My husband celebrated his birthday earlier this month, requesting a “chocolate and peanut butter ice cream” cake. Easy enough. But being the culinary nutrition nerd that I am, this special birthday treat couldn’t include your average freezer-aisle fare. Nope, it had to be made from scratch using nourishing whole foods and be out of this world delicious.
I imagined I would start with a brownie base layered with chocolate and nut butter ice cream, adding an extra swirl of nut butter for an extra punch. It would be epic.
Best Laid Plans
As the big day grew closer, I spent entirely too much time planning and not enough time doing. Before I knew it the day was here and I had a birthday cake to prepare!
I flipped through my Instagram feed (as all procrastinators do in a time of need) and saw a photo of an ice cream sandwich. Bingo! Raw brownie base + nut butter ice cream filling—time to get down to business.
This was one of those perfect moments in culinary brilliance, where a new recipe just comes together effortlessly. As if channeling some sort of ice cream sandwich genius straight from the kitchen gods…or something like that. Needless to say I had success on my very first try.
Okay, so this technically isn’t a birthday cake, but do you think he complained?
Of course I had to make them again, you know, just to be completely sure I had an awesome recipe on my hands to share with all of you. This time I used cashew butter, my favorite, but any nut or seed butter will do. (If you haven’t made your own nut butter from scratch yet, it’s time to start). You can even leave out the nut butter entirely—it will still be delicious.
The best part is that this recipe is totally flexible and caters to the dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, vegan and paleo crowds. Everyone can get in on this action, even if they aren’t the whole foods, healthy eating type. These sandwiches are decadent; rivaling anything you could buy from the freezer section, or that creepy guy circling your neighborhood blaring circus music.
Walnuts on the Mind
The sweetness of dates and maple syrup in this recipe are accompanied by a hefty dose of healthy fats—medium chain saturated fatty acids from the coconut and omega-3 essential fatty acids from the walnuts—which means you will be satisfied eating just one. Walnuts have the unique quality of being high in omega-3 fatty acids—important for healthy eyes and brain function. Ever notice how walnuts look like little brains? Mother Nature has a way of showing us which foods help which parts of the body, called the doctrine of signatures. Pretty cool, huh?
Buying and Storing
Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 are very delicate; prone to oxidation and rancidity. With its high omega-3 content walnuts are particularly sensitive to light and heat. Make sure to buy the freshest, raw (avoid roasted) walnuts in a sealed package and store them in the refrigerator. If you’re buying from the bulk bins, take a good sniff and try one (I won’t tell) to make sure they haven’t gone rancid. They should have a light walnut-y smell and flavor – if they taste or smell off, save your money.
I should probably point out that while these are made with nourishing high-vibe ingredients, they are still treats and should be treated as such – saved for special occasions.