Chocolate Mousse: Avocado or Coconut

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Any situation, day or night, can be improved with chocolate, and I dare anyone to challenge me on this. However, since I’m lactose-intolerant, having cream mixed with my chocolate is not an option. I’ve been exploring ways to still enjoy the decadent dessert of chocolate mousse without feeling ill.

In doing research, I found recipes on using avocado for the mousse base. What a novel idea! But my poor husband is allergic to avocados, so between my stomach and his itchy throat, I found another alternative: coconut milk. Thus the food experiment was born.

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The coconut is also one of the only fruits that can be used in its entirety: milk, water, sugar, oil, and meat. The outside “fur” is even used in decoration or furnishings due to its durability. And while coconut milk is high in saturated fats (usually classified as one of the “bad fats” due to the effect it has on cholesterol), coconut milk is considered one of the new “health foods” or “super foods” because of it’s healing qualities. Used in moderation (1-2 times per week), coconut milk can lower bacterial infections and viruses while strengthening hair, nails, and skin. However, do not take my word for it. Always consult a doctor before believing anything on the internet.

Now, the avocado is a whole other dimension. The fat inside this fruit is mono-saturated fat, which is labeled a “good fat.” But just because it’s “good” doesn’t mean it is advisable to binge on 3 avocados a day. In moderation, the good fats in the avocado can aid in lowering cholesterol, upping fiber and potassium, as well as absorbing nutrients found in other clean and whole foods. Again, before embarking on an avocado and coconut milk diet, talk to your doctor.2015-08-04 12.40.21

So, since these two good fats are available to us, the notion of substituting cream and eggs in a chocolate mousse only seems completely logical! The question is: does the veganization of making chocolate mousse hold up?

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As far as history can tell, chocolate mousse originated in France in the 18th century. Mousse, French for “foam,” didn’t make it’s first American appearance until 1892 when it was showcased in a food exposition at Madison Square Garden. And in 1897, the first recipe was published in the Boston Daily Globe, but the recipe yields a pudding-like dessert rather than the thick, can-stand-your-spoon-in-it texture. So the first real “mousse” in America didn’t come to being until the introduction of the electric hand mixer in the 1930s. This made whipping the egg white or heavy cream much more manageable. The popularity for this light and airy dessert was so high, there is even an official Chocolate Mousse Day on April 3rd.

chocolate history

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One of the most popular recipes for mousse has the egg yoke and chocolate form a sort of custard over simmering water with the whipped egg whites folded in a la Julia Child. Or alternatively, instead of the egg, you whip heavy cream and fold it into the melted chocolate to form the same texture as suggested by Gordon Ramsey. But of course, you could also listen to the likes of chef Daniel Boulud and mix both eggs and cream to make a heart-stopping version of chocolate mousse that will be guaranteed to stick to your arteries. So, don’t let me stop you from enjoying cream and eggs in chocolate mousse if that’s what you desire.

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When using avocados, it is imperative to use ripe fruit. If it isn’t ripe, they will not mash in the smooth consistency most desired in a mousse. There are a few tips and tricks in finding out if your avocado is ripe. When you gently squeeze it, the skin should give just slightly but not so much that your fingerprint is embedded in a black cavern. You can also try taking the bud or stem off the top to see the color. “If it’s green, you’re good. If it’s brown, put it down.” Check out Serena Wolf’s video here for some visuals.

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse adapted from Mind, Body, Green
makes 2-3 servings

Ingredients:
1 large, ripe avocado
1/4 cup cocoa powder, for baking
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Optional Toppings: chocolate chips, coconut, almonds, etc.

Directions:
1) Cut open the avocado. If it’s completely green, spoon into a large bowl. If it’s brown and moldy, throw it away and get another one.
2) If you have a hand mixer or food processor, blitz the avocado until it’s a smooth puree. If you don’t and only have a fork (like me), mash it completely until smooth. Using the back of a spoon also helps in smoothing out the sometimes-chunky texture. It will get smooth if you give it some elbow grease.
3) Once the puree is smooth *sift* in the cocoa powder. Sifting is key here to get even distribution. Slowly add the milk and either whisk or mix in completely. This should be a thick mixture.
4) Add the flavorings and honey to the bowl and continue to mix together.
5) Transfer into your serving bowls and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Add toppings and enjoy.

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When picking out the coconut milk to use, always go for the full cream version. The coconut milk you see in the milk aisle of the grocery store is more suitable for coffee and cereals. If you want the consistency and thickness of chocolate mousse, you’ll have to leave no calorie behind. Otherwise, you just end up with sweetened coconut chocolate milk, and that’s for another day. Go to your Asian or International Food aisle and find the can of coconut milk for this recipe.

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Coconut Chocolate Mousse
makes 2-3 servings

Ingredients:
1 can of full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup + 1 tsbp cocoa powder, for baking
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp honey

Directions:
1) Shake the can of coconut milk so the cream and liquid gets fully emulsified.
2) Pour into a bowl and combine the rest of the ingredients. Whisk generously until everything is incorporated.
3) Transfer to a serving container or bowl and put in the refrigerator over night to set completely.

A note about this recipe. I thought I completely messed this one up the first time I made it. The original recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie said not to shake the can and to only use the coconut cream found at the top, leaving out the liquid completely. I didn’t do that. I shook the can like it was a maraca and poured the entire thing into the bowl. So, when it came all together, it was liquid. I sadly put in the refrigerator to figure out something to do with it another day.

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But I opened it the next morning, and voila! Perfect chocolate mousse! So, don’t let the liquid discourage you! It just needed to be left alone for a little while, and it was a perfect, creamy consistency with a rich and decadent taste.

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The coconut milk version was much creamier than the avocado. But I do think that is because the “milk” quality in the coconut is absent from the avocado making the bitterness of the cocoa powder shine through more. I, personally, prefer the avocado version myself because of the health benefits, and I like bitter chocolate. But the coconut milk is a real indulgence. I have no reason to ever make chocolate mousse with cream or eggs again.

Did you try these out? Which is your favorite? Leave a comment below!

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