Vegan + Raw Dark Chocolate Mousse & Amaretto Cream Parfait


Winter is, hands down, my favorite time of year to entertain. In fact, nothing brings me greater joy! This time of year in Nashville, the sun makes an early retreat in the late afternoon, tucking itself behind the hills as darkness awakes and the air turns cold and crisp. As the holiday party invitations are mailed off and our mailboxes (and inboxes) fill up, I always look forward to pulling out my favorite tacky, novelty sweater, cranking up the jazzy holiday tunes, and embracing the seasonal madness with open arms. Like most people, I tend to gravitate toward hot foods in the winter months. Though it can sometimes be a challenge when eating raw (nothing may be heated above 118 degrees), there are several creative ways one can conjure the feeling of warmth in raw cuisine.

For this recipe, the sweet, warming qualities of nutty amaretto and rich dark chocolate team up with pistachio and a hint of vanilla for a match made in holiday heaven! Let’s say you have an event or party coming up, and you're trying to figure out what to make that can be enjoyed by all, including those party-goers whom when you say, “raw” or “vegan” run for the hills. This recipe will transcend any preconceived notions and is so tasty that ohhh’s and ahhh’s will permeate the air as people devour every last morsel. The hypnotic horizontal stripes of silky dark chocolate pudding and sweet amaretto cream, garnished with a dusting of crunchy pistachios, will excite all of the senses. Not only is this dessert delicious, healthy, and visually stunning; it's also easy to make, requiring only a high-speed blender and time to set and chill. With each bite of this mini parfait, your guests’ taste buds will rejoice and you’ll be declared the “food star” of the party!

Layered Dark Chocolate Mousse & Amaretto Cream with Pistachio Dust
(Makes 10-2.5 ounce servings)

Dark chocolate mousse
1 ½ cups young coconut meat
3/4 cup young coconut water
3/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup raw light agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only
1/4 teaspoon salt

Amaretto cream
1 ½ cups young coconut meat
1/2 cup young coconut water
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup raw light agave nectar
2 ½ teaspoons almond extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt


Garnish
2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped
Fresh raspberry seeds for added color (optional)


Make dark chocolate pudding
1. In high-speed blender add coconut meat, coconut water, cacao powder, maple syrup, agave nectar, vanilla, vanilla beans, and salt. Blend on high for about 2 minutes until coconut meat is broken down.
2. Add coconut oil and blend on high about 1 minute until pudding is smooth and creamy.

Make amaretto cream
1. In high-speed blender add coconut meat, coconut water, agave nectar, almond extract, and salt. Blend on high for about 2 minutes until coconut meat is broken down.
2. Add coconut oil and blend on high for about 1 minute until cream is totally smooth.

Assemble
1. Layer each 2.5-ounce shot glass with 1 tablespoon chocolate pudding followed by 1 tablespoon amaretto cream, repeat until you have 6 layers.
2. Sprinkle with a pinch of pistachio dust and a few slivered almonds. Add a few raspberry seeds for an extra pop of color.
3. Chill in refrigerator 4 hours or until set and slightly firm. These are great made the night before.

Note: You can give your arms a workout by cracking your own young coconuts and scraping out the meat, or you can buy frozen organic young coconut meat and water. This will cut your prep time in half!