Today we have an entrant for the final course of the Diced! competition. This round includes ingredients that are vegan friendly. Contestants were encouraged to add any additional ingredients they wished (even non-vegan ones). Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for a dessert course containing the following ingredients: pineapple, dark chocolate, and oats. They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. After the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.
Due to the generosity of the following companies, we have some really awesome products as a prize to the winner of this Diced! competition. The winner will receive:
- Zak – The winner receives their choice of a four piece setting or set of three serving bowls from their new Moso line. This is made from biodegradable bamboo and comes in a choice of four stylish colors. Look for a review of this product in the near future. Check them out here.
- Chobani – The leading brand in Greek Yogurt, the winner will receive a case of their choice of flavor of Greek yogurt. I’ve been using quite a bit of Chobani in my cooking lately and love it. Look for those recipes soon. Check out the selection at: http://chobani.com/products
- Microplane – Microplane will provide the winner with four items: Microplane Elite Series Fine Grater, Home Series Coarse Grater, Bartender’s Garnishing Tool, Cut-Resistant Glove. I recently reviewed these products here. Check out their products at their facebook page: www.facebook.com/microplane
- Youcopia – Maker of organization products, they would like to offer the winner a choice of a product from their web site. I recently reviewed the Bake Stack.
Today’s contestant, Diana is no stranger to the Rantings of an Amateur Chef as she was one of the early guest bloggers. Diana has penned five guest blogs from a beautiful butternut mac and cheese to Limoncello Cupcakes. Check out Diana’s blog at Food N Thought Peddler and her entry below…
So here we are at the last Diced! round, and this is so exciting! And what’s a better way to finish the competition than with some chocolate?! Chocolate is one of those miracle foods that can help you celebrate, or cry with you, or easy your anxieties, or be an instant mood or energy booster. It is literary whatever you want it to be. It could be your best friend, a lover, a therapist, and it’s surely better than Valium. :)
Despite its unpopular reputation being a “diet buster”, chocolate, especially the darker and less sugary varieties, is actually “good for you”.
Some of the benefits were discovered fairly recently and some were known for years:
- A 2011 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than women who treated themselves to fewer than 9 grams of the sweet stuff.
- Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One of the reasons dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy is its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk.
- Chocolate is rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you’ll eat less, Dark chocolate does the trick much better than milk one, according to a small study from the University of Copenhagen, and may even reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
- A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes.
- Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin too. The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. But that does not mean you can skip the sunscreen!
- Can’t stop coughing? An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs. In late 2010, the BBC reported that scientists were investigating creating a drug containing theobromine to replace cough syrups containing codeine, which can have risky side effects.
- Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin, which can improve blood flow and circulation.
- Because of chocolate’s ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.
- That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa’s flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.
- And of course there is no denying that indulging your sweet tooth every once in a while feels great. Enjoying food is part of enjoying life. Chocolate eaters also report feeling less stressed and more satisfied with their lifestyle.
So enjoy this food, definitely enjoy life, if anything, life is always better with chocolate around! :)
The recipe below is completely vegan and gluten free, plus it’s definitely “good for you”, full of healthy fats and antioxidants, it will surely satisfy all the health benefits mentioned above. No baking is required (except for the “trimmings and decorations”), which could be a bonus during the summer months. Properly stored, it could stay in a freezer for a long time, if it actually lasts that long (it only survived 5 days in my home).
No Bake “Death by Chocolate” Torte with Pineapple Flowers
No bake chocolate crust:
1 1/2 cups of cashews
1/2 cup of toasted steel cut oats, toasted
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
2 Tbspoons of grape seed or other light tasting oil
1 tspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 tspoon of sea salt
Chocolate mousse filling:
3 small/medium avocados, scooped out
1/3 cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk
2/3 cup of pure maple syrup
12 oz of dark chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tbspoon of smooth cashew or peanut butter
1 Tbspoon of arrowroot powder
1 tspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 tspoon of sea salt
Baked pineapple flowers
Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
You can make pineapple flowers ahead of time and simply store them in the fridge until needed. I toasted the oats at the same time I baked the pineapple, and they both turned out great. Making pineapple flowers is easy but a bit time consuming, plus at the end, it requires a very watchful approach as not to burn them. If you’d rather just skip this step, you can use crushed canned or fresh pineapple, mixing it with toasted coconut flakes will still provide a great topping.
To make the flowers, peel but don’t core a pineapple. Cut the slices across very thinly and arrange them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake at 225 degrees for about 30-40 minutes on each side until the slices are dried out, check them every 5-10 minutes at the end as not to burn them. While they are still warm from the oven, place each slice inside a cupcake pan to shape into flower. Let them cool off completely before you cover and store them this way in the fridge until needed. You can remove the brown edges, but I found them to be very pretty and looking just like autumn flowers.
I toasted the oats at the same time on a lower oven shelf, turning them occasionally. Use the steel cut oats rather than regular as it will provide you with smaller pieces easier to toast and use in this recipe. Also, toasted oats give a more distinct nutty flavor, perfect in combination with cashews used for the crust.
To make the crust, combine all ingredients in a food processor, start with cashews but don’t over process them so small pieces are still left out and add the toasted oats at the end so they don’t turn into flour.
Press the mix into 7-9 inch cake or tart springform with a removable bottom. Place the crust in the freezer while you make the filling.
To make the mousse, process the avocados until smooth and then gradually add all the ingredients, except the chocolate and arrowroot powder, to mix them well together. Carefully add the arrowroot to make sure it doesn’t form clumps, it acts as a starch and helps the mousse set and solidify. Add melted but not overly hot chocolate, process all until a smooth filling is created. Top the frozen crust with mousse, cover and return to the freezer.
Let the torte set for at least 2-4 hours before removing it from the pan, allow it to warm up for about 5 minutes before cutting it. Top with toasted coconut flakes and pineapple flowers. I don’t recommend freezing the toppings along with the torte, rather keep them separate and garnish as needed.
Sweet pineapple is a perfect companion to a slightly bitter rich taste of chocolate over a nut crust with a hint of sea salt.
You will definitely feel indulged minus all the guilty “diet buster” feelings.