Maple Ginger Cashew Cream – a Versatile Topping or Dip

Try a dollop of smooth, creamy Maple Ginger Cashew Cream on a piece of pumpkin pie,  slather it on pancakes or waffles, or use it as a sweet and luscious dip for cookies or fruit.

a bowlful of luscious cashew cream

You know those food matches made in heaven’s kitchens? The ones that taste as if they were meant to go together? Like apple pie and ice cream, wine and cheese, or potatoes and gravy?

Well, yesterday we had our pumpkin pie with Maple Ginger Cashew Cream, and now I don’t know if I can ever eat it with anything else again. I mean, a spoonful of whipped cream is fine, and so is a scoop of ice cream, but give me a generous dollop of cashew cream to make my pumpkin heart sing. Whipping up soaked cashew nuts with a slurp of amber maple syrup and a pinch of warm ginger turns them from nutty to very, very nice – velvety, rich, and creamy.

a slice of pumpkin pie with maple ginger cashew cream

This sweet cashew cream is very versatile. Use it, of course, to top pumpkin pie, or any other type of pie that would go well with the flavours. But you can also use it to top oatmeal porridge, or pancakes, or waffles. Blend it into smoothies, stir it into yogurt, or top a slice of pound cake, banana bread, or gingerbread with it.

Maple Ginger Cashew Cream also makes a delicious sweet dip on its own. Surround it with fresh apple wedges, banana slices, small or broken cookies (like gingersnaps, oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies), graham wafers, pecan or walnut halves, or dried fruits or dates, for dunking.

Send a little container of it in your kids’ lunch boxes with some apple wedges, cookie pieces or tiny graham teddy bear crackers to dip into it – so much better than those packaged dips of sickly sweet icing.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: If you don’t have a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix, Blendtec, or Ninja) make sure the nuts have soaked at least 6 hours, and try whizzing them in a mini food processor, or a regular blender, making sure to scrape down the sides occasionally. They may not blend up quite as silky, but should still be just as tasty.

In Canada, maple syrup usually comes in three grades: No. 1 Light, No. 2 Amber, and No.3 Dark. The darker the syrup is, the stronger the maple flavour. I always go for the darkest one I can buy, for maximum flavour.

For plain cashew cream, omit the ginger and use honey or raw agave nectar instead of the maple syrup.

Top view of Maple Ginger Cashew Cream

Maple Ginger Cashew Cream

dairy free, vegan

  • 1 ½ cups (200gms) raw cashews
  • ½ cup (120ml) water
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) maple syrup, the darker the grade – the better (No. 3 Dark is best)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Put the cashews in a container with about 2 cups water and leave to soak for 2 to 24 hours in the fridge. Drain the nuts and rinse them well.

Combine the rinsed cashews with the other ingredients in a high speed blender. Process until creamy and smooth.

Tip: Start the blender at a very slow speed and gradually increase it as the cashews blend, to avoid splattering the sides of the blender container. If you start it slowly, you shouldn’t have to scrape down the sides.

Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Makes about 2 cups.

Guten Appetit!


You might also like:

It’s Pumpkin Pie Time

A Warm and Cozy Breakfast – Baked Oatmeal

Cashew Milk

Pancakes – the Thick, Fluffy Kind


Posted in Condiments & Sauces, Dairy-free, Pies & Tarts, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Pumpkin Pie Time (and this one’s dairy free and egg free)

Celebrate the autumn colours with a rich and delicious gluten free, dairy free, and egg free pumpkin pie (in case you have to cook for loved ones with allergies). It tastes so good you can’t even tell the difference!

Egg free pumpkin pie - so yummy

This year the fall colours are spectacularly, wonderfully, orange-and-gold-ly beautiful! It’s been a while since we’ve had such a stunning autumn in our area. I am just glorying in all that colour and light.

Eggless Pumpkin Pie, and Yellow Leaves Egg Free Pumpkin Pie, Fall colours

Fall has always been my favourite season of the year. Maybe it’s because the rich luminescence of the sun lighting the trees on gilded fire excites my artist’s soul. Maybe it’s because the rich bounty of harvest from garden, orchard, and field inspires my foodie soul. And maybe it’s because fall encompasses all the best celebrations. From my birthday at the end of August (when I always spy the first yellow leaf of the season), through the start of school, to Thanksgiving – the season just builds with a steady simmer of anticipation, to culminate in the most special holiday of the year to me – Christmas!!!

My favourite memories of the fall from growing up are those from helping with the harvest, both from the farm and from the garden. It was always such a deeply satisfying feeling to bring in the crops and store them for the winter. The air has the rich, musky, fullness – almost a spiciness – that comes from decaying leaves, ripening fruits, and drying grasses. I love it.

Beautiful red leaves

I remember going hunting with my dad in the fall (probably only a handful of times in my life, but so sharp in my memory). We’d walk through the stillness of the golden forest on a sunny autumn day, following trails for hours, and I’d have to make sure I walked ever-so-silently behind him, keeping my footfalls soundless and trying not to step on crunching leaves. In this stillness, the sensations of nature around me became immensely large and magnified – the twinkling of the sunlight flickering between trees, the musical rustle of the wind sighing among dry leaves and bare branches, the earthy smell of forest, rotting leaf, and damp soil, and that invigorating fall crispness in the air, underlying even the warmest of days.

Eggless Pumpkin Pie, and Fall Pathway

Yes it’s pumpkin time. Fall isn’t even fall unless it also comes with that full, rich, spiciness of pumpkin, whether dressing up a crunchy granola, starring in a soup, stirred into a comforting porridge, carved with seeds roasted, or simply and silkily baked in a pie.

eggless pumpkin pie

This recipe is my dairy free and egg free pumpkin pie version of Libby’s famous pie recipe, adorning cans of pumpkin since the 1950s. I’ve adapted it for all my loved ones who have food allergies, but still crave that slice of smooth, sweet and spicy, luscious pumpkin pie at this time of year. Silken tofu replaces the liquid and the eggs, for a protein-packed alternative that is indistinguishable from the egg version, according to all my taste testers. (And they have good taste!)

Pumpkin Pie with leaves and berries

I experimented with a lot of different variations of egg free pumpkin pie before I came up with this one. (Thanks to my sister-in-law, Connie, for the use of her kitchen for the experimentation of the final two versions – we had fun playing around with them :) )

*I’ve also included one of the versions I came up with that is soy free, for those with a soy allergy. Its texture is not quite as close to a regular pumpkin pie as the one with tofu, but it tastes great and works well for those with a soy allergy.

Try serving either of these versions of pumpkin pie with silky smooth, rich and creamy Maple Ginger Cashew Cream for a special treat.

a slice of pumpkin pie with maple ginger cashew cream

* * * * *


Kitchen Frau Notes:  Make sure to use pure pumpkin purée (it should say 100% pure pumpkin on the can), not pumpkin pie filling, which is already mixed with spices and other ingredients. Or grab a pumpkin and make your own pumpkin purée.

For this recipe it is important to use silken or smooth tofu, it has a different texture than regular soft tofu. Silken soft tofu is often sold in tetrapacks in the Asian section of the grocery store. Here in Alberta I can find smooth tofu, which comes with two blocks packed in water in 700 gram packages, at Superstore. One of the blocks is just enough for one pie. Store the other block covered in water in an airtight container in the fridge for two to three days, or make two pies and give one to a friend!

You can substitute coconut sugar for the granulated sugar, but your pie will be more brown than orange. It still tastes wonderful, just looks different.

The original recipe uses ground cloves. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can substitute in nutmeg.

Use your favourite pastry crust recipe, or use this gluten-free pie crust recipe or this one.

a fork for pumpkin pie

Absolutely Delicious and Super Easy Pumpkin Pie

gluten free, dairy free, egg free, vegan

  • Single crust for a 9 or 9½ inch (23-24cm) pie dish, your favourite regular or gluten-free recipe (see above)
  • 350 gms (12oz) smooth or silken soft tofu, drained
  • ¾ cup (150gms) evaporated cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves or nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 can (398ml/14oz) pure pumpkin purée, or 1¾ cups+2 tablespoons homemade pumpkin purée

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll out the pastry crust and fit it into the pie plate, crimping the edges decoratively if you like. Chill the crust while you make the filling.

Place the tofu, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla into the container of a blender or food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.

Scrape the tofu mixture into a bowl, and stir in the pumpkin purée until evenly mixed in. You want to stir the pumpkin in by hand so it retains its texture. Pour the filling into the prepared chilled crust and smooth the top.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350°F. Bake for 40 to 50 more minutes, until the center of the pie is wobbly, but semi-firm to touch with your fingertip, and the crust is golden brown.

Allow to cool completely, and chill for several hours before serving.

Serve with a dollop of coconut whipped cream (whip up the thick cream from the top of a can of full-fat premium coconut milk), or a scoop of (dairy free) vanilla ice cream.

*This pie can also be made crustless – pour the filling into a greased 9-inch pie pan, bake as for the pie above, but it only needs 15 minutes at 425°F and then 30 -35 minutes at 350°F baking time. Chill well before cutting.

Serves 6 to 8.



Soy Free and Egg Free Pumpkin Pie with Fall Leaves

Soy Free Recipe for Pumpkin Pie

gluten free, dairy free, egg free, vegan

  • Single crust for a 9½ or 10 inch (24 or 25cm) pie dish, your favourite regular or gluten-free recipe (see above)
  • 3 cups (720ml, from 2 small or 1 large can) pumpkin purée, canned or homemade
  • ¾ cup (150gms) sugar (natural, evaporated cane sugar)
  • 5 tablespoons sweet rice flour, cornstarch, or potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (60ml) melted coconut oil
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk (almond, soy, coconut)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar, spices, and salt. Stir in the melted coconut oil, then add the milk last (so it doesn’t chill the coconut oil and cause it to solidify into little lumps.) Pour into the prepared pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes, until the filling is bubbling around the edges. It will be more liquid than a regular pumpkin pie, but will thicken up as it cools.

Cool completely, then chill before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Sour Cherry Pie

Gingered Pear Tart

Strawberry Meringue Pie

Pumpkin Pie Granola (and How to Bake a Pumpkin)

Posted in Canadian Food Experience Project, Dairy-free, Pies & Tarts | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Basil Beet Salad, Sauteed Beans, and Peas on Earth

Meet Eric and Ruby, of Peas on Earth, Alberta producers of exceptional organic produce, and have a taste of Ruby’s fantastic Basil Beet Salad, or a nibble of Sauteed Garlicky Green Beans.

Peas on Earth, front field

Passion and Love.

Those are the two emotions immediately evident when talking to Ruby and Eric Chen, owners of Peas on Earth Organic Garden in Sturgeon County. Passion for providing their customers with healthier food to nourish their bodies and a love for the earth and their commitment to nourish it.

Peas on Earth, market garden sign sunflowers at Peas on Earth

Nestled amid rolling countryside studded with subdivisions of luxury homes and small acreages, their organic garden is a hidden gem. When you first drive up the curving driveway bordered by a line of cheery sunflowers you know you are in a happy place. You glimpse rows of lovingly tended vegetables and see a small cluster of workers hand picking crops in the distance. Boxes of produce are stacked in the shade, awaiting their trip to the market, and Eric and Ruby greet you with warm, welcoming smiles.

Peas on Earth, Eric and Ruby

Their farm is a labour of love, a team effort, run by the two of them, but supported by and shared with family, including their two teenage children, Eric’s parents, and a staff of employees and relatives who help out at ‘crunch time’. Of their 65 acres, 25 are planted with a large variety of Alberta hardy vegetables and herbs – over 30 different crops with several different varieties of many of them.

fresh vegetables from Peas on Earth

And almost all of these crops must laboriously, carefully, and properly, be hand-harvested and hand-processed! This is no small undertaking. Machines can’t be trusted to harvest the tender vegetables without damage, and Eric and Ruby are absolutely committed to providing their customers with the best produce possible, from hardy root vegetables to the most delicate herbs and tender leafy baby greens.

Ruby says their biggest challenge is the processing, sorting, washing, and packing – it is all very labour-intensive, and must be done as close to market time as possible to supply customers with the freshest produce, which means that Eric and Ruby are usually up late into the early morning hours the night before farmers’ market days, preparing the produce for their customers.

Peas on Earth, maturing rows of crops

the row of maturing romaine lettuce will be harvested for seed

But above all, Eric and Ruby are committed to providing health and sustainability for people and for the earth. They feel, that with all the sickness and disease now prevalent in our society, they can do their small part by providing healthy, chemical-free and pesticide-free food to nurture their own family and their customers for a healthier future. After all, their motto is “Growing for our children”. The word play of the name of their garden, Peas on Earth, embodies their beliefs. Eric says, ‘Peace on Earth, that’s what sustainability means to me, taking care of the land.” The farm is certified fully organic and Eric and Ruby feel very passionately about their commitment to growing good healthy produce.

They also have a very balanced view of the economics and vagaries of farming. Eric says, “Every year has been different, and there is a reason and a blessing in everything. Every weed that grows, there is a purpose for it.” Some years, like this one, have been very dry – so they needed to water more. Different years produce different insects, weather conditions, problems, challenges. This year they had aphids for the first time, in their kale, which means that every single kale leaf has to be inspected and fastidiously washed by hand before going to the customer. Eric just shrugs his shoulders philosophically and smiles. It’s part of farming.

Peas on Earth, Eric examining kale

If a crop fails, or can’t be completely used, it’s not considered waste. Eric says, ‘What comes from the soil, goes back to the soil.” The plants are cultivated back into the land to provide nourishment to the soil for future crops. It’s a natural cycle.

Good sound farming practices are the backbone of this family business. Eric studied agriculture at the University of Alberta (where he met Ruby while they were both students), and Ruby handles the majority of the day-to-day business and administration of Peas on Earth. He grew up on a farm in Alberta and she grew up in Hong Kong, and they bring their diverse backgrounds and skill sets together to form a strong team unified in making their thriving organic garden the best it can be.


Peas on Earth, market garden

the frost has nipped the bean plants in the foreground, but they’ve already provided their bounty

In this harsh, northern climate most crops only have two to three months of a vigourous growing season, so many of Peas on Earth‘s vegetables are planted weekly to provide an ongoing supply. When I visited, there were some young new plantings of hardier greens, tiny shoots just emerging from the soil. Eric says they gamble on the weather – if we have longer frost-free days they might get another harvest from them, if not – the plants get worked back into the soil (with a smile and a shrug of the shoulders).

Peas on Earth, rows of organic kale Peas on Earth, Organic Market Garden

Eric and Ruby are busy from early spring, starting seedlings in their 5000² ft greenhouse facility, to late fall, with supplying several local farmers’ markets and local restaurants. They also have temperature-controlled storage facilities so they can keep long-season and root crops throughout the winter to supply vegetables to the Organic Box Home Delivery Program year round.

Peas on Earth no longer sells produce from their garden location, but you can find their fantastic fresh vegetables at the St. Albert Outdoor Farmers’ Market (June to Thanksgiving), the Callingwood Market (Sundays until October 11) or at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market all year round. Peek into the Peas on Earth website to see which produce is available at any time in the year.

* * * * *

Beets, Basil, Balsamic, Bocconcini, Beans (it’s a Happy B day!)

For a little taste of what you can do with such beautiful, fresh organic Alberta produce, here’s an example of one of the Chen family’s favourite salads. The earthy sweetness of beets is beautifully complemented by the robust sweetness of fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.

Kitchen Frau Notes: This salad is delicious with just the beets and basil, but if you want to amp up the protein, or make the salad more of a light lunch, toss in a handful of bocconcini cheese balls to add bright pops of pink. For a more intense flavour punch, you can use cubes of feta cheese.

Roast or boil the beets the day before to make this salad quick to put together. (Roasted have more concentrated flavour.) I love roasting a whole bunch of beets and having them on hand to reheat quickly for a dinner side dish, or to make salads like this one.

If you love basil, feel free to add even more than the recipe says.

I love this salad even better the next day, when all the flavours have had time to mingle and get cozy.

Peas on Earth, Basil Bocconcini Beet Salad

Basil and Balsamic Beet Salad

adapted from Ruby Chen

  • 1½ lbs (700gms) medium-sized beets (4 cups cooked and sliced)
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced or crushed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 stems basil leaves (¼ cup, lightly packed)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • optional: 1 cup halved small bocconcini balls (unripened mozzarella, the kind that comes packed in water), or torn bits of larger bocconcini balls, or diced feta cheese

Roast or cook the beets. To roast them, wash the beets and place them on a large square of heavy duty tin foil, or doubled regular foil. Seal up the package and roast at 400°F for 45 minutes to an hour, until they are tender when you pierce them, through the tin foil, with a fork. To cook them, place them in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to boil. Then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until tender.

peeling roasted beets is easy

peeling roasted beets is easy

When the cooked beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the outer skin. If roasted – scrape off the skin with a knife, if cooked –  set a colander in the sink and slip off the skins with your hands while holding the beets under running water over the colander.

Allow the beets to cool completely, then refrigerate them until chilled.

Cut the chilled beets into quarters and slice the quarters.

Combine the diced onions, the garlic, if using, and the balsamic vinegar in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Allow them to macerate for 15 minutes or longer, so the onions get ‘pickled’. Add the sliced beets and toss well until all the beets are coated in the vinegar.

Stack the basil leaves on top of each other 5 or 6 at a time. Roll them into a cylinder, then slice them finely.

Ingredients for Beet Salad

Add the sliced basil leaves, oil, salt, pepper to taste, and bocconcini, if using, and toss it all gently together. Leave for at least 30 minutes for flavours to blend. Serve at room temperature.

The beautiful pink colour gets more pronounced if the salad is allowed to rest for a while and the beets have time to release some of their vibrant juices.

Basil and Balsamic Beet Salad, just plain

or serve it just as it is, without the bocconcini cheese – it’s still delicious!

Keeps for several days in the fridge.

Serves 6

* * * * *

I brought back some lovely fresh green and yellow beans (sadly now finished their season due to frost) from my visit at Peas on Earth. I was inspired to make this lovely bean dish for dinner that night. So tasty. And with the addition of a poached egg, it made a wonderful lunch the next day, too!

Kitchen Frau Notes: The turmeric adds a hint of earthiness and a touch of golden colour, and the white wine vinegar at the end serves to brighten all the flavours.

Garlicky Green Beans with Roasted Hazelnuts

Garlicky Green Beans with Spinach and Toasted Hazelnuts

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 lb (450gms) fresh green or yellow beans, or a combination
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 – 8 oz (175-200gms) fresh spinach, (3 – 4 large handfuls)
  • a good grinding of fresh pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • a small handful of toasted hazelnuts, about 1/3 of a cup
  • Optional: poached eggs to top the beans, one per person, if desired

*To toast hazelnuts: Roast the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Place the hot nuts into a clean tea towel and rub them vigorously for a minute or two to get off as many skins as possible – don’t worry, you won’t get them all off.

Trim the stem ends off the beans, and cut each bean in half.

Heat the oil and butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes until translucent.

Add the trimmed beans and salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the beans are just crisp-tender.

Tear any large spinach leaves into smaller pieces, and add the spinach, a handful at a time, stirring them under, until the leaves are just wilted. Add a good grinding of black pepper and sprinkle with the vinegar. Toss once more to combine, and tip the vegetables into a serving bowl.

Roughly chop the toasted hazelnuts and strew them over the top.

Optional: Top each serving with a soft poached egg and allow the yolk to run into the beans as you break it open.

Serves 4 to 6.

Guten Appetit!

Garlicky Green Beans with Spinach, Toasted Hazelnuts, and Poached Egg

You might also like:

An Experimental Canadian Quinoa Harvest and Recipes

Bison Farming in Northern Alberta

Pickled Beets and a Canadian Food Hero

Posted in Gardening, Salads & Dressings, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

(No-Bake) Salted Coco-Lasses Bars

Hello Coco-Lassies, you beautiful, fudgey, coconutty, caramelly, molasses bars!

Coco-Lasses Bars

It’s no secret I love molasses – it comes from a childhood of sneaking into my grandma’s barn and licking the blackstrap molasses intended for feeding the cattle. I discovered that deep, dark, delicious taste early on. Now that I’m a grown-up, I don’t have to sneak my molasses anymore, and can have a spoonful whenever I feel like it. Yay!

In our household we love molasses in cookies, and cakes, and even in warm milk before bed at night.

We also love coconut, especially those luscious chocolate-covered coconut candy bars.

So the marriage between those two was bound to happen some day.

No-Bake Salted Coco-Lasses Bars

I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Coconut and Molasses, together forever in these fudgey Coco-Lasses Bars. It was a wonderful wedding. Plus, they’re honeymooning in Chocolate Land – a sure sign they’ll live happily ever after!

Coconut Molasses Bars, Love

(Think of the happy couple as Nanaimo Bar’s more health conscious, hippy cousins.)

First, the baking pan is slicked with a layer of melted chocolate to form a base for the fudgey filling. Next, the molasses is heated and stirred with the coconut, to moisten the coconut and infuse it with rich caramel flavour, then the coconut oil is allowed to melt and flow throughout, lusciously coating each little coconut flake with its silky softness. Another layer of creamy chocolate is smoothed over the filling.

pouring the melted chocolate on the Coco-Lassies

smoothe out the chocolate

Finally, the top is kissed with a sprinkle of flaky salt to bring out all those luscious flavours. A shower of toasted coconut crowns the bars with a little touch of nutty crunch.

Look at that beautiful coconut on top

Ooooh, baby!

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Molasses comes in three strengths: fancy molasses (or table molasses), cooking molasses, and blackstrap molasses, with fancy molasses being the mildest and blackstrap being the strongest in flavour.

Fancy molasses is the best one to use in these Coco-Lassies, as it has a more pronounced caramel flavour. However, if you can only get blackstrap or cooking molasses, use half molasses and half golden syrup, corn syrup, or brown rice syrup.

The small amount of coconut oil added to the top layer of melted chocolate helps keep it softer and prevents the whitish bloom when refrigerated.

all wrapped up, Coco-Lasses Bars

No Bake, Salted Coco-Lasses Bars (Coco-Lassies)

gluten-free, nut-free, vegan & dairy-free if chocolate chips are dairy-free

  • 1¼ cups (220gms) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (dairy-free, if necessary)
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) fancy molasses (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups (275gms) unsweetened medium shredded coconut
  • ½ cup (120ml) virgin coconut oil + 1 tablespoon for top layer
  • 3 tablespoons long thread shredded coconut
  • 1/8 teaspoon flaked sea salt

Line a 9×9 inch (23x23cm) pan with a parchment paper sling that sticks up on each end by about an inch. Crease the paper along the inside bottom edges so it sits flat in the pan.

Melt half of the chocolate chips (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) in the microwave (1 minute on high, then stir till the last bits are melted) or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Put a small dab of chocolate under the parchment paper in each corner of the pan to help keep it from sliding around. Spread the melted chocolate over the paper in the bottom of the pan – an offset spatula works best for this. Allow it to harden – 15 minutes in the fridge or longer at room temperature. *Don’t wash the dish the chocolate was melted in – add the remaining chocolate chips to it and set it aside to melt again later when you add the final layer to the bars.

In a large saucepan, combine the molasses, water, and vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat just until the molasses has melted and combined with the water. Add the coconut and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, until the coconut is warmed up and the sweet liquid has all been absorbed into the coconut.

Add the coconut oil and cook and stir until the coconut oil has melted and coats all the coconut flakes, about one more minute.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and scrape the molasses-coated coconut on top of the hardened chocolate. Press it evenly into the pan with a silicone spatula. Allow to harden, about ½ hour in the fridge or longer at room temperature.

While the filling is hardening, toast the long thread coconut in a small skillet, over medium heat and stirring often, until it is golden. Allow to cool.

Melt the remaining half of the chocolate chips together with the 1 tablespoon coconut oil and spread this over the hardened filling. Sprinkle the flaked salt evenly over the top, then shower with the toasted coconut.

When the top layer has hardened, run a knife down the sides of the pan that don’t have the paper sling. Lift the slab of Salted Coco-Lasses from the pan by pulling up on the paper flaps. Place it on a cutting board and cut the slab into 24 small bars (4 rows of 6 bars) or 16 larger squares.


Store the coconut molasses bars in a covered container in the fridge – they will keep for several weeks. Remove from the fridge at least 15 minutes before serving to bring them to room temperature.

Makes 16 to 24 bars.

Guten Appetit!


You might also like:

Healthy Fudge with a Wicked Alias

Oma’s Ginger Molasses Knobs

Choco-Crisps (Oaty Chocolate Rice Krispie cookies)

Gingerbread Rice Krispie Squares with Cinnamon Ganache

wrap the coco-lassies in parchment

Posted in Chocolate, Cookies & Candy, Dairy-free, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Edmonton’s FEASTival (and a Dreamy Coconut and White Chocolate Mousse)

The dreamy, smooth white chocolate mousse recipe comes from a professional culinary arts program, but is easy to make in your own kitchen.

NAIT recipe for coconut and white chocolate mousse

Last week I had to pinch myself. I was in a food lover’s paradise. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Edmonton’s 27th FEASTival took place at the Shaw Conference Centre and I was lucky enough to go.

Feastival, chef lineup

bagpipes pipe in the lineup of chefs at the end of Feastival, 2015

It’s a grand event. Some of Edmonton’s finest chefs and their talented apprentices from top restaurants showcase their creativity and highlight an amazing array of local foods. Fantastic food displays filled the exterior walls of the cavernous conference hall at the Shaw. I felt like bemused wanderer in a culinary version of Aladdin’s cave. Several restaurants handed out tantalizing little amuse bouches to whet the appetite as we browsed. It is wonderful to see just a little glimpse of what this next generation of Edmonton chefs can create. It is also wonderful to see the huge array of top quality food grown and produced right here in Alberta.

Display at Feastival, Edmonton

24 hours before the FEASTival, the chefs and their apprentices are given a mystery box of local products and ingredients, from which they must create their menu for the evening. All the planning, organizing, and cooking of the dishes is done away from their home kitchens, so they are truly challenged to use their talents.


The evening is set up like a kind of foodie lottery for the four courses of your meal. As you arrive, you choose a number and get a little booklet with four tickets. Then as each course is announced throughout the evening, you go find the restaurant booth that matches your ticket number. The restaurants change their numbers for each course, so you never know which one will offer your next course. It’s a grand happy chaos of organized confusion as hungry diners navigate the room to find their restaurants and discover which mouthwatering dish they’ll eat next. The thrill of the hunt is on, but the reward is that there are no bad choices.

plating up at Feastival, 2015

Such fun and deliciousness!

For my appetizer course, I had the Wild Boar Cheek Terrine from the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald – this was my absolute favourite course (and not just because it was the first one and I was hungry!) – meltingly tender boar cheek layered with tart and juicy baked apple slices, served with wild mushroom panna cotta, roulade of braised red cabbage, carrot puree, pickled chanterelle mushrooms, and apple cider gel. Doesn’t that sound posh and heavenly? It was.

Feastival, appetizer

the lighting at the event was poor, and really did not do this delicious food justice

For my soup course, I had the Cream of Roasted Golden Beet & Parsnip Soup from the Hilton Garden Inn. It was garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds and roasted garlic. The sweet earthiness of the beets and parsnips were autumn in a bowl. Delicious.

Feastival, Golden Beet soup

For my entrée, I had the Seared Venison Sirloin from Madison’s Grill. It looked beautiful and came with Dueling Paves (of potato and turnip), Vanilla Yam Puree, Glazed Asparagus, Carrots, and Shitake & Red Wine Demi-Glace.

Feastival, venison

For dessert, the Carrot Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce from Zinc Restaurant – it was heavenly – dense and chewy like the best kind of cake/pudding with that delectable sauce (and a beautiful edible flower). Mmmmm.

Feastival, carrot cake dessert

However, the best part of the evening was the sharing that happened at my table of other passionate foodies and bloggers. Plates were generously passed around and we dug our forks into each other’s meals, savouring the flavours from so many amazing restaurants. Our table was situated adjacent to the NAIT (Northern Institute of Technology) booth so I got a close up view of the chefs and students from their renowned culinary program bustling (calmly and efficiently) around to serve their meal. We were lucky enough to have Chris Short (NAIT Chef Instructor and FEASTival Chair) magically procure a few extra samples of their courses (sometimes luck is with you and you get to sit in the right spot!) for us to feast on.

Their dessert was wonderful, and a memorable end to a sensational gastronomic Feast.


It only took me a little begging (I was polite – I swear!) for Chris to agree to get me the recipe for the heavenly Valrhona White Chocolate Mousse with Coconut, created by Chef and Culinary Instructor, Ganesh Subramanya and NAIT’s culinary program, for the FEASTival menu.

Understandably, the recipe involved complicated techniques and massive amounts of ingredients not easily duplicated in a home kitchen, so I scaled it waaaayyy down and adapted it for a home kitchen. The original recipe makes seven litres of mousse, using almost one and a half litres of cream and over one kilogram of white chocolate! Even without the professional ‘Pate a Bombe’ technique (no idea what that is . . . ) and the elegant passionfruit reduction, toasted macadamia nuts, mango gelle, and chocolate ganache to serve it with, this recipe is an absolute winner. It has an unbelievably smooth texture and richness. It uses not one, but three … three!. . . different ingredients that would normally thicken a custard or mousse: gelatin, egg yolks, and white chocolate. I’m sure that’s the secret to it’s dreamlike texture.

I served the white chocolate mousse simply, with diced fresh pineapple and canned mandarin orange segments. I’m sure it would be just as delicious with diced mango, or lychees, or even diced strawberries.

So here it is . . .  a home version of the secret special recipe from FEASTival and NAIT’s culinary program, for you to impress guests at your next dinner party or just to celebrate a special family evening. (I guess it’s not so secret any more, eh?)

      * * * * *

coconut and white chocolate mousse with pineapple oranges

Coconut and White Chocolate Mousse

adapted for home use, from Chef/Instructor Ganesh Subramanya and NAIT’s Culinary Program

  • 1/3 cup fine, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup (180ml) whipping cream
  • ¾ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 package (2 and ¼ teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • ¼ cup (60ml) water
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup (120ml) full fat, premium canned coconut milk (make sure to shake can or whisk contents before measuring)
  • 2 tablespoons (25gms) sugar
  • 1 cup (140gms) top quality white chocolate chunks
  • 1 tablespoon flavourless oil (I like grapeseed)
  • diced fruit, for serving, optional*

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the fine shredded coconut into a baking dish and toast, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Whip the heavy cream until stiff, and refrigerate the bowl with the whipped cream until needed.

Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over top. Leave it to soften for about 5 minutes.

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, canned coconut milk, and sugar until well combined. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, but don’t allow it to come to a boil.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the white chocolate chunks. Stir until they are completely melted. Scrape in the softened gelatin and stir until it is completely dissolved into the mixture.

Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and until it has the thickness of raw egg whites.

While the white chocolate mixture is cooling, prepare the molds. Use a pastry brush to coat 6 half-cup (120ml) rounded molds or small custard bowls with the oil. Put about one tablespoon of the toasted coconut in and tilt the mold so the coconut sticks to the bottom and all sides. Tap out the excess. Reserve any leftover toasted coconut.

coconut to line the molds for white chocolate mousse

When the white chocolate mixture has cooled, pour it over the whipped cream and fold them together lightly, making sure both mixtures are smoothly incorporated, but trying not to deflate the whipped cream too much.

Divide the mousse between the molds, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, until completely set.

Slide a knife gently around the edge of each mold to loosen the  mousse and invert onto dessert plates. Use the reserved remaining toasted coconut to pat into place if there are any spots that aren’t covered by coconut.

*Surround each little mousse with diced fruit, such as fresh pineapple, canned mandarin orange segments, mango, kiwi, strawberries, or other berries.

Serves 6.

Guten Appetit!

Disclosure: The ticket for this event was generously provided for me by AFPA (Alberta Food Processors Associaton) FEASTival, 2015


You might also like:

Spaghetti Herbonara and NAIT’s Microgreens Program

Artichoke, Pear, & Pine Nut Pizza with Homemade Mozzarella from NAIT’s Kitchens

Mini Lemon Coconut Pavlovas

Spruce Tip Rhubarb Compote over Swedish Cream

Feastival, top view white chocolate mousse with fruit

Posted in Canadian Food Experience Project, Chocolate, Desserts, Puddings & Such | 2 Comments