Chili Today (p. 134)

Corn may have a million industrial uses, but more than just the kernels can be used at home, too. Save corn husks for tamales or add them to your next batch of soup stock. If your corn came from a can and its ingredients are simply corn, water, and salt, you can use that corn water to replace some of the vegetable stock in this recipe. If you’re attending a pun potluck, save the corn husks to make hot tamales and bring the two dishes together.

illustration of a head of corn with one husk still partly attached

 

Makes about 2 cups
Takes 75 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup vegetable stock
2 ears of shucked corn (or the corn from one 15-ounce can)
1 large tomato
2 chile peppers
1/2 cup grated baking chocolate (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Salt
Cornbread (optional)

Put the oil in a large pan over medium low heat. Add the onion and cumin seeds to the pan and stir them occasionally for fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, shell the corn—cut the corn kernels off the cob. Chop the tomato, dice the peppers, and grate the baking chocolate.

Put the beans and vegetable stock in a pot to simmer along with the corn, tomatoes, peppers, and chocolate.

Simmer on low for 30–45 minutes. Chop the cilantro, add it to the pot, and salt to taste. Serve with cornbread.

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Chocolate Smoothie (p.30)

We love this recipe for its simplicity and reliable tastiness. Stick to the more intense fruits for flavor, and use bland fruits such as apples, bananas, and pears for substance and sweetness. Avoid using citrus; it’s too pulpy. If the fruit doesn’t come out sweet enough on its own, substitute 1/4 cup of chocolate chips for the cocoa powder. Now is the time to use up any ugly, abandoned, or forgotten fruit; it still tastes delicious in a smoothie!

Makes about 2 cups
Takes about 10 minutes

  • 10 ounces frozen local fruits (blueberries, strawberries, mango, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and/or 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Plant milk (as needed)
  • 2 tablespoons nut butter or seeds (optional)
  • Spices (optional)

Drop the fruit into the blender, and add the cocoa powder. If you’re using chocolate chips, don’t add them yet. Add any nut butter and spices. Pour in enough plant milk into the blender to just cover the berries.

Blend until smooth, which is usually when you start to see a consistent funnel shape swirling at the top of the smoothie. Depending on the blender, you may need to turn it off briefly and use a utensil to jab at the fruit a little to break it up, or add a little more plant milk to help it blend.

After the smoothie is smooth, drop the chocolate chips into the blender and blend them until they reach the size you’d prefer. They turn into micro-chips very quickly, so this may only take a few seconds.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape every last drop of smoothie from the blender into a glass.

Guacamole (p. 86)

We had guacamole on a picnic one day and realized that we somehow nearly forgot to include cocoa guacamole in this book!(!!!) Darin even worked in Australia as a picker on an avocado and lime farm!

The roasted onion and corn are sweet, so they balance the bitter flavor of the cocoa powder.

Makes 2 cups
Takes 60 minutes

1 large tomato
1 small onion
2 chili peppers
1 ear’s worth of corn (3/4 cup corn)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large avocado, ripe
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
Juice of one lime (2 tablespoons)
Salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Chop the tomato, onion, and chili pepper. Put them and the corn on a baking pan and drizzle the oil over everything. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, or until they start to turn a little brown at the edges.

Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and put them in a bowl along with the avocado, nibs, and lime juice. Stir well and salt to taste. Voila! Guacamole is always best eaten fresh—even with lime, the avocado will oxidize. Serve with corn chips or eat straight from the spoon.

Awesome Bean Dip: Replace the avocado with 2 cups of refried beans, roast a few cloves of garlic with the other vegetables, and switch out the nibs for 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Peanut Butter (p. 83)

Got Phyllo dough? Optionally, substitute hazelnut butter for the peanut butter and either way, you’ve got mock Nutella. You can make Chocolate Baklava!


spatula

I had a lot of fun working with Wendy Batterman on chocolate peanut butters. We learned just how subjective the sense of taste can be—I liked extra cocoa, while Wendy preferred more salt. If you use unsweetened peanut butter, the sugar will add a stronger chocolate flavor than the chocolate peanut butter would otherwise have. If your peanut butter already contains sugar, you can omit sugar from the recipe.

1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Powdered sugar (optional)
Salt

In a jar, combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly. This can be a little messy. The alternative, also messy (but a little faster), is to combine all ingredients in a bowl and transfer the mixture to a jar using a rubber spatula.

Serve it on toast or sandwiches, use it as a base for a peanut sauce, or as a dip for fruits and vegetables. You can also mix in mini marshmallows, toasted coconut, granola, or other toppings.

Dad’s Strawberries, Chocolate Style (p. 84)

Strawberry season would come around when I was a kid, and I’d wake up one morning to sugared strawberries, which was the best surprise ever, and which my dad would make by sprinkling sugar over strawberries and putting it all in the fridge. I can even remember which container he would use. The sugar pulls the liquid out of the strawberries and you end up with syrupy strawberry goodness.

This year, when strawberry season came around, I realized that we had no choice but to reinvent it. We eat this with pancakes, but it also goes well on peanut buttered toast.

Makes about 4 cups of strawberry topping (plus one mug of strawberry drink)
Takes all night (plus 2–4 hours baking the optional caramelized sugar)

Caramelized Sugar
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Pour a bag of sugar into a glass baking pan and shake the pan so it’s evenly distributed. Do not use a metal pan—that will melt the sugar instead of caramelizing it. Cook the sugar for 2–4 hours. Crush any chunks. Caramelization makes the sugar a little less sweet and more flavorful, which will result in a more complex strawberry dish. This will make a subtle difference for those with discerning taste buds.

6 tablespoons white sugar or caramelized sugar
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Plant milk (optional)

In a large container, combine the strawberries, mint, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Put the lid on and put the container in the fridge. In the morning, it’s ready! Use a fork to serve these strawberries over pancakes or toast.

Fresh, rich strawberry drink: Drain the syrupy by-product from the bowl of strawberries into a cup and add 1–2 times as much plant milk as there is syrup. Stir it, then sip it. This is objectively amazing and might be the best part of the whole “Dad’s Strawberries” recipe.

Strawberry salsa: If you want something you can eat straight, decrease the sugar to 1/4 cup and replace the cocoa powder with 1/4 cup of cocoa nibs, and let it all sit for an hour instead of overnight.

Chocolate Chip Blueberry Pancakes (p. 139)

When we want something special for breakfast, we turn to pancakes. One of the best parts about being an adult is blueberries and chocolate chips in every pancake. For extra bonus fun, bust out the metal cookie cutters.

The basic ingredients in this pancake recipe are flour, baking powder, plant milk, and applesauce. If you just ran out of cloves or picked the last of your blueberries, or maybe plain forgot to add the sugar and oil like someone I know (me), they’ll still come out pretty good.

Makes a mess and 12 pancakes
Takes 30–60 minutes

1 heaping cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup blueberries
1 cup plant milk
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup applesauce or puréed apple
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional oil for cooking

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl. Mix well, then stir in the blueberries, plant milk, chocolate chips, applesauce, oil, sugar, ginger, and vanilla extract.

Warm an oiled skillet over medium heat. Use a ladle or a 1/4 cup measuring cup as a scoop for pouring the batter into the pan. Fry for 2–4 minutes, or until bubbles show up in the pancake, then flip the pancake and cook it for another 1–2 minutes. Eat straight from the pan or politely serve in a stack on a plate.

PB & J pancakes: To bring these pancakes back down to earth, replace the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, blueberries and chocolate chips with a 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons of garam masala, and serve them with peanut butter and jelly. This makes enough sturdy pancakes for a week’s worth of pancake-based PB & J sandwiches.

Banananana Bread (p. 53)

Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling ‘banana’, but didn’t know how you stopped.” -Terry Pratchett

I love fresh yellow bananas as a special treat, but when they start to go brown or black I store them peeled in the freezer until the next time I feel like making banana bread. The agave makes it quite sweet; if that’s not to your taste consider substituting cocoa nibs for the chocolate chips. Other fruit or vegetable purées can be used—this also works with applesauce, and we make a delicious green tomato cake in the fall.

Makes one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf
Takes about 90 minutes

1 cup mashed bananas
2/3 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat together the bananas, agave, and oil in a large bowl. They start out lumpy, but after a minute or two begin to combine and smooth. In a second bowl stir together the flour, bran, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until they combine completely. Then add the chocolate chips and mix until they are well-distributed throughout the batter.

Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Pour the mixture into it. Bake for 40–60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes or more before serving. Store your banananana bread in the fridge, or slice it and store it in the freezer.

Strawberry-Mint Sandwich (p. 121)

We were at a cafe working on this very cookbook, minding our own business, when we overheard someone order a savory sandwich. Of course, I had to ask the question: “What would a sweet sandwich look like?” As it happened, strawberries were in season, so we went home and tested our theory. This strawberry-mint sandwich is delicious and we recommend making it with fresh, thinly-sliced rye bread.

Makes one sandwich
Takes 10 minutes

3 medium strawberries
2 slices of bread
2 tablespoons grated chocolate
Mint leaves to cover a slice of bread
2 teaspoons cocoa butter, divided

Slice the strawberries and lay them out in a single layer on one slice of bread. Sprinkle the grated chocolate over the strawberries, cover everything with a layer of mint leaves, and close your sandwich with the second slice of bread.

Place half of the cocoa butter in a skillet over medium heat. Put the sandwich on top of the pat of cocoa butter so that the fat will soak into the bread rather than spreading around the pan. Cover the skillet and cook the sandwich for about two minutes, or until the bottom of the sandwich begins to turn golden-brown. Flip the sandwich, placing the remaining cocoa butter under the sandwich, and cook for another two minutes, covered.

Serve while it’s hot from the pan.

Nana’s Carrot Cake for Birthdays, Double Chocolate Style (p. 63)

Nana’s Carrot Cake has been the Wick family birthday cake for a couple generations. Darin grew up on it and his father before him. This a cake so special it has even been known to turn up in the mail. I have been granted special permission from Darin to turn it into a chocolate carrot cake—as long as I promise not to call it a birthday cake, because the birthday version doesn’t contain any chocolate. I always make substitutions in recipes, and I never get to play with Nana’s Carrot Cake for Birthdays, so I enjoyed finally getting permission to alter this well-loved recipe.

Makes one 11 x 7-inch cake
Takes 45 minutes prep plus 60–65 minutes baking

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants (or more raisins)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons cocoa liqueur (optional)
2 large carrots (about 2 1/2 cups grated)
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Mix the raisins, currants, and chopped pecans with the cocoa liqueur and set the mixture aside. Grate the carrots and set them aside, too.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, baking soda, and salt. Mix it well and set it aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat in the applesauce, white sugar, cocoa powder, oil, vanilla, and ginger. Stir in the dry ingredients. Fold in the carrots, dried fruit, and nuts. Mix thoroughly.

Grease and flour the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch cake pan. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 60–65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out fairly dry. Frost the cake with Goose’s frosting (page 48) and cool it in the pan.

Chocolate-curry carrot cake with cardamom frosting: A friend gave this variation a rave review, so we felt compelled to mention it. Substitute curry spices for the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. Add cardamom to your favorite basic vanilla frosting, and frost the cake.