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In her tiny kitchen in Bangsar South, Lim Ee Lin works hard to churn out a variety of raw desserts. If you haven’t a clue what that is, you’re about to get schooled.

Raw desserts are designed to mimic the look of real-life desserts and in many cases, the trickery works – at least on an aesthetic level. Dig deeper and you’ll find that these desserts are often gluten-free, dairy-free, processed sugar-free and vegan.

If that sounds like a lot to swallow (literally), then wrap you head around this: all the traditional connotations associated with baking get thrown out the window when it comes to these desserts.

So don’t expect conventional ingredients like flour, sugar, butter and eggs – they are all no-shows here. Instead, you’ll find unusual items like coconut flour, rice malt syrup and raw cocoa butter making regular appearances in raw dessert recipes. In many instances, the desserts don’t even make it into an oven at all, and are often chilled in the freezer instead. In fact, the consensus on raw food is that it can only be called raw if it is not heated above 46°C (for reference, most regular desserts are often baked at temperatures ranging from 160°C to 200°C).

raw desserts, Lim Ee Lin, Freaking Wholesome

Lim says home bakers looking to make raw desserts like these cupcakes must be patient as raw desserts take longer to make than conventional desserts.

Interestingly, there has been a growing global demand for raw desserts, fuelled by an increasing number of people turning to veganism (predicted to be 2018’s biggest trend) and others going down the gluten-free route. Equally, enhanced health-consciousness has resulted in a drive for a healthier lifestyle and in tandem with that, healthier eating options.

In Malaysia, Lim is something of a pioneer, as she was one of the earliest bakers to introduce raw desserts through her brand Freaking Wholesome. The former banker lived in Bermuda for awhile but also travelled extensively to the United States with her husband, which is where she had her first taste of raw desserts.

“There were so many cafes there that served healthier food and that’s where I discovered raw cakes as well. When we came back to Malaysia in April 2016, I was looking for healthier dessert options in the Klang Valley, but they were difficult to find back then. So I decided to do it in my kitchen and test it,” she says.

Lim had to do lots of experimenting before she perfected her recipes and says she figured out solutions to problems after much trial and error.

“I would say the main hurdle would be how to tweak the recipes so that the raw desserts can withstand our hot and humid climate in Malaysia. Most of the recipes that I came across contain mainly extra virgin coconut oil, and this ingredient melts at 24°C. So after lots of experimenting and researching, I finally found that by incorporating a certain amount of raw cacao butter, it works because raw cacao butter stays solidified at local room temperature,” she says.

Freaking Wholesome was launched about two years ago and offers a host of raw desserts – orders can be placed through the Freaking Wholesome Facebook page, with pick-ups from Lim’s home in Bangsar South or deliveries to customers’ homes. A box of eight cupcakes and a box of six bars go for RM50 each, while a six-inch (15cm) cake starts from RM100. The most popular items so far have been the rich, flavour-packed bars and the assorted cupcakes.

Lim Ee Lin, Freaking Wholesome

Lim started making raw desserts in Malaysia after first tasting them in the United States. She had to experiment a lot to ensure the desserts could survive the local climate.

Taste-wise, you’re going to have to ditch all traditional expectations of desserts and just go with the raw dessert flow. The bars, for example, are not bad – dense and rich but also so filling you may not be able to to eat dinner after. The cupcakes, meanwhile, are great for those with dietary restrictions as there are few – if any – options for gluten-free cupcakes around. The texture is clunkier and the taste less sweet than traditional desserts, but this works well for people looking for these kinds of desserts. As raw desserts melt very quickly (because of the lack of preservatives), it’s best to eat them very soon after you receive them.

So are these sweet treats actually deserving of the oxymoron “healthy dessert”? Like most things in life, moderation is key. But Lim says the thing that differentiates these desserts is that they are packed with nutrients.

“The ingredients are full of nutrients and are not exposed to heat above 44°C. That way, the nutrients and the natural enzymes are retained,” she says.

Lim frequently works to expand the recipe base for her desserts, incorporating customer feedback and trawling the Internet for ideas on how to pair flavours. Which is how she came up with her orange cranberry bar recipe.

“I noticed that a lot of people like to grab a candy bar when they’re hungry. So I thought why not create a bar that people can have post-workout or mid-afternoon? It’s a healthier alternative to a candy bar,” she says.

For her blackberries and cream “cheesecake” recipe, she toyed with the idea of using all sorts of berries before settling on blackberries. “Instead of the usual strawberries or raspberries, I thought why not use blackberries, because it has a tangy flavour that can cut the fattiness from the coconut cream in the recipe,” she says.

Lim says if people are interested in making raw desserts at home, the ingredients required can easily be sourced from local health shops and gourmet supermarkets. The only forewarning Lim doles out is that patience is a necessity when making these desserts as the time commitment required is a lot more than regular desserts.

“When you make raw cupcakes, for instance, you start with soaking the nuts for six to eight hours and then you need to process them until smooth and silky and then you have to let this set. So there’s a lot of waiting in between, whereas for regular cupcakes, you mix the ingredients straight away and then pop them into the oven.

“But I think what you get in the end will make it worthwhile,” she says.

raw desserts, blackberries n cream raw cake


Serves 8-10

For the crust
60g raw almonds
25g raw sunflower seeds
5g raw black sesame seeds
70g raisins
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp water
a small pinch of sea salt

For the blackberries ‘n cream layers
375g raw cashews nuts (soaked in filtered water for at least 6 hours)
140ml coconut cream
50g raw cacao butter (melt in a bain marie)
100ml extra virgin coconut oil
120ml rice malt syrup
80ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
a small pinch of sea salt

280g fresh/frozen blackberries

For decoration
6 to 8 star-shaped silicone moulds (for cheesecake cream)
20g vegan chocolate square or normal dark chocolate
1/4 tsp dried lavender buds

To make the crust

In a food processor, process all the crust ingredients till it looks like a cookie dough. Press the dough evenly into a 6-inch (15cm) round silicone cake mould and place it in the freezer to set.

To make the blackberries ‘n cream layers

Drain and rinse the soaked cashew nuts. Process them in the food processor. Make sure to stop at intervals to scrape down the sides. Blend the cashew nuts till smooth and pasty. Next, add in all the ingredients, except blackberries and blend till smooth and creamy. Scoop 4 tablespoons of the mixture into a disposable piping bag for decorating purposes and place it in the fridge. Then, pour half of the mixture from the food processor into the silicone cake mould and set it in the freezer.

Next, add the blackberries to the remaining mixture in the food processor. Blend till silky smooth. With a small teaspoon, scoop some of the blackberries mixture into star-shaped silicone moulds. Freeze them till ready to use. Pour the leftover blackberries mixture into the silicone cake mould and leave to set for at least 5 to 6 hours.

To decorate

Unmould the cake and the star-shaped cream carefully from their moulds. Then, snip off half an inch (about 1cm) from the tip of the disposable piping bag filled with cream. Pipe in an “S” motion along the diameter of the cake. Next, place the star-shaped blackberries cream on the cake. Chop the vegan chocolate square into small chunks and scatter on top. Lastly, sprinkle the dried lavender buds around. Slice and enjoy!

raw desserts, orange cranberry bars


Serves 12

For the crust
75g almond meal
66g raw buckwheat groats
15 pitted soft dates
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp water
pinch of sea salt

For the orange cranberry layer
150g raw cashew nuts (soaked in filtered water for at least 6 hours)
100ml extra virgin coconut oil
25g raw cacao butter (melt in a bain marie)
120ml rice malt syrup
40ml fresh orange juice
zest from 2 large oranges
2 drops of orange essential oil (food grade)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
small pinch of sea salt
50g dried cranberries

For the chocolate layer
62g raw cacao butter (melt in a bain marie)
22g raw cacao powder
a tiny pinch of sea salt3 1/2 tbsp rice malt syrup

For decoration
12 dehydrated orange slices (halved)
12 dehydrated orange slices (quartered)
30g dried cranberries

To make the crust

In a food processor, process the crust ingredients till it looks like a cookie dough. Press the dough evenly into a 12-cavity rectangle silicone baking mould and place in the freezer to set.

To make the orange cranberry layer

Drain and rinse the soaked cashew nuts. Process in the food processor. Make sure to stop at intervals to scrape down the sides. Blend the cashew nuts till smooth and pasty. Next add in all the ingredients, except cranberries and blend till smooth and creamy. Then, stir in the dried cranberries, making sure they are distributed evenly in the mixture. Pour the mixture into the cavities of the silicone baking mould and let it set in the freezer.

To make chocolate layer

In a bowl with the melted raw cacao butter, sift in the raw cacao powder. Next, add sea salt and stir with a clean and dry spoon. When the raw cacao powder is dissolved, stir in the rice malt syrup. Scoop the chocolate topping over the orange cranberry layer.

To decorate

Garnish the chocolate topping with slices of dehydrated orange and dried cranberries. Place the silicone baking mould back in the freezer and let it set for at least 4 hours. Remove the bars carefully from the mould and enjoy!

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