Carrot, Apple & Spice Cakes with Cashew Frosting

28330000_UnknownMade these when we discovered we were about to be invaded by littles for their first Easter egg hunt with us, and then later by strapping, ever-ravenous teenagers always on the prowl for something ‘tasty’ (which is code for sweet!) Giant-sized pan of pasta sauce was on the go at the same time. Chocolate nests were in the freezer, marzipan eggs still to be made.

I’ve never really been a cake fan, but I always loved carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on special occasions. Since becoming vegan, I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable replacement. I found and adapted a recipe for Raw Carrot Cake Bites with CoYo Frosting – So Moreish!  but although I don’t do much baking in the oven, I wanted a recipe we could present to visitors who were less familiar with my raw food lifestyle. I discovered the recipe that inspired these cakes on Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and they worked out so well I made a second batch for another upcoming family visit this week and put them in the freezer.

I altered some of the ingredients, swapping canola oil with coconut oil, coconut palm sugar for the brown and cane sugar and reduced the amount of maple syrup. I used a combination of the flours we had in the cupboards and had no idea if they would work, but they did. I think in the second batch, the chestnut flour was in the majority, but any combination would work. We replaced the vinegar with lemon juice.

I also made my own version of the frosting – I even gave up my precious bar of Raw Chocolate Company Vanoffe Dark Raw Chocolate to grate and sprinkle on top.

Everyone loved them, from the 2 year old via the über-critical teenagers, to the adults.

There are no eggs, butter or gluten in them.

All measurements are approximate, ingredients are organic where possible, the first batch made 12, the second made 14!

Ingredients

1 Cup SR Gluten-free Flour

 1/2 Cup Chestnut Flour

1/2 Cup Cornflour

1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Ground Ginger

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

Pinch of Salt

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk  (in the second batch we used rice milk and it worked fine)

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

3/4 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar

1 Cup Finely Grated Carrots

1/3 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Carrot Juice or Apple Juice

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce

1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Method

Prepare apple sauce and apple/carrot juice if making fresh. I got halfway through the recipe the first time before realising I needed apple sauce! I cooked a dessert apple in a little water or apple juice until soft and allowed it to cool.

Sift all flours, spices and salt together in a bowl.

In a separate large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice to the milk and stir well.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir before slowly mixing in the flours.

The mixture should pour like a batter.

Pour into cases.

Cook at 170C in a fan oven until a fine skewer/wooden toothpick comes out clean, about 15 – 17 minutes in our oven.

28329952_UnknownAllow to cool.

(These cases were a little big,  I used smaller ones for the second batch and the cakes filled them better, they also rose better.

I also decided to try silicone cases next time as the paper ones had a tendency to stick).

Prepare the frosting.

The measurements are very inexact as I just kept adding until the consistency was right.

I began with 4 very heaped tbsps of Coyo Live Plain Coconut Yogurt, 4 Tbsps finely ground Cashews (you could use ground almonds), 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract and 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup.

(You could use a little lemon or orange zest in place of the vanilla if you wanted a different flavouring).

Mix well until it’s firm but spreadable, you don’t want it to pour. Add more nuts if it’s too thin.

Spread onto the cooled cakes.

Grate some raw chocolate and sprinkle on top.

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The second batch looked better, they filled the smaller cases and had more frosting on them, but I forgot to take photos. Nevertheless, the Fairy Cake Queen in the family (my daughter-in-law) gave them the thumbs up, eating three just to be sure!

These kept well in an airtight container in the fridge and will also keep in the freezer – how long, I can’t say, ravenous teenagers and all that!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

 

Raw Vegan Fruit & Nut (or seed) Chocolate – not just for Easter!

28328736_UnknownIn my opinion, one can never have too many recipes for raw chocolate, so here is another easy version of the do-it-yourself kind. It is quite rich, you only need a small amount, so bear this in mind when giving it to young children. It contains minerals, protein, antioxidants and is dairy-free.

Probably best to do this alone: if young children are involved there will likely be none left to go in the freezer!

Homemade raw chocolate melts quicker than commercial chocolate so either make in advance, freeze, break into pieces and store in the freezer until a short while before you need it, then transfer to the fridge; or make it, freeze it, break it up, eat it and keep any leftovers (haha) in the fridge for later.

In this version, we used almond butter and sweet apricot kernels, but you can swap for tahini or other seed butter and either leave out the nuts and use seeds or cacao nibs for texture.

And remember, raw chocolate is not just for Easter 😉

INGREDIENTS

(organic where possible)

1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Butter*, melted in a bowl over hot (but not boiling water)

1/2 Cup Raw Cacao Powder*

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup Raw Unsweetened Almond, Cashew or Sweet Apricot Kernel Butter (no palm oil) (or seed butter if nutfree)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Goldenberries or Goji Berries* (chopped) or other preferred berries (dried mulberries, apple juice-infused cranberries, raisins)

2 Tbsps chopped Almonds, Cashews, or Sweet Apricot Kernels (or seeds or cacao nibs*) (plus a little for sprinkling on top)

METHOD
Whisk together raw cacao powder, maple syrup, melted cacao butter, vanilla extract and nut butter. Stir in the berries and nuts.

Spread chocolate mixture onto lined, freezerproof tray, sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds.

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Place in freezer for 30 minutes, then break up into bite-size pieces.

Best bit? Licking the spoon!

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See also

Fill Your Easter Basket with Home Made Vegan Raw Chocolate Eggs

Food Matters’ ‘One Minute Slice’ Raw Chocolate Protein Bars

Vegan Gluten-Free Raw Chocolate Love Hearts

+

Raw Treats – Recipes

for more homemade chocolate recipes

*The Raw Chocolate Company sell a Make Your Own Chocolate box which contains 2 each of Organic, Raw Cacao Powder, Cacao Butter and Coconut Palm Sugar.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Fill Your Easter Basket with Home Made Vegan Raw Chocolate Eggs

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Soon, it will be that other chocolate-filled holiday and the kids are off school getting revved up in anticipation of the upcoming egg hunts, so here is my alternative to the usually over-sweet, over-processed and over-priced commercial eggs. The kids will love to ‘help’ – or you could do it all in secret under the pretext of surprising them, but really so you get to clean out the bowl and lick the spoon! 😉

These home-made raw chocolate eggs are dairy- and gluten-free, as well as free from refined sugar. Some of them contain nuts but you can replace nut butter with tahini and ground-up nuts with seeds or you could choose the second nut-free version. All ingredients are organic where possible.

The Nutty Ones

1/2 Cup Raw Coconut Oil, melted

1/2 Cup Raw Chocolate Company Cacao Powder*

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Nut Butter (no palm oil)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup either Raw Chocolate Company Goldenberries or Goji Berries (chopped) or other preferred berries

                           2 Tbsp chopped Almonds or Cashews (or seeds)

METHOD
Whisk together raw cacao powder, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and nut butter. Stir in the berries and nuts.

Pour chocolate mixture into freezer-safe egg moulds or other shapes placed on greaseproof paper.

Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until set.
Remove from freezer and arrange in a pretty basket.

(You could also pour onto greaseproof paper on a tray, let it spread, freeze and break into bite-size pieces).

These are the moulds we used, they’re available from Ocado and Amazon. They’re silicone and are freezerproof, ovenproof to 260C and dishwasher safe.

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Nut-Free Eggs

For this version, we used the basic Raw Chocolate Company recipe on the back of their Cacao Powder and Raw Coconut Palm Sugar packs, with the addition of vanilla and goji berries.* It is a more intensely dark flavour and not as sweet as the first recipe. In fact, for a few of the eggs, we added a teaspoon of maple syrup as well to cater for those who have a slightly sweeter tooth.

The coconut palm sugar needs refining in a small chopper to make it dissolve and blend more easily.

You can of course leave out the berries if you just want plain chocolate or add whatever you prefer.

Ingredients

90g Cacao Butter, melted

60g Cacao Powder

60g Coconut Palm Sugar (+ 1 Tsp Maple Syrup if required) 

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Goji Berries or lightly chopped Dried Mulberries

Method

Mix the melted cacao butter and coconut palm sugar in a bowl over hot but not boiling water to dissolve the sugar. Whisk in the cacao powder and vanilla extract, then stir in the goji berries.

Pour into moulds and set in the freezer as before.

‘Mylk’ Chocolate Nests

28330256_UnknownIf you want to make chocolate nests, you can mix this basic chocolate recipe (minus the Goji Berries) with Weetabix- or shredded wheat-type cereal or gluten-free equivalents, or puffed rice cereal, and place in moulds or bun cases. Refirgerate as before.

With these ones, we added a little vanilla, a tablespoon of lucuma powder, and a couple of tablespoons of homemade tiger nut milk.

You could also make ‘eggs’ from marzipan with the option of dipping in raw chocolate! You can also use natural food colourings. Here, though, we used ground almonds mixed with a little maple syrup.

See also my page of Raw Treats – Recipes for more Raw Chocolate Recipes (at the bottom of the page) and here is a new recipe for Raw Vegan Fruit & Nut (or seed) Chocolate – not just for Easter!.

Have a fun Easter weekend with the people you love!

The Raw Chocolate Company

* (They sell a special chocolate-making kit containing all the ingredients for home-made raw chocolate on their website).

Copyright: Chris McGowan”

A Quiet Saturday Doing Nothing Much – until…!

It began early. Too early! My husband decided that as there was a load of logs being delivered at any time today as well as the possibility of a family visit, he’d better get up at the crack of dawn to make the juices, light the fire, have breakfast and get to the shops as soon as they opened. No matter how ‘quiet’ he tries to be, I always wake up and this is never a happy start to our day: I don’t react well to being woken up, whatever the hour. I need time, lots of it, to come to, review my dreams, make an inventory of my aches and pains,  work out what day it is – always a tricky conundrum during school holidays because I don’t have the school children or school traffic to at least give me a clue as to whether it’s a weekday or a weekend. I don’t usually manage much sleep –  Morpheus and I are mere passing acquaintances – so when I do slip into slumber I like it to last as long as possible.

So his getting up even earlier than usual is not an auspicious start – the usually full-throated blackbird hasn’t even warmed up his vocal chords yet!  I want to stay supine for as long as possible, in order to gather my strength and my wits ready for the possible onslaught, I mean visit, of my lovely grandsons who usually like to invent some kind of medieval torture to inflict on their doting grandma – their favourite ‘game’ at the moment is Demon Dentists! They seem to have grown out of spies and pirates. We have a playroom full of cardboard instruments of torture designed by them over the years (see Creativity is Contagious), usually after a visit to the local ruined castle and of course used only on yours truly – I don’t know how Grandad always manages to get away with it!

We haven’t seen them since Valentine’s Day and I was looking forward to the annual Easter Egg frenzy, I mean well-organised, leisurely garden hunt (I swear they only love me for my chocolate 😉). So was Grandad, you’ve never met someone with as sweet a tooth and being well-brought up, they usually take pity on him and donate a small portion of their Easter booty.

But at 8.22 our daughter rang. This couldn’t be good news. It wasn’t – or it was, depending on how you looked at it! She couldn’t get the boys moving – the youngest (not that young) wanted to travel in his pyjamas!  The oldest didn’t thnk it was worth travelling all that way just for a couple of hours. She would try again during the week.

Ok. So I’m up but not dressed, I’m still in ‘coming to’ mode, when my husband gives me this news. I was off the hook, my sentence to torture has been commuted, but I am disappointed, though I understand. They’ve had a busy couple of weeks. The oldest had performed in a play, they both had violin exams, they just want to chill. But I’m up now. I sip my hot water as I look out on a damp, dark sky that looks leaden with rain, and groan. No sun then. I should have stayed in bed.

Nevertheless, I gird up my spirits (?!) and decide to go in the shower, wash my hair and see what the day has to offer by way of compensation. I love a scalding hot shower! It eases some of the kinks in my muscles and I love the total privacy of it, no interruptions, no extraneous noise, just quiet contemplation and a cocoon of hot, relaxing water. I let it cascade over me and muse about the new day ahead.

I go back to bed! I can’t face drying my hair, it can do what it likes, I don’t care. Bed is warm. Bed is quiet. Bed doesn’t require any effort. Bed doesn’t make me look at dark clouds. I can close my eyes and shut everything out. Just for a few minutes.

An hour later, I get up – again – and in passing the mirror I realise I made a huge mistake. My hair is standing on end! I mean literally standing on end.

Throughout the following hours, I don’t know what to do with myself. I was all geared up for chatting and playing. The house had been cleaned and tidied,  I had even discovered my husband cleaning the big kitchen window – wow, everything was so sharp, so clear, I had begun to think I was developing cataracts! – raw chocolate eggs had been made…

The day needed recalibrating but I didn’t know how to do it.  I write a post, I watch a recorded episode of NCIS, I contemplate the woodburner – a  very calming ‘activity’, I highly recommend it – I watch my husband going back and forth, back and forth with a wheelbarrow full of logs. I watch the rain and feel sorry for the people fighting with umbrellas in the wind and am grateful that I am inside contemplating the woodburner!

I would have watched the cycling Tour of Catalunya, but we prefer to watch the recording so we can fast forward the ads and the boring bits and besides, my husband was otherwise engaged with a log store.

At one stage my daughter texts me to say her oldest has just come downstairs and asked if it was too late to go to Grandmas! We’re now looking to Tuesday.

And so we arrive at dinner-time – pasta since you ask – and our evening date with a  boxed set of The West Wing.

Except, well…

My husband goes to the utility room to fetch something from the freezer and…

A flood happened. Not the freezer, the drain under the sink. Silt and water flow along the vinyl and he gets everything out from the cupboard, shines a torch, dons rubber gloves and begins digging out the silt. A tremendously heavy downpour had coincided with him emptying the bath and this was the result.

Except that turns out to be only the half of it. I look over to the door leading into the small extension we use as a playroom/craftroom and groan. When we open the door, we discover the flooded drain is just the apéritif: the flow of silt-sodden water has found its way into the playroom and the carpet is sodden. I groan again. And again. My husband is right royally fed up. It’s getting late, dinner is half-prepared, he’s been stacking logs most of the day, he’s tired and hungry and this is what he faced.

And do you know what bugged us most? Last autumn, we decided we would raise the floor in the playroom, it’s taken us years to get around to it. For some reason the previous owners had added the extension but it was a step down from the rooms it led off. So finally, we decided to bite the bullet and raise the floor as well as some other minor alterations. We decide we’ll do it in February this year.

Only we didn’t. If we had, it would have created a small step up from the utility room and the flood would have been stemmed before it reached the playroom!

The best laid plans and all that.

The next couple of hours are spent cutting out carpet and clearing up.

I put photos of the flood on Instagram to show the family. I half-seriously asked ‘What to do now?’ My son wrote back, ‘put a couple of convector heaters in there.’

Oops.

I’m not sure how to relay this to my husband. He has just come in, in short sleeves, cold and damp from dragging a sodden carpet out to the garage, which is all the way around the side of the house and up at the top of the drive. He is exhausted and hungry. He has locked up and is standing at the stove, ready to start over with dinner. He opens the pasta. The packet splits in two and the contents hit the floor.

The heaters are in the garage.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Easter Weekend Offer From Grip&Go Bottles

This Easter weekend the people at Grip and Go are offering a 15% discount for my followers on their stylishly quirky glass bottles (click on the link to go to their website, discount code at end of this post).

They come in 3 sizes, are dishwasher safe and are great for storing juices, nut milks or water. They fit in the fridge door and the thin-waisted ones are fantastic if you have a grip problem or if you have wet hands.

The bottles are also available with easy-grip lids as well as stainless steel ones.

The one on the right has a chalking surface so you can write on what the contents are!

I love this fun twisty bottle:

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The bottles come in several bright colours. There’s also a travel mug.

They have excellent customer service. Oh, and Free Delivery too!

So much better to have reuseable glass bottles, better for you, better for the environment – ditch the plastic!

Use Discount Code: JUICENUT15

Copyright: Chris McGowan