By Autumn Faughn Special to Published Mar 03, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I can now add another job title to my resume: cooking class instructor. I will teach my first classes at Whole Foods Market Milwaukee on March 6 and 16 and my first outings are tofu classes for the uninitiated.  Tofu demystified, if you will.

I have made my peace with tofu.  I still don’t eat as much of one of the powerhouses of the dairy case as I could, but at least now I can enjoy something containing tofu.  This is certainly an achievement, considering where I started.  I used to gag at the mere thought of eating tofu.  Those days are long gone. 

How did I get here?  Practice, practice, practice.  I have lots of vegetarian/vegan friends who used try to play "fool the palate" with me, coyly asking how I liked the chicken enchiladas, when I fully knew that my former foe tofu was one of the main ingredients.  I would pick around the crumbled "meat," thankful that they didn’t try to use soy cheese, too.  At the time, faking the meat was one thing, but faking the cheese too would have been intolerable. 

Tofu is an innocent, not only in its pure milky white color, but in its ability to only taste what it is seasoned with.  This is largest stride I have made in my enjoyment of tofu. I can now blend flavors together with a level of confidence that increases daily.

One of my good friends describes this skill as "being able to taste how things will combine in your brain."  Quality preparation begins before knives are ever placed upon your ingredients in a kitchen.  It’s a creative process, and for this tofu is a good go to for culinary experimentation.  It’s an inexpensive, versatile, high quality source of protein. 

Go ahead, play with tofu fearlessly.  If you screw it up, you’re only out about $2, and that’s if you get a good organic tofu, which is highly recommended, given the proliferation in genetically modified soy that is available in the United States. 

My new favorite tofu recipe features tofu as dessert -- a chocolate dessert, of course.  I’ve even been able to get lots of tofu naysayers to take a bite and smile, which is always my favorite compliment.  If you have a food processor, this recipe (reprinted from "The Whole Foods Market Cookbook") is a snap.

Silken Tofu Chocolate Mousse

12 ounces silken-style tofu, drained well
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon orange zest (optional)
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (decaf or regular)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 ounce almond liqueur (optional)

Process the tofu, cocoa powder, maple syrup, orange zest, coffee granules, vanilla, salt and optional liqueur in the bowl of a food processor or blender for 1½ minutes, until smooth.  Pour the mousse into wine or champagne glasses or dessert-type serving dishes, and chill overnight.  Serve the mousse with fresh orange sections, toasted almonds, or shaved chocolate garnish over the top. 

Bon appetit!

Autumn Faughn Special to
Autumn Faughn spends her days surrounded by food as a Team Member at Whole Foods Market Milwaukee and her meals at home with friends could appear on the menus of Milwaukee's better restaurants. She feeds her dogs gourmet cheese, has eight different types of salt in her spice cabinet, and has eaten food everyday of her life.