Monday, July 20, 2015

Healthy AND Delicious Fudge - no butter or refined sugar!

For some reason I always seem to crave healthier foods during the summer months. I would say that I eat best in the month of July out of all the other months in the year. I am far from being vegan (I absolutely LOVE all things dairy), but when it comes to sweet treats, I always seem to want to try out vegan or healthier desserts during the summer months.

This vegan fudge has an amazingly smooth texture from the coconut oil, and the cashew butter and cacao powder give it an incredibly rich taste. It is sweetened with some pure maple syrup, which is much better than refined sugar. You can't tell at all that this fudge is not made with the typical ingredients of butter and refined sugar. The one thing you do have to remember about vegan desserts (and this vegan fudge) is that even though they are healthier, they are still loaded with calories. However, they are not "empty" calories, since cashews have tons of health benefits, natural cocoa powder is high in fiber, and maple syrup has awesome things in it like calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and manganese. One piece has approximately 75 calories, and it is easy to snack on it all day long, so be careful with it! I was told by a few people that if I had not told them what it was made with, that they would have never guessed the ingredients. So if you do make it, make sure to tell people what it has in it in case someone has a nut allergy! I hope you enjoy this fudge as much as I do.

Recipe for Healthy AND Delicious Fudge - no butter or refined sugar!

2 1/4 cups of raw cashews*
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp. of coconut oil, divided (at room temperature)
2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract, divided
1/2 tsp. of coarse sea salt, divided
1/4 cup of cacao powder (I use Viva Labs cacao powder)
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup

*If you want, you can use 1 cup of store-bought cashew butter in this recipe. I recommend making your own cashew butter, though. If you use store-bought cashew butter, omit the cashews, 1 tsp. of coconut oil, 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp. of sea salt from the recipe. 

Make the cashew butter first. Put the 2 1/4 cups of cashews, 1 tsp. of coconut oil, 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp. of sea salt into the bowl of a food processor. Start the food processor and allow it to run. It will take several minutes (about 8 to 10 minutes) for the mixture to turn to a cashew butter. You will want to stop the food processor every minute to two to give the processor a break and to scrape the sides, if needed. Add more coconut oil to the mixture as you see desired. When the mixture turns into the cashew butter (it will be thick), remove it from the processor and scoop into a medium-sized bowl. Note: This is a recipe for the cashew butter that is used in this fudge.  If you want smoother cashew butter to use for spreading, you will want to run the processor for much longer and might want to check out other recipes for homemade cashew butter, like the one from The Healthy Foodie.

Add the remaining 1/3 cup of coconut oil to the cashew butter and use an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed to mix until well combined. Then add in the remaining 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. of sea salt, cocoa powder, and maple syrup. Use the electric hand mixer to mix until the mixture is smooth. Line a freezer-safe container (I used a square SnapLock container - 6" x 6") with parchment paper. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the mixture onto the parchment paper in an even layer. Then cover the container and place in the freezer for at least an hour before cutting into it.  Remove from the freezer and chop into desired sized squares. Store the fudge in the freezer and eat fairly soon after removing it from the freezer, because it becomes soft quickly from the coconut oil.

Recipe Makes Approximately 30 pieces of fudge, depending on how you cut it. Approximately 75 calories per piece (if you cut into 30 pieces)! Store in the freezer.

Recipe Adapted from: The Detoxinista, Originally from Raw Food, Real World