I’ve got a week to go on my detox and dessert on the brain.
I haven’t eaten ANY sugar except a teaspoon of honey here or there for two weeks. It’s been a fantastic exercise in self-control (who am I kidding—total TORTURE!), but as much as I’m ready to get back to the land of muffins, cake and pancakes, I’m also loathe to think of all the good work I’d be undoing if I went back to shoving the same, sugar-laced baked goods back in my face.
So I made these parfaits. I wanted a totally delish, rich (not to mention romantic!) dessert to indulge in on Valentine’s Day, since that happens to fall about four days after the official end of my detox. And I wanted them to be healthy.
So I borrowed inspiration from a vegan chocolate peanut butter parfait from Whole Foods that my friend S and I loved. When we took a weekend trip to Austin, we spent about 87% of our time in their flagship whole foods and spent the night reclining after the wine bar, chomping on moist chunks of cake swaddled in silky, nutty layers of peanut butter mousse that, turned out, was made from…tofu. If the nutrition panel hadn’t listed it, we would never have guessed. Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with recreating that mousse.
But then…I wanted to add a brownie base. And chocolate mousse made out of another secret ingredient, no cream or sugar involved.
Which is all fine and good except that, hello, I’m still in the middle of my detox! So the development process was kind of ridiculous, what with having to run over to my roommate with spoons of mousse asking, “how does this taste? Is it sweet enough? More peanut butter? Less vanilla?”
She gamely taste-tested for me (poor child) until I got the nod of approval (at which point, okay, I licked the spoon just to make sure she wasn’t being polite!). And if you’re skeptical, the real test was my boyfriend—who dug in with enthusiasm and didn’t stop until the glass was empty. He didn’t even flinch when I told him what was in it. “I couldn’t even tell!” Guys, this is BIG.
I honestly think this is one of the best “healthy” treats I’ve ever made. I’m definitely making it again for Valentine’s day—totally mood-supporting with that little accent of raspberry topping and what’s more romantic than mousse? Um, nothing. Plus, it’s totally satisfying, but not gut-busting, like the molten chocolate cake I’d otherwise be having. After my detox ends, of course.
Because these are almost raw (minus the tofu and the raspberry compote), you can throw everything together in a food processor in about 20 minutes. No baking required! A last-minute lifesaver! Just make sure to have the special ingredients on hand: avocado, tofu, dates, walnuts. HOWEVER. I’ve found the tofu pudding tastes better the longer it is refrigerated, so making this ahead of time is recommended.
I originally made this into two parfaits, but they were ginormous. I would still recommend following the full recipe; you can split one with your honey (or a friend) on V-day, then have another one the next day—one effort for the price of two. Or have a party with three friends and split it up into four reasonably-sized parfaits. Or just halve the recipe.
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but the chocolate and peanut butter layer repeat many of the same ingredients.
Substitutions: Raw cacao powder has many more nutritional benefits since it’s not cooked, but you can sub regular, non Dutch-process cocoa powder for it.
Tofu: I used firm tofu since that’s what I had on hand, but soft tofu might come together much more easily and you may not need to add the additional milk.
You can use any liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave). I try to stay away from agave due to its questionable nutrition, but I generally use maple syrup and honey interchangeably unless I want a distinct flavor profile. In this recipe, the chocolate and peanut butter should overpower the sweetener, so it doesn’t really matter.
Optional: I only topped these with the raspberry “compote,” but it occurred to me while writing this post that spreading the raspberry mixture between each layer would also be great.
Silky peanut butter and chocolate "mousse" are layered over a delicious, raw brownie base, made completely out of fruit, vegetables, nuts and natural sweeteners. No sugar, heavy cream or butter involved!
- Brownie layer:
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon almond milk, optional
- Peanut butter pudding:
- 1 cup firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- pinch of salt
- 1-3 tablespoons almond milk, as needed
- Chocolate pudding:
- 1 cup avocado (~1 medium)
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (can sub cocoa powder)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ tablespoon almond milk
- 1/4 cup frozen raspberries (or more, if layering)
- 1/2 tablespoon orange juice
To make the brownie layer:
In a food processor, grind the walnuts to a powder. Add cacao powder and process to combine. Add the dates, vanilla, salt and process until everything comes together. If the mixture doesn’t quite stick together, add the milk and process until it easily clumps together. Press into the bottom of a glass. I used a glass with a slightly smaller circumference to press the brownie layer evenly against the bottom of the glass.
To make the peanut butter pudding:
Press as much water as you can out of the tofu. I literally squeezed the tofu until I had wrung as much water out of it as possible, but you can also wrap the tofu in paper towels and place on a cutting board or strainer with a heavy, flat object on top for about ten minutes. In a food processor, puree tofu until smooth. Add peanut butter, maple syrup and salt and process until combined. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until mixture is silky. Spoon over the brownie layer in the glass.
To make the chocolate pudding:
In a food processor, puree avocado until smooth. Add cacao powder, maple syrup, salt, vanilla and milk and process until silky. Spoon over peanut butter layer in glass.
Refrigerate until needed. I've found that although the peanut butter layer may taste alarmingly tofu-like at first, the tofu flavor mellows and the peanut butter flavor blooms the longer you let it rest. Overnight is best, but even a few hours will improve the flavor.
For raspberry garnish:
Microwave the frozen raspberries and orange juice for 45-60 seconds. Smash with a spoon until it’s the consistency of jam, and spoon over the chocolate layer. Top with orange zest, powdered sugar, cacao powder, chocolate shavings, etc. Alternatively, you can let the frozen raspberries come to room temperature while soaking in the orange juice and macerate slightly before topping for frozen pizazz.
More peanut butter: