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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Fudgy Cocoa Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks (vegan)

Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

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 Tomorrow is me and my boyfriend’s two year anniversary! Two years ago this week I’d been waiting for him to properly ask me out for four months, and he kept texting me but never actually asked! So finally I just thought this is ridiculous, and invited myself over to watch a movie. I got lost on the train and was an hour late to the station, but I made it! We watched the Hangover. His favourite line is when Alan says “that’s how I’ve managed to stay single this long”. He drove me home at 2 in the morning because the last train had left. We’ve been together ever since. 

I made him a chocolate banana bread because he loves dark chocolate, and he loves banana bread. His ultimate dessert is probably brownies but I’ve made so many of those recently I don’t think I could face them again for a while. So this here is a rich, fudgy and very very chocolatey banana loaf. (Definitely more on the cake side of loaf). 

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I was inspired to make this after seeing Smitten Kitchen‘s amazing banana chocolate bread last week. I adapted my classic vegan banana bread to make a chocolate version, because I wanted the cake to be healthy too. (I’m that sick kind of person that thinks ‘whole-grains’ and ‘healthy fats’ in a cake make a better present than delicious sugar and butter…I know). So there is raw cacao powder as well as the rich dutch-processed kind, chia seeds, maple syrup and of course lots of banana 🙂 

I wasn’t expecting this to come out so moist and chocolate flavoured. The espresso really brings out the chocolate flavour, so don’t leave it out even if you’re a coffee fan! When I was in year 9 I did a term project which involved baking a chocolate cake every single week using different rising agents. It got to the point where I didn’t need a recipe, I didn’t need a scale, I probably could have made it blind-folded. I don’t have that recipe anymore but I remember the strong smell of warm coffee that would come out of the oven as it baked. It was such a good chocolate cake! And not coffee flavoured at all despite using a whole entire cup. 

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 This cake freezes really well (although I don’t think it will have to it’s so popular). Just cut into slices and wrap well with plastic wrap. You can eat it with ice cream and chocolate sauce if you want a crazy good dessert, or just slice it up with tea. It’s a very versatile cake. It only takes about an hour to make from start to finish too! So really, what are you waiting for???

Also, I’ve put chocolate chips as ‘optional’ in the recipe. That was a lie. There’s not really an option is there. Especially not if this cake is for someone you love!

One Year Ago: Plum Jam Swirl

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Chocolate Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks:

2 very ripe bananas, mashed well

80ml (1/3 cup) brewed coffee

110g (1/2 cup) sunflower oil or butter for non-vegan

100g (1/2 cup) brown sugar or 1/2 cup maple syrup

3 eggs, or 3 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water to make gel

120g (1 cup) plain white flour

120g (1 cup) cocoa powder, half cacao powder optional

2 tsp baking powder

optional: 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon

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Method: Preheat oven to 180C (356F) and line a loaf pan with baking paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour and baking powder. In a large bowl whisk the oil and syrup or sugar until well combined. Add in the vanilla if using, and the chia or eggs. Whisk well until combined. Add in the espresso and mashed banana and mix the wet ingredients well. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Pour into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes, checking five minutes beforehand to stop it overcooking. Lasts 4-5 days, serves about 8-10. 

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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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Tea Infused Raw Chocolate Brownies (vegan, gluten free and sugar free)

Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free and Raw
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Do you know what I find really unnerving? When someone tells me they don’t like chocolate. I’m serious. It’s not just a little bit strange. It’s not like I don’t like picky eaters. Or people that don’t like some delicious things, there’s lots of those people in the world. I have a friend that doesn’t like cheese. (I know…) And I can accept that. But telling me you don’t like chocolate, it’s like saying you don’t like joy. Or you don’t like friendship. It’s like saying you don’t like life! It makes me wonder what kind of person they really are…

Maybe that’s extreme, but you have to admit it’s weird. Chocolate is just so necessary in life. I eat something in chocolate form Every. Day. Not always rich and decadent, usually plain or in the form of cocoa powder transformed into something amazing but still healthy. Brownies are a life-long obsession that will never quit, so this week when the chocolate craving called that’s what it had to be. I’ve made black bean and avocado brownies before that did not taste like burritos! But were instead dark and fudgy. But I wanted to try something that was easy to make as well as completely raw, and I wanted to try a new flavour as well! 

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 There’s been so many iconic moments in my life defined by chocolate I can’t even imagine living without it. All my teenage sleepovers were defined by cheap cadbury milk bars, horror movies and packets of kit kats and chocolate mint slices. I remember once watching all three Lord of the Rings movies in a row in a marathon and eating eight, EIGHT pieces of dark chocolate caramel slice in the process. (I don’t even want to know what that says about me). So many special occasions have ended with big slices of celebratory cake covered in chocolate icing. Me and one friend once pulled a half-cooked tray of brownies out of the oven while they were still raw and ate the whole thing with a spoon. That last one was actually kind of a regretful memory…but still, so many sweet childhood moments. 

Cocoa powder has so many health benefits and natural antioxidants I don’t understand the negative hype around chocolate! No I’m only joking. But it is really good for you. In its raw form, the nutrients and benefits are still preserved. You don’t get that most intense of chocolate flavours that comes from Dutch processing, but good quality cocoa is so deep and dark naturally it doesn’t need to be missed. Also you can use a blend to have the best of both worlds! That’s what I like to do for cakes and special occasions where chocolate intensity is imperative. 

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 These brownies have the most amazing flavour from being infused with black tea before being blended. I used organic apricots as half of the fruit, because soaking medjool dates would make them too soft I think. Non-organic apricots (the bright orange ones) are not as sweet as their natural brothers and cannot really be substituted. Try sultanas, raisins or figs. My little piddly blender is not really up to making vegan desserts on a daily basis. They always seem to require such intense blending! If you’re in the same spot as me, simple solution. Just lovingly share the load of your blender. I pound the walnuts myself in a mortar and pestle, because once they go in the blender that’s the smallest they’re going to get. Soak your fruit for extra long, cut it up in to tiny pieces. Do it in small batches and let the motor cool down in-between ingredients. Love your blender and it will love you ❤

There are lots of great things in these brownies and they have a perfect truffle-like texture when cold from the fridge. Don’t be fooled, they don’t taste like a classic fudgy chocolate brownie. Of course they don’t! But they taste like something else that is just as good, if not the same. It’s strange how processed flavours have evolved from natural flavours found in plants and whole ingredients. Like caramel for example. You taste caramel tones in things like honey, dates and maple syrup. Things that all occur naturally but are often discarded as not being as good as the “real” thing. Or coca cola! Apparently according to Jamie Oliver  it’s meant to taste like poached fruit in cinnamon and spices. Hmm…They kind of missed with that one. I think someone accidentally added tar to the original recipe and they tried to adjust it with mountains of sugar. 
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I’ve been experimenting with lots of new recipes this week and I’m really excited to share them. There’s a very summery frozen yogurt in my freezer that I am ready to destroy! Yuuum. I’m sorry for all my Northern Hemisphere friends because I know your summer is coming to a close, but the weather is beautiful here! It feels like the middle of November and it’s only September! Plus! Exciting news, I’ve paid for all my flights for the end of the year! Hoollllla. If you haven’t read already, I’m going to Europe and Thailand for two months and am so excited! 

If you’re feeling under-brownied and want to try some healthy brownies I’ve seen around and been inspired by recently, check out these bad boys:

The classic raw brownie from My New Roots

Salted raw brownie! Yuum from The Vedge

Coffee and Chocolate match made in heaven from Gluten Free Vegan Girl

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 Tea Infused Raw Chocolate Brownies:

350g (1.5 cups) medjool dates

300g (1.5 cups) organic apricots or sultanas

2 cups fresh shelled walnuts
1 cup strong brewed black tea

80g (5 tbsp) cocoa powder

 Soak the apricots in tea until soft (at least 20 minutes). Blend all the ingredients together. Press into a plastic-lined 20 x 20 (8 x 8) pan and chill for at least 4 hours. Remove with the plastic and cut in to slices. Keep in the fridge and dust with icing sugar. Yum!

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Healthy Chocolate Fudge Brownies (gluten, dairy, sugar free)

Gluten Free, Sugar Free and optional Vegan
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 The first thing I ever baked by myself was a pan of chocolate brownies. I was nine. I dusted them with icing sugar and ate them with my friends. They were very complimentary and wowed by my baking attempts. We were at that age where it was normal to sit with three friends and each eat five or six brownies in a row, so we had time to really think about them. In the end we decided they were too flat, so I said next time I’d try another recipe until I got it right. And did I ever! At least twice a month since then I have made a pan of brownies, experimenting, tweaking, trying to find the best brownie recipe in the world . My quest to find the perfect brownie continued for many years. 

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 I have learnt a very profound thing from my brownie journey, and I’m going to share it with you now: There is no single perfect recipe. Rather there are many, and it is based on individual preferences. I did ultimately write my own recipe that created what I deem brownie perfection, but it is not this one today. Those are the fudgiest, chewiest, richest, gooiest brownies ever. I honestly believe everything I know about baking came from the years of perfecting that recipe. It was there I learnt about flour and thickening gluten, about chocolate percentages, butter vs oil, brown vs white sugar, chips vs nuts vs raspberries and the list goes on. 

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The problem with those brownies though is that my mum can’t eat them (being gluten, dairy, and sugar free) and seeing as I was making these brownies for her, it wouldn’t be ideal to make something she couldn’t eat. My perfect recipe (I will put it up here one day, maybe for my 100th post) contains almost a pound of chocolate and sugar not to mention half a pound of butter. It is the polar opposite of what we have here today: Black bean, avocado and date brownies! Completely butter, sugar and flour free! And guess what, they taste amazing! Like a deep, dark chocolate fudge.

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Black bean brownies are in no way a new concept, but I’d never tried them before this week. I first saw a recipe on the blog Ambitious Kitchen. I just couldn’t believe they wouldn’t taste like…a burrito! Especially with the avocado instead of butter? Is anybody else thinking guacamole? I decided to give them a go just as a starting point for something less, um…gross sounding? And when I ate one straight of the pan I thought, hmm. These don’t taste like great brownies, they taste like good brownies. But then I chilled them, and ate another one. It was a very big transformation! The beans really are tasteless. So is the avocado.

The texture is thick and fudgy, and because there is no flour they don’t dry out like a normal brownie can. These are healthy brownies, there’s no getting around it, but for people who can never touch real brownies they are really really good. You don’t need a huge blender either to make them. Mine is tiny so I just blend up one wet component with one dry and add it to mixing bowl, then another, etc until every thing is the same consistency, then stir it all together. So I blended the cocoa with the avocados and the almond meal with the eggs, for example. Also I tried these with kidney beans to see if this would work too, and it did, but the black beans seemed to create a slightly better texture. 

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Black Bean Avocado Brownies:Barely adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

1 tin (425 grams, 1 pound, 15 ounces) black beans, washed and cooked if raw

50 grams (half a cup) each cocoa powder and almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

120 grams (4 ounces) dark chocolate (sugar free optional), melted or cut into chunks (for non-melt)

3 tablespoons ripe, green avocado (about half 1 large)

2 tablespoons olive oil

300 grams (1 cup) medjool dates, cut up

3 eggs (for vegan, replace each egg with one tablespoon chia seeds stirred with two tablespoons of water and left to thicken. So 3 tablespoons chia mixed into 6 of water, stirred)

Handful of chopped nuts or cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 170C (375F). Grease and line a 20cm tin with baking paper. Melt over a low heat in a bowl over simmering water your chocolate until smooth. If it is sugar free don’t try to melt it, just cut it into chunks. Blend all your ingredients together well and mix into a paste. Mix in chocolate chunks and extras, if you are using them. Spoon into your prepared tin and smooth down with a large spoon or knife. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the top is no longer wet and there is no jiggle (don’t overbake!) Chill until cold before cutting and eating, dusting with cocoa powder. IMG_5220

Healthy Date and Walnut Chocolate Balls

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free and Vegan

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This week I tried to make chocolate truffles for the first time. How hard could it be? Innocent me thought. For anyone out there considering making up some chocolate truffles? READ the line that says chill the chocolate for at least three hours. 

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Trying to roll warm chocolate and cream into balls is messy and humiliating! Especially once you add the hand filled with hot melted chocolate and the coconut flakes and the cocoa powder…my truffle attempt was what you might call a failure 😦

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These here are my second attempt at chocolate balls this week. They are the polar opposite to those dreaded truffles. As promised some of the recipes on this blog will be ‘healthy’, although I’m reluctant to use that word because so many times it conjures up the familiar words “dry”, “green” and “boring.” These are anything but that. They are sweet, dense, chocolatey and good for you. My cousin, who is a whiz with healthy ingredients and super foods, gave me the recipe and until I read it I hadn’t even realised they weren’t filled with cream and melted chocolate like any other truffle out there!

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 There are a lot of similar recipes out there but I felt I should share it with you guys regardless because it’s so easy and so good. Feel free to get creative. I added cinnamon but you can go down the ginger root, cardamon, maybe some orange zest or juice, just add a pinch of the spice you fancy and get experimenting! I want to try using different fruit and nuts next time, although this combination here is pretty good. 

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Date and Walnut Chocolate Balls:

3 cups pitted dates

2 cups walnuts

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 splash soy, almond or substitute milk of choice to bring together

Dessicated coconut for coating

Blend all your ingredients together until a thick paste forms. If you also don’t have a powerful blender like me, cut up the dates and crush the nuts beforehand to avoid the risk of an engine meltdown. Roll into balls, roll in coconut and eat them! They taste good either at room temperature or cold from the fridge as well, whichever you prefer. 
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