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This is yet another recipe that really couldn’t be easier to make, yet has maximum impact on the tastebuds!  Additionally, the recipe can be easily modified to match your specific tastes and allergies.

You can use any type of nut butter you desire; Sunbutter also works really well, but something like tahini would be too runny.

You can use any type of milk that you prefer, as long as it is not flavoured.

You can use any type of chocolate that you like.

The measurements used in the recipe are really the only things that are fixed – everything else can be modified.

It is not necessary to own a mini-cupcake pan.  You can just purchase the little mini-liners and fill them carefully by hand.  The only real benefit of the mini-cupcake pan itself is that it makes the job less messy.

Maggie’s Peanut Butter Cups

2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate that has been cut up into smaller pieces (this makes melting the chocolate that much easier)

1/4 cup milk of choice

1/4 tsp flaky salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt

Approximately 3/4 cup nut butter of choice

Line mini-cupcake pan with mini-cupcake liners. 

Place chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave for approximately 1 – 1 1/2 minutes.  Keep a very close eye on the chocolate in the microwave, as it can burn very easily.  Even if the chocolate does not look like it has melted, take it out of the microwave after 1 minute and stir it around; sometimes this is all it takes to complete the process.  If you prefer, you can melt the chocolate in a double-boiler on the stove-top.

Once the chocolate has melted, add your milk of choice and salt.  Stir to combine.

Using 2 teaspoons, spoon half a teaspoon of chocolate into each mini-cupcake liner.  Once this step has been completed, add 3/4 – 1 teaspoon of nut butter to each mini-cupcake.  Use the rest of the chocolate to cover the tops of each cup.

Refrigerate the cups until they are set (at least two hours).

If you are using a nut butter that is not very runny, you can do the same thing that I did.  I filled each liner about half-way with chocolate, then simply took 3/4 teaspoon of the nut butter, formed it very lightly in my hands into a ball, and pushed it down into the centre of the cup.  This eliminates a lot of fussing about.  However, this will only work if the nut butter is not runny.

If your nut butter is more on the liquid side, the above method will not work because the butter just sits on top of the chocolate.  The end result is a runny cup…a bit like the one I have pictured above!

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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.

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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.

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This is a quick and easy pudding that is sure to satisfy everyone.  The addition of the kuzu makes all the difference.  The texture is just like that of a pudding that uses dairy! 

(Visit my post Coconut Lime Loaf for a brief explanation of kuzu https://masteringtheartofwholesomecooking.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/coconut-lime-loaf/ )

 Vegan Chocolate Pudding

3 cans Light Coconut Milk (regular is simply too thick)

½ cup agave

¼ cup cocoa powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

8 tblsp kuzu, dissolved in 1/3 cup ice cold water

Pour coconut milk, agave, salt, and cocoa powder into medium saucepan.  Whisk mixture briskly until cocoa powder is fully incorporated.  Heat until the mixture boils, about 10 minutes. 

Once the mixture has come to a boil, add the kuzu mixture.  Whisk mixture rapidly to incorporate the kuzu; the mixture should begin to thicken fairly quickly.  Whisk for 1 – 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and add vanilla.

Refrigerate mixture for at least 2-3 hours before serving.  It is best to let it sit overnight.

Once the pudding has set, it works well as a quick and easy pie filling.  I used it in my Chocolate Gluten Free Pie Crust and couldn’t be happier.  Or more full.

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