So for some reason I got a bit of a reputation on TGCBS for producing “ugly but delicious” items. I have literally no idea where this reputation came from  …

… well ok I have some idea but the point is have been keen to try and prove that I can also do pretty (given enough time!). So when I got invited to come up with some vegan petit-fours for a posh party I thought this is my chance to show I can make something delicious and pretty! Unfortunately the party got cancelled but I did come up with this tasty little treat.

I wanted to make a sophisticated dessert and was inspired by a fantastic cashew based cheesecake I had at Be Love in Victoria last year. So this starts off as a cashew cream infused with coffee. This is then treated like a custard and thickened with arrowroot powder. The base is loosely based on the nutty pie crust from “How it all Vegan” by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer – one of my favorite cookbooks. I don’t have lots of little molds and whatnot for making mini cheesecakes so I hit on the idea of doing it with ice-cube trays. It turned out pretty well.

The desserts have a strong coffee flavor and are best served a little chilled – they start to get very soft when they reach room temperature and you will definitely not look elegant and sophisticated if you try to eat them like that!

Warning: these have quite a few steps, are a little fiddly and since they use a lot of cashew nuts they are kind of expensive so you might want to save these until you have a special event.

Crust

0.5 cups of almond flour
0.5 cups strong white flour
0.5 cups of walnuts
1 tbsp brown sugar

Filling

1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 4 hours
1 1/4 cup  Brewed coffee, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract, plus more to taste
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp ground coffee
1 tsp cinammon
2 tbsp arrowroot powder

Topping

85% Dark chocolate tempered (no milk ingredients)
1 cup cashews
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp corse salt

Method:

  1. Drain the cashews, and discard the soaking water.
  2. Pour half the brewed coffee into the blender, and add the soaked cashews with the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the cashew cream to a saucepan with the rest of the coffee, coconut oil, cocoa powder, ground coffee, sugar and cinnamon. Simmer very slowly stirring all the time until thickened to avoid burning.
  4. Once fairly thick, strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Try to get as much liquid through as possible. I use a wooden spoon to continually stir and push the mixture through the sieve and then a rubber spatula to scrape the material from the underside. Reserve the residue from the sieve.
  5. Put the strained liquid into another pan, add the arrowroot powder. Just to a simmer stirring until a pipe-able consistency.
  6. Whip the cream vigorously (I’m not 100% sure this achieves anything but it seems a bit lighter as a result) and let it cool for a while.

Make the crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
  2. In a food processor mix the flours, walnuts and sugar until a fine crumb.
  3. Mix in the reserved residue from the filling (should be about 1/3 cup) until it comes together as a dough.
  4. Roll about 5mm thick and bake for about
    8-10 minutes (should still be fairly light and spongy)
  5. Cut into pieces rectangular pieces 1″ x 1.5″ (or whatever size your molds are going to be)

Assemble

  1. Pipe the filling into prepared molds. Press on bases. Freeze until set.
  2. Once frozen top with lines of tempered chocolate (I used 85% dark chocolate – for a good tutorial on chocolate tempering see: Food52 or about 1000 YouTube videos!)

Maple roasted cashews.

  1. Mix whole cashews maple syrup and salt a dspread on baking sheet 10-12 minutes until nicely browned
  2. Place a single roasted cashew on each dessert (stick with tempered choclate if necessary)
  3. Bring to room temperature before serving