Kabocha Squash (pumpkin) Ice Cream with Maple Toasted Pecans

It has a beautiful colour, perfect texture and amazing flavor. The cranberry sauce creates the most pleasant contrast with the smooth and mild ice-cream, and the maple toasted pecans contribute the delicious finishing touch.  You need an ice-cream machine – makes 2 batches

1 small kabocha or red kuri squash, or pumpkin – cut in half and seeded
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
1 Tab shredded ginger
3/4 cup maple syrup or more to taste
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp xanthan gum – optional

for the cranberry sauce
2 cups cranberries
1 cup honey

for the pecans
large handful of pecans
maple syrup and grapeseed oil for drizzle
sea salt

To make the ice cream base
1. Turn the oven to 400 F (180 C). Place the squash halves cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes or until soft throughout. Let cool
2. Meanwhile, pour the coconut milk into a medium saucepan, add in ginger, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let infuse for 30 minutes.
3. Combine the squash flesh (I utilize the skin of red kabocha or red kuri squash as well, as it’s soft when baked. You’ll need a high-speed blender though, if using the skin), gingery coconut milk and the rest of ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
4. Chill well in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.

to make the cranberry sauce
1. Combine the cranberries and honey in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to pop open, for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and pulse in a blender or food processor to a chunky consistency.

to toast the pecans
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). In a bowl, drizzle pecans with maple syrup, grapeseed oil and a pinch of sea salt, mix to coat. Spread on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool and chop.

to make the ice cream
1. Make sure that ice-cream base and cranberry sauce are well chilled. Churn the ice-cream base in your ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions ( I needed to do this amount in 2 batches, based on the size of my Cuisinart ice-cream machine).
2. Prepare a chilled container and scoop about 1/3 of the freshly made ice-cream into it, distributing into an even layer. Drizzle about a third of the cranberry sauce on top, followed by a third of the maple tossed pecans.
3. Continue to scoop another third of the ice-cream into the container, alternating with the cranberry sauce and pecans. If you do it in two batches, keep the ratios accordingly. Chill for at least 2 hours or longer before serving. When hardened completely, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before scooping.

No Bake Blueberry Coconut Bars

They check all the boxes: easy/no-bake, gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free/not too sweet, fun to put together, and so so delicious. This is a lighter dessert that won’t weigh you down. They would be the perfect, easy yet impressive dessert to bring to a gathering. And they’ll keep well in the refrigerator.  Serves: 16 square bars

INGREDIENTS
for the blueberry chia jam
  • 3 cups frozen blueberries – thawed (do not use fresh, non-frozen blueberries for this recipe)
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons chia meal (ground chia seeds)
for the shortbread
  • ¾ cup GF rolled oats
  • 12 Medjool dates – pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch of sea salt

    for the coconut creme
    1 can full fat Thai coconut milk – refrigerated overnight to separate fat from water

  • ½ cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • splash of vanilla extract
    to make the blueberry chia jam
    1. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until the chia seeds have bloomed and the mixture resembles a jam-like consistency. Mash the berries partially with a potato masher, leaving plenty of them whole.
    to make the shortbread
    1. Put the oats in a food processor and grind them into a flour. Drain the dates and add them to the food processor, along with the rest of the ingredients. Process until you have a well-combined dough that sticks together when pressed between your fingers.
    2. Prepare an 8″ x 8″ baking dish by lining it with parchment paper, extending the paper up the sides of the dish. Press the shortbread into the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Set aside.
    to make the coconut creme
    1. Scoop the separated coconut fat from the top of the can of coconut milk into a food processor (use the leftover coconut water in smoothies, soups, porridges or lattes). Add the shredded coconut, maple syrup and vanilla extract to the food processor and process until well combined. Be careful not to over-process, as the coconut fat can separate and ‘curdle’.
    to assemble the bars
    1. Spread the coconut creme over the shortbread in a thin, even layer.
    2. Take the blueberry jam our of the refrigerator and spread it on top of the coconut creme in another even layer. Place the dish into the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, for the shortbread and coconut layer to set.
    3. Once the shortbread and the coconut layer have set, lift out the bar from the dish onto a cutting board, using the extended edges of the parchment paper. Cut into 16 squares or any size/shape of choice. Keep refrigerated.