Fall Flavors: Chocolate Chia Pudding

Who knew that avocados would make an unbelievably creamy chocolate pudding? Ok, so maybe you already knew that – but did you know that if you add banana, chia seeds, half and half, and pastured beef gelatin, you can make a rich dessert that’s reminiscent of panna cotta?

I’ve made avocado chocolate pudding in the past and it’s delicious – and if you follow this recipe, it’s paleo, vegan, and gluten-free. It’s great as is, but I couldn’t help but tinker with the recipe (which, for the record, I have previously made as written and enjoyed greatly) a bit.

It began with making the chocolate pudding: I had two avocados that I wanted to use before they spoiled, and it can be difficult to tell from the outside of the fruit. Fortunately, when I opened them up, they were perfect. I scooped out the flesh and put it into my trusty food processor, adding the cocoa powder. Here’s where I strayed from the recipe: I had organic half and half in the fridge, so I used that instead of non-dairy milk; I added a banana and a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds; and I wanted to try the organic stevia blend sweetener that had just arrived, so I added some of that, too.

Then, I remembered the pastured beef gelatin that’s been in the pantry for a while. Unopened. I had grand plans when I purchased it – I’d make puddings, gelatin molds…but that didn’t happen. Nonetheless, it was there and it was finally time to utilize it. I stirred 1 1/2 Tbsp of the gelatin into hot water (sticky stuff) and poured it into the food processor. I blended everything well and scooped it out into a glass bowl.

Freshly blended, it was very thick, making me think I may have gone a bit overboard with the thickeners: avocado and banana are pretty thick to begin with, and I had added half and half, chia seeds, and gelatin to the mix. Well, that’s the nature of experiments: sometimes, they don’t turn out the way you expect.

After chilling for a few hours, the pudding had the consistency of a very solid panna cotta. Perhaps a bit too firm to call a pudding…though it would make an excellent gelatin mold and easily incorporate other ingredients without losing its firmness. The chia seeds also lent a bit of a tapioca-like bumpiness to the otherwise smooth texture, so I would probably omit them in the future or soak and blend them very well before adding to ensure that the seeds are well-pulverized.

The flavor was good, though: rich, chocolatey, and barely sweet. I might add a bit more of the stevia blend sweetener next time. And the creative possibilities…I think the addition of sweetened raspberries or candied orange peel would be amazing, and a small mold or springform pan could be used to create a lovely layered dessert.

I like mine with coconut on top!

Make this vegan by using non-dairy milk instead of the half and half; use soaked and well-blended chia seeds and/or agar in lieu of the beef gelatin. I’m not sure additional thickener is even needed – the avocado and banana are quite pudding-like in their own right.

Top with real whipped cream (sans carrageenan) and chocolate chunks or coconut, for a tasty crunch; add what you like or nothing at all. Plain or adorned, this is a winner!

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