Monday, March 26, 2012

Raw Chocolate Crunch Cookies



The other day I discovered a kilo of cacao paste sitting in my cupboard that I had completely forgotten about. "What to do, what to do?" I thought to myself. Three ideas resulted - 2 kinds of cookie balls and a chocolate bar recipe. Cacao paste is strong though so I only used a little bit so I still have a lot left. More experimenting will ensue!


Chocolate Crunch Cookie Balls

I looove these cookies. They turned out so great and are really easy to eat - read: a little addictive. Keep texture in the almonds rather than grinding down to a flour. Make your own coconut butter by grinding dried shredded coconut in a high speed blender until smooth and liquidy.

2/3 cup almonds
3 tablespoons ground coconut sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons melted coconut butter
2 tablespoons melted cacao paste*
Pinch of salt

Grind the almonds in a food processor into small pieces - but do NOT grind to flour. Leave texture.
Add the salt, maple syrup and coconut sugar and pulse to combine.
Add the butter and cacao paste. Pulse to incorporate completely.
Use a small ice cream scoop to make balls. Arrange on a parchment paper lined plate or tray.
Alternatively roll into balls with your hands.
Chill in the fridge for a few hours.

*Cacao beans that are slowly ground over a long period into a liquid. Chop the hardened cacao paste into very small bits and gently warm in a bowl that sits over a pot of hot water or melt in a dehydrator.


Choco Coconut Balls

If you're a coconut lover, try these! Coconutty with a hint of chocolate.

1/2 cup melted coconut butter
2 tablespoons melted cacao paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon lucuma powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water
Pinch of salt
Shredded coconut

In a food processor combine all but the cacao paste and shredded coconut.
Add the cacao and a handful of shredded coconut. Blend to incorporate. Add more coconut if you want.
Use the ice cream scoop to create balls or roll with your hands and transfer onto parchment paper.
Chill in the fridge.


Switching gears a bit, I made carob "chocolate" bars recently. I used the carob nut cup recipe from my Carob Dessert recipe book, but it was my first time making a carob bar and they were lovely. Great flavor with a great "snap" to the bar. I filled each one with different bits: cashews and cacao nibs in one, goji berries and buckwheat in another, and a plain carob bar. Yummm!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Greeeen Cheesecake


Any guesses on what flavour my green cheesecakes are? (You already know if you saw on facebook).The pictures bleached out the true green color unfortunately. I made these for St. Patty's Day. Nicole and I enjoyed these with manuka honey masks on our faces, while watching old episodes of Full House on dvd. Did you watch it as a kid? It was my favourite tv show! I watched it religiously every week and wished the Tanner girls were my sisters, lol.

Anyway, I wanted green in celebration of the occasion and toyed with a bunch of ideas. Mint, lime, avocado, pistashio, and spirulina are great green ingredients! What did I choose???


The neutral flavour and creamy texture of avocado won. I paired it with simple classic vanilla for a nut-free cheesecake filling. It included lots of coconut - in the crust, in the filling, and sprinkled as a garnish. I topped it with frozen/thawed strawberries and drizzled yacon syrup around the plate. I like how the berries add a natraul syrup.


Avocado Vanilla Cheesecakes
RAW - VEGAN - DELICIOUS
Seen on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Wellness Weekend.

Crust

1/3 cup almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 dates, pitted
1/2 - 1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon melted coconut oil

Grind the almonds in a food processor.
Add the coconut, dates, and water and grind into a dough.
Add the coconut oil last. Grind again into a mixture that will hold together when pressed in your hand.
Press into the bottom of mini or 6" spring form pan (crust will be thin in a 6" - you can double the recipe if you want it thicker) and set aside.

Filling

1 large avocado
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 drops vanilla medicine flower essence or seeds of 1/3 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon melted coconut butter
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
pinch of salt
Few drops stevia, if needed for extra sweetness

Blend the avocado, maple, and vanilla in a high speed blender until completely smooth.
Add the coconut butter, oil, and salt. Blend again.
Pour the filling over the crust.
Chill in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
Note: if making in a 6" springform pan, double the crust and triple the filling recipe.


Give it a shot! You could also just enjoy the filling as a pudding.

My laptop is still in for surgury, boo hoo. I'll sure appreciate it when I have it back. In the meantime, Im practicing patience with my old laptop from college days (its very slow now). It's been absolutely hilarious looking back at old pics. Ah great memories! Here are a few...

Me decorating a cake with fondant in culinary school.

With my best college friend, Renee. The terrible two!

Summer fun... not sure where I found this hat, but isn't it awesome?! lol. Oh, and I crimped my hair!

Get your raw chocolate for Easter! Caramel Pecan Choccie Clusters, Cake Pops, Truffles, and Chocolate Nut Butter Cups...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Banana Coconut Cream Pie


I had intentions to post recipes on the bloggie this weekend but then POOF, my mac decided to freeze and then not start on Friday afternoon. Boo hoo, it's ONLY three years old. It was sad. Today I shipped it to the nearest Apple store which is a 5 hour drive away. Fortunately my mom has lent me her laptop for the weekend. It's amazing how much we rely on technology. I feel lost without it!
Fortunately my latest pics are still on my camera and I can share. What's a recipe without a photo right?

In between teaching yoga and taking/making orders for my raw Easter chocolate special, I've whipped up a few quick and easy desserts. I had ripe bananas sitting on my counter, a little bit of irish moss gel sitting in my fridge, and a few scoops of coconut whipped cream waiting to be consumed. Ah-ha! An idea was born and I got to work. It's delish and pretty! Of course I happened to have a squirt bottle of choccie sauce in the fridge for occasions like this. It always adds a nice little touch.


The filling for this tart is nut free and sugar free. It gets its sweetness from the banana and stevia. I added some psyllium to thicken it up even more but you could get away without using it. The coconut whipped cream is similar to the one I posted recently, but with the addition of irish moss gel. I love eating big spoonfuls of this straight up. Yumm!

Banana Cream Pie
With Coconut Whipped Cream and Chocolate Crust
Part of Wellness Weekend!


Chocolate Crust

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons water, as needed

Grind the almonds in a food processor.
Add the remaining ingredients and process to combine into a dough.
If the mixture is too crumbly and dry, add a little water.

Banana Filling

1 1/2 cups mashed banana
2/3 cup packed young coconut pulp
4 tablespoons irish moss gel
12 drops stevia
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon psyllium (optional)
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
--------
Diced banana

Blend all but the psyllim and coconut oil until smooth and creamy in a high speed blender.
Add the last two ingredients and blend again to incorporate.
Fold in the diced banana.

Coconut Whipped Cream

3/4 cup packed coconut pulp
1/4 cup coconut water
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup irish moss gel
2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon agave or maple
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 drops stevia
1 tablespoons agave powder or 2 teaspoons lecithin
1/3 cup melted coconut oil

Blend all but the coconut oil and powder/lecithin until smooth and creamy.
Add the last two ingredients and blend again to incorporate.
Pour into a large container and chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
When chilled, pipe over banana cream. Sprinkle with cacao nibs.

I also made Cinnamon Marshmallow Mousse Sandwichs covered in dark chocolate.


Remember, my raw chocolate Easter Special is running for a few more weeks. Thanks for all the orders. Its wonderful to be sharing my chocolate with so many people. It's one of the things that brings me great joy in my life!


Next post is a recipe that was supposed to be for St. Patty's! Green cheesecakes!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Raw Chocolate for Easter


Another holiday is coming up! Doesn't it seem like there's always an excuse to eat chocolate and treats?! Yay!As a child I loved receiving a basket full of chocolates from "the easter bunny" who came in the night just like Santa Claus did. I admit I loved the Cadbury cream eggs as a kid! Maybe I need to replicate those.

I'm doing a Raw Chocolate Special for Easter from now until just after the holiday.


I'm taking orders from now until April 10th. All orders placed in the next 24 hours (by 12 noon on March 14th) will receive a free caramel pecan cluster. 

For full details and to order, email heather@sweetlyraw.com

Here's what's available from the Sweetly Raw Chocolate Shop!

Raw Chocolate Truffles in 8 flavors: Dark chocolate, mint, orange, cinnamon spice, maca, coconut, banana, and hazelnut. Choose from a box of 6, 12, or 15.


Enjoy silky smooth chocolate ganache covered in hard dark chocolate....

Box of 6 chocolate truffles

Box of 12 chocolate truffles

Box of 15 chocolate truffles

Caramel Pecan Choccie Cluster
Pecans and caramel covered in rich dark chocolate

I've added raw cake pops to the menu!

Fudgey Fig Chocolate Cake Pops


Nutty Coconut Cake Pops

Jumbo Almond Butter Cups

Jumbo Peanut Butter Cups
(Peanut Butter not raw)

So there you have it. Treat yourself to some organic raw vegan chocolate for Easter!

To order/more details email heather@sweetlyraw.com

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ode To Coconut


Being in Costa Rica with an unlimited supply of young coconuts was heavenly! I drank the water of 1-2 coconuts every day and either ate the pulp straight up, or (when J arrived with the magic bullet) made thick pudding/shakes with it. Oh how I wish I had access to my vita mix while down there though! It was a bit of a tease. I grabbed some coconuts in the city on my way home and have been happily putting them to good use in the kitchen. I've been making old favourites. Some tried and true recipes that keep the coconut flavor intact rather than disguising it with other flavors. Don't get me wrong. I love to use young coconuts solely as a platform for any and all flavors too, but this time I wanted a total coconut blast. In addition to coconut berry smoothies, I whipped up these sweet treats.


Coconut whipped cream is such a simple and delicious recipe. I enjoy it straight up by the spoonful, or in a bowl topped with fresh berries. It acts as a sinfully creamy frosting for brownies, and is delicious layered between goodies for a parfait.

I tried to keep the ocean theme going by using my turquoise beach coverup as the backdrop for the dessert. I layered the coconut cream with banana, cherries, dried black figs, and goji berries.


Coconut Whipped Cream

1 cup packed young coconut pulp
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup cashews
3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon lecithin, optional
1-2 drops stevia, if needed

Blend the coconut pulp, coconut water, cashews, maple, lemon, vanilla and salt until completely smooth and creamy.
Add the oil and lecithin (if using), and blend again to incorporate.
Taste and add a few drops of stevia if you like it a bit sweeter.
Spread into a large bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours until it firms up.


Cinnamon coconut mashmallow mousse was the next thing on my list. I've made this many times - I always make it when I get my hands on young coconuts. While my original recipe has some cashews in it, this time I made it completely nut free. It turned out just as great! The irish moss in the recipe provides the moussey texture that I love. I like to garnish it with coconut flakes and cacao nibs to give some crunchy texture to the creamy, fluffy mousse.


Cinnamon Coconut Marshmallow Mousse

3/4 cup irish moss gel*
3/4 cup well packed young coconut pulp
1/3 cup coconut water
3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
6- 8 drops stevia
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more for preference)
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Blend all but the coconut oil until smooth and creamy in a high speed blender.
Add the oil and blend again to incorporate.
Taste the mixture and add more cinnamon if you want, or more sweetener if necessary.
Pour into ramekins or small bowls and chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge.
Garnish with coconut shreds or flakes and serve!



*Irish Moss Gel

1 cup water
2 oz soaked irish  moss

1. Rinse a handful of irish moss in cold water until any bits of debris have been removed. Rinse until the water runs clear.
2. Allow the moss to soak in cold water for 6-12 hours.
3. Remove the moss from the soak water - do not rinse.
4. Chop the moss and blend it with the 1 cup water until it warms up and turns into a gel.
5. Chill the gel in the fridge for 6-7 days, or use immediately. When using in recipes where it's already chilled and firm, make sure to pack it into the cup to get a proper measurement.

Here's the mousse the first time I made it. I sprinkled with coconut flakes, cinnamon, and swirled yacon syrup on the plate.


I made it again and drizzled chocolate sauce on top - great combo!


I've also swapped the cinnamon for an Orange Vanilla Coconut Mousse. Deeelish and springy!


I collected a lot of beautiful seashells in Costa Rica. In fact, these are the most gorgeous shells I've found in all the places I've traveled. Wanting a nice way to display them, I put them into my sand box on my coffee table. Isn't the sand dollar pretty? I was so excited when I found this!!!


On a chocolate note, I'm running a raw chocolate special for Easter just like I did for Valentines and Christmas. Email heather@sweetlyraw.com to order. More details in the next post!


I hope you're enjoying spring temperatures wherever you are. We are all the way up here in the north and its been a total blessing!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yoga and Piggie In Paradise

Dancer in the sunset

This is the last post on Costa Rica, then it's time for some recipe action!

Remember the long beach walk I went on to see Lola the piggie? Well, I just HAD to take J there to see it for himself - and of course to enjoy a 3 hour beach walk to get there, and have a delicious lunch upon arrival (had the Ahi tuna salad again). I had a strategy this time to make the walk more comfortable for us: running shoes! While about 2/3 of the walk is on the sandy beach, the rest is big rocks and there's no avoiding them. The first time I did the walk I attempted to go bare feet before finally giving in and putting on my flimsy sandals. J and I ventured out in our swim wear under the brilliant blue sky and hot sun beating down on us. We were fully prepared with a backpack full of water, fruit, runners, shorts, sunscreen, towel, camera, and sandals.

We stopped halfway along at this point for a snack break.

Aren't these the coolest tables and chairs??

Just as we could see our final destination down the beach, we stopped to take a swim here. The water never felt so good.

Finally, like two lost desert souls who hadn't eaten or drank in weeks, we arrived at Lola's restaurant. People almost don't believe when we told them we walked from Tamarindo. We took a $40 cab ride back to town. Due to the tide rising, it would be impossible to walk back (nor could I stand another 3 hours walking in the heat and sun). The outdoor restaurant is poked back among the trees.


Lola was nowhere to be seen when we arrived at the restaurant. We asked the waiter and he didn't know either (Lola comes and goes as she pleases). When J was in the bathroom he said he heard some grunting and came out to see her out back eating her compost. Imagine not knowing a pig was on site and hearing that while you're on the toilet?! lol. She did end up wandering around us, but we didn't get a very good shot. If the truth be told, I was so hot and tired from the walk that I didn't feel like running after her to catch pics. She was a dirty piggie that day!

We both tried surfing for the first time and got a lot out of our private 2 hour lesson instructed a local guy who had super crappy boards for us. We absolutely loved it! As I suspected, J was amazing at it since he's a snowboarder. I, on the other hand, wasn't sure how I'd fare. Surprisingly I did quite well and got up on the board easily. I'm guessing it's because I have good balance from yoga.

Here's my boy riding a wave!

Isn't the water stunning? I can never get enough of the ocean :)

For our second last sunset we decided to venture to another area of the beach. Naturally, we got some lovely shots of the sun going to sleep and we filmed it too.

I love these 2 pics so much. They look surreal.

I also decided to strike a few yoga poses in this beautifully inspiring spot.




And one more sunset picture for good measure. I hope I've convinced you to visit Costa Rica for a tropical getaway!

It was a magical and romantic vacation that I'm grateful for and will remember forever :)