Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful for Thanksgiving.....a Holiday Recap and a Holiday Recipe!

Thanksgiving Recap!
Delicious Thanksgiving Meal!

Let the holidays begin! Thanksgiving is like the official kick-off for the holiday season, and boy is it a great way to start off the holidays! I spent yesterday's holiday with family and friends, and it was by far the best thanksgiving I have had in years! I am so thankful to be blessed with such amazing family and friends, and this holiday definitely reminded me of that. I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving, and that you all are enjoying this long weekend.
I am also very fortunate that the family that we spent thanksgiving with is very conscious of everyone's dietary needs! They made vegan versions of lots of dishes, as well as the traditional versions, and clearly labeled everything. The food was absolutely delicious, and I am super bummed that I forgot to take the vegan leftovers that they so generously packed for me :(

Despite forgetting my delicious vegan leftovers, yesterday was such a great day! It truly is phenomenal the way being around friends and family that are so amazing can make you feel worlds better. We had so much fun all day preparing for the meal, talking about life and other important (and some not so important) things, reminiscing about old times, making plans for new adventures, and just generally enjoying each others' company. One of the highlights of the night was our EPIC poker game. There were 5 of us playing, and I was having terrible luck, I was pretty much bleeding chips.
These are NOT my chips, mine are towards the left side of
the screen......yeah, definitely not winning.
I was doing so badly that I was almost out of the game, and pretty much had given up hope. I went all in (which wasn't much considering I only had one chip left) and I ended up winning a pretty big pot since I had a straight!! It was ironic and hilarious since nobody, including myself was expecting me to make it past that round. 
On a somewhat random side note, we also played charades last night and it was hilarious. I don't know why people don't play this game more often. Okay well I sort of do; I mean I know that people think it's silly or childish, but it is just SO much fun. My abbs are still sore from how much I was laughing. To sum this all up and to be super redundant, I am so thankful for the amazing family and friends I have, and for having such an amazing thanksgiving day!

And now for a holiday dessert recipe.....: Since this holiday is centered around food (and being thankful, of course) I thought there would be nothing better than to share with you all a simple and delicious recipe for a vegan holiday dessert that I made for thanksgiving. It is a vegan, no-bake chocolate covered pumpkin pie in a delicious raw crust. This dessert is perfect for christmas as well, since it's fancier than just a plain old pumpkin pie, and it still has a holiday-esque feel to it due to the pumpkin filling and the pecan crust. Here it is:

Vegan Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Pie:
Okay, so I sort of cheated in that the pumpkin pie filling and chocolate ganache from this recipe are the same as the ones from my Triple Layer Pumpkin Brownie recipe, but instead of topping a brownie, they fill a raw and gluten free pie crust. Also, I need to give a special thanks to my friend Julie, who had the inspiration for this, and helped me come up with the recipe!

Date Paste!
Prepare in Advance:
- Date Paste: This will be used in two of the three components of the recipe, and about 1 3/4 cups total are needed for the entire recipe. Date paste is made by soaking pitted medjool dates for 4 hours, and then blending the drained dates in a food processor until fluffy. You need about 2 cups of pitted dates to create the amount of date paste needed for the recipe
- Coconut Milk: Place canned coconut milk into the freezer for about an hour or in the refrigerator overnight so that the thicker, white part of the milk separates and rises to the top. This is the only portion of the coconut milk you want to use, and should make up about half of the can.

Ingredients for the Crust:
- 2 heaping cups raw pecans**
- 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup packed, pitted dates
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
 **If you absolutely loath pecans, you could use 2 cups of almonds, this might taste less "holiday-ish" but it will still taste great. You could also use the almonds if this is your first time making this type of a crust and you are nervous about over-processing the pecans. If the pecans are over-processed their oils will separate, but almonds won't do this nearly as easily so they're a little more foolproof. I do strongly suggest the pecans for this recipe but almonds are a good alternative.
Directions for Crust:
1. Process pecans, coconut, and salt in the food processor until relatively fine and flour-like. This should take about 10-15 seconds. Be sure not to over-process or else the oil from the pecans will start to separate out.
2. Add the dates and the vanilla, and process until the mixture is smooth and somewhat moist. This may take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes depending on your food processor. The  most important thing is that this begins to come together, and turns into more of a dough than a crumbly mixture. Again once the dough is somewhat moist and can be formed into shapes, do not continue to process since this will cause the oils from the pecans to separate.
3. In a pie pan press the crust dough in until it is covering the entirety of the pan. Make sure that it isn't too thin in any areas, and then place in the freezer to chill.

This is what your finished mousse should look like.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Mousse:
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 1/4 cup date paste
- 1 cup canned coconut milk (top thick white part only)
1. Remove only the thick, white portion of the coconut milk from the can and place in the food processor.
2. Add all other ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth and even.
3. Pour evenly into the pecan pie crust.
4. Place in the freezer while you prepare the ganache.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
- 1 cup coconut milk (top thick white part only)
- 2 ¼ cup chocolate chips (about 1 bag)
- 1/3 cup date paste
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp salt
1. Add all ingredients to a small, heavy bottomed pot.
2. Heat the pot on low-medium heat, stirring continuously.
3. Once the mixture is smooth and everything is completely evenly mixed remove from heat. (all chocolate should be melted at this point)
4. Place in the freezer, and stir it every 10 minutes for half an hour.
5. Once the ganache is only warm/lukewarm on the back of your hand, go ahead and pour the ganache evenly over the pumpkin mousse layer of the pie. Make sure not to overflow the crust; I always like to leave a little bit of the crust peaking out, just because I think it makes for a nice presentation.
6. Place the entire pie in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for half an hour if you want to serve it immediately.
7. Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut the pie into as many slices as your heart desires and enjoy!

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