Coconut-Almond Milk Shake (with chocolate!)

DSC_0038-1You know how you get those kind of cravings every once in a while. The kind that invariably have you climbing the walls for something decadent and delicious. Wanting something sinfully good that’s no where near good for you.  Where you never-have-a-crumb-of-the-ingredients-needed-for-the-recipe-in-your-house-so-that-in-your-moment-of-weakness-you-can-whip-it-up-at-home-to-satisfy-the-hankering-for-it kind of craving. You know, right? Good. Glad I’m not alone. So you’ll appreciate my dilemma (but ultimate culinary win) with this sweet (and speedy) treat which was my “fix” last night for an ice cream shake craving. Why was I wanting an ice cream shake? Who knows. Weird, I never want shakes. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I had no ice cream in the house. And I wasn’t about to jump in the car at 9:30 at night to go get some. Next best thing was to find a darn good substitute – and fast.
DSC_0031-1 So I opened the fridge, and starting pulling out things that I thought may work: my new favorite almond milk (see my gushing below), almond butter, and coconut water. But I wanted some chocolate. So I dug through the pantry and found some mini semi-sweet morsels. Oh, and there was half a banana in the fridge, so that went in the shake too. This took literally 3 minutes to make and did the trick. Craving crisis averted!

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Coconut-Almond Milk & Chocolate Shake
7 ounces Coconut-Almond Milk Blend *
1 ounce coconut water
1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
2 ounces mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels (1 ounce if using regular size morsel)
half of one banana
4-5 large ice cubes

Put all ingredients in a blender and whiz away! Top with more chocolate morsels (optional). Makes one 8-ounce serving.  And um, don’t forget to put the blender lid on tight. Yeah, rookie move huh- geesh!
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*This milk is a new find for me and I’m absolutely hooked on the stuff! Maybe I’m late to the party on this one, and you’ve all been drinking this for months? No matter, I’m just happy to have discovered it.  I’ve used the coconut/almond blend in lots of baking (pancakes- yum!), and I use the plain almond milk in the frother for my morning coffee. Note: if you can’t find Califia Farms Blend, use 3.5 ounces of plain almond milk and 3.5 ounces light coconut milk. Btw, this is not a sponsored post, I just happen to love their milks!

Ginger & Coconut Milk Crème Brûlée

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Here’s a classic that’s been jazzed up for the holidays with the spicy flavors of ginger and creamy coconut milk to create a lactose-free delicious dessert. I made these Crème Brûlées for Thanksgiving, but used heavy cream as most of the recipes you’ll find call for. But I’m going to be making these again for Christmas and some of my family are sans-dairy milk, so I wanted to re-create the exotic flavors of the ginger, but just with a different “cream” base. First thing that came to mind was almond milk, but then upon further research, I learned that it doesn’t have the weight (fat content) and viscosity needed to create a custard that will set firm. So I rummaged through my pantry and found a can of full-cream coconut milk– bingo! — this would do the trick.

The other secret to this recipe is using ginger two ways. First,  I infused the coconut milk with fresh ginger slices and secondly,  added crystallized ginger chips to the bottom of the ramekins (for a little surprise). By doubling-up on the ginger, it really locks in that flavor,  but isn’t overpowering in the least. The final custard is a deep yellow color (due to the increased egg yolks) making this a rich and decadent treat!
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DSC_0032-1Ginger & Coconut Milk Crème Brûlée
1 cup full-cream coconut milk
2-3 large slices of fresh ginger root (skin on is fine)
4 teaspoons crystallized ginger chips (I like brand The Ginger People)
1 tablespoon softened butter
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup white sugar + 4 tablespoons for shell

Preheat oven to 325F. Get a full tea kettle of water on the boil. Add coconut milk and fresh ginger slices to a medium size saucepan. Warm gently over medium heat just until milk comes to the simmer. Do not let it boil. Once warmed through, take it off heat to cool and allow the ginger slices to steep in the milk for 20 minutes. Gather 4 ramekins (4 ounce capacity) and place on a rimmed sheet tray.  Use the softened butter to coat the inside of each one. Place 1 teaspoon of crystallized ginger chips into the center of each ramekin. In a large mixing bowl, add egg yolks, eggs, and sugar. Whisk until light and foamy. Remove the ginger slices from the coconut milk and add to egg mixture. Gently whisk until custard is light and frothy. Pour mixture into a 2-cup glass measuring cup (this makes it easier to fill). Gently pour custard into the ramekins being careful not to move the ginger chips around too much.

Place sheet tray in oven and then carefully pour the hot water onto the pan until it comes a quarter way up the sides of the ramekins. The water will help create steam during baking and aid in setting the custard. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Custard will have a slight jiggle when it’s finished, but a cake tester should come out clean. Chill covered for 6 hours- or even better- 1-2 days in fridge. When you’re ready to serve, remove chilled ramekins from fridge. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly across the top of one ramekin. Using your kitchen torch*, heat sugar until light golden brown and a hard shell has formed on the surface. Enjoy!
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*Note:
A kitchen torch may seem like an extravagant tool, but honestly, they’re not that expensive nowadays and you’ll get so much use out of it. It’s perfect for making the above dessert of course, but it’s also a whiz at finishing meringues, melting cheese, glazing a ham…. you name it. For this recipe, I borrowed the Bon Jour torch from a friend (as my Bernzomatic was on the fritz), and it worked a charm. It has a little more “umpf” (longer flame life) and you can also regulate the flame power depending on the size of the job. It’s on my Christmas Wishlist….hoping Santa thinks I’ve been a good girl this year!