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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(Almost) Raw Tiramisu Cups

Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Raw (almost)
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I’m going to be honest with you. Throughout the entire process of assembling, chilling and photographing these cakes, I was convinced they were so butt-ugly that not only would people be repulsed at the sight of these brown, poo-coloured blobs, they would be so offended as to all unanimously unfollow me never to return again.

But it had been two whole weeks since I’d posted anything! That’s an eon! And I had a sneaky feeling these tarts would be super tasty. And guess what. I WAS RIGHT! I ate one at about 4am this morning, having sleep-walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge door, as I am want to do.

Holy mama! The tastiest early-morning snack I have ever come across. I ate another one in the morning just to check I hadn’t dreamed it. So creamy and chocolatey and rich from the coffee! I think this is the best cashew cake recipe I’ve discovered so far. (Of course that’s not true – I don’t think anything in life will ever beat this cake that made all dreams become reality). But these were so easy to make as well. And they taste PHENOM frozen.

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Moccona sent me a pack of their instant coffee and a cute li’l mug this week. (This isn’t a sponsored post – I just have no idea what else to do with two giant jars of coffee). And that got me thinking about tiramisu and how vegans might feel sad that tiramisu is no longer there for them to enjoy. Cue vegan reinvention! These tarts are almost entirely raw as well, although I used coffee (instant to be precise – not my healthiest moment!) Although for those wanting the truly raw dessert you could either leave it out or use raw coffee beans? I don’t know if that’s even a thing… Maybe just go with chocolate instead 🙂

Also I started a new personal blog called That Nowhere Feeling. It’s just my photography and bits and bobs of the creative writing projects I’m involved with at the minute. I’m thinking of slightly switching up my uni degree to swap law for photography and continuing with the creative writing, so probably going to be blogging and photographing a lot more next year! Have a little squiz at it if you so please 🙂 Have a great week guys!

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Raw Vegan Tiramisu Cakes:
2 cups cashews, soaked for 5-10 hours in cold water
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup brewed espresso or dissolved instant coffee
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp raw cacao powder

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Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and put in the blender with all the other ingredients except the cacao. Blend thoroughly, pausing every minute or so to give the motor a rest, until everything is smooth. Take out half the mix and spoon into muffin or tart cups. Add the cacao and blend again until combined. Spoon this over the bottom layer. Freeze or refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. Makes 6-7.

Vegan Banana Buckwheat Chocolate Muffins

Vegan, Gluten Free, optional Sugar Free
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Guys, who here likes muffins.

I used to be so on the fence with muffins. I could take them or leave them, usually after eating the muffin top first. I think it’s because most of the muffins I used to eat were from the supermarket, and were a) HUGE so it was almost impossible to ever finish one without feeling obese and ill, and b) dry and super sweet and kind of…”clammy”. They also contained interesting ingredients like soy beans and monosodium glutamate.

No one wants that kind of muffin experience…no one.

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But everything changed when I had one fateful muffin at Bourke Street Bakery. It was full of raspberries and dark chocolate chunks and so good I shed a little tear of joy. I think I ate one of those muffins after soccer every weekend for about a year, not gonna lie.

But sadly my friends, all good things come to an end. When I was given their cookbook as a present one year I realised why those muffins are so delicious! They’re literally little balls of sugary butter held together with some chocolate. Yuuuum. But also not yum when you’re lactose intolerant like me…

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Enter the muffin baking stage of my life. There have been some pretty exciting creations, including banana chai cupcakes with cinnamon cream and the best carrot muffin recipe I’ve ever tried. This weekend though I wanted fudgy chocolate cake and no messing about.

I decided to try a version of this cocoa banana bread with buckwheat flour instead of normal. A lovely reader let me know that she had great success with buckwheat flour, and I did too! I used only half buckwheat, half normal wholemeal but she used fully buckwheat so if you like the taste, give it a go!

Also add chocolate chips. No excuses xxx Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Granola Clusters 

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Banana Buckwheat Chocolate Muffins:
2 cups mashed overripe banana
1 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (or 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water for vegan)
120ml olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

optional: 100g chopped dark chocolate, raspberries or nuts

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Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) and line 12 muffin cups with muffin papers.

Blend together the banana, oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry gently with a spatula, until just combined. Stir in any extras.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the muffins bounce back at the touch and are cooked through. Enjoy!

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Chocolate and Vanilla Flecked Cream Cake

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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Last weekend, my cousin decided to do the 40 hour famine with his school. In a moment of madness, I decided to do it with him. In my memories the 40 hour famine was never very hard. To be honest all I could really remember is the end of the famine, where I would either make and eat an entire pizza, pot of macaroni and cheese or possibly tub of ice cream, much to my shrunken stomach’s regret. Nothing tastes quite as good as homemade macaroni and cheese when you haven’t eaten for forty hours 🙂

So I started at 8pm, and settled in for a night of babysitting. Babies went to bed, I started binge-watching all their recorded movies, things were looking good. And then…I saw they hadn’t eaten their dessert pizza. It wasn’t just any kind of dessert pizza, it was an Elvis Presley pizza. Layers of caramel sauce, nutella, roasted banana and chocolate crumble, covered in sugar. A little voice in my head said ‘no Lil! You’re only forty minutes into your famine!’ But a much louder voice said ‘NOOOOM NUTELLA BANANA ERMAGEEEERD’ and the next thing I knew, half that pizza was chilling in my tummy.

I wasn’t even hungry! I don’t even like dessert pizzas (except this one was pretty good). It just goes to show that deprivation never works. Especially if you haven’t actually raised any money, and therefore have no reason to continue the famine…
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That story doesn’t really have much to do with this chocolate cashew cream cake, I just had to alleviate my conscience somewhere. I did warn you all with my rhubarb cinnamon cream cake that there would be many more cashew cream cakes to come now that I’ve discovered how good they are. And to be honest, what with dumpling month going on this past four weeks, there has been a serious lack of chocolate on here.

This cake was inspired by that nutella pizza in a way, because I continued with the hazelnut and chocolate theme, sans banana. If I was Elvis Presley, there would also be caramel and peanut butter involved, and I would have to deep-fry the whole thing as well…when I was eating it I actually imagined how good it would taste with peanut butter, so I’ve made a little recommendation in the recipe if you want to take it down that route!
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Sorry this is so late by the way! This post took me a lifetime to actually put up once I’d planned on making it. Normally I post every weekend, by the latest Monday morning. I had grand plans to finish all my uni work and go to bed early on Friday, waltz in to my kitchen on Saturday morning and blend this up in no time, chill it, cover it in ganache, go out and get myself a new job, and photograph this cake on Sunday morning, possibly drinking a green smoothie at the same time.

But…Friday night ended up being Beyonce night and I ended up not getting home on Saturday morning until 5am…I got out of bed at 10am, dragged myself to a job interview, zombie-stumbled home, fell on my bed on the way to the shower, ended up falling asleep for five hours, fell off my bed on to my phone which thankfully alerted me to wake up, washed my face, stumbled to babysitting and died on their couch.

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And then it rained for three days and the light was so terrible I had to wait until Tuesday to photograph the cake! That’s why there’s no process shots, the light was literally so dark my camera couldn’t even find a focus point. So anyway! Here it is. It is seriously delicious. I just ate a huge piece instead of going to the gym, and it was perfect. You can keep it in the freezer or the fridge, both are seriously yummy. 

I had cocoa butter in the fridge, which I used to make my own chocolate both for the filling and topping. If you want a short-cut version, buy a good-quality vegan sugar free block of dark chocolate. (But making your own is super easy!) After eating the different layers, I realised you can’t taste the difference strongly enough to warrant the extra mixing bowl! But if you like the look of layers by all means, take out a few scoops of the filling before mixing in the melted chocolate 🙂 Have a great week guys!!

One Year Ago: Banana Chai Cupcakes 

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Chocolate and Vanilla Flecked Cream Cake:
For the Base:
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly crushed
1 packed cup pitted dates
1 tbsp coconut oil

For the Middle:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in cold water
3/4 cup (185ml) coconut oil
1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup, for pure vegan
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
Optional: 100g smooth peanut butter

50g cocoa butter, melted
50g raw cacao
50g raw honey

For the Topping:
100g cocoa butter, melted
100g raw cacao
100ml raw honey
200ml coconut milk (organic and full-fat is best)

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Start by lining a 23cm tin with baking paper. Blend the ingredients for the base until a smooth dough forms. If your blend is crappy like mine, make sure to crush the nuts and cut up the dates first, and blend in batches. Press into the bottom of the tin and keep in the freezer until ready to fill.

Wash your cashews under cold water and drain well. Blend with the coconut oil, honey, lemon and vanilla bean seeds. Either remove a few scoops now to make separate layers, or just make one chocolate layer.For a peanut butter layer, blend the peanut butter with half the mix now and set aside. Mix the 50g cocoa butter, cacao and honey together until smooth and runny. Blend this into the cashew mix and pour into the tin. Smooth over and leave in the freezer until ready to top.

To make the ganache, melt the cocoa butter slowly and stir in the cacao and honey. Stir until smooth. Stir in the coconut milk and pour over the cashew cream filling. Now keep the cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours, until ready to serve. It’s very rich so serve in small slices! Enjoy 🙂
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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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Banana Cinnamon Cupcakes with Mocha Icing

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 It was my beautiful lady-friend Maevie’s birthday yesterday. You may remember her from the Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake of last year. (If you followed that link, please accept sincere apologies for the horrendous photography). Maevie and I have been friends every since year 3, when she became besties with my twin sister. I can’t believe she’s twenty! It seems only yesterday she and my sister were running around the playground playing their weird little games. While me and my friends played horses or card games, Maevie would go around pretending to eat people saying they were KFC chicken tenders. 

I once walked in on her covering my sister in duct-tape telling her she was now a prisoner. Another time I found them playing with little plastic horses and pigs pretending they were Simpson characters. This was in high school!  Such good memories ❤ Maevie, like me, loves cake a lot. So I thought the present she would appreciate most would be something of the baked and covered in chocolate variety. 

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 Maevie’s actually a very skilled photographer herself. She’s given me countless tips on why my photos often come out looking like hideous brown blobs. I didn’t want her cupcakes to consist of only shades of brown, but I didn’t really have time to do any fancy icing either. Cue rose petals! There was a big bunch of pink roses on the table and I stole a couple petals to decorate these. If I had more time I would have made sugared rose petals, or maybe designed them a little like this rose cake

I used David Lebovitz‘ banana cake with mocha frosting and halved it to make these, taking a slightly healthier route with the icing. You can use your favourite vegan chocolate icing, or if you want the original recipe, it just said to melt 140g dark chocolate with 70ml of brewed coffee, then stir in 70g unsalted butter until smooth. The smell of the coffee melting with the chocolate is amaaaaazing. If I ever meet David I swear I might cry from gratitude for all the delicious cakes and ice cream flavours he’s brought into my life. 

I’ve given vegan alternatives, most of which I have tested but I used a chickens egg so I can’t 100% assure the chia seeds will make an adequate alternative. There’s only one egg though so I’m sure it will work fine! Also my sister would like everyone to know these were “the nicest cupcakes she’s ever tasted”. 

One Year Ago: Rich Chocolate and Caramel Brownies

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Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing (Adapted from David Lebovitz)

150g (1 + 1/4 cup) plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1tsp baking powder

115g/1/2 cup butter (or 115ml/1/2 cup vegan butter or oil) at room temperature

150g (2/3 cup) white sugar (or honey/agave syrup)

1 medium egg OR 1 tbsp chia seeds blended with 3 tbsp water, at room temperature

2 medium sized super ripe bananas, mashed (about 250g or half a pound)

45g (3 tbsp) yogurt (coconut yogurt for vegan)

For the icing: 250g (half a tub) coconut yogurt mixed with 200g (7 ounces) melted dark chocolate and 2 tbsp runny agave syrup

 

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 For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line 8 cupcake holders with liners. Mash the banana with the yogurt and set aside. Cream the butter or oil and sugar or syrup until fluffy and well combined. Set to low and slowly blend in the egg. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon and baking powder well. Stir in half the mashed bananas into the butter, then half the flour. Repeat with the remaining halves and stir just to combine. Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden and fluffy. 

Top with chocolate icing of your choice, and a rose petal if you want 🙂 The recipe makes 8 small cupcakes but can easily be increased for more! Enjoy 🙂 

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Natural Mango Scented Chocolates (raw and vegan)

Raw, Vegan, Sugar Free and Gluten Free

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 Last week of the uni semester is always so rough. This week I wrote two terrible essays for my final assignments, and waded through three hundred (literally three hundred I’m not even exaggerating) pages of notes trying to summarise for my exam next week. How did I manage to write so many pages of class notes? I don’t really know. Did I write down anything important? No. I can’t even understand myself from two weeks ago. In my mind when I take notes I always think “I’ll just abbreviate these words a bit to save time – future Lil will remember what I’m talking about”…

Future Lil never has any clue what I meant. In one of my law subjects this is one of the notes I wrote in class – “mention the dead baby case but the mum was mean so it didn’t work”. What. On. Earth. Was. I. On. About. “Sigh”. 

So instead of studying today I took a break to make chocolate. Because chocolate makes everything better! Especially when it is super good for you too and you don’t have to battle with assignments AND post-chocolate gorging regrets. 

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 My Step Dad very kindly bought my a huge block of cocoa butter a few weeks ago after he heard me raving about coconut butter (bless). I admit for the first couple days I just stared at it having no clue what to use it for. And then I realised there probably wasn’t a better possible way than just making real chocolate! 

So I got researching and it’s actually super easy to make at home. Raw cocoa butter and cocoa powder (usually called cacao) is actually really good for you. It is packed with antioxidants and has been heralded for its benefits to the skin and heart. When you heat it unfortunately you lose lots of those benefits, but you get a big difference in flavour as the chocolate essence transforms from quite a fruity, almost bitter flavour to a more nutty, dark, rich, smooth and complex flavour. (Never too many adjectives). 

I personally like the flavour of raw cacao so I used that exclusively here. If you get a good quality brand the chocolate flavour is still very sweet and strong. If you want the real dark chocolate experience, swap half the cocoa powder with Dutch-processed, or all of it if you prefer. 

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For the liquid sweetener, you can go with a few different alternatives. If you want to use real sugar, use icing sugar so that the texture isn’t grainy. For liquid sweeteners, you can use a scented honey like I have, or for a perfectly suitable vegan substitute you can use agave nectar (the light kind). I have heard of people using maple syrup, brown rice syrup and other fruit syrups as well all with great success. I kind of guessed the quantities from the back of a few chocolate bars and by reading some other recipes, and I think the equal parts method is quite standard. For darker chocolate feel free to increase the cocoa!

We had a jar of mango scented honey in the cupboard that I had been waiting to try out, so that’s what I used here. You can also stir through chopped nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes or anything you wanted really before the chocolate sets. It sets completely hard like real chocolate but keep it in a relatively cool place to avoid it melting. And you can use it in place of recipes that call for melted chocolate for a sugar-free vegan alternative! Win Win 🙂 

One Year Ago: Carrot Muffins with Bush Honey Icing

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Natural Raw Chocolate: 

100g (3.5 ounces) raw cacao powder, well sifted

100g (3.5 ounces) raw cocoa butter, roughly chopped

100ml (3.5 fluid ounces) raw honey, maple syrup or agave nectar

 Place a pot with a few inches of water over your lowest heat with a bowl placed on top. Heat the water until boiling, then turn off the heat. Put the cocoa butter in the bowl and allow to melt completely at a low temperature, to avoid killing the nutrients. In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa, sweetener of choice and cocoa butter well. Whilst still warm and runny, pour your chocolate into little cupcake moulds or chocolate moulds. Silicone will be easiest to remove later! Allow to cool completely in the fridge and then keep at room temperature. The chocolate lasts well for ages and makes great presents. This amount made 30 tiny cupcake moulds of chocolate, and you can easily increase or decrease to suit. Enjoy!

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