Are you overwhelmed with the holiday meal planning, shopping, and prep? I am.
I'm telling you this because you need to know even health coaches and food bloggers get stressed about holiday meals. ;-) If you're hosting a holiday meal, my guess is you're creating self-imposed pressure, internalizing family expectations, or feeling social pressure to replicate those gourmet food magazine and Instagram photos.
Whatever the pressure, I'm giving you permission to drop it!
Let it go. Instead, choose to spend your emotional energy on laying down a solid plan for the following activities, in this order:
Plan your (uncomplicated!) menu (ALL meals during the 2-3 day holiday time period)
Make a grocery list (don't assume you have anything on hand - check and see with your own eyes)
Carve out (calm!!!) time to shop
And prep the hell out of your menu
For the final step, even if it's just chopping vegetables and making a few freezable dips or sauces, do as many small tasks ahead as possible. It's often the small things that are most time-consuming.
And please, please try to go shopping when the store is not busy. Unless you enjoy bumping shopping carts and waiting in long checkout lines, all which just adds to the stress, make the extra effort to take off work (or whatever obligations you have) and go first thing when the store opens. Yes, you'll be one of the crazies waiting for the doors to unlock, but it's worth it.
Now that the holiday prep pep talk is over, I'd like to offer a ridiculously simple but delicious dessert (that I've tested no fewer than 4 times) to help complete your menu. These cute pots are made by melting dark chocolate and mixing in whipped coconut cream (the solid layer from a can of coconut milk), a touch of vanilla, salt, and sugar. At this point you'll have a chocolate sauce, which you'll pour into pots and let set up in the fridge. These are topped with toasted almonds and an optional scattering of cacao nibs and pomegranate seeds for extra crunch and brightness.
Simple to make and satisfying to eat, I hope these pots help round out at least one of your meals this holiday season.
Almond Dark Chocolate Pots
Serves 4 large or 8 small pots
Notes: This recipe uses the coconut fat that solidifies in the top half of the can. If you live in a cold climate, this separation should naturally occur. Otherwise (or if you want to be safe, wherever you live), I suggest refrigerating the coconut milk overnight or for 6 hours before making these pots. When plating the chocolate pots, use any kind (or a mix) of small pretty glasses, glass pots, mason jars, or ramekins.
Update 12/2018: I’ve continued playing around with this recipe and have additional points to share.
For US residents, Trader Joe’s sells cans of coconut cream. I use 1 can of this coconut cream (reserving coconut water at bottom) in place of the two cans of coconut milk called for below. Europeans: don’t use the solid coconut cream sold in paper cartons. You’re better off refrigerating cans of coconut milk to get the cream.
If you want a thicker fudge-like pot, use 5 Tbsp. reserved coconut water instead of 10 Tbsp.
Remove pots from the fridge at least an hour before serving, for better flavor and consistency. Especially important if using only 5 Tbsp. coconut water. This will allow pots to soften a little.
Alternative topping: Warm blackberry sauce made my warming frozen blackberries with a splash of water and honey or maple. Warm until soft and broken down a bit. Add a splash of vanilla. Great topping for the thicker pots as the warmth softens them further.
2 - 15 oz (400 gr) cans of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
10 Tbsp. coconut water from can of coconut milk (reserve remaining coconut water for a smoothie)
150 gr. dark chocolate (72-75 % cacao)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. unrefined cane sugar - Muscovado (or coconut sugar)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup (56 gr) toasted almonds, finely chopped
Optional additional toppings: cacao nibs + pomegranate seeds
Place both cans of coconut milk in the fridge to chill overnight, or for 6 hours (do not shake the can at any point). Open cans and scoop the top layer of thick cream into a deep mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat on high until you get a soft whipped consistency. Continue beating while slowly incorporating coconut water.
Place a medium heatproof glass mixing bowl over a medium pot with lightly simmering water. (Make sure bottom of bowl does not touch simmering water.) Break dark chocolate bar into small pieces and drop into bowl. Let melt gently, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula.
Once chocolate is fully melted and smooth, remove from heat and stir a spoonful of whipped coconut cream into melted chocolate. Chocolate will seize up, but keep stirring. Stir in remaining whipped cream, along with vanilla, almond (if using), sugar, and salt, until you get a homogenous mixture the consistency of a thick, pourable sauce or drinking chocolate.
Taste and adjust flavoring, if needed. Pour into individual pots and chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Top with toasted chopped almonds* and additional toppings, if desired.
*Alternatively, you can make a hidden, middle layer of toasted, chopped almonds in each pot (as pictured in 3 of the 4 pots). Fill each pot halfway up with the chocolate mixture. Chill pots (and the bowl with remaining chocolate mixture) in the fridge until solid. Just before serving, top each pot generously with almonds, and evenly spoon remaining chocolate mixture over top.