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This is probably my favourite from the desserts in the Savoy Truffle so far. It was the perfect mixture of dark chocolate and strong coffee flavours, with a firm crust and dreamy creamy topping. I think next time I make it I’ll firm it up a little more by using more agar and letting it simmer a bit longer but it was lovely as-is.

coffee dessert, yes you know it's good news

A Coffee Dessert (Yes, You Know It’s Good News)
Mocha Dream Bars

3 cups finely crushed cookies, any kind (I used Country Choice organic chocolate creme cookies)
1/4 cup finely ground chocolate covered espresso beans
1/2 cup chocolate syrup (storebought or homemade)

2 packages (about 16 oz) vegan cream cheese substitute
1 box firm, silken tofu, blended smooth
1 cup sugar
30 grams bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup espresso or VERY strong, black coffee, room temperature
1 tbsp agar agar powder/granules
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

cocoa powder and chocolate covered espresso beans for garnish

To make the crust, line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with a piece of foil or parchment that is long enough that it extends over the short sides slightly. Mix the ground cookies and chocolate covered espresso beans with the chocolate sauce and press firmly, in an even layer, into the prepared pan. Set in the freezer.

To make the filling, pour the espresso or coffee into a small saucepan and sprinkle with the agar agar powder. Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes, then place over low heat and cook just until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Set the chopped chocolate to melt in a double boiler. While it is melting, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until it is creamy. Add the whipped tofu, the coffee-agar mixture, and the melted chocolate and beat until combined. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Pour this over the prepared crust, and let set in your fridge for four hours, or overnight.

To serve, carefully grasp the extra foil or parchment you have left hanging over the edges of the pan and lift the uncut bars onto a cutting board. Chop into 16 squares and garnish with cocoa powder (tapped over the chopped bars with a sieve) and some extra chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Since it was “The Savoy Truffle” that originally inspired me to begin this blog, it only makes sense that I begin with my vegan interpretations of all the delights George Harrison crooned over (and warned us about). What’s nice about this particular selection is, depending on the cookie you use, it could be completely sugar-free, since I call for the use of agave nectar as the main sweetening agent.

An interesting and fun fact about the song Savoy Truffle is that Harrison penned it as a way to rib his friend Eric Clapton about Clapton’s sweet tooth. Apparently all of the treats in the song were actually selections from a box of chocolates Clapton had been gnoshing on, except for the “cool cherry cream” and the “coconut fudge”. But don’t worry, I’ll be re-creating those in due time.

Cream Tangerine
A luscious whipped orange-scented cashew cream layered with tangerine sections and cookie crumbs. Inspired by the first verse of the song Savoy Truffle, by the Beatles.

1 cup “raw” cashews (in quotation marks because the skins of cashews are toxic and must be boiled off; just don’t use toasted/roasted cashews and you’ll be fine.)
1 small can tangerine slices in their juice (not syrup) (mandarin oranges will do in a pinch)*
2 cups white grape juice
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp agave nectar, divided
2 tsp pure orange extract, divided
sea salt
cookies of your choice
tangerine-agave sauce (see below)

Drain the can of tangerine sections, reserving the juice in a measuring cup. Add white grape juice. If necessary, add water to make 4 cups of liquid, total. Pour this into a saucepan and add the cashews. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for until the cashews are soft, about 10 minutes. Cover the pot and let cool enough to handle.

Drain liquid off cashews and reserve it in a measuring cup. Add cashews to your blender or food processor. Add melted coconut oil and begin whizzing. While the blender is still working, slowly add the warm cooking liquid through the top until a thick, smooth cream is formed. Add 1 teaspoon of the orange extract, 2 tablespoons of the agave nectar and a pinch or two of sea salt and blend again. Transfer to a mixing bowl, cover, and let sit in the fridge until completely chilled.

While this chills, make the tangerine-agave sauce. Put the juice back into the saucepan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of agave nectar and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook, uncovered until the liquid has evaporated off, leaving you with about a cup of juice. Remove a few tablespoons into a mug, let cool slightly, then whisk in 2 tsp of cornstarch. Add this mixture into the boiling reduction, along with the remaining teaspoon of orange extract, and whisk until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

When the cashew cream is completely cold, whip with your stand mixer’s whisk attachment, or use your electric beaters. It should increase in volume by nearly 50% or more. The more the better, really. When you feel it’s fluffed up enough, bust out two of your favourite fancy glasses. I used wine glasses but this would look equally impressive in martini glasses or margarita glasses.

Crush your cookies of choice and place a layer in the bottom of each glass. Top with a layer of tangerine sections, then a generous layer of cashew cream. Repeat, using a piping bag on the last layer of cashew cream for that fancy flourish you see in my photo. Garnish each glass with a half a cookie, a section of tangerine, and a scant drizzling of the tangerine sauce. Chill until ready to serve.

*You are welcome to use fresh fruit in this dish, though I’d recommend getting fussy and removing as much of the pith (white stuff and strings) from the tangerine sections as possible. They tend to be bitter, and detract from the texture. Your call, totally.

O-bla-di O-bla-da, Life Goes On

April 2020