Tag Archives: walnuts

Sugar-free chocolate banana pie

Anyone who’s seen me cook from a recipe can attest that I am always making substitutions. Especially when I get it into my head that I want to make something now. So it was with this chocolate banana pie. I had just gotten a copy of the Paleo Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook and was flipping through it. A picture of chocolate hazelnut mini-tarts caught my eye and I just had to make them. Except that I was out of hazelnuts, I wasn’t quite sure where to find coconut butter locally, and (perhaps most crucially), there was no chocolate in the studio. Cocoa powder only. And a bowl of bananas. Not to be denied my desire for a chocolate dessert, I started experimenting.

In the end, the crust in this pie is a fairly close copy of the one used in the inspiration recipe, a mix of walnuts and coconut flour. I used a fresh apple instead of applesauce, and added a little orange zest to brighten things up. This crust is a little finer and lighter than the coarse ground almond crust I have used for tarts in the past (such as last summer’s recurring peach and blackberry), it tastes less obviously “alternative”, which may or may not matter to you. I was initially a little concerned about using walnuts in the crust–I thought there might be a bit of an aftertaste. However, multiple rounds of baking have laid my fears to rest.

The filling for this pie is incredibly easy: just dump everything in the food processor and go. The result is creamy, dark, and chocolatey. It sets up very quickly also, making this a great semi-last minute dessert (assuming, of course, that you have all the ingredients to hand!).

Chocolate Banana Pie
Makes 1 10″ tart, enough for 6-8

Crust
1 c. walnuts
1/2 c. coconut flour
1 apple, cored and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil
grated zest of 1 orange

Filling
4 bananas, peeled and cut into 1-2″ pieces
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/4 c. almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a food processor, combine the walnuts and coconut flour. Process to a fine meal. Add the apple, coconut oil, and orange zest, and process until the mixture has reached a uniform consistency. The result should be a slightly moist dough.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Press crust into a 10″ tart pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the banana filling.

3. Combine all filling ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Depending on the size of your bananas, you may wish to add up to 1/4 c. additional almond milk.

4. Pour the filling into the crust and spread evenly. Place in refrigerator and leave for at least 15 minutes to allow filling to firm up.

Nut-stuffed Baked Apples (vegan-izable, gluten free)

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Last weekend, I went to the market and bought a bag full of Granny Smith apples to make today’s recipe. Then I went to the library and finally jumped on the Nigel Slater bandwagon, checking out a copy of Ripe. I’ve been seeing references to Slater around the blogosphere (Lottie+Doof seems to be particularly, and charmingly, in love with him), and when I noticed that he authored a good many of the recipes I was bookmarking over on BBC food, well…it just seemed like a sign.

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Despite what that last paragraph may have you thinking, this post is actually not about something I baked from Ripe. Nope, on Saturday afternoon I first got busy in the kitchen. Then I sat down to peruse my new literary/culinary find while the heavenly smells of apples baking slowly filled the air around me. For those of you unfamiliar, Ripe is a cookbook devoted to fruit (plus a nut or two). Each chapter is devoted to a different fruit, and the chapters proceed alphabetically. Meaning that I was reading about apples and smelling them at the same time. When the apples came out of the oven, I paused reading long enough to snap a few photos, then switched over to reading about apples while eating one. And the very first recipe I turned to when I sat back down at the table with my baked apple? Why, one for baked apples, of course. As food experiences go, it was bordering on the profound.

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My version of baked apples was conceived as an attempt to make a “healthy” alternative to the apple pie my father bakes on special occasions, something suitable for more regular consumption. I skip the pastry crust and leave the apples whole, coring them and stuffing with a spiced blend of almonds and walnuts. For those of you used to seeing apples spiced with cinnamon, the choice of cloves may seem a little odd. It’s taken straight from the recipe Dad uses, out of his classic 1970’s era copy of Cookery the Australian Way, and should be tried at least once. If you aren’t sold, you can go back to cinnamon. But I bet you won’t want to go back.

P.S. Ripe so far looks absolutely amazing and I am just itching to try some of the recipes. Perhaps this weekend I’ll buy another bagful of apples to experiment with.

Nut stuffed baked apples
makes 8 apples

Ingredients
8 Granny Smith or other tart cooking apples
3 tbsp coconut oil (for a vegan version) or butter
1/2 c. raw almonds
1/4 c. walnuts
1/4 tsp. cloves

Method

1. Using a small paring knife, cut a cone out of the top of each apple, then cut out the core and seeds, leaving a small hole all the way through:

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2. Start oven pre-heating to 400F. Place 1/4 c. almonds in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Process to a fine meal, then add the remaining 1/4 c. almonds and 1/4 c. walnuts. Pulse 4-5 times, coarsely chopping the just added nuts.

3. In a small, microwave safe bowl, microwave the coconut oil/butter for 20-40 seconds, until melted. Stir in the cloves. Add the nuts to the oil/butter and clove mixture, and stir until evenly incorporated.

4. Arrange the apples in a baking dish. You can also place each apple in a muffin tin, or get fancy and use individual little ramekins. Spoon the nut mixture into the hollowed out cores of the apples.

5. Bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of the apples and the desired level of softness. We generally like them super soft and will bake for around 35 minutes, but I’ve had large apples need a little longer. Remove apples from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Chickpeas with walnut sauce (vegan)

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I came across a recipe for gnocchi with walnut sauce while flipping through my copy of The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. I’ve never been all that into gnocchi (though I’ll confess I haven’t had them that often), but the walnut sauce? Yes please. I threw a few cups of chickpeas into the skillet to brown, and while the cast-iron worked its magic, got to work blending walnuts and parsley. A few tweaks later, I had a sauce, and then, a dish.
Continue reading Chickpeas with walnut sauce (vegan)

Recipe: Quinoa stuffed mushrooms (gluten free, vegan)

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I love stuffed mushrooms. Actually, I love mushrooms in general, but the stuffing and baking method of preparation is one I particularly enjoy eating. They just feel especially decadent to me, with the mushroom flavor melding into the filling as the mushrooms bake. Recently, I decided to give my favorite stuffed mushroom recipe a bit of a makeover, using quinoa as the base of the stuffing, in lieu of the more common breadcrumbs. Continue reading Recipe: Quinoa stuffed mushrooms (gluten free, vegan)