I’m just going to put it out there right now — I hate coconut oil; I despise its flavour of oily nothingness and I loathe the texture of solidified fat. However, more than both of these things, I detest that the coconut oil marketing juggernaut has otherwise sane and sensible people believing that it’s healthy when it’s about as unhealthy as a food can be. I use it very rarely in my cooking and I’d recommend that you click on this article to see what proper scientists (not the coconut oil marketing people) are saying about coconut oil.
I believe strongly in educated food choices and the coconut oil PR has hit a raw nerve with my desire for us all to be informed about what is going into our bodies. Now that you’ve clicked on the link (of course you have!) and know that we’re dealing with a product that’s 85-90% saturated fats, please don’t feel that I’m telling you not to eat coconut oil, because I’m not. I just feel better knowing that we’re all making an educated decision when we next follow that recipe purporting to be healthy while including a huge amount of coconut oil, rather than be tricked into thinking it’s healthy when it patently isn’t. And if you read this and decide that I, and scientists, are wrong? Well, that’s also your prerogative and absolutely fine by me.
Phew. Got that little soap box moment out of the way. I know I haven’t had one of these on The Imperfect Kitchen before, but it’s rare that misinformation in the food world irritates me so much I feel that I need to write to you about it. My belief system around other people’s eating habits is pretty much that I shouldn’t push my beliefs onto others – mostly because there’s little that’s more annoying in life than a self-satisfied know it all. I hope you don’t judge me too harshly for this one.
So, with my inner diatribe about coconut oil currently on overdrive, it’s been a bit of a mission for me to create a recipe for a delicious raw and vegan tart that doesn’t include that anti-artery ingredient. And I really wanted to see if I could steer clear of coconut products completely for this one, it seems that most sweet, raw recipes out there at the moment have coconut somewhere in the ingredients list. I have nothing against that and have written a recipe for a delectable raw lime and coconut slice in a previous The Imperfect Kitchen post, but I wanted to see if it was possible to create a delicious, creamy dessert for my vegan and raw readers without resorting to the coconut bandwagon.
It appears that I can, and rather stupendously at that. I’ve recently gone through a make-my-own nut products phase and found that it’s entirely possible to have a seriously gourmetastic coconut-free vegan dessert.
I picked up some unbelievably sweet and tasty organic blackberries from a lady up the road from me (her of the wonderful eggs in my trio of gelato recipes) and I wanted to show them off a little. We also recently returned from a holiday in Western Australia where I picked up several kilos of delicious macadamia nuts which, alongside hazelnuts, are my favourite nuts of all time. A long-term favourite dessert of mine has been Nigella Lawson’s no fuss fruit tart, so I experimented for a few weeks with a variety of ingredients to create a raw, vegan, gluten free and processed sugar free version that I think is absolutely delicious.
- 800g raw macadamia nuts
- 3 tbl sp raw honey or pure maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
- 4 tbl sp lemon juice
- 2 tbl sp lemon zest
- 20 Medjool dates
- 250g (8oz) blackberries
- 250g (8oz) strawberries (or use any berries of your choice)
Place 500g of macadamia nuts, 1 tbl sp raw honey and half the lemon juice in a blender and just cover with water
Process until the nuts are completely smooth, adding more water if needed. You want a fairly thick consistency
Place the mix inside a piece of muslin or a cheese cloth, tie closed with some string and suspend over a bowl to catch the whey as it drains out (see the pictures above for my MacGyver skills using a wooden spoon, a roasting rack and some leftover Christmas string…)
Leave in a warm location for 24 hours to let the whey drain from the macadamias
Discard the whey and open the cloth to see your delicious vegan cream cheese!
Store in the fridge until ready to use
If you’re looking at the vegan cream cheese recipe above and thinking, “yeah, right!” – there are some good vegan cream cheeses available in stores these days. You’ll need about 500g
For the tart, pulse the remainder of the macadamia nuts, dates and half the zest to a sandy rubble in a food processor, then press the mixture either into the sides and bottom of a deep 25cm (10in) loose bottomed tart tin, or into four 6cm loose bottomed tart tins
Place in the freezer (or fridge if that is not possible) for at least 10 minutes
Clean the bowl of the food processor, then process the vegan cream cheese, the rest of the honey, lemon juice and zest and spread it into the bottom of the chilled tart tin, covering the base of the tart evenly
Arrange all of the fruit gently (so that it doesn’t sink into the filling too much) on top of the lemony cream cheese in a decorative manner
Place the tart in the freezer or fridge for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. It does need to get properly cold in order to set enough for the tart to be unsprung and sliced easily
When it comes times to serve, run a small, sharp knife around the edge of the macadamia and date pastry to loosen before freeing from the loose bottomed tart case