23 Jun 2017

CRANBERRY + PISTACHIO FUDGE


Fudge gives me life. As you probably know by now: I am in a committed relationship with chocolate. I make it nearly everyday and if I go through a 24-hour period wherein I don't consume this heavenly food, I feel like someone is missing. If I know I have a bar of chocolate in my bag / house / fridge, everything is okay. But when I meet new people and they don't fully get what I mean when I say "chocolate". Let me explain.

When I talk about chocolate I am not referring to the ubiquitous white sugar-, artificial flavour- and milk powder-filled confections found in gas stations and everywhere else. If you're into those, awesome. Genuinely stoked for you. But I am not into those. When I talk about chocolate I am referring to nutritionally-dense, luscious luscious luscious DARK chocolate, packed with good stuff like iron, zinc, fibre and rich flavour. I often add other ingredients to it like berries, nuts and superfood powders such as cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and turmeric. I honestly think of my daily hit of cacao as a supplement and health food. As a vegan, I have never had an issue with low iron and I think all the dark chocolate I eat might have something to do with that (plus the copious amounts of tahini I regularly schnarf). I truly prefer the taste, texture and look of very dark vegan chocolate and raw chocolate over a "chocolate" candy bar any day. Dark chocolate satisfies me while those other bars used to leave me craving more and more (refined carbs eyyy).

A good bar of dark chocolate only needs three ingredients: cacao or cocoa butter, cacao or cocoa powder and a tiny bit of sugar (ideally coconut, but usually cane). That's it. That is all ya need, although it is fun to add more stuff and see how ingredients play with each other. When you start consuming more dark chocolate, your palate may change. Cacao beans taste radically different depending on where and how they are grown and now my taste buds pick up on that; it makes chocolate-tasting a delicious learning experience. Needless to say: Fair Trade-certified cacao or cocoa is a must, though it's not the perfect solution. (Unjust and exploitative labour practices are allowed to exist within this colonialist capitalist economy so the whole system needs a redo.) Another very useful resource when finding chocolate is The Food Empowerment Project; they have a list of authentically ethical [vegan] brands.

Now onto the recipe! This is adapted from one in Áine Carlin's cookbook, The New Vegan. It is SOOOO fricken good. I have eaten about half the batch and I only made it yesterday. In her original recipe, Áine uses dark chocolate chips as the base, but I didn't have any around so I made my own chocolate. She also uses hazelnuts but same story: didn't have any in the house, so I used pistachios and almonds. This cookbook is GORGEOUS, you must find a copy for yourself ASAP. I have dog-eared so many pages simply based on the photography. And I have to point out that my food styling in this post is 80% inspired by the recipe photo in the book. The recipes are all vegan and made with whole foods that nourish your body and mind, but most importantly: taste terrific. I am very picky when it comes to cookbooks and Áine's is a keeper. I look forward to trying more recipes, especially the orange polenta cake with cashew frosting.

xo



CRANBERRY + PISTACHIO FUDGE 
[ makes ~16 servings; adapted from a recipe in The New Vegan by Áine Carlin ] 

1/3 cup coconut sugar (or brown rice syrup)
1/4 cup cacao butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons tahini
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup dried fruit (I used goji berries and cranberries)
1/4 cup nuts (I used pistachios and almonds)

Grind the coconut sugar - if using - into a very fine powder; I used a coffee grinder. Melt the coconut oil and cacao butter in a small pot on low heat. Once melted, stir in the cacao powder, coconut sugar, vanilla, salt, tahini and maple syrup. Take off the heat and stir in the dried fruit and nuts. Pour into a lined loaf pan or chocolate mold(s). Let it harden up in the fridge for a few hours. Decorate as you like! I used more cacao powder, some sesame seeds and mint leaves.