Most days, I would take my favourite green smoothie, full of green goodness and vitamins, over anything remotely processed without hesitation. But some days? Well, sometimes you just need a little creamy vanilla ice cream topped with smooth peanut butter and a sprinkle of crunchy chopped peanuts, all covered in chocolate, in your life. These bars are seriously good.
It’s a week until school starts again today, and I feel enervated just thinking about it. It’s been such a beautiful summer spent with those closest to me doing what I love most, and just the thought of getting up at too early an hour to even speak of makes me want to prolong summer for a few more years. I mean, what am I going to do when there’s no immediate access to healthy snickers ice cream bars if I’m feeling peckish?
Exactly. I know the title of this post is quite the oxymoron, but I’m almost positive that this is the healthiest frosty, rich vanilla-speckled ice cream slathered in soft, rich peanut butter and a myriad of peanut pieces dipped in deep, dark chocolate will ever be. The timid sweetness of the coconut milk vanilla ice cream and the powerful, daring punch of peanuts work so well huddled together under the shell of pleasantly cold and crunchy chocolate. Agave nectar gives the ice cream a touch of caramel-ish sweetness which ties everything together beautifully. Tantalising flavours swirl together to recreate that very familiar taste – you won’t even know it’s healthy. Promise.
I mean, who could resist that?! Sorry I’m not sorry.
3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 2 whole vanilla beans, seeds only
For the Peanut Layer
5 tablespoons natural peanut butter, warmed until soft and gooey
a handful of unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the Chocolate Layer
12 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
1. To make the ice cream, place all ingredients in to a bowl and whisk until well combined. If you have an ice cream maker, set it to ‘soft serve’ and make the ice cream. If you don’t, simply pour the mixture in to an 8×8 inch dish lined with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours. If using the ice cream maker, scoop the ice cream into an 8×8 inch dish lined with plastic wrap when it is done and freeze for at least an hour.
2. Take the ice cream out of the freezer. Spread your melted peanut butter over the ice cream in an even layer then sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Put back in to the freezer for another 10-15 minutes. Take it out again and lift the mixture out of the dish. Unwrap the block of ice cream, then carefully cut it in half horizontally. Cut into four vertically to make eight equally sized bars.
3. Refreeze these bars while you prepare your chocolate! I like to melt mine over a double boiler, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn. Add the coconut oil once the chocolate has melted completely. Make sure that you have a prepared baking tray lined with baking paper to place the dipped bars on, then take the bars out of the freezer.
4. Dip the bars in to the chocolate quickly, turning the bar round so that it gets an even layer of chocolate. Place on to the prepared tray, then repeat until all the bars are dipped. Once the chocolate has hardened, you can either place all of the bars in to an airtight container or wrap them in waxed paper individually to store. Re-freeze until ready to serve
5. To serve, take the bars out of the fridge and let them defrost in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. This way, the ice cream softens slightly so that they’re easier to eat! Enjoy!
Sometimes, all you want is a thick, sleek spoonful of indulgence. The deep, dark notes of chocolate enriched with the light, sweet, airy tones of creamy whipped coconut, unique, fragrant vanilla bean seeds which speckle everything with tiny black flecks and the crunch of bitter cacao nibs dance with the tongue in a slow, romantic waltz as this creamy chocolate mousse rolls around your mouth. Ribbons of indulgent sweetness mixed with thick, lusciously rich chocolate create a real magic moment in these busy, bustling summer days.
The abyssopelagic flavours meld together in a way as beautiful as a child’s imagination. I couldn’t believe it when I first tasted it; starting off as a simple coconut whipped cream to top the remnants of the raspberries I picked a few days ago, my affinity to chocolate led me to throw in a handful of cacao, and from that moment onwards, things just got better and better in that kitchen.
I’m absolutely not ashamed to admit that I’ve taken a liking to inhaling the entire recipe within a few minutes; it’s quite incredible.
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped out with the back of a knife
cacao nibs, to serve (optional)
1. Take the two cans of coconut milk out of the fridge. Turn them upside down, then open both with a can opener. Pour the coconut water into a container for later usage – I love using it for smoothies in the mornings – then scoop out the thick white coconut cream at the bottom of the can and place into a large bowl.
2. Using a hand whisk, whisk for 1-2 minutes until you achieve a fluffy mixture which holds stiff peaks. Alternatively, use a stand mixer and mix for about 20 seconds.
3. Take out around three tablespoons of coconut whipped cream and put it in a separate bowl to use as a garnish. In the larger bowl, add the cacao powder, agave nectar, and vanilla bean seeds, then whip again until fully incorporated.
4. Divide the mixture between two large ramekins or glasses. Take the coconut whipped cream which was set apart earlier, fill a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle with the mixture, and pipe a swirl on top of each serving of chocolate mousse. Set the mousses in the fridge to set for an hour or so before serving. If using, sprinkle with cacao nibs at the last minute.
Some things were not meant for sharing. This rich and gooey marriage of soft caramel, light and smooth chocolate mousse, and a sweet dark chocolate pie crust certainly wasn’t.
Avocado in chocolate mousse? Refrigerating coconut milk for caramel? Dates and almonds in a pie crust? You wouldn’t be mistaken if you thought summer holiday had fried my brain. Although it has, the weird and wonderful ingredients in this pie somehow manage to come together and create a truly delicious slice of heavenly healthiness. I went there.
In other news, I’m officially a Daring Baker! Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies!
I love how pies like this come together in a matter of minutes with a bit of prep. Remember the days of cutting cold butter into flour and having to wait hours before being able to enjoy the fruits of your labour? Me neither. Simply make my simple caramel sauce and the pie crust before breakfast in the morning and you’ll have pie when you get home. It’s as simple as that; there’s nothing like pie!
1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight (at least 12 hours)
For the Chocolate Mousse
two large avocados
250ml pure maple syrup
150g cacao powder
For the Crust
1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz until fine and it just holds together. Press into an 8-inch, 20cm fluted tart pan. Chill the base for about 20 minutes.
For the Caramel
1. Take out your can of coconut milk and open it. Carefully scoop out the top layer of ‘cream’ into a separate bowl until you are left with coconut water.
2. Heat the cane sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat until lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Don’t stir it – simply shake the pan a bit! Very carefully, remove the pan from the heat and add in the coconut cream teaspoon by teaspoon. Watch out as it will splatter! Add in the coconut until it has all been dissolved, whisking as you go. Bring to a boil again (3-4 minutes) until it thickens slightly. Pour the mixture into a glass jar and let cool, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Place in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.
For the Chocolate Mousse
1. Process all the ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth and chocolatey! Taste it, and if it tastes of avocado, add in an additional tablespoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of cacao powder.
2. Process again and keep going until it tastes rich, dark, and divine! Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
1. Prepare the caramel at least 4 hours in advance and the base about an hour in advance. Take out the pie base, then slather it with the caramel sauce! Top with chocolate ‘mousse’, then serve! You can prepare it up to 2 days in advance. Store in the fridge.
I topped the pie with a caramel tuile made from the additional sugar I had when I was making the caramel – I simply took a fork, and guided the sugar into a pattern on some greaseproof paper. I let it set for 10 minutes and then garnished my pie with it!
Caramel sauce makes everything better – it’s quite alike to peanut butter, which has the same property. Moving on from my attempt at chemistry, this sauce is utterly delicious and is even easier to prepare than it’s dairy-filled counterpart, making it a definite contestant in my top-10 ‘I’m hungry’ list.
It’s a perfect companion to banana chunks, the aforementioned chunks but frozen and chucked in the food processor to make glorious ice cream, almonds, and of course chocolate pecan cookies. Is it sad that I can verify each and every one of those claims?
I’ve taken to keeping at least 6 cans of coconut milk in the fridge for caramel sauce emergencies; that’s how scrumdiddlyumptious this sauce is. (My lexicon consists of Roald Dahl vocabulary. Don’t judge.)
Attack it with a spoon, dig out a scoop of it or spread it on anything within a 2-foot radius – have sauce, will (most likely) share.
1. Take the can of coconut milk out of the fridge. Open it, then scoop the thick white coconut fat at the top into a separate bowl until you are left with just the coconut water. Reserve 1/4 cup of the water and put it into a small saucepan.
2. Add the sugar to the coconut water in the pan, then heat on medium heat until it is fully bubbling, about 3-4 minutes. Teaspoon by teaspoon, add in chunks of coconut fat and whisk after each addition until no lumps remain. Keep adding coconut fat until you have finished it and the caramel is a light golden colour.
3. Let the caramel come to a boil again (3-4 minutes) until it starts to thicken a bit. Take off the heat, pour into a glass container, and let the container stand, lid open, until the caramel is completely cool. Transfer to the fridge and let set for at least 3 hours.