21 de ene. de 2015

Chocolate Pancakes

My fingers will most probably freeze by the end of this post cause it's so miserably cold and rainy today! I'm all bundled up in layers of clothes (plus my blanket) and still can't feel the tip of my nose. These kind of days call for comfort food like a cup of hot cocoa, sweet and salty homemade popcorns (watching some 80's movie, please) or, if you don't feel as lethargic as my tortoise Tomi, you can make some really amazing Chocolate Pancakes that won't make you feel guilty after all cause they are made with healthy ingredients. Once you taste them you'll want to double the recipe the next time cause they are so chocolaty and tender! Drizzle chocolate syrup on top, sprinkle some dried coconut, cacao nibs and your favorite nuts and you are ready to experience a major moment of bliss.
We are well past mid-January but I didn't ask you in my previous post what are your New Year's Resolution. I didn't make any cause it sucks to promise yourself certain things that you might not accomplish by the end of the year, so I prefer to take it day by day and don't plan too far ahead. One thing I will try to 'change' though is to procrastinate as less as possible and finally read all those books I bought long time ago (e.g. Anna Karenina), find some time to catch up on cross stitching, organize my makeup collection (this will take me ages!) and the list goes on!
So...no time to waste, let's go straight to the recipe! My feet are cold, my fingertips are almost frozen and my stomach is craving pancakes!

Receta en español aquí!

Chocolate Pancakes (vegan)
Yield: 10-12 pancakes approximately


- Pancakes:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour.
1/4 cup pure cocoa powder, unsweetened.
3 1/2 tsp baking powder.
2 tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar).
1 tsp salt.
1 cup chocolate soy milk.
2 tsp apple cider vinegar.
1 tbsp ground flax seeds.
1/2 cup water.
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted.
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or chocolate extract).

- Chocolate syrup:

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp pure maple syrup.
1/4 cup water.
Pinch fine sea salt.
1/4 cup unsweetened pure cocoa powder.

- Toppings:
Coconut flakes.
Cacao nibs.
Optional: chopped walnuts, sliced banana, etc.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and coconut sugar. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, vinegar and flaxmeal. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is foamy.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients bowl. Add in water, melted coconut oil and vanilla/chocolate extract. Using a hand whisk, mix until all ingredients are incorporated but be careful not to overmix.
Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
Preheat a frying pan greased with coconut oil. Once the pan is hot pour 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake and cook until bubbles form on top, then flip and cook for 4 minutes approximately.
Serve warm topped with a drizzle of chocolate syrup, coconut flakes and some cacao nibs.

- For the chocolate syrup:
In a small saucepan combine together maple syrup, water and salt. Cook over medium heat without boiling, stir a few times and increase the heat to high, bring to a boil.
Add in the cocoa powder, reduce the heat to low and whisk until it's completely dissolved. You might need to stir several times to make sure the cocoa doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. 
Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool at room temperature.
Stir the syrup a few times as it cools and transfer to a jar with a lid.

...and here are more recipes to satisfy your pancake cravings!
· Carrot Cake Pancakes.
· Fluffy Maple Pancakes.

12 de ene. de 2015

Whole Wheat Potato & Nuts Bread

After all these weeks of crazy indulgence (dessert-wise in my case) I think it's time to behave for a while and cut back on sugar. I know it's gonna be hard for me not to fall into temptation when I'm browsing through the hundreds of cookbooks and all the yummy recipes I find daily on Pinterest. Now that I'm talking about Pinterest...it is seriously addicting, one of the main causes of my latest procrastination, hehe. So many cute and perfect things! One day I'll be baking in a luminous, super big, cozy and industrial vintage-styled kitchen like the ones I'm constantly pinning!
Back to the clean eating: today I'm sharing with you something sugar-free (almost, because of the molasses) , wholesome, delicious and with that good ol' homemade touch. Nothing beats the toasty aroma of fresh-baked bread and this Whole Wheat Potato & Nuts Bread is one of a kind! It's a combination of different recipes and breads I've tasted over the years and I finally made my own healthier version. Since it's a very customized and personal recipe I suggest you to begin with 3 cups of whole wheat flour (approximately 400 grams) but, most probably, you will need to add extra flour until the dough is pliable and holds a round shape.
This is one of those kind of breads that taste heavenly good "au natural", the crumb is tender yet with a dense, cake-like texture and the mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and raisins makes it the perfect choice for a mid-morning or an afternoon snack; it is also good for those who work out like me since whole grain breads are a good source of complex carbohydrates (right after writing this recipe I'm going to kick my own butt at a CXWORX session). Needless to say one slice of this bread with an ounce of dark chocolate is to die for! Other favorite combinations of mine are a generous spread of almond butter (homemade please!) or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. The good thing about this bread is that you can make multiple variations and add your favorite nuts, some chocolate chips, dried fruits, etc.
Pssst, this bread makes the best french toast...just sayin'! ;-)

Receta en español aquí!

Whole Wheat Potato & Nuts Bread
(yield: two 8-inch/20cm loaves)

6 ounces (170 g) mashed potato.
3/4 cup (180 ml) lukewarm water, divided.
1 tbsp (22 g) molasses.
1 tsp active dry yeast.
3 cups (400 g approx.) whole wheat flour, more as needed.
1 tsp salt.
2 tbsp (30 ml) mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil.
3/4 cup approximately mix of walnuts and hazelnuts (coarsely chopped), and raisins.

Boil potatoes in a large pot until tender, mash well with a fork. Set aside.
In a medium bowl mix together 1/4 cup of the water, molasses and dry yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.
In the bowl of your stand mixer stir together flour and salt. Combine the mashed potato, the remaining 1/2 cup of water and the olive oil in a medium bowl and add it to the flour mixture. 
Finally add in yeast mixture and start mixing until a dough forms, around 8 minutes. Incorporate the mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and raisins after 4 minutes of kneading time. You might need to add extra flour so do it one tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth, it doesn't stick too much to your hands and it's pliable.
Shape dough into a ball.
Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes.
Flatten the dough a bit to force out any excess gas. Divide it into 2 equal portions and shape each one into an approximately 8-inch (20 cm) loaf. Place the loaves on a lightly floured baking sheet and sprinkle some flour on the tops. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes, until puffed.
Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
Remove the plastic wrap from the loaves and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the loaves are deep brown and sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped.
Let cool on a wire rack.

29 de dic. de 2014

Mocha Crème Brûlée

Remember in my previous post that I said the Black Forest Trifles were the last dessert of 2014? Well, I thought I was done with all the cooking these holidays but how can I skip New Year's Eve without a special sweet treat? Actually I don't mind making some mess in the kitchen knowing that the result will be THIS good!
New Year's Eve calls for a festive, glamorous dessert that is easy to make, quick to serve and tempting. When I'm in charge of dessert and I'm looking for a guaranteed success there's no doubt: chocolate is a safe bet. Seriously, who doesn't love chocolate?! If you are not a chocoholic then we can't be friends...okay, okay, we can but I will do anything to make you join the dark side (*insert mischievous laugh here*). Chocolate, success and deliciousness are words that undoubtedly make me think of Fran Costigan and her amazing book 'Vegan Chocolate'. This Mocha Crème Brûlée recipe is from said cookbook and even though the pictures speak for themselves let me tell you how good they are: it's an original and yummy twist on the traditional and über famous french dessert, a great creamy combination of coffee and chocolate topped with a crackly layer of caramelized sugar. So delicious, so chocolaty, what a great way to end the year!

Happy New Year folks! :-)

Receta en español aquí!

Mocha Crème Brûlée (Vegan)
(yield: 4 small servings/2 large servings)

1 1/2 cups Basic Cashew Cream.
1/4 cup pure maple syrup.
1/4 cup water.
3 tbsp organic granulated sugar.
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp pure cocoa powder.
2 tbsp instant coffee.
3/8 tsp agar powder.
pinch fine sea salt.
1 tsp pure vanilla extract.
1 tbsp approximately of sugar (for each ramekin), ground superfine in a blender, for the brûlée.

Mix the maple syrup, water, sugar, coffee, agar powder, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently.
Reduce the heat to low and add in the cocoa powder, don't stop whisking until the cocoa is completely dissolved.
Add the cashew cream. Increase the heat to medium and cook to a boil, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula. Make sure that as you are stirring the mixture, it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.
Pour mixture into four ramekins (around 3-ounce/89 ml size) and set aside to cool at room temperature uncovered. If a thin skin forms that means you are doing things right! When the pudding is cool, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar per ramekin and brûlée a few minutes before serving. 
To make the caramelized sugar coating use a blowtorch moving the flame in all directions. Handle the blowtorch carefully and make sure you don't hold it too close to the surface or the sugar will burn.

· If you are not going to serve the dessert the same day you make it then you should keep it refrigerated without the sugar topping. Cover with plastic wrap but do not allow the wrap to directly touch the surface.
· The recipe yields four small servings or (like I did) two large ones. That means if you are following the recipe exactly like it's written here you will need four small ramequins (size is detailed above in the recipe) or if you wanna fill four large ramequins like the ones pictured in this recipe then you'll have to double the recipe.
As you can see I opted to make two large servings, perfect for a special dinner for two at home! ;-)

22 de dic. de 2014

Black Forest Trifle

Hey Santa, I know I've been a really good girl this year (apart from the occasional evil thoughts...but I can't help them, sometimes certain people really get on my nerves, hee hee) and you are going to bring me some really nice presents, but I thought a little bribe to remind you to fill my stockings is certainly necessary. So on Christmas Eve you will find a delicious Black Forest Trifle waiting for you in my kitchen, feel free to serve yourself and hope you like it!
Now seriously, I've been hella busy this weekend preparing this recipe, doing some last-minute christmassy crafts for the pictures (and for my home) and sorting out holiday menu plans. But all this hustle has been so worth it, cause this dessert came out as I wanted, the pictures look good to me and right after I end writting this blog post I will sit on my couch, relax and eat one of these mouth-watering trifles. Treating yourself from time to time can do you so good.
Let me tell you what's inside each cup of dessert: a fine layer of cherry jam, a layer of chocolate cake, more cherry jam, mascarpone cream, little pieces of saucy cherries, more mascarpone, another layer of chocolate cake, I spread some more cherry jam on top of this layer and finally I piped cute swirls of cream cheese frosting...and a fresh cherry on top. Pure decadence in a cup!
I wish you a very merry Christmas surrounded by the people you love the most, let's celebrate and forget about the bad times (at least for a few days), let's laugh, eat yummy things and make a toast to a better year for all of us. We deserve it.

Receta en español aquí!

Black Forest Trifle
(servings: 4 approx.)

- For the Chocolate cake: 
Your favorite chocolate cake or my Chocolate Torte recipe.

- For the mascarpone cream:
1 cup plus 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese.
2 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar.

- For the saucy cherries:
16 fresh cherries, washed and pitted.
1 tbsp granulated sugar.
4 tbsp water.
2 tbsp Kirsch (or rum).

- For the cream cheese frosting:
6 oz/170g cream cheese, room temperature.
1/4 cup powdered sugar.
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Fresh cherries to decorate.
Cherry jam with a drizzle of Kirsch or your favorite liquor.

Bake the chocolate cake a day ahead and refrigerate in order to cut the round pieces easily.
To prepare the saucy cherries:
In a medium saucepan combine cherries, sugar and water over medium heat. Stir till mixture starts to simmer. Pour the liquor into the cherries, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and allow to fully cool at room temperature.
To make the mascarpone cream: 
In a large mixing bowl combine mascarpone cheese and sugar using a rubber spatula until the sugar has been incorporated. Using your stand mixer beat at high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the frosting looks fluffy. Stop your mixer a couple times and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula so all of the cream cheese/sugar mixture is incorporated.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
Same process as with the mascarpone cheese. 
To assemble the trifle:
You can make the same number of layers like I told you in the introduction above or make as many layers you want; it will all depend on the size of the cup/glass you use. 
I started with a thin layer of the boozy cherry jam on the base and then added the first cake layer, covered it with more jam and spread the mascarpone cream. After that I sprinkled chopped cherries and spread a bit more mascarpone cream and started all over again with the chocolate cake. Finally I piped cream cheese frosting on top and decorated it with one fresh cherry. 
Add as many combinations of jam, mascarpone, chopped cherries, etc as you want, as long as you create a black/white/red/white/black pattern. 
Store in the fridge and allow it to stand at room temperature around 15 minutes before serving.


19 de dic. de 2014

Hazelnut Shortbread Fingers

Looks like I'm finally getting rid of this nasty flu that has been keeping a bit away from my blogging tasks. But fear not, cause not even a never-ending cough has stopped me from baking and preparing new recipes like this one and some more festive. Now that I'm getting back to normal, I'm finally done with my Christmas shopping (insert fanfare music here) and I feel the Christmas spirit in full force I promise next week I'll come up with a great recipe to wow your guests, one that is as eye-appealing as delicious.
When I was looking for inspiration to write a new blog post I thought that something healthy and not overly sweet would be the perfect recipe to bring you before we officially begin with the family feasts and work dinners.
I found the recipe for these Hazelnut Shortbread Fingers in one of my favorite vegan cookbooks, Whole Grain Vegan Baking, it's a cool book with wholesome and tasty recipes and these shortbread fingers are the perfect example that you can make yummy things that can be also healthy and good for any occasion. They are very easy to make and you will just need a few ingredients (only five ingredients, to be exact) plus the hazelnut taste is so good and fills the house with a delicious nutty-toasty aroma. I love them with a cup of warm tea or to soak in my breakfast oat milk, they are such a good guilt-free treat.
If you have a powerful food processor you won't have a problem with this recipe: it's as easy as putting everything inside and pulse until you get a kneadable dough. My food processor is old, small and weak so after trying several alternatives to make the mixture become less crumbly and more cohesive I almost gave up but I tasted the dough and it was delicious and I thought: 'there's no way I'm throwing away the dough...maple syrup and virgin coconut oil are darn expensive!!!'.
So...hands to the rescue! Yep, usually when a stubborn dough or (in this case) the lack of baking supplies makes it hard to success with a recipe I appeal to the old school method: do it with your own hands. Luckily to me, this time it worked again!
...and this has just reminded me that I'm still in time to ask Santa for a powerful food processor.;-)

Receta en español aquí!

Hazelnut Shortbread Fingers (vegan)
(Recipe from 'Whole Grain Vegan Baking' by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes)

(makes 8 fingers)
1/2 cup shelled hazelnuts, not skinned.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour.
1/4 tsp fine sea salt.
1/4 cup pure maple syrup.
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted.

Preheat oven to 325 ºF (170ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the hazelnuts, flour, and salt in a food processor. Process until the hazelnuts are finely ground. Add in the maple syrup and coconut oil, pulsing to combine. The dough should be kneadable and not crumbly.
Place the dough on the prepared sheet, knead it for a couple of beats just to make sure it is cohesive, press it down with your hands and roll it out a bit to form a 8 x 4-inch (20 x 10 cm) rectangle.
Cut the rectangle into eight 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide by 4-inch (10 cm) long fingers. Use the tines of a fork to prick the tops of the shortbread. Place the fingers on the sheet about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the fingers are light golden brown around the edges and at the bottom. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.