Category Archives: Sweet Things

Fondant Slice-2

Torta Paesana

Serves up to 16 

Fondant Slice

Move over brownies, you’ve been replaced. Well, to be fair, there is room in your life for both, but I prefer this. Why? Because it’s less sweet, but outrageously rich, and you can shave off really tiny slices at a time to make you feel like you’re eating less of it (the photo was taken while the cake was still warm due to the likelihood of rain, the texture totally changes when you put it in the fridge). Plus, since you store it in the fridge it keeps for ages, and it’s the best thing ever with an espresso. Oh and it’s gluten free and you can’t even tell.

I actually created this by accident, when I felt like doing a little aquafaba experimentation. I was browsing through a French gastronomic magazine when I came across a recipe for fondant cake. This ‘cake’ is essentially chocolate and eggs mixed together, and I thought, what if I tried my combination of chickpea flour and aquafaba to replace the eggs?

I didn’t really expect it to work the first time, but I was bored and had a cupboard full of chocolate. So I made it, and unsurprisingly it didn’t turn out like the original. I think silken tofu will be the key with fondant cake. But I put it in the fridge figuring I’d do something with it anyway. Later that day I got a hankering for something sweet, so I reached in and pulled off a chunk. O.M.G. It was good. I had accidentally made a gluten free torta paesana and improved on the original. My housemate proclaimed it the best chocolate dessert ever, and my dad who was visiting ate the entire container I gave him before he got home. Dark chocolate lovers, this is the dessert for you.

Since then I have added all kinds of nuts and rum soaked fruits, because why wouldn’t you, and measured it all out for you.  It’s pretty versatile, so you can serve it with coffee or with some ice cream or cointreau cashew cream for dessert. In fact it’s a great make-ahead dessert and it feeds a lot of people because you only need a tiny slice. It is pictured here with walnuts, because that’s what I had, but my absolute favourite is with pinenuts. Seriously try it, it will blow you away.

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate (I use 70%, because I don’t like it too sweet. Feel free to use a sweeter one if that’s what you’re into)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup vegan butter, margarine or refined coconut oil (all give equal results)

1 tsp vanilla extract

7tbsp chickpea flour

10tbsp aquafaba

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Couple pinches salt (omit if using salted aquafaba)

1 cup nuts (pinenuts highly recommended, walnuts a close second, followed by hazelnuts)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease a 9 inch springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper

2. Place the nuts (whole if pinenuts, roughly chopped if walnuts) onto a baking tray a roast for 5 minutes or so until they start to release their oils and are lightly golden. Watch them like a hawk, burnt nuts are nobody’s friend.

3. Place the chocolate in a bowl over gently simmering water and stir with a metal spoon until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter/margarine/oil until melted.  Add the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add the nuts and chickpea flour and beat well.

4. Pour the aquafaba into a deep bowl with the vinegar. Whisk very rapidly until it’s all white and foamy, kind of creamy, and somewhat thick. You don’t need peaks. Pour this into the chocolate mixture and quickly fold in. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven immediately. Bake 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on your oven. It should be firm to the touch and have a really thin skin on top that is slightly cracked, like brownies. Leave in the tin to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge, still in the tin, until chilled. Remove from the tin and serve.

 

coconut-lime pannacotta2

Coconut-Lime Pannacotta with Mango, Passionfruit and Hazelnut ‘Praline’

Serves 8

20 minutes plus 2 hours chilling. 

Last night Fabio was feeling better, so the dinner was back on. Having not done any prep, I was only able to do three courses, but we were well and truly stuffed so that’s probably for the best.  For the first course I made a selection of antipasti, including peperonata, onions agro dolce, my famous pesto stuffed eggplant rolls, oyster mushroom calamari with aioli, Sicilian green olives (aka the best olives in the world, but I didn’t make those) and herbed cannellini beans. Yummo!

For the second course I made Italian style carbonara, as requested by Fabio, which I will post soon. It was eggy and cheesy perfection.

But of course, this post is about the dessert. Fabio likes fruity desserts and isn’t a big fan of cake, and I have made fruit flans the last two years in a row, so it was time for something new. Given how warm it has been this October, and how much food we were going to eat before dessert, I decided to make something light, and a pannacotta was the perfect choice. This is an unexpected explosion of tropical fruit and summer,  perfectly balanced by the hazelnut ‘praline’ and creamy coconut, that will have your guests scraping the plate.  It’s easy to make sugar free, which I did, using xylitol or sweetener of choice.

Ingredients

For the pannacotta

700ml pure coconut cream (one without added gums or stabilizers)

100ml water (room temperature)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Finely grated zest of two limes

Heaped half cup sugar or xylitol (or up to 3/4 cup if you want it sweeter)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp agar agar powder

For the ‘praline’

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts

1/4 cup coconut chips/shredded coconut

2 fresh medjool dates

For garnish

1 1/2 cups cold diced fresh or defrosted frozen mango

The pulp from 4 passionfruits OR equal amount of tinned passionfruit

Strawberries and mint leaves

Method

1. Whisk together the coconut milk, water, lime juice, lime zest, vanilla and sugar/xylitol in a saucepan until smooth. Whisk in the agar agar powder and let sit 5-10 minutes.

2. Bring the contents of the saucepan to the boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Be sure to really scrape the bottom with the whisk. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 7-8 minutes. At this point I switch between a rubber spatula and a whisk to ensure no sticking to the bottom of the pot.

3. Pour the mixture into a glass or ceramic rectangular container, somewhere around 15cm x 20cm. Leave to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold (around 2 hours)

4. To make the ‘praline’, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a fairly fine crumb.

5. Assemble when ready to serve: Use an immersion blender to puree the mango, then spoon a couple of tablespoons onto each plate. Cut the pannacotta into 8 equal pieces and place on the mango. Spoon the flesh of half a passionfruit on top of each slice of pannacotta. Scatter a spoon of the ‘praline’ any way you like onto the plate, and garnish with a few strawberries and mint leaves.

Mesquite Bites

Raw Mesquite-Oh Bites

Makes around 36 squares

Tehe, get it? Yep, I love my awful puns, and I couldn’t help myself. But don’t let the awful name put you off, these are great.

There’s nothing too fancy about these, they are very simple, but they are a delicious, chewy, caramely treat from the fridge that you can eat without guilt. I used to just grab a fresh date , but one of these has more protein, calcium and yumminess, so why wouldn’t you make them?

Best of all, these don’t require any soaking or advance prep and can be made without a food processor, which is just as well because when I turned mine on to make these last night smoke started coming from the motor. I guess I’ll be living like a cave person until the company sends me a replacement.

Ingredients

1 cup almond meal (I use blanched even though it’s not strictly raw, cos it’s so tasty)

1 cup dessicated coconut

3/4 cup mesquite powder

2 1/2 cups fresh medjool dates, pitted

Pinch sea salt

1/2 tsp vanilla powder or extract

Method

1. Put everything in a food processor and pulse until you have a smoothish sticky lump

OR

Finely chop the dates until you have a rough paste. Place into a bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients in with your hands (I suggest wearing gloves to do this).

2. Place the mixture between two pieces of baking paper, around 30cm long. Roll out with a rolling pin until around 7mm thick. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, then cut into squares. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

coffee spice cake whole

Coffee & Spice Cake with Whisky Glaze

Coffee Spice Cake

coffee spice cake pieceThere is no story behind this cake, just a desire to bake and eat something delicious. That, and somebody opened three tins of decaf coffee, even though none of us drink it.

This cake is good. It’s a sophisticated adult treat to accompany your afternoon coffee, with a generous dose of whisky to cure that three-thirty-itis. It could also be an after dinner dessert with a side of vegan vanilla bean ice cream or vegan whipped cream (just not coconut please).

The cake itself is light and moist, while the flavour is pronounced with aromatic spices and coffee. Your house will smell soooo good while this is baking.

This cake would be ideal as a bundt cake, however I don’t have a bundt tin. I thought I did, but when I rummaged through my cupboard looking for it, all I could find was a cake tin shaped like a jelly mould. Yep, that one’s a mystery. Why would anyone want a cake to look like jelly? Anyway, any ring tin will do.

Ingredients

2.5 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground cardamom (this gives the cake a prominent cardamom flavour, which I love. If you aren’t a huge fan, reduce this to 1/8 tsp)

1 cup vegan butter (I have used margarine successfully in a pinch)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

150ml aquafaba

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup brewed espresso coffee

1/2 cup soy milk

1tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the Glaze

1/4 cup brewed espresso coffee

1/4 cup whiskey (choose a good one, you will taste it)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp vegan butter

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and grease and flour a 12 cup decorative ring tin

2. Sift the flour with the baking soda and spices. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the aquafaba until frothy and creamy looking. Gradually add the aqaufaba to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract

4. Add the coffee and soy milk and mix well. Gently beat in the dry ingredients until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the vinegar and pour into the tin

5. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer inserted near the centre comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to sit in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Place a tray under the cooling rack and pierce the cake with a knife around a dozen times, evenly spread out.

6. Place the galze ingredients in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Let it come to a simmer then remove from the heat immediately. Spoon the glaze evenly over the cake, letting each spoonful absorb before adding the next one.

Leave to cool completely, then carefully transfer to a serving plate (I was not careful this time and nearly broke the cake in half. Use a large spatula or cake lift, not your hands. There’s no icing to disguise a disaster with this cake).

Dust with icing sugar just before serving. Store covered  at room temperature for up to a few days.

Nutella-2

Vegan Nutella

Equipment: You will need a food processor capable of making nut butter. All powerful food processors should be able to do this.

Makes around 1 1/2 cups of the most delicious spread you will ever put in your mouth. 

This is basically Nutella with extra hazelnuts in place of the skim milk powder. That is, just like the real thing but better. I looked up the ingredients of Nutella, and used the same ratios and ingredients to create my own. It has a spreadable consistency, doesn’t separate in the jar and makes me so, so happy.

You know those mornings when it’s so cold that you can barely stand to stick your arm out from under the covers, so you just stay in bed even though parts of your anatomy are screaming at you to get up? Well, this spread on toast for breakfast is enough to drag my feet out onto the icy floor. It’s good enough to make me forget that I hate sugar in the morning. In fact, it’s so good that today I chose nutella on toast over avocado. That may mean nothing to you, but trust me, it’s shocking.

It’s so quick and easy you will make this all the time. Spread it on toast, put it on pizza, drizzle it over pancakes, fill crepes or doughnuts with it, spoon it over ice cream or eat it out of the jar with a spoon when nobody is looking.

Ingredients

2 cups raw hazelnuts

1 cup pure icing sugar

2/3 cup cocoa powder

2tbsp (30ml) canola oil OR refined coconut oil (this will make a firmer spread)

1tsp liquid soy or sunflower lecithin*

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

* The liquid lecithin is optional. It will stop the oils from separating in the jar, meaning you don’t need to stir for 5 minutes to get it smooth before you eat it (think tahini). However, if you don’t have it and don’t mind stirring, you can leave it out. I always have it in the cupboard because I use it to make vegan butter. You can buy it from iHerb here.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Place the hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast for around 10-15 minutes, until the skins are darkened and starting to flake, and the nuts are a light golden brown. Watch them, they can burn very quickly.

2. Tip the nuts into a clean tea towel and bundle them up. Let them sit for a minute or two to cool, then rub them vigorously inside the tea towel to remove the skins. Remove as much of the skin as possible, but don’t worry if there are a few stubborn specks stuck to the nuts.

3. Place the hazelnuts into the bowl of your food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times to break them up, then blend on high for a couple of minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides, then blend again until you have a smooth, liquid, oily nut butter. In my food processor this takes around 7 minutes.

hazelnut butter for nutella

4. Add the cocoa, canola/coconut oil and sugar and blend until smooth and fully combined. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla and lecithin. Blend again for 30 seconds or so.

nutella instructional

5. Now, this is where you have a choice. If you don’t mind a slight coarseness to your nutella, you can stop here. If you want it really smooth, you have two choices:

Best results: Pour the nutella into a high speed blender and blend, moving around the blades with the tamper, until silky smooth.

OR

Still pretty good results:  Place the finest mesh strainer you have over a bowl and pour in the nutella. Push through the strainer to remove any chunks of nuts to get the smoothest spread possible. Don’t throw the contents of the strainer away – eat those chocolatey hazelnut crumbs with a spoon or throw them into cookies, cakes or brownies or onto some ice cream. Store the nutella in a sealed jar in the cupboard for up to several weeks.

lemon-lime-coconut cake2

Syrupless Lemon-Lime-Coconut Syrup Cake

Yep, you heard me, a syrup cake without syrup. Confused? I don’t blame you, but I don’t know how else to describe it. This cake is sticky, dense in a good way and bursting with citrus juice and zest. The bonus: all this without all that extra sugar, and perfectly sweet.

Naturally, this cake was a total accident, caused by momentary dyslexia, when I weighed out 150g of coconut oil instead of 105g. By far the best baking accident I have ever had, the result was much better than the fluffy cake I intended to make (although that is delicious also). Seriously, this is delicious, I am totally in love.

Given the ridiculously freezing temperatures in Melbourne this week, do you really need any more of a reason to turn on your oven?

This is just the perfect thing with a cup of tea.

Ingredients

200g sifted SR flour

3/4 cup caster sugar

1tsp baking powder

2/3 cup desicated coconut

150g coconut oil, melted (I used refined. If you use virgin, make sure it’s a brand that doesn’t have that slightly funky taste)

150ml chickpea aquafaba

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Handful coconut flakes

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and grease and line a square baking tin, leaving enough baking paper to hang over the edges of the tin

2. Sift the flour and baking powder together.

3. Put the aquafaba into the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk until frothy. Add the lemon and lime juice and whisk again on high for 30 seconds.

4. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and whisk on medium until thoroughly combined, around 2 minutes.

5. Spread evenly into the cake tin and bake 30 minutes (it should be just about cooked by now, if not, leave it a little longer). Sprinkle the top of the cake with the coconut flakes and bake another 10 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (I cool it on the baking paper). In hot weather, this is best stored in the fridge.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

Almost Raw Lemon-Blueberry & Coconut Cheesecake

Yesterday was my sister’s birthday, so naturally I made her a cake. Well, two actually, one just for her (a sugar-free sticky date pudding) and this one to share at dinner.

We both love raw desserts, but because my sister can’t have any sugar, most are unsuitable because they contain maple or agave syrup. Since we aren’t raw foodists, I often include non-raw ingredients in my recipes s for flavour or to eliminate sugar. If you are fully raw, I have included a variation at the end of the recipe. How many times can someone say raw in a paragraph?

This was a big hit, with it’s zesty, berry, creamy goodness in every bite. It looks fancy too, and I wish I’d thought to take a photo of a cut slice before we demolished it. You’ll just have to take my word for it that when you cut it, the slices have a zebra stripe pattern on them.

As with most raw desserts, this is so easy you can make it with one arm (I know this because I dislocated my shoulder yesterday, and had to make it with one arm). Juicing the lemons was a little difficult, I’ll admit, but I managed to do two before my sister took pity on me and helped me out.

Ingredients

Base

1 1/2 cups raw almonds

1/2 cup coconut chips (aka coconut flakes)

8 fresh medjool dates

Cheesecake

3 cups raw cashews, soaked 6 hours, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup coconut cream

1/2 cup lemon juice (our lemons are very tart – if you are using sweeter lemons, you might want to use more and omit the water)

1/4 to 1/2 cup water, as required

Finely grated zest of 3 large lemons

1/2 cup plus 2tbsp xylitol

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup frozen blueberries, defrosted (or fresh if you live somewhere you can get yummy ones)

To Decorate

A few whole blueberries

Some coconut chips

Strips of lemon zest

Method

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients for the base and pulse until fine and sticks together when pressed. Line a 9 inch (or whatever size you have close to that) springform pan with baking paper, leaving an edge poking out of the base of the tin (this will make removing the cake later much easier). Press the nut mixture firmly and evenly into the base of the pan.

2. Place the cashews, coconut cream, lemon juice and zest, xylitol, coconut oil and 1/4 cup of the water into a powerful blender and blend until totally smooth. Add the remaining 1/4 cup water if you need it to get the mixture moving in your blender.

3. Pour half of the cashew mixture into a bowl. Add the blueberries to the blender and blend until smooth.

4. Now the fun part, making it all pretty and zebra like. Using one spoon for each colour, place a spoonful of the white mixture onto the base, then place a spoonful of the blueberry mixture directly on top of it. Then a spoonful of white mixture on top of that, and a spoonful of blueberry on top of that, and so on and so on until you have used up al the mixture. Give the tin a gentle tap to flatten the mixture if required.

5. Cover the tin with cling wrap and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours until set. Remove from the freezer, take it out of the tin and put it on your serving plate. Sprinkle with some blueberries, coconut chips and lemon zest and serve. Store in the fridge.

Variation

To make this recipe fully raw, omit the xylitol, water and coconut cream and replace with 3/4 cup agave nectar and 1/2 cup young coconut flesh.

Chocolate foam

Chocolate Foam

This is not a mousse. I love chocolate mousse: Smooth, creamy and heavenly, it’s the perfect thing to spread between cake layers, quenelle onto a plate or to fill chocolate cups with. It’s sensational as a dessert on its own, too, but it’s quite rich and a whole martini glass is just too much after dinner. I wanted to create a chocolate foam so that I could indulge in a serving of chocolate that was lighter than air. I also just wanted to get in the kitchen and experiment with aquafaba.

I’m sure many of you have heard about this magical ingredient by now, but for those who haven’t, it is basically the liquid drained from a can of beans (preferably chickpeas). It whips up like egg whites, and can be used to make meringue, ice cream, sponge cake, frosting and as an egg replacer in almost everything. Check out the Vegan Meringue Facebook group for amazing aquafaba creations. https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeganMeringue/

The whipped aquafaba creates bubbles in the chocolate-cream mixture, and keeps it super soft and light. I’m thinking that this foam might become part of another dessert, perhaps a topping for something more solid, or for French toast. However, I couldn’t wait to share it, playing with aqufaba is just too much fun!

Shelf life? I have no idea, we ate it all within 15 minutes of setting.

Ingredients

200ml single cashew cream, at room temperature

3/4 cup chickpea aquafaba

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

150g dark eating chocolate (around the 70% mark)

2 tbsp caster sugar

Extra chocolate, to garnish

Method

1. Bring water to the boil in a small saucepan. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place it on the saucepan. Reduce heat to low and stir the chocolate until it is melted. Set the chocolate aside to cool a little

2. Place the aqufaba and the cider vinegar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on high speed until stiff peaks are formed. Add the sugar half at a time, whipping between each addition. Turn off the mixer and set aside.

3. Place the cashew cream into a large bowl and mix in the chocolate. This should bring the chocolate mixture to room temperature. Once fully combined, gently fold in the whipped aqufaba. Spoon the mix into 6 martini glasses/bowls, or a big bowl if you are using it for other purposes. Leave to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.