Friday, February 14, 2014

RECIPE: Chocolate Fudge

Okay, so today is obviously Valentine’s Day—which isn’t really something I care all that much about. I mean, yes, I’m all for love and romance but I think most of us know it’s basically a fake holiday designed to boost consumer spending more than anything else. It’s also a day when a lot of people, particularly kids, consume excessive quantities of sugar. (My friend Stacy Whitman over at School Bites has been trying to do something about this by creating a Candy-Free School Valentine Pledge. I guess it may be a little too late to sign, but check it out anyway!)

Personally, I like to indulge in a bit of chocolate—not just today but most days. (I know, I’m such a female cliché that way. But dark chocolate/cacao is good for you. Study after study confirms it.) I was even thinking about getting my favorite—See’s Candy—and sacrificing a point or two on the Whole Life Challenge as part of a Valentine’s Day treat tonight. But then my 8-year-old son, of all people, asked if there was a way for us to have a chocolaty dessert while still sticking to the Whole Life Challenge rules.

Thus began my search for compliant options. I found recipes for vegan chocolate mousse, for paleo brownies, for raw walnut fudge…and the list goes on. Alas, almost all of these called for sugar of some sort (maple syrup, honey, or straight-up sugar), artificial ingredients (vanilla extract, coconut cream—I still can’t find compliant versions of either!), flour, dairy and so on. I tried to make a few of them with substitutions but they just didn’t taste right. So, I decided to create my own damn recipe!

I’ll admit, this fudge is pretty similar in taste and texture to LaraBar Brownie Bites. However, I used a lot more cacao powder, and walnuts instead of almonds, and made a few other tweaks that give it a more decadent taste and texture. I also found a really great recipe from The Rawtarian for chocolate icing that’s 100 percent compliant (check it out here; I halved the recipe and it made plenty—and it’s so good!). That, combined with a sprinkle of sea salt or a few walnuts or coconut shreds, makes these feel like a truly festive treat. (Another option: Spread a bit of compliant, sugar-free almond or peanut butter on top!) Of course, these are still high in natural sugar because of the dates, as well as fat (though it's healthy fat!) so portion control is still important, Whole Life Challenge compliant or not. But give them a try and let me know what you think. Oh, and happy fake holiday!

Serves 8
10-15 pitted dates (10 if you’re using Medjool)
1 cup raw walnut pieces
½ cup raw cashews
¼ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon extra virgin/cold pressed coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
¼ - ½ cup raw cacao powder

1. Place dates, walnuts, cashews and coconut in a food processor and pulse into a fine meal.
2. Add the coconut oil (it’s fine to leave it solid), water and cacao powder and mix until a dough forms.
3. Press dough into a 6x6-inch pan (either greased or lined with parchment paper).
4. Place in refrigerator to chill and firm up for at least 30 minutes.
5. Cut into small squares and decorate with the icing and toppings of your choosing.
6. Indulge!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (approximately 2 pieces):
284 calories; 20.4 g fat (7.8 g saturated); 10 mg sodium; 118 mg potassium; 27.8 g carbohydrates; 5.6 g fiber; 17.8 g sugar; 5.8 g protein; 2% calcium; 6% iron

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