[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]
Want to wow your boss? Want to thrill your sweetheart? Want to get addicted to something rich, dense, smooth, chocolately and truly decadent? Well, all you need is an avocado plus 3 more ingredients, and you’re there.
This pâté will dazzle you, seduce you (but not in the same way as Mark Bittman), soothe you and make you very, very happy. This is my HH’s all-time favorite dessert (well, maybe on a par with coconut cream pie).
Last year, when the HH and I went out to our favorite restaurant for our 10-year anniversary, we reached the end of the meal when I found myself suddenly craving chocolate (my, how unusual!). For some reason that night, the always-stellar dessert menu lacked anything that appealed to me. But here’s the sign of an exceptional establishment: when I mentioned my desire to Tony (our waiter–we were on a first-name basis by that point), he apologized profusely for the menu’s shortcoming, swiftly and deftly cleared our plates, and trotted off to get the HH’s coconut cream pie (okay, it’s possible he didn’t really order coconut cream pie, but since I can’t remember what he did actually order and since I just mentioned that coconut cream pie was a favorite of his, I thought it would sound good here. . . I plead literary license).
A few moments later, Tony returned with two plates of dessert–the pie for the HH, and a selection of three exquisitely formed chocolate truffles for me. The chef had whipped them up with some ganache he had prepared for another dessert! I was blown away, not only by the astonishingly good service, but also by the truffles themselves: light, smooth, and soft as a butterfly’s touch. I savored every bite, every deep, rich, cacao-dense tidbit.
Well, that’s what this pâté reminds me of–the filling in those truffles.
I created this recipe several years ago for a cooking class on heart-healthy foods, and was delighted to discover that both avocados and dark chocolate provide benefits to our body’s main muscle. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats (the same heart-healthy fat touted in the “Mediterannean diet,” also in olive oil), and chocolate contains flavonoids that can improve cardiovascular functioning by preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
The taste of avocado is imperceptible in this dessert, yet it adds a rich, creamy, lustrous texture. The orange juice provides sweetness and additional flavor to counterbalance the chocolate perfectly (hmm, come to think of it, perhaps Grand Marnier in place of some of that juice would be nice. . . ). Once refrigerated, the pâté firms up enough to hold its shape and cut into slices, yet it remains soft and yielding, something of a cross between a fudge and a ganache.
Because it actually provides most of the substance of the pâté, be sure to use a good quality dark chocolate here. If you’re feeling extravagant, you might try Vogzes. I’ve used Green and Black’s, Dagoba, Endangered Species, Lindt, Vivani, and even President’s Choice in a pinch (can you tell we like this dessert in our house?), all with delicious results.
Want a little preview of life beyond the pearly gates? Go make this.
(Since this pâté is my very healthy version of a traditional chocolate pâté made with sugar, cream, eggs and butter, I’m submitting this to Giz and Psychgrad’s event, Tried, Tested and True II, over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. They’re asking for surefire hits that are made healthier than original versions.)
Finally, thanks to everyone who’s entered the Cookbook Contest so far. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?? It’s open to everyone, and you can win one of eight cookbooks! Just go here and enter!
Decadent Chocolate Pâté
This pâté tastes incredibly rich, but is actually good for you. A little goes a long way, so I’d advise cutting into thin slices. . . otherwise, I can’t be responsible for what happens.
1-1/4 cups (7 oz. or 210 g.) nondairy dark chocolate (70% cocoa is best), chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed (essential!) orange juice (remove larger pieces of pulp)
1 small ripe (but not squishy) Haas avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks (about 110-120 g. flesh)
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) pure maple syrup
1 tsp. (5 ml.) pure vanilla extract, optional
Line three individual-serving loaf pans (about 2″ x 4″ or 5 cm. x 10 cm.) or a single small loaf pan (about 4″ x 6″ or 10 cm. x 15 cm.) with plastic wrap. Set aside.
Place chocolate in a heatproof glass or metal bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Melt together with the orange juice and maple syrup, stirring frequently, until perfectly smooth.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, purée the avocado, making sure to scrape down the sides so there are no lumps. Add the chocolate mixture and vanilla and purée until perfectly smooth, creamy, and glossy. It will have the texture of an old-fashioned cooked pudding–thick and almost glutinous. Turn the mixture into the pan(s) and smooth the top(s). Refrigerate about an hour until the top is just firm, then cover the top with more plastic and refrigerate overnight.
To unmold, remove the top piece of plastic. Place a serving plate upside down onto the loaf pan, then, holding the plate against the pan, turn the whole thing over so the pan is on top and the plate is on the bottom. Remove the loaf pan, then carefully peel off the plastic. To cut into slices, use a long, sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped clean between slices. A little goes a long way–one individual-serving loaf will serve 3-4 people (or 9-12 servings for the entire batch of pâté). Serve with fresh berries, cream, or other fruits.
The pâté will keep, refrigerated and covered with plastic, up to 4 days. If you can’t finish it all in that time (or don’t want to gain excessive amounts of weight), simply wrap the leftovers tightly with plastic and freeze for up to 3 months. This is also quite lovely when frozen (not that I’d know, of course–that’s what I’ve been told).
Nutritional Analysis, per 1/9 of recipe (data using Nutrition Analysis Tool): Calories: 148; Protein: 2 g.; Fiber: 1.5 g; cholesterol: 0 mg.; Saturated Fat: 5 g.; Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5 g.
[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]
Other posts in this series:
- Lucky Comestible III: The Perfect Guacamole
- Lucky Comestible III (3): Mango Avocado Salad
- Lucky Comestible III (4): Lentil Pistachio Patties
- Lucky Comestible III (5): Tropical Lemon-Coconut Muffins
- Lucky Comestible III (6) Meets Flash in the Pan: Avocado Mayonnaise