Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups

raspberry spice chocolatesMy husband said, “bring on the chocolate,” so I did. I decided to make chocolates, which sounds scarier than it actually is. If you have the right equipment, making chocolate candies is as easy as melt-and-pour. The hard part is picking a flavor combination.

This is a no-bake vegan recipe, great for a hot summer’s day. It’s simple to do if you have the proper equipment: a silicon mold so you need not fuss with chocolate tempering, a silicon brush for the cleanest way to coat a mold, and a double boiler (or a small pot and a metal bowl that is large enough so its bottom doesn’t touch the water when it sits on top of the pot).

For this decadent and elegant dessert I chose chocolate cups filled with raspberry and a hint of chipotle. Raspberry is fantastic paired with the notes of dark chocolate, and adding the chili gives the taste buds a slight zing.

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups inspired by Lazy Cat Kitchen
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 oz. seedless raspberry jam
chipotle powder, to taste
Boil a pot of water on the stove, then lower the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler and put it over the water. When the chocolate is melted, pull it off the heat making sure you get no water in the chocolate. Dip a silicon brush in the melted chocolate and fill in the mold cavities halfway, including up the sides. Put mold in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Remove mold from the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam into each cavity. Heat a pot of water to boiling, again. Re-melt the chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in chipotle powder. Let the chocolate cool but not completely – you want it to be pourable. Pour the chocolate over the raspberry jam to fill each mold. Do not over- or under-fill the molds or it will be difficult to remove the candies. Put the mold in the freezer for 20 minutes more. Remove from freezer and carefully pop candy out of molds. Makes 6 chocolates.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Spiced Tahini Cookies

spiced tahini cookiesRose is my all-time favorite scent. Walking in to a rose garden puts a relaxed smile on my face that lasts for hours. When I saw a cookie recipe that included (gasp!) rosewater, I knew I had to try it. The recipe also included cardamom, another fave of mine, so it had to be good.

The cookies were already vegan and didn’t need adaptation for high altitude, so I had that covered. I did add ginger to give them some zing, and decorated them with sesame seeds for looks and texture. They have a low-glycemic sugar, healthy fats, and lots of calcium making them good for you. So go ahead, have another.

Spiced Tahini Cookies adapted from Cardamom Rose Tahini Cookies
1/4 cup + 2 TBS coconut sugar
1/4 cup + 2 TBS almond flour
1.25 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup + 2 TBS tahini
1 TBS + 1/2 tsp rosewater
1 TBS sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place coconut sugar, almond flour, cardamom powder, and ginger powder in a bowl and whisk. Add tahini and rosewater and mix well. Form batter into walnut-sized balls. Place cookie balls on prepared baking sheet. Gently press down until they form thick discs. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until slightly brown. Wait until cooled to remove from the baking sheet. Makes 16-18 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Truffles

chocolate caramel fudge trufflesWandering through the market I came across Silk’s new Caramel Almond Creamer. Drooling, I brought it to the checkout, all the while wondering what I would do with it. Until recently, caramel has been an unavailable flavor for vegan cooks unless it involved coconut milk. Seeing that I am not a fan of coconut, I have been deprived of that luscious caramel flavor. Until now.

Because I was looking for a no-bake idea, I thought that truffles would be a wonderful base for caramel. The recipe that I found had a completely different taste profile but would adapt well to the creamer. It didn’t have added sugar which wasn’t necessary with the already sweetened Caramel Creamer. The truffles still turned out quite sweet, so I tamed them a bit by rolling them in raw cacao powder instead of the author’s ideas of melted chocolate and raspberry.

This recipe requires a high speed blender to work the ingredients together. The blenders are very useful but can be a pain to clean when making something sticky like truffles. But I’ve got you covered. When you’ve scraped up all of the truffle bits that you can from the blender, add milk to the dregs and re-blend. It cleans up the mess while making a decadent chocolate milk.

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Truffles adapted from Raspberry Dusted Chocolate Fudge Brownie Truffles
2 cups raw cashews
pinch sea salt
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup Silk caramel almond creamer
1 TBS coconut oil, melted
1 cup Navitas Naturals cacao powder, plus extra for rolling the truffles in
Line a baking pan with wax paper. In a high speed blender, blend cashews to a fine crumble. Add salt, dates, creamer, coconut oil and cacao powder, blending to combine. Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls and place on lined baking pan. Alternately, spread fudge mixture into the pan and cut into squares when it has hardened. Transfer pan to fridge to set truffles, at least 30 minutes. Place some cacao powder in a shallow bowl. Roll truffles in cacao powder to cover, or sprinkle on squares. Store in refrigerator.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Chocolate Strawberry Snack Bars

chocolate strawberry snack barI was craving a snack, and I had oat flour to use up, so these bars were born. They’re a yummy combination of chocolate and strawberry with the healthiness of oats. It’s a fairly simple recipe to make, after you get a few things chopped. Plus, you can eat them for a breakfast treat.

The recipe I found had blueberries but I envisioned a chocolate covered strawberry. I also swapped out some all purpose flour for the oat flour I mentioned. Baking powder and milk were included to give lift to the gluten-free oat flour and add moisture needed at high altitude.

Chocolate Strawberry Snack Bars based on Blueberry Crumble Bars
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1.5 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 TBS almond milk
7 TBS vegan margarine, cubed
2.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS arrowroot powder
1 lb strawberries, chopped and drained
Line a 9×9” pan with foil, leaving overhanging flaps, and grease with shortening. In a food processor pulse together flours, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Add in milk and margarine and pulse until combined. Divide mixture in half and press half into bottom of prepared pan to form a crust. Spread chopped chocolate over crust.
In a bowl, whisk together vegan sugar and arrowroot. Add in strawberries and coat in sugar mixture. Spread berries on top of crust. Spread remaining crust mixture on top of berries and press lightly. Refrigerate pan for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 35-40 minutes until fruit starts to bubble. Store in fridge for 3 days in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Vegan Cooks Are Like Other Cooks

chef toque

Image courtesy of Jessica and Lon Binder at flickr.com

Admittedly, I love watching cooking shows, a habit that began when I was seven. I learn techniques, get food inspirations, and often walk away hungry. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, I can even get my food fix listening to all manner of cooks via webinars and recorded interviews.

Over the past few years I have been attracted more to healthier cooks. On The Next Food Network Star I find myself cheering on those who cook for nutritional needs, and I loved when the first vegan baker won on Cupcake Wars. But there is one interesting thing I’ve noted – vegan cooks are just like other cooks. The vegan ones may say a word about loving animals, or not, but all cooks share an interest in creating memorable food. Their eyes light up when talking about how food comes together.

It’s this passion for making good food taste good that attracts me to food preparation. There were times when my only interest in food was to make hunger disappear, but now I am fascinated with how food is made. I am also inspired to experiment with other people’s ideas and make them better for me, improving on taste and texture to suit my appetite.

These inspirations lead me into the kitchen with thoughts whirring in my head – should I use less oil, I’ll substitute an ingredient I like better, that bread would bake better at high altitude as mini loaves. It’s the creativity in food that makes me want to create a wonderful dish. As a matter of fact, there is a recipe I saw the other day that I want to adapt. I guess I should go get started.

Cocoa Peppermint Cookies

cocoa peppermint cookies

cocoa peppermint cookies

The cookie monster reared its head, so I searched through my recipes for something new. I saw sugar cookies and ginger cookies and nut cookies, but knew the cookie had to have chocolate. And then my brain morphed a few ideas together and decided on chocolate mint.

The only consideration I had to take for high altitude was to add extra liquid for the dry atmosphere. I borrowed a bit from this recipe and then that, but I used vegan ones from the start so I didn’t have to make changes. After it all came together the scent of the dough reminded me of mint fudge. My kitchen smells like Christmas in July.

Cocoa Peppermint Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8 TBS vegan margarine
1 cup organic sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 TBS non-dairy chocolate milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together flour, salt, and cocoa powder. In a stand mixer, beat margarine until smooth. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add extracts and chocolate milk and beat until fluffy. Slowly add flour mixture to margarine mixture. Beat until well combined. Place cookies 2” apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes then move parchment paper with cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 4 dozen one-bite cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Superfood Energy Bites

energy bitesAnother hot day, another no-bake recipe. Besides making a tasty treat without turning on the oven, I wanted something that my athletic husband could take on the go. I added superfoods for quality energy along with coffee and chocolate for a mocha tasting breakfast bite. Healthy mocha goodness was a good choice because they are yummy enough for dessert.

I have been collecting “energy balls” recipes for years, so this is an amalgamation of all of them with no nod to a particular author. I did choose ingredients that would not require refrigeration to make them an easy, anywhere snack. And, of course, there was no baking involved so no consideration was taken for high altitude.

Superfood Energy Bites
10 large, soft dates, pitted
1 cup unsalted, raw almonds
2 TBS Navitas Naturals cacao nibs
Dash salt
1/4 cup Navitas Naturals dried mulberries
2 tsp Navitas Naturals cocoa powder
¼ tsp coffee extract
Soak dates in warm water for 5-10 minutes, depending on the dryness of the dates. Save the date soaking water. Grind almonds and cacao nibs to a coarse powder in a food processor. Add salt, mulberries, and cocoa powder and pulse a few times. Add dates in batches. Add coffee extract. Squeeze mixture into balls. If too dry to form balls, then add a bit of the saved date water. Store in an airtight container. Will keep for one week.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Note: I do not make any money by mentioning products by Navitas Naturals – I just like them.