I had a catch-up with my friend, Chef Seamus Mullen today (as he was riding his bicycle through New York City, weaving between inconsiderate cars, jumping over large rodents and evidently not running red lights.) We talked new bicycles and food. We plotted a little bit about a project we’re doing together (that I can’t wait to announce next week!) And that wound us into conversation on food philosophy. About hunger. About being hungry. And about what a craving is. All as he was swinging through the city on his bike.
We agree that – unlike a desire (which feels more like a want,) a craving is a need. A need for your body, mind, being. Almost an insistent ask from your emotional, physical, or psychological self. Like a space that needs filling. Or a missing puzzle piece. An itch that needs scratching. Whether its sex, the endorphin rush of a great run, a bar of chocolate or the whole damn cake — cravings arise when we’ve been neglecting something we need as beings in the world; when we’ve failed to scratch our itches. We all need to be touched, our bodies long to move and be of use, our brains and bodies need to think and work. One of the jobs of the brain is to tell the body needs. What it craves. And when we don’t listen, those cravings go from being dull sensations to loud roars.
When I spoke at the Liv Women’s Ambassador Camp last week, we touched on this – why don’t we listen to what we crave? Since this explains to us what our bodies require to function? Typically, because we already wrongfully presume that if we crave it, it must be bad. But have you ever thought that: if we’re longing for the entire cake, we’re likely WELL overdue for a small taste. If we’re longing for a whole bag of potato chips, we’re likely really in need of salt and fat. And we don’t always want to lounge about all weekend and binge watch Girls or Homeland but, when we’re due, we’re due.
There was a time when I spent a lot of my culinary energy on creating “healthy versions of sinful snacks.” But, I don’t believe in “bad foods” anymore. I don’t believe in “earning” dessert. I believe in making – and enjoying – delicious foods that make our bodies thrive. And this chocolate + avocado pudding is one of those delicious things we all deserve to eat just about anytime we want. And yes, you can also make a delicious, creamy chocolate pudding with dairy, but the texture just isn’t as creamy as this one can be.
The idea came originally from Gjelina – one of the restaurants that gave me heart-eyes in Los Angeles on my recent trip. But then I added a few twists here in Boulder and made it my own. It’s super easy to make ahead of time and then store for whenever that craving (or just the desire) to have something luxurious hits.
I hope you crave this one as much as I have been lately. Enjoy!
Chocolate + Avocado Pudding w/Toasted Hazelnuts
- 2 large avocados flesh scooped out, pits removed
- 1 vanilla bean split and scraped, pod discarded
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts skins removed
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Divide the pudding evenly among six ramekins (or 8-oz. Mason jars) and chill (uncovered) at least 2 hours.
To garnish and serve: in a small bowl with a whisk, whip together the heavy cream and granulated sugar until soft peaks form, then set aside.
Chop the toasted hazelnuts coarsely.
Top each pudding with a sprinkling of hazelnuts and a dollop of whipped cream - serve and enjoy!
Pudding can be made 3 days ahead, cover and chill.