Friday, January 6, 2012

Diaries of a Girl Gone Dark and Bitter: Day 6 with recipes to share!

Looking back at this first week of going 'unsweetened' has not been so bad, overall.  I now enjoy my toast and hazelnut butter with NO agave syrup on it (this may be a permanent change in my life), and I am finding that 70% chocolate is starting to taste slightly sweet to me. I have also been treating myself to some very high end chocolate this week (stay tuned for a post on Bonnat and Amedei chocolate tomorrow), which has given me something to look forward to each day. 

However, I will admit to cheating on this no sugar thing a few times: 
  1. On Wednesday I did not have time to make a home-cooked dinner, so I heated up some store-bought Recipe-to-Riches Pulled Pork and was eating it before it occurred to me that the sauce was full of sugar. It was yummy though.
  2. Again on Wednesday night, I was making a large solid block of milk chocolate crisp rice for a cake decoration and could not resist eating a bit of the leftovers. Really, there were not supposed to be leftovers, but I created eat them. Self control was clearly not on my mind that evening.
  3. I ate two bites of my daughter's leftover chocolate chip cheesecake last night.  Hey, I made it, so it seemed unfair if I did not get to try it!
But that was all the cheating that I have done on my no-sugar program, so that is not so bad. In the past, I would have eaten more than two bites of cheesecake, had ketchup on my scrambled eggs and plum sauce on my chicken fingers (both of which I ate plain this week!). And clearly my body is reacting to this reduction in sugar because I have been experiencing some new mood swings by 4:00 p.m. each day.  So this month of going 'unsweetened' is probably a good detox for me and a great way to evaluate just how much sugar is in my diet.

Another good thing from going 'unsweetened' is that I have come up with a few recipes in my desperation to eat something...anything...that resembled a gourmet dessert.  This is difficult because my diet is so limited this month, with not being able to have dairy or sugar (you can read about why I can't have dairy...or the previous diary entry).  Also, I am not having artificial sweetener because I am trying to get my taste buds accustomed to bitter foods, beverages and chocolate (besides, artificial sweetener cannot be good for us...I'm sure of that, even if I do not know the science behind it!).

So here are two recipes that I came up with.  WARNING:  These chocolate desserts are VERY BITTER.  They are more like appetizers than desserts, and you must like very bitter chocolate if you plan to attempt them.

Extreme-Bitter Chocolate Banana Cake - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free (and NO artificial sweeter!)

  • 8 ounces (about 1 measuring cup) chopped 70% or 75% dark chocolate (see "Chocolate Note" below for chocolate)
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Note: Use a good quality chocolate, preferably a single origin for maximum favour - I used Cacao Barry Tanzanie Origine rare with 75% cacao solids.  But if you do not have access to single-origin or very fine chocolate, use an organic 70% like Camino or Green & Black's or just a 70% Lindt Excellence or Nestle Noir if that is all you can get.  You will need three (3) 100 gram bars, which is about 10.5 ounces - so you can eat 2.5 ounces and use the rest in the recipe!)

Step 1: Puree bananas in blender or with handheld mixer/blender (make sure bananas are very smooth or the texture of the cake will be lumpy)
Step 2: Melt chocolate over a double boiler with the one cup of coconut cream.  Stir frequently until smooth.
Step 3: Blend in Bananas with hand mixer or a stand mixer (i.e. transfer to stand mixer bowl if need be)
Step 4: Beat in eggs one at a time.  Scrape down bowl and mixers between each egg.
Step 5: Once smooth and eggs are blended, throw in your dash (1/4 tsp) of salt and mix thoroughly.
Step 6:  Pour into a 9" spring form pan lined with parchment paper in the bottom (if you do not have a spring form pan, that is fine, just use a 9" pan, but be sure there is a parchment round in the bottom as wide as the pan or you may not be able to get your cake out!)
Step 7: Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. May need a little longer or shorter depending on the type of oven you have. Just check it and be sure the top is just starting to puff (do not cook until it is completely puffed up in the centre or the cake will be grainy).
Step 8: Top cake with a chocolate ganache.  Bring 1/2 cup coconut cream (or water if you want to cut the calories) to a boil and pour over 4 ounces of chopped dark chocolate and stir until smooth.  Pour over cake. You can use the same type of chocolate as you used in the cake or use a sweeter dark chocolate to offset the bitterness in the cake (I used the same!).

For serving (makes 12 slices):
-Tastes best if served two days after it is made as the banana and chocolate flavours really develop.  At the very least, serve it after you have refrigerated it for about 6 hours or more, then bring it back to room temperature to serve. If you can have whipped cream and honey, serve with real whipped cream that is sweetened with a little honey or agave.  As I said above, do not expect this cake on its own to be sweet! 

Sweetened Version: You could add one cup of sugar to this cake recipe and cook for only 40 minutes if you can have sugar.  This will be more appealing to a general audience if you are planning to serve it to anyone who is not used to very bitter chocolate.  Add the sugar to the banana mixture and puree them together.

Dairy Version: Replace the coconut cream with 1/2 lb chopped butter (1 cup).  Mix butter with chocolate over the double boiler, same as with coconut cream above.

The decoration on top of this cake was made by tempering the single origin 75% Tanzanian Cacao Barry chocolate.  For a quick temper method, put 4 ounces in the microwave for 2 minutes on MEDIUM (50%) power.  Then stir until smooth.  Dip the back of your baby finger into the mixture to test if it is ready - if it is same temperature as your finger, it is ready. If it is too warm, stir in 1 ounce more of chopped chocolate until it cools to the right temperature. If it feels too cold, microwave for 5 seconds more and stir. 

Make swirls on wax paper by pouring chocolate into a zipper sealed snack bag and cutting a small hole on one corner to allow chocolate to drip from. I think you can figure out what to do from here...

Pot de Crème au Chocolat Dairy-Free with Coconut Cream and no added sugar (again, be warned this is very bitter!  It is like eating unsweetened yogurt, not sweet pudding)
-8 oz extra bitter chocolate (as above, I used Cacao Barry Tanzanie 75%, but I would recommend a 65% or 70%) chopped unless chocolate already comes in small drops
-2 cups coconut cream (split into two individual cups)
-1 tsp real peppermint extract

Bring 1 cup of coconut cream to a boil in a small pot and pour over chocolate.  Stir until smooth.  Let cool for five minutes.  Stir in remaining coconut cream and 1 tsp of mint.  Pour into 8 small ramekins and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

If you want a sweeter version, add a few tablespoons of agave syrup to coconut cream.

Stay tuned for a post tomorrow about three very fine imported +70% dark chocolate bars....I`ve been tasting them every day this week! And on Sunday will be another Sipping Sundays in Snowland post about a hot cocoa with Matcha Green Tea.

Also, if you want to read all about why I am going `dark and bitter` in the month of January, click here.

Previous diary posts:
Diaries of a Girl Gone Dark and Bitter: Day 1
Diaries of a Girl Gone Dark and Bitter: Days 2 and 3


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