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?
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.
Orange Meets Avocado Chocolate Mousse Pie
active: 50 minutes total: 4 hours
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To make the blood orange coulis, place blood oranges, lemon juice and remaining 3 Tbsp sugar in food processor and puree until smooth.
- 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.