Hi friends. It feels good to be back in this blog space. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been focusing my attention on my latest project, My New Roots Grow – an online universe of wellness education – which will launch soon. Grow is the most energy-intensive and large-scale project since my cookbooks, and once again it feels like birthing something major. The blog has been on the back burner giving more space for Grow to, well, grow, but I thought I’d pop in with this stellar holiday dessert because ’tis the season!
I actually developed this recipe last winter, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. I thought about keeping it exclusively on Grow (since that is where a lot of my recipe content will live from now on!), but because it is so special and delicious, I felt that it should just be out in the world. Inspired by the Spiced Chocolate Torte that I make on the retreats in Mexico (remember places?!), I wanted to make a festive holiday version with white chocolate and peppermint. The crust is dark chocolate and pecan, so rich and delicious with just the right amount of salt. The interior is velvety smooth and beguilingly creamy, made with cashews, coconut oil, and white chocolate. I love the kiss of peppermint in the filling, which is definitely present but not overwhelming. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they were eating dessert and brushing your teeth at the same time!
Some notes on the recipe…
If you’re using peppermint essential oil to flavour the filling, I find it helpful to measure it out on a spoon first, just in case the bottle is in a giving mood – one too many drops of this stuff will ruin a good torte with too much minty-ness! I like to use about 6 or 7 drops total, but if it comes out too fast, I have no way of controlling the amount. If you’re using peppermint extract, start at a quarter of a teaspoon and work your way up to the flavour that suits you.
If you eat a vegan diet, you can use maple syrup instead of honey in the filling, but the colour is going to be more brown / beige than creamy. Also, make sure to find dairy-free white chocolate, since the vast majority of commercially-made white chocolate contains milk solids. And then, if you do find vegan white chocolate, read the ingredient list to make sure that is doesn’t contain any hydrogenated oils or weird emulsifiers (or just pick your battles!).
The torte decorating is entirely up to you, although pomegranate seeds create a striking display of holiday cheer! Other options include fresh mint leaves, cacao nibs, or shaved dark chocolate. You could even include them all, if you’re feeling extra festive.
Store the torte in the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy it, then bring it out about 15-20 minutes before serving so that it’s not rock hard. It’s easier to slice and eat when it’s warmed up a tad. Use a smooth, very sharp chef’s knife, and run it under hot water before cutting into the torte to make it glide.
If you’re not in the mood to make a crust, you can turn this dessert into freezer fudge by preparing only the filling. Pour the filling into an 8-inch / 20 cm square pan lined with plastic wrap; top with ½ cup / 65g toasted pecans, cacao nibs, or chocolate shards, and freeze until solid (about 2 hours). Slice into squares and enjoy straight from the freezer!
White Chocolate Peppermint Torte
For the crust:
1 cup / 100g pecans
¼ cup / 60ml coconut oil, preferably flavour-neutral
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. fine-grain sea salt
1 ½ cups / 150g rolled oats, divided, gluten-free if necessary
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
For the filling:
1 ½ cups / 200g cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
¾ cup / 175 ml creamed honey (sub with maple syrup, but be warned the colour of the filling will be brown)
½ cup / 125 ml coconut oil
75g / 2.6 oz. white chocolate, melted (dairy-free / vegan if desired)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. fine-grain sea salt
a few drops peppermint essential oil or extract, to taste
pomegranate, mint, cacao nibs, shaved dark chocolate, for garnish, optional
1. Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan or pie dish with coconut oil.
2. In a food processor, blend ½ cup (50g) of the rolled oats on high until you have a rough flour, place a small bowl and set aside. Without cleaning the machine, process the pecans into a fine crumb with the texture of sand. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, salt, oat flour and cacao powder, and process again until the dough comes together. Finally, add the remaining 1 cup of rolled oats and pulse until the oats are chopped, but still have some texture to them. The dough should stick together slightly when pressed between your fingers. If it doesn’t, try adding a bit more maple syrup or processing a bit longer.
3. Crumble roughly half of the dough evenly over the base of the pan. Starting from the middle, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom, moving outward and upward along the side of the pie dish. The harder you press the crumbs into the dish, the better the crust will hold together. Taking a small section at a time, use the remaining crust to go up the sides, all around the form until complete. Poke a few fork holes into the bottom of the crust to let the steam escape.
4. Bake the crust, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until fragrant and slightly darker around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
5. Make the filling: Drain and rinse the cashews. In a high-speed blender, combine the soaked cashews, honey, oil, melted chocolate, vanilla, salt, and peppermint, then blend on high until the filling is completely smooth. It can take a few minutes of blending to get it smooth, depending on your blender. If the blender needs more liquid to get it going, add a tablespoon (15 mL) of plant-based milk (or a bit more) to help it along.
6. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, smoothing out the top evenly. Place the torte on an even surface in the freezer, uncovered. Freeze for a couple of hours, and then cover the dish with foil and freeze overnight, or for a minimum of 4 to 6 hours, until the torte sets.
7. Remove the torte from the freezer and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes before slicing. It is meant to be served cold. Garnish with mint leaves, pomegranate seeds, cacao nibs, melted or shaved chocolate, if desired.
I hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re celebrating this month, you are safe, healthy, and grateful. This year has thrown us all for the biggest loop of our lives, and finding the small joys and tiny triumphs (like getting out for some fresh air, putting dinner on the table) is enough to make me feel proud, anyway. The holidays will undoubtedly look different this year, but I know that I am just thankful to have a roof over my head and a torte to share with the ones I love. I hope the same for you, dear friend.
In light and love, best wishes for the season ahead.