Category: Baked Goods

Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte with Toasted Hazelnut Crust, from Oh She Glows

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Yes, more chocolate. “Oops”. I’ll explain.

I recently received an email from the lovely Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows genius, asking me if I’d like to take a look at her just-released cookbook. It was not surprising to discover a world of truly spectacular and inspiring vegan recipes, just like on her blog, so when she asked me if I would like to post a recipe from the book here on My New Roots, of course I jumped at the chance. Although there were countless delicious-looking dishes to choose from, one dessert really stood out to me: the Chocolate Torte with Toasted Hazelnut Crust. Guh. Hold me back. I am a tired mummy with a very apparent chocolate predilection, so please find it in your heart to forgive me, please? I know, that was a hard one.

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Angela’s creativity and culinary prowess really comes through in this dessert. Instead of dairy products, the luxuriously smooth and rich chocolate torte uses cashews to mimic cream, and geniusly doubles as freezer fudge if you are “not in the mood” to make crust, as she puts it. It is incredibly chocolaty and decadent, using only maple syrup as a sweetener. And although I have never been a coffee drinker, I do appreciate the taste of coffee, and the flavour of it in this dessert is actually very subtle, functioning more as an enhancer of the chocolate. I’m all for that. If you do not want to use espresso, it’s fine to leave it out. Just a plain chocolate version of this would be divine.

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This dessert is fantastic. Like, seriously. If you make it for a group of people, you will have friends for life, and if you make it for yourself you will be enjoying slivers of silky smooth chocolate bliss for a days on end. Because you store the torte in the freezer and take it out just before serving, you can keep it for a very long time, providing you can exercise some serious restraint. I was able to ration this thing out over a couple weeks (see friends, I do have some self-control).

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, this recipe will still work and be delicious, but the filling will not be as smooth as if you use something like a Vitamix or Blendtec.

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Huge thanks to Angela for blessing us with not only this incredible recipe, but an entire book filled with vegan delights that will inspire anyone who picks up a copy. Her warmth, wisdom and kitchen creativity shines through on every page, showing us all that healthy food can be astoundingly delicious!

Get your copy of the Oh She Glows cookbook here.

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Chunky Chocolate Buckwheat Granola

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Having a baby really puts your priorities under a microscope, because the little time that they are actually asleep during the day is your opportunity to get important things accomplished. Things like bathing, eating, laundry, doing your taxes, calling you mom. Funny then, that lately my priorities don’t include any of those activities. Instead it seems that the most critical thing to do as soon as my son shuts his eyes, is making chocolate granola. And yes, I really need a shower.

This trend began a couple weeks ago, nearly at the completion of my cookbook manuscript, the most overwhelming deadline of all time looming over me, that I got the most intense craving, not only for carb-y chocolate yum yums, but just to do something other than work and change diapers. When I finally put my finger on what it was I wanted, I whipped up a batch of chocolate granola so fast I even had time to sit and enjoy it before I heard the little waking whimpers of my babe. It was awesome. Needless to say, that huge jar of chunky, chocolate-y, uber-satisfying granola was sooooo gone almost as fast as I had made it.

Obviously this granola recipe is really, really yummy. Dangerously so. In fact it is so good, I’ll admit to pulling a slightly crazy/selfish move and telling my husband that it was “burnt granola” so he wouldn’t eat any of it. When asked why I was shoving scorched cereal into my mouth I sheepishly told him that I “didn’t want to waste any food”. Shameful! And since he’s reading this, now he knows I’m crazy.

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This granola is the kind of thing that you can eat right out of the jar by the handful, and it’s saved me on all the afternoons when I needed something filling and indulgent-tasting when my energy was waning. Although you can eat this stuff for breakfast, it’s a little on the rich side for my taste so early in the morning. I like to think of it more as snacking granola. I’ll leave the application up to you.

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Your Buddy Buckwheat
One of my latest obsessions, besides this granola, is buckwheat. Although the name suggests otherwise, buckwheat is actually not related to wheat, nor is it even a true grain. Buckwheat is the fruit seed of a plant similar to rhubarb and sorrel and a super substitute for people with wheat or gluten sensitivities.

Buckwheat has a high protein content, and contains all essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. It is high in magnesium, a mineral with a pleasant muscle-relaxing effect. Side-note for the ladies: eating magnesium-rich foods before your period will help ease cramping, headaches and back pain.

Buckwheat is a wonderful food for improving cardiovascular health. Buckwheat contains rutin, a flavanoid that helps to maintain blood flow, keeps platelets from clotting, and strengthens capillaries. Buckwheat also reduces serum cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.

If you’ve ever tasted buckwheat honey or anything containing buckwheat flour, you’ll know that it has a strong, assertive flavour. Although it’s delicious as a porridge, or replacement for grain in a salad, stir-fry or stew situation, I would call it an “acquired taste”. In this granola however, it just becomes crispy, crunchy and adds a great texture

You can find whole buckwheat, often referred to as buckwheat “groats” at natural food shops and good grocery stores. Its natural colour is verging on pale green and has a distinctive, pyramid shape. The dark brown variety of buckwheat is called kasha, which has been toasted. Although delicious, for this recipe you are looking for the raw version of buckwheat so that you can toast it yourself.

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Although you could pretty much use any grain you like in this recipe, I chose oats and buckwheat for a tasty, textured balance of gluten-free goodness. And I can say with total confidence (as I admit to “testing” this recipe more than once) that any nut would be delish – hazelnuts and walnuts were my favourites, but almonds, cashews, pecans or Brazil nuts would also be great.

To serve, get creative. I really dug this granola with sliced bananas and homemade almond milk (which turns into chocolate milk!!!), but it would be delicious with yogurt, kefir, or sprinkled on top of cooked cereal, such as oatmeal. And as previously suggested, delish right out of the jar by the paw full.

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Whether you choose to eat this granola for breakfast or an afternoon snack doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you make chocolate granola a real priority in your life. Laundry can wait, emails can wait, and your hair looks just fine a little on the greasy side.

Carob & Fig Muffins

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I have a very important announcement to make: Carob is not Chocolate.

When I started eating more healthfully, I was introduced to carob as being a caffeine-free, high-fiber, nutrient-rich alternative to chocolate. In truth, it is all of those things, but um, sorry…it’s nothing like chocolate. So for years, I scorned carob as the unsexy imposter that seemed to lurk in vegan baked goods pretending to be something it so clearly was not.

Years later, I decided to wipe the slate clean and give carob another shot. After baking with it, making warming winter beverages, and adding it to smoothies, I had a breakthrough: carob is carob. And in its own special way, it is delicious. Malty, earthy, sweet and caramel-y, carob can be many things, just not chocolate. And how it ever got peer-pressured into being something other than what it is, is beyond me. Once I started appreciating carob just for being its amazing and tasty self, well everything changed.

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While I was in Ibiza last week leading a (fabulous) detoxification retreat, one thing that struck me about the island was the pervasive sweet smell in the air. It was incredible! After a little reconnaissance work, I learned that it was in fact the carob trees, their ripe pods drying in the scorching, late summer sun. It’s funny those light bulb moments when you make a connect: I had never really thought about what carob looks like in its natural state, as I have only ever seen it in a jar on the health food store shelf, so I was quite delighted to get up close and personal. It was literally hanging from almost every tree in sight. So exciting!

Carob, in the pulverized form most of us are familiar with, actually comes from a seedpod that grows on a shrubby tree native to the Mediterranean. Belonging to the legume family, ripe carob pods are dark brown, glossy and give off a warm, sweet caramel-like scent. The part that we eat is in fact the pod itself and not the seeds, and I enjoyed munching on the chewy outer skins as a detox-appropriate treat between meals. The seeds, also known as locust beans, are used to make locust bean gum, a thickener in many processed foods.

carob6The health benefits of carob are numerous. Firstly, the pod is high in insoluble fiber, which acts like a broom in the digestive tract, sweeping the colon clean and speeding the passage of waste through the gut. It is rich in antioxidants, which help defend your body against free radical damage. Carob is also high in calcium and iron so it’s a great food for mamas-to-be, but just about everybody can use more of those minerals, so eat up!

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As I mentioned, you can find carob in its ground form, but it’s also available as carob syrup which is a lovely liquid sweetener, and carob chips – similar to chocolate chips, but again, with a very different flavour and property. Chocolate of course has ability to melt, which carob does not. If you can get over the idea that carob is a chocolate replacement, you’ll enjoy it much more, I promise.

When purchasing carob products, make sure to read the label to guarantee that what you are buying is pure. Carob chips are notoriously crammed with schwaggy oils, emulsifiers and processed sugar. And vegans beware! There may be dairy products lurking in your carob chips too. Always read the label. Always.

So, onto the recipe. Along with the many carob trees bursting with fruit all around me, there were figs. Tons and tons of figs. What a blessing it was to wake up in the morning, walk outside, sit under the fig tree and have breakfast. All I had to do was reach up! Bliss. It seemed only natural then that I would combine the things that nature had already put together for me – just love when she does that.

No surprise then that carob and figs go together just splendidly. These little muffins are a very delicious, whole food breakfast or snack, and excellent at tea time as well. Unlike the muffins you’d find at a coffee shop, which, let’s admit, are really just cupcakes without the icing, mine are rich and dense with a whole grain nuttiness that really satifies. The carob adds a caramel-like flavour, which is played up nicely by the sweet jamminess of the figs. If you feel like getting creative, why not try adding some nuts or seeds? Spice things up with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Or even carob chips! I left the recipe rather basic so that you can play around as much as you like. I also wanted to make sure not to overwhelm the carob flavour so you could really get a sense of how yummy it is!

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*Note: as I know some of you will ask, my muffin cups are from a Danish company called House Doctor. Here is a link: http://en.housedoctor.dk/-/kitchen/disposable-tableware/Gl0110
These were unusually large muffin cups – probably double the regular size and with this recipe, only made 7 muffins.

Check out the Ibiza retreat photos on Facebook here:

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