Happy Valentine’s Day!!
In my view, Valentine’s Day is a bit corny, a bit cheesy, and because of these factors… fun! Really, what fun is life without a little bit of over-the-top sentimentality. And what better to celebrate such an occasion than with Vegan Passion Fruit Chocolate Delice!
There was a time when I would have scoffed snootily at the idea of Valentine’s day without the obligatory heart shaped box of store bought chocolates that would invariably be scooped back in the course of about 5 minutes leaving in its wake an evening of bloated lethargy. Besides roses and equally flowery poetry scrawled through a sea of pink Hallmark, doesn’t a candy hangover kind of sum up the occasion? Well, I have now discovered that, in fact, it does not! This year I would create something magnificent. This year Buddy would be wooed by a mad-cap creation: creamy, wobbly, passion fruit and coconut atop a chocolaty, fudgy, whole food base made of fruit, nuts and toasted oats. And wooed he was.
I must admit that when I was coming up with this recipe, the look of it was forefront of my mind, a blatant side effect of Master Chef watching. But, though it’s a bit fiddly to make in parts, it’s also a really fun thing to make. You feel like your creating a sculpture rather than just dessert.
The key to the dessert is the inclusion of agar agar, a sea weed based alternative to gelatin (Don’t worry. It’s flavourless!). It’s the component that gives the dessert it’s fantastic wobbly top and allows it to keep it’s shape. But on top of that, as with most sea weed, it’s highly nutritious. It’s filled with iron, calcium, and fiber, has anti-inflammatory properties, is detoxifying, and can help to control cholesterol. It’s also more heat resistant and sets firmer than gelatin, so your jelly based dessert won’t melt if it’s left out of the fridge, but you do have to watch that you don’t use too much or you’ll end up with something a bit rubbery.
With my ingredients in mind I needed to find a way to shape it into the rounds that I was after. I don’t have any of those fancy cooking rings, but if you do they would work perfectly. I just cut up an old Pringles tube and lined them with strips of acetate (some projector sheets that I had), but grease proof paper would probably work as well if you don’t have any acetate. I also used some acetate to make a heart stencil for the cocoa on top, but you could easily use card (I initially was going to use the lid of the pringles tube to cut the heart into, but alas, my craft knife has gone missing and doing it with chunky kitchen scissors didn’t work. The idea of it is weirdly satisfying though, from a re purposing kind of perspective, so if you have a go at it please do let me know how it worked).
With the desserts made, the pringle tube molds a success, and the hearts stenciled in cocoa on top, the only thing left was to name them. The vegan passion fruit chocolate part was pretty obvious, but what? Cake? Not really. Pudding? Don’t think so. Dessert? Too vague. Delice… now that sounds suitably romantic.
I am very pleased with how these Vegan Passion Fruit Chocolate Delice turned out, and more importantly, Buddy was too!
Wishing you a romantic, wonderful Valentine’s day surrounded by the people that make you happy, and filled with good, non-sugar-lethargy-inducing food, and just a hint of over the top sentimentality!
- 75g or 1/2 cup oats, toasted until golden in a medium oven
- 100g or 1/4 cup chopped dates
- 75g or 7 dried figs
- 50g or 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 50g or 1/3 cup ground almonds
- 45g vegan dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 Tbsp cocoa powder or cacao powder
- 2 tsp water
- 1 400mL tin of coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp agar-agar flakes
- Juice of 3 passion fruits, stained through a sieve to remove the seeds
- 2 Tbsp light maple syrup or agave nectar
- A bit of cocoa powder for sprinkling
- Line 4 2 1/2” to 3” baking rings, or similar round molds, with acetate or greaseproof paper and set them on a flat tray lined with greaseproof paper.
- Combine the coconut milk and agar-agar flakes in a medium sauce pan and set it aside while you prepare the bases.
- Meanwhile for the base put all of the ingredients into a food processor and turn it on at medium-high until the mixture is sticky and starts to come together in a ball. Divide the mixture evenly into the four prepared molds and press it into each one firmly to create a fairly solid, firm base. (The same way that you would make a biscuit base for a cheesecake)
- Place the pot with the milk and agar-agar flakes over medium heat, add the maple syrup and bring it to a good simmer. Allow it to simmer, stirring regularly until the agar has all dissolved, it will take about 15 minutes. This is really crucial as it won’t set unless it’s completely dissolved. As you simmer it you can take small spoonfuls out and look closely, you’ll be able to see the clear-ish flecks of agar in it, but once it’s dissolved you won’t.
- Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the passion fruit juice and carefully pour the mix into the molds on top of the bases, trying to get them as even as you can.
- Carefully set the tray on a flat surface in the fridge and leave them to set for a couple of hours.
- Once set carefully slide the molds off and then peel off the acetate or paper.
- Place a heart shaped stencil (or what ever shape you’d like) onto each of the delices and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Remove the stencils and serve!