In the last year or so, the Happy Pear have gradually seeped into my consciousness. I’d heard them mentioned by Riverford, Jamie Oliver, in the press and through various food bloggers, but I’d never seen any of their recipes. I’m now the happy owner of their latest book The World of the Happy Pear, to be published soon, on 2nd June. To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, I’m excited to say, I also have two copies of the book to giveaway.
One of the many fascinating things about food is that there are so many ingredients and combinations in the world, that providing we are able to access them, the adventure never ends. Here are some of the food products that have landed on the kitchen counter at Tin and Thyme recently.
As some of you will know, smoothies are a regular breakfast item in the Tin and Thyme household. They are a tasty way of packing in a lot of healthy nutrients and generally keep us going for hours. It was not until I had a conversation with some fellow food bloggers yesterday, however, that I heard about the smoothie bowl. As soon as the concept was explained, I realised that smoothies in a bowl were quite a different thing to smoothies in a glass.
After all those amazing layer cakes in March, I thought something a little simpler might be in order this month. No bake chocolate treats it is. Think chocolate cornflake nests for Easter, tiffin to use up all those Easter chocolate leftovers or raw energy balls for a healthy post Easter detox. As you can see, I had pecan and maple ginger tiffin very much on my mind.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am having such fun with my Froothie power blender. Mostly, I’ve only used it so far for making smoothies, but smoothies I’d never have been able to make in my old blender. I’ve already posted about my kefir raw cacao and goji berry smoothie. Today I thought I’d try a spring tonic nettle smoothie.
Well I know it’s very hard to make brownies healthy, but I have done my best to make these brownies with cashew nut butter as healthy as possible whilst still retaining their essential sweet fudgy brownieness. I used coconut oil and cashew nut butter instead of butter and rapadura instead of sugar. And to top it off, my flour of choice was freekah. Freekah, Rapadura? Read on.
Having been sent eight large ripe Peruvian Hass avocados, I didn’t have a great deal of time to use them up. Following on from the avocado chocolate chip cookies I made a few weeks ago, I wanted to continue with the avocado baking theme. Leafing through the accompanying booklet, I found a recipe for Peruvian Hass avocado brownies. With my well known love of all things brownie, I didn’t need to cogitate further.
Of course, I made a few adjustments with the recipe. For a start I thought a hint of chilli and a soupçon of cinnamon would be appropriate flavours to enhance the South American feel of the brownies. Sadly I didn’t have any Peruvian chocolate to hand but made do with using up three partly used bars which were making my cupboard look untidy; as it happens one of them was from Ecuador, so at least it was from the right neck of the woods. As well as the spices I added a little cocoa powder for extra richness and used mostly brown sugar for fudginess. As I was using duck eggs which are quite large, I added a little bit of extra chocolate too.
Whilst the avocado by no means replaced all of the butter, it did have less saturated fat than many brownie recipes, so it could be argued that they are slightly better for you!
This is how I made:
Spicy Peruvian Avocado Brownies
- Melted 150g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat with 270g chocolate (I used a mixture of 70& plain, 53% dark and 37% milk). Stirred to combine, then left to cool a little.
- Beat 100g dark brown sugar, 50g golden caster sugar together with 3 duck eggs (large hens eggs will be fine) using electric beaters for about 3 minutes
- Mashed 1 large Peruvian Hass avocado and added it to the eggs. Beat the mixture for a further minute.
- Poured the chocolate mixture down the side of the bowl and folded the mixture in as gently as possible.
- Sifted in 60g self-raising flour, 1 scant tbsp cocoa powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper and ¼ tsp ground cinnamon.
- Folded this in until just incorporated.
- Scraped the batter into a 9″ sq. silicone mould and baked at 180℃ for 25 minutes.
- Left in the mould to cool then cut into 16 pieces.
These are real melt in your mouth brownies – sort of light but fudgy and unctuous at the same time. The touch of spices was just right, a catch at the back of the throat and a hint of something warming, but nothing that overpowered the deep rich chocolateyness of these brownies. You can eat several of these and your palate is left feeling quite clean at the end of it – I should point out that eating several at a time is not really recommended. The taste of avocado could barely be detected. None of the taste testers (other than super taster CT) noticed it, even after I told them what the brownies contained. Not being able to taste avocado in your brownies, when all’s said and done, is for most of us, a good thing.
This month’s theme for Love Cake over at JibberJabberUK is all about Back to School – Something New. These brownies fit the bill perfectly. They are delicious treats for the school lunch box, but slightly healthier than your average brownie. They are also new to me as I’ve never made brownies with avocado before.
I have to come clean here: making avocados into a smoothie seems a bit of a waste of a good avocado to me. I love the texture and flavour of this princely fruit but actually like them best just as they are, on toast or with slices tossed into a salad or mashed up in guacamole or this avocado and egg dip. But when an octet of Peruvian avocados winged their way to me it seemed like an ideal time to experiment.
Intuitively a dairy-free option seemed like the way to go. Ideally I would have used coconut water as the liquid, but I didn’t have any to hand. I had a look at coconut and almond milk options, but they were all full of sugar, vegetable fats and other additives. If only I’d read Janie’s post on making your own almond milk before going ahead, but I didn’t. In the end I resorted to a tin of coconut milk. To keep things as Peruvian as possible I used maca and raw cacao powder both grown in Peru. The maple syrup, oats and banana may have come from a different continent, but honour, I felt, had been served.
Talking of serving, how did the smoothies turn out? Really rather well. Thick and creamy, rich and chocolatey, healthy too; we had them for breakfast and they kept us going for several hours. Result.
- 1 large Peruvian Hass avocado
- 1 large banana – peeled
- 2 tbsp rolled oats
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 1 tbsp raw Peruvian cacao powder from Indigo Herbs.
- ½ tin coconut milk (fresh would be best)
- 2 tsp (or to taste) maple syrup
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 large or 4 small glasses
You’ll find the recipe for a rather delicious dairy-free tropical smoothie with coconut, mango & banana at the bottom of this post. But I’m starting off with a look at a few raw products that are currently available. Whilst I’m not quite at the forefront of raw food consumption, it does make up a part of my diet and I don’t just mean salad leaves. I’ve been a fan of raw chocolate since long before I started this blog; the concept of raw chocolate and other sweet treats that are actively good for you is one I find most appealing. Unlike cheap chocolate bars, I find these satisfy quite quickly and I’m unable to gorge myself on them.