This week I used two of the ingredients from this year’s list of 52, Chicory suggested by my husband John and chocolate from Vosges, suggested by my friend Allison. I baked chicory donuts with a chicory chocolate frosting. I often use coffee to add depth of flavor to any sweet that contains chocolate and thought chicory might work the same way, since it is often used as a coffee substitute. It seemed like a great pairing of ingredients.
I spent a few weeks pondering ways to use chicory and chocolate together, something cake-y seemed easy enough. Maybe a chocolate mousse, but probably not a cookie. I don’t like the coffee taste in something with a cookie texture. What to make… And then I found a Vosges bar at their boutique in Las Vegas that contains chicory. Perfect!
I was in Vegas on a cardio-cation* celebrating my dear friend Michele’s birthday which included time at Las Vegas Boot Camp, not just shopping for ingredients to bake with and eating those yummy durian cookies poolside! The trip also included eating at what is reportedly the best Thai restaurant in North America, shopping at Trader Joe’s and going on a hunt for the best macaron in Vegas. Add to the fun a visit to the Vosges boutique and it turned into an amazing visit in a town I’m not usually fond of. Las Vegas, maybe we can be friends after all. *Michele’s word for fitness travel, used by crazy people like us who will jump on a plane with a bike for an adventure race or carrying a backpack with nothing but marathon essentials inside.
My only past experience with chicory comes from a visit to Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. I occasionally spot their brand of Chicory Coffee at my local grocery store but have never bought it. When chicory was suggested as an ingredient for this year’s 52 list, I started label reading and discovered that all of the cans of chicory on the store shelves were actually a chicory/coffee blend. Apparently it was used during the Great Depression when coffee was in short supply. I read mention of it being used in economically stressed areas and read yet another mention of it in Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet, where it was suggested as a caffeine-free alternative to coffee.
Admittedly, I did not search too much to find pure chicory. I purchased a can of chicory/coffee blend at Trader Joe’s. It has the smell of a dark roast coffee. The appearance is similar to a coarse ground dark roast with a few flecks of chicory, which is lighter in color than roasted coffee beans. It would be interesting to know what the percentage of coffee to chicory is in these blends.
So about the donuts…there is no original recipe from me to share this week. I used a recipe from the most amazing new cookbook, Babycakes Covers the Classics. I have blogged a few times about Babycakes (here and here and also here) and could not have been more excited when I heard their second cookbook would include donuts. Erin McKenna is my hero! The day I became gluten-free I bought two books, the original Babycakes book and Gluten-Free Girl. Both books are permanent fixtures in my library, one well-splattered with cupcake batter. Because I am avoiding refined sugar at the moment, I made the Agave-Sweetened Plain Donut on page 128. I substituted really strongly brewed chicory/coffee blend for the 1/4 cup of hot water the recipe calls for. Super easy, super quick and definitely a recipe I can’t wait to make again!
I created the frosting on these donuts using the Vosges Creole Exotic Candy Bar. It is a 70% cacao bar with New Orleans style chicory coffee, cocoa nibs and Sao Thome bittersweet chocolate.
Chicory Chocolate Donut Frosting
1 Vosges Creole Exotic Candy Bar, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Combine chocolate pieces and almond milk in small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir. Return to microwave in 15 second increments, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted.
Dip warm donuts into chocolate frosting and place on cooling rack.
I tried really hard not to eat these donuts before the chocolate frosting had a chance to set up. I failed horribly. I made these donuts in both mini and regular sizes and enjoyed eating them both. A few managed to stick around long enough for the frosting to harden (some even made it to breakfast the next morning) and I have to say, I liked them better warm. Not that I didn’t enjoy every last one of them…These donuts even smell like those Babycakes sell at their bakery. I can’t wait to try more of the goodies in this new cookbook!