Imagine the chocolatiest, yummiest little treat you could pull out of your freezer this holiday season – and this festive rocky road absolutely delivers. It’s chock full of salted toasted coconut chips, freeze dried strawberries, dried figs, roasted hazelnuts and – wait for it – quinoa rice cakes (didn’t expect that one, did you?)! No chocolate was hurt in the making of this beautiful treat, and you will feel all virtuous for eating this – it’s, dare I say it, much healthier than your average Christmas sweets! So if you’re looking for a last minute treat to make for your celebrations this year, consider this little slice of heaven… Merry Christmas all.
Rocky road – the healthier way
As I mentioned in my lighter gingerbread cookies post, I’ve been trying to lighten up some of the traditional Christmas cookie recipes. This rocky road is another addition to that line up, with no refined sugar, no dairy and no wheat/gluten.
Plus instead of marshmallows and turkish delight pieces, candy canes, glace fruit, mini chocolate bars, salted pretzels or the plethora of other sugar-laden or high salt add-ins, I added healthier bits and pieces here – we have crunchy, chewy, naturally sweet and a little bit salty. Seriously, if your local Aldi sells those organic toasted coconut flakes with salt, if you see them, grab them – they are so perfect for this recipe. They give it that beautiful tropical flavour, plus a little sprinkling of salt – an intensely delicious combination, especially combined with the chocolate, strawberries and figs.
Healthier rocky road – the perfect last minute Christmas treat for the whole family
And if you think this rocky road sounds pretty tasty, I think you will be impressed by the speed with which you can make it. You basically cut up your add-ins, melt your coconut oil and mix in your remaining base ingredients, then pour it all into a lined loaf pan, pop into your freezer and sit down for a minute and relax. If you have a wine in your hand, even better.
Because friends, I have to tell you, this is my kind of dessert right now. I finished work today (two days before Christmas) and I am kind of tired. I have managed to keep all the clients happy, meet all of my deadlines at work (by starting work early and finishing late), buy all the Christmas presents, wrap them, bake cookies, entertain super-cranky children at the end of their school term, attend all the school activities, try and be a good friend and catch up with friends and colleagues for Christmas drinks and dinners, and now I am a bit tired.
We are so lucky here in Canberra to be able to do all those things and I am so grateful for that. But, honestly, if you’re a little exhausted, like me, and perhaps you’re running a little late on your Christmas preparations, then this quick and easy dessert might also be up your alley. And even if you’re not, give it a go – you won’t be disappointed (and yes, it is the reason why I’ve been sneaking into the freezer a bit more often lately)!
Healthier rocky road [refined sugar free, dairy free, gluten free]
Rocky road base
- 100 g coconut oil
- 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 1 heaped tbsp nut butter (I used cashew butter but others should be perfectly fine)
- 2 heaped tbsp cacao powder
- 1.5 thin brown rice and quinoa rice cakes, broken into larger pieces
- 3/4 cup toasted coconut flakes with salt
- 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, whole
- heaped 1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries, roughly chopped/diced
- 6 dried figs, sliced
- Chop, dice and slice the add-ins as per the list above.
- Line a 22-23cm loaf tin with baking paper and set aside.
Rocky road base
- Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over low heat on the stove (or in a glass bowl in the microwave) until just melted but not boiling.
- Take the pot off the heat (or the bowl out of the microwave) and whisk in the remaining rocky road base ingredients until smooth.
- Mix about 80% of the various add-ins into the chocolatey rocky road base.
- Pour the mixture into the lined loaf pan and smooth down into as even layer as possible (it doesn't need to be perfect, so don't stress). It will be pretty lumpy but that's how we want it.
- Now spread the rest of the toppings over the top of the chocolatey mixture in the loaf pan and press down gently, so that they connect with the chocolatey base (and don't just fall off when you're cutting them).
- Then pop into your freezer over at least a couple of hours, or ideally overnight to harden.
- Once frozen, take out and let sit on your kitchen counter for 5 minutes or so, then peel off the baking paper (and discard) and cut the rocky road into slices or pieces with a sharp knife.
- I then store them in a box, tightly coved with a lid, in the freezer. (If there's more than two layers of your rocky road pieces in the box, then separate them with a clean sheet of baking paper so they don't stick.)
- They don't really need defrosting before eating, but if you have cut the rocky road into larger pieces or you have sensitive teeth, then feel free to let them sit on a counter for a while before devouring.
Feel free to substitute other add-ins if you can’t find these particular ones, this recipe is very versatile.
The base recipe is based on a popcorn rocky road recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook #Veganlife (which is awesome!).