I have been bowled over by one of those once-in-a-decade viruses that just completely obliterates normal life. I am slowly recovering, and the one thing that delights is the fragile hyper-sensitivity of my senses, which feel superbly alive right now. I can finally go on a walk again, and the explosion of PNW late spring greens in every shade is hitting me like an electric surge.
This is one of the few good things about getting sick: it is a powerful reminder of how amazing our bodies are when we are healthy. We experience the world through our senses, and yet it is so easy to take for granted the things that are no longer novel. Getting sick, in its forced shut-down from everyday life, brokers a new deal with novelty. #silverlining
Lily Diamond’s delightful new cookbook, Kale & Caramel, is very much a celebration of the senses. It’s different than other cookbooks, in a great way: organizing around herbs and flowers affords an opportunity to focus not just on food, but on the many properties carried by the herbs and flowers, which inevitably engages more of our senses.
I love the calming effect of powerfully fragrant herbs and flowers; this book delights in that. It is indeed a book about delighting in things, which makes it a rather perfect guide at the beginning of the summer, to revel in the smells, colors, properties, and tastes of the many herbs and flowers celebrated in its pages.
CHOCOLATE CHIA MOUSSE WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS
adapted from Kale + Caramel, by Lily Diamond
Some notes: I halved the recipe, and used small 4-ounce jam and Weck jars. I liked having a small serving of this, because I often find chocolate desserts a little intense in larger quantities, and this was just right. That said, this is lighter than your average chocolate dessert, and between being chilled, and being served with that delectable coconut whip and fresh flowers, it’s really perfect for a summer get together. Because I used delicate fresh flowers, I decided to omit the orange zest and cardamom. However, if sticking to Lily’s original recipe and using dried rose petals and cacao nibs, I think those flavors are heavenly together.
For the Mousse:
6 Tablespoons chia seeds
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
Generous pinch of salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons almond milk or similar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
For the Coco Whip:1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated upside down (or coconut cream, if you can find it)
1 tablespoon powdered or confectioners’ sugar
Fresh flowers, such as violets, borage, pea flowers, berry or fruit flowers
Dried Rose Petals and Cacao Nibs
Make-ahead: At least 1 hour before serving, combine the chia seeds, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir. Add the almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla, and whisk until the cocoa powder is dissolved. Cover and set aside for an hour.
Transfer the chia mix to a blender and blend on high until creamy and smooth. Warm a small saucepan with water and bring to a low boil. Add the chocolate to a glass mixing bowl, and place over the saucepan. Stir constantly while it melts, and mix until smooth.
Add the melted chocolate to the blended chia pudding and blend until incorporated. Transfer into the dishes you will serve them in, and chill for a couple more hours. (Note: I used small 4-ounce jam jars and weck jars, which are perfect for this!)
To make the coco whip, open the bottom of the can of chilled coconut milk, and scoop out the thick coconut cream. Reserve and chill or freeze the rest of the liquid for other uses. (Smoothie?) In a medium mixing bowl, combine the coconut cream and the sugar. Whip with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy and whipped.
To serve, top the mousse with a generous dollop of the Coco Whip and the fresh flowers.