Last week my friends Maddie and Simona joined me in the kitchen to cook from It's a Pleasure, by Virpi Mikkonen. She has an amazing Instagram feed and you can follow her here. As a foodie blogger she did all the photography for the book herself and it has a beautiful minimalist vibe with great textures and accents. It's a Pleasure is a collection of dessert recipes that are all free from dairy, gluten, and refined sugar. And here at EAF we like books that are already "free-from" some common allergens because it usually means less adjusting for us!
We made a batch of what I lovingly referred to as Mandy-friendly Bounty Bars, but they are actually chocolate-covered coconut bars and, despite my never having eaten an actual Bounty bar, I'm inclined to think these are much tastier.
For this recipe we used unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 potato, coconut oil, organic honey, pure vanilla extract, and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate did have some added sugar however it's the most trusted brand of allergen-free chocolate around so we decided to overlook the sugar issue.
To make the coconut center of the chocolates, Maddie peeled and chopped the potato and then simmered until cooked through. The potato acts as a binder for the coconut flakes and gives the center a nice soft texture while not altering the flavor at all.
The potato was then drained and mashed until smooth. Simona added the honey, coconut flakes, vanilla, and coconut oil and mixed well.
The "dough" was pulled apart and formed into little sausage shapes which was hilarious to watch if you tuned into our Instagram live feed. Both ladies had their own ways of doing it! The coconut centers were then put into the freezer to chill for (what we intended to be) a half hour, but actually ended up being more like 10 minutes. Also my freezer is heinously full from my farm-share stock-up so we had to move things around to shove it in.
We melted the chocolate in a double boiler but if you own a microwave you could easily melt it in there. It's so hard to say I don't own a microwave without sounding like a pretentious millennial so let's just move on...
Since we hadn't let the coconut balls cool fully they wouldn't hold together when we tried to dip them in the chocolate. What can I say, we were impatient! Instead Simona transferred some chocolate to a plastic bag and drizzled it on while Maddie tested the dunking option. I can tell you that both tasted equally delicious.
So, what do we like and dislike about this book?
We like its aesthetic and simple photography. It's a wonderful book to buy for yourself if you're learning how to eat healthier or are already practicing a sugar/gluten/dairy-free diet. It's also just a wonderful book in general aside from the health aspect. There is no compromise to flavor, texture, appearance, or accessibility of ingredients even though it's free-from. We loved this because at EAF we believe that "free-from" does not mean less-than. The recipe was easy to follow and the end product was delicious. I've already flagged a number of other recipes from this book that I want to make!
There's nothing I really disliked about the book except that it is a bit heavy on nuts and I have not found a great substitute for cashews as of yet. I also need to find a good brand of dates that doesn't have a may contain warning on it as that will open up the number of recipes I can make quite a bit.
Overall, this book really was a pleasure to cook from!