As some of you may be aware I recently sampled some delicious raw treats from Halo Espresso, some of which happened to have been created by Chris, who you can find in her kitchen creating delicious food for rrRaw by Chris and Tales of a Kitchen. I was fortunate enough to have been provided with a box of her treats to sample, and aside from the obvious (give a foodie delicious food and they can’t help but enjoy it) I only agreed to do so if I could give a totally honest review. Chris puts her heart and soul into her food, and I am certain she’s been waiting for me to get this review up with bated breath. So without any further fluff I’ll put Chris out of her misery.
Chris and I met at Kettle Cafe to chat over breakfast about food and life. I was keen to learn about her take on food and how her business had come about. Chris’ philosophy on food is refreshing, she has a passion for raw food and hopes that by making raw sweets available people can have a moment of indulgence without the repercussions. She doesn’t necessarily identify with any labels in the way she eats, she just does what works for her, and encourages others to do the same. Raw food for Chris is about health and vitality, and just from talking to her I was able to identify some foods that would be beneficial to me. Chris’ business was born from passion and the opportunity to take her life in the kitchen shaped direction, and I have to say the foodie life – blogging, cooking, eating, thinking about eating really suits her.
So what about the food? The bacon and eggs visible all over the blog are proof I am no raw foodie. I tried for a brief period but failed dismally because I just didn’t put the preparation in. That being said, I do like to have the option of a raw treat especially when at a cafe, and I’ve sampled a fair few. I’ve always been better at eating other people’s food in any case. If this is the first time you’ve had a raw treat you should know a few things. Raw food is a mainly plant based diet, and foods are consumed as close as possible to their natural, live state. Common techniques include dehydrating, blending, processing and juicing. So when you have a raw dessert don’t expect something super sugary, something hot or baked like a cake or traditional tart, the treat will tend to be packed full of nutrients, moist, naturally sweetened and stored in the fridge. Alright now we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the tasty bit!
My first bite of this truffle was curious, it is soft and creamy with pops of chia seed and flakes of coconut throughout, it’s hard to place the main flavour that comes through, but for me it was sesame and almond, which I really enjoyed. It has a nice sweetness from a natural honey, which is quite a subtle flavour but it works well with the creaminess of the truffle. I only intended to sample a little of each treat at first taste so I could get through everything fresh and not get full but before I registered what I was doing I had already finished all but a bite of this delicious truffle and by then I figured as may as well finish it.
This truffle was much firmer in my hand then the chia truffle, and had a very strong, rich chocolate smell. When I bit down the chocolate, while rich was not overly sweet. The chocolate is by far the strongest flavour, and it definitely lacks the delicacy of the chia truffle. I also found it be just a bit too dense to eat comfortably, but this could be remedied at least in part by removing it from the fridge a touch before I actually wanted to eat. I also found overall the richness was a little overwhelming – but if you’re into chocolate overload this will be perfect for you.
This is a delectably light chocolate brownie, topped with macadamia shavings and cacao and a beautiful rich brown colour – just like you want a brownie to be. The texture was very good, nice and smooth, easy to eat and interesting at the same time. Towards the end of each bite there is a lovely hint of walnut, which makes it much more interesting for me then any plain old brownie. I really enjoyed how this brownie felt so indulgent but was so light at the same time, it really didn’t feel like a raw treat.
I suspect this is a treat which will polarise opinion. The matcha brownie is unsurprisingly made with matcha green tea (which seems to be growing in popularity, it’s popping up everywhere I go now), white chocolate, goji berries and cashew nuts. I also really loved the vibrant green colour, it’s appearance is very striking and the matcha on top too is a quaint touch. I suspect what makes these bronwies one of Chris’ best sellers is the combination of the green tea and slightly sour pop of goji berries with the white chocolate. Chris has been able to turn super foods into a flavour combination similar to white chocolate and raspberry. There’s sweet, bitter, a touch sour and tart and something about that combination just works. That being said if you don’t like green tea this is not something you’re going to enjoy, and even I found a bit overwhelming after eating so much of it. I suspect this is something I’d save for special occasions, while green tea nuts probably won’t be able to get enough of.
Coconut Inca Berry Bar
This bar is packed full of dried fruit and nuts, it may not be as visually appealing as some of the other creations but it’s crazy how much goodness has been crammed into the little bar. Most of the flavour comes from the dried apricot, and luckily I absolutely love love love apricot. The texture of the bar is supplemented by a combination of nuts and seeds and I really enjoyed the pockets of crunch combined with the dried fruit. I’ve never had inca berry before, but I’m not sure if I could tell you what they taste like after. I was too busy savouring the apricot, it tended to override any of the more subtle flavours. Because there’s so much in these bars it’s quite rich and dense, so when you want something lighter it isn’t for you, but for when you’re running on empty it would be a perfect boost to get through the day.
rrRaw by Chris offers four different macaron flavours, and I was fortunate enough to sample three of them. My favourite part of the macaron is their beautiful, vibrant colours, they’re just so bright and attractive, you can’t wait to take a bite. I also appreciated the absence of nuts in the macarons, it makes them lighter in texture in flavour (and is good for anyone with a nut allergy).
Spinach and Matcha
This macaron isn’t overly sweet and has a creamy texture, through the outside and the coconut-y/citrus central layer. There is a hint of citrus and the matcha is once again the star. If you don’t like matcha (or coconut) this won’t be for you, but I quite liked it.
Beet and Inca Berry
I have tried this macaron previously and absolutely loved it. I am a beet fan already, but I loved the mix of beet and the inca berry, as well as being an amazing colour the flavours balance out very well. I also loved the sweetness of the raw honey, it seemed sweeter this time as opposed to my last taste. This is still my favourite of the macarons available.
Carrot and Orange Macaron
The colour of this macaron is just as attractive as the previous. I loved the citrus flavour and the hint of tartness at the end, the carrots were an interesting addition in flavour and appearance. While we were talking Chris shared where she got her carrots, she really goes the extra mile for her food. They come out of the ground Friday, Chris buys them Sunday and following that they’re in my stomach. How’s that for a quick turnaround? All my years eating carrots and I haven’t tried anything where carrot added such a sweetness (seriously it’s just a carrot? What have I been missing!), I could just taste the freshness.
Mini Banoffee Pie
This is probably the treat I have been looking forward to tasting most. It consists of a ‘pastry’ base, a raw caramel layer, fresh banana and is topped with coconut cream and shaved macadamia nuts. Its presentation is darling, a miniature version of the much loved dessert. The base was good, held its shape well and had a lovely nutty flavour. The raw caramel was made up of dates and raw honey, it has a nice sweetness to it that’s delicious with the ripe banana. Don’t even get me started on the coconut cream! It was fresh, thick and had a hint of white chocolate. I would have one again in an instant, the combination of banana, caRAWmel and cream is as timeless as the original, and this version is definitely healthier. From my understanding this is a recent creation, but I really hope it becomes a permanent product.
I have a few impressions of the treats I’ve tasted as a whole. Firstly I was really impressed that Chris didn’t attempt to mask the flavours of her healthy ingredients with loads of cacao. So many raw treats are purely chocolate based, designed to hide the thought that what you’re eating contains *gasp* nuts and veggies. I really enjoyed the Inca Berry Bar, the macarons and the chia truffle in particular because of al the natural goodness I could taste. The subtly in the flavours used the balance across the ingredients was divine, the almond, chia and honey of the chia truffle is a good example. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate but other ingredients should be given the chance to speak for themselves, especially when they’re fresh, organic and prepared with care. On a similar vein I loved how vibrant the treats were in colour, and how Chris used only natural ingredients (no food colouring in sight) to get them that way. I think these two points separate rrRaw by Chris from other raw foods I’ve tried. My favourite overall was definitely the Banoffee pie, though the Coconut Lemon Tart is up there. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these sweets are guilt free, there’s still sugar in them after all (even if it’s natural!) but I feel much better about buying these at my local cafe with my coffee then a piece of cake, and I’m probably a lot healthier for the substitution.
So what’s next for Chris? A little birdy told me there may be a new christmas themed product out this week at Harvest, Studio Bomba and the Little Concept and bigger things on the horizon. I certainly hope to see more of her lovely self, and her delicious food in my future.
Oh and you can find Chris’ food here.
Tried Chris’ raw treats? What is your favourite and why? If you’re a raw foodie yourself please share your food journey!