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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Rhubarb and Coconut Cobbler

Vegan, Refined Sugar Free
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Oh my goodness why have I been so bad at posting lately! I’m so sorry, I actually have no excuses other than me being born a lazy bum. After this week though exams will be over, it will be summer holidays and I very much doubt I will be able to find a job by then (seeing as I’ve been looking for the last six months already with very little luck, mostly due to the fact that every time a place gets back to me I tell them I’m too busy.)

I’m sad. I didn’t even make a Halloween post for you guys. To be real though, there were so many awesome ideas already that I felt my contribution would probably be poorly received. This Halloween me and my sister had a li’l party (sorry Mum and Dad), and I dressed up as a swimmer being eaten by a giant octopus. Which I made out of pink stockings stuffed with all my socks!! I thought it was such a cool costume, until everyone thought I was getting strangled by a giant worm…

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I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with a bunch of rhubarb we got last week, which is strange because I’m obsessed with rhubarb. Probably the nicest cake I’ve ever made was this rhubarb slice, which people are still raving about. But I can’t make that again!!! And I didn’t want to do what I always do, which is just cook it with vanilla and sugar and eat it on yogurt, because I’ve stopped really eating any dairy now. And stewed rhubarb on its own is kind of weird to me…

Thank God for Donna Hay right. I’ve been steadily cooking and eating my way through her cookbook since someone gave it to us for Christmas. The photos of her rhubarb and pomegranate cobbler were so pretty I literally died looking at them! Seriously how are her photographers so talented! I’m almost embarrassed to even show these photos today because they’re so average, but the cobbler was so tasty I really wanted to share it.

It’s completely vegan too! I haven’t experimented with gluten free yet, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to adapt. I added apple too because I didn’t want to use so much sugar. So tasty! I promise to be more on top of posting this week friends 🙂 See you soon!

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Rhubarb and Apple Cobblers: Inspired by Donna Hay

2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
2oog melted coconut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raw sugar

750g rhubarb, chopped into 4cm (2inch) pieces
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
4 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
juice of 1 orange

3 tbsp desiccated coconut
3 tbsp sliced almonds
icing sugar optional, to dust

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Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, coconut butter, vanilla, salt and raw sugar and stir until just doughy. Add more flour if the mix is too wet, or a splash of almond milk if it’s too dry. It should be the consistency of biscuit or scone batter.

Mix the rhubarb, apple, orange juice, cinnamon and sugar together and spoon into an oven-proof baking dish or skillet. Using your hands, grab clumps of the cobbler and press over the fruit roughly to form a lid, with some holes for steam to escape. Top with the coconut and almonds, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden on top and the fruit is cooked through. Sprinkle with sugar and serve with coconut ice cream or cream.

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Gluten Free Carrot and Date Cake

Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free
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Today I was going to go to uni and finish three assignments, but instead I skipped class and made a carrot cake.

I’m worried by how often this has been happening lately. Very worried. But it’s such a nice day today! If you live in Sydney you’ll agree this last week has been awesome. Goodbye winter and having to sit on my heater every five minutes while I’m getting dressed.

I am kind of sad it’s too hot to drink hot chocolate now though. I developed the perfect recipe this winter involving lots of cinnamon and homemade almond milk. Sooo good.

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I’ve been getting weirdly stressed about making blog posts lately, I don’t know if anyone noticed how late each post is going up. I just can’t decide what to make! And when I do decide, I can’t find the time to make it and photograph it and edit it in time. So stressful!

This morning though the urge to make carrot cake was stronger than the voice saying “but you already made a banana carrot layer cake” and a carrot loaf for this blog. Not to mention the best carrot cupcakes of all time.

But you can never have too many carrot cake recipes! Right? Right guys?! And besides, this one is gluten free. It’s also absolutely delicious. Super moist and fluffy and yogurty from the icing (if you go the non-vegan way). it’s the kind of cake where you cut yourself a second slice before you’ve even finished the first piece, not that I would know anything about that…
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My sister and I demolished half the cake this morning, in-between listening to all the new music I downloaded and dancing with my dog. I’m somehow not feeling too regretful about missing my morning lecture about client/lawyer retainers.

You can either top this cake like I have, with a cup of strained yogurt mixed with 2 tbsp of maple syrup, or you can use coconut yogurt or cashew cream for a vegan option. Any will be delicious! Enjoy 🙂

One Year Ago: Carrot, Pear and Quinoa Crumble Muffins

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Gluten Free Carrot Cake: Inspired by this recipe

3 eggs OR 3 tbsp chia seeds mixed with almond milk
2 very ripe bananas
15 fresh dates, seeded
6 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

3 medium carrots, grated finely (skin on ok)

300g yogurt, drained in a cheesecloth for at least an hour
4 tbsp maple syrup

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Either mix the chia seeds with the almond milk and set aside, or whisk up the 3 eggs. In a blender, blitz the banana, dates and oil. In a medium bowl sift together all the dry ingredients.

Fold the eggs into the dry ingredients, then fold in the banana date mix. Stir in the grated carrots and pour into the tin. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Mix together the yogurt and maple syrup or honey, or 300g cashew cream with maple syrup. Top the cake once it is cool and keep in the fridge.
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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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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Yogurt Icing

Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

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Yesterday my beautiful friend Maddie had her twentieth birthday party. Last year I made her this lemon sponge birthday cake and covered it in sugar flowers and told you all how much I love Maddie, if you want to read that. This year I wanted to make the MOST EPIC CAKE OF ALL TIME.

Maddie loves banoffee pie so I decided to make a four-layer caramel mud cake with banana and cream filling and chocolate ganache covering the entire thing. So I got up early, went and bought all the ingredients, whipped up my cake feeling like a casual Masterchef, and as I was cleaning up I found the pound of sugar sitting on the counter. Not in the cake, like it was supposed to be, just relaxing on my counter.

Uuugh. Life’s struggles. I tried to fix it by covering every single layer in a thick layer of more caramel as well as the chocolate and bananas and cream, and it ended up pretty awesome. But I think it would probably have tasted better with you know, sugar in it.

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Lots of people tell me they’re too scared to bake or try my recipes because they might stuff up or they’re not “good enough.” To them I say, I stuff up all the time. Like literally every time I make something there’s a stage that goes wrong somewhere in there. But it doesn’t matter! Try it anyway, and if you have to go out and buy a jar of Dulce de Leche to smother on your sugar-free cake, that’s ok too.

You can never get any better if you don’t try in the first place. Which brings me to these cupcakes. Ever since I made these apple and cinnamon cream cheese cupcakes, I’ve been wanting to make a gluten free AND vegan version that’s just as good as the original.

I was waay too scared for ages because my memory of them was so perfect, I didn’t want a mediocre cupcake to replace it. But finally thought, geez Lil. Just go make the cupcakes already. With the help of My Darling Lemon Thyme‘s gluten free muffin recipe I finally cracked the apple cinnamon cupcake challenge.

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I’m going to go as far to say that these are better than the original muffins. And they happen to be way better for you too! There’s no eggs, dairy, gluten or refined sugar in them at all and they also happen to be super easy to make.

I’m always worried when I make gluten free cupcakes that the texture will be either super powdery, or gluggy, or dense. These weren’t any of these. My sister ate one not knowing they were gluten free and said they were crumbly but moist (mooooooist), like the perfect cupcake. So there you go, the Cake Kahuna has spoken. You can replace the apple with carrot or pear if you want! You could add chopped almonds or walnuts, sultanas instead of the dates, and you can even leave out the icing.

By the way, I am calling these cupcakes but they are technically muffins…But in my mind once it has icing it is a cupcake, so…yeah. They’re cupcake muffins. Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Butter Cake

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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Icing
Recipe inspired from this book
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup fine brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten OR 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water for vegan
3 apples, washed and grated
1/2 cup dates, chopped into chunks

1.5 cups (370g) coconut yogurt (or normal yogurt)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional but awesome)
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Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) and line 10 muffin moulds with muffin cups. Whisk together in a bowl the dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Gently fold the wet into the dry and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool.

Drain the coconut or normal yogurt in a sieve lined with a teatowel for a few hours, to make Labneh. Mix with the maple syrup and brown sugar and pipe over the cupcakes. Once iced, keep the cupcakes in the fridge.
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Apple and Pear Honey Crumble with Toasted Almonds

Optional Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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Ok, I’ve finally accepted it. It’s officially winter now in Sydney. I may or may not have attempted to hang on to Summer for a little too long this year. I may have bought a bikini yesterday. And a pair of shorts. But to be fair the warm weather lasted for ages! There were a few chilly nights, where I insisted on wearing summer clothes and ended up having to shelter under my taller friends’ armpits for warmth. But all in all this Autumn was rather balmy. 

It’s strange how in Sydney no one really accepts that it gets cold in Winter. All through Summer everyone’s super prepared with their chilled watermelon and beach trips, but come winter literally no one knows how to act. No one even owns proper coats, let alone umbrellas or *gasp* thermals. For the first time ever last night I actually used the heating in my room, thinking, “hmm. 28C seems like a pretty nice temperature.” One hour later I woke up sweaty and panicked, dopey from all the gas in my room. I had to crawl to the remote and turn the heat down. I had to crawl.

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So today this is my slightly better remedy for winter. Everyone knows the best part about winter is the dessert. It must be warm and it must be served with vanilla ice cream. Otherwise the criteria is pretty vague. We had a whole bunch of pears and apples sitting in the fruit bowl and at first I was going to make a pie, but who has time for that?! Also, I wanted to eat this particular dessert for breakfast. This was also why I made the crumble in individual bowls, so that no confused lost soul would accidentally think I made the crumble for sharing purposes. 

I decided to try some new flavours in the crumble as a little experiment, and they worked so well I knew I had to post the recipe. The cinnamon and honey go so well with the pears! I literally couldn’t stop eating it. But the flavour that worked best was the oranges I squeezed over the fruit to stop it going brown. We had heaps of oranges as well and I juiced a couple to stop the fruit going brown as I took photos. Holy moly! It made the filling so much better! I would possibly vote this crumble one of the best I’ve ever tasted. 

Remember to serve with ice cream. And you should probably wear woolly socks whilst you eat it, preferably whilst watching Brigitte Jones Diary. But it’s up to you 🙂

One Year Ago: Tangy Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

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 Apple Crumble with Honey and Almonds:

6 medium firm apples, peeled and sliced 

6 medium firm pears, peeled and sliced

juice of 2-3 medium oranges

1 heaped tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp runny honey, or maple syrup for vegan

For the fruit filling, combine everything in a heavy bottomed pan and cook, covered, on a low heat for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). 

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For the crumble:

50g butter (vegan butter or coconut butter can be substituted for vegan) chopped 

100g wholemeal flour (almond butter for gluten free)

100g gluten-free oats

40g toasted almonds, chopped roughly

2 tbsp raw sugar 

25ml almond milk

Rub the butter and flour together in a bowl between your fingers until the mixture is crumbly but not doughy. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients until combined. Pour over the almond milk and chop through the mixture with the spoon until everything is lightly crumbly. 

Spoon the fruit into an oven proof dish (or around 6-8 small ones). Cover with the crumble and bake for half an hour, until the top is toasty and golden and the fruit bubbling. Serve warm with ice cream.

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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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