Chocolate-Covered Kale Chips

by Gena on February 23, 2012

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I’m fond of saying that I’ll eat anything, so long as it’s covered in chocolate. While not entirely true–I’ll take a pass on chocolate-covered radishes, for example–this statement captures the spirit of my devotion to chocolate. People are often shocked to learn that vegans (and raw vegans) can eat chocolate, because they assume that all chocolate is milk chocolate. Not so! Most brands of dark chocolate (65% or higher) are vegan friendly (read labels, naturally), and the number of raw, vegan brands is multiplying (check out my recent review of Lulu’s Raw Chocolate here).

I’ll also eat anything that involves kale. While most people agree with me about the chocolate part, they’re less enthusiastic about the kale fanaticism. They point out that the vegetable can be slightly bitter, or that the curly texture is foreign. I’ve been eating raw kale for so long (sometimes right off the stem–yep, I’m strange like that) that I can hardly believe it tastes bitter to anyone, but I’m willing to take people’s word for it. Which is why I’m so intent on delivering recipes that make kale more appealing to those who haven’t yet fallen victim to its charms. This week, I thought I’d marry my two obsessions–chocolate and kale–and see if it’s indeed true that a little chocolate can turn any food into a crowd-pleaser. Leafy greens included.

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No, those kale chips aren’t charred to a crisp! They’ve simply been drenched in a rich chocolate “ganache” that’s made from cashews, dates, and raw cacao. They’re then dehydrated and served up for nutrient-dense snacking. Like most kale chip recipes, these can be modified endlessly. Add some chili or cinnamon for a Mexican chocolate flavor. Add cacao nibs for extra crunch and antioxidants. Add coconut flakes for a chocolate-coconut variety, or goji berries for a “superfoods” twist. Kale chips are one of the easiest and most adaptable raw recipes around, so feel free to use the recipe below as a “template,” and vary according to your tastes.

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Chocolate-Covered Kale Chips (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Makes 3-4 Snackable Servings

1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, washed, and thoroughly dried
1/2 cup cashews (you can soak these for an hour beforehand, but it’s not necessary)
4-5 large pitted dates
1/4 cup raw cacao powder (substitute regular cocoa powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water (you may want to use a little less if you soak the dates; start with 1/3 cup and add until you have a thick mixture that resembles chocolate sauce)

1) Tear kale into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.

2) Blend cashews, dates, cacao, vanilla, sea salt, and water in a blender till smooth.

3) Pour sauce over kale, and mix with hands until kale is well coated.

4) Transfer kale to 2 Teflex-lined dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 115 for about 5 hours. Flip kale chips (or just shuffle them around) and dehydrate for another 4-5 hours, or until very crispy. Get snacking.

Oven option: As always, you are welcome to make this recipe without the dehydrator! Bake chips at 300 degrees Farenheit for about 20 minutes. Flip chips, and bake for another 15. If they’re still “wet,” allow them to crisp up further, but if they start burning before your 15 minutes are done, take them out. Kitchen intuition, folks!

I love the texture and unusual hue of these chips:

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And I especially love the rich, sweet, chocolate flavor. It’s hard not to eat anything that has been doused in this sauce; on second thought, it might even sell me on radishes.

Speaking of the sauce (or ganache), you can make it simply to enjoy on desserts or as an indulgent drizzle over berries in the morning. It’s amazing. And it’s worth noting that while any cocoa powder will work in the recipe, this is one recipe for which I find the intensity of raw cacao to be really appropriate. I love the Navitas cacao powder, which you can peek at here.

Need more ways to warm up to kale? Well, you could…

Cover it in my outsanding miso sesame dressing:

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Put some into a green smoothie:

Chop it up into a warm bowl of whole grains:

Chop some into burgers:

Or put it into a cold cup of fresh vegetable juice!

No matter how you enjoy it, kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around, and I assure you that the taste will grow on you, recipe by recipe.

Alright–back to chemistry I go. Can’t wait to hear how you like the chips!

xo

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa February 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Vanilla kale chips are pretty darn tasty too!

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Kathryn February 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I’m going to make these for my friend who says kale is to bitter. I don’t understand that! Before that I’m going to go grab my leftovers – another way to enjoy kale – in a coconut curry sauce. YUM.

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wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) February 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Holy cow! Chocolate AND kale? Now that’s something to sing about. Maybe it’s time I get that dehydrator!

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Amanda February 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I love kale in all forms. I eat it at least three times a week, and could probably enjoy it every day. I love that you’ve paired it with chocolate – such an interesting flavor combination. I can’t wait to give this a try!

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Victoria (District Chocoholic) February 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I thought I was being cool combining butternut squash and chocolate in brownies. You win now.

Off to contemplate chocolate-kale combinations…

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the delicate place February 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm

say what?! i did a double take on these. i love kale chips but covered in chocolate? do you get a sweet/savory thing or…well it’s hard for me to imagine chocolate on kale you know? i love both just not sure i can take them in one bite :) if you ever decide to become a chemist, we are hiring medicinal chemists at the moment. even though i’m on the bio team, i have you covered haha!

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Gena February 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm

It’s pretty exclusively sweet, not savory. But in a very good way.

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bitt February 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I like kale chips and raw chocolate, but somehow my mind thinks it would be wasteful to put it on kale like this. I think I eat plenty of both so this might save me the trouble of making two things. A chocolate kale green smoothie is yummy too.

fingers crossed comment works….

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Beth February 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm

are the dates enough to sweeten the cacao/cocoa then? we are not having any sugar/honey/maple syrup “for Lent” and I am only sweetening with dates, and I had written off chocolate creations because I didnt think dates were punchy-sweet enough for cocoa/cacao? is this sweet, or bitter-sweetISH?

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Gena February 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I found them sweet enough, Beth, but naturally you could use 6 or 7 if it’s not sweet enough for your tastes.

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Nicole February 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Chocolate covered kale chips?! They sound crazy and amazing! I never would have thought of this combination, but I’ll have to make them now :)

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alexe February 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Oh yum, those look so good! I wish kale was easier to find in Australia. I’ve seen it only once at the market (you can bet I jumped on it!).

I have a question for you Gena. I know you are friends with Brendan and you love Vega products so you might be able to answer me. I’ve emailed them 3 weeks ago but still no answer. Do you know if the new version of Vega Sport protein powder in chocolate as any iron at all? It use to be very high and clearly indicated on the label but it isn’t anymore and it’s not on their website either. Thanks for your help! :)

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Gena February 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I’m seeing Brendan in a week and a half for dinner. I’ll ask him :)

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alexe February 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Thank you so much! :)

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sarah February 24, 2012 at 12:07 am

Where do you live in Oz? I live in Perth, so if you need any tips on where to get kale and Perth, I can list all the suppliers. Ha! I am kale-obsessed, and luckily it’s much more widely available in Perth than it was when I first arrived.

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alexe February 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm

I live in Melbourne and the only place I’ve found it (and only once in 5 months!) is the South Melbourne Market… I though it may be because kale is more of a northen veggie but, if you can find it easily in Perth, there is no reason why I can’t find it here!!

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sarah February 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I used to think that too, but once it started to grow like crazy in Perth I realised it must be able to grow in warmer climates as well! The bunches of kale we have here are HUGE too – just one fills up an entire reusable green shopping bag! Good luck in your kale hunting endeavors :-)

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Lauren March 1, 2012 at 12:21 am

Hello other Melbourne reader! You can sometimes get it at Surace Fresh (Chapel St, near intersection with High St) – great veg store. Woolworths Balaclava has it sometimes as “Tuscan Cabbage”.

The curly stuff seems to be nonexistant here but the “dinosaur kale” or “tuscan kale” variety seems to be more common. Let me know if you see it anywhere else. I’m planning to check out Prahran Market and see if they have some too!

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Katie of Vegan Noms February 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

So creative! Love the idea.

And about kale being bitter: I read an article once about how some folks have some gene combination to be able to taste a certain bitter chemical in some vegetables (such as brussel sprouts or cabbage), and some people don’t. Perhaps kale is on that list? Interesting!

I taste kale as bitter when not dressed up all fancy like the ways you portrayed. Keep these ideas flowing! :)

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Gena February 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

That’s fascinating, Katie! I suppose that I’m not one of those people, if it’s true.

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ChenaRaw February 23, 2012 at 11:46 pm

That would make sense as kale is also cruciferous. I don’t think I have it though because I adore cruciferous veggies. I eat kale everyday! :) Here is a neat article about the bitter tasting gene.
http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/traits/ptc/

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Lauren February 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Saw your tweet! ;) too bad mine weren’t homemade! Must get on that..asap!! ;)

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Gena February 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Make them, food twin! So easy and good.

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Ela February 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm

The first kale chips I ever made were chocolate kale chips! They were good, but eventually I decided that a saltier chip worked better. Mostly because I was trying to make kale appealing to my friends/family (I raised so much kale last year) and no one was a fan of the kale chips–they love their junk chips too much.

I don’t love kale as much as some other veggies, but I like it a lot in green smoothies, etc
love
Ela

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Christine (The Raw Project) February 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Great post and I agree on kale and chocolate! These look wonderful, very crunchy and hearty. I need to try this recip soon, thanks!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles February 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I agree with your sentiments on both kale and chocolate. My boyfriend was one of those chocolate misbelievers! I did feel bad this weekend when he handed me a square of dark chocolate. I said no thanks, and he said “WHAT?! It’s dark!” (a testament to my love, he was surprised I refused). Unfortunately it was Lindt, and I know from experience they use milk powder.

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Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) February 23, 2012 at 10:49 pm

That’s it: you’re a genius. ‘Nuf said. :)

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Laura C February 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Looks yum. I made red pepper-chipotle kale chips this past weekend. I always cook my chips at 375 for 7-8 minutes, because I have little patience waiting for my food. I monitor them religiously starting at 7 minutes so they don’t char. Is there any reason to prefer cooking at 300? If I’m already cooking, any greater nutrient loss at that higher temp?

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Gena February 24, 2012 at 6:11 am

No, I always find that at higher temperatures, mine burn without “drying out” the way the dehydrated ones do. So when I started at a slightly lower temperature, I got more of the dried out effect. If what you’re doing works, keep doing it :)

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Mama Pea February 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Now this I have to try…

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sarah February 24, 2012 at 12:12 am

I am always struck by the uniqueness of some of your recipes! I’m not sure about this one, I admit. I’ve noted before that I’m more timid about these sweet salad type things (which this kind of is, just in baked form and maybe sweeter), but I did just get brave enough to try your curried grape and carrot coleslaw. Sans raisins, it wasn’t too sweet, but I still don’t know if I am brave enough for chocolate and kale!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga February 24, 2012 at 1:20 am

I made and blogged about chocolate covered kale chips about a year ago. I made the chocolate sauce with cashews and cocoa powder, too. I know you hate link dropping so I won’t but they were so good!

Your look great. I love chocolate…in any way, shape, or form :)

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Gena February 24, 2012 at 6:10 am

You and me both!

I think obsessive link dropping is a little annoying, but I’m hardly militant against it. Go ahead and share your link if you want to — I’m sure yours were delicious!

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Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry February 24, 2012 at 1:36 am

Now this is a brilliant recipe! I can’t wait to make it.

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Rebecca February 24, 2012 at 2:58 am

I know this is a ridiculous question, but is there anything that might substitute well for the kale in the kale chips? I’m sure your other readers outside of the US might be interested too since we can’t get kale here in Europe! Would swiss chard or “chou frisée” which is apparently savoy cabbage in English, or any other greens work in place? Cannot wait to try these – my two favorite things married to each other, can’t wait to taste the delicious offspring!

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Gena February 24, 2012 at 6:09 am

Rebecca,

I think swiss chard would work really well!!

G

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Beth February 24, 2012 at 10:26 am

I saw someone do spinach chips once :) I think it was on http://www.nouveauraw.com (Amazing, amazing recipe section on this site!!)

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Hannah February 24, 2012 at 3:40 am

You know how people but net nannies on their kids’ computers to prevent them from looking at naughty websites? I need a kale net nanny, because it’s simply too cruel that the blogosphere is bursting with delicious kale recipes and I can’t find it here.

At least I can make the sauce. Though I’m a bit of a ‘chocolate only in bar form’ purist for the most part, the cashew part sells this for me :)

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jess February 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

these look awesome! i started relegating all the purple kale from last summer’s csa share to making chocolate kale chips! mine i sweetened with agave & included a bit of coconut & cacao nibs for texture – SO good! looking forward to trying your recipe :)

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Angela February 24, 2012 at 9:26 am

This is probably the most fantastic kale idea I’ve come across! Seriously, chocolate-covered kale? I’m absolutely in love with the “sour cream and onion” kale chips and I can see myself loving these too. I can’t wait to try them…definitely worth digging out the dehydrator for.

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Debbie February 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I have to admit at first read I was …. what? but after contemplating this and realizing my love of both of these ingredients I think I may just have to try these! Going to check to see if I have all the ingredients!

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jill February 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

these look yummy, but I love my savory kale chips so much, I’d probably just eat the ganache w/ a spoon! Kate Magic has lots of chocolate + greens in her book Raw Magic from a few years ago, it’s one of my favorites

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Alex @ Raw Recovery February 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Just curious Gena, does raw cacao powder need a lot of sweetening? I’m not sure if that’s a stupid question but I was at Whole Foods and wanted to buy some today to put in smoothies to make them taste more like chocolate since my raw vegan protein powder adds a little bit of a weird taste to the smoothies I’ve made recently.

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star February 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I love Kale. I dehydrate 2 bunches every Sunday and needless to say, they only last until Monday. So, I am very excited to try this recipe! I already sent it to 4 of my friends. Thanks for your love of KALE, I now do not feel alone!

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Carlos @ Raw Food Guys March 4, 2012 at 12:27 am

Gena, the only way I “eat” my kale, is in green smoothies and the kale chips my wife makes at home. I’ve never imagine, not even in my wildest dreams to mix kale and chocolate.
Definitively I’m trying them!

Carlos

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Angelika March 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

I am going to try this! I have one child who has a hard time loving vegetables, and I have a feeling this would convince him! Thanks for the idea.

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Michelle March 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm

These were awesome I could eat the whole batch myself …love the chocolate sauce too

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Megan Jones April 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I have been seeing kale all over the place these days and I have yet to try it. I feel like I am missing out on something! I tend to like leafy greens, so I think I will like it without any whistles, but I do love salty things and I love chocolate so I think I will have to check out the elusive kale chip.

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Connie February 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Just wanted you to know that I won the “unique” award for our workplace Valentine Day’s Cookie Throwdown on Feb. 14 with your chocolate covered kale chip recipe…..and I won out over the bacon chocolate chip cookies! (yay for vegans) People loved eating the kale chips as well, so it was more than a “most weird” award and there were none left over. Okay, they weren’t strictly a cookie, but we agreed the contest could include “hand held treats”…..Thanks for a great recipe!!

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Gena February 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Oh gracious! I am so honored! Thanks!

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Liz June 23, 2013 at 8:35 am

I want to make this recipe, but don’t have cashews…can I use pecans, almonds or walnuts?

Thanks!

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Gena June 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

Certainly! Pecans should work well.

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