cacao, the story

donna hay - - SWEET -

The co­coa tree ( Theo­broma

cacao) bears won­der­ful fruit called co­coa pods (1). At harvest, these pods are lov­ingly picked and cracked open to re­veal about 20 to 40 co­coa beans (2). Some beans are roasted and even­tu­ally be­come co­coa, while oth­ers em­bark on a cooler jour­ney and are cold-pressed. These raw beans are fer­mented and chopped to make cacao nibs (3), which are rich in an­tiox­i­dants and mag­ne­sium. Fil­tra­tion re­moves the co­coa butter, and what’s left is dried and crushed… voila,

cacao pow­der (4) is born! You can find co­coa beans, cacao nibs and cacao pow­der in health food stores and su­per­mar­kets.

spiced cacao and co­conut chia mousse

400ml can co­conut milk ¼ cup (25g) cacao pow­der ½ ta­ble­spoon vanilla ex­tract 3 fresh dates (about 45g), pit­ted 2 ta­ble­spoons maple syrup ½ tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon ¹⁄³ cup (60g) black chia seeds co­conut cream and cacao nibs, to serve Place the co­conut milk, cacao pow­der, vanilla, dates, maple syrup and cin­na­mon in a blender and blend un­til smooth. Pour into a jug, add the chia seeds and whisk to com­bine. Pour the mix­ture into 4 x 1-cup-ca­pac­ity (250ml) glasses+ and re­frig­er­ate for 2 hours.

Spoon over the co­conut cream and sprin­kle with cacao nibs to serve. Serves 4. + We served our cacao co­conut mouse in co­conut halves.

raw cacao, co­conut and wal­nut cake

3 cups (300g) wal­nuts ¹⁄³ cup (55g) sul­tanas 15 fresh dates (about 225g), pit­ted ½ cup (50g) cacao pow­der ¹⁄³ cup (65g) co­conut oil, melted 1 cup (90g) rolled oats 2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract ¼ cup (20g) toasted shred­ded co­conut crushed cacao nibs, to serve Place the wal­nuts and sul­tanas in a large heat­proof bowl and cover with boil­ing water. Set aside for 10 min­utes to soak. Drain and place in a food pro­ces­sor. Add the dates and process for 2 min­utes or un­til smooth. Add the cacao, co­conut oil, oats, vanilla and shred­ded co­conut, and process for 1 minute or un­til com­bined. Line an 18cm round tin with non-stick bak­ing pa­per. Press the mix­ture into the tin, push­ing down with the back of a spoon to smooth the top. Re­frig­er­ate for 2 hours. Re­move from the tin and sprin­kle with the cacao nibs to serve. Serves 12–14. Note: You can keep this cake in an air­tight con­tainer in the fridge for up to three days.

raw lam­ing­tons with black­berry jam

3 cups (450g) raw cashews 1½ cups (120g) des­ic­cated co­conut ¾ cup (180ml) co­conut cream ¼ cup (50g) co­conut oil, melted ¼ cup (90g) honey 3 cups (225g) shred­ded co­conut black­berry chia jam 250g black­ber­ries 1½ ta­ble­spoons honey 1 ta­ble­spoon lemon juice 1 ta­ble­spoon water 1 ta­ble­spoon black chia seeds choco­late ic­ing ¼ cup (60ml) co­conut cream ½ cup (50g) cacao pow­der ½ cup (100g) co­conut oil, melted 2 ta­ble­spoons honey Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm bak­ing tin, line with non-stick bak­ing pa­per and set aside. Place the cashews in a food pro­ces­sor and process un­til finely chopped. Add the des­ic­cated co­conut, co­conut cream, co­conut oil and honey, and pulse un­til the mix­ture comes to­gether. Spoon the mix­ture into the tin and press evenly with the back of the spoon. Re­frig­er­ate for 1 hour or un­til firm.

While the cashew mix­ture is chill­ing, make the black­berry chia jam. Place the black­ber­ries, honey, lemon juice, water and chia seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a sim­mer and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 12–15 min­utes or un­til thick­ened. Place in a medium bowl and re­frig­er­ate for 15 min­utes or un­til cold.

Re­move the cashew ‘sponge’ from the tin and cut in half. Spread one half with the jam and sand­wich with the re­main­ing half. Place on a tray lined with non-stick bak­ing pa­per and freeze for 15 min­utes or un­til jam is firm.

To make the choco­late ic­ing, place the co­conut cream, cacao pow­der, co­conut oil and honey in a small bowl and whisk to com­bine. Set aside.

Re­move the lam­ing­ton from the freezer and cut into 3cm squares, trim­ming the ex­cess. Dip one lam­ing­ton into the choco­late ic­ing and roll in the shred­ded co­conut. Re­peat with the re­main­ing lam­ing­tons. Serve im­me­di­ately or re­frig­er­ate un­til ready to serve. Makes 15.

co­conut and cacao self-sauc­ing pud­ding

½ cup (50g) cacao pow­der, sifted, plus ex­tra for dust­ing 80g raw cacao choco­late, chopped ¹⁄³ cup (65g) co­conut oil ¹⁄³ cup (115g) honey 4 eggs, at room tem­per­a­ture Pre­heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease the base of 4 x 1-cup-ca­pac­ity (250ml) dar­i­ole moulds, line with non-stick bak­ing pa­per and dust with the ex­tra cacao. Set aside.

Place the choco­late and co­conut oil in a small saucepan over low heat and stir un­til melted. Place the honey, cacao pow­der and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk un­til smooth. Add the choco­late mix­ture and whisk un­til smooth. Di­vide be­tween the dar­i­ole moulds and place on a bak­ing tray. Cook for 10 min­utes or un­til puffed. Gen­tly turn out the cakes im­me­di­ately and dust with ex­tra cacao to serve. Makes 4. Note: Serve im­me­di­ately to en­sure the cakes have a lovely, molten cen­tre.

salted co­conut rough

½ cup (100g) co­conut oil, melted ½ cup (50g) cacao pow­der, sifted 2 ta­ble­spoons honey 2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract 1 fresh co­conut, flesh chopped+ ½ cup (7.5g) puffed brown rice 1 ta­ble­spoon cacao nibs ½ tea­spoon sea salt flakes 1 cup (50g) flaked co­conut Place the co­conut oil, cacao pow­der, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat and stir to com­bine.

Place the fresh co­conut, puffed brown rice, cacao nibs, salt and ½ cup (25g) of the flaked co­conut in large bowl. Pour over the honey mix­ture and mix to com­bine. Line a large bak­ing tray with non-stick bak­ing pa­per and pour the mix­ture over. Top with the re­main­ing flaked co­conut. Freeze for 1 hour or un­til set. Break into shards to serve. Serves 8–10. + Fresh co­conuts are avail­able from green­gro­cers. To crack them open, pierce the eyes with a screw­driver and drain the liq­uid. Pre­heat oven to 220°C (425°F). Place on a bak­ing tray and cook for 5 min­utes. Re­move from the oven and care­fully crack open with a ham­mer. The flesh can be chopped or shaved. Note: You can keep this re­frig­er­ated in an air­tight con­tainer for up to one week.

co­conut caramel slice

½ cup (100g) co­conut oil, melted, plus ¼ cup (50g) ex­tra 2½ cups (190g) shred­ded co­conut 2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract 1¼ cups (160g) spelt flour, sifted ½ cup (50g) cacao pow­der, sifted 160g raw cacao choco­late, finely chopped ¼ cup (90g) honey co­conut date caramel 25 fresh dates (about 375g), pit­ted ½ cup (100g) co­conut oil, melted 1¼ cups (310ml) co­conut cream Pre­heat oven to 160°C (325°F). Line the base of a lightly greased 20cm x 30cm slice tin with non-stick bak­ing pa­per and set aside.

Place the co­conut oil, shred­ded co­conut, vanilla, flour and cacao pow­der in a large bowl and mix well to com­bine. Press into the base of the tin. Bake for 10 min­utes or un­til dry to the touch.

To make the co­conut date caramel, place the dates, co­conut oil and co­conut cream in a food pro­ces­sor and process for 3 min­utes or un­til very smooth. Spoon over the base and spread evenly. Cook for 30 min­utes or un­til set. Set aside for 10 min­utes to cool slightly.

Place the choco­late, honey and ex­tra co­conut oil in a small saucepan over low heat un­til melted. Pour over the slice. Us­ing a hot knife, cut into slices to serve. Makes 20. Note: You can store the caramel slice re­frig­er­ated in an air­tight con­tainer for up to one week.

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