Couscous Cake with Berry Topping

Years ago, I used to make this simple no-bake dessert all summer, with whatever fruits were in season. Cherries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and apricots all made their appearances. Then for some reason, I stopped making it, and only recently remembered how much I like its cool, lightly-sweet, simplicity. The quantities of the liquids can be played around with, meaning you can decrease the water and increase the apple juice, if you’d like. You can also use different sweeteners: honey or sugar works just as well…just be sure to start out with less than the two tablespoons of brown rice syrup called for in this recipe, and taste as you go.

Couscous Cake
3 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1-2 drops vanilla extract
A pinch of sea salt
1-1/2 cups couscous

Add the juice and sea salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the couscous, zest, and vanilla extract, stir to mix, remove from heat, and cover. Let sit for 15 minutes.

1-1/2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
1-1/2 heaping tablespoons agar
A pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 cups of fresh or *frozen berries (or cherries, peaches, apricots, strawberries, etc.)

Pour the juice into a saucepan. Add agar and let sit for 10 minutes to soften. Add a pinch of sea salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes, whisking continually. Remove from heat and add brown rice syrup and fruit. Set the topping aside to cool.

Scoop the cooked couscous into a 9-inch square baking dish. Press the couscous to compress it into a cake.

When the topping starts to thicken, pour on top of the couscous cake and spread evenly. Refrigerate for one or two hours to allow the topping to firm up.

*For frozen berries:  Thaw berries in a small saucepan over gentle heat. If there is a lot of extra liquid, pour it off and boil gently until reduced to about 3-4 tablespoons. Use fruits with a lot of natural pectin (berries, peaches, apricots, cherries).