The countdown to Christmas has begun and I have so many festive recipe ideas whizzing around my head that I am struggling to keep pace with my imagination. As for the quantity of ingredients I have to purchase for testing and tasting all of Primal Plate’s foolproof meal alternatives in readiness for the most anticipated meal of the year, they threaten to blow my housekeeping budget!
In our house, all the traditional Christmas food favourites - meat-based, grain-based, high carb and loaded with sugar - are off the menu because we find no joy in eating anything that’s going to harm us, or hurt another. We take the view that since it’s the season of goodwill, this should include all our furred and feathered friends.
You may be thinking that without the turkey and all its trimmings, the Christmas pudding, cake, trifle and mince pies, what’s left? The answer is, probably too much deliciousness for me to have sufficient time before the big day to share all my ideas with you…but I’ll give it a go. The recipes I’ve created, tested and/or adapted to make them low-carb and primal are the answer to all your entertaining problems if you want to eat well and stay healthy. The aim is to make your festivities more delicious, more fun and less stressful.
Today’s blog post for Horchata Ice Cream is something I conceived back in July but since the homely warmth of sweet cinnamon is so Christmassy and the exotic spiciness of nutmeg so enlivening in combination with all things sweet and creamy, I think the timing of this brilliant get-ahead frozen dessert is even more appropriate for now. And everyone can join in the fun. Gluten-free, grain-free, no eggs, no dairy or nuts (coconut cream can be substituted for cashew nuts - see note below) and no sugar added, this decadently delicious, sweet-tasting ice cream almost beggars belief. Even the Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats that accompany it are a sort of fortuitous accident.
Peeled organic tiger nuts are an extremely moreish, nutritious, sweet-tasting tuber packed with resistant starch (the unpeeled ones are too hard for most people to chew and are best reserved for making tiger nut milk) so I now always have the organic skinned variety on hand for a quick and healthy sweet treat that can be eaten guilt-free between meals.
However, if you try to eat more than one or two of them simultaneously they can be a bit dry, so for some time I’ve been toying with the idea of making skinned tiger nuts into an even more desirable snack by enrobing them in dark chocolate. I had in mind that I’d keep them separate (like chocolate covered coffee beans) but oh, the fiddle and the faff! Initially, I tried submerging each individual tiger nut into melted chocolate with the aid of a cocktail stick but then couldn’t get them back off the stick without pinging them across the kitchen table and splatting melted chocolate everywhere! Because I was attempting to do all of this in the time it took to make a cup of tea, I gave up and resorted to throwing all the tiger nuts into the bowl of chocolate in one go, giving the mixture a quick stir then dolloping teaspoonfuls onto a pre-lined tray and shoving the whole thing in the fridge to set.
Fifteen minutes later I invited John to sample my now-solid chocolate-coated tiger nut ‘splats’ with his second cup of tea. Much to Sarah’s chagrin (she wasn’t around at the time), they only survived a single, brief, taste-testing session. It seems that melding tiger nuts together with dark chocolate is a recipe for gluttony! However, the sense of over-indulgence is more in the mind than an actual reality. With this dessert, everything simply comes together beautifully - cool, creamy ice cream made even more delectable with the first cold snap of chocolate melting into a silky smooth lubricating combo of dark chocolate and coconut oil that makes eating multiple raw tiger nuts effortless (less chew more swallow!). But best of all, because the resistant starch in both the Horchata Ice Cream and Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats can’t be digested by the body, this particular Christmas confection will never find its way onto your hips, so you can still stay on target for a slim and healthy start to your new year!
I think ice cream is the perfect way not to cook at Christmas. Make and freeze it the week before to save time later. This refreshing Horchata Ice Cream with Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats doesn’t really need any other accompaniment (though a baked apple or poached pear would be nice) - simply serve spiked with a mini-star sparkler to razzle-dazzle ‘em as a fabulous festive finale to Christmas lunch.
Horchata Ice Cream (Serves 8)
250g organic tiger nuts, soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours (or overnight) then rinsed in fresh cold water and drained
75g raw organic cashews, soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours (or overnight) then rinsed in fresh cold water and drained
8 plump Medjool dates, stoned
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp organic ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Put the tiger nuts into a heavy-duty blender with 600ml fresh, cold filtered water and blend until smooth and creamy - about 3 minutes.
Take a nut milk bag (or a double layer of muslin) and set over a deep bowl. Carefully pour the blended tiger nut mixture into the bag/muslin cloth and secure the top of the bag (or gather the ends of the muslin cloth together) to hold the liquid inside. Using your hands twist and squeeze out all of the liquid until you’re left with only dry tiger nut pulp. Rinse out the blender jug.
Tip the tiger nut milk back into the rinsed-out blender. Add the dates, cashew nuts (or coconut cream - see note below), vanilla essence, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend again until the mixture is completely smooth.
Pour the horchata cream into a bowl, then cover with cling film and chill until very cold.
Churn the cold horchata cream in an ice cream maker (according to the manufacturers instructions) until it forms a soft-set ice cream (mine took about 35 minutes to get to this stage) then spoon into a freezer-proof lidded container and put in the freezer for 2 hours to set completely.
If not serving immediately, take the ice cream out of the freezer 30 minutes before you want to eat it and put in a refrigerator to allow it to soften slightly.
Scoop the Horchata Ice Cream into glass sundae dishes, add 2 or 3 Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats and a light dusting of cinnamon, if liked.
Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats (Makes about 12)
50g good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (at least 70% cocoa solids)
1 tsp organic coconut oil
Put the chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water to allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to come into contact with the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until it is completely melted and smooth.
Take off the heat and add the coconut oil. Stir the coconut oil into the melted chocolate, then add the tiger nuts and keep stirring until all the tiger nuts are evenly coated in chocolate.
Spoon rough teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper and refrigerate until set. Peel the cold-set Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats off the paper and store in an airtight container in the fridge until required.
You need a decent high-powered blender such as a Vitamix to blitz the tiger nuts into a smooth creamy milk and then to completely break down the cashews and dates to make a rich smooth custard. Pass the finished ice cream mixture through a fine sieve before freezing if you’re in any doubt that your blender isn’t up to it.
An ice cream machine does make for a smoother, creamier, airier ice cream but if you don’t own one it is still possible to make decent ice cream at home as long as you plan ahead. Firstly, chill your prepared ice cream mixture over an ice bath or for several hours in the fridge. Meanwhile switch your freezer onto fast-freeze. Pour your ice cream mixture into a deep freeze-proof container and freeze for about an hour until the edges start to get solid. Take out of the freezer and stir vigorously with a fork or whisk to break up the the ice crystals completely and combine with the still liquid centre. If you have one, a hand-held blender will give the best results. Straightaway, put the mixture back into the freezer for another half-hour then take it out again and repeat the mixing and mashing. Continue doing this every half hour until the ice cream is soft-set throughout, then let it freeze solid.
I used dark chocolate chips to save myself the hassle of chopping chocolate.
Do not take the chocolate tiger nut splats out of the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. Quite apart from the fact that you’ll be missing the satisfying ‘snap’ of cold chocolate when you bite into them, they melt really quickly in your fingers or when left out at room temperature.
The celebration star sparklers are fun but you need to have a couple of people on hand to help light them and to get your dessert to the table in time to surprise your guests - it took me three attempts to get my sparkler to light for Sarah to take the photograph and, once lit, it didn’t sparkle for very long! Frustrating! Next time I’ll try these!
If you are allergic to nuts, you can substitute the cream off the top of a 400ml can of full-fat coconut milk for the cashew nuts. Put the unopened tin of coconut milk in the refrigerator to chill overnight. When you’re ready to make the ice cream, simply scoop off the top layer of solid coconut cream from the can of chilled coconut milk and add to the blender with the cold horchata milk and the rest of the ingredients before blending until smooth and then churning in an ice cream maker. You can use the coconut water that’s left to make a curry sauce or smoothie.
10th December 2015 update: I made Horchata Ice Cream again today for our Christmas day festivities. And, because we're all-grown ups, I added 2 tablespoons of vodka to the cold cream before churning. It isn't for the sake of imbibing more booze! The idea is that adding a little alcohol should help to keep the ice cream a little bit softer (alcohol doesn't freeze) whilst it's stored for the next couple of weeks.
Carbohydrate 34g Protein 3g - per serving ice cream made with raw cashews
Carbohydrate 12g Protein 2g - per serving (3 chocolate tiger nut splats)