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Archive for February, 2011

Ah, the joys of Winter:  bear-like hibernation, warm hearth-side fires, steaming bowls of hearty soup and the impending threat of something called The Flu Bug.

I think our very fear of Winter sickness and the belief that “it’s that time of year” and that it only makes sense that a cold will happen is the actual culprit that results in piles of used Puffs tissue and the much-loved hacking cough of this barren season.  It hit us both like a ton of bricks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and hasn’t taken many breaks since (save for a very nice do-nothing weekend spent on the Eastern Shore). This time it was the flu and it’s frustrated both of us to no end that while the fevers go up and the energy goes down, our writing endeavors are left floating in grammatical limbo, like this one, for example.

I promised a conclusion to my Foodalicious Christmas Gift Countdown, and even though it’s the beginning of February, I figure, why not.  After all, there’s still a dead Frazier Fir in our living room, the dining area looks like the Ghost of Christmas Way Back Then yakked all over the place, due to the fact that I got sick in the middle of reorganizing our holiday decor, and the three wise guys are wondering when they can head back home and stock up on the frankincense again (for all of your frankincense needs, please see the fourth Maji, Mr. Kevin Barr).

For this one, I decided to tell a story with one of my favorite things in the world, recipes.  I love to take a recipe and tweak it. These days it’s mostly for necessity, but I’ve always enjoyed playing with my food to make an old recipe new.  I’m not a vegan by any means, but when I helped make this incredible desert during a nutritional class at the city clinic I volunteer at I was astounded by how decadent and delicious something deemed “raw” could be.

This year we went raw for Christmas, well, with just one dish, but it was a hit and lasted through two Christmas dinners and one New Year’s Eve bash (with very good reviews). The secret ingredient takes the cake, well the brownies, to be exact, and totally disappears under the rich chocolaty taste the cocoa powder so nicely lends to this recipe (it’s like that time I went through The Great Tofu Phase of 1998. It drove my family crazy and they still get scared when I make smoothies, but I enjoyed it). I hope you enjoy it, too.

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies

The Base

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dried dates
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • up to 1/4 cup coconut oil

The Icing

  • 2 avocados*
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • Cinnamon and salt to taste

Directions

First, if you can’t find dates that aren’t sugar or sucrose coated, make sure you rinse them really well first.  Then, transfer them to a cutting board and chop into smaller pieces.  If you have a food processor or a really good blender you can use that, otherwise it’s fairly easy to mix by hand.  If using a food processor/blender, blend all base ingredients until mixed (adding more oil if needed) and then press mixture into a medium baking pan.  If mixing by hand, first, crush nuts in a chopper or under cutting board, then mix all base ingredients together in a medium bowl (adding more oil if needed, up to 1/4 cup) before transferring to a medium baking pan.

Next, for the icing, peel both avocados* and repeat the same steps above either in a food processor/blender or by hand. Spread icing over top of base using a firm mixing spoon or spreader, making sure you spread mixture evenly.  Chill in fridge for at least 4 hours (best if closer to 24).

*It’s important that your avocados are fully ripe.  If not, they won’t break down and smooth out properly, leaving you with a chocolate mixture with strange-looking green flecks.  If this happens you can fix it by sprinkling cocoa powder over the top of  the brownies.  It actually makes for a very nice-looking presentation. Plus, you don’t have to tell anyone about the avocados until after they devour the whole pan (which they will)!

There’s still a lot of green here in February, even though Christmas is long gone and the grass is fully covered with tightly-packed snow.  It’s not Christmas in July, but who needs July – I have a dead tree, under-ripe avocados and whatever the flu produces in my bronchial tubes to get me through till then.

Yours in belated foodiliciousness,

Cellina

The Hopeful Foodie

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