If you've ever spent any time with our dog, Lucy, you know well her ability to kindle your total adoration one moment and utter annoyance in the next. Graced with soft and floppy ears, a toothy grin, and big, brown eyes, the girl is 40 smart, stubborn, dramatic pounds of hound. And just like the rest of her kind, she's got an unstoppable nose and a wild-eyed, panting, insatiable love of food. While she's generally interested in anything edible, she's especially fond of anything fruit or vegetable.
Most recently, Lucy discovered cherries.
Cherry season in my neighborhood is a tease. I know of three giant trees laden with perfectly sun-ripened sour red stone fruit held just beyond my reach. The piles of overripe fruit and sticky pits mock me from the ground. For me, they are inedible, unusable. For Lucy, though, they are a scrumptious feast.
It took us a while to figure out why Lucy was spending so much time in one previously shunned corner of the yard. Unbeknownst to her clueless owners, she had been spending her days basking in the sun and gorging herself on rotting fruit and toxic pits. That's our girl.
Thankfully, Lucy seems to have a stomach of iron. Apart from a few bellyaches brought on by an overindulgence of my own favorite summer treat, she has reveled in her gluttony unscathed.
And so, I have been forced to buy my cherries. I alternate between slowly savoring each one and haphazardly throwing them on nearly everything I eat. When I decided to finally satisfy my months-long craving for chocolate mousse, I could think of no better topping than fresh, sweet, summer cherries. Heaven in a glass (or mug, or bowl), my friends.
And, this brittle. It really deserves a post of its own. Stir a bit of honey into nutty toasted quinoa and amaranth, add a pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon. Good-for-your-body, good-for-your-soul candy, folks.
Raw Chocolate Mousse
Free of processed sugar and chock full of healthy fats and antioxidants, this creamy mousse is a perfectly decadent dessert or breakfast -- hey, sometimes you need to start your day with a little chocolate. Top with Whipped Coconut Cream, fresh cherries, and protein-laden Quinoa and Amaranth Brittle (recipe below).
1 can coconut cream (or 2 cans full fat coconut milk), 1/3 cup reserved for plain whipped coconut cream
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder, or to taste*
2 tablespoons raw agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon course sea salt, to taste
*Raw cacao powder is made from unroasted cocoa beans. Cocoa powder is made from roasted cocoa beans and is, therefore, not raw. If you do not mind the mousse not being entirely raw, you may use cocoa powder.
1. Chill coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight. (If using cans of full fat coconut milk, chill overnight. The cream will separate and rise to the top. Remove the cream. You can reserve the remaining liquid to use in smoothies.)
2. In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, whip the chilled coconut cream for 1-2 minutes. It is helpful if the bowl is chilled. Add the cacao powder, sweetener, vanilla, and salt. Whip for 1-2 minutes longer, until the coconut milk becomes light and airy. Note that the more liquid sweetener you add, the more dense the mousse will be.
3. Place the mousse in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Top with fresh cherries (or other seasonal fruit), whipped coconut cream, and Quinoa and Amaranth Brittle.
Whipped Coconut Cream
1/3 cup coconut cream
1-2 teaspoons agave, honey, or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt, to taste
1. Chill coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight.
2. In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, whip the chilled coconut cream for 1-2 minutes. It is helpful if the bowl is chilled. Add the sweetener, vanilla extract, and salt. Whip for 1-2 minutes longer, until the coconut milk resembles whipped cream.
Quinoa and Amaranth Brittle
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup amaranth
3 tablespoons raw, local honey
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon course sea salt
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay a Silpat over a baking sheet or generously grease a baking sheet.
2. Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add quinoa and, stirring constantly, allow to pop. This will only take a few minutes. Be careful not to burn -- this is best avoided by stirring. Once the quinoa begins to pop, you can remove the skillet from the heat and shake. Return to heat if the popping begins to slow too much. Pour popped quinoa into a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Using the same skillet, repeat the popping process with amaranth. Once popped, add to the bowl with quinoa.
4. Add the honey, cinnamon, sea salt, and coconut oil to the popped grains and stir until the grains are well coated. Spoon onto prepared baking sheet and press into a thin layer.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before using a knife to break into pieces. Store in the freezer to ensure that the brittle maintains its crunch.
P.S. I accidentally copied Renee's raw chocolate mousse and fresh berry idea. Hers has avocados and dates. Try it -- one can never have too much raw chocolate mousse.