A food review by Daniel Berman
There’s a lot of great ice cream in the Hudson Valley. Golden Organics is in Chatham. Kingston is home to both Jane’s and Adirondack Creamery. Lazy Crazy Acres is made out in Halcott Center. And there are many more.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the larger industrial dairies that not only stock local grocers freezers with ice cream, but also produce the soft serve mixes that are used by seasonal ice cream stands.
What is summer without ice cream?
Luckily most of us will never have to find out. But there are some who cannot eat dairy and others who choose not to for dietary or ethical reasons. And many of these folks have had to make do with popsicles or Italian ices. Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad.
But there is still something special about the rich creaminess of ice cream that’s both a frozen foam and an emulsion at the same time. And for those who don’t eat dairy, Organic Nectars’ Cashewtopia may be the non-dairy frozen dessert of their dreams.
It’s not just for vegans.
This “gelato” is a raw food, it’s organic, low glycemic, low in saturated fat, soy-free, gluten-free, and kosher. The one thing it is not is nut free. In fact it’s the opposite of nut-free. It’s virtually all nuts. Or more precisely, raw organic cashews.
I’ve never bought into the raw food movement, but these people believe that food heated above 112 degrees has lost valuable enzymes. So Cashewtopia starts with a base of raw cashew milk. This is another name for raw cashews soaked in water and then blended with water into a smooth puree.
When I first saw this frozen carton of non-dairy frozen dessert I had mixed emotions.
On one hand I was quite excited because for a long time I’ve been trying to eat fewer high fat dairy products in an effort to reduce my cholesterol. Summer is a notoriously tough time for me as I rejoice in the region’s seasonal ice cream stands.
On the other hand I was a bit reluctant since ice cream substitutes are rarely as good as the real thing.
Cashewtopia exists in the space between these positions. It’s a fantastic treat for people who can’t have ice cream. But if you are accustomed to eating ice cream, this will fall short.
Presumably this is why it won the sofi™ GOLD for Outstanding Diet or Lifestyle Product at the 2008 Fancy Food Show. For a diet and liefstyle product it’s great. For those who are in search of a raw vegan dessert, this is a blessing.
Calling it gelato might be going a step too far however.
For starters, it doesn’t quite scoop like ice cream or gelato. It’s texture is bit drier and it tends to break and not bend when pulled straight from the freezer. Although with time, it’s melting consistency is a fair bit creamier.
Given its lack of scoopability, I was inclined to treat it more like gelato and instead of placing boluses of frozen cashew milk in a bowl, I opted for packing it in a dish and flattening its top.
The pistachio flavor, while it was loaded with pistachios, fell into the all too common trap of adding almond extract. The best pistachio gelato will taste richly of ground nut butter. This doesn’t have that.
What it does have however, is a remarkable creaminess for a product that doesn’t have a drop of cream. I suspect that heart patients who are missing the joys of reaching into their freezer and stealing a scoop of something, cold and sweet and creamy are going to relish wrapping their hands around a pint of Cashewtopia.
But as raw food diets become more and more common, it’s probably wise to keep a carton of this in the freezer. Your guests will be floored by your hospitality of being able to feed them something more than a raw vegetable platter.
About Daniel B.
A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany