Chocolate, Cookies and a Few Kisses
I’m popping in to quickly visit Valentine’s Day with a few vegan chocolate ideas...but I won’t be staying long.
February 14th is typically just another day in my life, and chocolate is an ingredient I rarely put in my mouth anymore.
I grew tired of Valentine’s Day a long time ago, which probably began during my shy teenage years and blossomed into a permanent divorce while living in Berkeley, California and embracing all things counterculture...including corporate-birthed special occasions. Valentine’s Day simply didn’t have an appeal. It felt like a giant popularity contest, and I never liked how I felt when the results came in – it became a spotlight on my fragile self-esteem. I finally felt free from the burden of participation once I simply ignored February 14th.
My chocolate journey was different.
Chocolate was a mystery to me early in my life. I knew I liked it – who didn’t? But like most people, I didn’t know much about chocolate apart from what I learned from commercials. I felt satisfied living in chocolate ignorance. After all, did I really need to know the melting points of the 10 fatty acids typically found in chocolate?
That all changed when I unplugged from the customary American life I was leading and enrolled in culinary school. Suddenly, I started to appreciate chocolate on an entirely different level...and yes, understanding those melting points helped me create chocolate with a shiny exterior and snappy consistency...and that was a coolness vibe I embraced.
Learning to master chocolate became an exclamation point in my immature chef life – it was a skill I could demonstrate to others that would create a kind of wow moment. It fed me. It defined me. It gave me purpose. Making and sharing my chocolate creations allowed my ego-driven sensation to swell.
And then I grew tired of all things chocolate.
Spending all day melting chocolate...tempering chocolate...dipping chocolate...forming chocolate into a multitude of geometric configurations...baking chocolate cakes and cookies...making chocolate mousse...well...the air eventually became chocolate, and that was a step too far for me.
Chocolate was no longer a mystery. I exposed the hidden secrets of chocolate, and it transformed rapidly into a burden...something forced upon me. It felt commercial. It felt similar to celebrating misguided love on Valentine’s Day.
So, I stopped all things chocolate.
Love and Chocolate
My feelings of love for anything behave strangely once they enter my veins. I’ve found that those things I love never really leave...they just wait patiently for my ego to stop trying to manipulate them. And when that happens, there’s a sort of purity that’s left behind...a love that is immune to any outside influence and left free to grow and to define a more honest version of who I am...and what I love.
Offering a slice of anything chocolatey to my small corner of the vegan world feels more authentic these days. I feel a genuine love when I head into my test kitchen to work on my latest iteration of brownies...or chocolate chip cookies. I look forward to getting the right ingredients, and amounts worked out, so someone on the other side of the world can explore the recipe on their terms...and perhaps feel a sense of satisfaction in creating a simple cookie...or brownie...to share with someone special. To vicariously feel that sense of joy... possibly love... at that precise moment – well, that is all I need and why I offer a bit of chocolate...brownies...and a few kisses.
Vegan Fudge Brownies
The moment I realized I had turned into a brownie snob was the first time I saw a vegan brownie recipe made with black beans. I recall a deep sense of skepticism brewing inside of me, but at the same time, I was intrigued. I made a batch. Predictably, I was disappointed with the results.
I studied chocolate in Switzerland…and even produced chocolate for a time. Brownies were always part of my offering, and I made some insanely delicious and moist fudge brownies.
My recipe was also a long way from being vegan…and I was actually ok with my future non-brownie vegan life. I couldn’t imagine ever embracing the creations that used beans or avocados – those are not brownies in my mind.
I was eventually asked by a client to create a vegan brownie recipe. So, instead of working with those internet creations, I returned to my original recipe and worked through each ingredient to come up with something satisfying to eat, chewy around the edges, fudgy in the middle and a bit shiny on top. I knew I would never create a version with the extreme shine and mouthfeel I was accustomed to because I didn’t want to use all that saturated fat in the ingredients I chose to work with.
My result…is…well, very much brownie-like – even to a snob like me.
Caution – these brownies still contain a significant amount of sugar (necessary for flavor and structure) and fat – approach with caution and go easy on them. Share your results with friends and family…and enjoy a square or two yourself.
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