My cherry obsession continues, only now they are FINALLY briefly in season, so currently I’m getting my fill of actual live cherries, not frozen or dried ones. Though not a “pie person” per say, I greatly enjoy raw apple pie, where you partially dehydrate sliced apples then reconstitute them so they acquire a slightly smooshy baked quality. I decided to carry that technique over to fresh cherries and strawberries, and layer it with a raw food staple: cacao avocado mousse. If you have some time of your hands, this is the perfect summer recipe to try! I made the chocolate mousse/pudding a couple days ago (and we’ve been enjoying plenty of it on its own), dried the fruit yesterday, and made the crust/assembled the whole thing today. Having done it in parts, the actual crust-making and full pie assembly took less than a half hour.
Note that the cacao mousse recipe is for a full multi-serving yield… because really, if you are gonna dirty your blender, you might as well have a couple days worth of pudding to show for it! Also, you can make it without adding any fruit- I thought it’d be great for the chocolate layer to have notes of cherry.
Raw Vegan Fresh Cherry Berry Chocolate Cream Pie
1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup almond meal
5 dried figs
pinch Himalayan salt
Soak dates and figs in warm water for ten minutes. Pulse pecans in food processor, then add remaining ingredients and process until a sticky crumb is formed. Press into a pie tin and set aside.
Any other raw pie crust recipe could be subbed for this one, or any other nuts/fruit you prefer.
Cherry Berry Filling:
2 cups strawberries, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
4 cups cherries, pitted
1/4 cup coconut nectar
Place cherries and strawberries onto a dehydrator tray (fruit should nearly fill one tray) and dry at 108 degrees for about eight hours. Refrigerate until ready to use. To prep for pie, reconstitute by covering them in warm water for about ten minutes. Drain and squeeze gently, then mix in coconut nectar.
Cacao Avocado Mousse:
3 extra large avocados or 4-5 medium ones
1 heaping cup cherries, pitted
3/4 cup coconut nectar, buckwheat honey, or agave OR 2/3 cup water and 2 droppers liquid stevia
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
Blend in VitaMix or other high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Place a thin layer of cacao mousse along the bottom of the crust. Drain any excess liquid from fruit, and pour in. Add about two cups of cacao mousse on top, until fruit barely peeps through- more can be added if desired.
I used a pint of raspberries, and about 1/4 cup of cacao nibs for a topping. You can decorate any way you choose; I placed the raspberries around the edge, and made a sort of flower out of them by taking several berries and flattening them, then laying each around one main berry. I then put a small mint leaf in the center of the whole raspberry.
A couple of Thanksgivings ago I got hooked on my own adaptation of this recipe from Elana’s Pantry for cranberry bars. I used a crust that had coconut flour in addition to the nuts she uses, and saved some to sprinkle on top, which was an idea I got many years ago from America’s Test Kitchen, when they did an oatmeal-based recipe for peanut butter and jelly bars. I love using one mixture for two different textures and purposes in a dish. This past week my mom sent me a few new recipes from Elana’s site, including this one for Raspberry Streusel. While I liked the idea of her recipe, it made me long for those old peanut butter and jelly bars, so I jumped ship from her basic recommendations and came up with a new version of that old favorite of mine.
Generally when baking for myself, I use either all stevia or a combo of raw buckwheat honey and stevia, but I wanted to make something that Ace would enjoy too, and she is a firm believer in desserts involving actual sugar. Since I was already making this vegan and gluten-free, I decided to use coconut sugar as the sweetener, which is a good compromise because it has no bitter flavor like stevia, but is still moderately low-glycemic. You could easily sub out the sugar for stevia, xylitol, or erythritol, but since these still have fruit in them they wouldn’t be completely sugar-free.
Strawberry-Cherry Almond Butter Streusel Bars:
Filling: (any other fruits could be substituted in same proportions)
16 oz strawberries, cut into halves or quartered depending on size
1/2 cup dried (unsweetened) tart cherries
3 dates, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water, then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup date soak water
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Cook stovetop on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until strawberries are limp, cherries are plump, and dates have mostly dissipated.
Top Crumble and Bottom Crust:
1 cup nuts- I used 3/4 cup pecans and 1/4 cup walnuts
Pulse in food processor until finely ground
1 cup almond flour or meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (Earth Balance or butter could be used if that flavor is preferred)
2 tbls coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pulse until a crumble forms, then place 2/3 of mix into a greased 9×7 or 8×8 baking dish.
Press crumble down firmly with hands until a uniform layer is formed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Once crust has cooled slightly, gently spread 1/3 cup almond butter onto it. (You could, of course, use peanut butter instead- almond is just a healthier option.)
Add fruit filling to pan and spread to edges.
Drop remaining crumble on top, scattering about into randomly sized bits and pieces.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then allow to cool before cutting.
These are the bars right out of the oven:
And this is how the layers look once cut:
If strawberries aren’t in season and you want to use apples, below is a similar cobbler/crumble/streusel I made with those, on its way into the oven. Lining them up makes for a very pretty presentation.