Tag Archives: cacao nibs

Recipe: Nearly Raw Truffles of Two Kinds!

Between work, singing and this allegedly-healthy global walking challenge, I seem to be in a constant state of exhaustion at present, which is not conducive to blog posts.  It doesn’t help that I’m so tired I’m actually following recipes at the moment…  However, I have a big excursion planned tomorrow for my walking team – we’re going to leave work at 3:30 and walk 13 kms to Williamstown, and then go on a Ghost Tour after dinner.  My team is, in fact, the slowest of the three teams at work, but we are also the coolest, because we do outings!  And surely that’s what really counts?

I’ve planned this outing in ridiculous detail – 8 weeks into the challenge, a lot of us are flagging or have minor injuries, so not only have I planned a very precise route, I have arranged it so that every kilometre or two, we get within shouting distance of a railway station or a bus stop, to allow anyone who needs it to ride the rest of the way. 

And, of course, I am providing snacks – healthy, energy-giving snacks, to speed us on our way.  I recently made Almost Vegan’s Five Minute Blondies with Hannah’s Raw Chocolate Icing (with avocado!), which were awesome, but a bit messy for my purposes, so I turned the blondies into truffles, and added a bit of ginger and cinnamon to suit their caramel goodness.  But I couldn’t stop at one recipe, and I had leftover dried figs and dried apricots from a pilaf yesterday, and hazelnuts and pistachios also hanging around the house, and raw cacao, and before I knew it, I had two recipes on my hand. 

Herewith, before I fall asleep on my keyboard, Nearly Raw Chocolate, Hazelnut and Fig Truffles and Raw Apricot, Orange and Pistachio Truffles.  The chocolatey ones are kind of amazing – I didn’t think they tasted very chocolatey, but the chocolate sort of creeps up on you – you taste it for several minutes after you have one.  The apricot truffles are a lot like those little apricot delight squares they used to sell at the canteen at my primary school, but with pistachios and orange-flower water giving them a lovely, perfumed flavour.   And they are so healthy!  Ish…

Your Shopping List for Hazelnut, Chocolate and Fig Truffles

150 g raw hazelnuts
2 tbsp (40 ml) raw cacao, or good cocoa powder
200 g soft dried figs
50 ml maple syrup
50 g goooood dark chocolate, chopped

Your Shopping List for Apricot and Pistachio Truffles

300 g dried apricots (the soft kind work better)
zest of 1 orange
50 g pistachios
1/2 teaspoon of orange flower water

Optional Extras

You could roll the hazelnut and chocolate truffles in cocoa powder, if you liked.  And, while it seems a pity to spoil the middle-eastern nature of the apricot ones, by doing this, you could roll them in coconut.  Or dip them in white chocolate and the others in dark chocolate, which point you’ve pretty much admitted that you aren’t trying to be health-foody any more.

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Recipe: Pudding Brownies with Cream Cheese and Cherries

I had such grandiose plans for this anniversary post!  I was going to make macarons!  I was going to make a gluten-free *and* vegan number 1 cake in best Women’s Weekly style!  I was going to have a party and make *everything*!

But it’s the end of a long week, including half a day of interminable computer training, and by the time I got home all I wanted to do was sleep.And eat chocolate cake.  Not necessarily in that order.

I have this new, wonderful Margaret Fulton Baking book (which, incidentally, I highly recommend), and had about decided to do something directly from that, even though I then wouldn’t be able to blog about it (that’s the disadvantage of food blogging – you never get to follow a recipe properly.  Says she who has never followed a recipe properly in her life, but apparently still feels that she would like to…).  My gaze was drawn to cranberry chocolate brownies with cream cheese topping.  No worries, I thought; I’ll make it gluten-free, and then it’s mine!  Only I didn’t have dried cranberries.  Dried cherries it is, then!  Oh, and maybe some cacao nibs, because they work in everything.  No worries. 

So I started making the recipe and promptly broke one of the eggs directly onto the floor.  There was no way I was going to the shops at this point, so I decided to see what plausible ingredients were in the fridge, and realised I had half a jar of cranberry jelly…

… Let’s just say that this recipe is definitely a Cate’s Cates recipe now, and leave it at that…

(Oh, and if you are wondering why ‘pudding brownies’, well, it’s because I was just a bit impatient about wanting to get these brownies out of the tin and photographed and, more importantly, tasted before it got too far past my bedtime.  So it’s possible that they weren’t really set yet – they are magnificently moist, which is a polite way of saying they fell apart when I tried to serve them, but they tasted so good I didn’t care.  I suspect they will hold together better when properly cool, but I make no promises.  I will, however, update this post in the morning when I know the full story.)

(Edited to add – actually, they are really good cold.  Very dense, but they hold together beautifully, and as a chocolate delivery system they are extremely effective)

Your Shopping List

200 g dark chocolate, preferably Lindt 70% cooking chocolate
250 g butter, cubed.  Trust me, this saves time in the long run.
2 eggs, plus 1 egg for the topping (4 eggs would have been excessive anyway.  I was right to drop the extra one on the floor.)
3/4 cup caster sugar + 1/2 a cup for the topping
1/3 cup cranberry jelly
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup cornflour + 2 tablespoons (40ml) for the topping
a pinch of salt
1 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup cacao nibs
250 g cream cheese at room temperature, but the microwave is your friend if you had it in the fridge
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
 
 

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Recipe: Delicious, But Disappointingly Un-Purple, Carrot Cupcakes

Why are these cakes green? You may well ask…

Ever since the weekend, I’ve been thinking about purple carrot cake.  Whether purple carrots would make purple cake.  How to maximise the purpleness of the cake.  Whether a vegan carrot cake (lacking alkaline egg-white) would get me a better purple cake than one containing eggs.  Whether adding orange juice, as some recipes suggest, would counteract the egg-white, and drive the cake over the line into pinkness.

What I really want to do is set up a series of purple cake experiments, in which I test the various variables and see what colours the cakes come out.  But that’s a lot of carrot cake for two people to get through, and even amusing colouring will grow old if you have four dozen carrot cupcakes to get through.  So I decided instead to start by focus on making the most purple carrot cake I could.  Not blue – I wanted to do some vegan (ish – these plans work better if you actually have soy yoghurt in the house) baking for a change, and besides, egg-whites can drive cake over the edge into green, and I’ve already done that.  And not pink.  Pink is far too easy.  So purple it would be, then.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I failed.  My batter wound up an alarming (but nonetheless entertaining) shade of deep blue-grey, which I thought was rather promising, but the cooked cake was just a particularly deep brown in colour.  Clearly, using brown sugar was a mistake.  On the other hand, the flavour was excellent.  Hence this blog post – because really, these are some of the nicest carrot cakes I’ve had.  And they are very nearly vegan (and dead easy to veganise, as you will see)!

Your Shopping list

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sour cream or soy yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarb of soda, which should make everything more blue!
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
about 2 purple carrots, peeled and grated (you should end up with about a cup of grated carrot)
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)
60 g cream cheese (or soy cream cheese), softened
60 g butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
zest of one lemon
blue food colouring, if you like

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