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Book review: “Practically Raw Desserts” by Chef Amber Shea Crawley

    Five-minute blondies
    Practically Raw

    Review by Alison Cole, recipe © 2012 by Amber Shea Crawley with permission from Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.

    For those who love experimenting with wholesome, healthy ingredients to create plant-based versions of a large variety of traditional desserts, this is the book for you. On the heels of her first cookbook “Practically Raw” (2012), Chef Amber Shea Crawley has published its successor, “Practically Raw Desserts”, which came out last year. Amber is both a popular blogger and highly trained raw chef who presents her expert knowledge about food and raw food preparation techniques in this beautiful volume. Its colourful photographs and palatable layout serve as enough alone to entice and satisfy the reader into at least visually devouring the recipes within.

    What does the term “practically raw” mean, you might ask? This is where the theme of flexibility leads as a role in the book, offering its readers a variety of substitutions and variations for every recipe. Not only are you given multiple options for ingredient substitutions, but many of the recipes also offer the choice of making the dessert “raw” or “cooked”. For those who don’t own a dehydrator or care too much about the nutritional advantages that raw food offers over a cooked dessert, this book becomes much more accessible for the average reader who wants to dabble in raw cuisine but may not be ready to take the full plunge in. Variations for lower fat, nut-free and lower-sugar versions of the recipes are also presented, truly making this a compilation that everyone can use and enjoy!

    Many of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted are raw, and the ones in this book easily reinforce that claim. In utilizing key ingredients such as nuts, nut flours, maple syrup and coconut oil, to name some, no richness is absent from the cookies, cakes, puddings, ice creams, pies and more that grace the pages of Chef Amber’s tantalizing collection.

    Care for a Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart with Macaroon Crust? Some of the most chewy and delicious Chocolate Chunk Cookies you’ve ever tried? A cashew-based New York Cheesecake that is more delectable than any of its dairy-based counterparts you have ever tasted? It’s all here in the book, including the creamiest ice creams I have ever made, plus the Famous Five-Minute Blondies II that stunned me with their toothsome taste, put together with just handful of simple ingredients. You’ll find it difficult to stop popping these little treasures into your mouth one after another.

    This book serves as a delight to read and an innovative adventure to undertake. Under the guidance of Amber’s encouraging and inspiring voice throughout, you’ll find yourself exploring the recipes one by one to be pleasurably impressed by these raw (or practically raw) wholesome treats.

    Five-minute blondies

    Famous Five-Minute Blondies II

    Servings: 16 Servings


    • 2 1/2 Cups Dry Mixed Nuts Such as a combination of macadamias, walnuts, pecans, and cashews
    • 1/4 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar
    • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
    • 1/8 Tsp Sea Salt
    • 1 Cup Dates Pitted


    • In a food processor, combine the nuts, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground (be careful not to overprocess).
    • Add the dates, 2 to 3 at a time, pulsing between additions until each date is well-incorporated and the mixture is sticky.
    • Press the mixture firmly and evenly into an 8-inch square baking pan (lined with plastic wrap for easy removal, if desired).
    • Enjoy immediately (through they will be a little fragile) or place the pan in the refrigerator or freezer to chill for a couple hours before cutting and serving (recommended).
    • Store the blondies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months. They are best served chilled.


    • Coconut palm sugar: Sucanat, date sugar, or organic brown sugar
    • Dates: soft golden raisins
    • Lower-Fat Blondies: Replace ½ to ¾ cup of the nuts (any kind) with old-fashioned rolled oats.
    • Lower-Sugar Blondies: Omit the coconut palm sugar. You may find them sweet enough as-is. And if not, simply add stevia or additional dates to taste.
    Per serving: 172 calories, 12.9g fat (2g sat), 14.3g carbs, 2g fiber, 2.7g protein
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