I just ate a little bowl of ambrosia while I was sitting in a steamy hot bath. It was decadent.
Between Halloween and Christmas, my husband and I took part in the dessert slide of doom. You may know what I’m talking about—a slippery slope from dessert as an occasional treat to dessert nearly every day to dessert every day to dessert plus a little piece of something sweet earlier every day. At that point, eating sweet things, craving sweet things, is reflexive, not even very enjoyable. (It’s easy to do if you’re baking a lot for the holidays—a cookie here, a pinch of cake there. . . .) Ouch—it’s not healthy to be eating all that sugar, fat, and processed flour. By last weekend, when we unpacked our scale, I’d gained three pounds, which was a sign it was time to nip it in the bud and get back to healthier eating.
So Saturday, December 27th, we packed up our leftover Christmas candy and put it in an unused freezer at someone else’s house. We committed to eating a non-fruit-based dessert only once a week for a while. I spent some time researching fruit-based desserts on Sunday, and while many of the ones I found were far too reliant on sugar and flour (and eggs and dairy that I can’t eat, of course), I did find a few good, simple ideas that were in line with what I was thinking—like broiled grapefruit with raspberry jam on it and baked apples with toasted nuts and a touch of brown sugar. Of course, plain, fresh fruit—by itself—can be the satisfying little sweet thing I need, especially fruit that’s in season and locally grown. (The apples from our CSA? Crispy, crunchy, sweet, and heavenly.) And I thoroughly enjoy sulfur-free, organic dried fruit, especially dried figs, dried plums/prunes, and dried apricot slices. A couple of bites of any of those treats, and as long as I’m not expecting a chocolate cookie and I’m keeping my eye on my long-term self-care, I’m satisfied. (It also helps that I’m making Karina’s recently posted vegan Mexican Chocolate Cake for our holiday celebration with my husband’s parents tomorrow night. By not loading up on chocolate all week, I’m terrifically looking forward to a few bites of that cake. And I’d rather have that as my dessert treat this week than anything sitting around here!)
Since we were eating at home for New Year’s Eve before going to the symphony, I wanted to make a special fruit-based dessert for us to have with our celebratory meal. I settled on developing a truly heavenly version of ambrosia—if it’s going to be called the food of the gods, it better be something special.
Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Serves 6-10 with 1/3- to 1/2-cup servings
When I put a bite of marshmallow and nut with whipped coconut cream in my mouth today, I closed my eyes and thought, “It tastes like a sweet little cloud”—a great foil for the sourness in the citrus fruit.
Note: You have to refrigerate your can of coconut cream for at least six hours, so make sure you do that in advance.
2-3 clementine oranges, peeled and sliced into small segments
2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced into small segments
2 c. vanilla marshmallows—either use miniature or chop into small pieces with a sharp knife
~1.5 cups fresh (only fresh!) pineapple, chopped into half-bite pieces
1 c. grated coconut, sweetened or unsweetened according to your palate
1 c. roasted, salted pecan pieces
1/2 c. seedless grapes
Cream from one well-chilled can of coconut milk (don’t use light)—see directions
1-2 T. sugar (unnecessary if you use sweetened coconut and coconut milk yogurt—the yogurt is sweet)
6 oz. (one container) of plain or vanilla coconut milk yogurt (or another kind of yogurt)
1/2 c. grated coconut for topping (optional)
Refrigerate the can of coconut milk for at least six hours. (I like to leave one in the fridge at all times for when I decide to make a recipe with whipped coconut cream.)
Put a metal mixing bowl and your beaters in the freezer to chill for at least 20 minutes.
Prep the fruit and marshmallows. Combine the fruit, nuts, marshmallows, and grated coconut in a large bowl, and place the bowl in the refrigerator.
Remove your mixer pieces from the freezer, and put your mixer together. Open one can of coconut milk. Scoop out the thick layer of coconut cream that’s formed in the top half of the jar, and put it in your mixer. (Discard the remaining coconut water, or reserve it for another use.) Add sugar to the mixer, if using. Whip at high speed until the cream is light and fluffy—if your mixer is cold and your cream is cold, you should be able to form soft peaks. Add the coconut milk yogurt, and whip for 15 seconds more.
Gently fold the whipped coconut cream mixture into the bowl of fruit. Refrigerate two or more hours before serving.
If desired: to top the dessert in individual bowls, toast 1/2 c. shredded coconut in a skillet on medium-low heat until most of it has turned light brown. Sprinkle a tablespoon of toasted coconut on each serving.