If I haven't said so before, I'm from California. I ate so many avocados while growing up, that I'm sure they formed the cellular structure of the woman I am today. They were the cheapest produce at the grocery stores. We'd buy a half dozen at a time, for five cents each, and eat them directly out of their shells, with a spoon. The first time I had guacamole at a Mexican restaurant, I thought, "But why?" The way I saw it, an avocado was one of the few foods that was perfect just as it was. There was no reason to do anything else with it.
I feel as though I have a particular affinity for avocados. A kind of psychic connection that allows me to unfailingly pick the perfect one out the grocery store bin. Slightly firm, with no strings or brown marks, perfectly creamy, with zero vegetal funk. When an avocado can make it to Maine in this state of perfection, we should not take it for granted, for it is nothing short of a miracle. A $2.49 miracle.
You might be wondering what all this has to do with chocolate pie. You might wonder what avocados in general have to do with chocolate pie.
I'm right there with ya.
Several years ago, my friend Julie presented me and Steve with a masterpiece of a chocolate pie at a small dinner party at her house. It's vegan, she said. And gluten-free. It was cold, and creamy, and just firm enough. It was irrefutably and utterly delicious. How did she do it?
Avocado, she answered matter of factly when I finished my last bite and asked. I might have had a better reaction if she had said crickets. Or baby bunnies. The gag reflex was instant and hard to disguise.
I can't help it. For me, it's food combining at its absolute worst. Black bean brownies? Fine. Sweet potato chocolate pudding? I can see it. Avocado and chocolate. Nope. Nope. Nope. It may taste fantastic, but as soon as you tell me about it, I'm done.
Thankfully, Julie is no delicate flower and doesn't take offense easily. And I have come to learn that she uses avocados, a lot, and in lots of unlikely ways. It is clear to me that she harbors a pure and true love for avocados, and I can get behind that. So, I have, in fact, eaten - and enjoyed - her weird pie many times since.
But this is not that pie.
No avocados were harmed in the making of this recipe. This pie is effortlessly vegan. And gluten and grain free. It requires no baking, and it comes together in a snap. It could have avocados in it, but it doesn't. Instead, it gets it's fabulous flavor and texture from really, really great chocolate, which I bought with the money I saved by not including avocados.
Easy-Peasey No-Bake Bittersweet Chocolate Pie
Makes one 8-inch pie
1-1/4 cups raw almonds
1-1/4 cups raw walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup dates
1-1/2 to 2 cups chopped dark chocolate (I used a 51% single origin from Peru, with balanced sweetness, and creamy, dreamy smoothness. You should use what you like best, keeping in mind that the chocolate is providing the only sweetness, and will be the predominant flavor in the pie.)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pit the dates, tear each in half, and place them in the bowl of a food processor. If the dates are very moist, use the lesser amount. If dry, use up to 1/2 cup (or more if you want). Add the almonds, walnuts, vanilla extract and salt. Process these ingredients until the nuts are finely chopped and the mixture starts to stick together and fall in on itself. Adjust the amount of dates as necessary. Be careful not to grind the mixture into a paste. You want very coarse wet sand, not almond butter.
- Scrape the nut mixture into an 8-inch pie pan, and press it into a 1/4-inch crust, all over the bottom and up the sides.
- Place the chopped chocolate and the 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of the food processor. Heat the coconut butter and the coconut milk in a medium saucepan until just starting to boil.
- Pour the coconut milk mixture onto the chopped chocolate all at once. Allow it to sit there and hang out for a minute or two, then process the mixture until it is very smooth (you might want to wrap a dish towel around the rim of your food processor, just in case some of the mixture wants to escapes and spray you and your entire kitchen with chocolate cream. Advice from a friend).
- Pour the chocolate cream into the crust. Chill in the refrigerator until the pie is just firm. Ideally, it should be served at just under room temperature. However, if you’ve made this way ahead of time, and not at the last minute because you’re desperate for something chocolate and creamy, remove the firm pie from the refrigerator and allow to soften at room temperature for an hour or so.
- I like to serve this pie, unadorned, with a cup of black coffee or espresso. However, if you wanted to damn all its effortless righteousness to hell, go ahead and pile it high with heaps of softly-whipped cream and a hearty glug of warmed caramel sauce.