You know you’ve done it — purchased a few avocados with the full intent of making guacamole or slicing them up for sandwiches or salads, and then the moment passes. Within a day that perfectly ripe avocado goes from good to gray and mushy. You slice it open and think, “Maybe I can …” But then you see the mottled brown interior and you know the answer is, “Nope.”
Now you’re stuck. You’ve just paid a bunch of money for these green beauties, but they’re inching toward repulsive. What can you do? Quite a lot of things, it turns out. I was inspired by suggestions about how to use the whole avocado, peels, pits and all, at the recent kick-off event for Clark County Green Neighbors’ WasteBusters Challenge.
To participate in the challenge, many Clark County residents have pledged to spend the month of March making small changes to live more sustainably. This year’s focus is reducing food waste. (To learn more about WasteBusters, visit wastebusters.green.)
Ideas for whole-avocado use included using the scooped-out peels as seed starters that can later be planted straight into the garden. You can dehydrate the pits and grind them into powder or toss them, halved, into smoothies, if you have a blender with strong blades. (Though the pits are bitter and best paired with strong flavors). You can even use the pits as natural fabric dye resulting in a pretty blush-pink color.
It’s also worth considering how far that avocado had to travel to reach your kitchen counter, likely from Mexico, California, Hawaii or Florida. Carbon footprint-wise, avocados aren’t too bad. They’re mostly transported by sea, although the trees do require a lot of water. A single avocado requires somewhere from 37 to 72 gallons of water to grow to picking stage. This popular nubbly fruit also has a human cost; see the documentary “Rotten: The Avocado War” if you think you want to know more. To sum up, an avocado is a precious commodity, worth going to some lengths to avoid tossing in the rubbish bin.
Many recipes for chocolate cake and brownies call for overripe avocados to be blended right into the dough. Avocados can even be frozen and thawed to use when you’re ready to bake. The natural oils in the avocado are said to make an especially moist dough.
One attendee at the WasteBusters event mentioned her delectable recipe for avocado-chocolate mousse. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Would it taste more like avocado or more like chocolate? I decided to satisfy my curiosity by attempting to make my own. It’s got to be healthy, right? Think of all those vitamins and minerals. Why, I’d likely be adding years to my life with every bite!
I looked up recipes online and have incorporated elements from a few to make a simple but decadently rich pudding that can be whipped up in five or 10 minutes. This pudding can be enjoyed fresh from the blender or, for a firmer texture like chocolate ganache, it can be chilled for a couple hours or overnight. It can also be frozen and enjoyed several weeks later.
I started by melting half a cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave in two 30-second bursts. I set the melted chocolate aside, then I halved one large and two small avocados, removed the pits and scooped the flesh (about 2 cups) into a blender. I added 3 generous tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, possibly close to 4 tablespoons if you want to get technical, on the principle that more chocolate is always better. Next, I tossed in 1/3 cup of sweetened chocolate almond milk (though regular chocolate milk would be fine), 1 tablespoon vanilla, a couple dashes of cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt. You can sweeten this any way you like — with honey, white or brown sugar, coconut sugar or agave syrup, whatever suits your taste and dietary needs. I used 1/3 cup maple syrup, then added an additional ¼ cup powdered sugar because it wasn’t sweet enough for me. Lastly, I used a spatula to scrape the melted chocolate directly into the blender with the other ingredients.
I blended everything on high until it was nice and smooth, which didn’t even take two minutes. I dipped my finger in for a sample and was astonished to discover that it didn’t taste of avocado at all. It had more of a nutty flavor, almost like a peanut butter-chocolate pudding, although the chocolate is definitely in the driver’s seat of this dessert. I giggled aloud on account of the magical avocado alchemy had taken place in the blender: I put in avocados and got out something deeply chocolately and spoon-licking scrumptious.
Yes, OK, my husband made kind of a face when I fed him a bite, but he makes faces at lots of things so I think we can confidently set his reaction aside. My daughter noted that it doesn’t smell like regular chocolate pudding, but when she tasted it, her verdict was an enthusiastic, “It’s good!” With a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream and a berry-and-mint garnish, I would confidently serve this to dinner guests and dare them to guess at the ingredients.