Chocolate Banana Açaí Bowl

by Maja Lukic

A quick note today to say that I haven't forgotten this blog exists but other projects have forced me away from recipe development. A friend is launching a special venture in October so look out for an announcement soon.

In other news, safe to assume you're all grieving the end of summer, too, no? The return of apples and winter squash to the markets is something to look forward to, I'll admit. But the claustrophobic presence of pumpkin spice everything everywhere--simmer down, Starbucks--feels premature. The whole thing leaves me feeling cold and sad, quite frankly. And if you're at all like me--that is, if you're human--grief is inevitably associated with chocolate consumption.

And since we're also heading into flu season--you're welcome for that reminder--I figured everyone could use a bright antioxidant boost with an infusion of chocolate.  Because, if you're like me, chocolate is associated with a critically high level of bliss.

This is a standard açai berry bowl but with a chocolate twist. For the açai, I love the unsweetened frozen puree from Sambazon, which arrives in individually wrapped packets. Açai is tart and not at all sweet so if you would like some extra sugar, buy sweetened puree or add more dates. Açai is a fantastic source of antioxidants and the frozen puree packets are the easiest way to incorporate açai into your diet.

I also love adding coconut butter (or coconut manna) to smoothies in general but especially if I'm using cacao powder. The combination of the two creates a creamy chocolate mouthfeel. Coconut butter, if you're not already familiar with it, is made from dried coconut flesh. Note that coconut butter is different from coconut oil--it's creamier and sweeter, with a texture redolent of other nut butters. Widely available now and absolutely delicious straight out of the jar. It hardens at temperatures below approximately 73 F degrees. For that reason, I recommend blending the room temperature ingredients first before adding the frozen banana and açai. 

Chocolate Banana Açaí Bowl (v/gf)

Serves 1

2 packets frozen Açaí berry puree, unsweetened (like Sambazon)

2 tbsp cacao powder

1 apple, cored and chopped

1-2 dates, pitted and chopped (or maple syrup)

1 tbsp coconut butter/manna (not coconut oil)

1 frozen banana

almond milk 

garnish: coconut flakes, hemp seeds, raspberries

Place the açai packets under running hot water for about 5 seconds or soak in boiled water for a similar time to loosen. 

Place the apple, cacao powder, coconut butter, and a chopped date or two into a blender and pulse until roughly incorporated, adding a splash of almond milk as needed. Add the açai packets and frozen banana. Blend just until smooth. Do not over blend.

Pour the smoothie into a bowl and garnish with coconut flakes, hemp seeds, and fresh raspberries (or other fruit). Serve immediately. 

Note: For the frozen Açaí berry puree, each Sambazon packet is 3.5 oz. or 100g. If you need a sweeter bowl, add an additional date or try sweetened acai. If you are not working with a high powered blender, use maple syrup instead of date for better texture.