I don't mind an occasional chia seed pudding for breakfast once in a while but, to be honest, I've never been a fan of the texture. It's hard to love that texture. And if I'm in the mood for a creamy chocolate dessert, a chocolate-flavored chia seed pudding is the last resort, quite frankly.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled on this ingenious whipped chia seed mousse recipe on The First Mess (one of my favorite blogs -- the photographs alone are worth a visit and the recipes are consistently inventive and bright). The concept is simple: combine chia seeds with high-fat ingredients (coconut butter and coconut milk), allow the mixture to set into a pudding, and blend in a high-speed blender (a Vitamix, presumably) until the pudding reaches a creamy, mousse-like consistency. It's brilliant because it solves that "mouthfeel" issue I have with chia seed puddings. (I also don't appreciate the word "mouthfeel" but there it is).
The slight problem in all this was that I don't own a Vitamix. Shocked that a food blogger doesn't own one? Yeah, me, too. I hear they're awfully useful. I may even invest in one some day but, for now, my kitchen blender is a sad, sweet little Oster model I brought to the city with me a few years ago. I can't bear to part with it until it dies. It kept me company during a long, horrid winter upstate (sorry, Albany) and, even now, its smooth buzzing is a soothing presence when I'm up early in the morning to write or work. (By morning, I mean 5 a.m. Worst neighbor, I know, but, to be fair, I only run the coffee grinder at 5 a.m. -- never the blender.). Basically, loyalty matters.
But I thought I could achieve a similar, if not identical, texture by first grinding the chia seeds in a coffee grinder and then preparing the pudding. I think it turned out pretty well! For a deeper coconut flavor, feel free to leave out the cacao powder. Most importantly, be patient -- give it a full 24 hours to set and become firm. It's worth the wait, I think.
And no, the edible flowers in the photos are not irrelevant to this post. It may not feel like it but a reluctant spring is here. Happy first day of spring!
Chocolate & Coconut Chia Seed Mousse (v/gf)
Adapted from The First Mess
1/4 cup chia seeds (black or white)
1 can full-fat coconut milk (see note)
2 tbsp coconut butter (not coconut oil)
4-5 tbsp maple syrup, to taste
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/3 cup cacao powder
pinch of sea salt
toppings: raw sliced almonds, raw coconut flakes/chips
Process the chia seeds in a coffee grinder for about 20 seconds or until ground to a fine powder. Whisk and set aside.
In a large food processor, process the coconut milk, coconut butter, maple syrup, the seeds of one half of a vanilla bean, and a pinch of sea salt until lightly incorporated. Add cacao powder and process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides.
Measure out 1/4 cup of the chia seed powder (you will have some left over) and add it to the food processor. Continue to process until the pudding is smooth and no clumps remain. Pour the mixture into individual ramekins or bowls. Refrigerate for a full 24 hours before serving.
To serve, toast a handful of sliced almonds and raw coconut flakes in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Careful -- both ingredients burn easily. Top the chocolate mousse with the toasted almonds and coconut. Serve.
Note: Use full-fat coconut milk - this does not work with light coconut milk (I tried). You can also purchase milled chia seed powder but I haven't tried it with this recipe and can't vouch for it.