Searching for the perfect Valentine's Day dessert that won't wreck your efforts so far this year to remain healthy and will get oooh's and aaaaah's from all your friends? These Paleo No-Bake Conversation Heart Cakes are just the thing! These are creamy, flavorful, and colorful cakes with a chocolatey crust. This post is sponsored by Perfect Supplements but all opinions are my own.
A few weeks ago I was searching Pinterest for some Valentine's Day party food for my son's 1st grade party at school. I'm one of the room moms, so I am responsible for figuring out easy but cute food ideas that I can ask the other parents to help provide. I came across this post by Hungry Happenings and fell instantly in love with the adorable little conversation heart cheesecakes that she had created. I wanted to make them so badly, but alas, I can eat like 2 out of the 7 main ingredients without negative repercussion. Even if I used gluten-free graham cracker crumbs none of us could do the dairy. So I set out to make a version that we could eat, and that any of us with gluten, dairy, and egg allergies could also eat!
I started out making just a plain dairy-free cheesecake, but those require so many cashews and dates that it horrified both my sense of nutrition and my wallet. So then I was thinking of maybe a dairy-free panna cotta, but my first attempt came out a bit rubbery. I needed it to hold shape, but not taste like a flavorful tire. Finally I decided to marry the two ideas and came up with this recipe, which is a cross between a dairy-free, egg-free cheesecake and a dairy-free panna cotta. It's creamy, airy, flavorful, and just plain delicious.
The recipe requires a few things that are important. You can make these in just plain muffin tins, but you'll have round, muffin-tin shaped cakes. Not hearts. So if plain, muffin-tin shaped conversation circles are what you are going for, great! Otherwise, I recommend these silicone heart molds by Wilton.
Next, let's talk gelatin. Gelatin is the most important ingredient in this recipe as it's the ingredient that helps keep the cakes together, maintain their adorable shape, and give it the lovely, not at all dense texture. I used Perfect Supplements gelatin for this as I have found it to be the absolute best gelatin out there. It doesn't clump like other brands do, it's from grass fed cows, and the best part to me is that it doesn't STINK like most gelatins do. Ever get that weird odor when opening up a canister of gelatin? It's horrendous!
Perfect Supplements has been so kind as to offer you, my readers, 10% off if you order using code THRIVING10. You can order some of this fantastic gelatin here.
The last thing you might want, but don't absolutely need, are these word heart cookie molds. They make your words look a LOT nicer than if you free-hand it, and the texture of these cakes doesn't allow the writing to show up very well if you just write on top of the surface. It looks a lot better if you make an indentation and then add the color in the indentation. You can of course do this with a knife or a toothpick or something, but I found these cooker cutters to just make it a breeze. Plus you can make cookies with them too…
If you make just one color heart, the whole process is pretty easy. It's when you make 4 colors in one batch that it gets a bit more complicated, but it still isn't really as bad as it would seem. I used all natural colorings from fruits and veggies, so you just need to divide the “batter” into however many colors you want to make and then blend and heat each of those separately. All in all, I say the process of actively making the chocolatey crust through all 4 colors is about 1 hour. For just one color it'd be like 15 minutes. (Then there is at least 4 hours of setting time in the fridge, and then you can write the letters on top). It's a lot of fun to do with your kids though, so if they like to get involved in the kitchen, make an afternoon out of it.
Watch this tutorial to get a better idea of how to make them. See how it's not really hard?
Paleo Conversation Heart Cakes
For the crust
- 1.5 cups Almond Flour
- 2 tbs Cocoa Powder
- pinch Sea Salt
- 2 tbs Maple Syrup
- 1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted
For the cake
- 1 cup Cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours (see note for faster method)
- 2.25 cups Coconut Milk (about 1.5 cans)
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
- 2 tbs Gelatin
- 1 tbs Coconut Oil (can be solid)
For Purple color (per 3 hearts)
- 3 tbs Frozen Blueberries
For Pink Color (per 3 hearts)
- 4 tbs Frozen Raspberries
For Yellow Color (per 3 hearts)
- 1 Lemon, zest and juice
- pinch Tumeric
For Green Color (per 3 hearts)
- 1 large handful fresh Spinach (about 20 baby leaves)
- 1/2 tsp Peppermint Extract
For Orangey Yellow Color (per 3 hearts)
- zest of 1 Orange
- juice of 1/2 Orange
- 1/2 Carrot
- 3 tbs Blackberries, fresh or frozen
- Make the crust first by mixing together all of the crust ingredients in the food processor until it comes together. Scoop out a little crust mixture with your hands and press into the bottom of the heart mold – about 1/4 inch thick. Divide equally amongst the 12 hearts. Put in the fridge to start to harden while you work on the cake part. I recommend at this point putting the heart molds into a baking dish to support the molds, since when you fill them with the liquid after the next steps it will be really hard to move without spilling if not in a solid container.
- In a blender, mix together all of the cake ingredients, except for the colorings. Blend for about 30 seconds to really mix well. At this point you should have 3 cups of mixture. If you do not, add a little more coconut milk and blend again.
- If making 4 different colors, remove all but 3/4 cup of the mixture from the blender. If just making one color, leave it all in there. (If making another amount, you need 3/4 cup per 3 hearts, so you can do the math).
- For the purple color (blueberries), microwave or heat the blueberries just until they start to get soft and release their juices, which is about 20 seconds in the microwave. Add directly to the blender.
- For the pink color (raspberries), microwave or heat the raspberries just until they start to get soft and release their juices, which is about 20 seconds in the microwave. Then press the raspberries through a fine mesh sieve over your blender to pour the juice into the mixture.
- For the yellow color, add the lemon juice and zest and tumeric directly to the blender.
- For the green color, add the spinach and peppermint extract directly to the blender.
- For the orangey yellow color, add the orange juice and zest and carrot directly to the blender.
- Blend the mixture for about 30 seconds to get the color to really mix in. Then pour into a small sauce pan. Heat the mixture gently, stirring often, until hot to the touch. Let cool for a few minutes, then pour into the heart molds.
- Repeat with the remaining colors if desired, washing out the blender and sauce pan in between colors. If you only are doing one color for all 12 cakes, just multiply the amount of coloring ingredients by 4, so like 3 tbs of Blueberries would be 12 tbs (3/4 cup).
- Put in the fridge and leave until set, at least 4 hours.
- Once set, use stamps or knife to make the words. Microwave or heat the blackberries for about 20 seconds to release the juices, then push the juice through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl. Using a fine tip paint brush, paint the words using the blackberry juice. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.
To fast soak the cashews, pour 1 cup of boiling water over the cashews and let sit for 1 hour. Then rinse and use.
Also, you will notice the mixture getting thicker as you let it sit out longer (before you heat it). Don't worry about this, it's fine. It will thin out once you heat it.
This post is sponsored by Perfect Supplements.