A very sweet Sunday with Matthew Kenney’s Everyday Raw Dessert

September 5th, 2010 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments

As an avid recipe collector, I have discovered that there are authors I turn to for information and there are those I look to for inspiration. I own three of Matthew Kenney’s solo books as well as Raw Food Real World which was co-authored with Sarma. Although my shelves are full of beautiful books with incredible recipes, Matthew’s entice me to experiment in a way no others have. He tempts me with flavour combinations that are unique enough to make me curious and techniques that get me into my kitchen to play.

Although Matthew’s name is on the cover of the book it is obvious through the text that many of the amazing creations come from pastry mastermind Meredith Baird. I am delighted that they have teamed up to bring us all simply delicious desserts that are beautiful enough to impress a crowd and easy enough to make the afternoon before heading to a potluck. Matthew’s books are not known for their simple preparations – and there is a range here too – but the focus of this book highlights an array of decadent treats that could be enjoyed any day of the week (without planning days ahead for 48 hrs of dehydrating).

I have found in the past that the directions in Matthew’s books are a little less detailed than most. It isn’t that they are inaccurate but I’m used to being walked through each step with notes about desired textures and ideal timings. The directions in this book tend to be much shorter than the ingredient list – but honestly I didn’t find it hard to follow along and end up with something spectacular. However, I would suggest that those who are comfortable in the kitchen will find it easier to play along and improvise when needed to create that awe-inspiring result.

True to form, as soon as I opened Everyday Raw Desserts I wanted to create, play, and eat. The recipes are divided into: staples; cookies and candy; brownies, bars and fudge; puddings, flans, and custards; pies and tarts; cakes and cheesecakes; comfort; ice cream and frozen treats. They definitely have all the categories covered. If you were thinking of opening up a fantastic raw dessert bar, you’d be set with a roster of recipes you could rotate seasonally. Matthew and his team certainly think beyond cashew cheesecakes to reinvent spectacular sweets that have never been attempted without butter, sugar, eggs and flour. They have even recreated french macaroon, angel food cake and fudgesicles.

Here is what I’ve tried so far:

Pistachio Biscotti

These biscotti are a great afternoon treat paired with a spicy cup of tea. They are not too sweet, full of protein-packed nuts and dipped in a thin layer of raw chocolate.

The pastry consists of cashews and macadamia nuts blended and dehydrated until crispy. Paired with a filling of walnuts coated in cinnamon and agave this dessert easily emulates the traditional treat. Adding a spoonful of the filling to any bowl of oats or some raw ice cream would certainly raise it to the next level of decadence.
Chai Chia Pudding
If you have yet to try chia in your breakfast bowl then this would be a great initiation dish. A cream created by cashews, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger soaks the chia until the seeds plump and change in texture. It is a very comforting dish that will keep you satiated for hours.
Apple Cider Donut Holes
The perfect size for a post-dinner indulgence, these donut holes include two of my favourite flavours – apple & cinnamon. They would make a perfect hostess gift, wrapped up with a jug of apple cider for holiday visiting.
 Peach Turnovers
The recipe in the book calls for a blueberry filling but I had tons of local, organic peaches so I decided to switch things up. I made a cream from blending together a peach and a banana with a touch of cinnamon. I sliced up another perfect peach and devoured everything enveloped in the perfectly thin apple-flax pastry.
 Stone Fruit Pie 
Finally, I recreated the cover recipe in a mini version. This is an incredible dessert. It is easy to make – a nut crust, filled with a cashew-lemon-cinnamon-nutmeg cream, topped with fresh stone fruit -but the taste is spectacular.
Although I am sharing this review with you today I know I will continue to enjoy recreating Matthew and Meredith’s delights in my own kitchen in the coming months. I am tempted by so many titles such as: ginger orange julius, apple cobbler with almond crumble, cacao cake with lavender, candied carrot-ginger cake, and cacao mint cremes.
You can check out a number of the Everyday Raw Dessert recipes here.

What dessert would you love to have in a vegan or raw version? Have you attempted to recreate it?

Quick training update – my psoas issue has not disappeared but today it is finally improving. I made my way to the gym for an hour on the bike, walked around for a few hours to finish errands and spent another 30 mins in the pool splashing around with a one year old. All of that movement helped to keep things loose today which meant a lot less pain! I hope to get a couple of runs in next week but I now know that my fitness level is already good enough to complete my race on the 26th – that realization is letting me focus on healing instead of training.
I hope you all had a sweet Sunday too.


  1. Posted September 5, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    This was a fabulous review Lisa. I enjoyed it so much. I'm very excited about the baklava recipe. I have always really liked baklava, but because the phyllo pastry is made from wheat or spelt, I can no longer have it (the celiac thing). I never could have imagined a raw version. It looks amazing :).

  2. Posted September 6, 2010 at 12:34 am

    These all look amazing! Nice to know they are not too time-consuming. I am curious if a lot of them rely on oat flour because it is hard to find oats that are gluten-free and raw. Plus I do better without them.

    Thanks for the great review! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

  3. Posted September 6, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Awesome review, Lisa! Look at all those beautiful treats. How do you manage to not eat everything? I imagine you have many people to sample! I was working on a dessert recipe the other day and ran over to my neighbour's house with a plate of stuff. She was thrilled! Glad to hear that your pain is subsiding. 🙂

  4. Posted September 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Great review and beautiful pictures!

  5. Posted September 6, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Now I'm dying to try that book! Your desserts are look spectacular. Who knew you could have raw biscotti? And the donut holes are another one I'd love to try. Your photos are beautiful, too!

  6. Posted September 6, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Everything looks amazing!! Thanks for the review of the book, we cannot wait to get it!

    And yes focus on healing!!! xoxo
    Pure2raw twins

  7. Posted September 7, 2010 at 9:53 am

    OMG!…that all looks so lovely and yummy!…nice job! Enjoy!

  8. Posted September 7, 2010 at 11:51 am

    What a great review and gorgeous pictures. Your vivid descriptions always make me hungry!

    I would love to find an authentic tasting raw or vegan cannoli recipe:)

    So glad to hear you are feeling a little better.

  9. Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this book – it all looks great and sounds like so much fun. It's nice to learn that some of Kenney's recipes are simple and straightforward, and yet still so classy.

    I've never really eaten pastries because of celiac, but I love the idea of trying some of these out.

    A question for you, since you are a 'cookbook critic' – I checked out the google book preview and there are _so many awful typos_ in there! I'm an editor: do you think publishers of these kinds of books are open to solicitations from freelance editors who know the genre and who won't let past things like 'know' for 'no'?!


  10. Posted September 9, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Mindy – this baklava is totally gluten-free. I hope it satisfies your sweet craving.

    Bitt- almost all of the recipes are gluten-free. Matthew tends to call for nut flours rather than oat. I don't think you'd find it hard to find treats you'd enjoy.

    5shadesofgreen – I often make a 1/4 recipes, take the treats to work of freeze them for future sharing. But yet, it is one of the things I have to strategize about.

    Thanks JL! Your last post made me so jealous of your running.

    Ricki – I'm not sure it is very ACD friendly but I'm sure you would be able to take the ideas as inspiration for great creations.

    Twins- Now I want to review your book. Can't wail.

    Thanks Pam!

    Evergreen- I made a raw cannoli a while back (you can search my blog and find it) but I'm not sure it really tasted authentic.

    Ela- the preview was posted prior to final revisions. The printed book has a lot less typos. Thank goodness.

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