In Australia, the wattle trees have begun to flower, hinting our winter is coming to an end. Winter means hibernation for me, less walking as we leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark. Luckily, I can walk at work between classes. Winter’s citrus fruit, especially mandarins, remind me of sunny weather because of their cheerful orange coloured flesh. I wished to hero their sweet flavour in a mid-winter dessert, one that was quick to make and stored easily in the freezer for weekend meals with family and friends. The sweet citrus slice is chilled, but our houses are warm and you can serve just a bite size. When making these slices last weekend, I realised tiny wattle flowers would enhance its beauty when placed with mandarin segments and shaved chocolate. So on our drive home, we stopped on the verge and snipped an armload of wattle. Placed in vases, it’s delicate scent filled our dining room for several days, reminding us spring would come.
I favour sweet juicy Imperial mandarins, which I used in this recipe, although I’m sure other varieties would be equally suitable. If you wish to make this slice and mandarins are out of season, I’m sure oranges or tangerines would also be tasty. It’s best to use macadamia nuts instead of the usual cashews for colour as macadamias give a creamy white hue to the citrus mixture.
· Mandarins like oranges, are rich in vitamin A and B. Also vitamin C, that helps combat free-radicals as it contains antioxidant.
· Mandarins are rich in minerals like iron and fibre, yet low in fat.
· Interestingly, mandarins help reduce aging signs like wrinkles, fine lines and blemishes.
RAW CITRUS CHOCOLATE SLICE
V, SF, GF, DF
Makes a 22 cm (8½ inch) square cake
1½ cups almonds
½ cup shredded coconut
10 medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons rice malt syrup
For the chocolate layer:
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup cacao powder
For the citrus layer:
1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked for at least 2 hours
½ cup mandarin juice
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup maple syrup
2 mandarins, peeled
pinch Himalayan salt
Mandarin segments, peeled
Shaved sugar-free dark chocolate
Soak the macadamia nuts for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you wish a creamy texture. Cut a length of baking paper to fit the baking tin, cutting out a square at each corner, and fit into the tin. Place all the base ingredients into the food processor and process until combined. Press into the base of the baking tin and smooth flat with the back of a spoon. For the chocolate layer, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan, add the other ingredients and stir until combined. Pour over almond base, and place into the freezer. For the citrus layer, add all the ingredients into the blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust sweetener to your taste, noting when the mixture is very cold, more sweetener is needed. Remove baking tin from the freezer, and pour the citrus mixture over the chocolate layer. Place into the freezer to set for at least 4-6 hours. Remove from the freezer when you wish to serve, cut into slices, decorate with mandarin segments that have been cut in half and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Place slices on the serving dishes, you may wish to thaw the slices for about 10 minutes. Serve.