Jane Baldwin, a yoga teacher, lives in Copiague.
How did you get interested in vegetarian cooking?
I've been a vegetarian for almost three years. At 50, I realized my body was telling me I needed a change, and being a yoga teacher and horticulturalist I wanted to go green. Some knowledge of nutrition and going to the talks at The Science of Spirituality in Amityville gave me the motivation to get there. I'm not perfect. Occasionally I eat fish and eggs.
Where does this recipe come from?
One of my students, Pura, is a vegetarian and she told me about the recipe. I was on the road to vegetarianism, and I had seen it in a health food store. It was so expensive, so I thought I'd like to make it myself. I went to her house and she showed me how.
What's the reaction you get when you tell people it's made with avocado?
It doesn't look like it's made with avocados because there's no green left to it. And it doesn't really taste like the avocado anymore. It tastes very chocolatey. If you're looking for a chocolate fix, it's a good substitute for a bad dessert. Avocados are very healthy. They make the pudding creamy, but there's no cream. It's a lactose-free dessert. And the cocoa powder is not like a candy bar. Raw cacao powder has a lot of antioxidants. Honey has a lot of nutritional value. It has a lot of enzymes, it's antibacterial.
Any tips for success?
Use Hass avocados, the ones with the rough, dark skin. Larger smooth-skinned avocados from Florida are more watery, and won't give you the right texture. I like cinnamon, so I put a lot in, but you can adjust the cinnamon to taste. It's great with fruit, because it's pretty heavy and fruit lightens it. Sometimes, I serve it with blueberries or strawberries. Pomegranate seeds are good. Or rhubarb syrup in the spring.
4 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
½ cup honey
4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine the avocados, honey, cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla in the workbowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Alternatively, mash the avocados with a mortar and pestle until smooth, transfer to a bowl and whisk in honey, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and vanilla.
2. Adjust sweetness if necessary by adding more honey to taste. Adjust chocolate flavor by adding more cocoa powder to taste. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to a month. Makes 6 servings.