If you had to pick the ultimate comfort food, what would it be? Pot pie? A spicy curry? Macaroni and cheese? Or maybe hot cocoa (hot cocoa sounds more comforting than hot chocolate) or a warm brownie topped with ice cream? Winter is just around the corner – though some days it feels as if it’s already here – so my cooking changes from quick and cool to hearty, warm and comforting.
Chili, in almost any form but the ones including meat, is one of my favorite comfort foods. You can put it together quickly and let it simmer gently for hours – and it tastes better the next day. I recently made the version from In Vegetables We Trust (Slow-Cooker Chili) which includes a hint of unsweetened cocoa to mellow and deepen the beany, peppery flavors.
What’s comfort without cozy chocolate? If you didn’t see this recipe on Somer’s blog, Vedged Out, then you must be hibernating. And I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you were. I mixed up a batch of her Double Chocolate Coconut Pecan Cookies and my belly and I felt contented, satisfied and downright happy despite the flurries blowing outside. In fact, I laughed at them between bites.
For me, rice is one of the most comforting foods around. This may be because when I was a kid my mom made the most delicious rice on the planet – buttery and creamy and heavy on the ground black pepper. When I was a young lass living on my own there were evenings when it was me, the TV and a big bowl of steaming, hot rice. This is why I included AstigVegan’s delicious Kalamansi Coconut Risotto recipe in my comfort food hall of fame. It’s got all the things I love: creamy rice, coconut milk, lemon zing and mushrooms. (Sorry, Richa, I couldn’t get kalamansi here in Utah so I made due with lemon juice and some orange zest!)
If there’s anything more comforting than chocolate, it’s…more chocolate. I made these babies one Sunday afternoon when I needed a heavy dose of comfort. Big fat flakes of snow were flying outside. The foothills of the Wasatch were barely visible in the fog of white. Ike had wisely tucked himself back into his doggy bed and Paul Westerberg provided background music with one of his most plaintive tunes, Here Comes A Regular. The enticing smell of melted chocolate takes the cold edge off of any winter day. I got the original recipe from Things My Belly Likes (Maple Coconut Chocolates), and I hit the print button before you could say Give me a Mounds bar! I messed around (i.e., made it more complicated than it needed to be) with the recipe and have included it below.
One year ago today: Pesto Pasta e Fagioli
One year and one day ago: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cherry-Apricot Compote
Maple Coconut Coffee Chocolates with Add-ins
Makes ~30 (using small muffin cups)
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 heaping tbsp. Dandy Blend (herbal coffee substitute), optional
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/8 cup sweet cacao nibs (with a little extra for sprinkling on top of the chocolate)
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped (with a little extra for sprinkling on top of the chocolate)
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (with a little extra for sprinkling on top of the chocolate)
I lined up my paper and silicon mini muffin cups on baking sheets and got all of the ingredients ready to go before I melted the chocolate and coconut oil. Mise en place. It’s a good thing. Sprinkle the pecans into the bottoms of 1/3 of the muffins cups; sprinkle the cacao nibs into the bottoms of 1/3 of the muffin cups. You’ll be stirring the flaked coconut into the remaining 1/3 of the melted chocolate/coconut oil mixture – so hold off on sprinkling that into the bottom of the cups.
In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and chocolate over low heat Whisk occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract. They’ll sizzle so watch your eyes. For really smooth chocolate, put the cocoa powder and Dandy Blend through a sieve and add to the melted chocolate. Whisk until smooth and melted.
Carefully pour the chocolate into the pecan- and cacao nib-fille cups. Now, stir in the 1/3 cup flaked coconut into the rest of the chocolate and pour into the remaining muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the chocolate cups w/ the corresponding add-in so that later you know which chocolate you are popping into your mouth.
Chill the cups until firm.