Deep Chocolate Black Forest Brownies

Vegan. Grain free (paleo). Brownies.

So…. that pervasive day of chocolate and flowers is drawing near, you know the one. Here are three (generalized) camps you might park yourself in:

1. You love it, love to love it, love all it stands for, get out all the pink and red and roses and hearts and glitter and go for it.

2. Whatever, a nice meal out, drink wine, smooches if you give me flowers. Pass me the chocolate.

3. Go away. Valentines day was created by card and gift companies and has nothing what-so-ever to do with real love. Cupid, who was that anyway? Real love cannot be bought. And I don’t eat that crap.

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Seriously, camp 3, lighten up and just honor the chocolate.

When I had young kids at home Valentine’s Day was my favorite. We’d decorate the windows with clear conatct paper hearts that had spoonfulls of glitter in them (that shit’s like pine needles at Christmas.. every where until next September), invite friends over and have an all out dessert (sugar) party: Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake, heart shaped cookies, homemade marshmallows, shirley temples…you know the drill. Gifts of lip gloss and underware (what? all that cute Valentine’s Day underware, how could I not?). I am so grateful for those memories

Now that my girls are grown, the meaning just doesn’t hold up for me. They were absolutely the reason holdiays were special at all. Now, whatever, I try. The man is more camp 3, though he definitely appreciates a good meal and dessert. [Also, when you’ve gone grain, nut, dairy and egg free that Cherry Cheesecake is a bit of a big challenge].

So here we are at dessert, or treats, snacks, lunch box surprises.  Make these for the healthy die-hard Valentine’s Day fan. Make these for the one who likes a good sweet with out the sappy love stuff. Make these to soften up camp 3 ( give them the whole pan full).

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Black Forest Brownies  (vegan, paleo)

2/3 cup tigernut flour
1/3 cup good quality cocoa or raw cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 Tbsp arrowroot flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp flax seed meal
1/4 cup liquid (cherry juice for Black Forest, water or dairy free milk choice)
6 oz (1 cup) dairy free dark chocolate, either in chunks or chips
1/2 cup firm coconut oil

Optional: 1 cup thawed frozen sweet cherries, drained, juice reserved

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 350*

Whisk flax meal into a 1/4 cup cherry juice ( or chosen liquid), set aside.

Prepare a square baking pan with 2 rectangles of parchment paper crossing over each other,  allowing the paper to go up the sides. Use a light coating of coconut oil to help the paper stick.

Place all remaining dry ingredients in a fine mesh sieve set over a medium size bowl, stir the dry ingredients to combine and press through the sieve, this helps remove any gritty tigernut skin out of the flour.

Melt chocolate and coconut oil together over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir well to combine, add flax meal mixture and stir again.

Combine wet ingredients into dry, stir well until incorporated.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, if using cherries, press approximately half of them into the batter. Bake for 15 minutes then turn pan, bake another 15 minutes. Let brownies cool then place the whole pan in the freezer until cold, this helps them keep their shape and adds to their gooey texture.
To remove brownies lift the parchment paper, loosening all four sides before lifting. Cut brownies. Store in refrigerator or freezer, they will soften at room temp.

Serve with the additional cherries and a sprinkling of cocoa powder.

 

Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake

Have you all recovered from the holidays? Eaten and drank your way through a gazillion pounds of salad and fruit? Good, now you’re ready to get back to real life, and just in time too, your poor body is starving for chocolate (I’m basing this solely on a singular experience, mine, and generalizing because I can’t possibly be alone in this, right?).

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The Devil resides here.

I compromise with my body, I get to fill my desperate chocolate craving and it gets to stay healthy. ish (the word on the healthyness of chocolate is not terribly convincing but it MAKES US HAPPY).

It’s time for a little devilish play.

This cake recipe is free of all grains (and therefore gluten free, yes I’ve been asked that),  free of dairy, free of nuts, it uses coconut sugar and maple syrup to sweeten (except the donut glaze). It does contain eggs, I haven’t been successful (yet) in the grain free vegan catagory.

This cake calls for coconut milk yogurt, see my excellent recipe here and here to make delicious additive-free VEGAN yogurt at home. You will also need tiger nut flour which is a wonderful flour made from a pre-biotic fibre rich teeny tuber, so you’ll want it anyway.

And it makes killer donuts:

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The Devil as a donut.

I don’t have pretty step-by-step pictures. You’ll be fine.

CHOCOLATE DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE

(grain free, dairy free, nut free)

Makes one round cake, 8 cupcakes or 12 donuts

Dry ingredients:

1 cup tiger nut flour

1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder

1/2 cup arrowroot powder

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp psyllium husk powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon (if desired)

Wet ingredients:

3 eggs at room temperature, beaten

1/4 cup maple syrup (or coconut nectar)

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt 

Method: Pre-heat oven to 350*

Coat your chosen pan with a baking spray or coconut oil (8-9 inch springform, donut mold, or muffin tin for cupcakes, or use liners).

In a small bowl whisk to combine all dry ingredients, pressing out any lumps, set aside.

In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk room temperature eggs. If your eggs are cold the coconut oil will not emulsify into the wet batter (you can warm cold eggs by placing them in warm water 30 minutes before cracking them open, changing the water after 15 min). Add remaining wet ingredients and whisk until fully blended and thick, a minute or two.

Combine dry and wet ingredients blending until completely incorporated. Pour batter into spring form pan or spoon evenly into donut mold, filling nearly full.

Bake cake for 50-60 minutes, bake donuts 20-30 min and bake cupcakes 30-40 min; until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with crumbs but not wet. Let cool before unmolding.

Leave cake whole or, once cooled, slice in two through the center to create a layer.

Coconut Milk Ganache

Makes enough for a cake with one layer, cupcakes, donuts with some leftover (but that is no problem, right?)

1 cup dairy free chopped chocolate or chocolate chunks

1 cup full fat coconut milk, using all the firm coconut milk and enough of the thin milk to equal one cup

2 Tbsp coconut oil

Method:

Place chocolate and coconut oil in a heat proof or stainless bowl. Bring coconut milk almost to a boil then pour over chocolate. Stir well to combine, let cool to room temperature then refrigerate.  Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the ganache until thick and fluffy. This ganache will soften at room temperature, so keep it refrgerated until ready to use.

Once cake or cupcakes have cooled use a spatula to spread frosting fancifully.

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Coconut Milk Glaze with Raspberries

2 cups organic powdered sugar (plus more if needed to acheive desired consistancy)

1/4 cup warm full fat coconut milk (stirred well)

2 Tbsps crushed freeze dried raspberries, plus more for topping

Method:

Whisk powdered sugar into warmed coconut milk, add crushed raspberries, adjust consistency by adding more powdered sugar a teaspoonful at a time, or adding water a few drops at a time. The glaze should be thick but still pourable.

Once donuts are cool enoungh to pop out of their molds, place them on a rack set over  parchment paper or a baking sheet. Spoon glaze over each one, letting it drip down the sides a bit ( it shouldn’t be so thin that it runs over the donut). Press freeze dried raspberries onto tops of donuts.

EAT. Share. Enjoy. 

 

 

Coconut Milk Yogurt

Completely dairy free yogurt.

Vegan. None of the nasty additives of commercial brands. Easy to make.

Luscious, delicious, real YOGURT.

freshly made coconut milk yogurt
To make this rewarding and fantastic recipe part of your dairy-free pantry, pop on over to Team Yogurt read all about it and a little bit about me. Then take a trip around the gorgeous website full of delectable recipes and writings from some of today’s most influential food writers and food makers. Team Yogurt is the newest beautiful creation by Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of the award winning blog 5 Second Rule and her current book, Yogurt Culture.


Replace coconut milk yogurt in any recipe calling for dairy yogurt, while it has a different flavor profile, it’s one that is mild and slightly tangy.

 

Stay tuned for my recipes using this yogurt like grain-free, dairy-free CHOCOLATE DEVIL’s FOOD CAKE (and donuts with coconut raspberry glaze!)

 

As always, this recipe has been tested again and again, but glitches happen, please feel free to reach out to me with honest questions.

Thank you for stopping by here!

 

 

Salted Tahini & Chocolate Cookies 

  
You know those decadent 3 (4 or 5) ingredient peanut butter cookies that have been traversing the internet and cookbooks for several years, the ones that became the mainstay of gluten free offerings in hip neighborhood bakeries everywhere (never mind most of us with Celiac can’t eat peanuts)? I used to bake them as extra large cookie sandwiches; spread with a thick middle layer of decadent chocolate ganache. We couldn’t keep them in the shop, people would phone ahead and reserve. The classic peanut butter and chocolate combination we all (North Americans) seem to crave. I read about Ovenly’s variation on the recipe in Smitten Kitchen and, really, WHY can’t I have those? (Oh so many reasons, but nuts in general). 

Smitten Kitchen is powerful magic, puts thoughts in your head buzzing like a fly you can’t get rid of. I needed cookies. And I can eat sunflower seed butter and, oh yes, TAHINI. and while I was at it why not throw in some raw cocoa? And here you go. Not anything at all like chocolate laced halvah, but kind of reminiscent. 
According to my quick internet search sesame seeds were originally cultivated around 3,500 years ago just for their oil. Tahini is lower in sugar and saturated fat and higher in fiber than peanut butter (and that’s impressive since peanuts are actually a legume) and was introduced to American health food stores in 1940. I mention this because I made batches of these cookies with two different tahini, and got vastly differing results. Sometimes there is an abundant oil to solids ratio depending on the brand or even within the same brand, due to this we will never get a tahini as thick as peanut or almond butters, and this can affect our cookies. 

The tale of fraternal Cookies.  

Find a tahini that is not too terribly runny, one that stays emulsified for a while after stirring and accept that oil will spread out of these cookies as soon as you begin spooning them on to parchment covered baking sheets (and definitely use parchment). You will be rewarded with tahini and chocolate cookies with a candy-like crunch and supremely gratifying chewiness and may have to hide them. 

  
Salted Tahini Chocolate Cookies 

Makes 24 

Requires 30 minutes freezing time before baking. 

1-1/2 cups well stirred tahini

2 eggs, whisked

1-1/2 cup coconut sugar 

1/4 cup raw cocoa powder

1 tsp real vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt (unless tahini is salted) 

Maldon flaked salt for topping 

Method: 

Using a stand or hand mixer whip all the ingredients together to thoroughly blend. Do this by hand if you must, make sure it’s all incorporated. 

Place the dough in your freezer, you may need to transfer it to a smaller bowl. 

Ready two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 350*

Remove dough, you may see oil beginning to pool, don’t worry. 

Scoop dough into tablespoon sized rounds, using a measuring spoon or scoop, try to leave the oils behind. Place evenly on baking sheets. 

Bake 10 minutes then rotate sheets (bottom to top racks and front to back). Bake an additional 6-8 minutes. They may spread, sort of like lace cookies, there may be pools of oil, ignore it. 

Remove and let cool completely before eating. Okay, eat one, but it will fall apart. 

Chewy Decadence paleo and celiac safe. 
Noteworthy: 

Make sure the tahini is thoroughly stirred before measuring out 1-1/2 cups; the thinner the tahini the oozier the cooky.

Using regular or brown sugar will change the overall texture, not bad, just different. 

Sure, try regular cocoa powder. I just use raw. 

Apple Gingerbread 

“give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard” walt whitman (give me the splendid silent sun)

I grew some glorious sunflowers this year, breathtaking in height and sunny color. I harvested 8 (before the birds did!) and laid them on a floor to dry. Small caterpillars came crawling out, those rascals who thought they’d eat their way through until winter.

Recently I went to the Common Ground Fair in Maine, a mind boggling haven for agriculture and localy crafted foods and arts. There I saw a demonstration on saving sunflower seeds, how to make a simple frame with wire fencing to scrape the sunflower heads on and pop out the seeds. Some are black oil seeds, true black color with tiny bits of seed meat in the hulls, best for small animal food, but the rest, like this beauty above, are for us. I’m hoping it’s not more work than they’re worth.
But let’s get to the apples.
Which, truly, I have been craving ever since the end of August when we drove through 3 New England states practically bursting with glorious apple trees. I wanted to stop at every one and grab them off the side of the road (I couldn’t, I wasn’t the one driving).

 Fedco Trees had an impressive display of heirloom apples, some so rare they have “wanted, alive” signs.
I came home with crabapples picked in New Hampshire off trees in front of our inn, heirloom apples from my daughter’s in Maine. I harvested concord grapes then made crabapple & grape jelly (HELL YES, and I’d like to make a case for it being Paleo, since both those fruits are kind of miserable to eat on their own don’t you think our ancestors would have mixed them? With a little honey?) Then used the crabapple pulp with fresh apples to make apple sauce.

The thing with abundance is it must be used fast or it becomes waste. Which brings us to this recipe, because now I have applesauce to last all winter and we really don’t eat it.

Baking with applesauce, or any fruit or squash mash, is truly a brilliant thing to do. The fruit adds moisture, replaces fat, adds flavor and is sweet on it’s own, which means you can cut down on the sweetener in a recipe, if you want.

Tiger Nut flour is something completely new to me. A tiny tuber that is dried and ground, much like Cassava (not tapioca), or a nut flour. It’s an excellent source of prebiotic resistant starch, it’s resists digestion and lands in our gut where it attracts probiotic bacteria (the good guys). Apparently our Paleo ancestors where hip to good gut flora, as the claim goes Tiger Nuts were in use about 2 million years ago. (Back when they learned to mash crabapples and concord grapes together with stone kitchen tools). I’ve had great experiences using this flour, my sensitive gut responds happily (maybe owning to the prebiotic nature of it). I’ve had trouble with cassava and tapioca both, I avoid nuts flours and coconut flour,  so it’s a game changer to find this. Though a teeny bit gritty, I find the flavor to be pleasant, sweet and melds well with all the baking I’ve tried. Definitely give it a try.

Hibernating warm and cozy with baked goods all winter truly appeals. (Leave me recipe ideas to develop in comments!).

  I used Organic Gemini TigerNut Flour, found at my local health food store. (I give the recipe for the Banana Bread version below).

Apple Gingerbread 

Pre-heat oven to 350*.

Oil a loaf pan.

Dry:
1 cup tiger nut flour

1/2 cup arrowroot flour (or tapioca)

1/4 cup quinoa flakes (or a nut flour)

3/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp psyllium husk powder

2 tsp flax meal

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves
Wet:

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup applesauce

3 Tbsp molasses

1/4 cup melted coconut oil
Optional:

1/4 cup chopped nuts
Method:

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

Whisk wet ingredients together well. Pour wet into dry and stir thoroughly to mix.

Scoop it all into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until edges pull slightly away from sides and a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
Let cool before slicing in, the loaf will release from the pan easier.


Banana Bread or Muffins (with chocolate) option:
Replace applesauce with mashed banana and molasses with coconut nectar or honey. Omit nutmeg and cloves, use extra cinnamon in their place if you’d like.
For supreme deliciousness add 1/2 cup chocolate chunks and 1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs. Definitely not Paleo.