I’m going to keep it real: I am not the world’s healthiest eater. I know I should be more concerned, but it’s just not high on my list of daily concerns. I’m can be pretty good about eating a lot of vegetables and healthy grains, but when it comes to desserts, I can never say no to butter, cream and chocolate. But thankfully, I share my life and kitchen with someone who has worked on super-healthy cookbooks, so I’ve started opening my mind to things like almond and rice milk and using all-natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar. So when a copy of Amy Chaplin’s beautiful new book, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen arrived at my door, I was excited to see what was inside. To my delight, Amy came up with some healthy vegetarian dishes that both look and taste delicious.
Today Amy is sharing her recipe for vegan (and gluten-free) Pots de Creme with us, one of my favorite cold weather desserts. But instead of being loaded down with cream, they’re made from a mixture of almonds, rice milk and coconut that creates a luxurious mousse without all the dairy. This was hands-down my favorite recipe from the cookbook (because I am a dessert-fanatic), but there are over 150 vegan and vegetarian recipes, as well as a very helpful primer of how to prep and stock a healthy pantry, inside. If you’re starting to look for holiday gifts for the foodies and healthy eaters in your family, this is a book that will definitely satisfy all of them. Thanks to Amy for sharing this recipe with us today! xo, grace
*Amy also shared some beautiful photos from her kitchen with us, too! Her dog looks so happy in that window seat!
Food photographs by Johnny Miller, Photos of Amy’s home kitchen by Stephen Johnson
Click through for the full recipe and photos of Amy’s kitchen after the jump!
From At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin, © 2014 by Amy Chaplin. Photographs © 2014 by Johnny Miller. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA. www.roostbooks.com
CHOCOLATE POTS DE CRÈME
Through many years of making vegan pastries professionally, I discovered the benefit of combining nut milks to create rich bases for various creams and fillings. Here, cashews, almonds, and dried coconut are combined to make a milk that doesn’t taste strongly of any of them and carries the chocolate flavor without overpowering it.
The trick to creating a light-textured vegan mousse is to blend the final mixture before pouring it into cups or bowls to set. This method was born when a dessert my sister and I were making for a client’s special dinner flopped at the last minute. After a few failed attempts to fix it, panic set in, and I threw the whole thing in the blender, hoping for the best. While the guests were enjoying their final course before dessert, we sat in the kitchen and nervously sampled the mousse. Our faces lit up with relief and delight as we cautiously dipped in; thankfully, it turned out to be the lightest vegan mousse ever!
Note: Since organic blanched almonds are hard to come by, I soak whole raw almonds and then slip off their skins. If you have blanched almonds, feel free to use them instead; just soak them the same amount of time as the cashews.
-1⁄2 cup whole raw almonds, soaked 8 to 24 hours in 1 cup filtered water
-1⁄2 cup raw cashews, soaked 2 to 6 hours in 1 cup filtered water
-1 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
-3 cups filtered water
-1 cup plain rice milk
-1⁄4 cup maple syrup
-1 tablespoon agar flakes
-Small pinch sea salt
-1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more to dust mousse
-1 3⁄4 ounces dark (70 percent) chocolate, broken into pieces* (High-quality 70% or higher dark chocolate is vegan)
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-Fresh raspberries to serve, optional
Line a medium strainer with a nut milk bag; a clean, thin kitchen towel; or several layers of cheesecloth. Place over a medium heavy-bottomed pot and set aside.
Slip the skins off the almonds, rinse and drain, and place them in an upright blender. Rinse and drain cashews; add to blender along with coconut and water. Blend on highest speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes.
Pour through strainer into pot; gather edges of bag or excess cloth, and gently squeeze milk out. Compost dry pulp that remains. You should have 21⁄2 cups nut milk. Rinse blender and set aside.
Add rice milk, maple syrup, agar, and sea salt to the pot with the nut milk. Whisk and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes. Check that agar is completely dissolved (see page 293). Add cocoa powder and whisk until combined. Remove from heat, add chocolate, cover pot again, and let mixture sit for 2 minutes so chocolate can melt. Remove lid and whisk thoroughly until completely smooth. Stir in vanilla, and set aside uncovered for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Pour into blender and blend on highest speed for 1 minute.
Divide mixture among small bowls, cups, or glasses, and place in the fridge to set for at least an hour or until ready to serve. These can be made up to a day in advance. Dust surface with cocoa powder and top with raspberries; serve chilled.