Chef’s Corner: Healthy No-Bake Desserts

When the temperature rises outside, who wants to be inside preheating the oven? Not I!

For a sweet ending to your warm-weather meal, look to these amazing no-bake desserts. They can even be made dairy and/or gluten free. There is some prep work required, but the taste and texture of the cheesecake is creamy and unmistakably sinful. The avocado truffles are easy and delicious, and they’re loaded with antioxidants, potassium and fiber.

As the heat soars, you might want to whip up a batch of coconut whipped cream that I shared a recipe for in my December 2013 column. In addition to using it to garnish the strawberry cheesecake below, you can use your whipped coconut cream in your coffee, on pancakes, on ice cream, on mixed berries or anywhere you would use traditional whipped cream.

Look for coconut milk that comes in a BPA-free can (such as Native Forest Organic coconut milk in a BPA-free can – it’s kosher).

Step 1: Take a “full fat” can of organic coconut milk and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 2: Scoop out the thickened coconut cream, leaving the coconut water for drinking or other recipes.

Step 3: Add a little cinnamon, vanilla and sugar (or sugar substitute) to the cream in a mixing bowl then whip it until it begins to thicken. Place in refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight to firm up.

So step away from the oven and cool off while making these delicious and refreshing desserts.

Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
⅓ cup mashed avocado (about 1 small avocado)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, for rolling (optional)
Combine the chocolate, vanilla extract and pinch of salt over a double boiler and melt until completely smooth, stirring as needed.
Mash the avocado with a fork until no lumps are visible, and then stir it into the melted chocolate mixture until smooth and thickened.
Place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch.
Once the mixture has been chilled and is slightly firm, use a tablespoon to scoop the chocolate into 12 balls. Place them on a pan lined with parchment paper, and roll the balls between the palms of your hand to create a smooth surface.
Place the 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in small bowl and roll each truffle into the cocoa to coat. Serve at room temperature, but store in the fridge for a lasting shelf life.

Note: You can also roll these truffles in ground nuts, shredded coconut or sprinkles.

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust, baked and chilled*
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-6 hours
¾ cup honey
¾ cup coconut oil
Juice of 1 lemon, about ¼ cup
1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries (thawed and drained)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until light and fluffy.
Pour into baked crust. Freeze at least 2-4 hours until set.
Serve frozen or chilled.
Add a dollop of coconut whipped cream and garnish with berries if desired
*Use a store-bought crust, a recipe of your choice or the kosher for Passover recipe given below.

Passover “Graham Cracker” Crust

4 tablespoons melted butter (for dairy free, use 5 tablespoons coconut oil)
2 tablespoons honey
1½ cups almond flour, firmly packed
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together all ingredients until combined.
Using your hands, spread mixture into a greased 9-inch pie plate and pack down firmly.
Bake for 12-16 minutes until golden brown.

Photos by Matthew Strauss

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