My favourite raw chocolate brownie has had a makeover and, to celebrate, we’re launching a fantastic giveaway on the blog today!
My favourite raw chocolate brownie has had a makeover and, to celebrate, we’re launching a fantastic giveaway on the blog today!
One of the most exciting developments that I’ve witnessed in the world of confectionery has been the perfecting of vegan ‘milk’ chocolate. After decades of dodgy ‘dairy free alternatives’ to milk chocolate (that barely even tasted like chocolate!), there is now an array of quality vegan ‘milk’ chocolates available. I’ve discovered most of them via The Vegan Kind subscription box, so a big thank you to the TVK Team for seeking them out for us.
Here are my top picks of vegan ‘milk’ chocolates that would be perfect for gifts, stockings and hampers this Christmas. And if planning to purchase online, why not buy from a charity shop such as Viva! or Animal Aid? That way, you’ll be making a purchase that’s not only cruelty free, but supports the protection of animals too. That’s a ‘win-win’ in my book :o)
If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you may remember my sad attempt to grow veggies a few years back. Everything I planted quickly got devoured by the gazillion veggie-loving critters that live in our garden. Some plants literally disappeared overnight :/
I’ve long since abandoned the veggie patch dream and my latest strategy is to leave the patch in a semi wild state and observe what will happily grow there with no intervention on my part. So far, amongst the multitude of wild flowers and “weeds”, I have three edible crops that are flourishing – Golden Raspberries, Lemon Balm and Chocolate Mint!
When I was young, I used to love the tins of Quality Street that we shared as a ‘treat’ at Christmas. My eyes lit up every time I opened the lid and saw all those shiny, bright wrappings. Usually people have a Quality Street ‘favourite’ but not me… I loved all of them bar one… and that was the hard toffee penny in the gold wrapper. In fact, I’m wondering whether anyone actually likes those toffees. In my house, they were always the last ones left in the tin.
My taste buds have changed a lot since I was a kid and now, even the thought of eating a Quality Street chocolate makes me feel queasy. I just don’t like the taste of cane sugar anymore, nor the nauseating feeling it leaves me with for hours after I’ve eaten it. However, as you’ll have seen on my blog, I do still love chocolates A LOT. It’s just that these days, I prefer to make my own and fill them with ingredients that make me (and everyone else) feel great.
This week I’ve been having fun creating a new chocolate to share with friends and family this weekend. I daren’t admit how many I’ve eaten this week but it’s well into double figures. Good thing I’m running a lot at the moment!
This new chocolate is a healthy hybrid of two of my favourite Quality Street chocs – the Strawberry Delight and Coconut Eclair. Its flavour and texture is not dissimilar to ‘coconut ice’ (or a strawberry flavoured bounty!) but it tastes fresh and ‘real’ rather than sugary and processed. It’s really yummy!
It’s super easy to make too! It’s simply a case of whizzing coconut and strawberries together in a food processor, popping them in the freezer to firm up, then coating in dark chocolate. I like to make my own raw chocolate, but you could easily melt down a bar of chocolate or some choc chips if you prefer.
At Christmas time, I was really lucky to win a Twitter giveaway hosted by Sevenhills Organics. The prize was £250 worth of superfoods! In my amazing haul, was some beautiful cacao powder and cacao butter, which I used to make these chocs.
I’ve never seen cacao butter in buttons before. As well as being super cute, they’re much easier to use than the solid blocks that I normally buy. You simply pop them straight in the double boiler – no messing about with chopping or grating. I’ll definitely be buying these again!
The sweetener I used for these chocolates was Clarks Carob Fruit Syrup. If you’ve read my other raw choc posts, you’ll know that I love the subtle flavour of carob fruit syrups in my chocs. I’ve used Sweet Freedom before and the Clarks Carob Fruit Syrup is similar in taste, though much lighter and thinner in texture. It’s a fairly new product and currently only available from Ocado (I was sent some samples to trial). If you can’t get hold of carob fruit syrup, or you wish to make the chocolates raw, then organic agave nectar is a good substitute.
Makes about 20 chocolates (freezable)
Hands on time: 30 minutes Freezing time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Ready in: 2 hours
Strawberry ‘Coconut Ice’
100g / 3½ oz / 1 cup desiccated coconut
3 TBSP virgin coconut oil, melted
2½ TBSP carob fruit syrup (or organic agave nectar)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
37g / 1¼ oz / ¼ cup fresh or frozen strawberry slices
55g / 2 oz / ½ cup & 2 TBSP cacao powder
60g / 2 oz / ½ cup cacao butter (finely chopped or grated if in a solid block)
2½ – 3 TBSP carob fruit syrup (or organic agave nectar)
Whizz the desiccated coconut in a food processor for a few seconds to make it finer. Add the remaining ingredients and process until completely combined and it starts to stick together (this will take a couple of minutes). Stop now and then to scrape down the bowl.
Transfer the mixture to a sheet of parchment paper and shape into a rectangle about 1cm / ½ inch thick. (I aim for a rectangle 18cm x 9cm (7 x 3½ inches) so it’s easy to divide into equal pieces). If your mixture is too firm to smooth and level by hand, place another sheet of paper on top and use a rolling pin. Freeze for at least an hour.
To make the chocolate, prepare a double boiler by placing a small amount of water in a saucepan and a heat-proof bowl on top. Gently heat the water. Place the cacao butter in the bowl and leave it to melt. Once melted, whisk in the cacao powder followed by the syrup. Taste test and add more sweetener, if needed.
Remove the ‘coconut ice’ from the freezer and slice into squares. Drop one square into the chocolate bowl and quickly coat it in chocolate (I use two teaspoons for this). Shake off the excess, then place it back on the parchment paper. Repeat until all the pieces are coated in chocolate. Place in the fridge or freezer until set. They will keep for up to five days in the fridge or for weeks in the freezer stored in an airtight container. Remove from the freezer and leave for a couple of minutes to defrost before eating.
Products used in this recipe (UK stockists)
East End Desiccated Coconut
Essential Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Clarks Carob Fruit Syrup (Sweet Freedom and Organic Agave Nectar will work too)
Steenburgs Organic Fairtrade Vanilla Extract
Sevenhills Organic Cacao Powder
Sevenhills Organic Cacao Butter
Magimix Food Processor
Did you have a favourite Quality Street as a kid? If so, let me know as I’d love to try my hand at recreating it at home! 😀
I first shared a recipe for chocolate orange chia pudding back in February 2012 and, to this day, it remains one of my family’s favourite desserts ♥ It’s such a simple pudding to make and, since I originally posted the recipe, I’ve refined the method so that it’s even quicker. Honestly, this recipe could not be more easy! The original photo I took doesn’t do this pudding justice, so I thought it was time for a re-post with the updated recipe and some shiny new photos.
Since that original post, chia seeds have become much more popular here in the UK. You can buy them in most health food shops, and even supermarkets have started stocking them. They’re also widely available (and often much cheaper) from online stores. I find they can vary a lot in price, so I always shop around for the best deal.
Since I use them daily in smoothies and puddings, lately I’ve been buying the Sevenhills 1kg bags as they work out much better value. You can buy them in a range of quantities though, so it’s probably a good idea to start with a smaller bag if you’re trying them for the first time (Holland & Barrett are currently selling a 100g bag for £2.49).
So why do I love chia seeds so much?
Well, there are two main reasons. The first is their amazing nutritional profile. Chia seeds are very high in dietary fibre, a good source of ‘complete’ protein, and rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids. They’re also hydrophilic and can absorb around 10 times their weight in water, thus helping to keep us nicely hydrated. Their fibre, fat and protein content, along with these hydrophilic abilities, means that the seeds are a great source of slow release energy, they help to balance blood sugar levels, and they keep us feeling full up for hours. Adding a spoonful to smoothies is a great way to keep hunger pangs at bay.
Chia seeds contain a range of trace minerals, and are especially rich in manganese, phosphorus and calcium, which are all important for good bone health. A 28g / 1 oz serving provides 30% of the manganese RDA, 27% of phosphorus, and 18% of the calcium RDA. The seeds also contain a multitude of antioxidants, including the flavonoid quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.
The second reason I love chia so much is that they make the most incredible chocolate puddings! Once blended with some cacao or cocoa powder and a little liquid, they transform into a delicious, silky smooth pudding that will easily rival any shop-bought chocolate dessert. And unlike the shop-bought varieties that tend to be laden with sugar and little nutritional value, these chia puddings are refined sugar free and packed with nutrition.
I used to soak the chia seeds in liquid for an hour or so until they’d transformed into a gel-like substance before blending them up, but these days I literally throw all the ingredients straight in the blender. High speed blenders are best for this job as they’ll blend the seeds smooth in a matter of seconds. Since I’ve had the Froothie, making chia puddings has been a breeze.
Lil’ L absolutely loves these puddings and sees them as a real treat. It’s great to be able to treat him to something that’s so nutritionally packed and full of healthy goodness.
Hands-on time: 10 minutes Ready in: 10 minutes
80ml / ⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (1-2 juicy oranges)
300ml / 1¼ cups non dairy milk
64g / 6 TBSP chia seeds
30g / 4 TBSP cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)
4 soft pitted dates (e.g. Medjool)
½ tsp orange extract
Maple syrup (or agave syrup), to taste
Dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated
Place the orange juice and milk in a powerful high speed blender, followed by the remaining ingredients (I use my Froothie 9400). Give them a stir until they are coated in liquid, then blend until silky smooth. Stop now and then to scrape down the sides. Taste test and add a touch more orange extract or sweetener, if desired.
Pour into small ramekins or cups, sprinkle on the garnish and chill until ready to serve. It will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Have you tried chia puddings before? If so, what’s your favourite flavour combo? If you’ve posted any recipes or pics, please do share the links below x
This week, it’s my blog’s three year anniversary so I think we deserve a little celebration 😉 And what better way to kickstart the celebrations than with a slice or two of my all-time favourite Yummy Scrummy raw chocolate brownie ♥
Not only does it taste utterly scrumptious (the brownie is very aptly named) but it also makes me feel so good!
No it’s not one of those kinds of brownies! The ‘feel good’ factor comes from the cacao (raw cocoa) which is packed with mood enhancing nutrients, including magnesium, B vitamins, phenylethamine (PEA) (the ‘love’ chemical) and anandamide (the ‘bliss chemical’). For more details on the health properties of cacao, check out this post I wrote back in 2011. This post also included my first ever giveaway, which just so happened to be Yummy Scrummy!
As well as being raw, the Yummy Scrummy bars are free from dairy, gluten, wheat, refined sugar and anything artificial. Instead, they’re gently sweetened with natural fruit extracts (apples, grapes & carob) and filled with wonderful health-enriching ingredients including Ecuadorian Arriba cacao powder, dates, raisins, walnuts, brazil nuts and goji berries. Most of the ingredients are certified organic.
With all these amazing health and mood boosting nutrients, it’s no wonder that I was hooked after one bite! The combination of ingredients also makes the brownies have a wonderful satiating effect, which means that even a small piece will leave you feeling full up and satisfied. The brownies come in 60g bars, but I tend to slice them in half or thirds so I can savour them over a couple of days.
Over the past few years, I’ve tried other raw chocolate brownies (and made quite a few myself) but Yummy Scrummy is still the best I’ve ever tasted. The bars are lovingly hand made in Wiltshire by Paula Knowlson and I guess it’s her ‘magic touch’ which makes these bars so special ♥
I’ve recently been in touch with Paula & Dan from Elements for Life and they have generously offered four prizes for our giveaway. The first prize winner will receive a whole uncut tray of Yummy Scrummy, and three runners up will win a trio of Yummy Scrummy bars.
To be in with a chance of winning, simply fill in the contact form below. Add ‘Yummy Scrummy’ as the subject, then answer the following question…
Where does the vanilla used in Yummy Scrummy come from?
(Hint: the answer can be found on this page of the Elements for Life website).
The giveaway is open to anyone aged 18 or over, living in the European Union.
The closing date is Friday 27th June 2014 at midnight GMT.
Four winners will be selected at random (using Random.org) and notified by email.
GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!
In addition to Yummy Scrummy, Elements for Life sell a fantastic array of high quality chocolate-making ingredients and super foods. They’ve kindly given me an offer code for my readers. Enter scrummyinmytummy at the checkout to save 10% off any products on their website during June and July 2014.