Is there anyone who doesn't adore chocolate mousse? It's one of my all-time favorite out-to-dinner desserts because it's difficult to screw up. Even a mediocre restaurant tends to get it right. Probably because it's so simple: heavy cream, sugar and lots of chocolate. Who wouldn't love it? The only problem is... it doesn't love me. After eating a serving (or two) of the traditional version, I usually feel throat-coated and sluggish.
During the dieting years, I recall a comically unsuccessful attempt to make chocolate mousse a part of a healthy eating plan via a rather, shall we say, marketing-savvy celebrity whose cottage empire of diet books centered around the declaration that all carbs are vile and fat is to be embraced.
This product-hawking sweetie's diet plan was similar to Atkins, only about 10 times more decadent. She even had a chocolate-mousse mix, made easily available by ordering off her website, or from the home shopping channel that helped her rake in millions. Do I sound annoyed at her? Well maybe a little. Let's just get real for a minute: anyone who knows anything about healthy eating, weight loss, or maintaining a healthy weight will probably agree with me when I say: STAY THE HECK AWAY FROM HEAVY CREAM! Have it in moderate amounts with coffee if you must. Or at least make it a semi-annual event, like the creamed pearl onions I love at Thanksgiving.
Have you noticed that many restaurants are phasing it out of their cream soups and coming up with dessert alternatives that don't involve artery-clogging ingredients?
Yes, fat is your friend, but with one important caveat -- in order for it to be a friendship that's a two-way street, it has to be a plant-based fat. No one's gotten ill over a diet generous in olive, macadamia, coconut or sunflower oil. Ditto for nuts, and my all-time favorite: the avocado!
Unless you're in Santa Fe or Santa Monica, you probably won't find the avocado version of chocolate mousse in many restaurants, so go ahead and make it for yourself when you want something creamy, comforting and unmistakably chocolatey. It's both an elegant, dinner-party-worthy dessert and a tension diffuser. I have no trouble admitting that, steeped in the trappings of a frustrating deadline-ridden afternoon earlier today, this handy-dandy dessert is the only thing that kept me from screaming like a leading lady in a Hitchcock flick.
Ingredient amounts are mutable -- adjust according to your preference for sweetness and chocolate-decibel level. This isn't low in fat, but I suggest you not fret about it. The mousse is loaded with monounsaturated fat, potassium, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin E and several B vitamins. Heavy cream may be tasty, but doesn't even begin to touch the list of attributes that an avocado possesses.
This treat requires a little advanced planning. I prefer buying unripened avocados and letting them sit a few days. The taste is fresher than buying avocados in an already-soft state. When an avocado is ready for eating, its skin will give a little when pressed, but shouldn't feel squishy. So here's to your health and the satisfaction of your sweet tooth -- with an all-natural treat that treats your body like royalty!
Completely Harmless Chocolate Mousse
1 ripe Hass avocado
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 drops of Stevia or one packet (or one -2 tbs. honey or agave. (I use Stevia because of its low glycemic index.)
2 tbs. unsweetened baking cocoa or raw cacao powder*
A splash or two of espresso or strong coffee
* There's a second option for the chocolate flavoring: a wonderful chocolate powder my nutritionist, Nancy Guberti, turned me onto called Cocoa Mojo. It's a vegan, non-alkalized cocoa powder sweetened with organic coconut palm sugar and infused with immune system-supporting herbs. All I know is it tastes amazing. If you use two tablespoons of this instead of regular cocoa powder, skip the sweetener.
Peel and pit avocado and cut into large chunks. Place in a food processor along with the other ingredients and whir till smooth. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of coffee if it's too chunky. Scrap sides with scraper to make sure all the cocoa is evenly distributed. Whir some more until all the lumps are eradicated. Serve in something proper like a wine glass or dessert glass. Enjoy!
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