Food & Drink

No-bake dessert satisfies summer sweet tooth without cooking

Susan Russo

A “rawist” is a person who consumes primarily raw food (or all raw food in some cases).

Now, I like raw foods plenty. I love peaches, kiwis, cucumbers and tomatoes. But the thought of eating solely uncooked food seems, well, not fun. I can’t imagine life without grilled eggplant, roasted carrots or, heaven forbid, stuffed artichokes.

But a couple years ago, when I was feeling particularly in touch with my natural-girl-self, I attended a talk in Los Angeles given by a rawist woman who made claims like “Raw foods make your skin glow!” and “Raw foods will make you healthy and improve your sex life!”

I didn’t hop on the raw food bandwagon. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like raw dishes. For example, I was smitten with some raw blueberry tartlets at first sight. Honeyed dates, crunchy almonds and juicy berries are all sublime in their raw, unadorned state.

I tweaked the recipe a little by adding mixed berries and more flavoring, but I remained true to the raw deliciousness of the original. Plus, this is a no-bake dessert. I repeat, for all of you wilting in sweltering climates, this is a no-bake dessert. You can make these on the hottest, humid summer day and still look cool and sophisticated when you serve them.

Susan Russo is a freelance food writer in California:

“Nude” Berry Tartlets

3 cups mixed fresh berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and/or blueberries

4 teaspoons fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus extra for garnish

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 teaspoons light brown sugar

Cooking spray

2/3 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup (packed) pitted dates, preferably Medjool

2 to 3 teaspoons water, or as needed

Fresh mint, for garnish

Combine berries, juice, zest, vanilla extract and brown sugar in a bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Coat a mixing bowl with cooking spray. Pulse almonds in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Empty into the prepared bowl.

Pulse dates with 2 to 3 teaspoons water in food processor until well chopped (they will be a little clumpy). Using your hands, mix with almonds to form a paste. (If it’s too crumbly, add a few more drops of water).

Divide mixture evenly into four golf-ball-sized rounds. Place each ball between two pieces of wax paper and press to form a 4-inch crust. Using your fingertips, turn up edges to form a rim. Refrigerate for two hours (they will harden and become much easier to remove from the wax paper).

Allow the berries to come to room temperature. Use a spatula to transfer the date-nuts crusts to serving plates; fill each with 1/4 of the berries and drizzle with some leftover juices from the bowl. Top with julienned orange zest and a sprig of mint.

Yield: 4 servings.