My in-laws recently downsized to a smaller home, and thus, downsized some of their belongings. In the process, a beautiful set of crystal water goblets found a new home with us. The goblets pair so nicely with my late grandmother’s crystal water pitcher, a lovely piece that evokes warm & wonderful memories of holiday dinners at Grandma Decoster’s when I was a kid in Michigan. Like most people, we don’t use the good crystal on a daily basis, so when you’re having special lunch guests, of course that good crystal is going to be excitedly used.
Our special lunch guests, two of the nicest people on the planet, Pete’s parents, my in-laws, Jack & Ginny. Getting together with them is always fun—lively conversation flows, and usually a new story or two is told of the days long before Pete was in my life. It’s a little window into a time I would have loved to experience.
The dessert I planned to top off our lunch evolved a little as I thought about it. I wanted to make chocolate lava cakes, but wasn’t sure what to accompany them. After tossing around a few ideas, I settled on something raspberry. A simple sauce of fresh raspberries blended with sugar, pressed through a sieve to make it smooth and seedless, topped off with the creamiest cream-less Chambord-spiked cream—whipped coconut cream with a little powdered sugar, vanilla and a splash or two of the delicious black raspberry liqueur. A few fresh raspberries sprinkled on top, with a mint sprig for garnish. Perfection!
Prior to the last year or so, I had only experienced coconut milk in Thai restaurant dishes. Yummy, but nothing I had used at home. More recently I’ve used it in homemade curries, but a whole new creamy world opened when I first saw a recipe for whipped coconut cream. It’s crazy easy! It’s vegan! And it is totally scrumptious! You simply refrigerate a can of coconut milk (not light—it won’t work) at least a few hours, preferably overnight. Open the can and remove the solids on top to a chilled bowl. Don’t use any of the liquid, just the solid “cream.” Add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar and beat with chilled beaters until stiff. Add a teaspoon or two of vanilla and beat a little longer. Then the options are endless for adding another flavor profile—almond extract, lemon juice, orange zest, Kahlua, Chambord, whatever strikes your fancy. And unlike dairy whipped cream, this doesn’t deflate if not used right away—it keeps great in the fridge for a few days!
Chocolate Lava Cakes
Adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup organic, natural sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup almond milk
½ cup grapeseed oil
2 tbls. apple cider vinegar
1 tbls. pure vanilla extract
6 tbls. semisweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard—the best I’ve tasted—even better than Ghirardelli!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease six 6-ounce ramekins and line the bottom of each with a small parchment paper circle. I have a jumbo muffin pan with six 6 ounce cups, and that worked swell.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together almond milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until just combined. Do not over-mix.
Fill each ramekin one-quarter way full. Place a heaping tablespoon of chocolate chips on top of batter in the center. Fill the ramekins with remaining batter.
A make-ahead tip: After filling ramekins with batter and chocolate chips, they can be frozen for several weeks. Bake straight from freezer for 20 minutes.
Simple Raspberry Sauce
2 cups fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
¼ cup Sucanat or other natural sugar
Place raspberries and Sucanat in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or strainer, over a dish. Push sauce with back of a spoon until nothing remains in strainer but the seeds. Sauce keeps several days in the refrigerator.
Solids from one can of coconut milk (not light), (chill can overnight; don’t shake can before opening)
2 tbls. powdered sugar (or more to taste)
2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
2 tsps. Chambord
Chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place coconut solids in bowl and beat until smooth and thick. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and Chambord and beat to incorporate. Refrigerate at least two hours. Give it a whisk just before serving. You may want to add another teaspoon of Chambord at that time. This keeps in the fridge for several days.
To assemble dessert, drizzle raspberry sauce on plates, place a cake in the center, top with a generous dollop of Chambord Cream, sprinkle with raspberries, another drizzle of sauce, and garnish with a fresh mint sprig. Unmatched creamy, ooey-gooey, vegan goodness!