Monday, August 1, 2011

Apricots and bitter chocolate

In my efforts to get into bitter chocolate, I'm experimenting with different combinations that will yield the most successful results, for this GFG anyways.  I've never been huge into apricots- never really cared about them one way or the other- same for dates- but now, they're both taking up increasing amounts of space in my pantry and I'm excited to be trying out a few different recipes for them.  Today, I had fun rejiggering yesterdays Scookie recipe, with chopped dried apricots.  They are amazing.  Completely wonderful.  I put quite a bit of cinnamon, probably 1 1/2 tsp, which does wonders.  MKG mentioned how buttery they taste- which I think must be all the almond oils or something.  Anyways, I only had a few apricots left in the package and decided to melt some bitter chocolate and dunk 'em in there.  Just like Ina taught me, I tried her microwave tempering trick, which alas did not work out and the chocolate became grainy and pasty rather than warm and oozy.  Maybe it's because of all the cocoa mass?  I don't know.  Anyways- no matter- I ended up kind of smooshing the pasty chocolate on them and put the apricots in the fridge to firm up, et voila!  Delish!  Certainly not the chocolate dipped fruit you envision but super yummy and the sweet apricot goes great with the bitter chocolate.  I had some chocolate left at the end so decided to roll a few hazelnuts in it.  Really yummy too!  

Just for kicks- here is the Apricot Scookie recipe:
 2 1/2 cups almond flour
3 ounces dried apricot, chopped into small pieces
2 eggs (room temp)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup sweetener, dissolved in almond milk to make 1/4 cup liquid.
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4  tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, vanilla, and almond milk mixture.  Add wet to dry and incorporate, then adding apricot.  Spoon using tablespoon measure onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 20 min.  

I am not going to bother with a recipe for the apricots and bitter chocolate seeing as I screwed it up so bad, but they were still pretty good!

Next up on the apricot train is an energy bar type concoction that I'll take home to Chicago this weekend.  Elana posted recently an apricot energy bar, hers has eggs in it and some other stuff, and I don't really feel like having to bake it- so I'm going to go a slightly different route.  

Coconut and Apricot Energy Bars (or balls!)
2 cups apricot
1 cup pecans (or more likely cashews)
1/2 to 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
optional: 2 tbs flax

Throw it all in the food processor until sticky/clumpy- then press into 8x8 pan and refrigerate.  If you wanted to add in a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp vanilla that would be even better!  Elana's version I think has two eggs and you bake it for a bit.  That would be a good way to sneak in some more protein.

I think I'm going to take a day or two off from baking- if you hadn't heard, we are in the midst of a horrible heatwave/drought- it's been over 100 for the past several weeks, and my house is sitting at a pleasant 80 degrees with the AC on high.  When I preheat the oven, it's already at 100 when you turn it on, which is nice!  Another upside is that my coconut oil is already liquified!  But poor baby S I guess has allergies, all this heat and dry air is giving everyone loads of allergic reactions, and she has had a runny nose and itchy eyes for a week.  Poor munchkinhead.  She has been pretty finicky, especially at mealtimes.  Although she did eat a giant slice of avocado out of my salad last night, and some of my orange today.  But a big fat NO to any peas, corn, or edamame at dinner.  Speaking of- Paleos excluded- what is your take on soy?  Soy products, soy derivatives, tofu, tempeh, soy isoflavones, all that jazz?  I've heard about soy getting a bad rap the past few years, phytoestrogens and all- but wasn't that knowledgeable on the subject.  With all my hormone issues I myself tend to avoid soy products but S really likes soy beans so I thought I should do some research.

Turns out the jury is still wayyyyyyyyyyy out on soy.  All kinds of conflicting research stating in one article that soy is helpful in preventing breast cancer and then dispelling it in the next.  It's beneficial, no its harmful, no it's neither.  I'm sure a huge part of the problem is that these days, soy "product" is found in pretty much all processed foods and in much higher quantities than is nutritionally necessary and needless to say, we consume a lot of processed junk in this country.  Another interesting fact I read is that nearly all soy product in the US has been genetically modified.  But nothing I read seems to say anything negative about the occasional serving of edamame.  So for now- a little bit probably won't hurt. 

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