Three Chocolate Desserts for Valentine’s Day
Natural Gourmet Center chefs share vegan brownie, bark and truffle recipes for whatever chocolate dessert your heart desires.
Whether you’re for Valentine’s Day or against it, it’s a great excuse to treat yourself to some chocolate. The naturally vegan, antioxidant-rich cocoa bean has been worshipped for centuries, and we still can’t get enough of it today. When using chocolate in dessert recipes, chefs from the Natural Gourmet Center opt for cleaner, plant-based and minimally processed ingredients. Here are some delicious chocolate treats to make this Valentine’s Day.
Raw Peppermint Brownies
By Chef Olivia Roszkowski
These decadent yet raw peppermint brownies come together effortlessly in a food processor. They make a perfect, elegant dessert to cap off your Valentine’s Day dinner.
For the chocolate brownie:
- 1 cup walnuts
- 3/4 cup dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the peppermint cream:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked
- 3/4 cup cacao butter
- 1/4 cup coconut nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup matcha powder
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil, to taste
For the coconut whipped cream:
- 1 can coconut cream, chilled
- 1 vanilla bean
For the garnishes:
- 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 1 small bunch mint leaves, picked
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1 teaspoon edible silver dust
- 1 tablespoon green tea matcha powder
- 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
- For the chocolate brownie: Add walnuts, hemp seeds, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract and sea salt into food processor and pulse until mixture is combined.
- For the peppermint cream: Add cashews, cacao butter, coconut nectar and lemon juice into food processor and pulse until creamy. Season to taste using matcha powder and peppermint oil, until desired color and mint flavor is achieved.
- For the coconut cream: Add the chilled cream and vanilla bean into a medium bowl. Use a hand mixer to whisk until whipped. Transfer to a piping bag to plate.
- To serve: Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a mold of choice, press 1/4 cup of the chocolate layer in the bottom. Follow with 1/4 cup of the peppermint cream, and add a third layer using an additional 1/4 cup of the brownie. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with melted chocolate, mint, black sesame seeds, silver dust, matcha and/or cacao nibs.
Loaded Chocolate Bark with Nuts, Seeds and Orange Chips
By Chef Celine Beitchman
Yields about 10 three-inch pieces
Chocolate bark makes a great edible gift, so you can make several batches for your friends and family. Be sure to store your bark in a controlled environment to avoid a sticky situation.
- 1 thin-skinned orange
- 3/4 cup shelled pistachios, toasted, cooled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, cooled, skinned and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 cardamom pod, ground finely and sifted
- 12 ounces dark tempered chocolate (65% cacao content)
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
- Special equipment: Candy thermometer
- Preheat oven to 150°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Thinly slice orange widthwise and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 2-3 hours until dry, but slightly sticky. Remove from oven and let cool.
- When cool enough to handle, break orange slices into shards; set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together nuts, seeds and orange zest to thoroughly combine. Place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler until it reaches 88-90°F and pour over nut mixture to coat completely.
- When chocolate is semi-cool but still tacky, sprinkle surface with sea salt and orange shards.
- Place in a cool area of your kitchen or refrigerate until bark cools completely, and break up into bite-size pieces.
From the Natural Gourmet Center's Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program
These truffles are simple to make but rich in texture and filled with delicious flavor. Whip them together for a loved one or enjoy them on your own.
- 4 ounces (½ cup) coconut milk, blended
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, ground
For rolling truffles, each on small, separate plates
- 1/4 cup dried coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, chopped or ground
- 1 tablespoon dried chili powder combined with 1 tablespoon coconut crystals
- Line half sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In small heavy-bottomed pot, combine coconut milk, coconut oil, Mexican cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. Heat mixture on low flame until it just comes to boil.
- Place ground chocolate in medium bowl. Pour coconut milk mixture over chocolate (make sure the chocolate is completely covered by the mixture). Let mixture sit 2-3 minutes. Using wooden spoon, blend ingredients together (there should be no lumps).
- Refrigerate mixture 15-20 minutes or until firm enough to hold shape when scooped.
- Using teaspoon measure, scoop individual truffles. Truffles will be soft but firm enough to quickly roll in coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, chile powder or combination of all three. Truffles will be small and rustic looking.
- Transfer truffles to sheet pan. Refrigerate until truffles firm up. Serve chilled.