I, like most people in the world, have a thing for chocolate. Actually, to be specific (according to a Yahoo answers page, no less), exactly 5,876,851,128 people like chocolate. Yeah, don’t ask. Anyway, so I’m pretty much obsessed with the taste of chocolate; I crave it at least once a week. And I happily satisfy the craving, with no regrets! It turns out that dark chocolate has numerous benefits, both according to conventional dietary advice and to dietary rebels in the primal food communities. Either way, it’s good news for me!
A couple of months ago, I was in the mood for a flavorful chocolate pudding. You know … the melt-in-your-mouth kind, with a dark chocolate bittersweet flavor? And since I don’t believe in buying pre-packaged anything, I decided on attempting a homemade version. Since I was making it myself, it’d be great if it were also raw … and why not try to make it vegan while I’m at it? That way, I can enjoy it throughout the year, and even when I’m fasting from animal products (as is customarily done in the Christian Orthodox tradition).
It took me little time to realize that this raw and vegan chocolate pudding adventure was going to be no easy feat. I had no idea where to begin! Should I use some kind of soaked nut, like cashews, as a base? Possibly. But soaking required time (overnight), and I wanted chocolate NOW. Hah, so that won’t work. I examined my fridge contents and all I had on hand were avocados. They were soft to the touch, so they were ripe! I would use avocados, and I wouldn’t tell my family members, because, well, they would think I’m crazy. In my house, avocados were the mainly used in salads and guacamole (a personal favorite). To them, avocados could never be thought of as dessert. But if only they knew how I’d revolutionize their world when they’d find out that the main ingredient in my chocolate pudding was … avocados!
I swear I didn’t plan this, but avocados are also super healthy. Rich in monounsaturated fats — yup, 85% percent of it is fat — avocados have anti-inflammatory properties that are out of this world (WH Foods). Naturally-occurring phytosterols, polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs), and oleic acid are the three main fat components in avocados … and if that doesn’t mean much to you, you can trust in the fact that these fats and antioxidants have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which is at the root of many diseases. In fact, this study here shows that the PFAs in avocados can provide non-sunscreen protection against UV-induced damage in skin cells! (P.s. I don’t believe in chemical sunscreens, especially with these God-given natural alternatives available in nature. Oh, and I love the sun.)
Anyway, so armed with this little bit of knowledge about the health benefits of avocados, I was ready to start experimenting in the kitchen. Often perceived as a vegetable, I wanted to give this fruit — the avocado — back its dignity. I was determined to turn it into the best chocolate pudding anyone has ever tried.
The other ingredients I used in this mix were all ingredients I had in my pantry or in the fridge. The Ecuadorian Truly Raw Cacao Powder I had on hand was organic, fair trade and unsweetened (Pacari is a great brand for chocolate, by the way). I also had Pacari Cacao Nibs in the pantry, so I’d add a handful of those for a little added crunch. What about the sweetener? Natural is best is my motto, so I’d use either raw honey or 100% pure maple syrup (choose Grade ‘B’ for ‘better’; seriously, it’s better because it’s extracted later in the season and has more health benefits than Grade A). I can also add some medjool dates in there for good measure, and subtract some of the other sweeteners (whether honey or maple syrup). For the liquid part, I used homemade almond milk the first time (to make a vegan version), and raw cow’s milk the second time, with similar results. A little bit of coconut oil to make things nice and smooth, chia seeds for added health benefits, a tiny bit of fair trade vanilla extract, and … blend!
I gathered all my ingredients, and brought out my food processor (nothing fancy, just a Cuisinart one), and started peeling my avocados. By the way, the easiest way to take out the avocado flesh is to scoop it out! Since many of the vitamins are concentrated in the part of the avocado in contact with the skin, you should definitely scrape it off with a spoon so it doesn’t go to waste. Just slice the avocado horizontally, scoop out the flesh, squeeze the round seed from the other half and scoop out the flesh from there, and you’re done. Easy peasy.
The whole process took … you guessed it: 10 minutes! The end result? An unbelievably creamy, satisfying chocolaty dessert. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. And my family? They loved it! Even my brother who hates avocados (weird, I know) liked the dessert and finished the whole thing.
After the first successful attempt to make this pudding, I made it again and again. So far, I have probably made it close to a dozen times, each time innovating a little and adding a bit more cacao and a little less milk. One time, I tried adding bananas in there — bad idea; the whole thing tasted like bananas and overshadowed the tasty cacao flavor!
The best discovery with this pudding is that it was so versatile. If I had the avocados and cacao powder on hand, the rest was basically interchangeable. No vanilla, no problem. I can skip that! Coconut oil running low? I can use some coconut manna (dried coconut) instead, or forget about that ingredient entirely. No almond milk in the fridge? Coconut milk works great. Want it to be a bit more creamy? Add some raw, grass-fed heavy cream in there.
Generally speaking, I’m a huge fan of adaptable, versatile, and quick recipes. In just a few minutes, I had a creamy chocolate pudding ready … made from scratch. I know all the ingredients in there, which makes me feel even more secure about its health benefits!
I urge you to try this easy and delicious recipe next time you’re in the mood for something chocolaty and sweet. I’m not even going to call it a decadent treat, because it’s good for you! It’s just a treat.
Creamy 10-Minute Chocolate Pudding Made with Avocados (Raw & Vegan)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: It’s raw!
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled
- 2/3 cup of pure, fair trade cacao powder (unsweetened) – I use Pacari Ecuadorian Truly Raw Cacao Powder
- 3/4 cup homemade almond milk or coconut milk (if vegan) or whole raw cow’s milk (if not vegan)
- 4-5 tablespoons of 100% pure Grade B maple syrup (use 1-2 tablespoons if also using dates)
- 3 organic medjool dates (only use if cutting down on maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla extract
- handful of chia seeds (optional)
- handful of pure, fair trade cacao nibs (unsweetened) – I use Pacari Cacao Nibs (optional)
- unsweetened, unsulphured shredded coconut (optional)
(1) Slice avocado: Cut avocado horizontally and scoop out flesh with a spoon.
(2) Blend all well: Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend.
(3) Taste test: Add more liquid if too thick, and adjust sweetness and chocolatiness (hah- don’t think that’s a word) as necessary.
(4) Refrigerate and serve: The pudding tastes better cold, so stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours (or in the freezer for 20 minutes) to cool a bit. Add some cacao nibs, coconut shavings, and walnuts (if you wish) for extra crunch. And savor every chocolaty bite!
How tempting does that healthy dessert look? Be honest!
*This recipe has been submitted to Very Good Recipes’ St. Patrick Recipe Challenge.