Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Avocado Mousse (gluten-free, maple-sweetened)

Holding Pumpkin |

Fall is to seasons what blogging is to writing: easy to love. While of course I wouldn’t want a world without spring flowers or summer daylight—any more than a world without Jane Austen or Jhumpa Lahiri—I have to say that stepping outside to a golden world of falling leaves and pumpkin patches and cardigans is the kind of thing that puts an easy smile on my face, very much like sharing little windows into our life here on the blog, reading windows into other people‘s lives and, mostly, getting to interact with all of you about it.

Fall in Nashville |

I started this blog in 2008, a year out of grad school, working 9-5 in an office job where I wrote descriptions of the houses people were trying to sell. Before that, I’d done some freelance work for newspapers and magazines, just small projects here and there, because I knew I wanted to write but I didn’t know if I could, much less about what. And over the last four years, while I’ve written to you about my grandma and quitting my job and moving and getting engaged and an October wedding and the way I am hungry for truth and beauty, this blog has been the place for finding out.

When we made the announcement about the book last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I think about launching it soon, I don’t know quite what to expect about that, either. Part of me wants to apologize—it’s just an ebook—and part of me wants to downplay it—so, in case no one reads our story, it will be less of a blow.

But the truth is, honestly, the ebook is a lot like this blog, and this blog has been such a source of joy and friendship and encouragement over the last four years, I’m ashamed of myself for not celebrating it.

We’re launching an ebook, you guys!

I love the story it contains the way I love fall and roadside stands of mums and huge vintage trucks stuffed with orange pumpkins. I love it the way I love walking outside on an October Saturday, soaking up the beauty around me.

And, while I’ve been writing and rewriting it the last several months, I’ve been really, really hoping you’ll love it, too.

pumpkins |

We’ll be sharing more information about the book in the coming post (or posts), and just thinking about some of that sharing gets me so excited, I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve, all fidgety and bursting inside. But for the meantime, here are a few things:

First, it’s an ebook because an ebook is a format that’s fast, convenient, affordable (to make and to buy) and accessible for you. It has allowed us to put together our story in a manner of months, and in the way that feels right to us. Publishing an ebook is a way to share more of our journey with you, and, as I was saying at the beginning of this post, that’s always what this site has been about anyway.

Picnic Torte |

Second, the ebook tells about how the blog started, how Tim and I met through it, what struggles and beauties we found along the way; it also tells a story much bigger than that, about hope and fear and learning to let go.

chocolate torte |

Last thing, for now, is that when we made the video last week, as you know, it was over a picnic lunch in the park, one in which we hauled dishes and linens and baskets of food to a concrete table surrounded by tall trees and falling leaves, and where we ate, among other things, a chocolate torte made of an avocado mousse so creamy and rich, I almost didn’t want to post the video on Friday, but this torte instead.

chocolate torte and chocolate avocado mousse |

The crust is mostly maple syrup, coconut oil and nuts; the mousse is mostly avocados and maple syrup; and the combination is so easy to love, like blogging and like autumn and like long afternoons in the sun, you won’t believe it—and that’s whether or not you’re eating it beneath a canopy of maple leaves in the mid-afternoon.

Today, I leave you with this torte. More soon.

Chocolate Torte (No-Bake)
Lightly adapted from Oh She Glows
Easily serves six to eight

The first time Tim made this for me was around my birthday, at which point he used maple syrup. Last week, we went with sorghum as that’s what we had on had. Either one works, but we like maple syrup best.

2 cups pecans
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple or sorghum syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Chocolate Avocado Mousse:
3 cups avocado flesh (approximately 4 small avocados), pitted and scooped out
2/3 cup pure maple or sorghum syrup
1 tablespoon smooth almond butter
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate: 1 cup (8 ounces) 100% unsweetened chocolate, warmed in a double broiler and mixed with six tablespoons maple or sorghum syrup
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted if clumpy

Grease a springform pan (you could use a seven- to ten-inch pan; size will determine deepness of torte) and line it with a circle of parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse the pecans until crumbly, being careful not to overprocess them into a nut butter, as you want them to still be chunky. Add in the rest of the crust ingredients and pulse until just mixed. Scoop mixture onto prepared pan and press it down firmly with slightly wet fingers or a spatula. Pop into freezer to set while making the mousse.

In the same food processor you just used to make the crust (no need to wash it out), place all mousse ingredients (except chocolate) and process until smooth. You can melt down the chocolate and mix it with syrup at this point (or, if it’s already ready, you can go ahead and add it). Blend chocolate with rest of ingredients.

Remove crust from freezer and scoop the mousse on top of the crust, smoothing it out as much as you can. Freeze for two hours or until firm.

Remove to thaw for five to ten minutes before serving. We like it best at room temperature.


  1. says

    I just woke up and these lovely pictures motivated me for whole day.! I have always admired your blog dear :)

  2. says

    I’m so excited about your ebook that goodness knows you should be too! It’s such an achievement and I know that I’m going to be utterly captivated by it, as I am by all of your posts.

    And this tart? It sounds just perfect. I’ve been thinking about a tart crust like this recently but not been able to quite get there myself. I can’t wait to make it.

  3. says

    Just because it’s published in ebook format doesn’t make it less of a book. I’m very excited about the future of publishing and how a writer can tell their story without need of a publisher. It seems that you’ve devoted a lot of time, effort, and heart into this project and I’m sure it will touch people, just like your blog does. I say, celebrate!

  4. says

    It sounds like we both started blogging in 2008 a year out of grad school. Another similarity! I also love Jhumpa Lahiri — can’t wait for her next novel to come out. Definitely celebrate the ebook! Looking forward to learning more. :)

    • says

      She is my favorite writer and I eat up everything she publishes. I didn’t know she was working on a new novel — what great news! And thanks for your kind words, always!

  5. says

    I am so excited for you and your book. Your BOOK! I can’t imagine how many hours are wrapped up in it, not to mention the love, sweat, and possibly tears! (Just going off of what Barb has been telling me about her book.. . .) I am very proud of you and very proud to soon say, “I’m reading this book, written by my friends Tim and Shanna of Food Loves Writing. . .”. I like name dropping sometimes :)

    • says

      Too nice, Sarah, thank you! PS I was just reading Barb’s blog last night and feeling so impressed. Of course, when I went to tell Tim about one of her posts, I intro-ed her as “Sarah Branine’s sister” — so, you know, the name-dropping goes around. : )

  6. says

    Love this post. You should definitely celebrate it. Be proud, be excited. I can not wait to see it. I’m celebrating with you.

  7. says

    I couldn’t be happier to hear this news and I’ll be first in line for the ebook. Writing is writing and publishing is publishing, it’s about getting your words into our hands. Looking forward to it and many congrats!

  8. says

    Congrats on the ebook. I think that is fantastic!
    Also, a world without Jhumpa Lahiri would be no good, and it’s funny that you say this because it made me realize that last night I just had a dream that she had a new novel out, which I really wish was true!

  9. says

    The torte sounds amazing, but I really love your outfit! Yellow stripes <3 I just recently found your blog and I'm really enjoying your writing, pics, and recipes.

    • says

      Thanks, Amy! I am a yellow/mustard/gold wardrobe addict : ) In this case, the whole outfit, sans boots, was thrifted at Goodwill! That makes me love it even more.

  10. says

    I love that you highlighted the accessibility that is inherent in the format of an eBook. So important. So excited to see you both unfold your story to us a little more.

    And goodness. I do love me some avocado chocolate mousse. I’ve made Angela’s torte so many times. It’s my go-to show stopper healthy dessert. Those pomegranate seeds on top made me smile.

    • says

      Thanks for your support, Laura! We’re excited, too. And thanks for pointing out the pomegranate seeds — they really add something to this torte! : )

  11. says

    oh my. oh MY. this is so exciting, Shanna!!! yaaaay! an e-book! such a dreamy thing. just like this torte- which all of the ladies in my family will be sampling soon, because I AM MAKING IT. we all say thank you in advance :) now I need to go watch your video this instant!

    ps. what did you use to make the cute polaroid frame around your last photo??

    • says

      yay! hope you love it! and the last photo is through a free online photo editor called PicMonkey. I’m one of its biggest fans. : )

  12. says

    I’m late to the game! Congrats on the upcoming launch of the ebook – I think it makes a lot of sense to just DO IT! You’re totally right about it being a format that’s easy to access and digest, and I can’t wait to check it out. Also, I loved your little Q&A video – what a fun idea!

    • says

      Thank you so much for that vote of confidence, Kasey. We’re jumping in and doing it all right, even if sometimes my legs are a little shaky! : ) And thanks for watching the video. It’s so encouraging!

  13. says

    I love that you´re writing an e-book. If there is someone who can pull it off and make interesting is you Shanna.
    This cake it´s so interesting. I have to try this baking with avocado thing, and the fried slices too!

  14. says

    Congratulations on your ebook! It’s a mighty accomplishment and you should be proud of it. Own it and celebrate it! I’ve been searching for food writing focused blogs (rather than just “this is my super yummy recipe” or blogs with gorgeous photos & good recipes, but not a lot of great writing) and was happy to stumble upon yours. Can’t wait to check out the book :)

    • says

      Thanks, Kelly, and thanks for finding me! : ) I totally agree with what you said about loving the writing on blogs — hearing people’s stories has always been what I’ve liked best. Glad to meet you!

    • says

      MJ, I bought them at DSW, thanks to an Instagram “Should I buy these?” and enough “yes” responses to talk me into it, ha! : ) Love them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *