Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chocolate and Persimmon Goodness

The only photo I managed to get before the demolition!
Our trip to Sydney was hugely successful. The time Matt and I spent together was some of the best we’ve had (at least I think so), and seeing my dad’s family was good too. Then the meeting! While I’m not really allowed to say anything about what happened, let’s just say I was very happy with the outcome in terms of helping along my research into cancer cachexia.

Now, however, it’s back to the cold, hard reality of life, no more jet-setting around for a few weeks. But how can I be sad when persimmons just came back in to season? Autumn has always been one of my favourite times of year, both for the weather and the food. A few months ago, I read this guest post by G0lubka on Green Kitchen Stories for their wonderful chocolate and persimmon tart. It was love at first sight, speaking to all the things I wanted in my diet at the time (eating raw, moving away from all the meat in my diet, less sugary, no preservatives), and was visually just so appealing. I mean, look at that tart and tell me you don’t just want to gobble it up! Unfortunately, it was coming in to summer, and of course the star ingredient was out of season, and it went on to the ‘maybe later’ pile. So when I went to the grocer a few days ago, and saw them literally just taking the first boxes of this season’s persimmons off of the truck, this recipe immediately came to mind, and a picked a few up.

Now, with our allergy-rich household, I knew this could be a tricky piece of cooking. My housemate and best-friend Kimmy is allergic to every nut except almonds, not to mention a myriad of other random foods, and having never had persimmons, we honestly didn’t know if she would take a bite and be convulsing on the floor. She was quite brave, and said she’d give it a crack, after all, we all know where the epi-pen is! The issue of informed consent out of the way, I set to Kimmyfying the rest of the ingredients. (I also don’t have a dehydrator, but that’s less of a big deal =P)

I approached this dessert as a challenge. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make something not only delicious, but visually stunning, all from scratch. So after a bit of shopping to pick up the few things that weren’t in my cupboard (coconut, coconut oil, dates and agave syrup), I set to the task at hand. I always have a kilo bag of almonds in my cupboard to snack on, so I decided to make the almond meal and almond butter from scratch. Almond meal was no biggy, but let me tell you that making nut butter from scratch takes a LONG time, especially if all you have is a stick-processor! Pretty sure that took me longer than anything else. My opening of the young coconut also became a source of entertainment for all, especially when we discovered the thing bounced if we threw it at the floor. Four knives and a hammer later, the water was sweet, and the flesh almost too good to save for the tart!

Not having a dehydrator for the casing was always going to be an issue. I ended up using a loose-bottomed cake tin instead of a tart dish, and put it in the oven on 110C for about 20 minutes, then turned off the heat and left it for a few hours, which worked brilliantly, though I’m sure is not quite the same. Thankfully my mini-processor held up to the task well, something that halfway through I was honestly not expecting. I was also quite concerned that substituting the cashews for almonds in the cream would overpower the whole dish, but other than it turning out a little grainer than I was expecting (most likely due to the differences in texture of the nuts), this was the perfect dessert!

A small note of warning, this is not a recipe that you can simply slap together in a few minutes, and serve. It requires effort and love to pull it off with any level of success. Doing everything from scratch meant that it took me all night, which was not helped by the lack of a normal sized food processor, but the end result was so rewarding that I would do it all over again tomorrow. Plan ahead! The result was greatly enjoyed by both my housemates (and was allergy-incident free!), and Matt (who usually dislikes sweets). Success!!!

Chocolate Persimmon Tart (adapted from G0lubka & Green Kitchen Stories)
Chocolate Crust
  • 1 cup oat flour 
  • 1 cup almond flour 
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 cup raw almond butter (If making yourself, try this tutorial
  • 1/4 cup date paste (Soak dates for an hour or so in water, drain, then process into a paste, adding some of the soaking fluid if needed) 
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used less than the original recipe, but that’s just personal preference) 
  • The original also called for maple syrup powder, but was very hard to come by, so I added 1 tablespoon golden syrup, which I had on hand. 
Sift together all the dry ingredients. Add the almond butter and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl combine the date paste, water and vanilla extract (+ golden syrup). Add the wet to the dry and mix well. Line a pan with foil. Press the dough into the pan evenly, place in oven at 110C for 15-30 mins, then turn off oven and leave crust IN THE OVEN until the oven fully cools (The original calls for the crust to be dehydrated for 8-10 hours, I found this produced a similar result).

Chocolate Cream
  • Fresh meat of 1 young Thai coconut 
  • 1 cup soaked almonds (original called for cashews) 
  • 1/2 cup fresh water of young Thai coconut OR purified water 
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup raw agave syrup 
  • 5 tablespoons raw cocoa powder 
In a high speed blender, mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Let set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Persimmons Soaked in Vanilla Agave
  • Ripe persimmons 
  • Agave syrup mixed with a few drops of vanilla extract 
Slice persimmons into rounds, pour vanilla agave over the slices and let soak for 2-3 hours.

Spoon the chocolate cream into the crust evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Arrange the agave soaked persimmon slices on top of the cream. G0lubka garnished with pistachios, but as that was out of the question, I covered the whole top with the fruit. Yummy!