Chocolate Mousse Made With … Bean Water?

Chocolate mousse made with … bean water?

Hey, did you know that the UN has designated 2016 the International Year of Pulses? Of course you didn’t! Do you even know what pulses are? Bet not. I’m not talking the throbbing on your wrist, or the thing you do on the food processor to pulverize nuts. Pulses are dried members of the legume family that include beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas. This does not include fresh beans or peas, soybeans, or peanuts. Got it? Good.

I had the privilege to be invited to the gorgeous Culinary Institute of America Greystone a few weeks back to learn more about pulses, and get inspired on how to use them. During this weekend intensive, we heard from experts on the virtues of pulses, and then went into the kitchens to work with instructors to get our pulses racing.

Why pulses? Simple. Pulses are:

  • Renewable and sustainable. Pulses actually fix nitrogen in the soil, adding rather than depleting nutritional value like many other crops do.
  • Healthful. Pulses are high in protein and low in fat. Increasing pulse consumption has been demonstrated to aid in weight loss, even without making other dietary change. They are heart-healthy, and help regulate blood sugar.
  • Oh yeah, delicious. If you’re not already in love with them, you haven’t had them prepared right. And about that farty thing: Research has shown that once you integrate more pulses into your diet more regularly, that little problem tends to go away.

To get more people to enjoy pulses as part of their regular routine, they’ve launched the #PulsePledge, where you commit to eating at least one serving of pulses a week. In our household, that’s a no-brainer. We eat beans on the reg, most especially the fabulous ones from Rancho Gordo.

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Chocolate-covered Strawberries

Chocolate-covered strawberries

I’m going to break form here. Normally, in each post, I tell a little story, take you on a small journey or give you kernels of insight into our lives.

Not today, no. Today, it’s all about eating with your eyes.

Because, really, what’s there to say? What could I put in words that could trigger the salivary glands better than just looking at these ruby-red, perfectly dimpled berries coated in luxuriant chocolate ganache?

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Thin Mint Julep

Thin mint julep

This beyond-awesome illustration courtesy of graphic designer and cocktail blogger Dr. Bamboo.

Do I really need to break down where the inspiration for this cocktail came from? Fine, okay, I was eating Thin Mint cookies while drinking bourbon. Oh, like you haven’t.

Anyway, this is a drink recipe that practically writes itself. After all, if my cocktail math is right:

  • Mint + bourbon = mint julep = yum
  • Mint + chocolate = Thin Mint cookie = yum
  • Chocolate + bourbon = just plain old yum

So, applying the law of conservation or whatever, that’s, like, yum cubed. I may be wrong on that, since they didn’t teach cocktail math in my high school, which is just one more reason why I don’t need to relive those years.

My first attempt at building this recipe involved making my own chocolate liqueur, made with a mint-infused simple syrup, and muddling mint leaves in the glass. The end result was fine, if rather … subtle. But sometimes subtle is highly overrated. I mean, this is a cocktail modeled after a Girl Scout cookie, fercryinoutloud. Do you think they sell hundreds of thousands of boxes of cookies with subliminal advertising and gentle hints? No, they cast their doe eyes on you and beat you over the head with their cuteness. Subtle ain’t exactly the name of the game.

I knew this much; I wanted the drink to have a rich chocolate base and a clean peppermint high note. Casting artisanal ingredients and techniques out the window, I went straight for the peppermint schnapps — which our local booze store doesn’t even stock, it’s so lowbrow. I also invested in some crème de cacao, but opted for the good stuff since that’s something that might actually have an application in a future drink. (For the record, as far as I can tell, there is no “good stuff” when it comes to peppermint hooch.) Et voilà — one of America’s favorite cookies in cocktail form. Bottoms up!

So promise me this: When this gets picked up and becomes the hottest girl drink of 2009 and is sold prefab in bottles and poured directly from spigots and is converted into one of those frozen slushie cocktails served from a churning machine, remember that you read it here first. Scout’s honor?

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