Tag Archives: chocolate

Truffle Mania!

These past three months have been the most challenging three months of my life. They say bad things come in threes, and I believe that holds true for multiples of three as well. However, through sheer grit and determination, perseverance, and strength of will, I have survived. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Helping me these past months were these truffles. Very easy to make, they are no-bake little treats of bliss for when you need a pick me up. I went through a truffle phase after this, with a different combination entering the food processor every time. Here are two that I tweaked repeatedly until they were perfect. Carrot cake or Chocolate Maca – your choice. Enjoy!

*Notes* For freezing, the best method I have come up with is placing the truffles on a baking sheet and freezing them individually. Once frozen, I store them in Ziploc bags. If you skip the individual freeze step they still work, but sometimes they stick together in the bag.

I have added gluten free and nut free options for these recipes. I’ve tried them all, and these are the combinations with the best success. I actually prefer the gluten free truffles, as sometimes where I get my gluten free oats they are out of stock. But they always have quinoa flakes!

The Maca powder is a splurge item. It adds a carmel flavour to the truffles, and also assists in cell repair. Perfect for stress! I bought my bag of Maca powder at the health food store for $9 2 years ago – a little goes a very long way! If you don’t have any, omit the maca and have chocolate truffles instead 🙂

Carrot Cake Truffles

1 ½ cups carrots, grated

12 dates, soaked in ½ cup water

1 cup oats (Certified Gluten Free if req. Substitutions that are fantastic: Quinoa flakes, millet flakes, or buckwheat flakes)

¼ cup coconut flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1” piece ginger, roughly chopped

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cardamom

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

1)      In food processor, grate carrots. Remove and set aside.

2)      In food processor, puree dates until paste forms, adding soaking water as required.

3)      Add oats, coconut flour, salt, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and lemon juice. Puree until well blended.

4)      Add 1 cup grated carrot and puree until smooth.

5)      Add remaining carrots and pulse to combine.

6)      Shape into 1 tbsp. truffles. (I just scooped and froze, but if you want to be fancy, roll them into balls) Freeze until ready to eat!

7)      Optional: These thaw quite quickly and become a bit mushy. To serve on dessert tray, bake at 375oF for 10min.

Makes 34 truffles

Chocolate Almond Maca Truffles 

1 cup oats (Certified Gluten Free if req. Substitutions that are fantastic: Quinoa flakes, millet flakes, or buckwheat flakes)

1 cup raw almonds (To make nut free, use raw sunflower seeds. Decadent nut free truffles – dry toast the sunflower seeds on medium heat in a sauce pan until golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool in a bowl)

2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

½ tbsp. maca powder

7 dried dates, soaked in ¼ cup water

1 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of salt

Cinnamon, nutmeg to taste 

Variations: add instant coffee, cardamom, and/or cayenne

 Directions:

1)      In small measuring cup, soak dates in ¼ cup water and vanilla.

2)      In food processor, pulse ¾ cup oats until a flour

3)      Add almonds. Pulse until mealy in texture

4)      Add date mixture. Pulse until dates pureed.

5)      Add all remaining ingredients. Puree until dough forms, adding water as necessary

6)      Shape into 1 tbsp. truffles (Again, if you want to be fancy, roll them into balls). Freeze until ready to eat! 

Makes 28 truffles


Sancocho and Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

This Latin feast is compliments of Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Once again, Terry delivers massive Latin flavour that will make you exercise all your restraint to not eat the whole thing before making it out of the kitchen. I am a novice to Latin food, but these recipes that I have previously written about (and with more to come!) have me seeking out Latin food wherever I can!

Sancocho

Sancocho: The Latin Sambar.

The Sancocho could be best described as a Latin Sambar – they are so similar in fact I often get the two confused! They are both soothing, spicy, comfort foods in a bowl. Sancocho is coloured the distinctive Latin Chorizo “hue” with Annatto spice, the Latin turmeric. The rest of the seasoning is the standard Latin combination of oregano and cumin, supplemented with some thyme and heaps of onions. The soup is loaded with veggies: carrot, yucca, green plantains, tomatoes, and corn. Lima beans add the protein element, and are deliciously creamy. For those with Lima issues, Fava beans, edamame, pinto beans, or even chickpeas would be a wonderful stand-in. I made some modifications to the recipe – I hate corn. With a passion. Thus I omitted the corn on the cob from my soup, and I think it didn’t suffer from intent at all! Although I will not deny – eating corn on a cob in a soup sounds pretty cool. I also added some spinach at the end, because greens in soups are never wrong! The resulting soup is soothing, delicious, and exotic enough to make you think you can cook any Latin dish you desire. (I may be delusional.) This is the perfect soup to usher in the not-quite-ready spring produce but tired of the winter standards of squash and potatoes.

The recipe can be found on p. 154-155 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake: Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and all around delicious!

The Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake is a surprise all in of itself. The frosting is actually Dulce de Batata, which is an orange-infused sweet potato pudding. Yes – sweet potato! I have never had sweet potato as part of a dessert before (or any non-savoury application after the Mashed Sweet Potato and Marshmallow experiences of my childhood – ick), and so I knew I had to try this cake just for that reason. To make the Dulce de Batata is relatively easy – basically boil sweet potatoes to a mash, and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan. A helpful tip: use a lid when you reach pudding consistency, otherwise you will end up with sweet potato splatters all over your kitchen. The aroma from this dish was what really surprised me – it was very difficult not eating the entire pot as soon as it was made. The sweet potato taste isn’t pungent, and the cinnamon and orange pair wonderfully.

The chocolate cake is a typical chocolate cake, but with the addition of ‘spice’ cake spices and orange juice. It pairs well with the dulce de batata, and again isn’t a sweet cake. I used a combination of quinoa and buckwheat flour, and it came out wonderfully moist, and had a great crumb. The instructions say to cook the cake as one layer, and then cut the layers in two. I could foresee that disaster, and instead opted to cook two layers of cake separately, and reduced the cooking time. To “frost”, you smear as much dulce de batata as you can on the top of one half, add the second layer of cake, and frost with the remaining dulce de batata. The combination is phenomenal, and definitely something you could serve to company and bask in the compliments. Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and with the hint of orange, it is a chocolate cake you will crave. Especially so for people who are not partial to sweet desserts, and usually avoid chocolate cakes for this reason. I froze my leftovers and ate the rest like cake pops, and I think I liked that serving style even better than eating it fresh!

The recipe can be found on p. 236-239 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Sancocho and Chocolate Dulce de Batata cake – the latest Latin offerings that have continued to open my eyes to the delicious offerings of the Central and South Americas!


No Bake Nanaimo Bars

Decadent, delightful, and delicious! Bet you can’t eat just one!

Nanaimo bars: Canada’s contribution to the culinary scene. Traditionally a Nanaimo bar is composed of a chocolate walnut graham cracker and coconut bar base, a custard middle layer, and a bittersweet chocolate coating.  Nanaimo bars were a big treat growing up, and would appear once every five Christmas’. Although one of my favourites, I would always leave the custard on the plate and the crunchy chocolate top annoyed me when it meant that the delicious bottom got smooched into the custard when biting in. So I decided to change all of this, and make these healthy, decadent Nanaimo bars that far surpass the original!

My creative criteria were as follows:

1) Due to the heat wave, absolutely no cooking! This means no oven, no stovetop. As a result, these Nanaimo bars are 100% raw!
2) No coconut to bind the base
3) Ditch the custard, and make the top less crunchy (but no less chocolaty!)
4) Make the bars as nutrient rich as possible, in case of a power bar emergency (or guilt complex for eating half the pan!)

I was successful on all four counts. The stove stayed off, no coconut was used in production, and the custard was ditched for a banana soft-serve pudding. The topping is a no-bake ganache that retains the bittersweet chocolate flavour but allows you to bite into every delicious morsel of bar. Finally, with my substitutions the bar is roughly equivalent in nutrition to a Larabar, complete with the appropriate protein:glucose ratio for the perfect post-workout snack. The bars themselves don’t take long to make, and with the chill time between layers you have the opportunity to clean the food processor, if you are so inclined. So dig into these decadent bars with zero guilt and enjoy this modified Canadiana treat!

Recipe notes: This recipe can easily be made gluten free if you use gluten free oats. Also, due to size variations of dates this recipe has only been tested with dried dates. 60g. dried dates is roughly one cup, but 60g. Medjool dates may only be 1-2. Finally, I keep all my bananas in the freezer for banana soft serve creations. I’m sure the filling layer would work with fresh bananas, but you may have to chill the layer longer to allow the filling to set.

Filling flavour suggestions: Although the one below is similar to the classic custard, why not mix and match flavours? Any soft serve flavour would work here. Top choices would be adding 1-2 tbsp. peanut butter, or a fruit medley mix – let these bars be your canvas!

No-Bake Nanaimo Bars

Base:
1 cup rolled oats, divided
60g. dates (~15 dried) *if dried, soaked in 1 cup water, reserve liquid
1 cup almonds
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
1) In food processor, pulse ¾ cup oats until flour consistency
2) Add almonds and cocoa powder. Process until crumbly
3) Add dates, vanilla, and cinnamon. Process until dough forms. *If using dried dates, add reserved soaking water as required
4) Add remaining ¼ cup oats. Pulse to combine
5) Press into greased 9×13” pan. Chill in freezer.

Filling:
5 tbsp. almond milk or soy yogurt (or other non-dairy milk and yogurt offerings)
¾ cup frozen banana, sliced
¼ tsp. vanilla
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:
1) In food processor, process all ingredients until smooth.
2) Spread on top of base. Freeze.

Chocolate Ganache:
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
½ tsp. ground flaxseed

Directions:
1) In food processor, process all ingredients until smooth.
2) Pour over filling. Freeze.


The Ultimate Guide to Ice Cream

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

Banana-Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses and Pistachios Toppings previously posted here

Nothing hits the spot like ice cream. Delectable and delicious, it is a wide open canvas for your flavour imagination. I started experimenting with formulas for the best ice cream ever, and I am my own worst critic. I wrote down every trial. I used a food processor, a blender, and once a whisk. I don’t own an ice cream machine, so all my trials also included the elusive method to get silky smooth texture and not ice crystals after it froze solid. The result? This guide that will hopefully help you satisfy your every frozen treat craving. No ice cream maker required. From the quick-and-dirty single serve ice cream with one main ingredient, to a formula for sorbets and sherberts for a fresh fruity splash, and the decadent version for when you need to get chip faced. All flavour combinations have been kitchen tested by 3 separate kitchens with rave reviews. But don’t let this list be the end of your creativity! I have other ideas for flavours that haven’t been kitchen tested yet such as Oreo ice cream, S’More ice cream with a chocolate base and mix-ins of graham crackers, mini-marshmallows, and dark chocolate squares with caramel filling, or even avocado-mango-tequila for a Mexican night. I love throwing things in a food processor and creating flavour profiles. For the adults who have just had a horrible day, Kahlua, vodka + espresso, gin, or even tequila are also welcome additions to this ice cream – call it a mudslide and drink it out of the bowl. Life is always better after a mudslide!

A note about the secret ingredient: Bananas. Frozen bananas have magical properties. When placed in a food processor, it turns into the consistency of Dairy Queen soft serve, and doesn’t really taste like bananas. Just by adding ½ tbsp. of cocoa powder, you can barely tell that you are downing a bowl of fruit it tastes so much like real chocolate ice cream. Which means of course that you can have two bowls!

A note about kitchen appliances: I have tried to make ice cream in a blender, and was unsuccessful every time. I needed too much liquid for the blender to actually blend for it to be classified as ice cream. But I hear amazing things about a VitaMix, so if you have one of those I’m not stopping you from trying! And if all you have is a blender consider the following dessert smoothies.

Perfect Ice Cream: The Formula

Bases:
Single Soft Serve: One-Ingredient Magic
1 medium banana, frozen and sliced (½-¾ cup sliced)

Sorbets and Sherberts
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh fruit, sliced
2½ cups water or non-dairy milk (flavour dependant)

The Decadent
2 large bananas, frozen and sliced (2 cups sliced)
½ cup soy yoghurt
¼ – ½ cup non-diary milk

Flavours:
Some suggested flavour combinations/stir ins:

– Vanilla: 1 tsp. vanilla

– Citrus additions:
o For the liquid, use juice such as orange, grapefruit, or cranberry
o 1 tsp. orange, lime, and/or lemon juice
o Grated orange, lime, and/or lemon rind

– Date Flavour:
o 8 dates, pitted and chopped
o 1 tsp. vanilla
o ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
o 1 tbsp. honey, agave, or brown rice syrup (optional)

– Chocolate (and Nut Butter):
o 2 tbsp. cocoa powder (or carob powder)
o 1 tbsp. nut butter: peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, etc.
o 1 tsp. vanilla

– Fruit Explosion:
o 1 cup frozen fruit

– Pumpkin Pie:
o ½ cup pureed pumpkin
o ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
o ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
o ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
o Dash of ground ginger, ground cloved

– Suggested Sorbet Combinations:
o Tropical fruit and coconut milk
o Fresh citrus fruit and combination of same fruit juice, lemon, and lime juice
o Fresh berries and choice of liquid

– Suggested non-dairy milk and yoghurt: soy, almond, coconut, hemp. Rice milk may work but may be too thin.

Stir-Ins and Toppings:
Add any of the following as the mood fits:
– Frozen fruit: wild berries, chopped mango, apples, dates
– Nuts: pistachios, peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans
– Bonus items: chocolate chips, brownie/cookie dough pieces, dusting of cocoa/carob powder, sprinkles
– Toppings:
o 1:1 ratio tahini:molasses
o 2 tbsp. chocolate chips melted, with ½ tbsp. nut butter stirred in

Directions:
1) In food processor, puree all Base ingredients until smooth.
2) Add desired Flavour ingredients. Pulse to combine.
3) For Single serve add Stir-ins and Toppings. Enjoy!

4) For Sorbets and Decadent, pour into glass bowl and freeze until begins to harden, ~4h.
5) Pour mixture back into food processor. Process until smooth.
6) Add Stir-ins. Transfer to final freezer container.
7) To serve, add Toppings. Enjoy!

I hope you find this guide helpful. Any suggestions are always welcome!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Single Serve
3 ingredients + one food processor = Nirvana!

     

Banana Mango Single Serve:
1/2 cup frozen banana, sliced + 1/2 cup frozen mango, cubed + dash of vanilla


Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

First, let me apologize for no picture. I was distracted by how delicious they were coming out of the oven – eating takes priority every time 🙂

I am not what you would call a fan of dessert. I like some dessert now and again, but if someone made me choose between Lindt dark chocolate or fresh fruit, the fruit would win every time. But everyone needs their stashes, and these cookies are worthy! I was inspired by my almond milk that was about to expire, and a splurge purchase of unsweetened carob chips at Bulk Barn. I have never had carob chips before, and I am now an official convert. They taste different than chocolate, but in a good way.

The recipe was inspired by the chocolate chocolate cookie recipe in Veganomicon, however I think I have made enough substitutions to make it my own. These are the healthiest chocolate cookies you will ever eat. I brought them to work once in a blind taste test against a coworkers wife’s super-special chocolate monster cookies, made traditionally with real butter, sugar, eggs, M&M’s and chocolate chips. I take great pride in the knowledge that head-to-head my plate disappeared the fastest! My coworkers never knew what was in those cookies, and until now it’s been a secret. Out of the oven they taste like morsels of fudge. Out of the freezer it’s a cookie popsicle. Dipped in some natural peanut butter … swoon worthy.

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 40 cookies

Dry ingredients:

1c. spelt flour

1c. whole wheat flour (Note: to make it gluten free, 2c. quinoa flour or your favourite gluten free mix would work well)

2/3c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1t. baking soda

pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

1c. unsweetened applesauce

1/4c. agave nectar (brown rice syrup or maple syrup would work too!)

4t. flax seeds

1/2c. almond milk, or your favourite non-dairy milk

2t. vanilla extract

2/3c. chocolate chips (or carob chips!)

Optional add-ins: 2/3c. nuts of your choice, dried cranberries, frozen raspberries … the possibilities are endless!

Directions:

1) In small bowl, sift together all dry ingredients

2) In larger bowl, mix together applesauce and agave nectar. Add in flax seeds, milk, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

3) Add dry ingredients to wet in batches, stirring as you go. Mix to combine.

4) Add chocolate chips and other add-ins. At this point the dough may be too stiff to mix with a spoon, so get in there with your hands! Mix to combine.

5) Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Make balls of dough approximately the size of a quarter and place on lined cookie sheet. (I fit 20/sheet). If you like crispier cookies, smoosh down the tops of the cookies with the back of a spoon.

6) Bake at 400dF for 8min. Let cool ~2min on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack.


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