(Rachel, the daughter)
There’s this cake my mom used to make. You’ve probably had a version of it. It has a shortbread crust, a layer of chocolate pudding and whipped cream topping, and maybe a sweetened cream cheese layer too. In some circles it’s known as “Better Than Sex in a Pan.” I’ve never had sex in a pan, so I can’t attest to that, but I do remember sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen island eating it strait out of the pan and being very satisfied.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had it (the dessert, that is), but I’ve been craving that shortbread crust and chocolate pudding combination for the last few weeks and trying to think of a healthy vegan version. Yesterday, I saw a recipe for chocolate chia pudding on the Engine 2 Diet’s Facebook page. They had frozen it into “fudgsicles.” Clever. Immediately, I was reminded of my favorite crust that I use in my frozen No Bake Apricot Bars. Made out of cashews and oats, it is rich and buttery like a shortbread cookie. It would be perfect for a cold puddin’ pie.
Chia seeds are like a nutritional powerhouse and they have virtually no taste. I put a tablespoon in my oatmeal and my smoothies. They basically offer all the nutrition of flax seeds, except they don’t have to be ground for our body to absorb the nutrients and they don’t have a strong taste like I find flax often does. The seeds absorb liquid and become gel-like, which is how they turn almond milk into “pudding.”
Jackson devoured the pudding and the frozen bar I gave him. I used dates to sweeten it, so I had absolutely no reason to feel guilty for giving my one-year old this dessert. In fact, it’s good for him. He needs the healthy fats from the cashews, coconut oil, and coconut milk; the fiber and protein from the oats; the omegas from the chia seeds; and the heart and skin protection from the flavonoids in cocoa powder (a super food for toddlers).
Oh, and I assure you, I don’t post a recipe I don’t love…so you know I loved it just as much as Mr. Long Lashes up there did.
Powerhouse Chocolate Pudding Pie
(NOTE: Plan ahead for this recipe. The pudding must sit for at least an hour and up to overnight.)
- 1 c. nondairy unsweetened milk
- 3 T. full fat coconut milk (from a can)*
- 3 dates, pitted and chopped (soak in a little warm water if they are tough or your blender isn’t very strong)
- 2 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- 3 T. chia seeds
- 3/4 c. whole cashews (raw, toasted, roasted – whatever you have)
- 3/4 c. regular oats (for Gluten-free, use GF oats)
- 1/4 t. kosher salt (omit if cashews are salted)
- 3 medgool dates, roughly chopped
- 1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
- Sliced Bananas
- Toasted coconut
- Toasted almonds
- Whipped coconut cream
- Food processor
In a blender, combine the first five pudding ingredients. Pour into a tupperware bowl with a lid and add chia seeds. Use a whisk or fork to stir in chia seeds. Stir every five minutes or so until all the chia seeds have started to swell a little and turn light grey. Cover and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of an hour, overnight is best. Stir it every so often if you can. You are looking for the seeds to lose all of their crunch and absorb the liquid until it looks like pudding.
Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a food processor, process cashews, salt, and oats until a fine crumble forms. Add dates and process until crumbly again. Add coconut oil and process until sticky. Press into pan to form a crust. Freeze for five minutes to harden or until the pudding is ready.
Pour the pudding over the crust and either refrigerate or freeze. Either way is delicious. The refrigerated version is a little crumblier and I’m assuming only keeps for a day or two. I loved it with a few sliced bananas on top. The frozen version comes out in nice bars and if kept covered tightly should keep for a few weeks.
(Update: After two batches and several taste tests, I decided I prefer it refrigerated rather than frozen. Both are good, but the refrigerated version reminds me of chocolate cream pie…mmmm.)
*Freeze leftover coconut milk in an ice cube tray. You can add it to smoothies, oatmeal, or make coconut covered cherries with it later.
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