Posts tagged ‘chocolate’

May 1, 2010

Catching up! Gardening & Chocolate Chai smoothie

Hello all!

I was a very bad blogger last month, but it’s not my fault: I was forced to write five law school exams and one paper. It’s a good excuse, right? Anyway, I don’t have many photos of delicious eats to share with you, as I had no time to make much of anything exciting. Apart from the mouth-watering strawberry moon pies, of course, which were a runner-up in Heathy’s Moonie Pie contest. Congrats to fellow Torontonian Lisa, whose amazing-looking lemon ginger moon pies took the win!

On that note, Heathy’s latest dessert challenge is shaping up to be fun: a contest make the Ultimate Raw Ice Cream Cake! I’m super excited for this one, as Dairy Queen ice cream cakes were always a childhood favourite. The thought of a dairy cake with tons of added sugar and other crap now turns my stomach, but a raw ice cream cake made with natural raw ingredients, like cashews and coconut, is much more appealing. The “challenge” part of this event refers to the fact that we have to come up with our own twist on one of Heathy’s recipes, and I’m mulling over a few ideas. I promise you it will be good – and will be accompanied by lots of photos!

Speaking of contest, I just won one – the Purely Delicious magazine giveaway on In The Raw! The prize is a year-long subscription to the magazine, which is totally awesome because I never see it on newsstands near me. Thanks again, Earth Mother!

Now that I’ve reclaimed my life post-exams, I’ve been working on various gardening projects for the summer. I was lucky enough to get a plot in a community garden not far from my place, and I’m currently planning out which veggies to grow. Kale is an obvious choice, as is chard — both greens are hardy and do well in mid-summer heat, unlike a lot of other more tender greens which flower and go to seed early if it gets too hot for them. I also picked up some heirloom carrot seeds, and I’ll probably also grow beats, green beans, fennel, possibly cabbage, maybe some broccoli, and whatever else seems like a good idea. This will be the first year I’ve gardened on my own, so it will be a learning experience: my goal is to have a steady stream of garden-fresh produce all summer. Thankfully, my mom has decades of gardening experience under her belt and is only a phone call away. I’d also be very grateful for gardening tips and suggestions from you!

I also have a herb garden underway on my rooftop patio. I spent a good part of today potting herbs, and they are looking great! I threw in extra cilantro because I love it, and there’s basil, sage, chives, peppermint, chocolate mint (which will go well in my smoothies!), rosemary and parsley. I’m also going to grow container peas on the patio, since there’s is a pre-existing lattice for them to climb, and they will be perfect for snacking throughout the summer. And finally, a pot or two of kale for emergencies. Although most of my kale will be in my actual garden plot, I know there will be days when I won’t want to bike all the way over to the garden to harvest the green kale goodness!

I’ll leave you with a recipe for a new smoothie I created today – the Chocolate Chai Smoothie. It contains Sun Warrior protein, because it’s a post-gym creation, but feel free to omit it if that’s not your thing. But you may want to add some extra raw cacao powder. Sorry, no picture – I was too hungry!

Chocolate Chai Smoothie

Ingredients

1 frozen banana

1 cup strongly brewed chai tea, chilled (I used one tea bag for this, steeped for 15 minutes)

1/2 cup almond milk

1 scoop chocolate Sun Warrior raw vegan protein powder

1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup ice cubes

Instructions

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Slurp it down!

March 19, 2010

UliMana chocolates rock my taste buds

First, sorry for not posting for awhile! To be honest, I haven’t been making much in the way of fun raw food because I’ve been hitting the gym pretty hard and cleaning up my diet. My meals have been mostly big green smoothies with Sun Warrior protein, massive kale salads, fruit, sprouts and nuts.

Now, onto more exciting stuff. The awesome people at UliMana recently sent me some of their tasty treats (thank you, UliMana!!!), and I loved them so much that I have to share their deliciousness with you.

First off, what a great company! All of their chocolate treats and other sweets are handmade, raw, vegan and organic. The UliMana website also has a great wealth of information on the benefits of their pure, superfood ingredients, like raw cacao, coconut oil, gojis, maca and hemp. Yummy. But as nice as their website is, the real reason I like UliMana is for their mind-blowing chocolates. Here’s what I got to test out from the Tao of Cacao package they sent:

Goji Cherry Truffle & Dark Cacao Truffle. These babies were pure, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Made with raw organic chocolate, they were creamy and just the right size for a small, sweet, after-dinner treat.

Hemp Brownies. Yum! The hemp gave this brownie a sweet and nuttier flavour.

Date Roll with Chocolate. I was surprised that this was my favourite item! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because the combination of dates and chocolate is always killer… roll them in coconut flakes, and you’ve got a winner.

Chia Moon Drop. This was also a close contender for favourite treat! The dominance of cashews gave it a majorly smooth and creamy texture.

Lemon Fig Pecan Bar. After so much chocolate, it was refreshing to taste something fruit and nut-based. I loved this one so much that I was inspired to create my own version!

Clockwise from top: Chia Moon Drop, Hemp Brownie, Lemon Fig Bar, Dark Cacao Truffle, Goji Cherry Truffle, Chocolate Date Roll

My sweet tooth was satiated after these goodies, but what might have been even better is that I felt light, healthy and energetic after eating them. Raw sweets, eaten in moderation, never have the same effect on me as sugar, flour and animal product-laced desserts used to. The take-home story is that if you haven’t tried UliMana’s raw chocolaty goodness yet, you should go for it. I haven’t seen UliMana on any Toronto store shelves yet, but I’m hoping to track them down in my city soon. They also sell raw chocolate mixes and spreads, which sound equally fantastic. Happy chocolate eating!

March 7, 2010

Four minute freezer fudge

I’m excited to share a recipe that I threw together yesterday afternoon: four-minute freezer fudge. What was the occasion? My in-laws were in town for a brief visit. They like vegan things I’ve made for them over the years (like a non-raw egg nog cheesecake one holiday season), and generally enjoy eating at the various veg restaurants we’ve taken them to (like Fressen, last night). But I don’t think they quite get the whole raw thing. So I figured, what better way to show them than by feeding them raw desserts?

I’ve been making various versions of this freezer fudge for awhile — it’s impossibly easy, delicious, rich and chocolaty. My in-laws loved the fudge, and had no idea such a thing could be made raw until I explained how! I poured the fudge mixture into mini silicone muffin cups, and I really love that they deliver perfect, individualized chunks of fudge without the mess of cutting a whole pan into squares. Usually, I don’t even bother to measure out the ingredients, but I did today, just for you folks. Here’s the recipe.

Four Minute Freezer Fudge

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond butter

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp agave nectar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

pinch of sea salt

chia seeds

coconut flakes

cashews

Directions

Combine almond butter, coconut oil, cacao powder, agave, walnuts and sea salt in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Spoon fudge mixture into mini silicone muffin cups. Top each cup with one cashew and sprinkle with chia seeds and coconut flakes. Place cups in freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. Peel off the muffin cups once fudge is firm, and enjoy!

February 5, 2010

Indian-spiced dinner party!

I’ve always loved entertaining friends. I adore creating big, elaborate dinners, complete with wine, dessert and good conversation. Even after I started eating mostly raw foods, I still used to cook up vegan dishes for my omnivorous friends, unsure of what they might think of the raw eats. But as I got more into the raw lifestyle and mastered more and more gourmet raw recipes, I started testing them out at dinner parties. And guess what? My friends love the raw cuisine! When you think about it, what’s not to love? Fresh ingredients, crisp flavours, and all of this without the after-dinner heaviness that we used to experience after eating a rich, cooked meal.

A few weeks ago, we had some friends over for a delicious Indian-themed feast. We kicked off the evening with Black Sesame Paratha, Spiced Cucumbers, and Mango-Green Papaya Chutney from Matthew Kenney’s Entertaining in the Raw. These were tasty little bites! The paratha (bread) base was my least favourite part — the rounds were made from flax, nuts, zucchini and spices, and they were a little on the bland side, but were better in combination with the cukes and chutney.

Next up on the menu was Biryani with Coconut-Curry Sauce from Sarma Melngailis’ most recent book Living Raw Food. (As a side note, this is totally one of my favourite books — every single recipe is a hit!) The biryani is somewhat complex to make, as it involves turning jicama and other ingredients into the rice, dehydrating some veggies, and blending up a coconut curry sauce. It is totally worth the effort, and was a hit with our dinner guests!

Jicama "rice" with nuts, raisins and spices

The real star of the evening, as usual, was dessert — a recipe of my own creation. With the Indian theme in mind, I whipped up two kinds of raw ice cream — vanilla chai, and chocolate — sprinkled on a coconut-pistachio-cardamom brittle, and topped off the creation with chocolate sauce. Delicious!! Here are some photos and the recipe.

Coconut-pistachio-cardamom brittle on its way into the dehydrator

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup cashews

1 cup young coconut meat

3/4 cup strongly brewed chai tea

1/3 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons melted coconut butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender untl completely smooth. Chill in the refrigerator, then run through an ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

For chocolate ice cream, replace the chai tea with water, and add 1/4 cup of raw cacao powder. Add extra agave to taste, if desired.

Coconut-Pistachio-Cardamom Brittle

Ingredients

1 cup pistachios

1 cup dried coconut

1/3 cup agave nectar

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine ingredients into a food processor until just combined. Spread on dehydrator sheets in a thin layer and dehydrate 8-10 hours, or overnight. Flip onto screens and dehydrate a further 8-10 hours. Break into smaller pieces and dehydrate a few more hours, or until sufficiently brittle.

For the chocolate sauce, I blended up melted coconut oil with raw cacao powder, some agave, and a pinch of sea salt, then poured the sauce on top of the ice cream and brittle. The great thing about using a coconut oil-based chocolate sauce is that it hardens on top of the cold ice cream, just like one of those chocolate-dipped soft serve ice cream cones I used to eat in the summer as a kid!

January 30, 2010

Chocolate truffles with a creamy maple butter centre

As promised, here’s a post on my post-beet ravioli dessert the other night: raw chocolate truffles with a creamy maple butter centre! These are like heaven on your tongue… it was impossible to stop at one, and I definitely ate too many. Eating raw cacao before bed is usually not wise, but I think I was so exhausted from the long week that even the usual buzz couldn’t keep me from sleeping. Anyway, these little chocolate bites of awesomeness are not only tasty, they’re also really easy, and require only two ingredients: raw chocolate, and maple butter.

I tend to periodically mix a large batch of raw chocolate, let it harden in a container in the fridge, and keep it on hand for making tasty treats like these. If you’ve never made it before, raw chocolate is remarkably like any regular dark chocolate bar you might come across, and is generally made from raw cacao butter, raw cacao powder, and a form of sweetener. I’ve used the chocolate recipe in Cafe Gratitude’s stunning dessert bible, Sweet Gratitude, and I’ve tinkered around with my own recipes as well. I was in a rush when I made this most recent batch of chocolate, so I kept it simple.

Raw Chocolate

Ingredients

1 cup raw cocoa butter

1 cup raw cacao powder

1/3 cup sweetener (I used agave this time, but powdered sucanat works, as does fine maple sugar)

1 teaspoon soy lecithin (helps with smoothness, not essential)

seeds from one vanilla bean (again, not fatal to omit this)

Instructions

Melt the cacao butter by shaving it into a bowl with a veggie peeler and popping it in the dehydrator at 115F (alternately, you can use a double boiler at a low temperature, or set the bowl of cacao butter in a bowl of hot water). Place all ingredients in blender (high speed is best if you have one) and blend until smooth. Pour into molds if using immediately, otherwise place in container for later use. The chocolate will firm up fairly quickly as the cacao butter returns to room temperature. It’s best to store in the fridge for freshness.

Now comes the fun part. I found some cute little chocolate mold sheets on a trip to NYC over the holidays, and love the little chocolate shapes they deliver. To make the maple butter truffles, start by dropping a teaspoon or so of melted chocolate into the molds. Use your finger to swirl the chocolate up the sides of the molds, as in the photo, and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to harden.

Once the chocolate is firm, drop a dab of maple butter into the molds. Pour additional chocolate into the mold so the maple butter is covered, and the shape is filled. Return the molds to the freezer and give them another 10-15 minutes to firm up. You can then flip the molds upside down, and shake out the chocolates. Voila – your very own maple butter chocolate truffles!

Obviously, there are a zillion potential fillings for chocolate truffles: your favourite raw jam, a coconut mixture, almond butter, ground nuts… the possibilities really are endless. Likewise, you can spice up the chocolate with some mint or orange extract, or some buckwheat groats for crispiness. I’m already planning my next batch!

And in case you’re wondering, no, maple butter isn’t raw, but hey, I’m a Canadian. Maple syrup is part of my heritage!