Raw (aka Clean) Chocolate

I’ve never really been a choc-a-holic, but strangely that changed when I learnt that dark chocolate was considered to be somewhat healthy (in small amounts, of course). Oh, and when I realised how easy it is to make at home.

My initial¬†love affair with Lindt 70% and 80% chocolate gave way to instant gratification in the comfort of my own home, as well as feeling uneasy about the other 20-30% of the Lindt ingredients (one of which I’m dismayed to discover is palm oil) ūüė¶

food fervourRaw chocolate recipes weren’t as prolific a few years ago, but I found one on Lee Holmes’ site ‘Supercharged Food’ (link here)¬†and was super surprised at how easy it seemed to be. Luckily a friend had presented me with a packet of organic cacao powder, so I could instantly ditch the more processed-therefore-less-clean cocoa powder in favour of extra nutritional benefit in my ‘treat’.

My very first attempt at raw chocolate comprised cacao powder, coconut oil and dextrose (back in the day, I was seriously anti-fructose‚Ķ I’ve eased off that a bit now‚Ķ opting for less processed ingredients over fructose content.) In fact it was scary how quickly you could make it: almost less time than it takes to get in the car and drive to the shop for the mass-produced,¬†sugar- (and god knows what else-)¬†laden crap.¬†I was so bloody excited about how easy it was to make that I posted a recipe on my first (other) blog,¬†A Life in Words.¬†Here’s¬†the direct link to that if you’d like to take a squizz…

I finally looked into the cacao butter Lee uses only a little of in her recipe: I’d previously thought it was just a body moisturiser. Well, it is the BOMB. Being cacao fat, it tastes like ‚Ķchocolate. Not coconut, surprise-surprise! And unlike coconut oil, cacao butter won’t liquify at 20 degrees, so you won’t have to drink the chocolate from your hands in summer.

It is seriously as easy as this: one part cacao butter to one part cacao powder. Then add your choice of sweetener to taste. In fact, I have found that if making “fruit’n’nut” chocolate, I don’t need any sweetener at all thanks to the natural sugar (& fibre) content of the sultanas.

Let’s start with ¬Ĺ cup of cacao butter and ¬Ĺ cup cacao powder (so if anything goes wrong, you don’t end up wasting too much of these quite costly ingredients). I now prefer to use maple syrup for a sweetener, finding honey¬†too viscous and coconut¬†sugar takes too long to dissolve.

food fervourHow do you know you have half a cup of cacao butter when it comes in ‘chunks’? I kind of solve this in the choice of equipment I use for the first part of the recipe method: Place a small saucepan of hot water (only about 2-3cms deep) on the stove over the lowest heat possible. Place the cacao chunks in a (tempered) glass measuring jug (I use ‘Pyrex’ brand) and sit the jug in¬†the saucepan. Wait for the butter to liquify.

Simply add the equivalent amount of cacao powder and your choice of sweetener, to taste, mixing well (I use a small spatula, to press out any lumps of cacao powder). If you want to add any flavours (spices like vanilla, or essential peppermint oil) you’d do that now as well. A lot of recipes ask you to whisk the ingredients‚Ķ I’ve been too lazy to try that!

The final step for ‘plain’ chocolate is to decide how you’d like to set it.¬†I sometimes use silicone ice cube tray moulds for individual chocolates or, if very lazy, I’ll lay baking paper down on a plate and just pour out the chocolate onto it so that it it will form one big block (that you can break into pieces once set). Once you’ve made your decision, pop the chocolate in the freezer for about half an hour, or the refrigerator if you¬†don’t’ need¬†it for a few hours‚Ķ.

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fruit’n’nut sticks and blueberry hearts

You can experiment to your heart’s content with this: here are some of my ¬†favourite¬†variations:

Blueberry Hearts: I pop some frozen organic blueberries into silicone heart moulds before pouring in the chocolate… same goes for whole Macadamias

Fruit’n’Nut: I put sultanas & peanuts in moulds before I add the chocolate mixture…

Chocolate Bark: I pour the chocolate onto baking paper on a plate, or into a dish ‘oiled’ with coconut oil then sprinkle anything and everything into it, like: chopped nuts, seeds, goji berries, shredded coconut, amaranth puffs‚Ķ go nuts!

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Chocolate ‘Bark’

Milk Chocolate: I recently decided to try adding (organic) milk powder to a chocolate mix and I thought it was so good that I¬†pretty much ate the whole test batch in one go! (This is not to say everyone will agree.)¬†Add approximately half the amount of milk powder to the fresh chocolate mix (so ¬ľ cup or two tablespoons per the measures I provided above, and mix VERY well (it will thicken quickly) to dissolve the powder as well as possible, then set or add stuff as you wish.

Please feel free to share any amazing combinations you concoct!

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Strawberries dipped in raw chocolate

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Cacao Beetroot Cake

As far as I’m concerned, the more veggies you¬†can get in, the better. And this cake, well, unless you’re extremely picky, you wouldn’t know there’s a vegetable in it. I haven’t made it for ages and, true to form, I’ve altered the original recipe yet again.

I had leftover rice and almond milk pulp to use up, and for once I decided to go with spelt flour instead of the usual (heavier, gluten free) buckwheat. This recipe is almost fool-proof so if you wanted to use a plain gluten-free flour go for it; I can pretty much guarantee it will still turn out.

The biggest difference for me this time however was using raw beetroot. The recipes usually call for ‘cooked mashed beetroot’ but you see, apart from now owning a Thermomix that will virtually pulverise the tough root veggie, I concluded that it would cook during its 40-50 minute sojourn in the 180¬ļC oven environment. It seems to have worked.Food Fervour

So for this amazingly moist healthy ‘choccy’ cake, I used:¬†1 medium-large beetroot, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, ¬ĺ cup coconut sugar, ¬ĺ cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1¬ľ cups spelt flour (actually I used ¬Ĺ cup almond & rice milk pulp + ¬ĺ cup spelt, and it worked) 1 teaspoon baking powder (bicarb soda), ¬Ĺ cup (or a fraction more!) cacao powder, ¬Ĺ teaspoon sea salt and ¬Ĺ teaspoon ground nutmeg.

beetrootFirst you’ll need to grate your beetroot (I hope you’re not wearing white?!) unless you have a Thermomix or other very high powered blender or food processing appliance (because I buy organic beets I didn’t peel it). Thermie users, I chose speed 5-6 for about 15¬†seconds, stopped to scrape down the bowl & repeated once more.

For the manual cooks, you’ll need another bowl to thoroughly blend the moist ingredients¬†(vanilla, sugar, oil and eggs)¬†then add the beetroot to the mix (or vice versa). Thermomixers can add the ingredients directly to the bowl with the beetroot in it and blend for 20 secs at speed 5-6. Scrape down afterwards.

Now, I know most chefs & cooks prefer the dry goods to be pre-mixed but I usually never do this because I’m lazy: I hate creating more washing up (with extra bowls). I prefer to substitute this action with prolonged ‘elbow-grease’‚Ķ in other words, add all the ingredients individually then mix the crap out of that cake batter until it can’t possibly be anything but well-blended. With a wooden spoon this equates to a fair bit of energy consumption and perhaps some lactic acid build-up in the muscles of your stirring arm. With electric beaters (does anyone even own them anymore?) food processors or Thermomixes it’s a piece of cake (excuse the pun). Chuck in all the remaining ingredients (flour, bicarb, cacao powder, salt & nutmeg) then mix, mix, mix! (Thermies, a couple of 20 second hits around speed 5-6, with some scrape downs, should do fine).

Don’t panic if your batter seems too¬†liquescent (runny)‚Ķ that’s exactly how mine was. Believe me, it solidifies as it bakes but the result is ridiculously moist! Pour into a greased, lined loaf tin and bake in a moderate oven (180¬ļC) as previously mentioned, for 40-50 minutes. A knife or skewer inserted should come out cleanly when it’s done. Let it cool for about 5-10 minutes before turning it out of the tin‚Ķ because its so moist you’ll risk it falling apart while hot.Food Fervour

Now this could be enjoyed on its own because it is so moist but I pimped mine up with some of my homemade chocolate ganache (find that recipe here) and shredded coconut.

Yarrrrrm!

 

Vegan Anzac Cheesecake

How the heck did I come up with this one?

Easy, really. While searching for a traditional Anzac biscuit recipe earlier in the week, I came across a recipe for an Anzac Cheesecake… a traditional, cheesy cheesecake. Since I love the raw cheesecake phenomenon, I instantly mulled over what ingredients I would use, to get the flavour of an Anzac biccie.

And what better tribute on this, the 100th Anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli? (For anyone outside of Australia or New Zealand who may not know what this means to us, take a look at this post) Food Fervour

So¬†where to start? Well,¬†the traditional biscuits are primarily comprised of oats, flour, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup (‘treacle’), butter and the result¬†is a wonderful ‘caramel’ flavour. I could envisage the oats & desiccated coconut in the cheesecake base (sorry, this isn’t gluten free people: but you could easily substitute almonds or buckwheat instead) but what about the cheesy filling?

Well, raw foodies know that nuts can make great dairy substitutes, and almost every raw cheesecake recipe you find will use cashews for the filling. I like to buck trends sometimes. And this HAD to be an Aussie recipe. There was no better option than our native nut, the macadamia. Coconut cream and/or oil would work because coconut figures in the original biscuit recipe. The ideas flowed from there…

There are three stages to the cheesecake’s creation, and since one does involve cooking, I can no longer claim this as ‘raw’. Firstly, I made a salted caramel sauce (recipe sourced from Quirky Cooking – see¬†here) then created the base, and finally the macadamia/coconut cream/salted caramel filling. And I was blown away by the result!food fervour

Please note: using a standard springform cake tin, I found that my cheesecake was rather flat which indicates I my quantities were too few. Having said this, I’ve decided to supply my original amounts anyway but I highly recommend you used a smaller dish‚Ķ or double all the ingredients! (If you do that, can you let me know how it works out please?)

For the caramel sauce I used 50gm coconut sugar, 50gm coconut cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract & a good pinch of Himalayan Salt.

I put all of these in the Thermomix for 3mins @ 100¬ļ, speed 2. For those without this piece of equipment, I apologise but I can only guess that you would add all the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir continuously (probably for more than 3 minutes I imagine) until the mixture thickens. (Be careful you don’t let it go too long, it will burn quickly. But then, burnt caramel is another flavour in itself, and maybe it could work?!)¬†Empty into a jug or cup and set aside.

For the cheesecake base I blended 1 cup of dates, ¬Ĺ cup oats and ¬Ĺ cup of desiccated coconut until fully granulated (Thermies up to 15 seconds, speed 9-10). Grease your dish with coconut oil, tip the base mixture in and using a spatula (or clean hands?) press firmly and evenly across the base. Place it in the refrigerator.

For¬†the filling¬†I played around a fair bit! But in the end I used: ¬ľ cup of the prepared salted caramel sauce (that’ll be almost the whole lot), 1 heaped cup of (approx. 250gm)¬†macadamia nuts, ¬Ĺ cup coconut cream, ¬ľ cup coconut oil.

Firstly, I milled the macadamias (Thermies 10sec, speed 9-10) then added the sauce, blending for about 10secs, from speed 5 increasing to 9) Next add the coconut cream and Thermomix or not, you’ll need to blend a few times, stopping to scrape down the sides. My thought was, the more you blend, the better the aeration of the coconut cream, as well as further milling the macadamia particles. Finally add the (liquified) coconut oil, and I let this one go at speed 9 for almost 40 seconds.

Pour the thick filling into your prepared base dish, then simply freeze. I left mine overnight so I would highly recommend you leave it for at least one hour. It may stick fast to the base of the dish so gently warm the base (melting the coconut oil you greased the dish with) and it should come out with a little more ease.

food fervourI garnished the finished product with a crumbled Anzac biscuit (I also make vegan versions of those) but leftover salted caramel sauce drizzled over the top is divine!

 

 

Raw Passionfruit Avocado Cheesecake

I’ve been admiring (& occasionally enjoying) the variety of raw cheesecakes that are slowly becoming more readily available at cafes and eateries, but had not bothered trying to make one even though I’ve been told many times that it’s ‘piece of cake’ (excuse the pun).

food fervourMy love of avocado has extended beyond its nutritional value¬†because I’m now aware of its other ‘superpowers’! My first experience came with a green smoothie recipe. My how stuff ‘thickens up’ when you add this little dude to the mix! I noticed raw mousse recipes relied heavily upon avocado as well. That got me thinking about the texture and consistency of cheesecake.

Now I’m certainly by no means a pioneer in the avocado cheesecake world, but I can say it’s hard to find many raw cheesecake recipes on the net that employ ‘avos’ as the primary ingredient, which would indicate there’s heaps of room for experimentation. The vast majority use blended cashews as the ‘cream cheese’ base. I thought avocado would work because it’s naturally bland on the palate, but the PERFECT creamy texture.

Passionfruit isn’t necessarily a real favourite of mine, but they have been in season and moreover, they have a strong flavour ‚Ķand a ‘tanginess’‚Ķ which is what you find in an ordinary cheesecake. So I grabbed me some of ’em and got crackin’.

All 3 attempts were well received by a variety of tasters, but the last version was the best and it’s simply because I upped the amount of passionfruit. The stronger the fruit flavour, the better. But if you are going to play around here, I’ll just remind you that the more fruit, the more ‘wet’ the mixture = the less well the final product will set or hold together. (Think of fruit with maximum flavour, minimal moisture‚Ķ)

I used macadamia nuts for the base (borrowing from a recipe¬†from¬†Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking blog)¬†because I always associate them with the tropics (and passionfruit’s definitely tropical) but almonds worked fine in my¬†initial experiment so be creative if you like!food fervour

For the Base you will need: 130gm macadamias, 70gm desiccated/shredded coconut, 8 dates & a pinch of Himalayan salt

Simply blend everything thoroughly in a high powered blender (Thermomixers 20 seconds @ Speed 9) then press the mix over the base of a well-oiled (coconut oil is best) springform cake tin. Note: this will make a thin base – if you like thick cheesecake bases I recommend you double the ingredients. Set aside (or refrigerate in warmer climates).

For the Filling, you will need: 2 large (or 3 small) avocados, 4-5 passionfruit (depending upon how strong you’d like the flavour) 4 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar, 4 tablespoons (approx 60 gm) coconut oil (melted), 2-3 teaspoons vanilla paste, optional 1 banana &/or ¬Ĺ-1 teaspoon grated ginger

Again, this is simply a blending exercise. (Even with a Thermomix I found myself stopping and starting, to check consistency & taste and scrape down the mixture) Start with the avocados, sugar/syrup, vanilla & if using, the banana/ginger. Blend well (Thermies approximately 20 seconds, Speed 5)¬†Add the passionfruit pulp, blending until smooth (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 5 & you may use Reverse speed so the passionfruit seeds aren’t pulverised initially). Finally add the coconut oil blending well again (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 9 gradually)

Empty the filling over the base, smoothing off as evenly as possible, then allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or the freezer if you can’t wait that long!) Then serve and enjoy ūüôā

 

Vegan Hot Chocolate

I’ve been struggling finding hot winter drinks that aren’t full of caffeine, sugar or cow’s milk. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy. I’ve been playing around, mulling over what goes with what, and I reckon I’ve hit upon¬†some pretty cool ideas. The current¬†‘Bulletproof’ (butter) coffee fad has even come into play…

This particular version of my experimental ‘healthy’ hot chocolate drinks was inspired by Nutella. Most people know that Nutella is a hazelnut based chocolate spread. So I used hazelnut milk¬†(made¬†freshly in my Thermomix first, via recipe in¬†the new Quirky Cooking¬†cookbook)¬†and tied the ‘Bulletproof’ idea in via the inclusion of coconut oil and my choice of sweetener, coconut sugar. NB:¬†I’m actually sensitising my taste buds by eating so ‘cleanly’ so the¬†flavours here will be subtle, which means you may want to alter the amounts of cacao and sweetener to your liking.

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Unfortunately, I have to admit that if you don’t own a Thermomix I can’t offer you an alternative,¬†because this recipe involves a short burst of high speed blending of hot liquid – which is definitely not to be attempted in a normal blender. (If however, you’re adept in the kitchen, I’m confident you’ll discover alternative means to create something similar!)

For a single serve you will need: 250gm hazelnut milk, 3 tspns cacao powder, 3 tspns coconut sugar, 1 tspn coconut oil (optional).

Place all ingredients in the Thermomix, cooking for 8 minutes, at 70¬ļC on Speed 4. At the end of the cooking period, programme 30 seconds at Speed 8 to ‘froth’ the mixture. Serve immediately.

Let your imagination run wild. This recipe is really a basic formula for any number of creations. I have used¬†a variety of milks and come up with some amazing flavours, for example, a Spicy version¬†to which I added heaps of cinnamon, some nutmeg, vanilla, garam masala & chilli powder! ūüėÄ

 

 

 

 

 

Nutrient Dense Porridge

Let me start out by saying my motivation for this post was not the great breakfast I just had. It was the thought behind it; my general philosophy about food. If we are meant to be eating less (portion control) how are we meant to get all the nutrients in? By thinking. And being creative. Yes, you need a little education, but it’s really NOT hard. Here’s my example…

I’m not necessarily a porridge fan. I have found I usually digest it too quickly and can feel hungry again within 3 hours. This I put down to the fact that in cooking the oats, I’m removing some of the workload that my digestive system would otherwise be lumbered with, in¬†breaking down the food. Now, in Winter it gets pretty hard chowing down on my usual bircher brekky: eating or drinking cold makes me cold from the inside, so I turn back to porridge (it’s the quickest thing to make before I start work, especially in the Thermomix). The question is, how to make it last longer?

Simple: add protein and/or healthy fats and/or fibre. Most of us know – or have surely heard by now – that fibre, protein & fats are satiating. Fibre & protein usually because of their ‘complexity’, fats because of their density. So my go-to porridge recipe is now a mix of oats and protein rich quinoa flakes¬†&¬†chia seeds, with whatever milk I’m feeling on the day. It has made a huge difference.

So my point is: get a little educated & be creative. Learn something about REAL foods and the¬†nutrients they¬†contain, especially those with the highest quantities (this is why I believe vegetables should be the base of the Food Pyramid: no other food group contains same the array & density as this plant matter) and it will be easy to find ways to slot them into your meals without having to eat them in ‘excess’. (And for the record, even though I don’t throw the word into my recipes, ‘organic’ choices are definitely first option.)food fervour

So with that, here’s the recipe for a (sizeable) single serve of this morning’s apple cinnamon & chia porridge:

¬Ĺ grated apple, 35gm oats, 5-10gms quinoa flakes, 5gms (1 head teaspoon chia) seeds, 90gm water, 150gm milk of choice (today I used almond) 1 teaspoon cinnamon, coconut sugar to taste.

Stovetop cooks place apple, oats, quinoa & chia, water & milk into saucepan over a medium-low heat, reducing to simmer¬†as the mixture begins to bubble. you’ll need to stir continuously. I honestly have forgotten how long it takes to make porridge on the stove top, but I would think it would be about 8-10 minutes, similar to the Thermomix cooking time.

Thermomixers you can ‘grate’ your apple in the bowl for¬†5 secs speed 5, or Turbo a couple of times. Then add the oats, quinoa, chia, water & milk, cooking for 8 mins, 90¬ļC reverse speed 2.

Serve immediately, stirring through the cinnamon with any extra milk you may or may not like to add and top with coconut sugar to taste *not TOO much*!

Coeliacs would evidently replace oats altogether, using 40-45gm quinoa flakes however since quinoa (& especially chia) will require more fluid you may need to almost double the fluid quantities. Stove-top cooks will be able to gauge the mixture thickening, Thermomix users won’t. Trial & error. That’s what it’s all about!

Mum’s Kifflitzers Re-Invented

I have an admission to make: until¬†I got my Thermomix, I’d never made real custard. I’d either bought it ready-made or, worse, cooked up the powdered stuff.¬†Yes, shocking I know.¬†But, I learnt from my mum‚Ķ.monkey see, monkey do…

So when cleaning out my pantry one Sunday recently, I found a container of custard powder hiding at the back, and pulled it out to throw away. But then I had a¬†‘Moment’.

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I love my Mum’s handwriting…

I recalled some biscuits mum used to make that I loved: “Kifflitzers”. Custard powder was a ‘key’ ingredient. She’d given me the recipe (hand written of course) so as a tribute to her, I decided to make some before I ditched the processed rubbish for good. It’s kind of poetic and yet ironic: I’ll never see my mum again, and I’ll never buy custard powder again, so I’ll actually never make these biscuits according to this recipe again either.¬†Even though¬†they tasted SO GOOD‚Ķ

My ‘obligatory’ changes to her original recipe, included opting for gluten free flour and vegan-friendly coconut¬†oil instead of butter, and they turned out entirely different to Mum’s biccies, but still ridiculously more-ish. I have to add however, that some custard powders are NOT gluten free so check the ingredient list on the product packaging carefully.

My ingredient list included ‚ÖĒ cup Buckwheat flour, 125gm almond meal, ¬Ĺ cup coconut sugar, 2 tablespoons custard powder, 90gms coconut oil (liquefied), 1 teaspoon vanilla (I used my homemade essence), approx 45gm almond milk.

The method is VERY simple. It takes less time than the oven takes to pre-heat (to 180¬ļC, by the way)! Because I’m a (proud) Thermomix owner, I freshly milled most of the¬†dry ingredients first: placing the (‚ÖĒ cup) Buckwheat seeds and coconut sugar in together (approximately 10 seconds, Speed 9)¬†then setting aside, so I could mill the (125gm) almonds into meal. I added the buckwheat & sugar mix back in to the Thermomix bowl, with the custard powder and mixed on speed 4 for a few seconds. For Non-Thermies, basically all you have to do is (sift &) mix all your dry ingredients together.food fervour

Add the vanilla, coconut oil & milk and mix well (Thermies 30 seconds, Speed 4-5) then mould spoonfuls onto oven trays lined with baking paper, with a little space between as they will flatten & spread during the cooking process. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending upon your oven. Because of the high oil content, they will remain soft & ‘chewy’ even after cooling. Deeelish!