Category: Cake

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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Cinnamon Bun in the Oven!

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No, I am not trying to pull a fast one on you. There is a bun in the oven. Like, the real kind!

I have been so, so excited to share the news with all of you that the love of my life and I are expecting our first baby, due this November! Today officially marks the halfway point, 20 weeks, and it’s hard to believe how soon this precious little sprout will be in our arms. It’s also hard to believe that I’ve kept the pregnancy a secret this long, but somehow I managed, even through cooking classes, lectures and press events. Whew! Not an easy task, I tell you.

I am sure there are many questions reeling through your mind at this point: How am I feeling? What am I eating? What am I doing to stay in shape? Am I still a vegetarian? etc. etc. The topic of conception, pregnancy, and giving birth, of course sparks countless queries. There is so much to learn and understand it can be overwhelming, even for a lady like myself if I allow it to be.

One of the most helpful things I’ve learned so far is to silence all the “noise” around me, ignore almost all advice I’ve been given, and just surrender to the supreme intelligence of my body. It is after all, creating this teeny being and can tell me what it wants as long as I am quiet enough. I know that if I trust my instincts and do what feels right, this baby will get what it needs. Some days it’s walnuts (okay, it seems like every day I’m binging on those), other days it’s cheese (yes! I am now a cheese fiend!), so I just obey.

That being said, my diet really hasn’t changed that much. Yes, I am taking supplements as I eat primarily vegan and know how important it is to make up for some missing elements, but other than that I am sticking to my same old ways because that is what feels right. Lots of fruit and veggies, beans, sprouts, whole grains, nuts and seeds, comprise the bulk of my diet, with the occasional egg and cheese slice thrown in for good measure. Many people told me when I conceived that I would surely crave meat, and although I know that is true for some vegetarians, I haven’t had the slightest inkling to eat animals. If I did, maybe I would grill up a steak, but for now I am living life and creating life on plant fuel and my baby is both healthy and happy.

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So the recipe. First of all I had to make something with a little cheekiness, ‘cause that’s how I roll, but also in tribute to the first trimester of this pregnancy when all I wanted were plain carbohydrates. Thankfully, I am over that hump now and have resumed eating green vegetables, but I still love biting into something warm, gooey, and comforting once in a while. Baby seems to like it too. Made with whole spelt flour, applesauce, and dates, this is one Sunday breakfast treat that also makes a delicious mid-week snack with tea.  It is cinnamon-y, rich tasting, and not overly sweet. In fact the “frosting” for the cinnamon buns is made with yogurt, because I never really liked slathering sugar-y icing on top of already sweet rolls. I enjoy a little more balance in my life, but hey, you’re the boss of this one. If you’re vegan, the rolls are a perfect recipe for you, just leave the yogurt frosting off the top and replace with a cashew or coconut cream.

I made two varieties of this recipe because I wanted to see if I could in fact create a yeast-free version for those of you trying to avoid yeast. I must admit the yeasted version turned out to be my preference – it was much lighter and softer than the one that just used baking powder. Although it takes a little more time and planning, as you must wait a couple times for the dough to rise, I think it is worth the extra effort.

I also made two different shapes with the dough. One was a traditional cinnamon bun and the other was a braided wreath that looks so, so beautiful. Please note that either version of the recipe will work with both shapes, even though I made the traditional bun shape without yeast and the braided wreath with yeast – these can simply be interchanged.

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It feels pretty amazing to be in my body right now, more so than ever. I am experiencing the kind of radical transformation that only nature can create, and it is blowing my mind every day! I feel so lucky to be a woman and experience this life beginning, growing and glowing inside me. What an honor to bring a soul into the world. What a gift to be a vessel of love and to share such a deep connection with another spirit.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your love and support during this powerful time.

With love, always,
Sarah B + sprout

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** This post will inevitably stir up a lot of questions in some women wanting to conceive a child or for those of you that are already pregnant, but I’ll kindly remind you that I do not give personal health advice over the internet, nor will I respond to any emails with these inquiries. Please know how much I would love to help you, but for your safety and mine, I only treat clients face to face. Good luck on your journey and just remember to listen to your body and trust its wisdom. **

 

A Better Butter Tart

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What does it mean to be truly Canadian? Buying milk in plastic bags? Designing your Halloween costume to fit over your snowsuit? Celebrating Thanksgiving in October?

Well, what about butter tarts? You know up until last week I actually thought that the rest of the world knew what these were, until my mother promptly corrected me. “No! Butter tarts are a truly Canadian thing. Like peacekeeping! And Tim Hortons!”

And she would know. My mother loves butter tarts. Never put yourself between her and one of these pastries, as you’d be putting your life at risk.

Last summer she found a classic butter tart recipe in our national newspaper, and as it was a lazy day at the cottage, she decided to give them a try. “They were sinfully delicious”, she said, when I asked about the success of the dessert. “But the ingredients were pretty sinful too. Maybe you should give them a makeover! Then I can eat more.” Good thinkin’ mum. That is what I am here for.

You see butter tarts are not healthy. Not in the slightest. Not even if you used your imagination. For those of you who aren’t Canadian, a butter tart is a white-flour-and butter (or lard!) pastry shell filled with butter, sugar, eggs, and a token handful of raisins (but more often than not, corn syrup as well). That’s about it. They are undoubtedly delicious – I would liken them to edible crack. Ooey, gooey, caramel-ly filling that ceremoniously oozes out when sliced, surrounded by a flaky pastry crust – what’s not to love about that?  And although I am all in for a celebratory dessert now and again, I hope I have proven to most of you by now that there are better alternatives to the über-processed ingredients ever-present in common desserts, Canadian or otherwise.

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Grain-based Sweeteners: A pretty sweet deal!
In this recipe I am using two different sweeteners: barley malt and brown rice syrup.  These are both grain malt syrups and are the least concentrated, least sweet and most nearly whole-food sweeteners.

Barley malt and brown rice syrup are naturally processed sweeteners made from fermented grains, and are made of 50% maltose: a sugar that is only one-third as sweet as white sugar. At least half the composition of these grain-based sweeteners are nutrients found in the original whole grains from which they are made. They also contain good percentages of complex sugars, which take much longer to digest than the simple variety of sugars we find in processed sweeteners, like white sugar for example. Because complex sugars take longer to break down, this smoothes out the blood-sugar highs and lows associated with the consumption of highly processed sweeteners.

Although sugar is a major life force and our bodies need it as fuel, we can lose sight of the fact that there are huge differences is quality when it comes to the sugar we choose to eat. Sugars are plentiful in many whole foods like fruits, vegetables, even grains and dairy products, yet these sugars are balanced because whole food contains the proper minerals. Because refined sugars have been stripped of everything except the sweet, they have lost their mineral content, which creates a deficit of sorts, or an imbalance. The digestion of refined sugars forces our bodies to draw minerals out of our bones, tissues, and blood just regain the delicate equilibrium necessary for us to function. It’s a scary thought! You can imagine after years and years of eating refined sweeteners what a deficit of minerals one could be left with. That is why sugar consumption is linked to so many diseases, including immune deficiency, tooth decay, bone loss, heart disease, hypoglycemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, PMS, and yeast overgrowth (just to name a few).

But I don’t want this to be all doom and gloom! Part of the motivation behind making healthier choices is being informed. And when you know the difference between sweeteners that actually take precious minerals from your hard working body, versus sweeteners that maintain the balance, you can make healthier choices from an educated place because you want to do what is best for you.

Some other examples of naturally processed sweeteners are unrefined cane juice powder (Sucanat), unrefined coconut sap powder (coconut sugar), maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, raw honey, fruit juices, fruit syrups and date sugar, amasake (fermented rice). Look for these at health food stores, natural grocers and increasingly good supermarkets. Be on the lookout for products that label themselves “natural” sweeteners such as fructose, brown sugar and turbinado sugar. They are nearly as refined and concentrated as white sugar and have similar effects on the body. And keep in mind that even though naturally processed sweeteners are better than their refined counterparts, you should still treat naturally processed sweeteners as something special (especially theses butter tarts!).

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These new-and-improved butter tarts are pretty darn delicious. Slightly different than your traditional version, they have a more caramel-y center and crunchier crust, almost like a shortbread cookie. I used ghee as the fat in the filling for this recipe because heck, this is a butter tart. If you choose to use butter, make sure that it is unsalted, or omit the salt in the filling. If you don’t want to use any animal products stick to the coconut oil. I haven’t tried it this way, but I am very confident it will be just as delicious.

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It’s hard being away from the homeland, but munching on one of these with my family last week sure helped ease the pain. If you’ve never enjoyed a butter tart before give these healthier treats a try and enjoy a little bite of true Canadian heritage – ‘cause you’d be a real hoser if ya didn’t, eh? Geeeeez.

See you this summer my dearest Canada! I’m counting the days…