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… More popularly known as “dulche de leche flan” or, in my taste bud vernacular, “heaven on earth”.  And heaven-sent flan this is!  But traditionalists be forewarned, this take on the eggy, condensed-milky dish upholds a different establishment: raw and yes, vegan.  Before you cringe and runaway in expectation of some kale-encrusted dessert, let me tell you, this custard o’sweetness earned its name for reason: my boyfriend begged for more.  And for good cause.  Ironically, it’s the purest take on flan—straight from nature-made organic ingredients.  It doesn’t get better than this.  Until, that is, you know the chef who’s behind it—my all-around favorite dessert extraordinaire who also JUST HAPPENS to be a raw food master, Matthew Kenney.  He’s the reason I went seriously raw for a stint (and still dine on raw salads & desserts with gusto), and he’s the man behind countless cookbooks and restaurants, including my favorite, Pure Food & Wine in New York City.  So with much gratitude and cheers—THANK YOU Matthew for giving us this recipe and it with it, the sweet life!)

It’s on us, so whip it up and simply savor e.v.e.r.y. l.i.t.t.l.e. b.i.t.e.  Trust me: It’s MUCH easier than it looks or sounds, and it’s 100% worth it!

"Dulce de leche flan"

Graciously contributed by Matthew Kenney, “Everyday Raw Desserts”.  (My experimental tips are also included throughout.)

Ingredients – naturally, organic

½ cup cashews (Unless you have a super-powered Vita-Mix blender, I suggest soaking for about 30 minutes to make them more blend able.)

1 cup young coconut meat (Thai coconuts are the sweetest and best for this)

½ cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey (If using maple syrup be sure it’s REAL maple syrup, ideally Grade B)

½ cup macadamia nuts (Unless you have a super-powered Vita-Mix blender, I suggest soaking for about 30 minutes to make them more blend able.)

2/3 cup coconut oil, melted

¼ cup Irish moss paste (see recipe below)

1 teaspoon (fresh) lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

2 vanilla beans, scraped (If not readily available or on-hand, substitute approximately 2 teaspoons of additional vanilla extract for the beans)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (ideally the alcohol-free variety)

6 – 8 tablespoons agave nectar (my preference), maple syrup, or honey (reserve for the “caramel” topping)

Ingredients – Irish moss paste

2 cups soaked moss

½ cup water (use less if possible)

3 - 4 tablespoons agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey

1 teaspoon (fresh) lemon juice

(Fresh thai coconuts—source of the most succulent coconut water & meat)

To make the “dulche de leche flan”

Blend cashews, coconut meat and agave nectar (or pure sweetener of choice) in a Vita-Mix (or another super high-powered blender) until smooth.  Add all other ingredients except agave (or pure sweetener of choice) for serving, and continue to blend until smooth.  Do not over blend.  Pour into a flan mold or any smooth-sided ramekin and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer until set.  When firm, turn over and remove from ramekin.  After plated, drizzle each dish with approximately 2 tablespoons of agave nectar (or pure sweetener of choice).

Makes 6 servings

(*Note: Ramekin-less?  Fear not!  My well-equipped kitchen is missing (hint-hint-flan-loving-boyfriend) ramekins.  So, I simply used small fruit bowls to set and serve the flan.  While not as flan-like in appearance, the taste was uncompromised.  I also topped this bit of divinity with fresh, organic raspberries—as shown in the photo.  Mmm…)

To make the “Iris moss paste”

Thoroughly rinse the moss to remove any sand or particles (mine was REALLY sandy—a sure sign of authenticity).  Soak rinsed moss in cool water for 3 to 4 hours.  You do not want to soak it too long because it will decrease its gelling potential.  In a Vita-Mix (or another super high-powered blender or quality food processor), blend the moss, adding the water a little at a time.  The moss varies in water content, so you may need less.  You will create a paste that should be smooth and thick, not watery.  Once the desired consistency is achieved, add agave nectar (or pure sweetener of choice) and lemon juice.  This makes the perfect Irish moss paste for use in desserts.  It will store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes approximately 2 cups

 (*Note: If no other irish-moss-using recipes are in the queue, you can quarter this recipe and still have plenty leftover—just in case you want seconds.)

Here’s to life’s dulce—the sweetest sweetness!

(Many thanks to Matthew Kenney for graciously sharing his sweet genius!)

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