Chocolate & Coconut Chia Seed Mousse

by Maja Lukic


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

Serves 4

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. 


Citrus & Fresh Fig Chia Seed Pudding

by Maja Lukic


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To be perfectly honest, it took me a long time to warm up to chia seeds. Initially, I found the slippery, grainy texture of chia seed puddings off-putting and, frankly, I was pretty cynical of anyone who claimed that chia seeds combined with a little bit of almond milk tasted like dessert. It tastes fine but that does not constitute a dessert in my repertoire.

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I'm a fairly open-minded person, though, and I like to play with new ingredients and dishes. Moreover, chia seeds are pretty stunning from a nutritional standpoint so it's hard to ignore them. They have an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids as well as an abundance of antioxidants which help keep all those useful fats from oxidizing. They're also an amazing source of fiber. According to Superfood Kitchen, just one tablespoon of chia seeds provides over a quarter of our daily fiber requirement. What they're best loved for these days, however, is their ability to easily absorb and plump up when combined with liquids. To cite Julie Morris again, a chia seed can absorb nine times its weight in water.

Most importantly, once I realized that their neutrality (a diplomatic way of saying "tastelessness") allowed for all sorts of flavor experiments, I decided I kind of liked the little guys.

Expect a chocolate version soon (shocking, I know) but, for now, I'm leaving you with this lightly fragrant and delicately flavored citrus and fresh fig chia seed pudding. I love fresh figs and now is the time to devour them. The little fig seeds mingle with the chia seeds for a crunchy texture and the citrus and maple brighten the otherwise mellow, creamy pudding. It's not quite dessert but it is a lovely and refreshing summer breakfast for two.

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Citrus & Fresh Fig Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 2

1 cup almond milk (if homemade, amazing)

1/4 cup organic chia seeds (black or white)

3-4 fresh figs, stem removed and chopped

2-3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp tangelo zest (or other citrus)

To garnish: 2 quartered fresh figs, 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, and additional maple syrup

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, chia seeds, citrus zest, and maple syrup. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so. Add in the chopped figs and stir again.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight until it's thick and pudding-like. When ready to serve, stir the pudding well and divide between two small bowls. Garnish each pudding with a quartered fig, a tablespoon of chopped walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup, to taste. Eat.

The pudding can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. 

Notes: I used tangelo zest here but feel free to substitute your citrus of choice - oranges, tangerines, and clementines would all work well.