This dish was a concept that churned in my head for several months before I finally got around to making it. I wanted to create a rich and delicious pudding with a distinct South American flair. So many of foods are grown and cultivated in South America that I wanted to pay homage by assembling some of my favorites in one daring and rich dessert. I had already created a drink with some of those ingredients Dreams of Cacao and now I was ready for a festive parfait. I did have several requirements beforehand. It had to be thick and super-creamy. It had to be warmly spiced with deep intense flavors. It had to oozing with enzyme-rich nutrients. And it had to contain one of my favorite nuts, Brazil nuts.
I made the chia pudding first using a milk made with Brazil nuts. I think Brazil nuts are one of the most underused underrated nuts. Pop one in your mouth and see if you don’t experience great crunch with lots of flavor and depth; a perfect choice for the intense South American spices and sweeteners I would be using. The fact that Brazil nuts are super nutritious doesn’t hurt either.
Brazil nuts contain an array of vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, calcium, manganese, potassium, folate, and the trace mineral selenium. They are a stellar source of selenium with no peers in the nut world. The RDA for selenium for adults 19 years and over is 55 micrograms a day. Just one Brazil nut delivers 95.8 micrograms; well over the daily requirement. Studies have shown that people who live in areas with high concentrations of selenium in the soil suffer less heart disease. Selenium plays an important antioxidant role in activating the enzymes that detoxify rancid fat in membranes. Human platelets contain more selenium than other tissues so high concentrations of selenium can help prevent blood clots. Selenium also helps with hair regrowth. I have noticed a thicker mane since munching on these nuts. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Brazil nuts also have the distinction of being one of the few nuts that aren’t widely commercially produced. Brazil nut trees are huge with large heavy flowers that are hard to pollinate. It takes a big heavy bee to get to the flower; the kind of bee that lives in large pristine forests like the Amazon. All of this means that you are more likely to get a Brazil nut that’s been gathered from a forest than from a plantation. Lucky for us, Brazil has outlawed cutting down these important trees.
Chia seeds are nature’s thickening and gelling agent. These adorable little seeds have been around for thousands of years but only recently became popular in food. Chia seeds add considerable bulk (similar to the effects of tapioca starch) while providing some noteworthy nutrients such as protein, fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids which most thickeners don’t. Admiring chia plants is now a thing of the past. Better to eat the seeds. Need a pudding in a pinch? Try chia seeds.
The other layer of my pudding parfait was spiced and thickened Whipped Cashew Crème. And I mean thickened. I went overboard a bit with the coconut oil but I wanted frosting/mousse consistency. Fantastically good. It’s so rich and cinnamony-delicious, I dare you to stop licking the spoon. Hard to believe that this luscious cream is actually good for you.
I layered my parfait glass with the cream first, then the pudding, and then another layer of cream. This was all topped with Incan berries (also called gooseberries) and cacao nibs. I was actually nervous taking the first spoonful. Wow. The result was nothing short of spectacular. Brazil nuts, cacao, cream, vanilla, spices, dark sweeteners, ginger; there were so many flavors gracing each spoonful it was hard to focus on just one. The myriad of warm ingredients had completely won me over. But then, I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, I used some of the best flavors (and ingredients) in the world.
I hope you’ll enjoy this luscious parfait dessert in the spirit of the rich and beautiful place the ingredients come from: a region filled with towering mountains, dense forests, warm sunshine, and delectables that are as breathtaking as the scenery.
This recipe is raw, dairy and gluten-free, and serves 2 – 3 persons.
Brazilian Chia Parfait
Brazil Nut Chia Pudding:
I use both coconut/palm sugar and coconut nectar for a complex flavor. You can use one or the other or any dark sweetener of choice.
- 1 cup Brazil nuts, soaked in water for 2 – 8 hours then drained and rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 4 – 6 Tbsp chia seeds (depending on how thick you want it)
- 1 tsp lucuma (optional)
- 1-inch peeled fresh ginger or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 cardamom pod or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla or vanilla-flavored stevia to taste
- 1 – 2 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar
- 1 – 2 Tbsp coconut nectar or blackstrap molasses or other dark liquid sweetener of choice
- pinch of sea salt (optional)
- stevia to taste
- Add the soaked Brazil nuts and or water to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Strain the milk using a nut bag or large sieve placed over a bowl.
- When the milk is ready, add back to a clean blender jar.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the chia seeds.
- Blend until very smooth.
- Add the chia seeds and blend again just until chia seeds are well mixed.
- Pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Cover and refrigerator for 30 – 60 minutes or until it thickens like pudding.Whisk after 30 minutes to even consistency.
- Use immediately or store refrigerated up to 3 days.
- Yields about 2 1/2 cups.
Cinnamon Cashew Cream:
This cream makes a great frosting or topping and can even be eaten by itself as a thick rich pudding/mousse (see my post about mousse).
- 1 cup Sweet Whipped Cashew Crème
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of cayenne
- 2 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar or coconut nectar or blackstrap molasses or other natural dark sweetener of choice
- 3 – 4 Tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted or warmed until liquid
- Add the all the ingredients to a blender.
- Blend until very smooth.
- Remove and chill for at least one hour before using.
- Yields about 1 1/4 cups.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 3 days.
- Incan berries (gooseberries)
- cacao nibs
- cacao powder
- any other toppings you want
- Add alternate layers of Brazilian Nut Chia Pudding and Cinnamon Cashew Cream to a parfait glass. Spread each layer evenly or any design you want.
- Add Suggested Toppings of choice.
- Serve immediately.