Tag Archives: coconut

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?

Protein Packed Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins

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Whenever Justin and I go on trips, homemade snacks are a must. The more portable, the better. If I don’t know where my next meal is coming from, I get very stressed and it’s quite difficult for me to enjoy myself. As such, I generally bring a selection of homemade bars, granola, dried fruits, nuts, and some sturdy veggies, like carrots, to keep us going. I decided to change up the routine this time and go with a muffin. They’re portable, come in their own bite sized portions, and are small enough to throw in my purse on the go. I had some apples in the fridge that had seen better days, so into the batter they went. Nobody will be able to tell the difference once they’re baked into these enticing muffins. A big tub of cooked quinoa sat in the fridge, as well, just threatening to go off before I returned, so into the batter it went, too. The quinoa provided great texture and kept the muffins from drying out. As an added bonus, our muffins now have a nice dose of protein to help you through long days spent on your feet. A handful of nuts for texture, and a healthy dose of cinnamon for good measure round out this satisfying snack.

IMG_6624Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins 

Makes 12 Muffins

Wet Ingredients
•2 tablespoons flaxseed
•1/4 cup water
•1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
•1/4 cup coconut sugar
•2 tablespoons melted coconut oil*
•2 tablespoons creamy cashew butter*
•1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

Dry Ingredients
•2/3 cup whole spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
•1/4 cup almond meal
•1/4 cup brown rice flour
•2 teaspoons baking powder
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/3 cup cooked quinoa*
•2/3 cup diced apples (I used gala)
•1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)

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

1. Mix together the ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the wet ingredients.

2. In a medium bow, combine almond milk, coconut sugar, coconut oil, cashew butter, and molasses. Stir to combine, then pour in flaxseed mixture and stir until completely incorporated.

3. In  large bowl, stir together spelt flour, almond meal, rice flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until just incorporated.

5. Fold in the quinoa, apples, and hazelnuts until evenly distributed through the batter.

6. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into each muffin liner. The liners should be almost full, as the batter does not rise much.

7. Bake muffins for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: In place of coconut oil, sunflower oil or another neutral oil may be used. I prefer coconut oil for it’s heat resistant properties. Any creamy nut butter may be used in place of cashew butter, however; the flavor of stronger nut butters, such as peanut butter, may come through in the final product. If you do not have cooked quinoa on hand, an equal amount of quick oats may be substituted.

IMG_6630What are your favorite snacks to bring along on trips? Any other creative uses of quinoa?

Sweet and Salty Roasted Coconut Chips

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Are you guilty of picking the best parts out of the granola? I know, so am I. For some, myself included, it’s usually those nice big chunks of granola that go first, while the crumbs fall to the bottom of the bag and are eventually forgotten. We’ll talk about granola chunks another time, though. Today I want to talk about coconut. In the last batch of granola I made, there were irresistibly crunchy flakes of coconut strewn throughout, that I couldn’t help but pick out. Forget the chocolate, dates, and pecans. It was the coconut that I wanted. So much so, that I decided to roast up a batch of pure coconut goodness. Some of you may have experienced the recent phenomenon that is Trader Joe’s roasted coconut chips (I know Chelsey is in on the secret). My version is a bit different, but just as delicious (not to mention cheaper)!

I kept it simple here, with a basic sweet and salty combination, but I imagine that an addition of cinnamon, cocoa powder, or any other warming spice would be delicious. I can envision adding a dash of cayenne or chili powder to the mix and using the chips as a salad topping in place of croutons. Let me know if you try this out!

Roasted Coconut ChipsRoasted Coconut Chips

I generally buy my coconut from Nuts.com, but the brand Let’s Do Organic, which is available in most health food stores, as well as Whole Foods (at least where I live) also sells coconut flakes. 

Ingredients
•2 1/2 cups coconut flakes (not shredded coconut)
•3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
•2 tablespoons maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
•1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1. Heat the applesauce, maple syrup, and salt in a small saucepan until just warm.

2. Pour applesauce mixture over coconut flakes in a medium bowl and stir until thoroughly coated.

3. Spread mixture evenly onto baking sheet, in as thin a layer as possible.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring every five minutes until coconut is golden.

5. Let coconut cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Roasted Coconut ChipsWhat are your favorite simple snacks? Lately, I’ve been making little snack plates full of these roasted coconut chips, dates, toasted pecans, and fresh fruit (I finally found Cara Cara and Blood oranges in my market!).

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?

Coconut Vanilla Date Butter

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I’m sure that by now, most everyone reading this has heard of the magical substance that is coconut butter. It is so versatile, and most importantly, quite delicious. Perhaps even more versatile, though, are dates. Just as simply as dried coconut can be ground into coconut butter, so, too, can dates be whirred around to form date paste, a wonderful, complex, and rich natural sweetener for anything from savory sauces to the sweetest of treats. Now, we know that both coconut and dates are wonderful on their own, but what if we were to combine the two? And perhaps add a dash of vanilla to the mix? We would be left with an utterly heavenly combination, perfect for spreading on toast, dolloping on warm oatmeal (or overnight oats!) or simply eating straight from the spoon. I do imagine that this spread would be equally, if not more lovely with the addition of a bit of cocoa powder, or even melted chocolate. Of course, I’ve not yet tried that variation, but I’ll report back just as soon as I do.

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I tend to buy my dates and coconut in bulk from Nuts.com. They have a wonderful variety of dried organic fruits, nuts, and nearly every other specialty baking item I ever find myself in need of.

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 Coconut Vanilla Date Butter

Ingredients

•1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
•1 cup packed pitted dates (I used a combination of Barhi and Medjool, but any variety will work)
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Soak dates in warm water for 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Process coconut in a food processor until it forms a buttery paste.

3. Remove dates from soaking water and add to food processor along with the vanilla. Continue to process until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

IMG_5752Apparently, cats are fans of dates, too!

What are your favorite homemade spreads? This coconut date butter is a close second to my favorite, chocolate sunflower butter.