Plum Crumble with Vanilla Coconut 'Cream" (Dairy, Refined Sugar and Flour Free)

I have a sweet tooth. It's a manageable one (most days). Usually just a nibble of something sugary at the tail end of a meal is good enough, with no need for secret candy drawers in the studio or late night ice cream binges (although I have considered taking up that practice).

At any rate, I think dessert is a treat we should enjoy regularly. Daily, in fact.

And there went any future I may have had as a nutritionist....

I bought a big heaping pile of plums not too long ago. Some were put in lunch boxes (not sure if they were eaten by the three little bears...I prefer they just not tell me as I also believe ignorance is bliss.) Some were quartered and put on the charcuterie board Mike and I like to construct a couple of times a week (pre-dinner snacks aren't just for kids) and the rest were sitting in a bowl on the butcher block counter - gathering a small contingent of fruit flies.

With a mid-day break at the studio, the usual itch to bake and a fruit fly issue beginning to unfold (there were only like 2 of tolerance is low), I crafted this little diddy. Its actually healthy, which wasn't necessarily my goal. But its so, so, so doable to make healthy desserts that actually taste spectacular, that I find myself doing it without intention.

A word of caution... there may be ingredients listed here that you don't already have. And it may deter you and you will think I'm daft for asking you to consider buying these things for a plum crumble. But before you discount it, let me say that if you don't already have these ingredients, you should consider having them. They are pantry staples for both savory and sweet good-for-you cooking. Most (all) of this should be easy to find. I'll put in notation where I bought stuff and hopefully you have one close. xo

Also another note: This recipe is for a small batch. You can up the quantities for a larger portion. You also don't have to use the ramekins I'm using (pictured). This recipe, as are most of the recipes I develop, are super flexible. I prefer to give common sense instructions that can be manipulated and customized.

*Coconut sugar retains quite a bit more nutrients than refined sugar. Stuff like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium and has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. I buy mine at Trader Joes.

Plum Crumble with Vanilla Coconut "Cream"

4-5 small, ripe plums
3T coconut sugar (you could substitute honey, agave, Splenda. You can also add more sweetener if the plums are sour or under ripe. Adjust levels to your taste     preferences (I like my fruit desserts a bit tart.)

Cut the plums into bite sized chunks. I like some variation in sizing of mine so I tend to have some larger bits and some smaller ones. Mix with the coconut sugar and set aside.

1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1 Cup Almonds (preferably raw)
1/4 Cup Coconut Manna (essentially coconut butter. Could also substitute with a good quality coconut oil or even olive oil. Coconut Manna can be found at most health food stores or on Amazon.)

Pulse the almonds in a food processor, a blender or go to town with a sharp knife on a cutting board. Get the almonds to a coarse chop and add the oats, continuing to pulse/chop until you get a good looking 'crumb' for the crumble. The coconut manna is a bit like a hard butter. So it needs to be worked in with you fingertips to make a nice crumb topping for your plums. If you don't have/don't want to get coconut manna (butter), then opt for a binder like olive oil. Taste the crumble and see if you might want to add a bit of the coconut sugar to it. I like to sprinkle a bit of salt into mine. Key here is taste, taste, taste. Let your taste buds help you become a chef!

Divide the plums into small ramekins or any sort of baking dish (ceramic or glass is ideal). Sprinkle the crumb topping over the plums. At this point, you can bake. Or you can wrap your little plum crumble in some saran wrap and store it for a later time. Waiting a few hours gives your plums even more time to soften and sweeten, but obviously, instant gratification is pretty remarkable too.

Baking time is going to range between 35-45 minutes at a temperature of 375 degrees. Keep an eye on it and if you get to the 45 minutes mark and want to see some more browning and bubbling on your crisp...then keep it going a bit longer.

Vanilla Coconut "Cream"

1 Can Coconut Milk
1 Vanilla bean pod (or 1 T vanilla extract)
4 T Coconut Sugar
1 T Cornstarch mixed to a slurry in water

Simmer the coconut milk in a small saucepan until it begins to simmer. Add the coconut sugar and then the cornstarch slurry and whisk to fully incorporate into the coconut milk. Continue to simmer/gently boil the coconut milk until it thickens. If its not thick enough for your liking as a cream sauce, make another small batch of cornstarch slurry and add, simmer, wait, assess. Once the 'cream' is looking lusciously pourable, turn off the heat and add the vanilla. Taste. Thoughts? More sweet? More vanilla? A hit of salt? Again, this is your dessert - so make your tastebuds sing.

When the crumble is browned and the cream is thickened, its time to get those two married on a plate. Both components do really well in the fridge and devoured over the course of a few days afterwards.

bon app├ętit!