Well hello there! It’s been a while. I caught my breath from the holidays, and behold yet another one is upon us: Thanksgiving.
Giving thanks – it’s something we speak about a lot I think, but not something we put into practice that much. I’ve been working on it a lot lately actually – really getting in the moment with my children, being thankful for the craziness and the messes instead of feeling overwhelmed by them.
It happened gradually really, after making a commitment to feeling more gratitude, I noticed how I started to see the good in things more naturally. My kids became cuter, the mess less overwhelming, and I became more productive because life just felt easier. It’s as simple as that.
Or maybe not quite so simple because life gets hectic, and hard, and sometimes it’s just hard to see the good in things – but it’s almost like a muscle, exercising that part of the brain makes it come more naturally. At least that’s been my experience.
So yes, this Thanksgiving I am actually practicing gratitude and I really have so much to be thankful for! When I picked up my camera to do this shoot, it felt so good to be behind the camera and I took the moment to really appreciate having a job that I absolutely LOVE, one that allows me to express myself creatively, and do the things I love.
While I don’t host a Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve been celebrating at my friend Melinda’s house for the past few years and I always bring a dish with me. This year, I really wasn’t feeling pie, even though that’s what I usually bring.
In the past, I’ve brought Mexican hot chocolate pecan pie, cookie butter pumpkin pie, and baklava pumpkin pie. One year I brought the chicken liver hummus from my cookbook, Millennial Kosher, because Mel is a big liver fan! But this year I wanted something easy yet festive and I knew I wanted to do something with chestnuts.
I’ve been dreaming of making my own chestnut cream every since I had chestnut crepes in Paris a few months ago, so I started there. A cake seemed too overwhelming, so what else to do with it? Well…. I love stuffing dates with all sorts of nut butter and tahini, so why not chestnut puree right? Especially when I cook it down with orange, cinnamon and cardamom – the perfect pairing!
Of course I finished it off with a dip in my favorite chocolate – California Gourmet, to really take it over the top. CHECKOUT THEIR SPECIAL PROMOTION HERE, use code 15BUSYBIB for an additional 15% off your order!
Finished with nutty sesame and some crunchy Maldon and you’ve got a dessert to be thankful for! Happy Turkey Day!
Stuffed Dates with Chestnut Cream
YIELD: approximately 3 dozen
2 3.5oz. bags roasted chestnuts
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (see note)
1 cinnamon stick
5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (see tip)
2 strips orange zest
juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
16oz. medjool dates, pitted
4oz. California Gourmet 48% cocoa chocolate chips
1 tbsp refined coconut oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish
Maldon salt, for finishing
In a saucepan, combine the chestnuts, almond milk, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, orange zest, orange juice, honey and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook over low heat until chestnuts are soft (easy to smash with the back of a spoon), 25-30 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and orange zest. Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and creamy, adding additional almond milk, if necessary. Cool completely and place the cream into a piping bag.
Combine the California Gourmet chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small bowl and microwave until melted, or melt over a double boiler.
Pipe the chestnut cream into the dates and dip them halfway in melted chocolate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and Maldon sea salt flakes. Refrigerate until set.
Store the dates in the refrigerator until ready to serve, or freeze and thaw before serving.
NOTE; I use refrigerated almond milk for a creamier chestnut puree. I do not recommend shelf stable almond milk for this recipe.
VARIATION: for nut allergies, you can use oat milk or other creamy milk of your choice. For sesame allergies, omit sesame seeds.
TIP: If you can’t find cardamom pods, you may use ground cardamom, to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon).
This post is sponsored by California Gourmet Chocolate Chips.