Cooking with intention definitely brings something extra to the food you make. Cooking with the intention to give pleasure to others transforms what might otherwise be a rudimentary chore to an act of love, especially if we choose to feel empowered, rather than burdened by it. Make my chocolate hazelnut espresso slice for someone you love and you’ll see what I mean.
I feel that there are two kinds of cooks. The greedy, food loving cooks, those who absolutely love to eat and will try anything and everything. The cooks that think constantly about their next meal and will get up early to prepare buttermilk pancakes just for themselves. Then there are the cooks who love to feed others. The ones who love food, could read about it all day long but get so much more joy from feeding others than they do themselves. I fall into the latter category. For me, the real nourishment comes from creating something beautiful and giving it to others.
After many years of managing a sensitive and moody stomach, my relationship with food is complicated. Though I love it unconditionally, it has not always loved me back often leaving me uncomfortable to the point of tears such as the time I insisted on indulging on spaghetti alla carbonara in Rome. Turns out gluten dairy and fat laden guanciale are not easier to tolerate in the Eternal City after all.
Creating something delicious for the ones we love can be empowering. Often, the thought of preparing a meal can induce a kind of resentment, adding even more to our ever growing list of things to do, another responsibility relying on us to be fulfilled. I choose to embrace it as a privilege. The life affirming privilege of creating an anchor of connection between myself and the ones I love and the more selfish reward of choosing what is on the menu and demanding someone else take charge of the washing up.
Chocolate Hazelnut Espresso Slice
My chocolate hazel nut espresso slice is the perfect food of love. Dark, soft chocolate with deep, warm espresso notes and the crunch from toasted hazelnuts, it is a thing of beauty that is guaranteed to be met with gratitude from anyone lucky enough to be gifted some.
I like to toast the hazelnuts for ten minutes in a moderate oven before rubbing them haphazardly with a tea towel to remove some of their skins and subsequent bitterness but really, it’s up to you. I couldn’t resist and adding some dried rose petals in honour of St Valentines Day but to be honest, the slice was nicer without them.
- 2 cups of chopped, deseeded medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons of raw cacao
- 1 tablespoon of good quality espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, very soft
- 2 tablespoons of nut butter, almond or hazelnut
- ½ cup toasted hazel nuts, cooled and chopped
- Cover the dates with boiling water and allow to sit for five minutes to soften before draining well.
- To a food processor, add the dates, raw cacao, espresso powder, coconut oil and nut butter and blend until soft and well combined.
- Add half of the hazelnuts and pulse briefly to immerse in the chocolate mixture without breaking them up too finely. You want some crunch.
- Use a rubber spatula to transfer the sticky mixture into a lined container, (mine was approximately 12cm x 8cm x 3cm) and smooth over with the back of a wet spoon.
- Adorn the top of your slice with the remaining hazelnuts and place in the freezer for an hour to set.
- Slice into the squares of the desired size and serve as a special treat with a cup of tea or more (!) espresso.
- Store in the fridge for up to two weeks or the freezer for at least a month.
I’d love to know what kind of cook are you? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to open up a conversation about cooking with intention, something I am very passionate about. K x