This is one such occasion.
Ever since reading Hannah's post about vegan dark chocolate cups with a lavender filling - courtesy of her Valentine's Chocolate box of delights - I have been thinking about trying to create a similar thing at home. I am a firm believer in the delights of culinary lavender, thanks to positive experiences with lavender, lemon and pistachio cheesecake, lavender biscuits with lemon, and lavender dark chocolate.
Now, I can add dark chocolates with lavender cream filling to that list.
These chocolates also provided me with an opportunity to play with coconut cream. I have had a can of coconut cream (full-fat coconut milk) in my fridge for, oh, about six months. I have a terrible tendency to sit on new ingredients in such a way, waiting for inspiration or "the right time" or something sufficiently worthy of the ingredient in question.
Chocolate with a lavender cream filling seemed like a sufficiently important cause, and once I got going, I found coconut cream to be very fun indeed. As many of you will know, when you chill a can in the fridge (24 hours would do; 6 months is optional), you can remove it, turn the can upside down, open it, drain off the liquid, and be left with a solid, cream-like mass. If you whip it, it goes fluffy.
There is something delightful about ingredients changing form between your very eyes, and I think that even if these chocolates had turned out terribly, the process of making them would have been sufficient reward. As it is, they turned out quite well, and I am just a little bit (or a lot bit) in love with them.
|Clockwise from top left: Solid coconut cream, whipped coconut cream, |
the mess involved with these creations!, and a close up of the lavender cream filling.
If you're not sure about a lavender filling, you could easily adapt this recipe to make other sorts of chocolates. Adding cocoa and chilli to the cream mix would give a wonderful chocolate chilli truffle. Alternatively, you could go with mint - always a classic - or lemon. I am delighted with the lavender outcome, but am still keen to experiment more with future batches.
Individual vegan dark chocolates
with lavender cream filling
Makes about 15 small chocolates, or a smaller number of larger ones
For the cream filling
1 375g can full-cream coconut milk, chilled in the fridge for at least 24 hours (you will only use half of the can)
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1 1/2 tbsp custard powder
1 1/2 tbsp custard powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp culinary lavender
For the chocolate
1/2 cup (~60g) cocoa butter
1 cup (~120g) cocoa powder
1/4 cup (~65g) agave nectar
Silicon moulds or firm cupcake liners, extra
Remove your chilled can of coconut milk from the fridge, flip it upside down, and remove the top. Pour out the liquid and then spoon the solid mass into a large mixing bowl. Reserve half of the solid coconut mixture for another time. Beat the remaining half with an electric mixer, on high speed, for 2 to 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Add the agave nectar, custard powder and vanilla to the coconut cream mix, and beat briefly to combine. Add the lavender and salt and stir through. Place in the fridge or freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes (this will make it easier to use the cream mix in your chocolates).
When the lavender cream filling has chilled, place the cocoa butter in a heat proof dish and heat over low heat on the stove top, stirring regularly, until fully melted. Add the cocoa powder and agave and stir well, still over low heat, until smooth.
Set your silicon moulds or cupcake liners out on a chopping board or other firm surface. Use approximately half of the chocolate mixture to fill the bottom of each mould/liner. Using a teaspoon, spoon a small amount of the lavender cream filling over the lower chocolate layer. Cover with the remaining chocolate.
Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours before removing from the moulds. Store in the fridge.
With time, I might even manage to make chocolates that look as neat as the ones that inspired these...
What are your thoughts on lavender flavours in food?
Or have you got any favourite uses for coconut cream? I still have half a can spare!