If the exhaustive number of recipes that call for black beans to make "brownies" and chickpeas for "cookie dough" are any indication, the world is hungry for a nutritious dessert that actually tastes good.
A chocolatey product called Phat Fudge may be the end to the hunt, and — bonus — it doesn't contain any beans.
Invented by Mary Shenouda, a chef who goes by "The Paleo Chef," the product is a riff on halvah, a soft, candy-like dessert that is popular in the Middle East. Like halvah, the fudge is made from tahini. It strays from the traditional recipe with ingredients like raw honey, grass-fed butter, turmeric, maca, cacao, cayenne, vanilla, ground coffee, cinnamon and sea salt.
The product currently comes in a squeeze packet and can be eaten straight from its container. Shenouda said some of her customers like to freeze the chocolate for a more fudge-like consistency, and others plop it in to their morning coffee for an extra boost.
A performance gel, sweet breakfast supplement or an after dinner treat all in one?
A packet of Phat Fudge contains 200 calories, 2.5 grams of sugar and 20 grams of fat, which primarily comes from the tahini and butter. While most performance gels are carbohydrate heavy, Shenouda said believes fat is her fuel of choice. "Having fat in the morning feeds your brain first and keeps you full longer," she said. The chef may have a point: Some studies that show fat is a better source of fuel than carbohydrates during endurance exercises. So rather than shy away from fat, Shenouda said she encourages others to use it for training.
(Editors note: Shenouda is not a physician and readers should consult a medical professional before heeding this advice.)
"Before I went paleo, one of my biggest sources of fuel was those performance goo packets runners use but if you look at the ingredient list, they are filled with all kinds of weird things and I wanted to re-make them," Shenouda said. Performance gels tend to be around 100 calories a packets and contain various forms of sugars and carbohydrates like maltodextrin and fructose. Many contain lesser-known ingredients like "Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate." Shenouda said she was in search of something cleaner.
Phat Fudge's ingredients all serve a purpose — the product was originally going to be called "Functional Fudge. According to Shenouda, the fat serves as fuel, the ground coffee provides energy, the cacao offers up antioxidant properties and the raw honey provides some antibacterial properties. The turmeric is anti-inflammatory, the maca provides amino acids and the cayenne may speed up the consumer's metabolism.
Like many of the best inventions, Phat Fudge was created by accident. "I was making halvah but I messed up the recipe," Shenouda said "So I randomly threw in some Unicorn Fuel [her name for a chocolatey coffee butter recipe], put the mixture in the freezer overnight, and when I took a bite the next day, I had a real 'This Is Sparta!' moment." The rest? History.
It may be functional, but moderation still matters. Shenouda is quick to preach moderation when it comes to the product. "I usually recommend people eat one package of fudge in the morning and they will start to notice differences during the day," she said. She said she's unwilling to make any kind of outlandish claim — like that Phat Fudge will help you drop 10 pounds in a week. "The fudge is performance fuel and the amount that should be consumed is dependent upon your needs," she said.
Next up, Shenouda will come out with a vegan variety of Phat Fudge, along with a caffeine-free version. The fudge is currently available in a couple of speciality stores in Los Angeles and Chicago but for now, the only way to really get the fudge is to pre-order through the Phat Fudge website. For those who lack patience and can't wait to try the fudge can make their own version at home — just don't blame us if you eat the whole batch in one sitting.