Vegan Strawberry VerrinesWhen I finally decided to lose my post-partum weight (Better late than never!) I approached it in a healthy manner. I consulted a nutritionist and regularly exercised and followed a practical and healthy diet fairly sincerely, allowing myself a snack treat once a fortnight. My dietician suggested that I have five small meals a day rather than the traditional set up of three full meals. In between two main meals like breakfast and lunch (which were definitely smaller than they are today!) I was allowed a filler. I generally had an orange simply because it was the most convenient thing to carry and have at work apart from the fact that they are tangy, sweet, provide instant energy and because I love oranges! That is what a snack is all about. It should act as a filler in between long meals and keep you going through the day in an active manner. Somehow the meaning has got distorted and along the way snack has come to mean anything that can be munched on at any time of the day. No objections over that but at some point one has to care for the body which needs to replenish itself and cannot handle much abuse.
What if you were told snack on desserts - I am sure we would all be happy to take such fillers, wouldn't we?
Coming back to the diet, if it was a weekend I would treat myself to some variation. My favourite snack treat was never samosas or vada-pavs (i.e., after I was over 25yrs of age, unless Monsoon craving struck!). I had and still retain a weakness for fruits and any dessert that contains fruits, so my snack treats were mostly fruit desserts. That is how I learned to make low-calorie but deeply satisfying desserts. Grapes, chickoos and bananas (the long green ones) were a strict no-no (too much sugar or calories) but apples, oranges and strawberries were all yes-yes. While most days it used to be a very simple fruit chaat, on few special days I had verrines without knowing the term for it then.
The version I am posting today is slightly more calorific that what I had but then they are to be had bite sized or in small portions. I hate putting inordinate pressure on the poor tongue! Going 'off tasty things' is not my idea of staying trim. A moderate approach is to spend more time savouring what one consumes through two sensations - sight and taste. A lot of difference is made to the amount consumed if food is presented rightly. For instance, if today's dessert were served in a bowl, all mixed up, the number of helpings would increase but if it is built in layers as a verrine and made sumptuous for the sight, even consuming less can still be as satisfying. Well presented food calms the senses. It works for me and I hope it will for you too. I do not expect food to be styled exceptionally as I too do not claim any such skills, just a clean set up.
I have eyeballed measurements as my version does not require much precision or expertise. These desserts are perfect for the beginner cook and allows a lot of creativity.
At my house, we are 'fruit people' and my kitchen counter always has a basket full of fruits. You could substitute strawberries with any seasonal fruit of your choice. Cherries, peaches, berries, bananas (elaichi kela) and mangoes or oranges work just as well. You need not even cook the latter three. Use them chopped raw.
Recipe: Vegan Strawberry Melba / Verrines
Assembling Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 10 Nos. (Shot glasses)
Recipe Level: Easy
I made the wacky chocolate cake shown below but a shop brought one or any chocolate cake will do fine.
20-30 ripe strawberries or any of the fruits suggested above (chopped rough)
2tbsps. - Sugar (More if you like)
2 tbsps. - Lime juice
8 cashews - soaked in water for about 15 minutes and then drained
2tbsps. -Vanilla or banana flavoured custard powder
1.5 cups - Soy milk
Sugar - As per taste. About 2-3tbsps.
1 Vanilla stick scraped (I preserve fresh and used vanilla sticks in jars of sugar stored separately for use in desserts)
1 tsp. - oil
Chocolate covered strawberries
- Cut cake to a height of 1cm enough to cover the base of the shot glass.
- Mix the ingredients for the second layer, cook for a minute till bubbly and cool. Pour 1.5 tbsp. of this over the cake layer.
- Mix the custard powder and sugar into the milk and cook while whisking to avoid lumps. When it starts coating the back of the spoon and comes to a custard consistency remove and cool. Blend the cooled custard with the cashews and vanilla scraping till the cashews do not feel grainy anymore. Cool and carefully put 2 tbsps. of this into each glass.
- Add a layer of chopped fruits. Top with slivers of pista, roasted almonds or hazelnuts. Garnish with a toothpick pricked through strawberries dipped in chocolate.
- For a fancier version add a layer of melted dark chocolate over the custard. Cut slices of strawberries and arrange them along the rim of the shot glass and then arrange the layers.
- If you would like a healthier version incorporate a layer of muesli or wheat flakes generously and reduce the custard layer.
- The cake layer can be substituted with a layer of crushed and pressed whole wheat of gluten free digestive biscuits. I prefer chocolate cake if using cherries or strawberries as the porous cake takes in the juice of the fruits and tastes good at the end.
- You could garnish with an assortment of small sugar dusted fruits as well and top with a mint to land it on a party table.