That’s right – a cupcake conundrum. Yes or no? Hot or not? On trend or on the way out?
For this month’s Recipe ReDux – courtesy of The Meal Makeover Moms @JaniceBissex and @LizWeiss – we were challenged to either proudly fly the mini-cake flag, or put a new hand-held dessert on the pedestal. And while I appreciate a good cupcake now and then, I don’t really get why there are practically as many cupcakeries as Dunkin Donuts around Boston. Is there a rampant frosting deficiency in America?
But I still kept things trendy when I came up with my hand-held alternative: orange chocolate chia squares. The hydrophilic little weirdos known as chia seeds are well on their way to displacing kale as the icon of healthy foodie-ism. They’re full of healthy fats, can be used as an egg replacement in baking, and reportedly fueled some extraordinary runners.
Chia seeds will glom onto water and form a viscous gel, but that doesn’t exactly lend itself to palm-of-hand portability. So to transform the goo to ready-to-go, I started with a strawberry energy gel recipe from Tim Woodbury’s Running Recipes: Chia-Powered Sole Food (which I reviewed previously). I futzed around with the sugar, water and fruit contents, and then transformed the gels into decadent chocolate-covered treats.
These little beauties probably aren’t going to make great running companions (body heat + sweat + chocolate = ew), but I’ll certainly have one as a reward after a weekly long run. You can get your hands on them, too, with the following recipe:
Orange chocolate chia squares
(20 pieces, approx. 185 calories each)
2 large oranges, peeled
2 Tbs grated orange rind, divided
½ cup water
1 Tbs orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup
7 tsp powdered gelatin (approx. 1 oz)
6 Tbs chia seeds
¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips
Puree the oranges, water and juice in a food processor. Add the puree to a saucepan with the sugar, rice syrup, gelatin, chia seeds and baking soda, and put them over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Be sure to use a long-handled spoon because the mixture likes to bubble & spurt.
Remove the orange mixture from heat and mix in 1 Tbs of the orange rind. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 9×9 baking pan. Allow to cool for up to 4 hours, or until well set (I left mine on the counter for ~20 minutes, then cooled it in the fridge for another 1 ½ hours, and they were ready).
In a shallow bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for 1 minute at 50% power. Stir, then microwave at 50% in 15-30 second intervals, stirring again afterward, until fully melted (it took 1 ½ minutes for me).
Slice the orange gels into 20 pieces (cut in 4 one direction, and 5 the other). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Use a wood skewer or similarly sturdy pointy implement to pierce a gel longways, then dip it in the chocolate until coated. Gently push the square onto the lined baking sheet, then top with a pinch of the remaining orange rind.
Repeat the dipping with all the orange gels, then cool in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
Once you eat these, you’ll still have another hand free, which I suggest you fill with one of the treats on offer from my fellow ReDuxers: