One of the things I loved about summer as a kid was the trips that we would take as a family. We had a sailboat until I was about 9, when my sister's scoliosis made it hard for her to get on and off the craft as well as up and down the ladder into the cabin. We transferred our vacationing habits to
pulling a trailer all over Canada (and the US), seeing provinces from PEI to British Columbia and northern American locations like Yellowstone National Park, Bar Harbour, and Wall Drug.
The constant through it all was the tourist-trap gift shops that my sister and I adored - both for the knicknacks and (for me especially) the edible treats they offered. My weakness was fudge - actually, it always has been, a sugary sweet staple of every fair or convention I've gone to where it was offered. I was a bit picky on the flavours, though - if I was eating it, it had better be either "chocolate peanut butter", "chocolate hazelnut" (essentially solid Nutella) or just plain chocolate. No chunks of anything, no maple, just smooth, crumbly chocolate.
Then again, my childhood self didn't concern herself with portion control or nutritional information. A "serving" of fudge candy is packed with 90 calories, 3 grams of fat and almost 17 grams of SUGAR! Did I mention that "serving" is only 22 grams (just shy of 0.7 of an ounce), or 1 cubic inch? How many of us actually adhere to that serving size? I'm not immune to creating gut-busting fudge candy myself - take a look at this sucker if you're looking to indulge on a massive scale - but given that summer is also code for swimsuit, I wanted to also offer some decadence that wasn't devastating to that likely goal. I lucked out by finding this post on the blog The Gluten Free Edge, where Gretchen made a silky smooth variation of Ricki's (AKA Diet, Dessert and Dogs) (and further back, Affairs of Living's author Kim's) more nutritionally sound variety. All these inspirational recipes were unique because of their major ingredient: not 22 ounces of chocolate and a jar of marshmallow creme, but a can of black beans!
I liked Ricki's and Gretchen's versions most because they also used a shot of nut butter and not just coconut oil, but I had no almond butter on hand and at any rate I wanted to try making one that tasted like the Nutella fudge of my childhood. I had a few tablespoons of the fantastic chocolate-hazelnut butter from Justin's Nut Butters in my pantry, and in the course of my search for it I also found the remains of a tub of SunButter with flaxseeds that I had bought earlier in the month and a bag of dried black beans, which I soaked and deliberately over-cooked in lieu of opening a can. When I made the final product, I actually divided the initial paste in half before adding the "butter" and made two versions - one with SunButter, the other with luscious chocolate-hazelnut spread. To maximize the chocolatey goodness, I added an extra ounce of semisweet, and I used the sweet amber agave nectar that I had from Nature's Agave since there is nowhere remotely near me that has yacon syrup or food-grade vegetable glycerine. I pressed each batch into a mini loaf pan (in retrospect I should have used something like the 4 x 3" foil pans I made individual lasagnes in to have a better depth ratio) and let it set up into rich, smooth yumminess.
Not only were both fudges gluten free and vegan, they used no refined sugar in their creation! Even Justin's products use evaporated cane juice (AKA SucaNat) in place of refined sucrose, and thanks to the natural super-sweetness of the agave and some vanilla-laced stevia adding any extra is unnecessary. A "normal" piece of my fudge only has 1.6 grams total sugar in the SunButter version and 0.9 grams of total sugar in the chocolate-hazelnut version! With the goodness of fibre from the beans, it's a candy you can actually enjoy eating and sharing (like I'm doing for this Wellness Weekend roundup). Plus, if you wanted even less sugar you could make Ricki's version of Nutella - something on my to-do list for sure!
Saintly Smooth Fudge
Makes 48 pieces
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp refined, soft coconut oil
1 3/4 cups very well-cooked black beans, drained and rinsed well3 tbsp amber agave nectar
3 (1 gram) packets vanilla flavoured stevia
2 (1 gram) packets vanilla flavoured stevia (extra, for sunbutter version)
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 cup SunButter or vegan chocolate-hazelnut spread (or Nutella if not vegan)
fine sea salt, to sprinkle
- Combine the chocolates and coconut oil in a small bowl and melt gently in the microwave. Set
- In a food processor, puree the beans with the agave nectar and stevia until very smooth.
- Add the chocolate mixture and cocoa and puree in.
- Add the SunButter or chocolate-hazelnut spread and process in until completely smooth.
- Line an 8x5" loaf pan with clingwrap and press the fudge in evenly. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Chill 1 hour, uncovered, then press a layer of plastic ontop of the fudge surface and keep in the fridge.
- This tastes better if you chill it overnight and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before enjoying, but I won't judge if you eat the mixture out of the food processor instead of pressing and chilling it!
Total Fat: 2.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 20.0 mg
Total Carbs: 3.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
Protein: 1.1 g
Total Fat: 2.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 23.1 mg
Total Carbs: 4.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 1.2 g