One of my recent kitchen adventures turned simplicity into pure decadence. If you're not new to my blog, you already know how much I love the combination of chocolate and coconut. With this new experiment I wanted to replace sugar/agave nectar and make a healthier chocolate ice cream without compromising on taste.
I had successfully used homemade date paste before in several recipes, so I knew this would work great in this dessert, but I could not anticipate just how light and creamy it would turn out. Instead of the soft serve ice cream I had in mind, I created a luscious chocolate mousse. It was in fact so good that I didn't want to risk spoiling the texture and taste by freezing it. While sugar and agave nectar only add sweetness, dates also add a delicate fruity flavour that makes this chocolate mousse even more delicious.
With a smooth, airy, mouth-coating texture, delicate sweetness, wonderfully balanced combination of flavours and long-lasting aftertaste, this is a rich, sensual treat that you will wish to enjoy all alone, taking your time to relish each spoonful and imagining being on a tropical island relaxing in the sun.
The magic doesn't stop here though, you can easily add your personal touch to this easy chocolate mousse. A few ideas include: more cocoa for those dark chocolate fans, a pinch of cinnamon and/or cayenne for a Mexican twist, a few drops of peppermint extract or fresh mint for a refreshing taste, finely chopped pineapple for a full-on tropical flavour (or combined with rum, for a daring chocolate piña colada mousse), orange zest or extract for a little tang, chocolate chips or chopped nuts for crunch, coffee, Kahlúa, raspberries, or anything else that takes your fancy. This recipe is versatile and exciting variations can easily be made.
If you're fortunate to own a very powerful blender, you could turn this into a fully raw dessert by making pure coconut cream and using raw cacao powder.
- 1 can (400 ml) creamy coconut milk (silky smooth texture, high fat content - see update)
- 5 Tb (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
- 1 cup (tightly packed) soft dried dates (18 in this case)
- a few drops of vanilla extract
- 4 small ramekins, glasses or cups to serve
Note: This recipe yields 2 cups of mousse. 1 measuring cup = 250 ml.
Update: A few readers were confused about the difference between coconut milk and creamy coconut milk. Coconut milk generally refers to the thin, pourable milk that can be used with cereal, in crêpe/pancake batter, soups, smoothies etc. It has a low fat content and is available in carton (the canned type is only used in cooking). Coconut cream, or creamy coconut milk is the thick, rich, paste-like milk with a higher fat content (or full-fat if no water is added). It is used in curries, sauces, desserts, whipped cream etc. When left to set in the fridge the coconut cream solidifies and separates at the top of the can, leaving a clear liquid at the bottom. Both types are made from fresh, shredded coconut meat. The more water added to it, the less fat content. For this recipe to be successful you need a high ratio of coconut to water content. Some labels will list only the percentage of coconut extract, others will also show the fat content in the nutrition information section. You need at least 70% coconut extract for this to work - if it solidifies, it's good. Not all brands are silky smooth, and that's what you need here. Also, many brands add other ingredients to either thicken it further or to increase shelf life. If you have access to fresh coconut meat you can make your own full-fat coconut cream (and milk by adding water to thin it). Another product that can create confusion is creamed coconut which is dehydrated ground coconut meat. It is sold in the form of a hard white block. It can be mixed with water and strained to make coconut milk or cream, but I find the texture and strong taste unsuitable for a dessert (I sometimes use it in thick curries).
Refrigerate the can of coconut milk overnight to solidify and separate. Carefully turn it upside down, open and discard the transparent liquid (or reserve it to add in a smoothie or curry).
Pit and halve the dates (if they are not soft, place them for a few minutes in warm water until they start to soften, then drain and chop). Place them in a tall jug, add 2 rounded Tb coconut milk and blend with a stick blender on high.
If you don't mind those tiny bits of date skin, you can just add the remaining coconut milk and cocoa powder and blend together until smooth, then finally add the vanilla (or your preferred flavouring). That's what I did the first time I made it. The second time I wanted a smoother texture, so I strained the paste, then mixed in the rest.
You need a large strainer with very small holes to trap those bits of date skin. In my case, I had a small one, so I first mixed the date paste with only half of the coconut milk, strained, then added the rest, just to make my job faster.
Even before adding cocoa, the date-coconut paste is incredibly delicious. Try it;)
You can also whisk or make this in a food processor or even in the chopper from a hand blender set, that will help to trap air inside the paste and make it lighter and even more mousse-like.
Taste and adjust the flavouring, if needed. Divide the mousse between the 4 ramekins and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
I kept one in the fridge overnight and the mousse tasted more chocolatey and there wasn't a dramatic change in texture.
As the chocolate mousse is naturally sweet, it is a better dessert option for kids. Aside from that, the dates considerably increase the nutritional value of this dessert. Please see my notes on Raw Brownies for more information about the health benefits of dried dates.
I would love to know your flavouring preferences for this delicious treat, so please get in touch by leaving a comment below.
Enjoy and spread the magic!:)
If you've tried this dessert I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thank you!