Monday, April 30, 2012

Raw Vegan Chocolate Mint Cake

This past weekend was my mom's birthday. Naturally a cake was part of the two days of celebrations with various friends. As with most raw vegan cakes, this is dense, decadent, and delicious. A meal in its own right. The mint filling makes it refreshing too! I served it with raw vanilla bean ice cream and topped the cake with mint cream truffles.

Raw Vegan Chocolate Cake 
With Mint Cream Filling and Chocolate Ganache

I made a 12" cake but you could half the recipe and make it in a 6 or 8" spring form pan. I love the combination of fresh mint leaves and peppermint essential oil in mint flavored desserts. You could use some natural mint extract if you don't have the oil. I did some piping with coconut whipped cream. A raw cake CAN look "regular"!

Chocolate Cake

3 cups almonds
2 cups pitted dates
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup cacao powder
2/3 cup pecans
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1-2 teaspoons water, as needed

Grind almonds in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl.
Puree the dates and raisins in the food processor until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it).
Add the ground almonds, cacao powder, pecans, vanilla, and salt to the date puree and process to bring all ingredients together into a dough.
Press a bit of the dough in your hand. If it's still crumbly, add 1 teaspoon water (it will probably need it). Process again. Add a bit more water if needed.
Press HALF of the dough into the bottom of a 12" spring form pan.

Mint Cream Filling

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon irish moss gel
1 cup cashews
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup packed peppermint leaves
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 drops peppermint essential oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Blend all but the coconut oil in a high speed blender until completely smooth.
Add the oil and blend again to incorporate.
Pour over the first layer of cake.
Freeze for a few hours until the cream firms.
Press the second layer of cake evenly on top. Chill in the fridge.

*Irish Moss Gel

2 oz soaked irish moss
1 cup water

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 3/4 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.

Silky Chocolate Ganache

2/3 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup maple syrup*
1/3 melted coconut oil

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. 
The ganache will probably start getting cold quickly as mine did - Transfer to a bowl. Set the bowl over another bowl of very hot water and whisk until it starts to warm a little and will be liquidy again. 


Remove the spring form ring from the cake. 
Set the cake on a cooling rack and place the rack on a baking sheet. 
Pour the warmed ganache over the cake. Spread evenly on the top and sides with an offset spatula. 
Chill in the fridge. 

*Make sure it's room temperature otherwise the mixture will start to firm up too quickly.

A little vanilla ice cream with cake...

This cake is perfect for a special occasion! My mom requested mint and chocolate for her cake. 

What is YOUR dream birthday cake??? 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vegan Mulberry Granola Bars

I've been making more granola bars lately. J loves to bring granola bars to work for a snack so I prefer to make them rather than buy them. While his favorite is my tried and true peanut butter chocolate chip granola bars, I still like to experiment.

Here's a great chewy vegan granola bar that we like. I have a big bag of purple mulberries that have been sitting in my cupboard for months. I absolutely love mulberries, purple and white, but have never used them in granola bars before so it was a fun way to use them. Purple mulberries, coconut, seeds, and mini dark chocolate chips in an oatmeal bar. It can only mean a tasty snack! Give em' a try. They freeze well too.

Vegan Mulberry Granola Bars
Part Wellness Weekend!

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat or quinoa flour
1/3 cup purple or white mulberries
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons dried shredded coconut
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
3 tablespoons quinoa flakes
1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
1 flax egg*
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

*Flax egg - 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water. Let sit a few minutes.

Set oven to 350F.
Stir together all dry ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together wet ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix together.
Firmly press the mixture into a greased 8x8" pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden. Cool and slice.
Store in the fridge for 7-10 days.

Here's a creation that magically came to be last week. I don't have a recipe - yet! -  but I plan on trying it again so I can get it down on paper.

I had leftover raw vanilla cream from the filled chocolates so decided to mix it with some coconut butter thinking it would turn into a thick yummy spread. I guess my ratio of coconut butter was high because after chilling in the fridge for just a few hours they turned very firm. More like a firm fudge. I mixed goji berries and cacao nibs into it. I like the chew of the berries and crunch of the nibs. Delicious!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Donuts

Before we arrive in donut land, here's a taste of chocolate... I ended with a choccie pic in my last post and asked if you had any guesses on what was inside. They're raw dark chocolates filled with silky raw vanilla cream. Yum yum!

I made chocolate bars with mulberries and probiotic almonds, and some with dried cherries. They make a nice treat. I used the vanilla cream to make little choccie cups too!

Here's another childhood food memory revisited in a healthy way. Last time it was pancakes, this time - donuts! Or "doe-nees" as I've nicknamed them. I pulled out my mini donut pan and got to work Friday evening in time to enjoy these delights with a movie. This is a super easy recipe that is cakey and downright delicious. I love decorating them different. It's so much fun to experiment with topping ideas.

J and I enjoyed them best frosted while still warm from the oven. They were good the second day out of the fridge... and by today, day three, they were good but I'd suggest eating them up within 2 days. Share with friends and family - my parents loved them! I may do a little tweaking with the recipe but I'm super happy with the way the turned out.

Gluten Free Donuts

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend*
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cup sucanat
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips 

Grease three mini donut pans with coconut oil. 
In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (except choco chips). 
In a separate bowl whisk wet ingredients together. 
Add dry mixture to the wet. Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips and fold in. 
The mixture will be more wet than dry. 
Spoon into a piping bag with large round tip and pip into donut pan. Only fill 2/3 as they will expand a good bit. Alternatively, spoon into the pan but I find it harder and more time consuming. 
Bake for about 10-12 minutes in a 350F preheated oven. When they are cooked you will be able to push your finger lightly into the donut and it will spring back. 
Remove from pan and set on cooling rack. I like to frost and eat them while warm! 

*I used a combo of rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, and tapicoa flour.

Topping choices are endless! Have fun with it. What's your fave?! J's favourite is the cinnamon sugar while mine is a toss up between the coconut and peanut butter.

Cinnamon Sugar - Mix some maple sugar with cinnamon. Lightly brush each donut with melted coconut oil and then dip in the sugar mixture.

Rawtella  Frosting - Warm Rawtella (raw nutella!) in a bowl of hot water. Stir to loosen. Spoon over donuts. This will firm when chilled.

White Chocolate hazelnut frosting - Warm Silk Rawtella over a bowl of hot water. Stir and spoon over donuts. Optional - sprinkle cacao nibs or dried coconut on top. Will firm when chilled.

Peanut Butter Frosting - Mix peanut butter with maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Spread over donuts. Sprinkle with maple flakes.

Coconut Frosting - Melted coconut butter with a wee bit of coconut oil and drop of vanilla stevia.

Lucuma Frosting - Melted coconut butter, lucuma, melted coconut oil. I sprinkled with sesame seeds - not sure what I was thinking, lol. It's not a bagel!

Who wants a donut?! Have you made healthy donuts?

Here's a sunset that J and I enjoyed on the weekend... we love our sunsets! This gorgeous lake is just a short walk from our place.

Naturally I had to strike a yoga pose! Running shoes and all.

Happy Monday- Have a great week!

Part of this week's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gluten Free Pancakes

One of my best childhood food memories is my mom's homemade blueberry pancakes. Drenched in pure Canadian maple syrup and packed with freshly picked wild blueberries, these were a special breakfast treat served on weekends. They were made with regular flour/milk/eggs pancakes - not healthy at all but I didn't know any different at the time and enjoyed every bite!

I don't remember the last time I ate pancakes but I know that it was years and years ago. I've made dehydrated banana pancakes a few times but never tried making healthy pancakes... until last weekend. Since J loves pancakes, I attempted a gluten free recipe.

They were absolutely delish! I wasn't going to eat any, but they looked and smelled so great while I was cooking them that I just had to eat a few. We were so impressed. These gluten free/dairy free babies tasted like "regular" pancakes. I'll definitely make them again.

Gluten Free Pancakes
With Blueberries or Chocolate Chips
Adapted from this recipe

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon rice flour
3 tablespoons potato starch
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sucanat
2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder (of your choice)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup almond milk plus a splash of apple cider vinegar stirred in
coconut oil - for cooking

Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl.
Whisk wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Add wet mixture to dry ingredients. Whisk to incorporate.
Melt some coconut oil in a skillet on medium high heat.
Spoon batter into pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips or blueberries.
When bubbles start to form, flip and continue cooking.
Eat immediately with pure maple syrup!

This recipe can be seen on Slightly Indulgent Tuesday!

Here's a preview of my latest choccie creations.... they're filled with goodness. Can you guess what's inside??

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Fun

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. It was a fun and delicious filled one around here...

I had a booth in the first local farmers market of the season. Unfortunately I don't have any pics of the event but it was fun. Caramel pecan choccie clusters were a feature, as were raw chocolate truffles, granola bars, raw food bars, and chocolate macaroons. Can't wait for the main summer markets which occur outside at the beach.

J and I hosted my friend Nicole's birthday party Saturday night. We all contributed to the dinner so of course I voted myself to make the cake and salad. 

Wish I got an inside shot - 3 layers of vegan chocolate zucchini cake layered with coconut cream, covered in dark chocolate ganache. This cake is always a winner - so moist. 

Lots of fun! As always we get silly... the guys just laugh at us. 

J and me :)

We ate strawberry lime mousse cake with apricots and coconut crunch yesterday afternoon after a long hike through the forest. Yup, one of my best creations to this day I have to say.

Strawberries with a nice limey zing! Have never thought to pair the cake with apricots before but I got a bag of frozen apricot halves the other day and decided they would be a nice addition. I simple thawed and diced them.

Raw lasagna for dinner one night. Zucchini noodles, sun dried tomato sauce, marinated mushrooms, spinach and red pepper, all layered together with raw cheeze. Dollop of pesto on top. J absolutely loved it.

Gluten free pancake recipe coming up next!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Sweet Tooth

Happy Easter Monday! I'm sure you had a fabulous holiday with family and friends. It's been a weekend here. It's not too Spring-like. The temperature dropped to 0C and we had a few snow flurries this morning. Eeks! Yesterday with the winds howling and the clouds thick in the sky, I was tucked away in the warmth of my apartment enjoying some tunes while working away in the kitchie making food to contribute to Easter dinner. I made raw pizza for an appetizer, salad, and desserts. Despite the 'close to winter' conditions one of the desserts was particularly Springy. I must be on a strawberry and coconut kick, because these are the highlighted flavors along with hints of lime, cardamom (oh yeah, on a kick with that too), mango, and cherry.

One of my all time favourite desserts was on the menu - Strawberry Lime Mousse Cake . I topped them with a cherry lime jelly (blended cherries with stevia, lime juice, and chia seeds).

It's tried and true. It's light, flavorful, tangy, sweet, fruity, smooth and creamy. I made mini cakes and a 6" cake to keep on hand in the freezer for visitors. I just love mini cheesecakes. You can make several flavors for people to enjoy and they're just plain cute. Oh, plus they can be eaten with your hands! I've made this cake countless times and I still can't get enough!

Onto the second dessert.  After making the coconut cardamom cream in my recent Spiced Strawberry Parfait, I was left wanting more! So why not in a cheesecake, I thought? These turned out delish. I'll definitely be making this recipe again. Chocolate crust, cardamom coconut filling with a hint of mango, chocolate ganache, and coconut crunch. Yummie!

Coconut Cardamom Cheesecake

I made a plain crust that you see here, and I made some of them with a chocolate crust too, which was just almonds, dates, and cacao powder. 

1 cup almonds
2/3 cup raisins
Pinch of salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon water

In a food processor grind the almonds into crumbs. 
Add the raisins and salt. Process until the raisins are completely broken down. 
Add the water starting with 1/2 teaspoon. If the mixture is still too crumbly, add more water. The mixture should hold together when pressed in your hand. 
Press into the bottom of mini silicone muffin cups or bottom of an 8" spring form pan. 


The mango is just an undertone in the filling - you won't really taste it with the coconut and cardamom, but I had some very ripe mango that needed to be used up and knew the flavor was neutral enough to combine with the other flavors.

1 cup diced mango (I used champagne mango)
2/3 cup cashews
6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons agave
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used 3/4 tsp)
4 tablespoons melted coconut butter*
7 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Blend all but the butter and oil until smooth and creamy in a high speed blender. 
Add the last two ingredients and blend to combine. 
Pour the filling over crust. Chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours or in the freezer at least 5 hours.

Coconut Crunch Topping

This is so yummy and crunchy! It would be a great topping on raw ice cream too!

6 tablespoons shredded coconut
2 teaspoons maple sugar
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons melted coconut butter
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl. 
Set in the fridge or freezer to firm up, 10-20 minutes. 
Break into pieces using a butter knife. 
Sprinkle over the set cheesecake.

*I'm adding this note after posting, as someone asked in the comments about the difference between coconut oil and butter. The oil is the extracted fat from the coconut. The butter is the pulp ground down until smooth - just like almonds are made into almond butter.
I'm savoring a jar of this coconut butter, and used it in the recipe. It's the BEST coconut butter I've ever had. It's stone ground for days and literally melts in your mouth. Yeah you can make your own (I do too), but its not the same. Homemade stuff still has some fibery texture - this stuff is silky smooth.

What tasty things did you make or eat for Easter? I hope you'll try these cakes next time you're looking for a week recipe!

Shared at Allergy Free Wednesdays

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sweet Stuff! Granola Bars and Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I've been doing a bit of baking lately. After years of not using the oven, it's fun to bake again. I used to do a LOT of baking, especially for some of the jobs I've had.

Who doesn't love granola bars? They're delicious and sweet, yet healthy (if you make your own) and portable!

I make and sell two kinds of granola bars at the local farmers market in the summer. They're always a hit and sell out. While I'm not giving away those secret recipes, I've got two yummy granola bar recipes to share. While bars both include a lot of the same ingredients, the results are completely different:

Bar #1:
Soft, dense, slightly chewy but kinda cakey texture

Bar #2
Super chewy, needs to stay chilled, moist, almost sticky

What do you prefer?!

Chewy Granola Bars (#1)

I made these bars a few times last summer and only today did I stumble upon the few pics I took. It was such a busy time of year that I didn't get around to posting but I'm glad I came across the photo reminder because I think I'll be making them again soon. If you want a vegan bar, use 1 tablespoon ground flax seed: 3 tablespoons water to replace the egg*.

Chewy Granola Bars
Submitted to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

2 cups oats
1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used bob's mill)
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup mixture raisins, dried apricots, cherries, cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (any nut)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2/3 cup almond butter
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg*
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Beat the coconut sugar, almond butter, syrup, egg, oil, and vanilla until creamy.
Mix the wet and dry mixtures together.
Spread into a 9x13" pan.
Bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes (I bake for 25 mins).
Cool, slice into bars. Store in the fridge.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola Bars (#2)

If you like peanut butter and chocolate, you'll enjoy these. I think they're a bit more dessert-like than the baked variety. If you don't eat honey, try with maple syrup or agave.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola Bars

3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/8 teaspoon himalayan or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cup large flake oats
1/2 cup ground oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried apricots, cranberries, or dates, chopped

Heat the honey, coconut sugar and salt in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then turn off heat. Stir in the vanilla.
Stir together all dry ingredients in a bowl.
Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir to combine- the chocolate will melt into the mixture.
Press into a greased 9x13" pan or for a thicker bar press into 9x9" pan.
Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or until very firm.
Slice into bars or squares. Store the fridge. These freeze well.

Granola balls? Why not?!

Make above mixture, but scoop into balls using mini ice cream scoop. Transfer to parchment paper and chill in the fridge.
I dipped some of these balls in dark chocolate and oooh boy, they're yummy!

I took on another baking project lately. I've been eyeing Michelle and Lori's Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake since they posted it a while ago and knew I had to make it. Their photos are mouth watering and the recipe is straight forward.

For my first attempt, I used the suggested two eggs (they used flax eggs). Unfortunately the cake turned out really dry. A little dry? Not to worry! ... I made the frosting (which is totally delish), spread it on the cake. It didn't help - the cake was way too dry. I was so bummed.

Alas, not wanting to waste I decided to turn it into cake balls! I scraped the cake up, mixed it with some coconut oil and maple syrup, rolled into balls, chilled, and then dipped into my dark raw chocolate. Yum!

They became addicting. I have a stash in my freezer and have been dipping a few here and there. They've been a big hit with the people I've shared with.

Determined to make this recipe work for me, I tried the cake a second time! This time, I used the flax "eggs". It didn't work out again. Boo hoo, I just want a piece of that cookie cake! I guess the Universe wants me to go straight to Lori and Michelle's house for a piece of this lovely cake or universe doesn't want me to have it at all, lol. I'm tempted to try it a third time...

A bit of news. The lovely Amy Levin is holding a workshop at the Creative Health Institute this month! Learn how to make beautiful raw chocolates on April 22/23!

Last chance to get in on the Sweetly Raw chocolates Easter sale. I'm doing a last shipment on Tuesday. Email for details on how to order.

Otherwise, you can now order a few Sweetly Raw chocolate items from Raw Guru (caramel pecan choccie clusters and almond butter cups)! Add other goodies to your order and get free shipping on orders over $100.

Have a wonderful Easter!