I fell in love with the idea of using freeze dried raspberries when I assisted on desserts at Pure Taste Pop Up. As well as being brilliant for adding flavour and for making desserts look super pretty, I couldn’t help wonder if they’d work in raw chocolate!
I’ve made raw chocolate before with coconut oil. For that I follow an incredibly simple recipe that anyone can follow with not to much expense, or expertise, or equipment! This time however I decided to be more adventurous and make use of cacao butter – the real stuff used to make commercial chocolate. Cacao butter is the pure cold-pressed fat edible fat extracted from the cacao bean. As well as being used for chocolate you may be familiar with it from its cosmetic use. It’s creamy in colour, and solid at room temperature (kinda looks like soap) so works much better for raw chocolates if you want to keep them for any period of time outside of the fridge. Cacao butter on its own actually doesn’t have much flavour.
The benefits of making your own chocolate are incredible. Firstly you get to choose your own type and quantity of sweetener – enabling you to improve on shop bought chocolate which is usually made from cane sugar. Then you get the antioxidant benefits of using raw pure cacao too!
My cacao butter came from a health food shop – you can also buy it on-line. You can usually find complete chocolate making kits online which include the cacao powder and butter along with instructions. How helpful!
Here’s how I made mine;
Ingredients (makes 100g of chocolate – number of chocolates depends on the size of your moulds)
100g cacao butter
6 Tablespoons raw cacao powder
1.5 Tablespoons of freeze dried raspberries
1.5 teaspoons vanilla essence/extract
3 Tablespoons of coconut palm sugar (or 2 Tablespoons raw honey). Honey produces a softer, more truffle-like chocolate.
Set up a bain-marie, and melt the cacao butter over a very low heat.
Whilst the butter is melting place a pinch of raspberries at the bottom of each chocolate mould.
When the butter is completely melted stir in the cacao powder, and vanilla essence, adding enough sugar till you get the taste you desire. The taste will be comparable to a rich antioxidant boosting dark chocolate – not a dairy milk chocolate!
Pour into the silicone moulds and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or fridge for 2 hours to set. I like mine cold from the freezer. They don’t store incredibly well at room temperature so keep them in the fridge or freezer (if you haven’t eaten them up in one go). They will keep for a long time.
I have also tried adding the raspberries and vanilla (as well as a variation using ground cardamom and orange extract, plus one with sea salt!) using my coconut oil recipe which works really well. For some reason the oil and cocoa quantities are in quite different proportions so make sure you follow the correct recipe whether you are using cacao butter or coconut oil.
If you can’t get hold of either then melt down some 70+% dark chocolate, add the raspberries, and vanilla (no need for extra sugar) and set in moulds as above. Get creative with your chocolate!
TOP TIP: If you can’t get hold of moulds for chocolate than cheaper ice-cube moulds work just as well. Silicone ones are best. You can also improvise with baking parchment, or film.
One of the first things I ever learned to bake was ginger biscuits. The recipe – a 10 minute bake mix of margarine, golden syrup, sugar, flour & ground ginger – not only tasted awesome but was also fail-proof for an 8 year old cook. This new recipe is equally awesome with one major difference – the ingredients list has been vastly improved. The best part? These don’t even taste healthy. Seriously these may be the best biscuits I have cooked. Ever.
The recipe is adapted, once again from my Ashburton Cookery School course gluten free notes. I took the lemon shortbread recipe (which I still haven’t tried), used a more natural form of sugar and added a bit of ground ginger instead. The dark chocolate enrobing (love this word) of these biscuits is optional of course but it did make a rather nice ‘back to work on Monday treat’ for my colleagues. My office has been a bit obsessed with biscuits recently, particularly the shop bought processed chocolate hob-nob variety. I hope they enjoyed these just as much!
Ginger Biscuits ‘naked’
The recipe is really simple, quick and only a handful of ingredients are required. The main flour is gram flour (like my blue cheese biscuits) combined with ground almonds. I actually used some almond pulp instead which was leftover from making almond milk. It worked just as well, but I needed to increase the butter to make up for the lower moisture level in the pulp. My recipe below is for ground almonds – so you should be just fine. For the sugar I use coconut palm sugar, as a direct replacement for soft brown. Coconut palm sugar has a low-for-sugar Glycaemic Index of around 38 (white sugar is 80) and a gorgeously caramelly taste which adds colour and flavour to the biscuits. Then lastly for the fat I use butter. It makes awesome biscuits. Enough said.
These are biscuits, not a health food! But they do contain ginger which according to naturopathy can help protect the liver by increasing liver protecting enzymes – so there! Ginger is also a strong antioxidant, kills bacteria, parasites and helps attack the cold virus, as well as being anti-inflammatory. Seems a good enough excuse to indulge in these biscuits as a treat?
Ingredients (makes 12)
50g unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold grass fed butter)
75g coconut palm sugar
100g gram flour
50g ground almonds
2 tsps of ground ginger
100g at least 70% dark chocolate (optional)
Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl. It helps if the butter has been removed from the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to baking..
Sieve the flour and almonds together with the ginger, then mix into the butter+sugar
Mix till the ingredients with your hands till it comes together to form a dough. This will take quite some effort since there is no gluten to stick it all together. Have some patience and keep mixing. If too dry add a little more butter. Roll the dough into a cylinder shape and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill
30 mins later… Cut 12 biscuits from the chilled cylinder and place onto a lined baking tray. Push down with a fork slightly to get a textured finish.
Bake in a preheated over at 160C for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
For the chocolate version…
Melt 100g of dark chocolate, over a bain-marie
Dip a cooled biscuit into the liquid chocolate, then place on a lined/non stick tray (I use Bake-O-Glide and I love how easy it is to use). Place in the fridge to set for 30 mins.
By the way the dough tastes horrible raw so no need to worry about eating up all the dough before the biscuits hit the oven – Come on hands up who does that too?
A refined sugar-free & gluten-free ‘Bouche de Noel’? Did I hear that right?
Chocolate Yule Log with Chocolate Chestnut Cream
In my family growing up we had a number of essential desserts at Christmas time. My older sister, having a slight obsession with sultanas – always opted for traditional Christmas pudding and Christmas cake. Where as me and my younger brother went for the slightly more chocolatey options – Mum’s special chocolate sponge with snowy meringue icing and a squidy ganache chocolate log. Hero Mum never failed to let us down and all four desserts (as well as home-made mince pies of course) were provided for the festive period. It took us all holidays and then some to get through all that indulgence – one year I remember having Christmas cake left in February!
I have been researching a number of Christmas dessert recipes over the last few weeks since I have volunteered to make a pud this year. Reminiscing on the squidgy ganache Yule log of yore I stumbled upon this Yule Log recipe from the Chocolate Festival. Their recipe uses chestnut purée for the filling – an interesting, but seasonal twist. It would be have been silly to risk trialling this on Christmas day, so last weekend off I trotted to the Supermarket to purchase some chestnut purée and a swiss roll tin for practice round 1. I also came back with some decorations and a tree…. l don’t think I have EVER decorated by the 2nd December before but as it’s my first December in my own flat and the first time the choice of tree and decoration scheme has been entirely my own I got a bit excited. My lovely little tree did make an excellent backdrop for this photo though don’t you think?
I have adapted the recipe slightly, opting for a entirely dairy-free filling and also adding a bit of cocoa powder to the filling for a richer flavour. I opted for organic honey instead of sweet freedom as my natural sweetener of choice, as I prefer the taste. On this ocassion I didn’t go the full hog and include a ganache icing but instead chose a less gluttonous dusting of cocoa powder (perhaps I will for Christmas day!). Alternatively another option for a topping would be to drizzle with melted 70-85% dark chocolate…yum.
I can hardly believe that this easy recipe is gluten-free, contains no flour (or flour substitute) or dairy. The sponge was springy and incredibly easy to work with, not to mention tasty. I am sure this is because I used a really high quality cocoa powder – so make sure you do! I was lucky and mine rolled up neatly without cracking first time. All those hours of obsessively watching the Great British Bake must have finally paid off!
Ingredients (serves 8)
6 free-range organic eggs, separated
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
150g organic honey
60g unsweetened organic 100% cocoa powder
200g chestnut puree (I used Merchant Gourmet)
50g organic honey
2 tablespoon of COYO coconut yoghurt (or coconut cream)
1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
+ cocoa powder to dust the top
Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees fan, and prepare the swiss roll tin (20cm x 30cm)* by lining with baking parchment.
With an electric whisk, whisk the egg yolks with the vanilla extract and the honey until pale and creamy.
In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, whisk the egg whites until still peaks form.
Sieve the cocoa powder into the yolks, fold in. Then fold in the egg whites in too until entirely combined.
Pour evenly into tin, and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven cover with non-stick baking parchment and a damp tea-towel and leave to cool entirely before touching.
Meanwhile make up the filling: Beat together the chestnut puree, CO YO, honey, then stir in the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder will act as a thickener to the mix.
When the sponge is cooled you’re ready to roll! Place a board over the tea-towel and pick up the swiss roll tin flipping it over, lift off the tin and peel back the baking parchment. Trim any ugly ends off the sponge. Take the filling and spread all over the sponge. Starting at the shorter end of the rectangle, roll up the sponge using the under parchment and tea towel to assist with the rolling. Ta-da! Sprinkle with cocoa powder, and garnish with stolen holly from a garden down the street to finish.
*Note: The sponge recipe made more than enough to fill the recommended swiss roll tin size, so I used the extras to make a second thinner roulade which I sliced into mini rolls – go on get creative (or use a bigger tin).
A healthy(er) way to enjoy a little Chocolate treat
Since it is National Chocolate Week I have decide to amend the posts I had planned to publish this week and include yet another chocolate recipe in celebration! Best of all, this chocolate treat is a perfectly paleo way to enjoy chocolate.
I LOVE chocolate . I think that will be no surprise to anyone that knows the real-life me, or any of my blog readers since chocolate recipes appear frequently on the blog. Along with courgette (weirdly!) it has the most ingredient tags on the blog…
Chocolate in its purest form really shouldn’t be labelled as unhealthy – it is after all derived from a plant source – a natural cacao bean. It is the commercial global chocolate industry that has bastardised chocolate into a tooth-cavity- muffin-top inducing product, by adding cheap sugar, milk and other weird chemical ingredients and stabilisers to extend its shelf life and make a larger profit. Have you ever tried that cheap milk chocolate that comes in those 99p advent calendars? Total ming, reminds me of soapy washing up liquid in taste. It doesn’t even taste like chocolate. OK… I will get off my high chocolate horse in a sec.
Pure natural raw cacao on the other hand is full of powerful antioxidants – and can proclaim ‘superfood’ status. Raw cacao is ground from cocoa beans that haven’t yet been roasted, preserving the nutrients. Natural = paleo so hurrah! I like to buy this one from Choc Chick. If I haven’t had time to order this from the internet I will use a high quality organic unsweetened cocoa powder instead (which has been roasted before being ground). It isn’t quite the same in terms of its antioxidant and potent hit – if you’ve tasted raw cacao you will understand what I mean – However it is still a billion times better than using cheap supermarket cocoa powder…
Anyway…. I had a few friends over for dinner last week (fellow fit bloggers – Adura and Vickii – do check their blogs out – though Vickii’s blog is all about cake – don’t let that put you off 😉 ) and wanted to serve up something healthy but indulgent for dessert. I didn’t have much time to prepare anything, so thought I’d make up some Raw Brownies. However when I was scouring a shop for some dates I got side-tracked by a packed of dried figs and wondered if they would work in my trusted recipe instead? Perhaps a slightly different texture and taste? Some hours later as I was whizzing everything up in my food processor I also decided to throw in some freshly grated ginger, just because I thought it would work well in this combo – It did! I am sure I have seen ginger and fig somewhere together before?
In the end instead of making this into a square brownie slab I rolled the mix into little truffle-like balls. These were perfect for us to pick at whilst watching a movie (rather embarrassingly us 3, 30yr olds were watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…)
The only disadvantage of this recipe is that the chocolate balls are difficult to photograph – they end up looking like little pellets of poo….
Ingredients (makes 16)
75g dried figs
25g dates (I used Halawi)
1.5 tablespoons of unsweetened 100 % cocoa powder / raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Whizz the walnuts in a food processor until they resemble a chunky dust… Remove from the processor and set aside.
Put the figs and dates into the food processor, and pulse until it comes together into a dough. Prod it a bit so that it separates around the bottom of the processor bowl – that way you can incorporate the walnuts easier.
Add the walnut dust, cocoa powder and fresh ginger back into the food processor, along with the melted coconut oil. The coconut oil isn’t necessary it just helps the truffles to set. Pulse again, until the entire mixture is incorporated and a ball of dough is formed.
Remove from the processor, then in the palm of your hand roll chunks of the dough into 16 little balls.
Place on some parchment paper and leave in the fridge to set for at least 30 mins.
NB – Strictly speaking this recipe can only be authentically labelled as RAW if you use raw cacao powder…
Calling all Chocaholics – It’s National Chocolate Week!
It’s National Chocolate Week 8th-14th October 2012 (I was amazed that such a thing exists!) and this recipe was lucky enough to be selected for the Chocolate Festival’s bumper Autumn newsletter coinciding with the week. There is lots of interesting (chocolate of course) info the Chocolate Festival’s website so do take a minute to have a look and sign up to the fun. I can’t wait for the actual festival in December on London’s Southbank!
It is times like this that I realise why I watch a lot of cooking programmes. Relaxation on the sofa combined with inspiration for the kitchen. The lazy way to learn. Your average cooking show doesn’t cook the paleo way I want to cook – but every now and again I’ll either pick up an entire dish I can recreate straight up or spend most of the 24 hours after seeing the show thinking how I could make a dish healthier (or paleo-fy it). Will it work without processed sugar, gluten or dairy? Sometimes I get lucky and my experimentation works!
This chocolate mousse was inspired by something I saw on Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy which has just finished airing on BBC2 on Monday nights. A decadent dairy free chocolate mousse that is so simple it can be whipped up before you can say ‘dinner party pud’. All I have done to her recipe is substituted the dairy double cream for paleo friendly coconut cream (you can buy this in a small can, or you could just use the separated cream from a chilled can of coconut milk), used a particularly top quality strong tasting dairy free dark chocolate – 73% Montezumas (organic sugar, chocolate and vanilla are the only ingredients), and used a little organic coconut palm sugar (an unrefined sugar taken from coconut sap) to sweeten the whole recipe slightly. I also reduced Lorraine’s quantities so the dish scored a little less highly on the gluttony scale.
Since there is sugar in the Montezuma’s chocolate I can’t claim this to be a totally paleo pudding, but for a treat, it is absolutely wonderful. I would hope that anyone – whether a health conscious eater, or a complete pudding/choc-aholic would really enjoy the rich, smoothly chocolatey yummyness this recipe serves up.
Since these can be made a day in advance they would be perfect for a stress free dinner party pud. However I wouldn’t advocate serving to any pregnant ladies, since the egg in the mousse remains raw. Extras can be kept in the freezer if you don’t have 5 guests and want to retain a little room in your trouser waistband…
Ingredients (serves 5 in small ramekins)
160ml can of organic coconut cream
150g dark organic chocolate (I used Montezuma’s 73% organic chocolate / Lindt 70% or 85% another good choice)
3 medium free-range organic eggs
tsp vanilla extract
2 tablepsoons organic coconut palm sugar
Optional unsweetened cocoa powder to dust
Optional Raspberries/Strawberries to decorate
Heat the coconut cream in a saucepan over a very low and heat through for a few mins. Break up the chocolate and add to the coconut cream. Stir a few times and then leave for a few mins whilst the chocolate melts into the cream. Keep the heat on low since you don’t want the cream or the chocolate to burn.
Meanwhile, separate the eggs and whisk up the whites with the coconut palm sugar till soft peaks form.
When the chocolate has completely melted into the cream stir a few times to ensure a smooth brown consistency and remove from the heat.
When the creamy chocolate has cooled sufficiently pour a little into a clean bowl with the yolks and stir. It is important to add a little at a time to bring up the temperature of the yolks or else they will scramble. Gradually pour the rest into the yolks and combine well. Finally fold in the egg whites till there is no trace of white – just a smooth brown chocolatey gorgeousness.
Spoon the mixtures into ramekins and place in the fridge for around an hour to set.
When ready to serve sprinkle over some cocoa powder, and serve with some fresh raspberries or strawberries.