Ice Cream Sunday

Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust
Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust

It’s so hot right now and I crave something deliciously satisfying to tickle my tastebuds. It’s Sunday and I need ice cream. And not just any run-of-the-mill ice cream, but a creamy delight with a chocolate crust. Luckily, I have a can of Twrl Hojicha Milk Tea that I’ve been wanting to use to make ice cream. The roasted green tea flavor will shine when complemented by a swirl of fruit jam and an earthy tasting cocoa crust.

I cobbled together two recipes to make my creation. The crust recipe was chosen for the earthy lucuma powder in it, although I reduced the amount so I could add cocoa powder in its place. If you don’t have lucuma, you could try another deep flavored dry sweetener, such as coconut sugar. The ice cream filling was altered to use the tea in place of water, with a little less sweetener so the green tea aroma could come through. The last feature of this dish was the apricot jam I swirled throughout the ice cream. Don’t leave it out — it’s a game changer for bringing the tastes together.

Thanks goes to the folks at Twrl Tea for providing the tea for my creative testing.

Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust adapted from Rouxbe Culinary School and VeganRicha

for the crust
3/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup lucuma powder
2.5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
for the ice cream
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours then drained
7.5 ounce can Twrl Hojicha Roasted Green Milk Tea
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons vegan sugar
3 Tablespoons refined coconut oil, in solid form
for the swirl
4 Tablespoons whole fruit apricot jam

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving excess hanging over the sides. Set aside.

Place the almond flour, lucuma and cocoa powders, maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine into a fine crumble that just holds together when pressed between your fingers. Transfer this crust mixture to the lined loaf pan. Press it down firmly with your fingers, or the bottom of a glass, to create an even layer. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the ice cream.

Wipe out the food processor bowl, then add the cashews, Twrl tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, sugar, and coconut oil the bowl. (Note: if your food processor can’t handle this much liquid, then place the ingredients in a blender). Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl down as needed. The mixture may look lumpy at first; keep going until it is creamy.

ice cream with Twrl Hojicha Tea
ice cream with Twrl Hojicha Tea

Take the pan from the freezer. Pour the ice cream over the crust and smooth it out. Return the pan to the freezer for 15 minutes for the ice cream to harden slightly. After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer. Drizzle apricot jam over the ice cream and swirl it in with a toothpick. Return the pan to the freezer for two hours. When the ice cream is firm, take the pan from the freezer. Remove the ice cream by grabbing the parchment overhang to lift the loaf out. Place the loaf on a cutting board and cut slices with a warm knife.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Apricot Pistachio Bark with Tahini Swirl

apricot pistachio bark with tahini swirl
apricot pistachio bark with tahini swirl

Dried apricots and pistachios seem to be ending up in so much of my food lately. They were in my muffins last week, and my Moroccan stew the other night. And now they feel right at home in this chocolate bark. I started out with the idea of making a bark, and the two just showed up in my ingredient list. Luckily they pair well together, and they are complimented by a touch of tahini.

Admittedly, the idea of adding tahini to chocolate bark wasn’t mine. I borrowed it, but made a few alterations in the no-baking-needed recipe I found. Chocolate bark can really be any combination that sounds tasty to you, so feel free to borrow my recipe then modify it to suit your tastes. But keep the tahini swirl in. Trust me.

Apricot Pistachio Bark with Tahini Swirl adapted from Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Tahini

1/3 cup chopped roasted pistachios
3 TBS chopped dried apricot
6 oz vegan chocolate (I used a bar with fruity notes to complement the other flavors)
2 tsp runny tahini, warmed (I used Soom Premium Tahini)

Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper and set aside. Combine the pistachios and apricot in a bowl and set aside. Chop the chocolate and place it in a stainless steel bowl. Melt it gently over a double boiler. To do this, fill a saucepan with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Place the bowl of chocolate over the simmering water making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. When it is almost fully melted, remove the bowl from atop the saucepan and gently stir the chocolate until it melts completely. Add the pistachios and apricot to the chocolate and mix it in with a spatula.

Pour the chocolate into the lined baking pan, spreading it out evenly. Drizzle warm tahini over top and swirl it with a toothpick. Place the pan of bark in the fridge until it hardens, 30-45 minutes. Break the bark up into pieces. Store bark in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

Pistachio Apricot Muffins

pistachio apricot muffins
pistachio apricot muffins

As the United States is in the midst of American Heart Month, I thought a heart-healthy recipe would be fitting. Muffins are usually a healthier option, and when they are loaded with fruit flavor they can be especially tasty. Then, when you accent them with nuts, you boost the nutrition. The combination of apricot and pistachio in these muffins makes them so delicious that you’ll forget they are good for your heart.

Several fruity recipes caught my eye while I was doing research, but I knew a vegan recipe with no oil would be a bonus. I found one and then altered it for altitude by reducing the leavener. I also amped up the apricot flavor by adding apricot jam and the apricot soaking water to the batter. Another change was to include non-dairy yogurt as part of the egg substitute, thereby reducing the sugar content. Yes, these muffins sound way too healthy. But I really enjoyed their flavor and I know you will, too.

Pistachio Apricot Muffins adapted from Healthy Vegan Cherry-Pistachio Muffins

1/3 cup diced dried apricots, packed
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, divided
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
up to 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 TBS apricot jam
2 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 14 standard muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. Place diced dried apricots in a small bowl and cover with warm water to rehydrate. Meanwhile, place half of the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor. Process to the consistency of coarse crumbs. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl. Stir in the pistachio crumbs.

Strain the apricots over a glass measuring cup, saving the liquid in the cup. Set the apricots aside. Fill the measuring cup with almond milk until it reaches 3/4 cup. Put this mixture into a large bowl along with the apricot jam, applesauce, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and maple syrup. Whisk to combine.

Roughly chop the remaining pistachios, reserving a small handful for decorating the tops of the muffins. Whisk the wet ingredients again, then add the dry ingredients to the bowl. Stir until no dry flour remains. Fold in the strained apricots and the larger amount of pistachios. Scoop batter into the muffin cups, filling them ¾ full. Sprinkle reserved handful of pistachios on top of each muffin. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. Muffins are ready when the tops are firm to the touch. Place muffin tins on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Until next time, happy baking!

Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Today’s recipe had quite the evolution. The initial idea was to make a no-bake bar, but then my hubby said the creation needed more chocolate. My mind wandered to chocolate bark as a topping, with a nod to Mediterranean flavors. What started out as a recipe with few ingredients morphed into a multi-step concoction. When I explained what I was about to construct, hubby’s response was that it didn’t sound simple. I said no-bake, I didn’t say simple …

The experiment began with a raw bar recipe. The changes I made were just from my imagination. I reduced the amount of tahini because the original crust was too oily. I added more chocolate to keep hubby happy. The additional ingredients borrowed loosely from baklava while adding a cardamom syrup for depth. The result was a delicious burst of flavor.

Apricot Nut Bars based on No-Bake Cashew Tahini Bars

1.5 cups raw cashews
1 cup soft, pitted dates, tightly packed
1/3 cup tahini
4.5 ounces vegan dark chocolate, divided
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
2 TBS Cardamom Syrup (recipe to follow)

Line an 8” square baking pan with 2 overlapping strips of parchment paper and set aside. Add cashews to a food processor and pulse until mostly broken down. Add dates and tahini and mix until it just comes together. With your hands, press the dough into the prepared pan and smooth it out.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to spread most of the chocolate over the bars. Sprinkle the apricots over the bars, then add the pistachios on top. Drizzle first the cardamom syrup and then the remaining chocolate over the top of the bars. Place in freezer for an hour. Lift out of the pan by the parchment sling, place on a cutting board, and cut into squares.

cardamom seeds for syrup

cardamom seeds for the syrup

Cardamom Syrup adapted from Spiced Simple Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously until sugar dissolves. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in cardamom seeds. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store leftovers in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. You will have extra — I use mine to sweeten tea.

Happy non-baking!