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Hello, All!

Yes, it’s been a long time.  But in all honesty, my waistline desperately needed (and, quite frankly, still needs) a break from all the baking.  And no, that’s not me in the photo, but it captures my spirit pretty darn well.  Thanks to the internet for giving me access to photos that aren’t mine, and that I have no business looking at.

However, I was having a major chocolate craving today, and quite simply had to do something about it.  And then it came to me: NUTELLA.

This is an awesome recipe, and tastes just like the real stuff, to the best of my recollection.  I’m not going to lie – by the time I was finished making this stuff, I was eating it out of the bowl by the spoonful.  I couldn’t even stop for a second to find something to put it on.  It is awesome, and will definitely satisfy your cravings!

This recipe calls for hazelnut oil.  I would recommend purchasing it, because I can pretty much guarantee that you will be making this again.  Remember that nut oils must be kept in the fridge!  Nut oils are prone to going rancid rather quickly.

Furthermore, hazelnut oil can easily be used in salads, or as a finishing touch on rice salads or stir fries.  However, if you really don’t want to shell out for the oil, substitute with something neutral OR with another nut oil.  For example, I was contemplating substituting with canola oil and a splash of toasted sesame oil, simply because I forgot I had hazelnut oil in the house.

I recommend serving this with something salty (like crackers), because really there’s nothing better than chocolate and salt.  Rice cakes or your favourite bread work just great.

Homemade Nutella

1 ½ cup hazelnuts, skins on

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 – ½ cup agave nectar

1 ½ tblsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tblsp hazelnut oil

¼ – ½ cup milk of choice (I used vanilla flavoured rice milk with great success)

Pinch of salt

Roast hazelnuts in the oven at 350°C for 8 – 10 minutes, until they are very lightly browned.  Keep a close eye on them to make sure they do not burn.  The best way to tell when nuts are finished toasting is to smell them.  Once you can smell a nice nutty odour, they are finished.

Put the hazelnuts in the food processor and blend into about butter.  This should take about 5 – 7 minutes.  Scrape down the sides as necessary.

Add all of the rest of the ingredients except for the milk, and blend fully.  With the agave, start with a third of a cup.  If you want the nutella to be sweeter, you can add in more with the milk at the end.

Add the milk (and more agave, if desired), beginning with a ¼ of a cup.  Add as much milk as you like; the milk is solely for consistency. 

Store nutella in a glass container with a lid or similar covering in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

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I initially had intended to give a review of the chocolate peanut butter tart recipe found at Elana’s Pantry (http://www.elanaspantry.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-tart/).  Don’t get me wrong – she has a good recipe, and it is well worth trying.  Her recipe got great reviews from my test subjects, and is highly recommended.

However, I am a little tired of having all of my chocolate desserts taste like coconut.  Or maybe I am just a little sick of coconut.  It really could go either way.  So I have created my own version, tweaking her recipe here and there to make it my own. 

This is the kind of dessert that is perfect for entertaining: it’s full of flavour, and has a beautiful, lustrous appearance.  Please, don’t mistake the crappiness of my photos for an unattractive tart – it truly is attractive.  I just happen to be a horrible photographer.  It would be even richer with some tofu or coconut whipped cream.  The saltiness of the crust is a fantastic combination with the sweetness of the filling.  It’s a real showstopper.  And most importantly you can really taste the chocolate!

Crust:

2 ¼ cups unsalted organic peanuts, dry roasted

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp baking soda

4 tblsp grapeseed or canola oil

2 ½ tblsp agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Buy peanuts already roasted.  It is easier, and will ensure that the crust has a nice, full, peanut-y taste to it.

Grind the peanuts in a food processor into a fine meal.  Be careful not to over-process and make peanut butter.

Add the salt and baking soda and pulse briefly to combine.  Then add the oil and agave nectar and continue to pulse until a dough is formed.  Make the dough as coarse or as fine as you prefer.

Press the dough evenly into a greased 9” pie plate.  Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool in the fridge.

Filling:

1 ½ cups homemade nut milk (almond or peanut) (use 1 cup of blanched almonds or peanuts to make)

Pinch of sea salt

2 tblsp kudzu, dissolved in a small amount of cold water (approx. ¼ cup)

3 tblsp agave nectar

1/8 tsp stevia

1 tblsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup good quality chocolate, preferably dark or semi-sweet*

*If using dark chocolate, you may want to increase the amount of stevia to ¼ tsp

Note: it is extremely important to dissolve the kudzu before adding it to the milk.  The pudding will have lumps in it if you don’t.

To make the nut milk, cover 1 cup of of blanched almonds or peanuts with water, and soak overnight in the fridge (up to 12 hours).   Drain and rinse the nuts.  Add the nuts and 1 ¾ cups filtered water to a blender.  Blend until completely mixed, 1 -2 minutes.  Pour the mixture through a fine wire sieve or cheesecloth into a bowl.  This recipe will make approximately 1 ½ cups of nut milk.  It is important to make your own nut milk, as the store bought ones won’t be nearly thick enough.

In a medium saucepan, heat the nut milk and salt over medium-high heat until boiling.  Add the dissolved kudzu and whisk briefly over the heat, until you can feel the mixture thickening.  Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the agave, stevia, and vanilla.  Let the mixture stand for a few minutes to cool slightly, and then add chocolate.  Stir continuously until the chocolate has melted completely.  If the chocolate is left to melt on its own, it may burn.

Chill the pudding for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.  Remove from fridge and pour into the cooled pie crust, and refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours, until the filling has fully set.

Alright, I’ll be honest: this was not the recipe I had in mind when I started writing it.  I wanted something with a crust more like a cookie, and a soft, sponge-y top.  I realized half-way through making the recipe that it wasn’t what I had in mind, but thankfully it all worked out in the end.

These bars resemble banana bread in texture; they have a large, course, open crumb, and a rich, full flavour.  They are perfect for that mid-afternoon slump, since they’re full of protein, but also have that hint of sweetness to give you a bit of a jolt.  That’s what it all about…

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 pan and set aside.

1/2 cup rice flour (brown or white, your choice)

2/3 cup almond meal

1/4 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup potato starch

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

2 tblsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1 jar jam of choice (I used raspberry, approx. 235mL, one jar of Crofter’s)

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Combine wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Add wet to dry, and stir until just combined.

Take about 1/3 of the batter and line the bottom of the pan with it.  Take your jam of choice, put it in a bowl, and give it a little stir to soften it up.  Lightly spread the jam over the batter, covering it completely.  Pour the rest of the batter over the jam. 

Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes.  The top will be a deep golden brown.

Yum!  This is another recipe from my new favourite obsession, The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.  I found this one on their excellent website http://www.nourishingmeals.com/

It is so hard to duplicate the moistness of brownies without using regular flour, eggs, sugar, or chocolate.  This recipe uses cocoa powder, making it vegan as well.  They have used almond flour as a base, which is an excellent choice.  If for some reason you can’t have almond flour, any other nut meal would work fine – macadamia nut meal in particular sounds especially delicious.  I can’t recommend using something like rice flour or sorghum flour, simply because then the moistness of these brownies would disappear.

While I used their recipe as a base, I did modify it somewhat to suit my own personal tastes.  The version listed here is my own take on their recipe – it has only been modified very slightly, and the results are delicious!

3 cups almond flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tblsp tapioca starch

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/4cup coconut milk (I used light, simply because it was what I had on hand)

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tblsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease muffin tins, or line with paper cups.  I used mini-muffin tins here, but if you only have regular sized ones, those are ok too.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl.  Break up the cocoa powder and almond flour with your fingers, if necessary.  Get those hands dirty.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. 

Combine with the wet ingredients with dry ingredients.  Using spoons, fill the tins up about 3/4 full.  Fill any empty muffin tins with water, to ensure even baking.

If using mini muffin tins, bake for about 20 minutes.  If using regular sized muffin tins, bake for about 25 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then turn the muffins out.  But be careful, they will still be extremely delicate!

These brownies are ok on their own, but definitely better iced!  Again, this recipe is from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen…

1/2 cup chocolate (bittersweet or dark is best)

1/4 cup coconut milk

2 tblsp agave nectar

Place all ingredients into a small pot and heat over a low heat.  Stir continuously until melted and thick, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Spoon the warm chocolate over cooled muffins.  I put all my muffins on a piece of wax paper and iced them on that – it avoids a mess.  Top with shredded coconut, if desired.

This is an incredibly versatile and delicious recipe that is simply good to have in your repertoire.  It’s one that most cooks have a variation of, and this is mine.  It really couldn’t be more straightforward, and is an excellent way of getting those dark leafies into your diet.

You can use any dark leafy that you like.  I used Dino Kale, which is one of my favourites. 

The best thing is that you can literally add whatever you like (or just have on hand) to the salad – beets, shredded carrots, seeds, nuts, peppers…the list goes on, obviously, limited only by your imagination and taste.  One of my faves to add is pumpkin seeds.

The salt and the citrus break down the fibres of the greens, making them more tender and easier to digest.  So don’t leave out the salt!!  But don’t worry about leaving the dressing on for too long.  While this salad is best enjoyed after the 30-minute marinade, the greens are strong enough to stand up to the acidity and salt for a few days.

And the recipe is….

1 bunch chopped/sliced dark leafy greens such as kale, dandelion greens, chard, or mustard greens, ribs removed

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice                     

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 cloves crushed, smashed, or diced garlic      

Put the garlic, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice in a glass bowl large enough to accommodate the greens.  Whisk briefly with a fork.

Add your greens of choice.  It is best to use your fingers to coat the leaves with the dressing, but if you’re a bit squeamish about this kind of stuff, tongs will work too.

Massage the dressing into the leaves, to ensure that they are fully coated.  Let the salad marinate for approximately 1/2 hour.  Add your accompaniments of choice, and enjoy! 

Keep leftover salad in the refrigerator to enjoy another time.  This salad can last 2 to 3 days in the fridge covered.

This recipe is taken from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, one of my new absolute favourite references for allergen-free cooking.  I was lucky enough to receive my copy of their cookbook in the mail a few weeks ago, and am just itching to work my way through it. 

I highly recommend purchasing their cookbook, as well as a visit to their website, as it has a lot of tips and recipes on it.  Their cookbook is available for purchase on their website.  A slightly modified version of this recipe can be found at their website, here – http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2009/02/gluten-free-vegan-sugar-free-chocolate.html

The genius part about this recipe is the use of beets.  While they use prunes in place of beets in the recipe on their website, I love using the beets.  Adding beets to the batter is a real old-fashioned way to make a cake, which makes me enjoy their recipe even more.  It’s a real throwback to the way people used to bake – so long ago that it’s virtually been forgotten. 

The beets add a tonne of moisture to the cake, not to mention a fair amount of nutrition, which gives you a great excuse to eat as much as you like!  I used golden beets, rather than red beets, simply because red beets are one of the few foods that I’m not that big a fan of.  That said, the taste of the beets is so subtle that I wouldn’t hesitate to use red beets if they were all I had access to. You wouldn’t even know they were in there unless someone told you that the cake was made with beets.

Be sure to cook the cake all the way through, otherwise the flavour of the beets does start to come through.  Also, make sure that the beets are very finely grated; give them a chop with a knife if necessary, or even use a food processor to grate them. 

The flavour of this cake is rich, moist, and chocolatey.  It tastes best when served with a berry sauce, coconut whipped cream, or both!!  This cake truly is succulent.  Mmmm…Enjoy!

Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1 /2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 heaping cup grated cooked beets, about 1 large peeled beet

1/2 cup melted virgin coconut oil

1 cup maple syrup

1 cup water

2 tblsp apple cider vinegar

1 tblsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 °  Oil a bundt pan with coconut oil.

In a medium sized bowl, place the brown rice flour, tapioca flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and sea salt; mix together well with a fork (or a whisk).

For the 1 cup of grated cooked beets, first trim the ends off of the large beet then cut it into quarters.  Place the quartered beet into a steamer basket in a pot filled with about 2 cups of water.  Place a lid on the pot and steam for about 30 – 45 minutes or until beets are very tender.  Let cool then remove the peel and grate.  Measure out 1 heaping cup.

In a separate bowl, place the grated beets, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, water, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla.  Mix well with a wire whisk.  pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well, though be careful not to overmix.

Immediately pour the batter into the oiled bundt pan and place into the oven.  Bake for 25-30 minutes for a metal pan.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes in the pan.  Then flip it over onto a cake platter or place.  I actually let it cool for 20 minutes – it will slice better if the cake is on the cooler side.

Hi All!

FYI – there are two new pages here for your baking and reference pleasure: “The Well-Stocked Pantry” and “Favourite Cookbooks”.  The individual tabs can be found at the top of the page.

Recommendations for either page are always welcome!