Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Valentine’s Day is coming up so I thought I’d have some fun making chocolates. For simplicity I went with a rolled variety, where the forming tool is your hands, and a version made in silicon molds, where chocolate tempering is not required.

The first recipe, that I like to call Strawberry Covered Chocolates, is a riff on a truffle from Dr. Gregor’s cookbook. I had coconut sugar in my cupboard, so I used that, but know that this healthy treat originally called for date sugar. To enhance the truffles’ Valentine’s Day status, I rolled the candies in strawberry powder. If you can’t find that in your market, see if you can find freeze dried strawberries. You can run them through a coffee grinder and – presto – strawberry powder.

My other chocolate candy choice is an old favorite that I make. I can’t remember how the recipe evolved but I use as few ingredients as possible to get the boldest flavor. You will find that they are true to the peanut butter and chocolate tastes without any unnecessary fillers.

Today I offer you two recipes, in the name of love and chocolate. Show love to yourself and others with these decadent vegan candies.

Strawberry Covered Chocolates based on Almond-Chocolate Truffles from “The How Not To Die Cookbook” by Michael Greger, M.D. and Gene Stone

1/3 cup chopped and pitted soft dates *
1/3 cup raw cashews soaked in hot water for 3 hours and then drained
3 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Strawberry powder, for coating

Combine dates and cashews in a food processor and process to a paste. Add almond butter and process to combine. Add cocoa powder, coconut sugar, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of water. Pulse until well combined.

Pinch a piece of the mixture between your fingers to see whether it holds together. If it’s too dry, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture can be shaped into balls. (The amount of water added can depend on the amount of moisture in your dates.) If the mixture is too soft, refrigerate it for 20 minutes or longer to firm up. If it’s still too soft, add a little more cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon at a time. The mixture should be slightly glossy.

Use your hands to shape and roll a small amount of the mixture into a ball and transfer to a plate. Repeat until all of the mixture has been formed into about 24 balls. Put the plate in the fridge for 10 minutes for the balls to dry out a bit.

rolling and dipping chocolates

rolling and dipping chocolates

Place the strawberry powder in a shallow bowl. Roll the chocolates in the powder until they’re coated, patting off the excess powder. Transfer the candies to a plate and refrigerate until firm.

* If your dates are not soft, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry before using.

 

Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 TBS coconut palm syrup (you can use agave syrup instead)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cocoa), chopped

In a bowl, mix peanut butter with coconut palm syrup and vanilla until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat. With a pastry brush, apply a generous layer of chocolate inside each cup of a silicon mold. The chocolate cups should be sturdy enough to hold the filling, so coat the bottom and sides but don’t fill them to the top. Place the mold in the fridge for 30 minutes so the chocolate hardens.

coating silicon mold with chocolate

coating silicon mold with chocolate

Reheat remaining chocolate until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 TBS peanut butter filling into each chocolate cup. With a clean spoon, quickly spoon remaining melted chocolate over the filling to cover. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, for 20 minutes. Unmold hardened chocolates.

Happy non-baking!

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Valentine’s Day Chocolates

Valentine's Day Chocolate

Valentine Day Chocolate

For Valentine’s Day I wanted to give you a box of chocolates. The recipe here includes ginger and cinnamon for spiciness and rose petals for romance. When you add in the chocolate you have an additional superfood to inspire passion and stamina.

The recipe I found was already vegan, but I switched out some of the flavorings to accent heat and passion. It isn’t a baked treat, but instead it is made with chocolate molds so you can choose your favorite meaningful shapes. I found an adorable love birds mold and also added extra rose petals to a floral mold. With love …

Valentine’s Day Chocolates adapted from The Herbal Academy
6 ounces vegan dark chocolate, broken up
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 TBS crushed dried rose petals
1 TBS chopped candied ginger
Melt chocolate in a double boiler ensuring that no water gets into the pot with the chocolate. Once chocolate has melted, fold in cardamom, cinnamon, rose petals, and candied ginger. Stir well and remove bowl with chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into molds, adding extra crushed rose petals to mold first, if desired. Smooth out with a spatula. Keep in fridge until hardened. Once chocolate has set, remove from molds.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

Strawberry Mini Muffins of Love

strawberry mini muffinsToday is the day of love. Strawberry muffins sounded like a good recipe as they follow the love theme. But I wanted to spread lots of love so I made mini muffins. I gave them to friends and neighbors so everyone could feel good today. Bring on the love…

This recipe was pretty healthy to start, but I upped the ante by swapping some whole wheat flour for white. For high altitude I reduced baking soda and powder but added milk and flour. Then, to keep the muffins from turning pink, I strained the cut up strawberries so their juice wouldn’t color the batter (it will go into a smoothie).

Strawberry Mini Muffins of Love adapted from GoDairyFree.org
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup vegan sugar
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup + 1 TBS plain dairy-free milk
⅓ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and cut up and strained
Preheat oven to 375°F and line a mini muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, oil, and vanilla. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients but do not over mix. A few small lumps in the batter are fine. Fold in thawed strawberries. Divide batter between prepared muffin tins, not quite filling the cups. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins sit for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tin to a cooling rack. Makes 28 mini muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

Valentine’s Day and Chocolate Musings

chocolate strawberries

Image courtesy of Lindsey Turner at flickr.com

Ah, Valentine’s Day and the smell of chocolate is in the air. A traditional holiday treat is truffles and I often make them this time of year. But they aren’t baked and this IS a blog about baking. Fortunately, most of my recipe posts contain chocolate so any would be fantastic for the Holiday of Love. Red Velvet Cupcakes are a winner, as well as Chocolate Mousse Pie, although I would take a simple chocolate strawberry. Both of these ingredients are considered aphrodisiacs so they are right on the mark.

My goal has been to try and find healthier recipes to bake this year. The chocolate covered strawberries alluded to above aren’t baked, but they can be eaten alongside a healthy cookie and still fall into the “healthier” category. They also have the all important ingredient of chocolate that my husband demands to be in all desserts. (He took last week’s healthy Tahini Oat Cookies and dipped the last few in chocolate just as an experiment.)

I would like to know if you, dear reader and baked treat lover, have any recipes you would like me to experiment with to make healthier. They don’t need to contain chocolate but if they do they will get eaten faster at my house. Is there a baked good that you want to see me adapt?

Red Velvet Cupcakes

red velvet cupcake Nothing says Valentine’s day like red velvet cupcakes, right? I hope not because mine did not turn out red! But they tasted fantastic so I spruced them up with pink and white frosting.

I tried this recipe early in the month so there would be time to perfect them before the holiday. It’s good I did because the first batch came out a bit dry and the texture was off. The second time was a charm. I added extra milk and used vanilla soy for more sweetness, along with more agave nectar and vanilla. Part of the coconut oil was removed in lieu of canola oil. I also used only all-purpose flour to get a better chance at a ‘red’ cupcake but, alas, they just turned a different shade of brown.

The cupcakes turned out moist and were delicious with a vegan buttercream frosting. Although beet-derived food color couldn’t quite make them red, they were fun and flirty for my Valentine.

Red Velvet Cupcake adapted from Babycakes by Erin McKenna
cupcakes
3/4 cup + 1 tsp vanilla soymilk
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TBS baking powder
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup + 3 TBS agave nectar
3 TBS vanilla extract
5 TBS natural beet food coloring
frosting
1/2 cup vegan shortening
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup soymilk
natural beet food coloring, as desired
For Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325F. Line two 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Pour milk and apple cider vinegar into a small bowl, but do not stir; set aside to develop into “buttermilk.” In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add oil, agave nectar and vanilla to dry ingredients and stir to combine. The batter will be thick. Using a plastic spatula, add “buttermilk” and mix just until combined. Slowly add food coloring. Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it.
Bake cupcakes on center rack for 20-22 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through baking time. Finished cupcakes will bounce back slightly when pressed, and toothpick inserted in center will come out clean. Let cupcakes stand in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer them to wire rack and cool completely. Spread frosting over each cupcake. Store cupcakes in an airtight container for up to three days.
For Frosting: Cream shortening and margarine in a stand mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, a cup at a time, until mixed well. Add soymilk and food coloring and blend until light and fluffy.

Do you have a red velvet cake recipe that really turns red?

Happy Valentine’s Day, and happy baking!