You can’t very well end a meal without dessert. Whether it’s a glamorous five-course meal complete with tinkling china and sparkling crystal or a half-hearted, half-microwaved Pot Noodle, I feel like you just have to end on a sweet note. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. A small square of dark chocolate or an apple usually suffices.
But why shouldn’t it be grand? If your meal is simple, a special treat afterward can make everything feel all the more special. If your meal is a more lavish, more Henry VIII affair, well, I wouldn’t expect you to serve up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. We’re all gourmandes here, right? (And if you do spring for the Ben & Jerry’s, I promise I won’t tell!)
The only problem I run into with dessert is the aftermath. I always eat pretty healthfully, but when the waiter slaps that dessert menu on my placemat, I’m a gonner. I make up for all of my careful choices and good intentions in one fell swoop of crème brûlée. What seems like a great decision in the moment, leaves me comatose, rubbing my belly, refusing to move for hours. In order to avoid the sluggish set-in, I try to go light, unless it’s a special occasion.
Which is why a pot de crème is such a perfect choice. Wait, what? Pot de créme, healthy? Something seems off, no? Pots de créme, usually made rich with heavy cream, egg yolks, and lots of sugar, aren’t generally wearing halos. Particularly not when they’re topped with sticky, sweet salted caramel. But can I tell you a secret? These are vegan. They’re free of refined sugar. And they’re gluten free. There are no weird ingredients. It sounds too good to be true, but thankfully, they’re just too good. Go on, get to the kitchen. What are you waiting for?
Hayley Daen is a junior at the University of St Andrews, where she lives in a dinky apartment right around the corner from Tesco, which makes throwing impromptu tea parties a snap.
Salted Caramel Pots de Créme
Adapted from La Spelonca Vegetariana
For the chocolate cream:
1 ripe medium avocado, pitted and with the skin removed
5 tablespoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
5 pitted dates
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the salted caramel:
5 pitted dates
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons almond butter
For the chocolate cream: Place the avocado, cocoa powder, coconut oil, dates, agave, and vanilla extract into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until completely smooth. Divide evenly between four ramekins.
For the salted caramel: Place the dates, coconut oil, maple syrup, and almond butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until very sticky. This will take a few minutes to get the proper consistency. Divide between the ramekins and smooth over the chocolate cream. Sprinkle sea salt over top. Chill in fridge for at least thirty minutes before serving.