Friday, March 20, 2020

Vegan Cashew Chocolate Pudding

I started writing this post last week, and haven’t had much time to get anything done since then. It’s mind-boggling how quickly life has changed here. I’ve been to the grocery store a few times since our school district announced the schools would close for a while. Some people have masks and gloves, but others are coming so close to strangers that it’s clear social distancing is not a priority for them. We’re tenser than usual about our kids not touching anything or coughing into their elbows or washing their hands properly. And there are rows upon rows of empty shelves, enough that I’m sure we all have to change part of the menus we had planned out for the week – no roast chicken or dal for me – but there’s still enough food that no one is going to starve. We’re fortunate that the Engineer still has his job and can teach remotely; as for me, even though I offer a virtual organizing service (no physical proximity!), it’s much less popular than being there in person. And my two kids are home anyway.

I’m still going to post recipes, though, because life goes on. And while I anticipate the next few weeks to be hard, especially if they stretch into months, I know that this isn’t the new normal just yet, it’s a transition phase. And maybe you want comfort food. This recipe is from Minimalist Baker; it’s a protein-rich chocolate pudding that can be made with either cashews or black beans. I’m not sure whether there were any cashews left in the store a few days ago, but I did see black beans, so this is doable if you have the other ingredients on hand – I typically do.

The version with black beans is lower in fat and higher in protein, but is said to have a grainier texture than the one made with cashew cream, so I opted for the latter at the time (otherwise, replace cashews with an equal volume of cooked and rinsed black beans, but don’t soak them). I didn’t have dates on hand, so I used more maple syrup, but it still wasn’t overly sweet – the version below is mine, scaled to make 8 generous servings (you can of course halve it if you wish). Everyone liked it; as a matter of fact, the Engineer loved the taste, though he found the texture a bit too grainy. I therefore recommend soaking the cashews overnight, as opposed to pouring boiling water on them. I’ve never tried a side-by-side comparison, but since the boiling water is supposed to be a slapdash solution if you’re in a rush, I figure an overnight soak is better.

4 scant cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
12 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk or light coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups maple syrup (you can start with 1 cup if you’re afraid this is too much)
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. melted coconut oil

Rinse and drain the soaked cashews thoroughly. Put them in a blender along with the remaining ingredients and blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add more almond milk or coconut milk if it has trouble blending, but add only as much as is necessary to help it blend. You want it pretty thick! Taste and adjust sweetness as needed by adding maple syrup as necessary.

Scoop pudding into serving containers and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until cold and thickened, at least 2-3 hours.

You can serve the puddings plain, or topped with fruit and/or coconut whipped cream.

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