Paleo and Vegan Chocolate Mousse (+Coconut Whipped Cream)
My friend Kristin Brown and I developed this yummy recipe together! We have been good friends for many years now. Her husband, Darcy, my husband, Tim, and a few other people would go on epic camping and mountain biking trips when we were all in our 20's. Darcy and Kristin were actually the people who first introduced me to mountain biking (which was actually before I met my husband, Tim), and I was awed by their abilities. They were always super patient while I learned, and actually, Darcy was sure I would seriously injure myself before I would ever become good at it. I couldn't even clip into my pedals without immediately falling over. I was just terrible, but luckily I persisted (and so did they), and I got much better.
After I met Tim, we all constantly went out biking. Darcy and Kristin got married, then Tim and I did. At one point, Kristin was pregnant and I was the only girl with a group of guys. We were schlepping it up some switchbacks, and the guys got the brilliant idea to skip the switchbacks and just carry the bikes straight up the side of the mountain. I started swearing at the top of my lungs and said things none of them thought I was capable of saying, and ever since, Darcy has made it his mission to make this happen again. He calls it "probing the bear". I used to fall for it all the time, but I like to say I've mastered the ability to control myself these days. Darcy is super disappointed by this.
But, back to food. While my husband, Tim, first found the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for me, I credit Kristin as playing a huge role in steering me in the right direction when I first was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Kristin had been dealing with her own issues with Crohn's for many years, none of which I ever fully understood (that is, until it happened to me), and had already discovered some truths about healing the gut. On her end, I was one of the first people who could finally begin to understand what she had been going through, and while she obviously wasn't glad to see me struggle like this, she was relieved to finally be able to talk to someone who understood.
We do not live in the same area, and when we get together, it is usually for several days in a row. We constantly make food during these visits. After I first lost my health, our families would get together and I would not be able to do much of anything except sit around. So, Kristin and I spend most of our time in the kitchen, making food and nerding out on health stuff. Kristin was super patient in this way. Darcy and Tim would go off mountain biking or skiing, and I would have to force her to join them at least once, because she didn't want to leave me behind. I know this was because she just plain understood what I was going through; she herself completely understands being sidelined.
Now that things are so much better for me, we do get out and mountain bike and hike, but then we go back to the kitchen and make awesome food. I am always getting new cooking ideas from Kristin. She and I share the same belief about treats: that no one should have to miss out on them. There is ALWAYS a way to eat the foods you love while keeping it gut-healthy; it just takes some modification.
So, one day, we were looking through Gwyeth Paltrow's It's All Easy cookbook, and found a recipe for chocolate avocado mousse. Neither of us were able to eat some of the ingredients in that recipe, but it looked amazing. So we reworked it, and now we have this dessert staple that we both make all the time.
Avocado is the star ingredient in this recipe, but I promise, you can't taste it! Not that avocados taste bad, but you just don't really want to taste them in your desserts. The reason they are the star, though, is because they are responsible for the amazing consistency.
I'll be honest; at this point, when either of us make this recipe, we pretty much throw it together, so the amounts are usually not exact for us. When you first make it, however, use these exact amounts. Then you can start substituting and fudging. You definitely need a good blender for this one. It doesn't have to be a Vitamix (although that is my favorite), but it needs to be able to handle something thick.
You can top this mousse with just about anything. Berries, nuts, granola, coconut whipped cream, cashew cream, cacao nibs, the list goes on and on. In this picture, there is coconut whipped cream and my Paleo Vegan Maple Macadamia Granola.
Paleo and Vegan Chocolate Mousse
2 perfect or just slightly under-ripe avocados
1/2 cup coconut or almond milk
1/2 cup honey (maple syrup for vegan)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cashew butter
1/3 cup raw organic cacao powder
Roughly dice the avocados, especially if you don't have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, then place in the blender.
Add all other ingredients to the blender, then blend on medium to high speed until completely creamy. Using a tamper is helpful on a Vitamix; otherwise stop and scrape the sides with a spatula as needed to ensure the mixture gets blended completely.
Serve right away, or refrigerate for a few hours before serving to thicken and chill. Eat alone or with desired topping.
Coconut Whipped Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 drop wild orange or lemon essential oil* (optional)
Open your can of coconut milk, carefully scrape the coconut cream off the top, and place it in a small bowl. Add the honey, vanilla extract, and drop of lemon or wild orange essential oil. Use a hand mixer to whip until it is at the desired consistency. Refrigerate. You can whip it again before the next use.
This coconut whipped cream is not a recipe that is exclusively my own. Many paleo cookbooks have some version of coconut whipped cream. Whole Foods 365 Brand Full Fat Canned Coconut Milk is the one I find to be the most consistent, but I do have to say, most canned coconut milk varies in consistency over time.
Troubleshooting for Coconut Whipped Cream:
With 365 brand, I can usually scrape out the coconut cream without refrigerating first. But if the coconut cream is not sitting on top to make this possible, refrigerate for 24 hours so the cream rises to the top, then scrape out.
If you whip the cream and it becomes crumbly, you'll need to melt it down and the put it in the freezer for about 2 hours. Take it out and then whip.
*Why the essential oil?
This was Kristin's idea, actually. Adding 1 drop of Wild Orange or Lemon essential oil* neutralizes the coconut flavor of the coconut whipped cream. I love coconut, but sometimes get tired of it since I eat so much of it, so it's nice to change it up sometimes.
Note: Only take an essential oil internally if it is certified, pure, therapeutic grade and has supplement facts on the bottle. Read here for further information on my favorite essential oil brand.