Mango pudding parfaits

I love all kinds of fruit and, for the most part, I don’t discriminate between them. I’ll eat fruit when it’s at its best, local and in season, and sometimes even when it’s not, and so you can imagine how happy I was to see fruit being used in a number of entries to the recent Raw Ice Cream Sandwich Challenge. You can bet I’ll be trying more of these fabulous recipes very soon.

But I have to admit, there are times when I play fruit favourites. On a hot summer’s day, for example, it’s a juicy, ripe mango that will undoubtedly win me over. If you’re looking for a sweet pick-me-up on a sunny afternoon, this mango pudding parfait recipe is a showcase of mango sweetness at its finest. Did I mention it’s easy to make, too?

Challenge winners!

I hope all of you in Canada or the US enjoyed a lovely long weekend. Mine was full of sunshine, long walks, family and ice cream sandwiches!

After the final entries rolled in, Lisa and I spent Saturday morning studying the posts and scoring each recipe against the judging criteria.

I know we said it already, but it bears repeating: we were both incredibly impressed by the fabulous flavour combinations, the creative use of seasonal fruit and the sheer determination you all demonstrated in creating such amazing raw, vegan treats. You have certainly expanded our repertoires and inspired new experiments in our kitchens—and hopefully in many others across the blogosphere. Thank you to everyone who participated in all the fun.

When we tallied the totals, three finalist emerged. As the judging criteria stipulates, creativity and presentation were what set the winners apart from all the enticing entries. If we went on flavour alone, you’d all be winners.

With our list of finalists in hand, it was time to get rolling and churning out some sensational ice cream sandwiches. The best part about ice cream sandwiches is that they take far less time to make than cake pops—and there is no need to MacGyver a special box to hold up ice cream sandwiches. We are getting more seasoned at these challenges and did some important prep work in advance, but we were both quite impressed by how quickly the final products came together.

Challenge roundup

Last night at midnight was the deadline to enter the Raw Ice Cream Sandwich Challenge, and Lisa and I are now drooling over all the mouthwatering entries. This weekend, we will narrow down the 12 entries to three finalists based on the judging criteria, recreate the recipes in Lisa’s kitchen, and host a tasting party to determine the winners.

Below is the roundup of entries. Is there a particular one that catches your eye and wakes up your taste buds?

Michelle and Lori of Pure2Raw made Mac-n-Mint Chip Cookie Sandwiches.

Deanna of The Mommy Bowl made Frozen Triple B Bites.

Deanna‘s second entry is Coconut Cacao Nib Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies.

Review: Vegan Desserts

If you’re connected to the vegan food scene, you’ll know of the lovely Hannah Kaminsky. She published her first vegan cookbook during her teen years and has since created numerous e-books, developed a successful food blog and is sought after for her stunning food photographyand food styling skills.

Hannah’s second book is a mature hardcover called Vegan Desserts, and those looking for something new to wow a crowd are sure to appreciate the more unique bent to its collection. Hannah is well-known for her clever flavour combinations, and this book proves her endless creativity with recipes like carrot cake ice cream, blueberry-beet pates de fruit, watermelon bombe, grapefruit gems, and even a treat for your pet in the form of canine cookies. The book is also seasonally organized and includes a thorough index specifically for allergies.

While my favourite whole-grain and nut flours get little attention in this book, she does make use of a few gluten-free and white flour combinations while still holding true to traditional textures and tastes. Vegan alternatives like nondairy sour cream and cream cheese, silken tofu, soy yogurt, and Earth Balance buttery sticks are also common ingredients in the recipes.

Admittedly, I didn’t approach this book entirely in the correct order. Diving straight into the more dense and comforting desserts of the autumn section, the ingredients of the rum raisin brownies sounded uniquely appealing. Rum, cocoa, coffee powder and garbanzo bean flour result in dark, fudge-like squares with a scattering of chewy raisins and chocolate chips throughout.

In the summer section, Hannah describes her cherry-berry peanut butter cobbler as a sophisticated approach to the classic PB & J combo. Fresh cherries and blueberries form the base for a peanut-butter-enriched cobbler dough to rest on. Quite possibly an execution error on my part, the cobbler dough didn’t rise much, but the flavour pairing easily won me over at first bite.

Raw mulberry-coconut cupcakes

After last month’s setback, I was determined to put a little more thought into my next SOS Kitchen Challenge creation. Work deadlines and household chores can wait. This girl’s got more important priorities.

When Kim and Ricki announced June’s feature ingredient as one of my favourite superfoods, blueberries, I got super excited to incorporate it into a healthy yet decadent treat. Although I’d like to think every brightly coloured fruit and vegetable fits the category of a superfood—as do nuts, beans, seeds and aromatic herbs and spices—there are some that contain proven beneficial properties and are just fun to eat.

Enter my raw mulberry-coconut cupcakes with blueberry frosting. Yes, that’s right: blueberries and mulberries.

I recently experienced my first bite of a sun-dried mulberry when creating cake pops with Lisa back in April, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Chewy and soft with a fig-like crunch, sun-dried mulberries are nature’s version of candy. A delightful alternative to raisins, it’s difficult to not eat them straight from the bag.

Better still, mulberries are also considered a superfood. They’re one of the few fruits to be considered a protein source; they’re an excellent source of iron, calcium, vitamin C and fibre; and they also contain a high concentration of Resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that combats free radical damage.