Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Little Slice of Chocolate Heaven

Love is in the air now, can't you feel it? The girls and I have been making Valentine's for over a week now. There is glitter all over the house!

What do you do to celebrate Valentine's Day?

I know for most of us chocolate is involved. Maybe roses, a massage, a nice dinner. These are all wonderful things, but what about love?

I have a little book that I bought when I was 19 called Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. I have carried it with me during these last 12 years, through all of the moves, packing and unpacking, changing schools, relationships, having babies. You all know him, right? He is the poet and Zen Master, peacemaker and author who travels the globe leading retreats on mindful living. I have always wanted to visit Plum Village in the South of France where he resides...someday I will, maybe when the kids are older.

In the beginning of the book, Thich Nhat Hanh offers us this quote from the Buddha:

"With his mind filled with love, the monk permeates one direction, and then a second, a third, a fourth, above, below, and all around, everywhere identifying himself with all. He permeates the whole world with his mind filled with love, wide, far, developed, unbound, free from hatred and ill-will. He does the same with his mind filled with compassion, joy, and equanimity." (Subha Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, Sutra 99)

I thought this quote was very moving and indeed what we need today. By filling ourselves with beautiful thoughts, surroundings, flavors, people, colors, you name it, can we fill up our "love cup." Then and only can we spread love to the world. And we all know that the world could use a little extra love right now. This is just food for thought for you on this upcoming lovely day, Valentine's Day. I am not trying to espouse Buddhism here, nor am I Buddhist, I just take a little of everything and see what works for me. Hope it inspires you too.

So this Valentine's Day, do a little something first for yourself and then once you are feeling good, spread the love.

I have been playing around with a raw chocolate pie recipe for sometime now and I think I have it down now.

It is chocolate indulgence to the highest degree. Thick and rich. A twinge of cinnamon. A burst of sweet and tangy raspberry. The sublime richness of deep, dark chocolate. Vegan, raw, and gluten-free.

Your mouth watering yet?

Well, this pie is very simple to make. Yes some of the ingredients may be hard to come by if you live in a small town. 

Happy Valentine's Day! Love to you all.

Raw Chocolate Pie

This pie requires a food processor, a blender or Vitamix will not work. First the crust is made, then you rinse out the food processor and make the filling. It just needs to be chilled for a few hours before serving. Then top each slice with a simple raspberry sauce. Today I used the raspberries that we had frozen from our berry picking adventures this past summer.

2 cups pecans
8 to 10 medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pinch ground cardamom (optional)

1 cup raw cashew butter
1 small avocado
½ cup + 2 tablespoons GF cocoa powder (Dagoba is GF)
½ cup raw agave nectar
½ cup barely melted coconut butter*
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon non-alcoholic vanilla

Place nuts into food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients for crust and pulse until thoroughly ground and mixed. Press crust into the bottom of a 9.5-inch deep dish pie plate. Place into refrigerator to chill.

Place all ingredients for filling into food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add a little more water for a thinner filling, one tablespoon at a time. (It will take longer to set if you do this). Note: if you do not like a strong chocolate flavor then start with less cocoa powder and gradually add more as your taste suggests.

Pour chocolate filling into pie plate. Spread out evenly with a rubber spatula and place back into the refrigerator to chill. Chill for 3 to 4 hours. Slice and serve with fresh berries if desired.

*Be sure to just barely warm the coconut butter on very low heat, it will quickly burn otherwise. Also, this is coconut butter, not coconut oil. Coconut butter is made from the whole coconut, flesh and oil.

Raspberry Sauce

½ cup water
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
¼ cup agave nectar
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 to 2 teaspoon vanilla

Place the water and arrowroot into a small saucepan and stir to dissolve the arrowroot. Add the agave nectar and raspberries and heat over medium heat. Simmer until the sauce is translucent and the raspberries have broken down. I use a wire whisk to help with this. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

More Healthy Valentine's Day Desserts:
Almond-Goji Berry Truffles
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
Raw Vanilla White Chocolates

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Wow, this looks divine! I love making raw vegan desserts. They always turn out so yummy. It's fun to surprise people when they comment on how decadent it is and then are shocked to hear how healthy my ingredients are! Your slice of chocolate heaven looks super yum and it's going on my "to make" list! Anything chocolate that's gluten free and vegan always does! Thanks :-)
    Happy Heart Day to you and your family!

  2. I have made your older version of this pie a number of times. I think it was sent out in one of your newsletters. This looks good. Think I will surprise my wife and make it this Saturday. I appreciate your photography, it beautifies the blog. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. OMG! This looks heavenly! I am copying the recipe down right now so I can get ingredients!

  4. Dear Ali,
    Just letting you know that I made your chocolate pie and we all loved it, couldn't believe just how yummy it was we put coconut bliss on ours.
    What a treat for us that can't have gluten, dairy or sugar.

  5. What an inspiring post! I totally agree with filling one's life with people and things of beauty. I also agree with taking a little bit of whatever religion/spirituality practices work for you.

    And, this pie ... oh my goodness. I want to taste some now! BTW, I have had the Artisana coconut oil (that is actually coconut meat and oil) and it is incredibly wonderful. Thanks also for the information on the arrowroot not being GF unless you buy it through a GF vendor. I don't use arrowroot, but some of my group members have mentioned using it ... so I'll definitely pass this info on.

    Thanks so much and belated Happy Valentine's Day!


  6. Wow this looks amazing. Do you have any suggestions for the crust for someone who can't have dates? I have the book, if you think a crust from another recipe might taste well?
    I should add - this book has saved my health and taught me to cook in one. I use it every day and recommend it to everyone! And I love cooking now!

  7. Bonnie -

    I am happy to hear that you and your crew all enjoyed this pie on Valentine's Day. Wonderful!

    Shirley - I love all Artisana products - they are delicious, but the coconut oil/meat is especially good. I Wish I could just mail you a slice of this pie, wouldn't that be wonderful!

    V - Gee thanks, I am glad you have benefited so much from our book, and happy to hear you love cooking again, isn't it fun! For the crust, I might try to replace the dates with dried cherries (that would go well with the chocolate) or maybe try dried apricots. You may need to add a tablespoon of honey to help it stick together if your fruit is very dry. Let me know how it works.

    Thanks, Ali :)

  8. The cake look divine! I have never seen that coconut butter, but will ask about it at Whole Foods.

    Great blog! Always nice to find gluten-free blogs focused on "real foods."

  9. Lauren - I'll bet Whole Foods would carry this coconut butter.

    Thanks, "real foods" are the way to go. Your blog is great too!

  10. Ali--Belated reply, but if you started mailing all your reader/comments slices of chocolate heaven, you would have a very, very popular blog and would not be able to keep up at all! LOL

  11. I just found your website today and am ecstatic... I think I may re-gain hope again to enjoy food as gluten/dairy free vegetarian!

    Can I make the crust and filling 1 or 2 days prior to serving and refrigerate or freeze? Or if time is issue, could I make crust 2 days prior and freeze, filling 1 day prior and refrigerate, and sauce same day?


  12. Anon - Thanks! Yes you can make the crust ahead of time or the whole pie. We have actually frozen the pie before for a month and it was just fine! It is so rich that we can never eat all of it right away. Just let it sit on the counter for an hour or so before serving. Enjoy! :)

  13. Do you think this would work with regular (not raw) cashew butter? I have a jar of Whole Foods brand but can't find the Artisana (though I did find their coconut butter). Thanks!

  14. THIS PIE WAS AMAZING! I brought it to a dinner party and it was a hit! Thank you for sharing all of your amazing recipes.

  15. Where can vanilla without alcohol be found?

  16. I'd like to make this pie for a tea party next week. I can't seem to find coconut butter here in the UK. All the website's I've searched act like it's synonymous with coconut oil...Is it the same as coconut cream? Thanks!

  17. ~M - Yes I think regular, roasted cashew butter would work - it will just be a little nuttier in flavor. :)

    Jamie - thanks! :)

    Heather - Frontier makes both types of vanilla extract. The non-alcohol version uses glycerin.

    polkamatic - Coconut butter is made from blending both the oil and raw coconut flesh together. I wonder if you could use part cashew butter and part coconut oil in place of the coconut butter. This might work. :)

  18. I just had to comment and say that I have made this pie several times since discovering it about six months ago and it has made me a bit famous among my friends. I even made it for a wedding last month! Instead of the pie shape, I rolled out the crust and spread the topping in seperate layers, chilled them, then used a cookie cutter (heart shaped of course)to cut into shapes. I then put filling onto crust to make a sort of raw chocolate tart. It was a nice way to serve this intense chocolate heaven in smaller doses. Also, they are very easy to freeze and serve later! So thank you, thank a million times for this amazing recipe!

  19. Thank you for that recipe, it looks like a delicious treat that is also quite healthy as well!

  20. First off, happy birthday to Tom! Second, Thich Nhat Hanh quotes are favorites of mine. Always so insightful and peace-filled. Third, this pie sounds amazing and oddly enough, I have everything on your ingredient list right now, including a jar of coconut butter (which I love). I've been doing a mild cleanse recently. Do you think chocolate heaven would be a good way to break it? =) Hey, it's raw and vegan, which is what I've been focused on (not all raw, but a good part of what I've been eating).
    Sounds good to me!

  21. Ali!

    My heart was beaming reading your post. So lovely I could cry :-) My cup runneth over!

    And I can tell by your ingredients that this pie is nothing short of sensational.

    XOXO, Kelly

  22. Ali,

    I made this yesterday and it is delicious. The only thing I did different was I switched out the cinnamon for a custom-made pumpkin pie spice and I used less cornstarch in the raspberry sauce. I always find these vegan, avocado, chocolate recipes fascinating. I can't taste the avocado, as much as I try. Avocados add such richness and depth to vegan desserts. Tricky little things!

    Thanks, this is a keeper!

  23. Hey this recipe looks delicious! I wanted to make this for my boyfriend for our anniversary, but he is allergic to avocados! Are there any substitutions or should I look for a different recipe (and make it for myself later :) )

  24. Made this last week and it's to DIE for!! DEATH BY CHOCOLATE! Thanks for this wonderful recipe! I did have a hard time finding cocoa butter, but ordered some on Amazon.

  25. This looks so good, but alas, as with many of your gluten/dairy free sweets, there are cashews in the recipe. I have a poison ivy reaction to cashews unfortunately. Do you have a suggestion for a replacement nut or ingredient. I can eat all other nuts, just not cashews. Thanks!

  26. I made this pie yesterday and I absolutely LOVE it. It's delicious!!!!

    I couldn't find anywhere coconut butter for the filling, so I used raw coconut oil instead(I didn't melt it) and it worked fine.
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe with us!
    All your recipes are extremly yummy, healthy and nourishing!

    Kind regards,

  27. I made this pie, but didn't have some of the ingredients (i used sunflower seed butter & honey, didn't have cocount butter so I used a little coconut oil) & it was yummy. My dh wonders what could make it more mousse-like or less dense? Any ideas? Thanks, Mena

  28. This looks amazing! I was wondering if you could suggest a substitution for cashew butter as my daughter is highly allergic. Would sunflower seed butter work? Thanks!

  29. I'm highly allergic to avocado... what would you recommend as a replacement for this recipe? Everything else I can do and I can see from the ingredients that the avocado serves a specific function.


  30. This pie turned out to truly be a slice form heaven! thankyou for the post, the picture sold it for me to try!

  31. This pie is fantastic. We're making it again today for pi day!


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)