Rainy days call for citrus and chocolate

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I love …   Blood Oranges.  Actually, I really really really… love blood oranges.  It makes me so happy to see them tucked in among the other citrus fruits this time of year.  They are so flavorful, so juicy… such a treat! The dramatic color of both the peel and the flesh are a welcome change to the typical orange. Anything with color just brightens my day, a sensational citrus just brightens it that much more.   Needless to say.. I’ve recently purchased a lot of them.

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Looking out my patio last night, watching the incredibly large snow flakes… turn to sleet.. turn to rain.. then back to snow.  I decided it was high time for a pick-me-up! With the abundance of blood oranges in my fruit bowl, and a massive amount of cacao powder in my fridge.. I figured it would be an excellent morning spent – whipping up a raw cheesecake! So that’s exactly what I did..  Slowly… all morning… First the base, then some silky raw chocolate to dip my blood oranges in, and finally the cashew filling.

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I find that a lot of the dessert type things that I make…  I can never finish myself. Rarely do I eat more than a serving.. Taking the idea from all these gifters who are making salads in jars…cakes in jars.. muffins in jars….  Why not a cheesecake in a jar? It’s easy to transport! It’s individually portioned!  It worked perfectly. I highly recommend doing something like this for dinner parties, I am sure going to remember it for the next one I go to. So cute, and less fuss.

Blood Orange & Hazelnut Base

1 Cup Raw Hazelnuts
1/4 Cup Flax Seeds
1/4 Cup Grated Young Coconut Meat
5/6 Pitted Dates
3 Tbsp Blood Orange Infused Avocado Oil
Juice from 1 Blood Orange

You can typically buy young coconut meat either frozen, or still in the coconut. It works well to buy it frozen and grate while it’s still frozen for coconut flakes.  Do this, and then leave the coconut out to thaw for the filling. Put everything in a food processor and blitz until the mixture is sticky and well chopped.  Some texture is good, but big chunks are not so much what I would be aiming for. Be sure to notice how lovely and aromatic the blood orange is…. and the pinky hue it lends to the mix! Firmly press the base mixture into the bottom of a few small canning jars (or whatever you’re using to hold the cheesecake), and place them in the fridge to set.

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I mentioned it was what I did all morning… slowly.  Slowly because I absolutely savour everything about peeling citrus fruits. I love the burst of aromatic awesomeness that comes from piercing the skin, peeling it slowly…  letting all those little pockets of essential oil burst open. It’s beautiful. It’s literally sunshine on such a gloomy day! I sllloowwwlllyyy peeled my blood orange, slowly pulled apart each segment… noting that some were very purple, some went from a pink to purple, and some even had a bit of a greeny tinge. Such a mindful and relaxing way to enter the day! If only I always gave myself time for such simple pleasures…. if only we all did!

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On to the raw chocolate!  I have had a constant eye out for cacao butter for about a year now, you can’t always find it at community… but it seems lately they are stocking it more and more. Raw chocolate is one of the easiest and seriously satisfying things you can make at home, provided you can find the ingredients to make it.  If you’re looking for a specifically raw version, be sure that you find a fully raw cacao butter.  The beans are fermented, and dried, then typically heat processed in a roaster..  You can find raw cacao, where they have slowed the process down and do not let the temperature reach high heat – this will generally make it more expensive.  Not that the price tag will necessarily mean it is in fact a raw variety.

Cacao were at one point so valued (somewhat like our favorite spices), that they were traded as currency in Mexico. I find little bits of historical information like that to be fantastic. It makes me crazy that our world is driven by money and material things…. when historically all trading revolved around little earth gems. Spices, beans.   Things we have since lost our love for…  Sure, everyone has pepper in their house somewhere, but no one knows where it came from. No one asks.   Okay maybe I am generalizing…. but not many people ask.  This is partly why making raw chocolate is so special to me, it’s completely back to basics. Back to using things I can pronounce, and have an understanding of how it came to be.

Simple Raw Chocolate 
for dipping & topping

1/2 Cup Cacao Butter
Just Shy of 1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
1.5 Tbsp Raw Honey
(Agave or another raw sugar substitute would work as well)

Now, I like my chocolate bitter.. If using just shy of 1/2 cup of cacao powder would be too bitter for you, start with 1/3 and see how it tastes. Melt the cacao butter gently by putting it in bowl inside a larger bowl of hot water. Keep the melting process slow so the nutrients in the butter don’t dissipate. That is the point of raw, right? : )…  Once it has melted, add the honey and cacao powder, whisking until combined.  Now, since the chocolate was melted gently, you don’t need to wait long for it to start firming up. You can basically dip the orange segments within a minute or so.  I chose to only dip half, but do whatever you feel!

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Once the oranges have been dipped, let them sit on some wax paper to set. Put the bowl of chocolate back into some warm water to make sure it stays liquid until you’re ready to finish using it.

Chocolate Cashew Cheesecake Filling

1 Cup Cashews – Soaked for about 3 or 4 hours
1 Cup Young Coconut Meat
1/2 Cup Love Water (non dairy milk or otherwise filtered water is fine)
1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
Juice from 1 Lemon
1/2 Cup of Raw Coconut Nectar

Get the trusty blender ready… add in the cashews, coconut meat, lemon juice and love water; blend away until it is completely smooth and creamy. Once it’s at your desired creaminess, transfer to a large bowl.  Slowly add in the coconut nectar and cacao powder and fold very gently with a large spatula. Once it is fully incorporated, taste it.  Again, I like my chocolate on the bitter side, so if you’re looking for a sweeter version – add more sweetener.  Take the jars (or parfait cups… pie plate.. whatever you’re using) from the fridge and gently spoon in the filling. If you’re plating or eating these little lovelies right away then go ahead and fill fairly close to the top, if not and you are in fact using jars – make sure you leave enough space for an orange and for the lid!

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Top with remaining liquid chocolate and arrange your orange segments last.

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These little pots of chocolatey bliss are slightly bitter, with the perfect amount of sweet orange flavor from the base!

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