Chocolate? On this blog? Really?
I know. I was surprised, too.
But here's what happened (and how this gloriously refined-sugar-free dessert ended up in my kitchen)... just in time for Valentine's Day!
I recently received a text from a friend that read as follows:
Challenge accepted. And that's where this adventure begins.
While I can't promise that this is calorie-free, I think I can confidently say that the funnier, smarter, and svelte-er pieces are all covered here. Here's why:
- Smarter: The coconut milk and walnuts included here are actually brain-supportive foods. The short- and medium-chain fatty acids in the coconut milk are easily used by the body for brain fuel and the saturated fats help to nourish and insulate neurological connections. Plus, the omega-3 fatty acids in the walnuts assist the brain in staying on the up and up: they contribute to eye and nerve health. Smarter. Check!
- Funnier: You will be so happy that this is actually a nutritive dish, your food remorse will disappear and your joy-o-meter will go up 40000%. Suddenly, everything is lighter, sillier, more fun; you feel lighter and happier, your perspective on the world changes, you feel more easy-going, and the jokes start flying. Funnier. Check!
- Svelte-er (because I don't like 'skinnier' as an adjective): Swap this dessert in for pretty much any other packaged dessert and you're in good shape. It's made of whole ingredients and real food, so instead of converting the empty calories in a packaged pudding to fat and storing it where we don't need it, the body is going to be able to put the pieces of this dessert to use. (Michael Pollan narrates this video over at Cup of Jo on the trick to healthy eating. Basically: you can eat whatever you want, as long as you make it yourself. This is one of those recipes. Have chocolate soup. Just make it yourself!) Svelte-er. Check!
I really didn't have a plan when I set out to create this little dessert. I did know that I wanted to include unsweetened cacao nibs and cocoa powder, rather than semi-sweet dark chocolate or chocolate chips. The antioxidant punch of raw, unaltered cacao is really powerful: plus, it's a whole food that's insanely delicious and really versatile. Because the mission was "uber dark chocolate", and raw cacao is on the bitter side, I figured this was along the right line.
I wanted to add a little sweetness, but because I'm not using sugar in anything and didn't want to bring it into the house, I had to get a little creative. We happened to have some apricots in the pantry [to make this Mediterranean Quinoa Recipe here], so I sliced them up and dropped them in hot water for 10 minutes to soften. Perfect. A little low-glycemic fruit sugar was just the right amount of sweetness for this!
I also decided to add a touch of organic cornstarch, which is an old trick for thickening homemade hot chocolate or pudding. Walnuts were for brain-boosting, per the instructions. :0)
As though making a pudding or hot chocolate, I set up a double burner on the stove and heated coconut milk and almond milk together. (To create a double boiler, fill a soup pot with about 2 cups of water and place a bowl on top. The bowl should sit solidly in the rim of the pot without touching the water below.) Pour the milk in to the bowl and turn the heat up to medium-high to bring the water to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to medium.
While the milks heated, I combined the cacao, cocoa, and cornstarch in another bowl and whisked until even.
After draining the apricots, I tossed them in the Vitamix with the walnuts, processing until they formed a chunky kind of paste. This reminded me of the year I spent eating an entirely raw vegan diet. Man alive, I blended a lot of nuts and dried fruit in that year. It was not the best choice for me. This was a funny foray back into it.
Everything ended up in the double boiler with the warmed milk. I added a touch of alcohol-free pure vanilla extract and whisked for about 4 minutes while the whole thing thickened. The cacao melted nicely!
The final product, which I topped with cinnamon and a tiny pinch of Celtic sea salt (highly recommend).
All in all, a little stoked about this! It's a simple dessert option packed with useable nutrients and real food -- no Handy Snacks garbage here! This could be a great option for unconquerable chocolate cravings (PMS, anyone?) and a yummy dish to serve to a group if you're having folks over for dinner or entertaining whomever you love for VDay.
Plus, it's entirely kid-friendly, although you will want to omit the nuts if allergies are a concern.
Enjoy! Your brain, your funny bone, and your jeans will thank you. Happy February 14th -- whatever it means to you. :)
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 /3 cup soaked and drained apricots (the dark ones, soaked about 10 minutes in hot water)
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs
- scant 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- cinnamon and sea salt for serving
- 1. Heat coconut milk and almond milk in a double-boiler over medium heat.
- 2. While milks heat, whisk together cornstarch, cacao nibs, and cacao in a bowl.
- 3. Process walnuts and apricots in blender until they form a paste (should be a little bit chunky).
- 4. Add walnuts/ apricots and chocolate mixture to double-boiler and whisk until evenly combined.
- 5. Add vanilla and continue to whisk for 3-4 minutes more, until the soup thickens and cacao nibs melt.
- Top with a little cinnamon and a tiny pinch of Celtic sea salt.
- Store in fridge for up to two days. Serve hot for 'soup' or cold for pudding.