Orange meets Avocado Chocolate Mousse Pie

Pie, plated

So many things have happened since I last wrote an official post that I don’t even know where to begin. I guess, I’ll start with the most important change: I had another baby! A girl. And with her arrival came a few changes, like the decision for me to stay home and switch gears professionally. I can be a mom, be home with my kids, but I can also finally dedicate time to the food life I’ve been wanting to pursue for years. It was a really tough decision to leave a job that I loved, people who I respected and a career that I had build over the last 10 years (!), but it was something I had to do. I’m excited to give this new path a real chance and see where it takes me. As hard as it was to say goodbye to the agency job, I knew that closing one door was the only way I could truly walk through another. There’s this great Foo Fighter’s quote that sums it up: “I threw it all away, because I had to be what never was.” Oh, Dave Grohl. How’d he know?

Pie, close up   Pie pacman

What does this have to do with pie? The change in direction led to 2 other changes: I went and received a professional certification in plant-based cooking from Rouxbe, and I became certified as a recipe developer at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC, the school I’ve been wanting to attend for almost 6 years and counting. I loved every minute of both programs. They helped me build a better foundation from which to jump.

During the Natural Gourmet class, we developed and cross-tested 5 recipes (an appetizer, main course, soup, salad and dessert). The talented and ever-inspiring Dawn Perry from Bon Appétit Magazine was our fearless leader, teaching us how to write recipes that work. That’s the goal. To write inventive, quality recipes that work. It was thrilling to come up with a menu of original recipes. It was also terrifying to sit back while a pro like Dawn tasted my food. And it was eye-opening to cook alongside fellow classmates as they followed my recipe and asked questions along the way. It makes you realize that it’s not as simple as it seems to put those directions on paper. I have a completely different understanding and appreciation for what it takes to write a recipe, and I have Dawn (and Rouxbe and the Natural Gourmet) to thank for that.

This pie recipe is one of my final recipes from class. It’s delicious, easy to make, addictive, and decadent, yet it’s healthy and vegan. All my favorite qualities, all rolled into one ridiculously chocolatey dessert. I love avocado anything, but even I was hesitant to mix it with chocolate the first time around. I’m telling you, it is meant to be. It’s almost like they are long lost soul mates. I could eat this entire pie by myself. Please, don’t tell.

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Orange Meets Avocado Chocolate Mousse Pie

active: 50 minutes total: 4 hours

6-8 servings

Be prepared for a wrist workout, but I promise it’s worth it. Whisking the melted chocolate over an ice bath aerates the chocolate to achieve that perfect fluffy texture. Once air bubbles are incorporated, avocado is added for extra creaminess. The result is a chocolate mousse that is lighter than a ganache, but equally decadent.

2 cups pecans

¼ cup + 3 Tbsp Turbinado or Demerara sugar

1 ½ Tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp maple syrup

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp chipotle powder (optional)

2 ripe avocados

12 ounces good quality dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa), chopped

1 ½ cups orange juice (from 3-4 oranges), strained (top off with water, if needed)

4 to 5 blood oranges, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Flakey sea salt, for garnish

  1. To prepare the crust, place pecans, ¼ cup sugar, coconut oil, maple syrup, sea salt and chipotle powder in food processor and pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse sand and sticks together when pressed between fingers. Transfer to spring form pan and press firmly with the heel of your hand to evenly coat the bottom. Place in fridge to set.
  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Prepare an ice bath and set aside. Meanwhile, puree the avocado in the food processor and set aside.
  1. Combine chocolate and orange juice in a medium heatproof bowl and place over the simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate melts. Once smooth, remove from heat and place bowl on the ice bath. Whisk like crazy until bubbles form around the edges and mixture lightens in color, about 5 seemingly endless minutes. Whisk in the avocado puree and pour over the prepared crust. Refrigerate until set, 3-4 hours.
  1. To make the blood orange coulis, place blood oranges, lemon juice and remaining 3 Tbsp sugar in food processor and puree until smooth.
  1. To serve, spoon some blood orange coulis onto the center of a plate. Top with a generous slice of pie, then sprinkle with flakey sea salt to finish.

 

I WILL START BLOGGING AGAIN.

This is the goal. It’s been a long time, but I can’t deny it any longer. I miss you. And I have new and improved recipe developing skills to share. I even went and got certified as a professional plant-based chef (finally!!). Things are starting to slowly, slowly come together. I never stopped cooking, and I never stopped writing. But I did abandon this blog for far too long. It’s time I hop back on the bandwagon, with a new URL and everything: dabblingchef.com. If you’re still with me, welcome back and thank you for the support. If you’re new, welcome to an improved site that will hopefully be updated much more often. I may be a mom of 2 now, but that’s all the more reason to make time for the things that make me feel like me. This right here is one of those things.

More to come…

In the meantime, check out all the things I’ve been up to on Instagram and Twitter.

Talk soon. No excuses this time!

-Andrea

The Tucci Cookbook signing at Fishs Eddy

I can’t say I’ve been to many cookbook signings in my day. While I do own and appreciate signed cookbooks, I rarely venture out to wait in line and get that personal dedication penned on page 2. It’s simply too much work. Unless, of course, it’s Stanley Tucci.

He just so happened to be signing his new cookbook at one of my favorite kitchen stores in the city, Fishs Eddy (which just so happens to be a few blocks from my office). I popped over on my lunch break and within an hour returned with a signed copy of The Tucci Cookbook, a stunning collection of deliciously photographed Italian family recipes. I can’t wait to dig in.

Honestly, I don’t know what makes me more excited – meeting such an amazing actor or trying the drum of ziti recipe. Plus, our glasses totally match, which makes me feel extra special.

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The reason why my blog sucks.

Ain’t he cute?

So, can you blame me? It’s been awhile, I know. But I’ve been distracted by that little face and those tiny toes and the kissable little cheeks and… um, what was I saying? Oh yeah, the blog.

I’m not going to make excuses. I was, well, pregnant. Yup. Baby-ville consumed my brain, and I simply couldn’t handle much beyond my job, my posts on The Strong Buzz and the crazy commute. And once the baby arrived, the blog became a faint memory that I would fondly recall in the haze of sleeplessness, diaper changes, feedings and the like. It didn’t help that my free time quickly shrank into nothingness. Can you blame me for wanting to spend every waking moment with this little guy?

The little man is ready to eat. That’s my boy.

Totally and completely lovestruck.

The longer I waited to post, the harder it became to come back. What would I write? Who was going to read it?

But now that he’s here and life has settled back into what vaguely resembles a normal routine (if such things exist in new mommy hood), I look back and wish I hadn’t abandoned this blog completely. I wonder what ever happened to the girl who started off the year with a resolution to write a post a week. It sounded promising. But the weeks turned into months and my last post was in, ahem, June. Eeek. Yes. It’s embarrassing. Shameful, even.

It’s just that, throughout the pregnancy, my desire to cook was pushed to the darkest recesses of the back burner next to that dried up piece of forgotten spaghetti. Dinners consisted of the simplest recipes you could possibly imagine. Cravings ranged from carbs to carbs to more carbs and pretty much anything else that resembled kid food. Another grilled cheese, please, balanced out by a spinach and kale salad brimming with veggies for lunch so I wouldn’t feel too guilty. And on most nights my poor husband got stuck with both cooking and cleaning up duties (which is why he’s the best ever).

My favorite boys.

So if you’re still out there, I’d like to apologize for the silence. I know my blog has sucked for the past few months. And boy do I owe you some recipes. But for now, here’s a fun little recap of the best food I ate while pregnant:

Top 5 non-recipes I made while pregnant:

  1. 5 ingredient pasta – fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil, arugula (or basil or spinach or whatever greens you have on hand).
  2. Quesadillas – two corn tortillas filled with grilled chicken and cheese or beans
  3. Naan pizza – usually with fresh mozzarella, red peppers, and arugula piled on top
  4. Eggs – I was completely scrambie-obsessed
  5. Pasta Carbonara – our very own bare-bones recipe with bite-sized pieces of cooked ham, toasted walnuts (or pignoli) and um, well, eggs again

Top 5 most memorable restaurant meals I ate while pregnant:

  1. Porterhouse for two at Perilla – one of my fave restaurants (check out my article on The Strong Buzz here.)
  2. Tia Pol – haven’t been back since the baby. SHAME!
  3. Mac and cheese from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – if you haven’t been. Go. Their flagship cheese is perfection and you can watch them make it fresh right in the store.
  4. Union Square Cafe – don’t tell, but I cheated and ate Gorgonzola polenta. It’s like pregnancy food at its finest (despite that pesky can’t-eat-unpasteurized-cheese rule).
  5. Ilili’s Brussels sprouts – crispy, sweet, and you can pretend they’re healthy.