Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

Chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes are packed full of rich chocolate, tangy strawberries, and creamy vanilla coconut buttercreamYou never need a reason for a cupcake, but, a birthday is a perfectly good one if you’re really looking for an excuse. We celebrated my mom’s birthday recently with a wonderful dinner at a new to me Indian restaurant, Indigma, which I highly recommend if you’re in or around the Baltimore area. They have a vegan and gluten free menu in addition to an extensive offering of traditional and modern Indian dishes.

Chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes are packed full of rich chocolate, tangy strawberries, and creamy vanilla coconut buttercreamDessert was, of course, cupcakes. More specifically, chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes. They are packed full of chocolate flavor with both cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Strawberry jam in mixed right into the batter, giving fruity flavor to every bite. The simple vanilla-spiked coconut oil buttercream rounds out these cupcakes, perfectly balancing the rich chocolate and tangy strawberry. Top with cacao nibs for a bit of crunch, or fresh strawberries for a lovely pop of color. Better yet, use both!

Strawberry jam, in addition to lending wonderful flavor and texture, takes place of a big portion of the oil that’s generally found in cupcake batter. Coconut oil makes for a beautiful looking, and even better tasting frosting. It is just as rich and creamy as a traditional buttercream. I promise nobody will miss the butter – in fact, they might be happier without it!

Chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes are packed full of rich chocolate, tangy strawberries, and creamy vanilla coconut buttercreamChocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream

Cupcakes

1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup strawberry jam*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
12 teaspoons strawberry jam, divided*

Cacao nibs (optional)
Fresh Strawberries (optional)

Coconut Buttercream

1 cup coconut oil at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond milk, plus more if needed

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or line with paper muffin liners and standard 12-cup muffin tin.

Combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl. combine coconut sugar, sunflower oil, strawberry jam, and vanilla extract. Pour in almond milk mixture and stir until incorporated.

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour in wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each muffin liner about 3/4 full. Drop a teaspoon of strawberry jam into the center of each muffin liner.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Buttercream

In a medium bowl, beat coconut oil with a hand mixer until it begins to get fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla extract and almond milk and beat for another 3-5 minutes, until the buttercream is light and fluffy.

Once completely cooled, spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each cupcake. Garnish with cacao nibs or fresh strawberries, if desired.

Store in an airtight container, unrefrigerated (without strawberries), for up to 5 days.

*Notes:  Any flavor of jam or other fruit puree may be substituted for strawberry jam in an equal amount. Do not use Dutch processed cocoa powder, as the cupcakes will not rise properly.

Chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes are packed full of rich chocolate, tangy strawberries, and creamy vanilla coconut buttercream

Is cake a must for you on birthdays? I personally am not a cake fan (though frosting is a different story). I much prefer creamy, spoonable desserts like avocado chocolate mousse, or just a really good piece of chocolate. Clearly, chocolate is required. If cake isn’t for you, either, what are your favorite birthday treats?

Chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes are packed full of rich chocolate, tangy strawberries, and creamy vanilla coconut buttercream

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesI. Love. Dates. Probably a little bit too much, but I suppose it’s better than going through bags full of Sour Patch Kids and gummy bears (childhood favorites) every day. Some people try to convince me that they don’t like dates, but I never believe them. Who doesn’t like creamy, caramelly, sometimes even butterscotchy morsels of goodness? Nobody. Unless they’re crazy. And even if, by some great anomaly, they don’t like dates in their naked form, then they’ll surely appreciate them when they’re morphed into rich, chocolatey brownies.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BItesWith powerhouse ingredients like dates, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and coconut, these brownies are more than just dessert. I like to eat a couple of these before climbing, a workout, or a run. The natural sugars in the dates provide a quick burst of energy that’s ready to use right away, while the chia seeds, full of fiber and protein, give these bites a bit of staying power. The ancient Incan civilization, it is said, used chia seeds as one of its main sources of energy. Cacao powder is notoriously high in antioxidants, and lucuma, which comes from Peru (and is, apparently, more popular in ice cream form than chocolate or vanilla) provides us with plentiful beta carotene, and a rich maple flavor.

Trust me when I say that these bites will beat out any store bought energy bar, every time, at a fraction of the cost. You’ll want to eat the whole batch in one sitting (though they’re quite filling, so I doubt you’ll be able to).

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesChocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Ingredients

•2 cups packed pitted dates*
•1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
•1/4 cup chia seeds*
•1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)*
•1/4 cup lucuma powder*
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
•2 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
•cocoa powder for dusting (optional)*

Place dates, coconut, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and optional (though recommended) vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients come together in a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pulse in chocolate chips if desired.

Remove mixture from food processor a tablespoon at a time and roll into balls. Place onto parchment paper and dust with cocoa powder if desired. Alternatively, you can press the mixture into a parchment-lined pan, then cut into bars or squares.

Notes: Any moist variety of date will work here. I used a combination or Medjool, Barhi (my absolute favorite – they literally taste like butterscotch), and Deeglet Noor. Nuts.com has a large selection of dates with great descriptions for each. My chia seeds and cacao powder also come from Nuts.com. If you don’t have lucuma powder, you may use an additional 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in its place. I use Nativas Naturals lucuma powder, which can be found here. Other ideas for rolling your bites in: shredded coconut, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and sesame seeds would all complement the brownie bites well.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesAre dates a regular part of your diet (please say yes!)? What are your favorite power foods?

Double Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

double chocolate mocha oat squaresToday I want to talk about snacks. We’ve talked about snacks before, but not all snacks are created equal. The best kinds of snacks (in my opinion) contain chocolate. Double doses of chocolate (or even triple, if you like). What makes chocolate taste better? Coffee. Just a little bit, to deepen the flavor. And vanilla, because I like it (don’t you?). Sea salt, too, because what goes better with chocolate than sea salt?

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThis is one of those recipes that I created as I went. I had no clear end in sight when I walked into the kitchen, outside of the fact that I needed a new snack. And that a portable snack would be most ideal. Apparently, I was in the mood for chocolate, because that’s the first item I grabbed off the shelf, shortly followed by oats, another staple ingredient, and freshly made sunflower seed butter (which has also seen a lot of use around here lately).

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThese bars are dense and chewy, full of wonderful texture, and completely satisfying. Melty chocolate complements crunchy sunflower seeds and chewy rolled oats. A hint of coffee gives these bars a complex flavor and makes them a bit more mysterious than your average granola bar. They’re great for a pre-workout energy boost, quick breakfast (chocolate for breakfast, yes please!), or even drizzled with extra chocolate as a dessert for your Superbowl party this weekend!

double chocolate mocha oat squaresDouble Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

•1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
•1/4 cup brewed coffee*
•1/2 cup unsweetened, unsalted sunflower seed butter*
•1/3 cup turbinado sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 cup rolled oats
•1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
•2 tablespoons cocoa powder
•1/4 cup chocolate chunks
•2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line with parchment or lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the ground flaxseed and coffee. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sunflower seed butter, turbinado sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until homogenous, then pour in the flaxseed mixture and stir until completely incorporated.

Pour in the salt, rolled oats, flour, and cocoa powder, and mix until well incorporated, using your hands if necessary. The dough will be slightly crumbly. Mix in the chocolate chunks.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press down firmly, creating a 3/4 inch thick layer of dough. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and press into the dough.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until edges are just golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Notes: To give these bars a triple dose of chocolate, use my chocolate sunflower seed butter. If you do not wish to use coffee, an equal amount of a coffee substitute (such as Teeccino or Dandy Blend), or non-dairy milk may be used. If you use non-dairy milk, the bars won’t have the mocha flavor, but will work just the same.

double chocolate mocha oat squaresWhat are your favorite chocolate snacks? Do any of them do double duty as a dessert (or breakfast)? Does anyone of other great ideas for Superbowl snacks?

double chocolate mocha oat squares

Recipe Roundup

I spend hours upon hours reading blogs, scouring the internet for recipes and idea, and writing lists (so many notebooks full) of what I want to make next. But, I just realized, I’ve not shared any of these wonderful finds with you! So here it is, my first recipe roundup!

These “Thinnest Oatmeal Cookies” from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks look just wonderful. Her recipes are always simple twists on the classics, and have never failed to produce amazing results.

Source: Healthful Pursuit

I was never a fan of chocolate turtles in the past, but over the years I’ve developed a slight addiction to pecans, chocolate, and dates on their own. Leanne’s version of the classic candy looks wonderful!

Source: Have Cake Will Travel

I’ve had gingerbread on the mind lately (gingerbread biscotti, anyone? or maybe some chewy gingerbread bars?), and the more forms I can turn it into, the better. Celine’s gingerbread granola looks like the perfect treat for when cravings hit.

chocolate maple granola overheadHow about some more granola – granola clusters to be more precise. Sally has made some wonderful looking maple almond granola clusters here. If those two granolas don’t catch your eye, try my my Chocolate Chunk Maple Granola with Coconut and Dates yet. You won’t be disappointed!

These Sugar ‘n Spice Dipped Pumpkin Pretzels from Healthy Happy Life look too good to resist. Regular cinnamon sugar pretzels are hard to beat, but I think Kathy did it here!

What are your favorite recent recipe finds? Do you have any favorite cozy winter meals or snacks? When it’s cold outside, I just want to stay in the kitchen and bake up my own storm (since, apparently we won’t be getting any snow storms here in Maryland).

Salted Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter

chocolate sunflower seed butter cutting board

Growing up, I was never the greatest fan of nut butters. While all of my friends gladly ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, ants on a log for snacks (one of Justin’s favorites), and spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the spoon, I preferred other things. Things like hummus, olives, and mustard, usually with pretzels or pita, for every meal and snack (besides breakfast). I just didn’t get peanut butter. Things have changed over the years, and I slowly began to realize the greatness not just of peanut butter, but of all nut butters. In fact, it wasn’t until I became vegan that nut butters became a regular part of my diet (not out of necessity, but because I truly began to enjoy them).

The real epiphany came when I discovered Peanut Butter and Co., which produces many wonderful varieties of peanut butter such as Mighty Maple (my personal favorite), Dark Chocolate Dreams, and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. Around the same time, I also found Justin’s Nut Butter, which helped me develop an obsession with maple almond butter (do we see a theme here)?

chocolate sunflower seed butter cutting board

These nut butters, while quite irresistible, are also quite pricy. Which is why I began to make my own. There are endless flavor combinations, and they can be made at the fraction of the cost of store-bought brands. I now only buy the above-mentioned nut butters as a special treat, but make my own on a regular basis. I’ve tried countless variations, and at this point it’s hard to choose one absolute favorite. But, I think I can safely say that this is my favorite sunflower seed butter.

If you’ve never tried sunflower seed butter, you’re in for a real treat. Roasted sunflower seeds transform into a very creamy and satisfying butter by themselves, but the addition of chocolate, sea salt, and just a touch of coconut sugar here make this feel decadent and dessert-like. I have been known to enjoy a spoonful or two straight from the jar before it ever hits my intended delivery vehicle. Why waste a perfectly good apple when what you really want is the dreamy chocolate sunflower seed butter on top? Another plus? If you’re allergic to tree nuts, or know someone else who is, this sunflower seed butter is perfect for you (or to share, but you probably won’t want to).

chocolate sunflower seed butter jar

Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter

Ingredients

•1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
•2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (I used 82% cacao content)
•1/2 teaspoon sea salt
•1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
•2 teaspoons coconut sugar, plus more if desired*

1. Place sunflower seeds in the bowl of a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

2. Add chocolate, sea salt, vanilla, and coconut sugar, and process until the chocolate is completely incorporated.

3. Taste, and adjust sweetener according to your preference.

Notes: Any granulated sugar can be substituted for the coconut sugar, but I do not recommend using any liquid sweetener, as it affects the texture of the finished product.

chocolate sunflower seed butter knifeHave your snack preferences changed over the years, or have your tastebuds remained unchanged? Any other favorite homemade or store-bought nut butters? What is your favorite way to enjoy nut/seed butters?

Gingerbread Biscotti with Sparkling Lemon Glaze

IMG_6435

Hi! It feels like forever (a week) since I’ve written anything here. Much too long of a break. Hopefully by now you’re not all on gingerbread overload, because you’re in for a treat here. I feel obligated to make gingerbread in some form every holiday season, and even though I technically fulfilled my duty with the gingerbread bars I recently made, I felt like something else, something just a bit more dessert-like, was in order. And along came these gingerbread biscotti, with lemon glaze no less. They are dense and a bit chewy – not quite as dry as your typical biscotti (which I am not such a fan of), and are covered in the most wonderful lemon glaze. A bit of turbinado sugar gives the glaze a nice crunch, and a nice sparkle. If you’re a gingerbread lover, you mustn’t miss this recipe, and if you haven’t yet been convinced of the wonders of gingerbread, hopefully this recipe will persuade you otherwise.

IMG_6427Gingerbread Biscotti with Sparkling Lemon Glaze

Biscotti

•2/3 cup turbinado sugar
•1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
•1/2 cup sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
•2 tablespoons almond milk
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

•1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
•2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•2 teaspoons ground ginger
•1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
•1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
•A pinch of salt

•1/4 cup raisins
•2 tablespoons chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips
•2 tablespoons chopped raw almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line with parchment paper or lightly grease a baking sheet.

1. Combine sugar, molasses, oil, almond milk, vanilla, and flaxseed in a small bowl, and whisk together until homogenous.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, spices, baking powder, and salt. Pour into sugar mixture and stir until fully incorporated.

3. Fold in raisins, chocolate, and almonds.

4. On your prepared baking sheet, form two logs about 12 inches long by 3 inches wide. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and transfer biscotti to a wire rack to cool for at least 45 minutes.

5. Once the biscotti have cooled, preheat the oven to 325°F. Cut biscotti into 1/2 inch thick slices and rearrange on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on how dry you want your biscotti.

6.  Allow biscotti to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_6380Sparkling Lemon Glaze

•1 cup powdered sugar
•Zest of two lemons
•Juice of two lemons
•1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1. Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until homogenous. Stir in lemon zest and turbinado sugar.

2. Pour the glaze over cooled biscotti. Allow to set for at least an hour before serving.

The biscotti can be stored in an airtight container, unrefrigerated, for up to two weeks.

IMG_6415

How were the holidays for you? We had a wonderful dinner and were even able to take a break from cooking in the middle of the day for a nice walk.

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Is there a certain dessert (or other food) that you make every holiday season? What about other traditions?

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Chocolate Chunk Maple Granola with Coconut and Dates

IMG_5936Granola is a staple in my kitchen, and I cycled through recipe after recipe, with many failures and simply mediocre recipes along the way. That is, until I found this gem of a recipe from David Lebovitz (who originally found it from self-proclaimed domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson). While I do really enjoy big chunks of granola from time to time, this recipe produces a lighter result, thanks first, to the crisp rice cereal, and second, to the slow, gentle baking.

This granola is full of flavor and texture thanks to the crunchy pecans, flaky coconut, chewy dates, and rich chocolate that melts with each bite. Of course, you can substitute your favorite dried fruits and nuts for the pecans and dates, but I must say that this is a winning combination.

IMG_5973

Chocolate Chunk Maple Granola with Coconut and Dates

Inspired by this recipe from David Lebovitz.

Ingredients
•4 cups rolled oats*
•1 cup crisp rice cereal (not puffed rice)*
•1 cup chopped pecans
•1 cup sesame seeds
•1 cup large coconut flakes
•1/4 cup packed brown sugar
•1 teaspoon sea salt

•3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or other fruit puree)
•1/3 cup brown rice syrup
•1/4 cup maple syrup
•2 tablespoons coconut oil
•1 teaspoon maple extract (or vanilla extract)

•1 cup chopped dates
•1/2 cup dark chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets (preferably jelly roll pans) with parchment.

1. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, crisp rice cereal, pecans, sesame seeds, coconut, brown sugar, and sea salt.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the applesauce, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, coconut oil, and maple extract until warm.

3. Pour the fruit mixture over the dry mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the mixture and spread evenly onto prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake the granola for approximately 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deeply golden.

5. Remove granola from the oven, stir in dates, and let cool completely. Once cool, stir in the chocolate chips. You can stir in half of the chocolate chips while the granola is still warm, if you prefer that they melt into the mixture.

The granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

*Notes: For a gluten free version, be sure your rolled oats, crisp rice cereal, and chocolate chips are gluten free.

IMG_5931What is your favorite granola recipe? Or, if you don’t have one, what would your perfect bowl include?