I know, I know — the title is pretty long. But it should actually be more like Anti-Inflammatory Ginger Turmeric Dark Chocolate Cups with Maple Orange Cashew Cream Filling.
I chose chronic inflammation as my area of focus as part of the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program, both because I have personal ties to it (I work to manage what I would consider a sometimes over-reactive immune system – hello, allergies!), and also because the more I learn about nutrition, the more convinced I am that an anti-inflammatory way of eating is the path towards excellent health. I do not believe in a ‘one diet fits all’ mentality, although I feel very strongly that it is our responsibility to choose as compassionately as possible and to proactively research how our food gets to our plates. How we feed ourselves has implications far greater than our own bodies.
When we think of anti-inflammatory foods, what often come to mind are colourful salads and green smoothies. These are wonderful, however, I think it’s also important to acknowledge that eating an anti-inflammatory diet need not be about restriction or skipping dessert. My inspiration for today’s recipe was to show that eating this way can be fun and joyful, and yes, even include a little chocolate! Studies have shown that cocoa and dark chocolate actually slow the production of the signaling molecules involved in inflammation. (1) The key is to get them without too much processed sugar.
I adapted one of my most favorite recipes for homemade dark chocolate, made with raw cacao and a small amount of low-glycemic coconut sugar. To that, I added turmeric and ginger, which also have potent anti-inflammatory properties, further enhanced by the unrefined coconut oil in the cream filling. Finally, cashews are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and there’s research that says the healthy omega-3s in nuts and seeds may also help Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. (2)
I’ve made variations of this chocolate many times (one filled with a homemade vanilla maple almond butter, one spiced like gingerbread, another flavored like spiked eggnog), and I am always blown away that a handful of basic ingredients can combine to produce something so special. But that’s probably one of my biggest takeaways from my almost three years of food blogging: when you’re working with high quality ingredients that are in their whole form or very minimally processed, there is absolutely no need to get complicated. Simple is the way to go.
This dessert is feel-good all around, and – fair warning – you may never want to buy store-bought chocolate again.
Ginger Turmeric Dark Chocolate Cups with Maple Orange Cashew Cream Filling
Crisp, spiced dark chocolate meets melt-in-your-mouth maple orange cream. It’s out-of-this-world good.
For the filling:
½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight, rinsed & drained
¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, plus additional for garnish
For the chocolate:
140 grams raw cacao butter
¾ cup raw cacao powder, sifted
½ cup + 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, ground into a fine powdered sugar (a high-speed blender or spice grinder works well)
1 teaspoon fresh, finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground ginger
generous pinch fine sea salt
Line a muffin tin with 12 silicone baking cups and set it aside.
Prepare the cream filling by blending the soaked raw cashews, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the orange zest in a blender until smooth (about 30 seconds).
Transfer the filling to a small bowl and place it in the freezer to firm up a bit while you make the chocolate, keeping in mind you are aiming for a thicker custard-like consistency.
While the cream filling chills, add the cacao butter to a medium saucepan and melt it over the lowest heat setting (this takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on how finely it’s chopped).
While the cacao butter is melting, whisk together the cacao powder, powdered coconut sugar, ginger, turmeric, and sea salt in a separate bowl.
Once the cacao butter has melted, whisk in the dry ingredients until well-combined.
Turn off the stove and spoon approximately ¾-1 tablespoon of the chocolate into each muffin liner. You will need to stir the melted chocolate periodically to make sure the ingredients don’t separate.
Place the muffin pan in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to firm up slightly.
Once the chocolate is mostly solid, spoon about ¾ to 1 tablespoon of the cream filling into each of the muffin tins.
Cover the filling with another ¾-1 tablespoon of the melted chocolate and return the pan to the freezer for another 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the chocolate cups with the remaining orange zest and place them back in the freezer for 2 hours or overnight. The chocolate will be solid in about 20 minutes, but it takes a little time for the filling to become completely solid.
Finally, pop the chocolate cups out of the silicone muffin liners, transfer them to a container, and store them in the freezer or fridge.
Don’t be deterred by the prep time – nearly all of it is inactive prep work! This recipe really does come down to the ingredients, so opt for a high quality, organic raw cacao butter and cacao powder. The texture is similar to a stone-ground chocolate like Taza because of the coconut sugar. If you would prefer a smoother chocolate, I would recommend using coconut nectar instead of coconut sugar. Just note that the chocolate will have a slightly chewy texture once solid. Enjoy straight out of the freezer for a solid cream filling, or out of the fridge for a softer, creamier texture.
Did you enjoy this recipe? Share your feedback in the comments below!