Valentine’s day is almost here and with it thoughts of Chocolate! It is so easy to over-indulge in sweets this time a year, I wanted to find a way to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. So, what will please chocolate lovers but still bring some health benefits? Since not everyone is at the same place in their health journey and since I don’t want to alienate milk chocolate lovers, it needed to be versatile. First thought was the classic pairing of dark chocolate with some beautiful strawberries. At a $1.00 a berry in the store, they won’t go far. Make at home? Berries are out of season and tempering chocolate is not common cooking skill, but it did give me an idea. Chocolate Berry Crisp!
Since everyone’s taste is not the same, at the end of the recipe, I share some ideas for swapping out ingredients to adjust it to your taste so keep reading to the end. This dish is about melding different flavors with less emphasis on sweetness.
Start with mixed berries, an antioxidant powerhouse. These can be fresh or frozen, but keep in mind the cooking time will vary between the two. Select a mixture of berries for best flavor. Put into your 9×9 pan.
Next chocolate. Dark chocolate without milk may lower blood pressure and provides antioxidants. Since this dish was made for Valentines, ½ of the chocolate was distributed in with the berries and the other spread on top. To make this easier, all the chips can be put in with the berries. Alternatively, after the crisp is baked, you can put all the chips on top. After they warm up for a few minutes, they will become soft/melted and you can spread them over the surface of the crisp. While this is an extra step, I do think that it provides more chocolate flavor to the dessert.
Flour or corn starch is sprinkled over the fruit to help thicken the juices while it is cooking. If you don’t mind the juices being thin when you serve it, then this step may be omitted.
Assemble your dry ingredients and mix together:
Oats — Heart healthy fiber.
Nuts — Heart protection.
Cinnamon — Trace minerals and antioxidants.
Ready for the wet ingredients. If you add the vanilla to the syrup, it will distribute better when poured into the dry ingredients. Add the following to the bowl:
Applesauce — fiber. It acts as a binder for the dry ingredients to eliminate the oil traditionally used. These newer pouches with a lid allow you to use part of the package and store the rest in the fridge until later.
100% Maple syrup (please note this is not maple flavored pancake syrup) — Vitamins and minerals. It adds a nice depth of flavor.
Vanilla extract (not artificial flavor) — antioxidants.
Mix until crumbly. Spread across the top of the berries and pop the pan into the oven.
With fresh berries it will take about 30 min for the top to become brown and the berries to bubble. Frozen will need 10-15 minutes more. If you find that the top is getting too brown, cover with foil.
For this picture, I laid out the chocolate chips in a heart pattern. When they had melted, 3-4 minutes, then I smoothed them into the heart shape. When I discovered the heart-shape did not show up well in pictures, I decided to outline the heart with white chocolate chips. White chocolate is basically cocoa butter and sugar with no real nutritional value. It is also difficult to melt which is why I left them as chips. They are not an essential part of the recipe.
This desert is great as is. However, there will be those temped to add ice cream or whipped topping. While not a whole food plant based approved topping, So Delicious Coco Whip topping adds creaminess and a pleasant coconut taste without as many chemicals or fat as the other popular toppings. Enjoy!
To reduce fat:
Leave out the chocolate chips and add ¼ cup of cocoa powder to the topping. Reduce the nuts by 2 tablespoons. Since cocoa is bitter, add 2-4 Tablespoons more of sweetener.
¼ cup of brown sugar or
½ cup coconut sugar or
¼-1/2 cup of date sugar or date paste
You can use equal amounts of semisweet chocolate chips. To preserve the antioxidant activity of the chocolate, it is still recommended to use a dairy-free version. Keep in mind if you use semisweet or milk chocolate, these chips will be sweeter than dark chocolate so be cautious when adding additional sugar.