desserts and drinking for the long weekend

Ok so show of hands how many of you folks reading this post are renters? Homeowners? Well my husband and I are renters, long time ...

Ok so show of hands how many of you folks reading this post are renters? Homeowners? Well my husband and I are renters, long time renters. This is our first home together and we like it just fine. More than that, we love it. Often what takes a rental from nice to fantastic is a great landlord. In our case we have two great landlords. They have become our friends since we moved in. They are interesting, artistic and incredibly friendly and considerate. I have been driven crazy by a couple former landlords so finding two awesome and supportive landlords is priceless. To show our appreciation my husband and I occasionally have them over for drinks,  food or both. They live close by so casual get-togethers are not too difficult to arrange.

For those of you outside of Britain or Canada, this weekend is a long weekend in celebration of Queen Victoria. It's the first big weekend of the Canadian summer roster and often means barbeques, family get-togethers, picnics, concerts and camping. We are trying to tick as many of these fun ideas off our imaginary list before Tuesday morning. So far we've had a little get together with our friendly neighborhood landlords and are in the process of trying to get out of town and down by a lake somewhere.

Since I created Baking Backwards a couple months back I've become pretty obsessed with making vegan and gluten free desserts using as little or no refined sugar as possible. This little get together at our place  last night was the perfect opportunity to test out some recent dessert ideas on my unsuspecting landlords/friends, let's call them L and T. I say unsuspecting because these folks love food, I mean really love food. Not just that, they know their stuff. Self-proclaimed foodies and avid-travelers they have experienced different cultures and cuisines the world over and don't restrict themselves when it comes to fine dining. They have no allergies and are not on special diets. To me they are the perfect people to taste test my creations. They are unbiased and enjoy "normal" desserts so they can honestly let me know if something falls flat or knocks their socks off. Last night I took the opportunity to test out three desserts on them which I served in small quantities. They loved them! To me this meant a major success on my part.

They didn't miss the gluten or sugar one bit.

I also used our dessert party to try pairing gluten-free alcohol with dessert. L and T really enjoy nice alcohol, particularly fine wine from around the world. I enjoy wine as well and I have particular favorites but I don't pretend to know a lot about wine, honestly that's like saying you know a lot about food. There is so much to "know" out there I don't pretend to be an expert. I am getting more and more into making boozy desserts.
Exhibit A is my Instant Whiskey-Banana-Date-Raspberry Ice Cream, otherwise known as my new favorite ice cream flavor! When I was a kid I really hated alcohol, particularly when it ruined a nice dessert for me (fucking rum balls). My husband still detests most booze-filled desserts but has taste tested and loved all of the ones I've made lately. For last night's dessert I decided to try and find anther alcohol to pair well with fruit and chocolate.  

When in doubt, ask.

I went to the local liquor store near my house and asked one of their very knowledgeable staff to help me pick out the right liquor for the job. The very friendly man informed me that Port would be perfect to serve alongside or accent chocolate and fruit.  He even found me a great bottle for around $15.  So Port it was! I did some research to see if port was ever used in ice cream and it was, often on top of it as a syrup or blended right in. I opted for the latter and decided to make an instant raspberry and port ice cream to pair with my chocolate main course.  

Here's what we served L and T last night:

The Zucchini Mini Molten Cakes were similar to the molten cakes I made last week only even more healthy as they are full of zucchini and not just fruit. I think I prefer them to my original recipe as they get a little firmer the next day and taste a bit more intensely chocolatey. The little milkshakes were lovely and provided a bit of a palate cleanse from the chocolate overload. The ice cream paired really well with both the port we drank and the little chocolate cakes.

Overall it was a great way to start the long weekend! I hope you give these recipes a try. They're all winners whether you're gluten intolerant, avoiding refined sugar, or just want to make a great dessert.

 Zucchini Mini Molten Cakes:

Makes 7 or 8 mini-mason jar cakes

  • 1/3 cup + 2.5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted Sayer dates
  • 1 cup finely grated zucchini
  • 2.5 tbsp amaranth flour
  • 2.5 tbsp millet flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp pear sauce (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2.5 tbsp Danielle's Vegan Butter (recipe coming soon!) OR frozen olive oil OR vegan buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp frozen olive oil
  • 1 cup + a little over 1/2 cup water
  • 2 dashes coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vinegar (apple cider or rice vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 5 mini mason jars (tiny jars) with a piece of parchment paper and a little frozen olive oil.

Pulse then blend first 1 cup of water with all ingredients except millet and amaranth in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides and blend again. Add millet and amaranth flour and blend until smooth. Add additional 1/2+ cup water and blend thoroughly. Taste! Add extra tsp cocoa if not chocolatey enough. Add extra water if too thick. Add extra dates if too bitter. The batter should be the texture of thick chocolate pudding.

Carefully spoon cake batter into mini-mason jars and fill each jar 3/4 full. Wipe the edges clean if you get batter on the rims of the jars to avoiding burning. Place mason jars in a DIY bain marie and bake 25 minutes in 350F oven until the top forms a dark crust but the middle is loosely set. They should look risen but not quite baked like a cake. DO NOT OVERBAKE!  Serve immediately with a scoop of homemade ice cream (raspberry-port ice cream recipe below) and a tiny raspberry shake.

Tiny Raspberry Shakes
Makes 4-6 tiny raspberry shakes
  • 1 package frozen raspberries (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large frozen bananas
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 dash coarse sea salt
  • 4 pitted Sayer dates (about 30g)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 dashes cinnamon
  • pinch baking soda
  • pinch baking powder
  • tiny squeeze of lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth and creamy. Pour into mini glasses and serve with fun straws!

Raspberry 'N' Port Ice Cream
Makes 4 servings
  • 1 package (about 2 cups) frozen raspberries (or another dark berry)
  • 2 large frozen bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash coarse sea salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • pinch baking soda
  • pinch baking powder
  • 4 + 3 extra pitted Sayer dates (about 40g)
  • 1/3 cup Port or Creme de Cassis Liquor or Framboise Wine or Chambord
  • 1 heaping teaspoon veganaise

Blend all ingredients except the extra 3 dates together until very smooth and thick in a food processor. Add the 2 extra dates and pulse to incorporate. You want the dates to dot through the ice cream in visible pieces. Scoop and serve immediately or chill in freezer up to 30 minutes before serving.

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