Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding (vegan + gluten and sugar free)

 Vegan, Gluten Free, and Refined Sugar Free

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It’s been a wild couple days in Sydney if you haven’t heard. Yesterday a cloud of thick red smoke settled over the entire city. At first some of the city kids at uni were saying it was just another dust storm, but it was clear to most of us who’d lived or spent time in the country what it must mean. Bush fire. The crazy winds and high temperatures sparked fires all over NSW and ran out of control through most of the day yesterday, and the cloud of smoke spread over thirty kilometres right across the harbour.  

Hearing of friends who have had to return home to absolutely nothing left, of families who had to leave their pets inside to escape in time, it’s just so sad. Thank goodness no lives have been lost so far, although the razed houses haven’t been searched until today. The smell of smoke in the air has only just seemed to fade in the last few hours. I always feel intensely the fire season of Australia because my aunt is a fire fighter, and my boyfriend and his family live in the Blue Mountains, which was one the places badly affected yesterday. This summer is predicted to be the hottest summer in over two decades, and it’s only the beginning of spring!Image

I made this pudding this morning while the air outside still smelled of smoke and charred wood. It’s very creamy and comforting, so it seemed like a good fit. You may think it sounds gross, but the creaminess comes from the avocado and blended up banana. Don’t hate before you try it though! I was very wary when I first made chocolate avocado mousse, but it actually tastes really good. And I don’t mean it tastes edible with the bonus of being slightly sweet and ‘naughty’ tasting. It really does have a creamy, mild and perfectly sweet flavour. 

So many puddings and mousses made of health ingredients like coconut and banana can taste kind of strange…sometimes a bit bitter from the raw cocoa, or watery from the fruit. This pudding doesn’t have any of that. It’s a decadent and creamy version of this strawberry chia pudding with a delicious addition of peanut butter. I rave about peanut butter too much. I know. I’ve already mentioned it this week in these cookies for goodness sake! But it’s so creamy and goooood I eat it every day, so talking about it twice a week is actually showing real restraint.  Image

You don’t have to follow this recipe exactly, you can mix and match it up depending on your tastes. There are some ground rules though. You have to use avocado! Don’t try and substitute more bananas or coconut cream or anything, unless you want a completely different mousse experience. Use a perfectly ripe and squishy avocado with not a hint of overripeness, but DEFINITELY not a hint of under-ripeness. If you don’t know if your avocado is ripe yet, leave it another day. Better to err on the side of squishy than watery and stiff. Believe me. I discovered this the hard way. 

The chia seeds make the pudding set thick and gooey like real mousse. If you want a softer, more spoonable mousse, leave them out. If you have a powerful blender, don’t let the lumpy photos scare you. Your mousse will turn out way smoother than mine. If you’re allergic to nuts, leave out the peanut butter completely. The pudding is still delicious without it. You could add almond butter, some coconut milk in place of the soy or almond milk, some chocolate chips, anything you feel like! 

Here are some other delicious looking healthy puddings I’ve been reading recently:

Foodie Fiasco’s Yogurt Chocolate Mousse looks amaaaze-baalls

Such an interesting looking Tofu Chocolate Mousse from Chocolate Covered Katie

Choosing Raw’s simple Vanilla Chia Pudding looks so delicious! 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding: Adapted from Treehugger’s recipe

1 large avocado

1-2 medium bananas depending on taste (if frozen, don’t defrost)

30ml (2 tbsp) maple syrup or agave nectar

2.5 tbsp cocoa powder

50ml (1/4 cup) soy, coconut, rice or almond milk

2 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp chia seeds

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Blend everything together in a powerful blender until smooth and completely combined. Spoon into serving bowls and chill for at least a few hours before serving, to give the chia a chance to thicken the mixture. 

Optional additions: you could stir in some chocolate chips, berries, desiccated coconut or nuts to the mix as well. You could add some vanilla extract or a pinch of cinnamon, or even some melted chocolate to be really fancy!

Makes 3-4 servings depending on how generous you are.

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Healthy Chocolate Fudge Brownies (gluten, dairy, sugar free)

Gluten Free, Sugar Free and optional Vegan
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 The first thing I ever baked by myself was a pan of chocolate brownies. I was nine. I dusted them with icing sugar and ate them with my friends. They were very complimentary and wowed by my baking attempts. We were at that age where it was normal to sit with three friends and each eat five or six brownies in a row, so we had time to really think about them. In the end we decided they were too flat, so I said next time I’d try another recipe until I got it right. And did I ever! At least twice a month since then I have made a pan of brownies, experimenting, tweaking, trying to find the best brownie recipe in the world . My quest to find the perfect brownie continued for many years. 

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 I have learnt a very profound thing from my brownie journey, and I’m going to share it with you now: There is no single perfect recipe. Rather there are many, and it is based on individual preferences. I did ultimately write my own recipe that created what I deem brownie perfection, but it is not this one today. Those are the fudgiest, chewiest, richest, gooiest brownies ever. I honestly believe everything I know about baking came from the years of perfecting that recipe. It was there I learnt about flour and thickening gluten, about chocolate percentages, butter vs oil, brown vs white sugar, chips vs nuts vs raspberries and the list goes on. 

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The problem with those brownies though is that my mum can’t eat them (being gluten, dairy, and sugar free) and seeing as I was making these brownies for her, it wouldn’t be ideal to make something she couldn’t eat. My perfect recipe (I will put it up here one day, maybe for my 100th post) contains almost a pound of chocolate and sugar not to mention half a pound of butter. It is the polar opposite of what we have here today: Black bean, avocado and date brownies! Completely butter, sugar and flour free! And guess what, they taste amazing! Like a deep, dark chocolate fudge.

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Black bean brownies are in no way a new concept, but I’d never tried them before this week. I first saw a recipe on the blog Ambitious Kitchen. I just couldn’t believe they wouldn’t taste like…a burrito! Especially with the avocado instead of butter? Is anybody else thinking guacamole? I decided to give them a go just as a starting point for something less, um…gross sounding? And when I ate one straight of the pan I thought, hmm. These don’t taste like great brownies, they taste like good brownies. But then I chilled them, and ate another one. It was a very big transformation! The beans really are tasteless. So is the avocado.

The texture is thick and fudgy, and because there is no flour they don’t dry out like a normal brownie can. These are healthy brownies, there’s no getting around it, but for people who can never touch real brownies they are really really good. You don’t need a huge blender either to make them. Mine is tiny so I just blend up one wet component with one dry and add it to mixing bowl, then another, etc until every thing is the same consistency, then stir it all together. So I blended the cocoa with the avocados and the almond meal with the eggs, for example. Also I tried these with kidney beans to see if this would work too, and it did, but the black beans seemed to create a slightly better texture. 

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Black Bean Avocado Brownies:Barely adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

1 tin (425 grams, 1 pound, 15 ounces) black beans, washed and cooked if raw

50 grams (half a cup) each cocoa powder and almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

120 grams (4 ounces) dark chocolate (sugar free optional), melted or cut into chunks (for non-melt)

3 tablespoons ripe, green avocado (about half 1 large)

2 tablespoons olive oil

300 grams (1 cup) medjool dates, cut up

3 eggs (for vegan, replace each egg with one tablespoon chia seeds stirred with two tablespoons of water and left to thicken. So 3 tablespoons chia mixed into 6 of water, stirred)

Handful of chopped nuts or cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 170C (375F). Grease and line a 20cm tin with baking paper. Melt over a low heat in a bowl over simmering water your chocolate until smooth. If it is sugar free don’t try to melt it, just cut it into chunks. Blend all your ingredients together well and mix into a paste. Mix in chocolate chunks and extras, if you are using them. Spoon into your prepared tin and smooth down with a large spoon or knife. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the top is no longer wet and there is no jiggle (don’t overbake!) Chill until cold before cutting and eating, dusting with cocoa powder. IMG_5220