugar has a caramelised molasses flavour and the grains are semi-coarse giving it a crumbly texture that makes you just want to eat it as is hehe. It seems to enhance the subtle flavours of vanilla and cinnamon and teams up with the coconut cream which, by the way, is not overpowering in any sense.
I’ve substituted some of the coconut for soaked cashews so the rich creaminess is still there, but coconut domination is far from the picture and instead what you get is a really delicate and elegant desert that still holds its freshness and lightness.
Don’t be scanty with the raspberries – they add an essential tartness to keep the desert tasting fresh and light.
Depending on the size of the glasses you use, there will most probably be some of the chia seed mix, and maybe some of the cashew cream, too, if you haven’t picked at it during the process haha, but with the left overs, just keep them in the fridge, up to a couple of days, and enjoy for brekky or a cheeky snack when you’re in need.