Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about chocolate. There’s one person I can blame for this: a very sweet person who’s opened my eyes (and palate) to the incredibly vast and nuanced world of chocolate flavors, origins, and making techniques. That on top of every store display’s screaming “Happy Valentine’s Day” made me crave not the simple dark chocolate bars I tend to favor, but something baked. Something I could enjoy any time of day and feel good about my decision to indulge. What my friend has also showed me, though, is that chocolate carries a reputation of being “bad” for no reason at all. When in its pure form, cacao beans are bursting with healthful benefits: antioxidants, magnesium, iron, and the omega fatty acids that are usually so hard for vegans to get in their diet. A whole tablespoon of cacao powder—which is a lot!—has only 20 calories, too, making it a great add-in for hot cereal and beverages from smoothies to warm milk drinks (think hot chocolate minus the sugar).
These muffins have a great balance of sweet and savory that makes them perfect for any time of day. Tahini—my go-to creamy topping for fruits, grains, roasted veggies, you name it—complements the pear and date filling perfectly, and the subtle notes of coconut throughout satisfy the sweet impulse when you bite into something chocolatey. They’re exquisitely moist all on their own and, with the right packaging, will be a beautiful, delicious gift to present to your friends and loved, including yourself, ones this February 14th—one that will warm and nourish all your hearts.
Gluten Free Chocolate Pear and Date Muffins
- 4 tbsp. ground flax meal + 8 T. water
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. tahini
- 1/2 c. evaporated cane sugar
- 1-1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. chickpea flour
- 6 tbsp. raw cacao powder
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 c. almond milk
- 1/2 c. boiling water
- 5 pitted dates chopped into small pieces
- 1 small pear cored and chopped (optional to peel)
- 1/4 c. unsweetened dry coconut flakes for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tin with liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine flax and water in a large mixing bowl and set for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the dates and pear.
- Add coconut oil, tahini, and sugar to bowl. Mix well.
- Add flour and cacao in 1/4-cup increments, alternating and mixing with each addition to combine well.
- Add salt, cardamom, vanilla, baking powder and soda, and milk. Stir to combine.
- Lastly add the boiling water and stir until just blended. Fold in dates and pear chunks.
- Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin tin and top with coconut flakes.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are firm and a knife comes clean when inserted into the center of the muffins.