Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

When I get together to see friends I always bring a tasty treat. A gluten free pal and I were going to the movies but it was too hot to whip something up using the oven. We both love dark chocolate, so I found a recipe that was no bake and gluten free and loaded with chocolate. If you take this with you when going out I do have a recommendation – have wet naps nearby. Movie theaters hate when you leave sticky chocolate handprints on their seats.

This recipe was already vegan and didn’t require high altitude baking, so it was a snap to prepare. The only change I made was to add more berries and a variety of them. They are delicious superfoods so I figured it was a good idea. As a matter of fact, all of the ingredients below are superfoods. So, indulge away.

Berry Chocolate Bundles adapted from Cherry Chocolate Almond Clusters
8 oz dark chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
1 TBS creamy unsalted almond butter 
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup raw unsalted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries and blueberries, chopped
To a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, add chocolate and almond butter. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes, until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in oats, almonds and dried berries. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator until set, 20-25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

My usual breakfast of oatmeal with nut butter and fruit was getting old. It needed a facelift, and I remembered that I used to love granola when I was in college. The brand I ate had dried blueberries and oats and it got me through many a sleepy morning. I gathered up bits and pieces of many granola recipes I found, but especially liked one that included lavender. That would add something different to breakfast and make granola more decadent.

Granola is inherently vegan, unless it has honey, so no changes were made for that. It also doesn’t have high altitude issues. The only changes made to the ingredients are by you when you bake it. Pick any nuts and seeds, leave out the lavender, choose your favorite dried fruit. It all works. For baking the granola, I discovered a variety of cooking styles: higher temp, lower temp, stir, don’t stir. I went with the directions given by Alton Brown because he’s a food scientist so I imagine he’s worked his recipe to perfection. All I know is that it smelled heavenly while it baked and I couldn’t wait for morning.

Lavender Granola
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
3/4 cup nuts (I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1/2 cup seeds (I used hemp and pumpkin)
2 TBS amaranth
2 TBS flax seeds, ground
3 TBS lavender flowers, food-grade
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used blueberries)
Preheat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, amaranth, flax seeds, lavender, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, margarine, vanilla and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried fruit and mix until evenly distributed. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Savory Energy Bites

savory energy bitesI am a big fan of Chef Elizabeth Falkner. From my couch, I cheer on her creativity whenever she is in a cooking battle on TV. Coincidentally, I have tried many versions of Energy Balls. So when I saw a video of Chef Falkner demonstrating a recipe for an energy ball, I knew I had to make them, too. The thing that was most appealing is that many energy balls are overly sweet, but her version has a savory side that makes it a tasty snack and not just dessert.

To make it vegan I swapped out honey and used agave syrup instead, which I also think rounded out the savory flavors. Orange Flower Water is hard to come by, and a bit sweet itself, so I used orange juice in its place. I then mixed it up when rolling out the balls. I decided to roll some in sesame to add to the Moroccan theme, and also chose to roll others in cacao powder because, well, chocolate.

Savory Energy Bites adapted from Moroccan-Date Bonbons
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sliced almonds (2 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 oz)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (3 oz)
1 pound moist dates, pitted and chopped
4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 TBS finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 TBS agave syrup
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, until golden. Let almonds cool completely. In a food processor, grind pistachios to a coarse powder. Transfer pistachio powder to a plate. Add toasted almonds to processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add walnuts, dates, olives, ginger, agave, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, orange juice and salt and process to a paste. Scoop up scant tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Roll balls in pistachio powder to coat them completely. Makes about 25 balls.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Custom Granola Bars

granola barsI know granola bars aren’t a decadent baked treat, but now that I have made them I can say I won’t be buying them in the store. They are like rice krispy treats – you melt some stuff, add some stuff to it, and put it in a pan. You do have to actually bake granola bars, but the oven really does that work. And once you’ve made rice treats you would (probably) never buy them. You know yours are better. Same with granola bars.

Admittedly, my first attempt was more granola than granola bar, but it tasted great over yogurt. Then I realized that I needed more of a ‘spackle’ so I tweaked a few things and got a bar that held together. There are no tips for baking at altitude because it wasn’t a factor; the only consideration was the lack of humidity requiring spackle because the mix was a bit dry. But the best part – I used ingredients I had on hand. I chose the nuts and fruit I like, with added chocolate, and I didn’t include yucky things like high fructose corn syrup. Here comes breakfast.

Custom Granola Bars based on a recipe by Dale Pinnock in The Medicinal Chef
2 TBS agave syrup
4 TBS coconut oil
3 TBS almond butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 TBS flax seeds, ground
2 cups rolled oats
1 TBS pumpkin seeds
2 TBS chopped dried cherries
2 TBS chopped dates
2 TBS chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8″ pan. Melt agave syrup, coconut oil, almond butter and cinnamon together over gentle heat in a pan. Remove from heat and add flax seeds. Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, cherries, dates and chocolate chips in a bowl. Pour almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky mixture. Press mixture firmly into the prepared pan.
Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Will keep for up to a week when stored in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!