Matt’s birthday dessert – including the infamous hardshell Choc-Top

I’m about to introduce you to Choc-Top. It’s like the Magic Shell you used to get as a kid (or last year in our case – same thing really) and put on your ice cream, after which you would whack it with your spoon to see if you could shatter it. I think it was one of the best ice cream toppings. Ever. And I even learned to recreate it just before giving up dairy (for the most part, of course). I was afraid my efforts were wasted since I really don’t love most vegan ice cream substitutes. And it hurts to spend $6.99 on something you don’t really love.

That is until last month when faced with Matt’s birthday and his request for something cold and frozen for his birthday cake. Really? Isn’t it bad enough that his birthday is always right before Father’s Day? And I’d already failed in the present department – read: I bought him a belt, a boring brown belt. So, his cake was important. And you can’t just call up Cold Stone and get a vegan ice cream cake. Jerks.

So somehow, while perusing Sunflower with two of my screaming children, the inspiration came. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to buy a treat and I grabbed some Newman-Os. Okay, I get it. They may be vegan but soo not healthy, but since I was failing in present-land, I needed to succeed in treat-land.

And I was shopping hungry again. Fortunately, the soy ice cream was on sale, so I bought two pints with minimal cursing at the price.

To make this short story too long, I made a vegan ice cream cake with a bashed up Newman O crust (with some coconut oil to give it structure), two pints of soy ice cream, and Choc-Top on top in a spring form pan. I let the whole thing set up until singing time and belt present opening.

The results were very tasty, and it made a lovely ice cream cake that could not be consumed in one sitting by our family (thank goodness). But, I also learned a few things:

1 – Put the candles in when you pour in the Choc-Top or they are NEVER going in.

2 – Choc-Top is hard to cut, so if you have an electrically heated knife, use it. And if you have one, I’d really like to know, because I just made that up.

3 (Most Important) – If you try to cut the cake and the Choc-Top stays in place but the rest of it collapses, there may be a problem with your freezer. Take that opportunity on Father’s Day to clean out said freezer and throw a bunch of food away. Then consider that it might not be the freezer, but rather the ground-fault interrupt in the BATHROOM! that your daughter pushed for fun the other day that led to complete and total freezer melt-down. Literally.

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9 oz (3/4 bag) Ghiradelli Semi-sweet morsels, or other vegan chocolate

1/4 c. unrefined coconut oil

In a heat proof bowl over simmering water (a double boiler, if you will), melt the two together and stir. Remove from heat. Lick the spoon.

Store in a glass jar at room temperature or pour immediately over preferred frozen treat, which will, of course, melt said treat but leave you with a really cool shell of chocolate where your treat once was. To return Choc-Top to a liquid state, place jar in bowl or cup of hot water. Betcha didn’t know it was that easy to have SO MUCH FUN!! You’ll probably start covering frozen bananas and ice cubes, and maybe even a cake. Just make sure your freezer is still working when you do.

Variations: add toasted nuts or coconut; replace unrefined with refined coconut oil and add a teaspoon or two of vanilla/almond/orange/peppermint extracts or a few drops of essential oil.

Why this works (in case you’re wondering): Coconut oil is solid to just above most room temperature, and liquid at 76 degrees or just higher. When added to something cold, it becomes hard, thanks to the solidity of the chocolate combined with the coconut oil. And they’re both super tasty, so why wouldn’t you combine them?

A Week in the Raw

It’s Tasty Wednesday Tuesday and many of you all ready know that I live in Utah, what you may not know is that my particular city should be named “Kidville”. There are literally over a thousand children in my subdivision. It’s fabulous and all the kids are always out and about riding bikes, playing at the parks and sharing lots and lots of germsWe get sick more often since moving into this neighborhood than we ever have before. Vomiting, colds, flus, pink eye, rsv, Montezuma’s revenge, you name it, we get it. There are a few nasty bugs going around at the moment and we caught them too :/ so in an attempt to strengthen my immune system and help me heal faster, I have been eating entirely raw for the last few days. I’m planning on eating raw for the rest of the week. I have to say that I don’t think I would be surviving otherwise. Raw foods provide far more nutrients than cooked and give the body more energy. I wish I was cool enough to eat raw all the time, but I’m not, and frankly, I like cooked food, a lot. However, I think eating “high-raw” is sustainable and really good for our bodies.

It’s not really that hard and you don’t need a half-naked Juliano cookbook to do it either (I used to own that book, some of the photos are….well, Juliano nearly in the buff, shopping, playing in the ocean, but not cooking, because that would just be gross).

I’m juicing, eating lots of fruits on their own, making big ol’ salads with raw dressings I whiz up in my blendtec. I’m more than a little obsessed with chia seeds too at the moment, maybe it’s because I recommended Born to Run to a friend, then  I had to start re-reading it again myself because it’s awesome.

Here are a couple of raw chia recipes I’m LOVING right now:

Raw Overnight Neopolitan Oats

Holy Crap, it’s like the best dessert ever for breakfast, this is adapted from this much cuter than mine recipe here, but my adaptation is fully raw.

1 C. oat groats (use certified gluten free for gluten free option)

4 T. chia seeds

2 1/2 C. raw almond or raw cashew milk (I used cashew milk, drool)

2 T. raw cacao powder

2 t. raw agave (or to taste)

1 t. vanilla extract (oops, not raw)

2 sliced frozen bananas

4 sliced frozen strawberries

Method: BEFORE YOU GO TO BED: Blend oat groats in blender or grind in coffee grinder until fine. Get out two pint-sized mason jars. Put half  of the ground oat groats in each jar. Add 2 T. chia seeds to each jar, 1 1/4 C. nut milk to each jar and 1 t. raw agave to each jar. Add the raw cacao powder to one of the jars and the vanilla extract to the other. Now you have chocolate and vanilla. Put lids on and shake until well combined. Put in fridge. IN THE MORNING: get out your food processor and put your frozen bananas in it with a splash of nut milk. Process until creamy. Mmms. Remove half of the mixture and set aside. Add frozen strawberries to the food processor and process the same way. Now you have raw strawberry and banana ice creams FOR BREAKFAST. Layer and alternate ice creams, and chocolate and vanilla overnight oats in mason jars or fancy cups. Serve with fresh fruit. I didn’t because I hadn’t been to the store because we were sick and I only had frozen fruit. This should serve 2, but I stretched it to serve 3. I was sorry I didn’t have any leftovers at lunch time.

Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding

1 C. raw cashew milk (you could also use raw almond milk)

3 T. chia seeds

1 T. raw cacao powder

2 t. raw agave

Method: Combine all ingredients with a wire whisk until cacao is fully incorporated. Let sit on the counter top for an hour or so. I thought this would serve two, I also thought I would take a photo before eating it all. Wrong on both accounts.

I have also been growing my own wheat kamut grass, it’s not all that difficult, but since I’m a total novice and nearly killed it because I hadn’t watered it enough, I shall refer you to this post if you so desire to grow your own.  I’m  absolutely in love with it! The juice of the grass gives me instant energy and clarity and I even like it’s grassy taste. You can almost feel the cells inside your body healing when you drink it. Try it, you might like it.

Why you must make this now

I have been told many a time that I am nuts for “preserving” so much. It’s true. I probably am nuts. But if, after 30 different attempts to make the perfect jam, I come up with this, all the other attempts were worth the effort. And the most beautiful part about this one (except that I don’t have pictures) is that it is a freezer jam recipe and shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes to prepare.

I have virtually no pictures because I still have not yet realized that I should document everything I ever make, even if it tastes like garbage, because on occasion, I will have these breakthrough moments that if documented, will make all the difference. The pictures were taken ex poste facto, I’m sorry to say.
This is a recipe for pineapple orange rosemary jam. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but that is only because it has rosemary in it. I wouldn’t have thought twice if it was just pineapple orange jam, so then I wouldn’t have made it, and this post wouldn’t exist, and I would not have had my most delicious bowl of yogurt in my life tied only with yesterday’s identical bowl of yogurt.

Pineapple Orange Rosemary Jam

3 1/2 cups sugar
1 sweet orange (I used a cara cara navel because that’s what I had)
1 1/4 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple (thank heaven for food processors)
1 pouch liquid fruit pectin
4 sprigs fresh rosemary (and no, I have no idea how much a sprig is)

1. Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes. (Apparently warm sugar dissolves better, which is especially good when using the organic evaporated cane juice that rebels against dissolving)

2. Remove thin outer rind from orange with vegetable peeler and cut into fine strips with scissors or sharp knife; OR zest it how ever you want. Squeeze juice from orange. Place orange rind and juice in a large bowl. Stir in pineapple and sugar and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in pectin, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.

4. Insert sprig of rosemary into each jar or plastic container. (And if you’re putting it all into one container, you might not need the full 4 sprigs, but don’t skimp either. The rosemary imparts this gorgeous subtle flavor that improves the whole jam.) Ladle jam into jars or plastic containers to within 1/2 inch of rim. Cover with tight fitting lids. Label jars and let stand at room temperature until set, up to 24 hours.

5. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freezer for longer storage.

Makes 4 cups.