Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vegan Matcha White Chocolates

I have a thing for matcha lately.  Whether it is my cup of mid-morning matcha at work or a smoothie or some chia breakfast porridge, I love the stuff.  Everything about it is appealing to me, from its beautiful green hue to its earthy addictive aroma and flavor.  I love it in desserts paired with sweet flavors like almond, vanilla or white chocolate.  Since I had some raw cacao butter on hand, I wanted to make some matcha white chocolates because they sounded absolutely heavenly.  I am actually more of a vanilla girl than a chocolate girl (shocking I know), so these were right up my alley.

I thought I would mold them into cute little hearts as well, since Valentine's Day is just around the corner and they might make wonderful gifts (if they last that long with me around).  I admit the process of making these was a bit of an experiment and I was not sure how they would turn out.  The last time I tried to make a white chocolate with cacao butter I ended up throwing it out because I ruined it.  I had my fingers crossed this time. I used a mixture of  raw cacao butter and raw coconut oil for the base, with coconut sugar to sweeten.  The coconut sugar did not completely dissolve the first time I made some, so the second time around I ground it finer before adding it and it helped.  They still had a little bit of a layered look the second time around because it sank a little, but they tasted uniformly sweet and delicious throughout so I did not mind.

They were heavenly, and they melted on my tongue into sweet deliciousness.  I would not mind (would love) a box of these for Valentine's Day if someone gave them to me who had made them and knew me well enough to know I would appreciate these more than regular chocolates. Because (most of) us women appreciate creativity and things which are out of the ordinary with thought and time put into them.  If you are reading this and your lover loves matcha, you might have to get on making some for them as a special treat!

Vegan Matcha White Chocolates
Makes about 24 small chocolates

1 1/2 cup raw cocoa butter, grated or finely chopped
3/4 cup raw coconut oil
1/2 cup fine raw palm coconut sugar*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp matcha powder

In a double boiler, gently melt the cacao butter over medium-low heat, whisking often. Add the coconut oil and heat until both oils are uniform in texture. Add in the coconut sugar, vanilla and matcha and whisk to dissolve sugar until the mixture is uniform.
Pour into molds. 
Let the mixture cool until hard. Put in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour until they are hard. Pop out of the molds.

*Grind regular coconut sugar to fine to make fine sugar.  This dissolves better in the chocolate mixture.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Raw Maca Mocha Love Brownies

Everyone has one of THOSE days once in a while.  You know, the ones where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you get to work and realize your pants are on inside out, you keep messing things up or dropping things, and you feel like you can't do anything right...then the traffic is horrible on the way home and when you get there you go to make a cup of tea and drop your favorite mug, shattering it to a million pieces.  Yeah, I know you get it, we all have them. But you know what always makes days like those better?  A hug?  Yes, and also some raw vegan brownie making.  Because who can stay unhappy when making a batch of brownies. Sampling the batter brings an instant smile to my face.  

And, why not make them maca mocha brownies for an extra energy boost.  If you manage to not eat all of the batter and brownies yourself, you can share them with your significant other or family and their day will be made better as well.  So it is a win win for everyone!  That all said, you need not wait until you have a terrible horrible no good very bad day to make these brownies, you can feel the brownie love on any day you wish, so why wait?

Raw Maca Mocha Love Brownies
Makes 12

 4 cups raw coconut flour (home made is preferred*)
2 cup sprouted buckwheat flour (or additional coconut flour)
3/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup raw cacao powder

2 Tbsp maca powder
2 cups soft medjool dates, pitted
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 Tbsp coffee extract
2 cups chopped raw sweet apple or pear
1/4 cup filtered water (or as needed)
1 cup raw walnut or almond butter

Chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup raw coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
2 Tbsp raw coconut nectar (or your choice liquid raw sweetener)
a pinch sea salt
For the dough, in a food processor, combine the coconut flour, buckwheat flour, flax seed, cacao powder, maca powder, dates and salt, and process until the dates are very finely chopped and it is all well combined.  Remove from the food processor.  To the processor, add the vanilla, coffee, apple, 1/4 cup water, walnut butter and process until smooth. Add back the dry ingredients, and process until smooth like cookie dough (if it seems too dry, add a little more water 1 tsp at a time). Then spread and press the brownies into a 1 1/2 inch square on a lined dehydrator tray.  Dehydrate for about 6 -8 hours until a little dry on the outside, then cool and cut into12 squares.  Whisk together the chocolate glaze ingredients, then spoon over the brownies and allow to set a few minutes until dry. Enjoy!  Store in the fridge.

*To make coconut flour, buzz 4 cups finely shredded dried coconut in a high speed blender until fine like flour (but not too long or it will turn to butter.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Raw White Chocolate Coconut Rose Macaroons

Raw cacao butter is one of the most heavenly aromas you can ever experience.  It is like close your eyes, relax and go to your happy place wonderful.  I had just some last week, and I asked my Mom to smell it and afterwords she told me that I needed to make her some coconut white chocolate macaroons with it.  The good daughter that I am, of course I was going to make some.  I thought it was a wonderful idea, and I agreed to on the condition that I could add a touch of rosewater as well to make them even more heavenly.

The dough (if you would even call it dough, well macaroon mixture) for these tasted seriously amazing. I am sure I would have ended up with a few more macaroons if it were not so tasty because I had to keep sampling it.  It was like the best white chocolate infused into a macaroon with the scent of rosewater.  They were good as they were but I decided to dip them in dark chocolate as well to make it even better.  My Mom, the person I made these for in the first place loved them. In fact, she ate one before I had even let them set or dipped them in chocolate and her facial expression was priceless.  I think a container of these might just be a perfect Valentine's gift for any coconut lover in your life.

Raw White Chocolate Coconut Rose Macaroons
Makes 12 small macaroons

3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
a pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup raw coconut nectar, maple syrup, or raw local honey

2 Tbsp melted cacao butter, warmed to liquid
1/8 tsp beet powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp rosewater
2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup chopped raw dark chocolate

For the macaroons, place 3/4 cup coconut, and sea salt in the food processor and process until fine as flour and well combined. Add the nectar, cacao butter, beet powder, rosewater and vanilla and process until the mixture holds together. Add coconut and pulse until the mixture holds together. Shape and lightly squeeze the mixture into balls (I say squeeze, because it is easier to squeeze them together as they are delicate and rolling makes them fall apart), and place in the freezer until very firm. Meanwhile, melt the raw chocolate.  When the coconut macaroons are hard, dip them into the chocolate and place on a foil lined sheet.  Place back in the freezer.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vegan Orange Blossom Layer Cake

Last Sunday was amazing.  By amazing, I don't mean I did anything out of the ordinary like traveling to a warm place away from Minnesota and having a crazy weekend.  I mean amazing in the sense that I enjoyed all of the little normal things I did and was grateful to be able to enjoy them.  We are having a particularly warm weather stretch this last 2 weeks, and it was total ice and snow melt down.  35F degrees in January is freaking awesome!  I was excited to go running not all bundled up with clear paths in the sunshine!  Just being out made me happy.  Then later that day, enjoying more fresh air on a walk with Eric and seeing the most beautiful raspberry smoothie colored sunset! Yes, that is how I describe my favorite sunsets here.

Not only did I get out and enjoy the great outdoors, I made this fabulous vegan layer cake as well.  Involving oranges as the main component...which are amazing this time of the year.  But not only that, I made a frosting with cacao butter in it that tasted like white chocolate!  Normally I do not have cacao butter in my pantry, but I decided to splurge a little and use it sparingly.

 This cake smelled amazing while it was baking, the aromas of orange and vanilla filled my home.  If a smell can bring you joy, this one definitely does. The cake itself even un-frosted tasted wonderful. How do I know this?  Yes I ate all the trimmings because that is one of the best parts of being a baker.  Once the frosting was added I knew it would be even more heavenly.  Not only did I add that white chocolate component to the frosting, I added a touch of orange flower water as well to make the cake even more aromatic.  This cake tasted like happiness. It was a wonderful contribution to my amazing day.  See what I mean?  I did nothing out of the ordinary and it all made me happy.  That is how life should be.  Enjoy the little things.

Vegan Orange Blossom Layer Cake
Makes 1 6 inch 4 layer cake
2 6 inch cake pans

1 3/4 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquid
2 Tbsp organic orange zest
1 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cider vinegar

4 cups young coconut meat*

2 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours and drained well 
3/4 cup coconut water
3/4 cup raw coconut nectar, maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2  tsp sea salt

seeds of one vanilla bean, or 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange flower water
1/2 cup coconut butter, warmed to liquid

1/4 cup raw cacao butter, warmed to liquid

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Line two six-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with parchment paper. Coat parchment paper and pan sides lightly with coconut oil so that the cake doesn't stick and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment fit to the pan.
Whisk flour, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well.
Whisk oil , zest, orange juice, vanilla extract together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended.
Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
Cool cake completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. Cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto platter; peel off parchment paper. Let cool completely, then place in the fridge to chill until very cold to make slicing easier. When chilled, slice cakes horizontally in half so that you have 4 layers.
Meanwhile, to make the frosting, combine all ingredients but the coconut butter and cacao butter in a high speed blender or food processor and process until smooth.  With the motor running, add the coconut butter and cacao butter and process a minute more.  Pour the frosting into a bowl and let sit in the fridge until the consistency of whipped cream. 
When ready to frost, place one cake layer on a plate. spread frosting about 1/2 inch thick over the first layer, then top with the second.  Repeat the frosting, then another cake layer, then more frosting then the last cake layer. Spread frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake.  Store cake in the fridge.
*If you do not have access to young coconut meat, you can use 4 cups soaked cashews instead along with the other cashews.
**if you would like a 4 layer 9 inch cake, double this entire recipe and bake in two 9 inch cake pans.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Raw Oatmeal Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I am one of those people who prefers cookie dough to baked cookies.  It is a textural thing.  For some reason that soft texture appeals to me more than drier baked cookies.  So, it would not be unusual for me to say...whip up a batch of cookie dough just for the sole purpose of eating it as is.  Vegan cookie dough of course.  After watching one of my co workers in the deli make many batches of cookie dough one day last week at work, and my other co workers sampling it, I decided that I needed some of my own when I got home.  Raw oatmeal chocolate chunk cookie dough.  

I love cookie dough of all kinds, and this was wonderful.  I decided that what would be even better would be to make a batch of raw ice cream and stir some of the cookie dough chunks into it.  I have always enjoyed cookie dough ice cream, but have never had oatmeal cookie dough chunk, so it was about time.  Simply heavenly it was...and I would say 32F degrees is plenty warm for ice cream, after all, that is considered a winter thaw here in Minnesota!  Cookie dough aficionados this recipe is for you!

Raw Oatmeal Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Makes about 6 cups

3/4 cup raw rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp chopped sweet apple
2 Tbsp raw walnut butter or almond butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
additional 1/2 cup raw rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped raw dark chocolate

Ice Cream:
4 cups young coconut meat*
1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup date paste
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp raw walnut butter (optional for silkier ice cream)
1/4 cup raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid

For the cookie dough chunks, in a food processor, combine 3/4 cup oats, coconut, flax seed, dates, sea salt, and cinnamon and process until finely ground.  

Add the apple, walnut butter, vanilla and process until smooth and starting to hold together. Add the remaining oats and pulse briefly.  
Remove from the food processor and knead in chocolate chunks (being careful not to handle them too much because they will start to melt).  
Roll into little balls and place in the freezer while you make the ice cream.
For the ice cream, add coconut water to a high speed blender or food processor, along with young coconut, nectar, vanilla, cinnamon, walnut butter, and sea salt. Process until smooth, then with the processor running, add the coconut butter slowly and process until well incorporated, about a minute. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to directions. Remove from ice cream maker, and stir in  raw cookie dough chunks.  Pour into a freezer safe container.  
Let sit in the freezer for at least four hours or overnight to firm up to scoopable consistency. 

*If young coconut meat is unavailable, you can either substitute 4 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours, and drained or 32 oz (4 cups) full fat coconut milk (if you do not mind the recipe not being raw).  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Raw Kitchen Sink Rice

Whenever I hear "kitchen sink" in the description of anything I think to myself it must be good.  Because it means there are lots of goodies mixed in.  Think about it.  Kitchen sink cookies: an excuse to include chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, dried fruit, and whatever else tasty that you feel like throwing in. Deliciousness.  At least that is how I feel, especially if it is a dessert, but savories can be awesome in this way as well.  I made a raw rice dish last week that I deemed "kitchen sink" simply because it had seemingly random ingredients in it but it was sooo good! Like eat a large plate good.  I combined things that I had in my pantry and this is what resulted.  Just so you know, you don't always have to carefully shop with an ingredient list to eat healthy tasty food, sometimes it just happens.  I used a celeriac for my rice (my favorite raw grain substitute), added in mushrooms, carrots, broccoli stalks (yes the stalks, because that is what I had), jalapeno, herbs, tomatoes and hemp seeds.  It may seem like a weird combo but it was delicious, and that is the nature of kitchen sink!

Raw Kitchen Sink Rice
Serves 1-2

1 head celeriac (3 cups diced)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp hemp seed oil or olive oil
sea salt to taste
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 stalk celery, diced
2 scallions, sliced
1 large carrot, cut julienne
1 broccoli stalk, cut julienne
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds

Pulse the celeriac in a food processor until you have small pieces like rice.  Combine with all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well.  Serve at room temperature. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Kumquat Orange Cupcakes

 Kumquats are like nature's candy.  I say that about a lot of fruits, but seriously there is nothing like the tart sweet burst of flavor that explodes into your mouth when you bite into one.  They are the perfect little package of deliciousness.  I admit I get quite excited when I see the first organic kumquats of the season at the store. They might be a bit spendy but so worth the splurge because they are so tasty.  I bought myself a bag last week after my first sighting of them, and I decided that they deserved to be used in a delicious dessert (at least the ones that were left after snacking).

Cupcakes were my dessert of choice!  I thought I could combine them with a bit of orange and create a citrusy masterpiece.  I actually pureed the kumquats into the cake batter so that all of there flavor was throughout the cake.  It tasted amazing.  I did something a little different also and added olive oil instead of the usual coconut or almond oils I use because I love it with citrus in baked cakes and it created the most wonderful soft moist texture.  These were simply heavenly. I shared them with my Mother who I am sure I inherited my love of citrus from and she thought they were wonderful.  If you need a little sunshine in your wintery day, these should be your next project.

Vegan Kumquat Orange Cupcakes (gluten free)
Makes 8

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup organic kumquats
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups thick coconut milk (from the top of a chilled can, about two 15 oz cans worth)
1 cup coconut butter (not oil) warmed to liquid
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup organic kumquats
a pinch sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Line two 12 hole mini muffin pans with foil liners. Whisk flour, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Combine oil, juice, kumquats and vanilla extract, together in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in vinegar and stir quickly. Transfer cake batter to prepared tins, filling 2/3 full and bake 10 minutes until tester inserted into center of one comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely
To make frosting, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Place in a bowl and allow to chill in the freezer until the frosting becomes thicker, whisking about every 15 minutes (it should take about 45 minutes to an hour).  Using a pastry bag and large tip, pipe the frosting into swirls on top of each cupcake.