Super Rich Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Vegan, Wholemeal, Low Sugar 
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Remember when I made those chocolate orange cupcakes and told everyone they were the best healthy chocolate cupcakes ever? Well that proved that none of you can trust me ever again, because it was a lie. These here today are the best. cupcakes. EVER.

They defy science. When I was making them, I felt very apprehensive about the large blobs of chia gel floating on a sea of cold coffee and mashed banana. I had a sinking feeling I would have to throw it all in the bin, and waste my precious stash of frozen bananas. But then, somehow in the oven a miracle occurred. Maybe someone came into my house and replaced them, I don’t really know. But they came out as literally the richest, *moistest* cupcakes of all time.

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We first tried them warm from the oven, when the chocolate chunks were still melted and squishy. They were so amazing I almost decided not to ice them. But they looked so ugly! Literally like little cooked pots of dirt. Also is it a cupcake without icing? Somebody tell me because I really don’t know.

So, I made this avocado mousse and covered them all in that. Holy crap! They became even better. They tasted like little chocolate fondant mousse explosions. I thought I was up to the challenge of eating two, and it was so rich I almost had a hard attack right there. HOW!

I actually don’t understand. The ingredients list reads more like a healthy breakfast than a cake. And somehow it’s richer than the Sarah Lee pudding I may or may not have sampled in the darkest moments of the holidays. What is life.

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Being away so long I’ve gotten quite rusty with the whole photography process, so apologies for the very moody Dracula lighting. I was feeling very dark and existential today. Not really, I just couldn’t find my white backboard and the sunlight disappeared behind a cloud for a good four hours.

Also, when I finally did manage to take a good shot, I excitedly slapped the backboard down onto the table and crushed three of the cupcakes. (Don’t worry, my sister ate them). You don’t have to ice these if you don’t want to. If you don’t, you can warm them up and make the chocolate melt. If you do though, you won’t regret it. They are literally so rich. Have a great week errybody 🙂

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Rich chocolate cupcakes:
3 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 7 tbsp water
3 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup (80ml) brewed coffee or espresso
110ml (1/2 cup) olive or sunflower oil

100g (1/2 cup) raw sugar
120g (1 cup) plain or wholemeal flour
120g (1 cup) raw cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
60g chopped dark chocolate
opt: 1 tsp cinnamon

Icing:
1 large ripe avocado
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
4 tbsp raw cacao
1-2 tbsp soy or almond milk

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Preheat the oven to 180C (360F) and line 10 cupcake holes with papers. Mash the bananas well, then blend with the chia gel, coffee and oil. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients well. Use a spoon to gently fold in the blended wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks Spoon into the muffin tins until 3/4 full and bake for 13-15 minutes, until risen and springy when you touch them. Allow to cool completely.

Blend together the avocado, cacao and honey and add the soy milk until you have a mousse-like consistency. Either use a piping bag, or just a knife to ice each cupcake. Once iced, store the cupcakes in the fridge and eat on the day you make them.

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Green Salad with Garlic Mushrooms

Vegan
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Guys! Big news. I’ve decided that once a month I’m going to do a “fun things you should add to your salads post.” It’s going to be epic! I know, right now it sounds kind of boring. But trust me, lately I have been KILLING the salad game. My uni schedule this semester means most days I got home at 2.30pm, with half an hour before I go to work. What does that mean? Salad!!

The best lunch ever.

Salad can easily be the worst meal, or the best. It all depends what you put in it and how you make it. For me, the most important thing is the salad base. If you don’t have a strong base, the rest of your salad will never be able to shine like the star it should be.
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Take careful note of the photo above. Today I used two types of lettuce, washed and whizzed completely dry in my lettuce washer. It must be completely dry! Otherwise your salad will be sad. Two big handfuls for each person please. Next I added half a finely chopped shallot, for some zing. You could add finely sliced red onion if that’s your thing for this element.

Select two of your favourite herbs. Today I used basil (heaps of basil!) and coriander. You can add parsley, mint, dill (although I can’t be your friend anymore if you add dill because I HATE dill irrationally), or any other soft herb you like. Use a small palmful of leaves, and finely chop.
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Now it’s time to add your crunchy elements! I like to add a stalk of celery, half a chopped apple, half a chopped capsicum, and/or some cucumber for the crunchy part of the salad. Today I just used apple and capsicum because that’s all we had. Chop everything into 1cm chunks and throw into your salad bowl.

Next, time for some substantial greens. The best by far is broccoli, but today for the first time maybe forever we were out of broccoli, so I added steamed baby peas and zucchini. If you have time, you can roast the greens in the oven, but today this is an under half an hour salad so steaming will have to do! Chop in half an avocado for creaminess too.

And now for the secret: mushrooms!! Get out your pan, crush a garlic clove in there, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry up a huge handful of them. Mushrooms make an ordinary salad an extraordinary salad. Only add them at the last second because the heat might wilt the lettuce.
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For dressing mix 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp seedy mustard, and the juice of half a lime. Toss all the ingredients well. I drizzled over a tbsp of tahini as well for extra protein.

YUUUUM. There you have it. The best 20 minute salad in existence. Enjoy! And get excited for next months salad adventures!

One Year Ago: Coconut and Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Perfect Avocado Brownies with Cinnamon and Blueberries (vegan)

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 This is such a momentous day. I finally, finally perfected avocado brownies. Celebrate with me! It’s been a long and arduous journey, but we made it. If you follow me on instagram you will have seen the highs and lows, the almost perfect and the completely ruined brownies that came before these mighty ones today. I feel like this might be one of my baking life’s biggest accomplishments, not to toot my own trumpet too much! 

But seriously. Let’s talk about brownies.

I’ve made a few healthy brownies on this blog before. These black bean ones were like a healthy, protein-rich fudge. I’ve made tea-infused raw brownies (so good!), and these banana brownies are so popular with everyone I make them for. But in my mind none of these recipes were really “brownies”. They were various shades of chocolate cake/slice. Brownies must be rich. Like these caramel brownies. They must be super fudgy but also chewy and they must taste so chocolatey you have to drink a glass of milk (or almond milk) alongside it. 

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They shouldn’t taste like banana or almonds or orange or any other such nonsense! They should taste like BROWNIES. And also be really good for you, because I want to eat the whole pan. 

My experiments started to take a turn for the awesome when I bought My Darling Lemon Thyme‘s new cookbook. I seriously recommend it to anyone who loves whole-food recipes and stunning photography. Emma’s book is actually inspirational it’s so beautiful! I used her raspberry and pistachio brownies as a starting point on my quest for the perfect brownie. 

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Over a series of experiments I replaced the olive oil with avocado to squeeze in those healthy fats, and replaced the combination of gluten-free flours with wholemeal wheat. (Because I eat wheat and it’s much cheaper). I’ve included her measurements for gluten free in the recipe, but I’ve never tried them so I can’t give any tips for how it will go unfortunately. I also squeezed in lots of cinnamon and blueberries in there because hello?! Match made in heaven! 

The result was incredible. Rich, fudgy, sweet, holy crap. Crackly top, vanilla ice cream, you can see where this is going. Brownie heaven. I actually can’t believe how healthy they are. Compared to my normal recipe which has 2 1/2 cups of sugar, half a kilo of chocolate and a whole block of butter, these only had one block of chocolate, one cup of raw sugar and no butter at all! Plus wholemeal flour! No brownie coma for me 🙂 The trick to making dessert recipes healthier but still delicious is to replace the traditional ingredients with just as good healthy ingredients. You can’t just cut out sugar and fat and expect it to taste good.

The combination of sweet blueberries, cinnamon and vanilla extract add natural sweetness that in my mind tastes much better than plain old sugar. And the avocado, as they say, really is impossible to taste. It does give the texture a slightly thicker consistency and the brownies smell a bit like avocado, but don’t fear that your brownies will come out tasting like baked avocado. They won’t. I 100% believe everybody should make these brownies at least once in their lives. They’re that yummy 🙂

One Year Ago: Rhubarb and Coconut Crumble Slice

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Avocado and Blueberry Brownies: Adapted from here

200g (7 ounces) dark vegan chocolate, broken into chunks (plus extra 50g chopped)

185g (1 cup, about 2 avocados) perfectly ripe and green avocados

1 tbsp olive oil 

200g (1 cup) raw or brown sugar

3 eggs OR vegan replacement (3 tbsp chia mixed with 6 tbsp water, or 1.5 very ripe mashed bananas)

3/4 cup (75g) wholemeal flour OR 1 cup almond meal mixed with 2/3 cup fine brown rice flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

40g (1/3 cup) raw cocoa powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm by 20cm tin (8 inch) with baking paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. 

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, cocoa powder and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, or mix the chia seeds with the water or mash up your bananas. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the sugar until it is mostly dissolved. In a blender, blend the avocado with the eggs (or chia/banana) and tsp of vanilla extract. 

Mix together the chocolate mix and the avocado mix well. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until mixed. Stir through the blueberries and extra chocolate, and smooth in to your brownie pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is set. Serve warm, with ice cream (you know you want to). 

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Raw Lime and Coconut Tarts (vegan and gluten free)

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 I had the scariest nightmare the other day. It was so weird! I woke up in this parallel universe where everything was almost exactly the same as real life, but something was….different. I couldn’t put my finger on why everyone was slightly stranger than normal and why my house looked so different. And then it hit me. Everyone was RAW VEGAN! The whole human population! There were no ovens or stovetops, just built-in blenders and chopping boards.

Don’t get me wrong I think foregoing animal products is a great lifestyle, I basically am vegan myself. But raw vegans scare me. I didn’t even realise quite how scary I found them until my nightmare. I literally woke up feeling really weird and almost went down just to check we still had an oven. 

I know it’s a really healthy lifestyle. I mean have you seen raw vegans? They practically glow. They look like superhuman aliens that have come to earth to live forever and take over the future. But eating only raw products for the rest of my life…makes me want to cry. Very slightly steamed broccoli with some lime juice is the best thing ever. However completely raw broccoli is disgusting. Roasted pumpkin in cumin and olive oil is like heaven to me. But raw pumpkin is disgusting. I guess I just don’t see why it all has to be raw. Why the broccoli?! Why??

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 Well, I think these tarts could possibly change my mind. The other day I made the girl I babysit lime slice for her birthday, and as I was making it I couldn’t help fantasise about a completely natural version using avocado as the filling. It was one of those things where I thought the first time I made it would end in me throwing the entire thing in the bin, but something magic happened in my blender. 

They came out so nice! I took a little taste of the filling and actually went ‘huh!’ in surprise. It’s super creamy and sweet from the banana and agave syrup, and somehow the tiniest pinch of salt just makes it really moreish. I promise, it’s nothing like guacamole. It was hard to ignore the fact that the recipe was very similar…but just turn a blind eye to that green colour. And who would put banana in guacamole? No one that’s who. 

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 The base is the typical walnut/sultana/coconut base I made for my mango and banana coconut tarts and chocolate tarts, which I just pressed into tart moulds and froze for half an hour while I made the filling. I’m just going to put it out there, I could eat the filling with a spoon. You could definitely just make an avocado lime mousse and forget the tart base altogether for a simpler dessert, but it really does taste pretty good assembled as the full thing. 

You can top it with berries too. I piled on heaps of frozen blueberries to two of them and ate it in about 10 seconds flat as soon as I finished photographing them. You may or may not want to try that for yourself…

If you have any raw vegan friends coming over for dinner, this would be the ultimate thing you could make them. Or if you are a raw vegan, first of all I’m sorry for saying I was scared of you, and second please accept this tart recipe as a peace gift. Have a great weekend everyone 🙂 

One Year Ago: Chocolate and Raspberry Layer Cake

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Raw Avocado and Lime Tarts:

1 cup walnuts, crushed

1 cup sultanas, briefly soaked in water

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

1 large fully ripe avocado

juice of 2-3 limes (taste as you go)

3 tbsp agave nectar (the light kind)

1/2 a ripe frozen banana

pinch of salt

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Method:

Blend the walnuts and sultanas together until crumbly. Add in the coconut and blend until a dough forms. Press into 5-6 small tart tins that have been lined with plastic or foil, to make them easier to remove. Keep in the freezer until ready to fill and serve. 

Blend the avocado, lime juice, agave, banana and salt until smooth and creamy. Spoon into the tart tins and keep refrigerated or even in the freezer until ready to serve. These tarts will last a while, but they look/taste best within the first three hours. You can keep them in the freezer and eat them the next day though, they will just lose their bright green colour.

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Chilli and Basil Mushrooms on Avocado Toast

Vegan and Gluten Free

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 I LOVE MUSHROOMS. 

I love them. I don’t know about any other vegetarians out there, but the only thing I kind of miss from eating meat is eating chewy food. Vegetables can be crunchy and tempeh and tofu can be crumbly, but there isn’t much chewy food in a vegetarian diet. (Unless you count chewy worms and jelly snakes, which I do…) So whenever I feel like all I’ve been eating is soft and mushy food and get scared my teeth are about to fall out,  I crave mushrooms. 

Last week the farmers market had the best mushrooms! We bought four boxes of them! I ate mushrooms in four different meals in a row. By the last one I will admit I was feeling a little over-mushroomed. We made mushroom stir fry, baked mushrooms, mushroom pasta sauce, and my favourite way; chilli basil mushrooms on toast. 

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 The number one crime when making mushrooms on toast is to only use one type of mushrooms. ESPECIALLY if you just use button mushrooms. Button mushrooms are great, but they aren’t very flavoursome by themselves. They need the help of their little mushroom friends enoki and oyster. I went to Bill’s Cafe with some friends recently and got the mushrooms on toast, and I think there must have been four different types used! It was incredible. This recipe is partially inspired by that breakfast because it was amazing!

The number two crime is overcrowding the pan. Don’t do that. Mushrooms release juices when they cook and your pan will fill with liquid and they will broil. You will be sad. They will be sad. Make sure there’s lots of room for them to get brown and crispy and soak up all the flavours you add. (Thank you Julia Child!)

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I’m so excited to keep posting savoury recipes on this blog. This recipe is so easy, even if I haven’t quite mastered the ‘how to take a photo of a hot pan without burning yourself’ skill yet.  But I’m hopeful for the future. I used sour dough bread as the base of choice but the recipe is really about the mushrooms, so you can use gluten free bread or serve it over pasta or rice if you want. 

For the chilli jam I used a homemade jar made by a friend, so you could either make your own or buy a good quality one from a deli or market. I wouldn’t recommend a commercial brand just because they’re so much sweeter and less spicy than homemade, but if that’s all you have I’m sure it will taste fine. If you don’t like spice, you can also leave it out. 

You can put a poached egg on top too if you eat eggs. That’s what my sister did this morning, after I finally let her have the plate when I was finished photographing it. And it did look pretty good! Enjoy!

One Year Ago: Wholemeal Brown Sugar Strawberry Cake

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 Chilli and Basil Mushrooms on Avocado Toast:

For 2 people – 

30 ml (1.5 tbsp) olive oil 

2 small cloves of garlic, chopped 

2 big handfuls chopped field mushrooms

1 handful oyster mushrooms

2 handfuls mixed other mushrooms like enoki, button, flat etc

2 tsp chilli jam

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 handful torn basil leaves, split in half

2-4 pieces of bread (gluten free fine)

1/2 an avocado

Optional: poached egg, grilled tomato, lemon juice to serve

salt and pepper, to serve

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 Fry the garlic in the oil in a large pan on a gentle heat until soft. Increase the heat to medium and add in the mushrooms, chilli, and vinegar and sauté. Fry the mushrooms so that they become crispy and brown. Taste to check the seasoning. Grill your toast and spread with avocado. Squeeze on some lemon juice if you want and spoon over the mushrooms. Top with salt and pepper and extras, if you want. Serve hot!

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Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries

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 I was so unprepared to go back to uni this year. For starters I didn’t realise we went back a week early until the Saturday before, so I turned up to my first class with a highlighter and a notebook from last year with half the pages ripped out. I sat down in the wrong room, finally arrived to my class 20 minutes late and had to sit by myself in the front row. I’m a smooth operator what can I say. 

For another class I have a presentation that I haven’t started due next week, where I’m pretty sure I have to do a standup poetry and video performance in front of the class…lord help. 

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As a result of my study stresses I’ve been making this chocolate mousse on a weekly basis. The only thing standing between me and chocolate mousse every day for breakfast is the price of avocados! I mean come on green grocers. 2 avocados for $10 is not a laughing matter. 

The other day as I was preparing to watch an entire season of Supernatural instead of reading my TORTS cases, I struck upon chocolate mousse gold. It was so amazing I had to instagram it before I’d even eaten it! Noooo way. 

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 I had decided to take it down the Mexican chocolate road and added a pinch of cinnamon, a teeny tiny bit of ginger and the TINIEST little wisp of chilli. It was a flavour explosion in my mouth, all I’m going to say. With a sprinkling of fresh raspberries on top you can’t really get any closer to chocolate heaven. 

I promised myself this week I would try and make something without chocolate for the blog. But then I realised it’s been two whole weeks since I posted a chocolate recipe! That’s not right and it sure isn’t normal, so chocolate mousse get in my belly. Also how cute is my new rose teacup! The family I babysit for gave it to me as a present and I got way overexcited…I might have scared the children a bit. You can play with the flavourings of the mousse to suit your preferences. Even leaving out the spices all together tastes great. My favourite at the moment is just with cinnamon and almond milk, but I can imagine a little vanilla wouldn’t go astray. 

One Year Ago: Fluffy Cinnamon Apple Pancakes

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Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries:

2 medium avocadoes, perfectly ripe

2 medium bananas, perfectly (not overly) ripe and frozen

1/4 cup coconut or almond milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger, or chilli, or both

3 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp agave nectar or runny honey

Fresh berries, to top. 

Blend everything together and pour into cups. Top with fresh raspberries or other mixed berries. Chill for at least an hour before eating. 

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Vegan Chocolate Cream Tarts (gluten and sugar free)

Vegan, Raw, Gluten free and Sugar free

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 So, apparently all the photo files on my blog are enormous. Enormous as in instead of being around 500k to 1 megabite at the absolute largest! They are like, 6 or 7 megabites each. That’s proobably why they took ages to load on most people’s computers and proobably the reason for lots of people, no photos would ever come up at all…

I’m sorry! I never promised to be a computer genius! In fact I’ve often lamented my complete lack of technical skills in many a post. Don’t worry, I’ve started the arduous and horrific process of going back through each post that I deem important and re-uploading smaller sized photos. So hopefully things will start to come up a little faster around here. I was wondering why I’d already used up 10% of my available space in 6 months! 

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 I’m super scared of technological challenges, which is kind of annoying seeing as this blog here is one large technological…thing. For example, coding. What is it? I don’t know. How do you use it? I don’t know. All I know is that </p<p> means paragraph. People always talk about the CSS coding of their blog and how they’ve re-coded stuff to personalise it to their personal style…I’m just  like wuuuut. 

I never realised how much cray cray effort went in to even the simplest food blogs. Seriously, even for someone like me who loves to take the easy root, I spend a minimum of an hour cooking the thing, another hour styling/serving/arranging it and then, to be honest, only about twenty minutes to half an hour photographing it.

But then I edit the photos for at least half an hour, and write the post. That takes another half an hour, usually an hour. Then I check the whole draft and the coding and everything else that I could have stuffed up. Then I spend twenty minutes uploading the photos to pinterest and other foodie photo sites. That’s a minimum of three hours a post, and I usually do one or two posts a week. And that’s a lazy food blog! My lightroom editing program isn’t even working at the moment! I can’t even imagine what a professional website must be like to maintain. 

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I’ve never thought of giving it up though. I know as soon as I did, I’d make something like these vegan chocolate cream tarts and kick myself for not being able to share them! They’re absolutely delicious, and they’re gluten and sugar free as well. And completely raw! Talk about impressive. It took me quite a long time to perfect this recipe, and a lot of inspiration from some of my favourite blogs. But in the end, this here is what I consider the perfect chocolate tart. 

The crust is the same recipe as these coconut chocolate truffles minus the coconut. The filling is this chocolate mousse minus the chia seeds. I was completely inspired by this delicious chocolate tart from GI 365 and couldn’t stop thinking about it. The first time I tried the mousse the avocado I used wasn’t perfectly ripe, and it came out all stringy and disgusting. A little bit of tweaking later, and I had the smoothest and creamiest chocolate cream I could have wanted. I wrote the recipe in cups even though I’m a grams girl at heart, because with walnuts and dates and bananas etc I find it a bit too fiddly to get out the scales and a bit unnecessary when it’s raw. 

I used the same cute little tart cases that I did for my lavender and lemon tarts, lining the shells with plastic wrap so I could pull them out easily. I was really worried they would stick! These tarts last really well in the fridge and make a great dessert for a BBQ or picnic. You can adapt the recipe to make one big tart if you like as well. The benefits from the avocado, cocoa powder and walnuts are great for your body and there is nothing processed or derived from animals to be seen. The perfect chocolate dessert!

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 Chocolate Cream Tarts: Adapted from GI 365

Makes 6 small tarts, can easily be doubled

For the Crust:

1 cup walnuts

1 packed cup medjool dates (if dry and hard, soaked in water for 20 minutes)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Splash of soy or almond milk

Combine all crust ingredients in a powerful blender and whizz into a smooth paste. If your blender isn’t that strong, grind your nuts in a mortar and pestle first and cut up your dates into small pieces. Take your tart moulds and grease with a little oil or water so that the plastic wrap will stick. Line with plastic wrap. Use your fingers to press in the crust evenly, filling in all the cracks. Store in the freezer until ready to make the crust. This freezing makes them easier to remove and helps them keep their shape. Don’t worry, they won’t freeze completely solid. 

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For the filling:

1 medium avocado (it’s ok if the measurements aren’t exact)

1 medium banana

2 heaped tablespoons of raw honey, or more if you want it sweeter

3 tablespoons soy or almond milk

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

Whizz all your mousse ingredients in a blender until completely smooth and combined. Remove your tart moulds from the freezer and carefully pull out from the tins using the plastic as handles. Fill the crust with the chocolate cream and keep stored in the fridge. Not the freezer. Lasts well for 2-4 days. 

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