South America is home to an abundance of unique plant foods. In fact rarely a day goes by that I don’t indulge in at least one of them. I had already created a drink using many of those regional ingredients Dreams of Cacao however a luscious dessert seemed even more appropriate; one that would be gratifying and and linger long after the last spoonful was gone. Deep intense flavors oozing with enzyme-rich nutrients was my goal. And that meant including one of my favorite indigenous foods; Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are a culinary wonder. Pop one in your mouth and see if you don’t experience a delightful crunch and an explosion of flavor; a perfect choice for mix of spices and sweeteners I was using.
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 cultivated on a farm.
Once the Brazil Nuts were turned into beautiful milk, the next step was thickening the milk into a pudding. For this step I used nature’s best thickening and gelling agent; chia seeds. These adorable little seeds have been around for thousands of years but only recently became popular for use as a 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 contain. Just admiring cute chia plants is a thing of the past. Better to eat the seeds instead. Need a pudding in a pinch? Try using chia seeds.
The other half of my parfait was spiced, sweetened, and thickened Whipped Cashew Crème. So flavorful and rich with almost a mousse-like consistency, it’s hard to believe this cream is also body-good.I layered my parfait glass with the sweet cream first, then spooned some of the pudding, and then added another layer of the sweet cream, topping off my creation with Incan berries (also called gooseberries) and cacao nibs.
One taste and I knew it was destined to be a dessert staple. Brazil nuts, cacao, cashew 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 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
- 1 – 2 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar
- 1 – 2 Tbsp coconut nectar
- pinch of sea salt (optional)
- stevia to taste
- Add the soaked Brazil nuts and water to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Strain the milk using a nut bag or large sieve placed over a bowl.
- Once the milk is strained, add back to a clean blender jar.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the chia seeds.
- Blend until very smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk or stir in the chia seeds until fully immersed.
- Cover and refrigerator for 30 – 60 minutes or until it desired thickness is achieved. Whisk or stir again after 15 minutes.
- Use immediately or store refrigerated up to 3 days.
- Yields about 2 1/2 cups.
Cinnamon Cashew Cream:
This cream also makes great frosting and can even be eaten on its own with toppings.
- 1 cup Sweet Whipped Cashew Crème
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of cayenne
- 2 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar
- 3 – 4 Tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted or warmed until liquid
- Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl.
- Whisk until very smooth. You can also blend the ingredients until smooth.
- Chill for at least one hour to set 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 and/or toppings of choice.
- Serve immediately.