Av­o­ca­dos have a sweet side — and it’s de­li­cious

The Denver Post - - LIFE&CULTURE - By Kris­ten Hartke

Ask cook­book author Pat Tan­u­mi­hardja about some of her fa­vorite food mem­o­ries grow­ing up in In­done­sia, and av­o­ca­dos will fig­ure promi­nently in her re­sponse.

“Half an av­o­cado, driz­zled with palm sugar syrup,” she says with a happy sigh.

In many cul­tures, from In­done­sia to Brazil to Sri Lanka, the av­o­cado is treated as the fruit it ac­tu­ally is, some­times topped off with a squirt of choco­late syrup or sweet­ened con­densed milk, and, more of­ten, in­cor­po­rated into sweet drinks. The frosty av­o­cado-based shake known in Viet­nam as sinh to bo is a sim­ple com­bi­na­tion of av­o­cado, con­densed milk, ice cubes and sugar syrup that is repli­cated var­i­ously around the world: In­done­sians add cof­fee or

choco­late syrup, call­ing it Es Alpukat, while Brazil­ians en­liven the same shake with a squirt of tart lime juice, and a Moroc­can ver­sion sweet­ens the mix with con­fec­tion­ers’ sugar and a hint of or­ange flower water.

Known across Asia as “but­ter fruit,” the av­o­cado has a mild fla­vor and creamy tex­ture that makes it a re­mark­ably adapt­able in­gre­di­ent for many recipes, in­clud­ing desserts. While av­o­ca­dos are nor­mally con­sumed raw, and can become bit­ter if cooked over di­rect heat, they can be mashed or pureed in bak­ing, and they are in­creas­ingly be­ing found whipped into smooth­ies and bub­ble teas as Amer­i­cans dis­cover that av­o­ca­dos can go far be­yond stan­dard chip-and­dip fare.

Us­ing av­o­ca­dos for some­thing be­sides gua­camole or other sa­vory dishes was a tough sell for Pati Jinich, host of the PBS tele­vi­sion se­ries “Pati’s Mex­i­can Table,” who grew up in Mex­ico City.

“The first time I ever heard of us­ing av­o­ca­dos in some­thing sweet was from my sis­ter, Sharon, who is a ve­gan,” Jinich says. “She made this av­o­cado choco­late mousse, and I was to­tally dis­gusted by the thought of it.”

But be­cause of its thick, but­tery con­sis­tency, av­o­cado does seem to par­tic­u­larly shine when paired with choco­late, notes Tan­u­mi­hardja. “Choco­late mousse is a great way to in­tro­duce some­one to av­o­cado as a dessert, be­cause you re­ally don’t know there’s av­o­cado in it,” she said.

In­deed, Jinich’s sis­ter had the last laugh, be­cause that mousse turned out to be de­li­cious, claim­ing an­other con­vert to the av­o­cado-as-dessert move­ment. In­spired by her sis­ter’s mousse, Jinich be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with av­o­ca­dos in smooth­ies, pan­cakes and pop­si­cles, lead­ing her to cre­ate desserts such as Av­o­cado and Co­conut Ice Cream, a sur­pris­ingly rich dairy-free con­fec­tion with a vel­vety mouth­feel rem­i­nis­cent of gelato.

“I found that av­o­ca­dos could be one of the most lus­cious, sen­su­ous, silky, ex­u­ber­ant in­gre­di­ents ever,” says Jinich. “In my house, we use av­o­ca­dos as a sa­vory in­gre­di­ent 65 per­cent of the time. We throw it on top of every­thing. But these days, I’m also putting it in cakes.”

The creamy tex­ture of ripe av­o­ca­dos makes it a nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ent for rich desserts that are de­cep­tively health­ful, be­cause, al­though there’s up to 28 grams of fat in a medi­um­size fruit, it is largely mo­noun­sat­u­rated fat, which can lower LDL choles­terol. A ta­ble­spoon of av­o­cado has 25 calo­ries, com­pared to 100 calo­ries in the same amount of but­ter, and just over two grams of fat, pri­mar­ily un­sat­u­rated, in con­trast to 12 grams of mostly sat­u­rated fat in but­ter. Sub­sti­tute mashed av­o­cado 1-to-1 for at least some of the but­ter in baked goods and sud­denly that brownie seems like less of a no-no.

When Lara Fer­roni set out to re­search av­o­cado recipes for her book “An Av­o­cado a Day” (Sasquatch Books, 2017), she wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily a fan of the dessert av­o­cado, ei­ther. Four months and 300 av­o­ca­dos later, she has seen the light.

“Av­o­ca­dos don’t re­ally have a sa­vory fla­vor,” Fer­roni says, “but they have an umami qual­ity. Once I got over that men­tal hump of ‘It’s just for gua­camole,’ it was re­ally easy to take av­o­ca­dos in a sweet di­rec­tion.”

With av­o­cado prices ris­ing this year due to a smaller har­vest, the good news is that a lit­tle av­o­cado can ac­tu­ally go a long way — al­though, for some, that may lead to con­cerns about how to store any fruit that didn’t make it into that pie or ice cream.

Fer­roni thinks she has found the so­lu­tion: freez­ing av­o­cado, ei­ther in cubes or lightly mashed, then de­frost­ing it for later use in baked goods or smooth­ies — but not in gua­camole or any other ap­pli­ca­tions where fresh is best.

“I’m pretty sure there was a pe­riod of time that I was the coun­try’s largest av­o­cado pur­chaser as a home cook,” says Fer­roni. “I had to fig­ure out what to do with all those leftovers.”

Av­o­cado and Co­conut Ice Cream

6 serv­ings (makes 1 quart)

Nei­ther eggs nor dairy is re­quired for this lus­cious frozen treat, which gets its creamy tex­ture from pureed av­o­cado and rich co­conut milk. Call­ing it “ridicu­lously yummy,” Mex­i­can Amer­i­can chef Pati Jinich notes that the nutty fla­vor is en­hanced by a top­ping of toasted co­conut flakes or nuts – and a driz­zle of choco­late syrup would not be amiss.

This recipe calls for an ice cream maker, but this co­conu­tav­o­cado mix­ture can be chilled and served as a cold mousse, or packed into a con­tainer an d frozen to a dense soft-serve con­sis­tency.

For an op­ti­mal ice cream con­sis­tency, the churned ice cream needs a few hours in the freezer be­fore serv­ing.

Adapted from chef and cook­book author Pati Jinich. In­gre­di­ents

1½ cups reg­u­lar co­conut milk ¾ cup sugar

Flesh of 3 large ripe Hass av­o­ca­dos halved, diced (about 3 cups)

3 ta­ble­spoons fresh lime juice N cup dried shred­ded co­conut or sweet­ened co­conut flakes lightly toasted, for gar­nish (op­tional; may sub­sti­tute toasted al­monds, pine nuts or pis­ta­chios) Di­rec­tions

Com­bine the co­conut milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stir­ring un­til the sugar dis­solves. Turn off heat and let the mix­ture cool for a few min­utes. then trans­fer to a blender or food pro­ces­sor, along with the av­o­cado and lime juice. Puree un­til com­pletely smooth.

Trans­fer the puree to an ice cream maker; churn ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions. It will still be some­what soft. Place in a sep­a­rate, freezer-safe con­tainer with a tight-fit­ting lid and freeze for a cou­ple hours be­fore serv­ing.

If us­ing, lightly toast the co­conut in a small saute pan over medium-low heat, stir­ring con­stantly to avoid scorch­ing. The co­conut toast­ing should take less than a minute. Once the co­conut be­comes fra­grant and ac­quires a tan, re­move from the heat. Sprin­kle as a gar­nish over the ice cream.

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing: 320 calo­ries, 2 g pro­tein, 34 g car­bo­hy­drates, 22 g fat, 12 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mg choles­terol, 20 mg sodium, 5 g di­etary fiber, 25 g sugar

Iced Av­o­cado and Cof­fee Drink (Es Alpukat)

4 serv­ings

Sin­ga­pore na­tive Pat Tan­u­mi­hardja grew up on re­fresh­ing av­o­cado drinks like this one, which com­bines chunks of av­o­cado in a cof­feelaced milk sweet­ened with a thick sim­ple syrup. This ver­sion is blended into a creamy ve­gan shake, but it can also be made with reg­u­lar or low-fat milk.

The syrup is steeped with pan­dan leaves, which have a lightly cit­rusy vanilla fla­vor. Use the same syrup to sweeten tea and cock­tails; if you have trou­ble find­ing pan­dan leaves, you can sub­sti­tute a split vanilla bean and add a squirt of lime juice.

You’ll have syrup left over, which can be re­frig­er­ated in an air­tight con­tainer for up to 2 months.

Pan­dan leaves are avail­able at Asian mar­kets (typ­i­cally frozen).

Adapted from a recipe by Seat­tle food writer and cook­book author Pat Tan­u­mi­hardja. In­gre­di­ents FOR THE SYRUP 2 cups sugar

1 cup water

2 pan­dan leaves, trimmed and tied into sep­a­rate knots (see head­note)

For the drink

Flesh of 1 large ripe av­o­cado L cup es­presso plus

M cup water (may sub­sti­tute 1 cup strong brewed cof­fee, cooled)

2 cups al­mond milk (may sub­sti­tute other plant-based milk)

K cup ice cubes, or more as

needed

Choco­late syrup, for serv­ing In­stant es­presso grounds, for

serv­ing

Di­rec­tions FOR THE SYRUP

Com­bine the sugar, water and pan­dan leaves in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; once the sugar has dis­solved and the liq­uid is bub­bling, re­duce the heat to medium and cook for 8 to 10 min­utes, un­til thick­ened, ad­just­ing the heat as needed.

Dis­card the leaves, then pour the syrup into a heat­proof con­tainer or bot­tle. The yield is about 2K cups; you’ll need N

cup for this recipe. FOR THE DRINK:

Com­bine the av­o­cado, es­presso cof­fee, al­mond milk and pan­dan syrup in a blender. Add ice cubes, cover and blend on HIGH speed un­til smooth and frothy. Add ice cubes and blend again, as needed, for a thicker con­sis­tency.

Di­vide the drink among in­di­vid­ual glasses or cups. Driz­zle the top with choco­late syrup, and then sprin­kle lightly with ground es­presso. Serve right away.

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing: 100 calo­ries, 2 g pro­tein, 10 g car­bo­hy­drates, 7 g fat, 1 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mg choles­terol, 5 mg sodium, 2 g di­etary fiber, 1 g sugar

Av­o­cado Key Lime Pie

6 to 8 serv­ings (makes one 9inch pie)

The nat­u­ral creami­ness of av­o­cado pro­vides the per­fect tex­ture for this tart pie fill­ing, with the added bonus that it re­quires no stove­top cook­ing.

If you can’t find Key limes, you can sub­sti­tute reg­u­lar limes or even use bot­tled Key lime juice — just don’t for­get the fresh lime zest.

The baked, cooled crust needs to be re­frig­er­ated for 1 hour be­fore us­ing. It can be tightly wrapped in its dish and frozen for up to 2 weeks. De­frost be­fore us­ing. The as­sem­bled pie needs to be re­frig­er­ated for at least 2 hours, and prefer­ably overnight.

Adapted from a recipe by Lara Fer­roni, author of “An Av­o­cado a Day: More Than 70 Recipes for En­joy­ing Na­ture’s Most De­li­cious Su­per­food” (Sasquatch, 2017). In­gre­di­ents FOR THE CRUST: 2 cups finely ground gra­ham cracker crumbs (from about 10 squares)

N cup sugar

Scant N tea­spoon sea salt

M cup co­conut oil (liq­ue­fied) or

un­salted but­ter, melted FOR THE FILL­ING: Flesh of 2 ripe Hass av­o­ca­dos, smashed (2 cups; may use fresh or frozen/de­frosted) 4 tea­spoons finely grated zest

and

K cup plus 2 ta­ble­spoons fresh juice (from about 5 Key limes; see head­note)

K cup sweet­ened con­densed

co­conut milk

1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract Pinch kosher salt Whipped cream, for gar­nish

(op­tional)

Finely grated lime zest and/or thin lime wheels, for gar­nish (op­tional)

Di­rec­tions FOR THE CRUST:

Pre­heat the oven to 350 de­grees.

Com­bine the gra­ham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil or melted but­ter and stir un­til the crumbs are evenly coated, with the con­sis­tency of wet sand.

Use a spoon or the un­der­side of a mea­sur­ing cup to press the mix­ture evenly into the bot­tom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate, Bake (mid­dle rack) for about 10 min­utes, un­til lightly browned. Trans­fer to a wire rack to cool for 15 min­utes, then re­frig­er­ate for 1 hour, or un­til well chilled.

FOR THE FILL­ING

Com­bine the av­o­cado, lime zest and juice, con­densed milk, vanilla ex­tract and salt in a blender. Puree un­til smooth and silky. Trans­fer the mix­ture to the chilled crust, then use an off­set spat­ula to spread it smooth and evenly. Cover and re­frig­er­ate for at least 2 hours, and prefer­ably overnight, be­fore serv­ing.

Gar­nish with whipped cream and the lime zest and thin lime wheels, if us­ing.

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing (based on 8, us­ing co­conut oil in the crust): 410 calo­ries, 3 g pro­tein, 34 g car­bo­hy­drates, 30 g fat, 22 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mg choles­terol, 280 mg sodium, 4 g di­etary fiber, 16 g sugar

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing (based on 8, us­ing but­ter in the crust): 380 calo­ries, 3 g pro­tein, 34 g car­bo­hy­drates, 27 g fat, 14 g sat­u­rated fat, 40 mg choles­terol, 280 mg sodium, 4 g di­etary fiber, 16 g sugar

Choco­late-Dipped Av­o­cado Cookies

28 to 30 serv­ings

Av­o­cado adds a mild fla­vor and ten­der­ness to these teatime-size cookies.

The dough needs to be re­frig­er­ated for at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day. The dipped cookies need to set for about an hour be­fore serv­ing or stor­ing.

Adapted from a recipe by chef and cook­book author Pati Jinich. In­gre­di­ents FOR THE COOKIES: N cup co­conut oil (so­lid­i­fied),

at room tem­per­a­ture

NO cup cr i op nef, ed cit c io ed ne Hrs a’ ssu ag va or ca do 1 large egg

1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract Finely grated zest of 1 lime,

plus 2 ta­ble­spoons juice 1L cups flour, plus more for

the work sur­face

K tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der Pinch kosher salt FOR THE IC­ING: 6 ounces bit­ter­sweet choco­late coarsely chopped or bro­ken into pieces

1 ta­ble­spoon co­conut oil

Di­rec­tions FOR THE COOKIES:

Com­bine the co­conut oil and av­o­cado in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand­held elec­tric mixer; beat on medium speed, un­til smooth. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the sugar; beat on medium speed for a few min­utes, un­til fluffy, then add the egg, vanilla ex­tract, lime zest and juice; beat un­til well in­cor­po­rated. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Com­bine the flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt on a sheet of parch­ment or wax pa­per. On low speed, grad­u­ally add the flour mix­ture, beat­ing to just long enough to form a soft, well-blended dough.

Lightly flour a work sur­face. Trans­fer the dough there and sprin­kle lightly with flour so you can gather the dough into two logs, each about 9K inches long and 1½ inches wide. Roll in plas­tic wrap, twist­ing the ends to make a tightly packed log. Re­frig­er­ate for at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day.

If the logs of dough aren’t fairly firm, place them in the freezer for 15 min­utes.

Po­si­tion racks in the up­per and lower thirds of the oven; pre­heat to 350 de­grees. Line two bak­ing sheets with parch­ment pa­per or sil­i­cone lin­ers.

Un­wrap the dough logs and place on a cut­ting board. Use a very sharp knife to cut each one into 14 to 15 thin slices. You may want to wet the blade of the knife af­ter 4 or 5 slices to make it eas­ier to cut. Ar­range the dough slices at least 1 inch apart on the bak­ing sheets. Bake (up­per and lower racks) for 9 min­utes, ro­tat­ing the sheets top to bot­tom and front to back half­way through. The cookie should be pale but lightly browned at the edges.

Cool on the bak­ing sheets for a few min­utes, then trans­fer the cookies to wire racks to cool com­pletely.

FOR THE IC­ING:

Re-line the bak­ing sheets with new parch­ment pa­per or wipe clean the sil­i­cone lin­ers.

Melt the choco­late and co­conut oil in a heat­proof bowl over a saucepan of barely bub­bling water (medium-low heat), stir­ring un­til shiny and smooth. Re­move from the heat.

While the ic­ing is warm, dip one side of each cookie half­way into it, then trans­fer to the bak­ing sheets to set for about 1 hour be­fore serv­ing or stor­ing.

Nu­tri­tion | Per cookie (based on 30, us­ing half the ic­ing): 70 calo­ries, 1 g pro­tein, 10 g car­bo­hy­drates, 4 g fat, 3 g sat­u­rated fat, 5 mg choles­terol, 5 mg sodium, 0 g di­etary fiber, 4 g sugar

Deb Lind­sey, Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Post

Av­o­cado Key Lime Pie.

Deb Lind­sey, Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Post

Av­o­cado and Co­conut Ice Cream.

Deb Lind­sey, Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Post

Iced Av­o­cado and Cof­fee Drink, Es Alpukat.

Deb Lind­sey, Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Post

Choco­late-Dipped Av­o­cado Cookies.

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