Amazing Banoffee Pie – raw and dairy free! Part one.

I love pudding. It’s no secret. I have a sweet tooth that loves to be satisfied. Unfortunately, most traditional puddings and desserts are packed full of dairy – dollops of butter, lashings of cream and of course bundles of fat and calories to go with it!! It’s not a wonder that when I finally banished dairy from my diet, I lost weight without trying!

So  now I am on a continual quest to find puddings that I can eat – dairy free and delicious of course – without falling back onto too many fake alternatives which are often packed full of chemicals and nasties that I really don’t want to consume. I want real food in my pudding. I do want to have my cake and to eat it!

One of my favourite puddings of all time is Banoffee Pie. I’m not sure if it’s the deep rich caramel flavour or the sumptuous cream and banana mix which makes it so tantalising on the tongue – or maybe all the flavours together is the key. Banoffee Pie is a Sussex creation, first found on the menu of the Hungry Monk back in the 1970s, and being a Sussex girl, it’s only right that I should indulge and support our local cuisine. But that combination of caramel made from condensed milk and the thick creamy topping means that, sadly, my banoffee pie days are over.

Or so I thought until my lovely husband, knowing how much I miss my scrumptious puds, found a recipe for, and made me, Raw Banoffee Pie. What a man!! Made from whole foods, no added sugars at all – and it tastes absolutely wonderful.

As a dish, it’s not too complicated to make, but has a few component parts, so this recipe is being split into two posts (what a tease!!) but if you can’t wait, then check out the whole thing on this wonderful site http://www.gluten-free-vegan-girl.com/2013/04/no-bake-vegan-banoffe-pie.html
So this dish has three component parts – the crust, the caramel and the cream. Each one can be used to  make other yummy dishes, hence why I want to break them down for ease of reference. Today, I’m focusing on the caramel and the cream. Next time the base and bringing the whole recipe together. It doesn’t take up loads of time, just needs a little planning ahead.

The raw caramel is amazing, and is one of the things I demonstrated at my first Sensitive Foodie cooking demo the other week. It went down really well, and we have all be devising other uses for it ever since!! The coconut cream is so easy and absolutely gorgeous and can definitely be used as whipped cream for other puddings. It tastes gorgeous and it’s hard not to eat it all straight from the bowl.

First, the caramel. Made from whole dates and vanilla, the flavour is influenced by two things – the type of dates used and time. Richer dates, like medjool, produce a deeper caramel flavour. I’ve used these and Halawi dates and the flavour is lighter with the Halawi. Still gorgeous though! The texture is also slightly smoother with the medjool dates. As for time, the flavours mature over a few days, so if you can, make this caramel and keep it in a pot at the back of the fridge where no-one will find it (otherwise they will eat it!!) for a few days before you want to use it. If you can’t, don’t worry, your caramel will still be good, just not quite as deep as it might be. Finally, I use vanilla paste rather than vanilla essence, just because I found it produces a better flavour. If you only have essence, then use it, but check your flavour as you may need to add a bit more.

Raw caramel
3 cups pitted dates
1 cup of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk – not soya milk)
1 tsp vanilla paste
a pinch of salt (be careful!)
Place your dates into a food processor and blend until all mushed up. Add 3/4 of the milk, vanilla and a tiny pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Add more milk to get a thick, creamy texture, as needed. It will take about 5 minutes on a medium speed. Taste and add more vanilla or salt to balance the flavour (the salt counterbalances the sweetness. It’s needed but its easy to add too much!). Once you’re happy with the flavour, stop eating it or you’ll have to make more, put in a pot and hide!

Whipped coconut cream
1 tin of full fat coconut cream
vanilla essence
pinch of salt (optional)
This is where you have to plan ahead for sure. To be able to whip your cream, you need cold coconut milk, so pop it in the fridge to chill over night. When you open the tin, most of it will be of a creamy, thick consistency. Carefully scrap out all the thick stuff and put in a bowl. There may be a little thin coconut water left at the bottom – keep separate and use for another recipe. I’d actually had my tin in the fridge for a week (never got around to using it when I’d planned to) and the whole tin was solid. Perfect for whipping. Then all you need to do is add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence to the coconut and whisk until you have a smooth cream. It takes about one minute with an electric hand whisk. Taste and add more vanilla essence if you need to and a tiny pinch of salt if you feel it’s required. It really does taste like whipped cream!! The cream needs using pretty quickly, so if you’re not ready to use it there and then, pop the bowl in the fridge so it keeps it shape (the fat in coconut changes consistency with temperature).
So there you have it – two components of the pie that can be used elsewhere. Earlier I started discussing banana splits and chocolate sundaes with my daughter…….watch this space! And the rest of the banoffee pie recipe will come next time!


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