kiwi lime blueberry raw cheesecakelets

I told myself I wouldn’t give you another blueberry recipe so soon. But I am on a ball. I am on a roll. And what do you do with a ball that is rolling? You kick it to the moon, duh.

Are you ready for my moon-kicked ball of the week? I, the self-proclaimed patron saint of all things buttery, and sugary, and unhealthy and yummy and preservativey and chemicaly and badforyouy, have managed to churn up a confusing surprise.

Kiwi Lime Blueberry Raw Cheesecakelets!

kiwi lime blueberry raw cheesecake

We have my favorite world scamperer Hannah to thank for the inspiration here. Her whirling dervish of a mind has created two similar delicacies (mango, blackberry), both of which I’ve made and loved. I recently made two varieties of my own, and while these that you see here turned out to be severely kickass, my other creation (tangerine + meyer lemon) left much to be desired. Hence, another blueberry smack in the face for ya. Smack.

You know what else is severely kickass? How easily my truck can churn through huge patches of mud. Things are warming up around here, and now that roads are getting sloppy, I regularly create muddy water tunnels as I drive. Legit walls of water go up and around the back of my truck, occasionally lapping down into the bed. Picture that. Now picture THIS:

partridge

Pretty cute, eh? Look at that ruffed grouse, being all ruffed and stuff. They call them partridge around here, which is sort of foolish if you ask me, because partridge are partridge, and grouse are grouse. But what would I know? I’m just from away… [and, uh, from the “top ruffed grouse-producing state in the US”].

The same they that call grouse ‘partridge’ shoot said partridge (grouse) like nobody’s business, so it’s reassuring to me, the ultimate non-hunter that I currently am, to find out that there is a roughed grouse population cycle, that seemingly transpires regardless of hunting pressure. Sometimes I wish I had studied wildlife biology in much more depth than I had time for in college. At the very least, I wish I had interacted with the peculiar grouse people who I lived near for a few weeks as a forestry student. They got up before the sunrise to go sit silently in the woods and wait to hear grouse drumming on logs, i.e. being all courtshipish. Weird? I thought so.

Next up, a nifty little segue. See that piece of wood in the background in the first picture? That’s a piece of birdseye maple, renowned for its gorgeousness and hefty sales tag. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Hmm, well, check out what I’ve been up to in the past week….

birdseyeheart tree

Yep, I’ve been marking birdseye maple logs. At my awesome job site that is filled with awesome wood. It is such an incredible place, and the trees are so very happy to grow there that they even develop heart shapes to show affection for their surroundings. Aww.

Okay, enough silly woods love.

Bring on the raw cheesecakelets!

kiwi lime blueberry raw cheesecake

These have a bit of a kick from the kiwi, so choose the softest kiwi possible if looking to avoid a mouth-puckering experience. I used wild blueberries here; perhaps with storebought ones, less sweetener would be needed.

Kiwi Lime Blueberry Raw Cheesecakelets {inspiration here}

Makes 12

For the crust

1/2 c. cashews
2/3 c. dates, pitted
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp agave nectar or honey

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until mixture comes together when pressed. If mixture remains loose, add water 1/2 tsp at a time, until mixture clumps well.

Divide mixture across 12 muffin cups, pressing evenly and well into each cup. Set aside in the freezer.

For the cheesecakealicious topping

Heaping 1/2 c. cashews, soaked overnight, and drained
Fruit of 3 kiwis
2/3 – 3/4 c. blueberries, frozen or fresh
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp agave nectar or honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil, melted

In a (clean) food processor, pulse cashews for 10 seconds. Add kiwi fruit, blueberries, lime juice, agave nectar or honey, and salt, and blend until smooth. Add coconut oil, and pulse until combined.

Pour/scoop mixture evenly across 12 prepared muffin cups, smoothing the top of each. Freeze until set, at least three hours in a deep freeze, longer in a refrigerator freezer. Thaw for ten minutes before removing from muffin pan – this will make them easier to remove.

Serve cheesecakelets slightly thawed, depending on how long you’re willing to wait; I would recommend 5-10 minutes to take a bit of the cold edge off.

kiwi lime blueberry raw cheesecake

choccie rally: taza, chuao, and lulu’s

Should stores really be selling specialty Valentine’s chocolate for full price in mid to late April? Who would buy this stuff now??

And then, a brief moment later, I answered my own questions. They keep such goods on the racks because they know some poor sucker will fall for old – albeit limited edition – chocolate, hook, line, and sinker.

That sucker was me.

Mi Corazón (translation ‘My heart,’ or ‘My love’) was a special Valentine’s chocolate put out by Taza, in tandem with the Mi Cariño stone ground bar flavored with cherries and cacao nibs. The Mi Corazón, pictured here, is flavored with organic rose oil and Costa Rican vanilla beans.

The bar’s flavor actually reminded me somewhat of honey, in a mellow but luxurious way. Similar to other Taza discs, this ‘Chocolate Mexicano’ bar was made with a Oaxacan stone mill, and as such, has a somewhat gritty texture. Some find this repulsive, but I find it thoroughly exciting.

A tasty special edition that, being three months past its sell-by date, I maybe shouldn’t have paid $4.75 for.

I’ve recently read a lot of reviews of Chuao’s fanciful chocolate bars. The people are clamoring to try Chuao’s bars flavored with potato chips and popping candy.  I finally had the chance to buy some Chuao (chew-WOW!) when down in Bangor last month, and snatched up the Honeycomb bar right quick like.

I guess the hype was right, because this was one of the most enjoyable chocolatey eats I’ve been treated to. The caramelized honey provided an ample crunch, giving the bar a thrilling and chompychomp sort of texture.

60% cacao made of beans from the Aguasanta Growth Initiative in Venezuela provided the base for this bar. I enjoyed how the fruity flavor profile of the chocolate mingled with the mouth-pleasing feel and taste of the honeycomb.

Honestly, I don’t know how I made this bar last a week. Through luck, perhaps. It skews toward candy bar in its eatability, and is a bit pricey for the end-product. But if you have access to Chuao, give this bar a try – it is delightful.

To round out this review are two raw chocolate bars from Lulu’s Chocolate in Sedona, Arizona. Being raw is not enough for Lulu’s: their bars are made with low-glycemic coconut palm sugar, are wrapped in 100% compostable Natureflex foil, and are packaged with recycled paper printed with soy and vegetable ink.

Made of Arriba Nacional cacao from Pacari in Ecuador, Lulu’s chocolate bars are touted as Ecuadorian, Fair Trade, vegan and gluten-free (what? I thought I was eating a box of cereal…? Not!); in other words, I think the claims made on the packaging are over-the-top and distracting. This might help them reel in the unsavvy-about-chocolate-yet-snobbish-about-food crowd, but I find it sort of annoying.

Luckily, the chocolate itself is quite enjoyable. I sampled the Aztec Crunch, a 75% cacao base studded with cacao nibs. With additions of vanilla and sea salt, this bar melted nicely despite the thick sheath of nibs on the bar’s underside. The texture wasn’t overly chalky; rather, it was some of the smoothest raw chocolate I’ve had. Notes of coffee, nuts, and citrus pushed through the strong chocolatey taste.

I also tasted the 78% Raw Love bar, which used vanilla to highlight the flavor profile of the chocolate. The initial sampling of this bar was quite curious. In letting its nutty and fudgy aroma melt on the palate, something truly fermented-tasting surfaced briefly in my mind, or perhaps on my tastebuds. This was quickly replaced by edgy notes of wood and earth, with ‘edgy’ indicating that the chocolate was near-bitter in taste, but not quite.

The only issue with Lulu’s bars, in my mind, is that they are mere 1 ounce rectangles. They’re also quite pricey, retailing for $3.89 each on the brand’s website. So while I Of Great Fortune received these as a gift from my boyfriend’s Sedona-venturing parents, I can understand faltering and floundering upon seeing the price tag. If raw chocolate interests you, however, I recommend giving these a try.

For more info:

Taza Chocolate

Chuao Chocolatier

Lulu’s Chocolate

____________________________________________________

Like what you see? Stay up to date with of agates and madeleines by following on Facebook!

____________________________________________________

an explosive adventure with fearless chocolate

I think I started something good when I bit into that recent Vosges bar. I got the Good Train Chocolate moving, and now we’re on a roll. After a brief layover in the doldrums of Chocolvania, we’ve stoked our engines. We’ve heated our boilers. We’ve left the station. We’ve chugga-lugga-lugged our way outta town. And today we’re heading for….

Fearless!

…Chocolate, that is.

Fearless Chocolate is an interesting animal, one of those flower power brands from San Francisco, California. Their products are “dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and [use] only mineral-rich unrefined whole sugars.” Oh, and they are 100% Kosher Ingredients  in a Kosher Facility. Oh, and their end product is raw (or near-raw, depending on the batch), meaning their beans are unroasted, heated to under 118 degrees to preserve the “natural nutrients, marvelous minerals, and abundant antioxidants.” And oh yeah, they are certified USDA Organic.

Hence why the pseudo-co-op, wishes they were a co-op, but they’re definitely not a co-op, Natural Living Center here in Bangor carries Fearless Chocolate! Did you look at their website? That is so not the website of a hippie store – sorry, NLC.

So anyway, I was at this store that I despise for no reasons other than I miss my Minnesota co-op, and I hate their (the NLC’s) website. And lo and behold, what did my eyes see shortly after warily eying the chicken-cutlet styled textured vegetable protein???  Why, their chocolate selection was positively astonishing (for my present location, and given the more limited selection they’ve had in the past)! This means that, sadly, they will soon be getting more of my business. But it also means that I should give up my useless grudge already – everyone else likes them, why must I continue to adhere to my ingrained contrary gene? …Sorry, parents, that implies that one of you carries the contrary gene as well. Perhaps I should label it a “contrary disorder.” Picture time!

Digging into the 70% cacao Exploding Coconuts! bar, we find instructions on the inner wrapping warning me that:

I will eat eat eat eat Raw OgOooOoOOR
I will eat fearless Chocolate
I will eet FEARLESS CHOKOLATE
I eat RawRawRaW ooooorganic Chocolate
I will eeeeat RRRAAAAAA
I will eat FRLSS CHCLT…

etc. Now that I have my Arnold impressions [please note, this video is filled with expletives – that is Ahhhhnold’s way – but it is so delightfully explicit!] out of the way for the day (I will eeeeat RRRRAaawwWWW…. it’s nahht a tooohhmahhr), I can do as I’m told and eat eat eat some RawRawRaW chocolate.

This bar is very aromatic – it’s a mix of coconut and deep chocolatey scents wafting my way. Leaving the open bar nearby, I can continue to smell it until it actually becomes overpowering to me. Impressive what remains when the chocolate is RawRawRaw. The chocolate is a pleasing color with an amazing sheen to it. Small flakes of coconut show through the bar’s surface, dotting the darker chocolate with amber flecks. They are not visible from the bottom of the bar, but that side is not shiny; despite not seeing them here, a bite into the bar indicates that they are equally dispersed.

This chocolate is good. It’s dark, it’s bitter, and I taste more than coconut. It’s been some time since I’ve had a well-crafted dark chocolate bar, as I’ve been eating a fair amount of milk and borderline dark lately. Weak sauce, I know.

The chocolate has a terrific snap and with its lustrous sheen is very inviting. We feast.

When I first tasted this, I couldn’t pinpoint the flavors I was tasting. I couldn’t even sort out the coconut. That’s crazy talk though, because after translocating my taste buds to my brain and trying to think things through, coconut was an obvious component. But the taste that first struck me here, that I can’t think how to label? The closest thing I can think of is meaty, but not meaty as in a rack of ribs or a cured ham. Not smoky either. Meaty as in full and substantial. I wonder if this is a by-product of all the coconut – if the oil from the coconut creates a substantial and filling sort of taste. I want to keep using the word meaty, but senses warn me that this term may keep you from trying this bar. Don’t listen to that nonsense, because this is delicious.

And for those of you who are not a fan of the humble coconut…. wellllll. Hmm. I’ll throw out that I didn’t used to like coconut either, but now, here we are. It’s just you, me, and some exploding coconuts.

You came through for me this time, NLC. I previously thought Fearless Chocolates were unavailable to me here in Maine, and I was surprised and excited to find out how wrong I had been. I think this must be a recent development, as Fearless was only started in 2006, and their products were until recently only distributed by UNFI West. If you choose the Fearless route, know that they have four other varieties available to you: 75% Midnight, 70& Matcha Green Tea & Peppermynt, 70% Super Seeds (I almost bought this one, it will make its way home soon!),  and 70% Sweet & Hot Hibiscus Ginger. That last one sounds really wow to me, what a combination of flavors. Unfortunately, I don’t think that was one of my options at the happy healthy people store here in town.

Whatchoo want, Fearless has got it:

Fearless Chocolate Co.

PO Box 77146
San Francisco, CA 94107

http://www.fearlesschocolate.com/Fearless Chocolate also has a blog that you can follow: link your way on over to http://www.fearlesschocolate.com/2010/blog/

Let me know if you’ve tried that Sweet & Hot bar – I’m so mesmerized by the description of it, and I don’t even like ginger!

As an aside, I’m also mesmerized by the lovely miniature leaves that have appeared on the maple outside my window in recent days. Although I’ve preached this idea to you many times in recent months, it’s lovely to watch spring unfold. Enjoy the weekend!