BLACK FOREST BROWNIE BITES WITH COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM AND BRANDIED CHERRIES
Did you know that the origins of Valentine’s Day have nothing to do with love, and even less to do with chocolate in heart-shaped boxes? It’s true. The holiday actually has a pretty gory history featuring not just one, but possibly three, beheaded Christian martyrs. Talk about killing the mood! About a thousand years later, the English poet Chaucer marked the day as a prime time to observe the mating habits of birds, as this was apparently the season when nests full of newly laid eggs could be found. It became customary for nature lovers to send love notes on that day, a custom that continued for several centuries.
It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that candy makers began marketing their product as “sweets for your sweetheart.” In 1923, the Cadbury Chocolate Company created the first heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a tradition was born. Chocolate was believed to be an aphrodisiac so powerful that Victorian etiquette forbade women to accept a gift of chocolate from any man they weren’t engaged to!
Today, chocolate and Valentine’s Day go together like peanut butter and jelly! Nearly 60 million pounds of chocolate is expected to be purchased the week of Valentine’s Day, by lovers and chocolate lovers alike! And while a good dark chocolate may not exactly be a love potion, it does contain some powerful health benefits backed by science! (And, yes, the benefits are specific to the dark variety, essentially those with at least 70% pure cacao.) Dark chocolate is super high in antioxidants, specifically flavonoids and polyphenols that have been found beneficial in lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart and the brain. It’s also rich in tryptophan, which can raise levels of serotonin, a natural neurotransmitter that controls many functions of the brain, including mood and behavior. Last, but certainly not least, chocolate contains small amounts of phenylethylamine, a chemical sometimes referred to as “the love drug” since our brains produce more of it it when we fall in love.
I’m not saying that serving this dark chocolate dessert will make someone fall in love with you, but if you share it with someone who’s already smitten, who knows where it might lead?
Hope you enjoy, and much love and chocolate to all of you!
Black Forest Brownie Bites
Makes 12 cupcake-sized brownies
1/4 C organic cashew butter
1/2 C maple sugar or Sucanat
1/3 C maple syrup
1/3 C coconut oil, melted
3/4 C raw cacao powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 flax eggs (2 T ground flax plus 6 T water, mixed together and allowed to sit 10 minutes)
1/4 C gluten free oat flour
2 T hazelnut flour
1/2 C dark chocolate chunks
1/4 C cherry puree (nothing fancy here…just roughly pulse or blend half of a 10 oz. bag of frozen dark sweet cherries)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake tin with liners.
In a medium bowl, blend together cashew butter, maple sugar, maple syrup and melted coconut oil.
Add cacao, vanilla and salt, mixing thoroughly to combine.
Add flax eggs and mix thoroughly.
Add flours, a little at a time, mixing well to fully incorporate.
Fold in chocolate chunks and cherry puree.
Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling each about halfway.
Bake for 30 - 32 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on cooling rack.
Store in refrigerator for about one week, or wrap individually and freeze.
These are delicious just as they are, but if you want to take them over the top, serve them on a bed of whipped coconut cream and brandied cherries, as pictured above. Both sound extra fancy, but are so simple to make!
Super Simple Coconut Whipped Cream (recipe adapted from back on can!)
1 can organic coconut cream (I like Let’s Do Organic brand from Thrive Market.)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 T organic powdered sugar
Place can of coconut cream in refrigerator for about an hour ahead of when you want your whipped cream. (If your kitchen is very warm, you might also want to chill your metal mixing bowl)
Open can and remove cream carefully. While coconut cream will yield less liquid than coconut milk, there will still be some on the bottom of the can (save this for a smoothie!).
Place cream, vanilla, and sugar in mixing bowl and, using the whisk attachment, mix at high speed until peaks begin to form.
1 lb Bing cherries, pitted
1 C maple sugar
1 1/2 C Brandy
Warm brandy and sugar in small saucepan, just to melt sugar.
Pour liquid over cherries, and allow to macerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight).
Feel free to add any additional spices, i.e. vanilla bean, star anise, cinnamon sticks.