Rich Chocolate Cake, Raspberry Chia Seed Jam with Chocolate Orange Ganache

IMG_5988As much as I love a good, healthy, raw, vegan dessert; sometimes I just want a NORMAL cake. Full of chocolate, sugar and all things bad for me.

So much of being vegan or plant-based means that you don’t necessarily enjoy what you used to, or you have to settle with an ok version made with a crazy amount of nuts. Yes, I do adore these foods when you find THE recipe, but so much of the time it’s too good to be true and you’re left with a flavourless meal (that you really thought might taste like real cheese this time.)

Some vegans really don’t mind these knock-off versions of dairy-laden dishes, as do I sometimes. But I still love and crave dairy. I love the taste of meat, but I love animals more. So here I am, blasting through the world of dairy and meat substitutes.

One thing I can sure make is a vegan chocolate cake. This thing is what I’ve been waiting for! A cake with ingredients I recognise. Ingredients that I have in my cupboard. A cake crumb that’s moist and fudgey. AND IT DOESNT TASTE LIKE COCONUT! (You all know the wonders of coconut, but practically all sweet animal friendly foods taste like coconut, and I’m so sick of it.)

I honestly think this cake is just as good as a ‘normal’ sponge cake using butter and eggs. Everyone needs this recipe in their back pocket, armed for cake emergencies.

As the saying goes; a balanced diet is a chocolate bar in both hands. A slice of chocolate cake in each hand counts too right?

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Vegan Bounty Bites

IMG_5957This is what I live for. Delicious treats that are good for you. If you’re sick of being on the guilt train after eating your weight in chocolate (don’t worry we’ve all been on that journey before), I’m here to save you.

I used to be on a constant hamster wheel of cramming my body with healthy foods, cutting out all treats and going cold turkey on all things sugary. Then my cravings would get the better of me and I’d fall at the first hurdle crashing into an oblivion of chocolate and cake. After a few days of feeling sorry for myself and crap, I’d snap out of it and jump back onto the wheel of health and it starts all over again.

However, after discovering vegan baking, this isn’t so much of a problem for me anymore. Now I’m not saying all vegan baking is good for you; I have a recipe coming soon laden with sugar. But a lot of vegan recipes are considerably more healthy than ordinary dairy/egg versions.

I’m sure you’ve noticed recently that all my posts have been vegan. For multiple reasons, I recently decided to transition from a dairy/meat laden diet to a completely plant-based one. You’ll see some changes happening here but I’ll cover this more in a future post. It’s been hard, but not as hard as I thought. Its actually been really exciting and empowering.

As a child I HATED bounty bars. They were my mothers favourite, and luckily for her no one else is the family would touch them with a bargepole, so she always had ample left for her in the selection box. However, as I’ve grown up, I have a new-found appreciation for coconut and its delicate but rich flavour.

These little coconut bites are perfect to keep stashed in the fridge for those moments of sweet hunger. By keeping them small, I find that I’m much less likely to eat a lot of them. I think having these the size of an ordinary bounty bar would be too much. Although if you’re a bounty lover like my mother, then go for it and make vegan bounty bars the size of your face. No judgement here.

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Vegan Dark Chocolate, Pecan and Almond Butter Oat Cookies (Gluten free)

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Please don’t be put off by the notion of vegan cookies. Trust me, I was a skeptic too. However, in light of recent events (which you’ll hear more about soon), this recipe testing was needed. Vegan cookies were needed.

I’m 100% sure that if someone gave me one of these cookies and didnt tell me they were vegan, I would think they were just normal butter-laden cookies. But guys, theres no butter in sight here! Its been replaced by those heart healthy friends, coconut oil and almond butter. Now I’m not at all saying these are healthy, seen as they’re still packed with sugar and chocolate. Its progress in the right direction though right?

On the other hand however, these babies are full of oats, almonds and pecans. All good for you and all filling. A few of these are a perfect snack pick me up to get you through to dinner time and if you’re anything like me, your need for a sweet treat throughout the day is covered. These can also be made gluten free with gluten free oats.

They’re basically the jesus of all cookies.

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A rich dark and gooey Chocolate Cake for Autumnal nights

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It’s approaching that time of year when the sun retreats into the sky earlier and earlier, leaving us in dusky overcast light before we’ve even sat down for dinner. It’s the time when all you want it to do is hide under your covers every morning and leave the responsibilities shut outside where they can’t get you. Its the time when food becomes more than fuel for your body, it fuels your soul. You yearn for those familiar flavours, smells, comforts that somehow got forgotten over the past summer of raw salads.

I’ve been searching for a cake like this for a long time. A cake that you can throw together without much effort. A cake that has that envious gooey, shiny interior that we all thrive for in a chocolate cake. But most importantly for me, that deep rich dark colour. Nothing makes me ache more for a sweet snack than an intense dark brown crumb.

I can wholeheartedly admit to you that all I want after pounding the harsh concrete pavements of London and slugging through the rain is this. This isn’t a pretty cake. It’s not about that. This loaf cake is about cutting out the manners and getting straight to what you came for.

Although however raw, unrefined or informal a cake like this is; there’s still something ever so charming about it. It’s not a slice of cake that’s ‘too beautiful to eat.’ It practically screams at you to devour it. That said, unashamed, that’s what we shall do.

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Momofuku Milk Bar Banana Cream Pie

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People always say, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ I say, ‘when life gives you black overripe bananas, make Momofuku banana cream pie.’

Who knew that leaving your bananas to practically rot away in your kitchen over Christmas by mistake was a good thing?! Blackened bananas are the key ingredient to this unforgettable pie. They are the starring ingredient here, paying homage to the humble banana. This brilliant idea comes from Christina Tosi, creator of Momofuku Milk Bar.

In Tosi’s recipe, she recommends leaving your bananas to ripen until the skin is practically black. This way they become intensely flavoured, soft and with an unmistakable caramel punch to them. Not the kind of banana you’d like to eat though. Save your sweet yellow eating bananas for the hidden middle layer of sliced banana.

I absolutely love the ideas that emerge from the Milk Bar cookbook. Using humble ingredients, Christina Tosi creates approachable and unique desserts. I’m drawn to her diverse use of everyday foods; ones that you wouldn’t typically use in baking. For example, her compost cookie is packed with chocolate chips, pretzels and crisps! The Momofuku Milk Bar book will definitely be a new addition to my bookshelf.

So before you emerge in the new year a new you, healthier and vowed off sugar for the best part of January; I urge you to try this ingenious creation. Theres always room for more pie in my world.

Fun internet watching: If you want to know more about this and watch Christina herself make this pie, you can watch it in the series “The Mind of a Chef” in the episode ‘Rotten.’ A great quick watch I’d highly recommend. Click Here to watch

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Soft, Chewy Chocolate dipped Mini Coconut Macaroons (GF)

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I do realise its Christmas Eve and your all probably either working (bah humbug) or chained to your oven looking like a deranged version of your former composed self after all the hours of planning, shopping, wrapping and cooking.

You’re probably thinking, why the hell is she posting on Christmas Eve? I’ve already bought my ingredients, I’ve already planned my Christmas table, theres no time for making bloody coconut macaroons. I do realise I’m a little late on the Christmas baking train but believe me when I say, these literally take about ten minutes to make.

Never one for being a fan of coconut, these are the last thing I thought I’d ever make. However, one thing thats changed on this whirlwind of a journey thats growing up, is that I love coconut! I sincerely apologise to all the mini Bounty chocolate bars I turned my nose up to as a child, from the Christmas Celebration box.

I decided to make mine really small. At the time, I thought it would be absolutely adorable and that it’d mean I wouldn’t eat as much because they were so small. Fast forward to half an hour after they emerged from the oven; I ended up eating like 15 and it turned out making mini versions of things doesn’t really work out for me.

I dipped mine into glistening melted dark chocolate and sprinkled them with slithers of toasted almonds. This outside crunch makes a lovely contrast to the soft chewy centre. The combinations here are endless; dried apricots and white chocolate, add in a spoonful of chocolate chips or just keep them plain. Whatever takes your fancy, there’s a variation for everyone.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope your days are filled with happiness, gratitude, family, friends and festive cheer. What a wonderful year its been.

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Mocha Birthday Cake: Chocolate Chip Coffee Sponge, Dark Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Mascarpone Icing

IMG_3664I really believe that you should make the most of your birthday. Whether you’re 1 or 101, it should be a real celebration. I no longer do these one day birthdays, I need to eek it out for as long as possible. Preferably spanning a week; book a holiday, plan meals, research the birthday cake you’re going to bake for yourself months in advance…

It’s a day to eat whatever the hell you want, wear whatever the hell you want and say whatever you want because its your birthday.

Besides, you’ll only turn 22 once. This day only comes once a year so why not milk it for all its worth? You’ve waited 365 days for this.

I hope you’ve caught on by now and have realised, it was MY birthday. My celebrations consisted of a takeaway in my pyjamas, a massage, meals, a trip to the cinema and a four-day adventure to Iceland (more about that soon.)

It was only a week ago and I miss this cake already. I miss Iceland already. I spent a really long time debating what kind of route I wanted to take. I was torn between a simple apple cake or a really indulgent five layered chocolate cake. After what felt like days and days on Pinterest, I finally settled on this Mocha inspired number.

By putting chocolate chunks into a coffee sponge, I didn’t need to decide between a chocolate sponge or a vanilla one. I got the best of both worlds. A mascarpone icing is a great alternative to butter icing as it keeps the sweetness down. Layering the sponge with rich, silky, chocolate ganache was a no brainer and just needed to happen.

A voila! A twenty-two year old coffee addicts dream birthday cake.

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Blackberry, Orange and Chocolate Bread Pudding for one

IMG_3340One thing that really bothers me about living on my own, is buying food for one. I hate leftovers and, more than anything, I hate wasting food. I admit that some leftover meals are crazy delicious, like christmas leftover sandwiches or bubble and squeak, and they do have their place when it comes to time-saving. But eating a three-day old soggy lasagne just doesn’t do it for me.

One of my favourite things to buy is a crusty fresh loaf of bread from a local shop. I can’t think of many things more satisfying than the smell of a freshly baked loaf. Accompany some pungent ripe cheese with that and I’m yours. However, 9 times out of 10, I won’t eat all of it before it becomes stale beyond any saving. And this is with me eating it at every opportunity, trying to avoid this. Life seems to get in the way and this happens with a fair amount of food in my house.

I honestly think someone should create a supermarket for singles. Everything should come in single sized portions. I really don’t like eating the same meal over and over again, so buying a pack of six sausages means I have to eat sausages for three days in a row. All of the dishes I bake in on a day-to-day basis are single sized or two portion maximum, for this reason exactly.

So here I am, saving all you fellow single gals and guys out there from leftovers and throwing away old food; because you really can’t face the thought of another lacklustre pasta dish hanging around your fridge for days again.

Bread pudding uses up leftover milk, berries, croissants and anything else you feel like throwing in there. Make this what you want. It’s all about taking out what I’ve put in and changing it for what tickles your fancy. Nothing screams Autumn like a steaming dish of hot, creamy bread pudding just for you.

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