Ani’s Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo (Book Review)
When I first saw this cookbook, I thought, “Wow, this looks just like Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.” Peaking inside the book, I discovered the reason … same publisher. If you have seen VCTOTW, then you know what I am talking about. It is a smaller book (much smaller in size than I had expected), with random pictures throughout and a bright, eye-catching cover. But, beyond the image, and the vegan dessert focus, these two cookbooks couldn’t be more different. As the name implies, this is a completely “raw” recipe book, created by the renowned raw foods chef Ani Phyo.
I confess, something about raw food “cookbooks” intimidates me. I just have so much trouble diving into them … oh, you need a dehydrator for that; shoot, I knew a food processor would come in handy; mesquite powder and yacon syrup … you’re kidding right?; and you want me to use up how much of my precious coconut oil on a single recipe? The list of doable recipes seems to dwindle so much that I am left with a handful of options that I may or may not be in the mood for.
But, after months of staring at Ani’s Raw Food Desserts on my cookbook shelf, I finally picked it up and gave it a go. And I was glad I did. We are trying to make snacks/treats without added sugars, and I was sure there would be some options within. Not only were there many suitable selections, but the recipes also seemed much more accessible than so many raw food books. Sure, there were those odd ingredients that I don’t regularly stock (since they cost an arm and a leg), and a dehydrator would come in handy, but there were many recipes I could simply whip up in minutes without any forethought or special shopping trips.
So I started with a couple of very simple recipes. First up was the Liquid Chocolate. I made it to use as a “hard sauce” atop my dairy-free ice cream. I have my own Magical Shell recipe, but since Ani’s looked quite different, I wanted to compare. Though both my husband and I love good dark chocolate, this just didn’t fly for us. It was too oil rich and tasted heavily of cocoa powder. The addition of some sweetener helped, and it was a very simple recipe, but it still wasn’t the right blend in our opinions. We will stick with my version, but I think the Chocolate Sauce in this book might be a bit better and worth trialing.
Like in the above recipe, Ani uses agave as her main sweetener, but I was excited to find several agave-free recipes, like these date-sweetened Oatmeal Raisin Cookies …
Finally getting over the whole food processor issue, I realized these cookies could simply be made with a fork and my little old spice grinder. I pulsed the oats and cinnamon in the spice grinder and then mixed them with softened Medjool dates with a fork. It took a little more arm power, but my cookies were still ready in just 5 minutes!
These made a good snack, and I loved the cinnamon-oat flavor. Something was still missing in my book, but this is a recipe I will definitely play around with. I did lower the raisins by almost half, as a full ½ cup was really way too much.
For myself, this is an excellent starter book for getting the right textures of raw food treats and for coming up with ideas. In terms of taste, I will need to do some of my own experimentation, but with these baseline concepts and proportions, it should be pretty easy.
Ani’s Raw Food Desserts does contain a wonderful assortment of recipes to suit all cravings … frostings and cupcakes, whipped toppings, cookies, crumbles and crisps, cakes, ice cream, scones, fruit desserts, sauces, and even fondue! If you need some creativity and inspiration, and are looking for healthier and/or raw dessert options, definitely give it a look.