Desserts

Desserts

By
Tony Chiodo
Contains
9 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740668873
Photographer
Chris Chen

When I was a child, desserts were a very special comfort food – and since then, nothing much has changed!

The opportunity to bake and eat a natural wholefood dessert is always nourishing to me and I believe such foods have a place within a well-balanced, healthful diet.

Wholefood desserts are sadly viewed as tasteless and heavy affairs, so many people are put off from giving them a try. However, eating natural sweets does not mean depriving yourself of all things decadent and delicious.

You will find the following recipes satisfying and flavoursome without all the fat, dairy and refined sugars usually found in desserts and cakes. Of course, they’ll never be as light and airy as the others, yet they’ll taste divine with a definite feel good factor that will have you wanting more.

Creating desserts with natural wholefoods takes a little more time and thought as natural ingredients will react differently in the mix every time. You need to be prepared to experiment and ad lib where necessary.

Following are some suggestions for a successful journey with my favourite wholefood desserts:

Of the many varieties of flour, I tend to stock unbleached white or wholemeal spelt flour, which is my everyday flour used to create light desserts and partner it with coconut flour, almond meal or variations depending on the theme.

I use both baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) as rising agents in my cakes and desserts. Always buy aluminium-free products. Baking powder contains both an alkaline and acid and when it’s mixed into the wet ingredients becomes activated. Bicarbonate of soda is an alkaline and needs an acid such as lemon juice for it to activate.

To thicken sauces or make creamy puddings, I tend to use kuzu or arrowroot and dissolve it in an equal amount of cold water before adding it to a boiling liquid. You need to stir the mixture continuously until the sauce becomes clear, then take the saucepan off the heat.

Agar agar acts like gelatine but is actually a sea vegetable. It comes in bars or flakes, but I find the flakes easier to use. Stir into a boiling liquid, then simmer the mixture for 5 minutes until it dissolves. When the liquid cools it will set firm. For a variation, add kuzu or arrowroot to this liquid while it’s still warm and you’ll make a creamy mousse.

Spices such as cinnamon or cardamom not only accentuate the flavour of a dessert, but also help to create a more warming, heartfelt dish.

I always add a touch of unrefined sea salt to my sweets. This helps to draw all the ingredients together in a happy marriage to heighten the final flavour.

In my wet ingredients I include liquid sweeteners such as rice and barley syrup, fruit juice concentrate and maple syrup. Each has its own characteristic and behaves differently under different conditions. Rice syrup is a mild, middle-of-the-road, easy sweetener. Barley malt syrup by comparison is big and boisterous, packing a strong flavour with dark colouring. I buy either apple or pear juice concentrate, both made from the juice of fresh fruit that’s been cooked down to create a more concentrated flavour. Then lastly, but never forgotten, I love to use premium grade maple syrup. This all-purpose favourite gives desserts a sweetness that will have you nodding with joy.

I include good-quality, easy to digest fats, such as unrefined coconut oil, hulled tahini and organic eggs. These not only give a great mouthfeel, but also add richness and moisture.

With milk I opt for an organic soy milk or almond milk. It gives desserts that luscious feel we long for in sweet treats.

To make silky-smooth creams and toppings, I use silken tofu which, when drained in a fine sieve to become firmer, forms the base of the dish. I then add some good-quality fat, a sweetener and flavouring before pureéing into a cream.

I always have some natural vanilla extract in the pantry as adding a few drops to a dessert creates another flavour and dimension.

Lemon, lime and orange zest are the threesome that give added zing to a cream creation or tang to a baked item. They are welcome in nearly all desserts, alone or in partnership.

Recipes in this Chapter

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