Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dirt Cake

I'm not a cake person.  I never really wanted a cake for my birthday, growing up as a kid.  Actually I usually had a huge bowl of ice cream and a small icing-less piece of cake.  (Even as a child I was an icing snob.  No grocery store icing would do :).

So at some point, in middle or high school, I had "dirt dessert" at a local cafe.  It was a cute mini flower pot full of creamy goodness and Oreo cookies.  My mom graciously found a recipe for it and made for my next birthday, and most since!  Then I found out about my dairy intolerance and the original dirt dessert recipe (mostly dairy-based- cool whip, cream cheese, etc.) was not for me.  But since my big Three-O is coming up, I tried to revive the recipe in a gluten and dairy-free version for my family to eat.  We tried it out at the beach for my Grandpa's b-day which is the fourth of July, and it got rave reviews- mostly from the kids ;)

Although not pictured, this is a layered pudding dessert and is oh so creamy and addictive!  And this recipe does have sugar in it because of the brand of Oreo-like cookies; however, see recipe at the bottom for a refined-sugar-free cookie crumble option.  But if any day is OK for eating sugar, a birthday should be one!

Dirt Cake
This recipe yields enough to fill a gallon sized flower pot 2/3 full- for presentation (see photo above- but make sure there are no drain holes in your pot!), and can easily serve 15 people with a cup-sized serving.  But you can half the recipe and fill in individual layered mugs or ramekins. Decorate with gummy worms or flowers- depending on your audience :)
  • 2 bags of chocolate vanilla creme sandwich cookies like this one, which is gluten/egg/dairy free
  • 200 grams cashews (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 575 grams non-dairy milk of choice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 126 grams honey, divided (1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp agar agar powder*
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 6 pastured egg yolks
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • a 6 oz carton of non-dairy plain Greek Yogurt
  • Coconut Cream from 3 cans of full-fat organic coconut milk, about 530 grams total**
  • 60 grams powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup)- note: for sugar free, use powdered coconut sugar
  • another 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
* for the agar powder, you can substitue gelatin, according to package directions for amount of liquid in this recipe. 
**refrigerate the cans of coconut milk overnight and the cream will rise to the top (of most major brands)
  • Soak the cashews in filtered water the night before or several hours ahead of time, then drain and rinse when ready to make your dirt dessert.
  • Crumble the bags of chocolate creme cookies with a food processor (or hammer:) until they resemble moist dirt, and set aside.
  • Then beat the egg yolks and half the honey in a heat safe bowl (also, if your counter is slippery- place that bowl over a towel or something with a grip on it).
  • Heat the non-dairy milk, agar agar powder**, vanilla, and rest of  honey and bring to a scald (just before boiling where there are bubbles around the edge of sauce pan.
  • Then slowly temper the heated milk mixture with your eggs while pouring it into the heat-safe bowl and whisking fervently.
  • Transfer the whole mixture back into the sauce pan and stir with a spatula over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture coats the back of your spoon/ spatula and you can swipe a finger down the back of spoon/ spatula and it makes a clear finger mark without running back over where you swiped your finger.
  • Transfer to a blender, you may have to pass it through a strainer first if you forgot to stir for a while and there are lumps.
  • Add the cashews, the lemon juice, and the vinegar to the mixture in the blender and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Then blend in the non-dairy yogurt.
  • Place in the refrigerator for about 10-20 minutes- just so it cools down to about room temperature.  Cover with something touching the pudding mixture so it doesn't get a thick skin.
  • While that cools down, blend the coconut cream (thick part that rises to the top of can when the can is refrigerated overnight), the 1/2 Tbsp of vanilla and the powdered sugar until combined. (NOTE: this step can be done any time- up to a couple days ahead of time.)
  • Then add the coconut cream mixture to the other pudding mixture and set back in the refrigerator to cool another 10 minutes-until it's slightly set.  You don't want it to set all the way until you assemble the whole dessert.  You just want it to thicken up a bit.
For Assembly
  • Start with a layer of the cookies (see below for refined-sugar-free "cookie" crumble recipe), then a layer of the refrigerated pudding mixture. 
  • Repeat.
  • Each cookie layer should be just enough to cover the previous pudding-type layer and the pudding-type layer should be set just enough to not let the cookies fall back down into it.
  • Finish with a cookie (dirt) layer and decorate as desired.
  • If you use a real flower, be sure to wrap foil or plastic wrap around the bottom of the flower (the part that will be inserted into the dirt cake) to avoid bugs or contaminants getting in your dessert!  You won't want it to actually taste like dirt :) 
Sugar-Free Cookie Crumble
I adapted this recipe from a cookie crumble of mine  from this post but I cannot attest that it will be enough for the flower pot-sized pudding proportions above, as I have not made the sugar-free version.  You may have to double it. 
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 54 grams pitted dates (about 18 regular or 9 medjool)
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts, like almonds
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil or dairy-free butter spread
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Pulse all in a food processor until just combined.  This dirt is a little lighter in color- but still can pass for dirt ;)
This post has been linked up to:
Sugar-Free Sunday @ Flip Cookbook
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Allergy-Free Wednesdays

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cauliflower Cheesy Spread

Made this the other night as a last minute addition to our beef tacos.  It made a great healthy non-dairy addition to our meal.  Can also be good for a vegan dinner with bean-based tacos, which is what I made the kiddos since I added way, way too much spice to our taco meat (even I was crying a little when I ate them :)  This cheesy mixture mellowed it out some though!

Cheesy Cauliflower Spread
Vegan, Dairy/ Gluten/ Soy/ Grain/ and Egg Free
Makes about 1 1/2 cups 

  • 1 10 oz. bag frozen cauliflower or 255 grams of fresh cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper (from a jar, or roast the pepper with the cauliflower in the oven, see note*)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • small handful of cilantro leaves (optional)
  • Roast the cauliflower on a parchment-lined pan in the oven @ 400 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes until slightly browned.  *Note: if not using canned roasted peppers, you can roast the pepper in some foil along with the cauliflower.
  • Then add all ingredients to a blender and puree.  Add a little olive oil if needed to thin it out some.
  • You might could make this raw as well, although I haven't tried it.  It would be similar to my raw pimento "cheese" spread.

This Post Has Been Linked Up To:
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Wellness Weekend @ Diet, Dessert, & Dogs

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