Vegan Cookie Dough

FIRST POST OF FEBRUARY comes in the middle of February because of copious servings of schoolwork…many apologies for this late post, which I’ve been promising and teasing very much unfairly for a long while but haven’t gotten the time to properly plinky-plonk on the keyboard into fruition. But here it is! Look! COOKIE DOUGH–edible, very much advised to consume by thick, tufty heaped spoonful, studded with carob chips and absolutely divine. I was beyond chuffed when I scooped it out of the food processor and into a bowl, because this is the motherlode. This is the answer to all your cookie dough dreams. Cookie dough ice cream a la Ben and Jerry’s half baked? No problem–chuck some of these in plain vanilla ice cream, add some chunks of fudgy, squishy brownie like this banoffee super fudge brownie or this vegan gluten free banana peanut butter swirl brownie, and you’re set. Have a sudden craving for cookie dough? Just grab yourself a spoon. Want some cookie dough on your pancakes or on french toast or on oatmeal or on your whole life? Grab a bowl of this and knock yourself out. It is a bowl brimming with potential salmonella-free deliciousness. I know that much responsibility in your hands is overwhelming, but y’know, you can deal. I’m sure you can. So I’m going to show you a few ways in which you can use this magical cookie dough deliciousness. The cookie dough has a base of chickpeas (surprise!!) although you do not taste it at all–the chickpeas blend into a creamy rich, hummus thick and buttery loveliness that the oat flour builds on with coconut sugar, vanilla bean paste, peanut butter and squishy medjool dates to form a shockingly uncanny reincarnation of the sneaky finger of cookie dough you snuck from the mixing bowl before putting the tray of cookies into the oven. So essentially what you get is a super fluffy, super tufty, super creamy and whipped mountain of craggy cookie dough from a can of chickpeas. MAGIC. As you can see above, I’m a big fan of combining breakfast with dessert. The first photo was hot chocolate french toast made on multigrain seeded bread soaked in a batter of banana, soy milk, du chocolat hot cacao mix (review of this coming soon…sneak preview: perfection), carob powder, cinnamon, coconut sugar and vanilla before fried in coconut oil into browned, burnished, chocolaty rich perfection. I topped it with cookie dough questbar cookies (chopped and baked till crispy cookie likeness), cookie crisp and this cookie dough because why not. And if you’re fancying pancakes, that’s good too–I made a massive stack of chocolate pancakes, topped it with an ice-cream scoop of this cookie dough and it was one of the best things I ate this year. Looked impressive too. Imagine a steaming, fluffy stack of chocolaty, thick pancakes with a squidge of cookie dough on top. Make everyone jealous with this. It works. And yes, what I went crazy photographing for…this cookie fudge cake. The bottom layer was a deep-dish soft baked vegan wholewheat cookie, baked till brown and set and buttery with molten chunks of chocolate throughout, then topped with a layer of banana-tahini chocolate fudge–blended bananas, tahini, cocoa, maple syrup and a lil coconut butter till rich ganache consistency–before a lid of this cookie dough was smooshed on top. The concoction was then froze to tall, imposing cookie dough and chocolate perfection before drizzled with oozy raw chocolate ganache, cookie dough balls, carob chip chunks and a square of pana chocolate. This was…stupendous. Kind of like a massive cookie ice cream sandwich, but with a bottom layer of baked cookie and a top layer of cookie dough instead. And with lots of other nobs tossed in like the drippy ganache, of course. In other words it was a massive chocolate explosion, which if you’ve been sticking around for some time, is exactly like me to do. In summation: this is a treasure chest of cookie dough craziness that is so close within your reach, so easy, and beyond worth the perhaps 10 minutes of your life. Do it. I know I’ve been rather absent posting and recipe developing wise, but I’m taking things slow. Slow and steady, trying to manage life and living life at the same time. Do bear with me through this crazy student-era of my life. Sometimes I do get doubts over how far this blog will go, how long will my Instagram last before I fade away into obscurity, how long I get to bake with passion before any chance I have at making this a career is over. But yknow, I’ll just go with the flow. Doing things I love, doing things I believe in, trying out opportunities that come my way, trying to put myself out there so that I can continue doing this for a long while. I’ve been immensely privileged to be given a platform and a following to project my passion to, and I’ll make the most out of it whilst fulfilling my obligation as a student.

vegan cookie dough

-1 tin canned chickpeas

-1 cup rolled oats

-2 heaping tbsp natural peanut butter/almond butter

-3 tbs applesauce

-4 very soft medjool dates

-3 tbs coconut sugar

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1/4 tsp cinnamon

-2 tbs plant based milk + more if required

-1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips/carob chips

In a food processor, blitz the oats till they form a mealy flour. Add the rest of the ingredients in except for the chocolate chips and blend away till everything is broken down, scraping the sides a few times, and it forms a thick, doughy, tufty cookie dough consistency. If needed, add a little almond meal or more plant based milk depending if your cookie dough is too thin or too thick. Remove the blade and fold in the chocolate chips/carob chips, dollop into a bowl and you’re done! Refrigerate when not in use and keep up to 8 days, covered in an airtight tupperware/container in the fridge.

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Chocolate Brownie Berry Cookie Sandwiches (Bare Blends)

Hey pals! Yeah, we’ve got some triple decker goodness going on this round–berry between chocolate kind of goodness. Imagine two rounds of cakey, fudgy and intensely chocolaty brownie cookie with a blorp of thick berry cashew creme in the centre, airy as marshmallow and with the zingy tart brightness and bounce of berries. This is what these chocolate brownie berry cookie sandwiches are, and boy do I love them.

DISCLAIMER: I have never had a whoopie pie before. I have a sneaking suspicion these might be perilously close to a whoopie pie, but until then and until my current impression of whoopie pie as muffin-like cakey cookie sandwiches is refuted or rebutted, these shall remain under their christened name. Deal? Deal. I’ll throw you a brownie cookie sandwich as a bonus. Who even came up with whoopie pie, anyway…it sounds rather dubious a name and reminds me too much of those trick cushion things that make the poor victim who sits upon them sound like they released a whopper of a, uh, butt exhale. Yeah…butt exhale…clearly I need to get more sleep. I’m sorry. But you get what I mean.

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Half drunken rambling aside, these babies were made with some cool goodies I got from my friends at Bare Blends! Bare Blends, in case you didn’t know, is a super cool bunch of folks down under that have environmentally friendly, super natural and organic, along with tasty and delicious under their hat. Founded in 2012, this group of cool beans set out to offer protein powders, blends and superfoods that aren’t pumped full of artificial chemicals, sweeteners, enhancers and other non body nor environmentally friendly substances and–very importantly–taste good too. I really love that more and more companies are getting into the urgent need to use sustainable resources, to make environmentally friendly a core goal of their production and focusing more in using natural, sustainable ingredients–and Bare Blends are one of the first few companies I saw, especially for one that produces protein powder, that set out to pioneer a green way. The super cool packaging for their products is made of recycled paper instead of plastic, and they choose certified organic ingredients free from synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics and chemical pesticides (and which also ensures soil fertility due to higher organic matter content and biological activity, how cool is that!).

The brownie cookies in these recipe have some of Bare Blend’s raw peruvian powder protein added in–a vegan (!!) blend of South American superfoods like sacha inchi, which is a Peruvian peanut cultivated in the Amazon and Andes containing healthy fatty acids and easily digestible vegan protein, along with some of my other favourite superfoods like maca, cacao, vanilla bean, mesquite, and lucuma to name a few. The end result is an energy-packed, fragrant nutty blend filled with minerals and protein that can keep you going for a long while. And since I wasn’t aiming to use it for any reason in particular like muscle building or performance after exercise, taste is certainly very important–and I must say that it was impressive. I was cautious about the Peruvian peanut (is it like peanut butter peanut?? is it an exotic peanut?? how exotic can peanuts get, right??) but when I first tasted the blend in pancakes and in a smoothie, it was simply amazing. The Peruvian powder protein gives a flavor that has a milder, more nutty type of peanut flavor as opposed to the full-on peanut party you get from peanut butter, and that is highlighted with a sort of lighter richness, a malty chocolaty flavor from the maca and cacao, and a subtle but fruity and caramelly sweetness. All in all: you get peanutty, malty, chocolaty, and caramelly. So good. And it’s so easy to mix into just about anything–pancakes, oatmeal, smoothies, bakes, raw desserts…definitely thumbs up for this one.

Another package the guys sent over was their bare berries blend. This was such an interesting product–it’s basically a freeze dried powder of a delicious blend of berries, so it’s like a concentrated fairy dust of everything berry nice that makes all your food a beautiful rich beet-shade plum if you add in enough! Yeah, concentrated fairy dust describes it reasonably well. Inside this fairy dust is pomegranate, blueberries, sour cherry, lingonberry, red and black raspberries, black currant, concord grape, acai berry, macqui berry and more–14 berries in total, which makes it a positively massive berry bash going on inside. The powder is a deep rich plum shade and I used it in my berry cashew creme here–it yields a tart, zingy burst of berry flavor and a punch of antioxidants. Can’t express how much I love it. And if you’re short on berries or if the fruit section in your supermarket is jacking up the prices recently, a spoonful of this will ensure you still get the nutrition and the zingy berry feel in your smoothies.

And the last one I got, but not the least–their bare greens blend. I admit, I was hesitant about this one. Berries I can deal, Peruvian peanuts turned out pretty tasty, but I’ve always been skeptical about greens that aren’t, y’know, broccoli or spinach or bok choy. Greens in smoothies I’ve never tried in particular, but I was game to try for this one. And it didn’t disappoint! I had it for a side along with some toast for an after school snack one day, and it tasted amazing. It gave a sort of grassy, fresh zing to my simple smoothie base of frozen banana, almond milk and strawberries. Not in a bad, bitter herbal taste either–sort of like a fresh exhale of mint, but without the mint flavor and a little bit of a matcha sort of feel (and I found out that it did, indeed, contain matcha! So huzzah for discerning tastebuds). It contains kale, wheatgrass, chlorella, matcha, barley, spirulina, and spinach amongst other fun ingredients to form a pack of freeze dried veggie power–vegetables, grasses, algae and matcha. I know, it sounds a little dubious and something overly ‘healthy’…but believe me, it’s good. And covers your vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients sufficiently as well. Get on the green stuff, I say! Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street is green too.

my Oscar the Grouch smoothie, courtesy of bare greens

my Oscar the Grouch smoothie, courtesy of bare greens

All in all: I’m honestly so glad to have gotten the chance to work with the amazing dudes. Do check them out at Bare Blends–I can’t believe how fortunate I have been to be able to try such products from a company that deserves all the customers it can get, and to be able to test out things that align with my firm belief of environmental respect and care. They’ve also been incredibly understanding and supportive and I couldn’t have asked for more. You can check out my Instagram (and theirs, too) for more ways in which I use these products/ways they can be used!

Back to these cookies though: they have the Power of the Peruvian Peanut and a Battalion of 14 Berries in their cashew creme. Not something to be trifled with taste-wise, because these guys will rock your socks. Soft, fudgy chocolate cookie with a crunch of almonds on top and an almost mousse-like cashew creme in the centre filled with bright berry flavor–what more could you want? Little sandwiches of happiness. Give these a try.

(disclaimer: I was not paid to advertise these products, Bare Blends sent them to me for review. All opinions expressed are mine, and I think it’s pretty darn delicious.)

 

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Chocolate Brownie Berry Cookie Sandwiches

You will need:

For the cookies

-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

-1/4 cup coconut oil

-1/2 cup raw cane sugar/coconut sugar

-1/3 cup cocoa/cacao/carob

-3 tbs Bare Blends raw peruvian powder protein (or protein powder of your choice/more cocoa/peanut flour)

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1/2 cup wholewheat pastry flour

-1/2 cup oat flour

-2 tbs rice flour

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-crushed almond slivers

For the cashew creme

-1/4 cup soaked cashews

-handful of frozen berries

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-2 tbs plant based milk

-1 tbs coconut oil/coconut butter

-2 tbs maple syrup

-2 tbs silken tofu/soy yogurt/coconut yogurt/greek yogurt

-1 spoonful bare berries blend

Blend all the ingredients for the cashew creme together in a small food processor or blender attachment, adding a little more plant based milk if needed for the mixture to reach a thick, creamy consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover with clingwrap and chill in the fridge until needed.

Whisk the applesauce, oil, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, and peruvian protein together in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Sift in the dry ingredients on top and fold it in with a spatula–you should get a moist, tacky dough. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and chill for at least half an hour in the fridge or until the dough is cold enough to handle.

When the dough is cold enough, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll out ping pong ball sized mounds of dough in your palms into balls before flattening into round cookie shapes onto the parchment paper–these won’t spread much, so flatten them before baking. Scatter crushed almonds on top of half of the cookie dough rounds and press them in slightly. Bake these for 12-15 minutes until the tops are firm when prodded lightly; let them cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, sandwich one almond and one plain with the prepared cashew creme. Chill the sandwiches for at least an hour (overnight is ideal for the cookies to set up really fudgy and for the creme to turn into an almost ice cream texture) before serving!

Bare Blends

Website: http://bareblends.com/au

Instagram: instagram.com/bareblends

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bareblends

Store: http://bareblends.com.au/store/

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Berry Cheezecake Pancakes

Another weekend, another pancake production! These were some of the best pancakes I’ve had in a long while. Two words–BERRY CHEEZECAKE. I’m not someone to go for gentle pancake flavors…when it comes to one of my favourite meals, I go all out with flavors. It’s such fun to be able to customise them and ignite the canvas of fluffy cake with all your favourite flavor fusion fireworks–cheesecake in pancakes? Fine by me. I tend to use ice cream flavors as potential springboards for future pancake creations as well (cough, Ben and Jerry’s, cough).

These are made berry cheezecake as they’re studded with frozen berries (you could use fresh, if you fancy) and get this: cheezecake chunks. I froze a raw cheezecake batter in a shallow silicone tray, bashed it up into small sized chunks and folded it into the batter just before cooking–and you get cheezecake chips! Man, and were they delicious. I’m very proud of this idea. I’d like to thank the leftover cashew cheezecake cream in the fridge, my incessant hunger to pancake every delicious flavor in existence, and a determination to make every pancake meal better than the last.

 

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The batter is a thick, ivory one stippled with ribbons of vibrant bleeding berry juice amidst the cream. I admit that these are a little messier when it comes to cooking–cheezecake chunks melt, berries burst, and you need to ensure your pan is properly greased for minimum pancake abrasion when flipping–but they’re well worth it, and to be quite honest I never had so much fun cooking my pancakes in my life. Sometimes you need a little mess to add spice to your life. And even though these are far from the most aesthetically pleasing batch I’ve made, they certainly hit all the marks just right taste-wise.

I topped mine with crushed almonds, toasted coconut, peanut butter (as usual..) and a whole assortment of berries. I can’t tell you how immensely satisfying these were–hearty, golden, soft; with tart berries bleeding warm, sweet and sputtering juice into the aerated crumb and rich pockets of molten cheezecake, velvety and creamy and just amazing, oozing and melding with the warmed berries into a rich and berry-fresh sensation. Definitely give these a try, and add “cheezecake pancakes” to your repertoire of to-go pancake flavors.

 

Berry Cheezecake Pancakes

You will need:

Ingredients

-1/4 cup+2 tbs flour of choice (I used a mix of spelt, wholewheat pastry and oat)

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/4 tsp baking soda

-dash cinnamon

-2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax+6 tbs water mixed and left to thicken for at least half an hour, best overnight)

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1 large banana, mashed

-120-140ml plant based milk

-1 tbs coconut sugar/maple syrup/sweetener

-1/2 tbs lemon zest (optional but recommended)

-1/4 to 1/3 cup frozen or fresh berries

-2 tbs cheezecake chunks

Cheezecake chunks

-3 tbs cashews, soaked overnight/for at least 3 hours

-1/2 tbs coconut cream (or soy/coconut yogurt, or normal yogurt if you’re not vegan)

-1/4 tsp vanilla

-1/2 tbs coconut oil

-1/2 tbs maple syrup/liquid sweetener

-1 tsp lemon juice

Blitz all the ingredients for the cheezecake chunks together until thick and creamy; you can add a little plant based milk if you have trouble blending, but keep in mind it should be a thick cream consistency. Dollop into either a silicone ice cube tray/shallow mould or a small tray lined with parchment paper and spread out thinly. Freeze overnight till solid, break up into smaller chunks and keep chilled until needed.

For the pancakes, whisk all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In another, add all the wet ingredients and whisk that until homogenous before adding in the dry and mixing to combine. Let the pancake batter sit while you preheat your pan on the lowest heat. Once the pan is hot enough such that a drop of water hisses and evaporates immediately upon contact, grease it well with coconut oil/grapeseed oil. Mix in your berries and cheezecake chunks and then dollop on the pancakes. Let cook until the edges dull and start to solidify and bubbles start to appear on the surface, before flipping and cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan once the underside is golden. Repeat with the rest of the batter until all is gone.

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Cookie Dough and Coconut Brownie Snack Balls

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m quite a lazy person. The only thing I can be remotely bothered about is food, and even that–if you ask me to make something that takes 48 hours to ferment under a full moon chanting around it and doing some Stone-Age dance so that the yeast sprouteth and groweth, I’ll probably blink at you a few times before mutely padding to the fridge, taking out my trusty chocolate stash and collapsing on the couch with it instead. No matter how delicious it is, or if it’s some Elixir of Youth and Eternal Pancakedom,  I rarely have the luxury of motivation (or even time)(maybe that’s down to poor time management, but that’s another story…).

Luckily for slow sloths like me, there are quick treats that you can rustle up without breaking out into a laborious sweat, and that will appear in front of you as a form of quick, delicious satisfaction with no time at all. They come in useful especially when you’re slaving over stupid math questions (trigonometry 3, I loathe you with all my heart and soul) that you keep GETTING WRONG and you’re just about to pull your hair out and smash your calculator against a brick wall. When times like that come by and the only thing to appease and pacify your raging tirade is something to chew on furiously to vent your anger through some trusty jaw exercise, these babies are just perfect. Little balls of speedy deliciousness that take only one bowl to mix into creation, and that don’t leave an awful mess whilst eating them–because it only takes a simple journey from hand to mouth in a quick pop to transport them to your waiting stomach.

The next time you have a mound of coursework or paperwork to do, may I suggest these cookie dough balls, or coconut brownie balls? Beyond efficient, instant gratification, super scrummy, your perfect procrastination pal. Kidding. Do your work!!

 

What are your favourite study snacks? I’m not the type of person that can snack while studying, because I simply lack the mental capacity to operate on two highly important functions at the same time. I have to set a break time where I scroll my social media and nom before diving back into the books, having gathered enough physical and mental fuel to carry on for another lap or two before I divert my attention to yet another cat video. Study snacks mean snacks that are easy to pile together, normally for me an everything-on-top-of-yogurt bowl–yogurt, either plain or with chocolate+cinnamon, berry jam, or peanut butter stirred in, topped with an assortment of chopped fruits and granola, muesli, perhaps a crumbled muffin or a homemade cookie or two. A truly well-balanced sounding snack, but you haven’t seen the days where a large bar of chocolate seems like the best solution to your math assignment that you just cannot get right. Smoothies are good too, though–any fruit you have (frozen bananas/berries, kiwi, oranges, peaches, whatever you have) along with maybe some yogurt, juice, almond milk or coconut water just chucked into a blender and whizzed into thick, creamy, luscious and chilled perfection. And frozen bananas are the best treat ever–addicting in their creamy frosty ice-cream like melt.

I’m obviously very well versed in snacking. Don’t ask me how.

At any rate, these were amazing. The cookie dough balls are crumbly, nutty, buttery; they have the rich squidgy softness of cookie dough that we all love, flavored with the slightest floral fragrance of vanilla bean paste, and filled with chunks of chocolate. What more can you ask for? And of such an effecient pop-in-mouth fit too. The brownie coconut ones are dark, indulgent, almost creamy in their velvety smooth silkiness; and the coating of coconut allows for a tropical, raspy grit of texture. They nestle perfectly in your palm, and in your mouth too.

I do know that coconut flour isn’t the most universally available ingredient, but it’s well worth the investment. Full of healthy fibre and containing a quota of the rich healthy coconut fat, it adds a beautiful fluffiness and height of thickness to whatever you choose to put it in. It lends the most amazing texture–soft and crumbly–and also a slight coconut flavor. If you don’t like coconut, fret not–it’s entirely undetectable, unless you have a completely unflavored bake. And it’s one of my secret pancake making weapons–these babies make the tallest pancakes ever.

For these snack balls, coconut flour ensures that a certain level of moisture is retained while still gaining a cookie dough crumbly consistency; and it is absolutely lovely. Do give these a try, should you next find yourself peckish and in desperate need of a hasty hour snack.

 

Cookie Dough and Coconut Brownie Snack Balls

makes 3 of each

For the Cookie Dough Balls

-1.5 tbs coconut flour

-1 tbs yogurt

-1/2 tbs peanut butter

-1/2 tbs coconut sugar/maple syrup

-1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1/4 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 to 1 tbs chocolate chips

For the Coconut Brownie Balls

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1 tbs cocoa

-1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1 tbs yogurt

-1/2 tbs dark chocolate peanut butter

-1/4 tsp instant coffee granules

-1/2 tbs almond milk (or plant based milk)

-1/2 tbs coconut sugar/maple syrup

-1 to 2 tbs dessicated coconut to roll them in (optional)

Mix the ingredients for each of the balls together in a bowl.  The absorbency of coconut flour depends on the brand, so if the mixture is too dry feel free to add more almond milk–you should get a slightly tacky, smooth dough. Roll the mix into three balls for each flavor and knead in chocolate chips for the cookie dough and roll in coconut for the brownie flavor. You could eat this instantly, or chill before serving.

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Buckwheat Double Chocolate Pancakes+Frothy Cacao Caramel Almond Mylk

Hey friends! It’s got to be a short one today because I have a ton of Chinese and Math to do and stress over…but honestly, I can’t complain. 2015 has been brilliant for me so far. Not that I’ve soared along the air gathering stars and positive events left right like a Mario game on whack, but that each day has been quietly infused with blessings and so many things to be thankful for. Maybe I’m just starting to realise their presence and they’ve been here all along, or maybe 2015 really is off to a nice start–but at any rate, I’m glad. If you follow my Instagram you’d see that I have made a jar out of the massacred cute animal calendar Instagram was kind enough to gift me as a New Year’s present, and that everyday I relentlessly rip out a cute pooch/cute cat and write down everything I’m thankful for on it before folding it up and throwing it into the jar. It used to be a honey jar, but I think what it holds now is much sweeter.

I’ve realised something this year: good days aren’t perfect. Maybe there is that perfect day out there where everything goes right, your hair streams behind you like a shampoo commercial as you walk and sunlight hits your face at those movie-cinematography-chic angles, you score full marks on your test and strike the lottery and find out that your crush, indeed, has been loving you all this while and make a perfect pancake stack to end off your beautiful, perfect, awesome, flawless day with a beautiful, perfect, awesome, flawless meal. But for me at least good days don’t go 100% smoothly–there are always bumps, a little bit of blackness, maybe more than a little bit. It’s whatever makes it a good day that counts though, and manages to quash or at least matter more than the bad things that might’ve happened.

I’m honestly beyond grateful. I’ll work hard this year, study hard, do the best I can. I’ve been blessed with a lot and sometimes I forget that, but I’m determined to show that I won’t take everything I have for granted anymore.

 

This stack was taken as my second Pancake Sunday of 2015! Now I don’t have pancakes for breakfast anymore–these were a lovely lunch because I’ve devoted my mornings to church. Thanks to some friends, I’ve started going to church. It was scary at first, but there was something about singing worship and giving thanks and praise in a group that I’d missed so much. In a strange way, it was oddly familiar and foreign–but it felt like going home.

Buckwheat double chocolate pancakes–these fluffy babies are studded with pockets of oozing, sticky dark chocolate and made with the gritty dark but fragrant and nutty buckwheat flour. They rise beautifully when flipped to reveal a soft crumb infused with the rich flavor of chocolate and gently molten chocolate, with the golden spiciness of cinnamon in the background. I had them with a mound of peanut butter as usual, and a jar of frothy cacao-caramel almond mylk. I’ve had soy milk for the most of my life and had only recently tried almond milk in Sapporo of all places–and I love it. I whizzed this up in my blender to produce a caramelly-sweet frosted glass of thick, silky, chocolaty velvet mylk; rich and smooth and luxuriously decadent despite the short ingredient list, and with an incredible cap of soft creamy foam that gave an impressive milk moustache.

 

Buckwheat Double Chocolate Pancakes+Frothy Cacao Caramel Almond Mylk

You will need:

For the pancakes

-1/4 cup buckwheat flour

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1 tbs rice flour/oat flour

-1 tbs cocoa/carob/cacao

-1/2 tbs Purple Balance Sweet Chocolate (optional but recommended)

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

-2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax seeds+6 tbs water left overnight, or at least 30min)

-1 large banana, mashed

-130-150ml almond milk

-1 tbs maple syrup/coconut sugar/rice syrup

-dark chocolate, chopped (as much as you wish)

In a small bowl, mix together your dry ingredients. In a larger bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together till combined before adding the dry ingredients. Mix till just forming a thick pancake batter, adding a little bit more milk if you like thinner pancakes. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate, and let rest for 5 minutes while heating a pan on low heat. Once the pan is just hot enough such that a drop of water hisses and evaporates immediately upon contact, grease with coconut oil/grapeseed oil and dollop on your pancake batter. Cook pancakes till edges dull and turn opaque and bubbles form in the centre before flipping and cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and continue the process until the batter is done.

For the mylk

-240ml almond milk, unsweetened

-2-3 ice cubes or frozen banana chunks (optional)

-1 tbs date paste, or 2 soft and gooey medjool dates (or maple syrup/coconut sugar/rice syrup)

-1/2 tbs Purple Balance Sweet Chocolate (optional but recommended)

-1/2 tbs cacao

-few shakes cinnamon

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)

-1 tsp maca (I use Organic Burst)

Blend all ingredients together in a blender for 1-2 minutes until thick and frothy. Pour into a chilled glass and serve.

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Breakfast Chocolate-Caramel Sweet Potato Mousse

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Happy New Year everyone! It’s 2015, phew. I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year’s filled with lots of laughter and good cheer and joy. For me I am still stuck in some sort of frantic scrambling, like a spider on ice with skates on only 4 of its 8 feet, frantically trying to find its balance and make a sharp turn before it smacks into a wall–I don’t feel like I’ve gone through Christmas and New Year’s at all!

Still, time is time, and it moves on without worrying about aforementioned spiders on ice (which in hindsight sounds like a rather nasty cocktail), seguing straight into January. And school! I’ve started school, Secondary 4 this year aka scary senior-of-the-school time and lots of pressure to do well. I feel quite motivated to try my best and do my best though–I honestly and truly wish to overcome all the faults I have of laziness and procrastination and make the full use of the education opportunities I’ve been blessed with. I need to toughen up! So that is one thing I hope I can achieve for 2015, although I do feel like sometimes we make a massive fuss about resolutions and keeping them. During the New Year everyone is bombarded with motivational rhetoric left right and centre and being blazed in the eyes with an incredibly (maybe a little excessively) POSITIVE light, along with this general pressure to celebrate the year that is about to pass and start on a new leaf, new page.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against goal setting. In fact I’m all for it–I’ve seen friends that set goals and really work towards them and the end result is incredible and makes you so, so proud of their sheer strength and will–they really set about doing things, and that is really amazing to see someone fulfill a promise that he/she has made to him/herself. Setting realistic, thoughtful and reflective goals to enhance your wellbeing and make you be the best you can be or feel the best you can be is absolutely brilliant. However some marketing strategies companies use make it their aim to make resolutions a non-negotiable goal: you must BE FIT! LOSE WEIGHT! FULFILL YOUR LIFE! and you have to DO IT NOW because it’s the 1st of January and you are pushed onto the precipice of a new year and if you don’t you are a failure, so BUY THIS CEREAL/SLIMMING TEA/WEIRD HERBAL LEAF NOW. I think that if you have to fulfill anyone’s expectations they would solely be your own–and the pressure that some adverts (weight loss, dieting good grief) produce on the general populace is horrible.

So don’t be pressured to put a mental time-bomb on December 2015, and stress yourself crazy trying to leap higher than you are ready for before time runs out and it blows out on you. It’s not that you shouldn’t dare to have hopes or goals or dreams–just embark on them on your terms, and not by pressure or other’s expectations. Just because we’ve done a little wheeeeeee and done a hula hoop around the Sun again doesn’t mean that you have to be READY to start a NEW LEAF and NEW PAGE–life doesn’t work in such a mechanical, clockwork-like stage. Your own goals, your own achievements will occur and transition naturally over the course of these 12 months of 2015–and if you don’t manage to achieve something other people around you have been pressuring you to do just because it is the New Year’s doesn’t mean you are lazy, or guilty, or any less of a person. Just do your best, and try your best–and that would be beyond amazing. Take care of yourself, try to get through this new year in your life the best as you can, and you are a tip-top champ. Drink more water, too. Hydration is important.

With all that said and done, here’s a quick recipe for today–chocolate caramel sweet potato mousse. Yes, I’m having more chocolaty stuff for breakfast in 2015…the bus doesn’t stop, folks. I topped these with crumbled chickpea chocolate chunk cookies from my friend Sasha (@thesashadiaries on Instagram with her blog here)’s relatively new ebook called The Holy Basil Cookbook! It’s incredibly informative and filled with top tips to get on yo way to a plant based nom life, and filled with Sash’s incredibly amazing recipes and photography (hot cookie dough, or slow cooker dhal, or curried pumpkin burgers, or tofu quiches, or chocolate semi-molten cakes, or rawtella cheesecake, or lemon-carob bundt cake for you? Just to name a few of course) and I’m so thankful that she decided to drop me one! These cookies were creamy, buttery, crumbly and filled with molten chunks of dark chocolate–so. good. You can (and should) find her ebook here. I also topped it with peanut butter because why not ;)

This mousse is good enough for you to be certified as breakfast friendly and it’s just amazing. No one could guess there was sweet potato in it but it lends a dashing velvety and buttery mouthfeel, smooth and silky, and blends up thick and creamy and buttery with a caramelly flavor. With the addition of hoarse dark carob, lots of warm spicy cinnamon, a frozen banana and some almond milk cubes for that extra bit of richness and frosty thickness, and fudgy sweet dates, maca and lucuma for a caramel superfood punch, this baby makes for an excellent start to any day.

Do it. It’s calling your name. And all it takes for one food processor and five minutes to get this on your bowl, and into your mouth. Tempting? Tempting.

 

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Breakfast Chocolate-Caramel Sweet Potato Mousse

You will need:

-200g steamed sweet potato (about one medium-ish one)

-1 banana, chopped into chunks and frozen overnight

-1/4 cup almond milk, frozen into ice cubes

-2 large and soft medjool dates

-1 tbs maple syrup

-1 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1 tbs coconut butter/tahini/nut butter (optional but recommended)

-2 heaping tbsp carob/cacao/cocoa powder

-1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste

-1/2 tbs Maca (I use Organic Burst maca) (optional but recommended)

-1 tsp lucuma (optional but recommended)

-1 tbs Purple Balance sweet chocolate protein powder

-a pinch of orange zest (optional but recommended)

Simply blend all of the above in a food processor/high speed blender till thick and creamy, adding a little bit of almond milk if needed to allow things to blend well, and you’re done! Serve with desired toppings.

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Pumpkin Panettone Pancakes–Santa and Rudolph Style

Good grief, where has this year gone? It honestly passed like lightning, 2014–I swear I’m still stuck somewhere in June and I still haven’t digested half the things that have happened from March. While I’m stuck in this confused whirlwind of having the rug of time pulled out from under me and trying to figure out how the heck have 11-nearly-12 months passed so fast, Christmas is creeping up too! While this time of the year is absolutely lovely and festive and full of cheer, it’s also one packed full of thoughts running into each other left, right and centre–your mind goes absolutely busy while you’re thinking back on the whole year, planning Christmas shopping and activities, and you’re trying to soak in the Christmas feel too all at once. It can be overwhelming, but everything is better with some pancakes.

Pancakes are the ultimate comfort for me and these would make for an excellent Christmas morning breakfast–warm, hearty, and cute to boot! I made these the previous year and made some adaptations this year, along with officially publishing the recipe–hopefully it looks better! While showing the two side by side to my friend she started laughing so hard she bent over in mirth because she said “they just look like they’ve grown a year older!”. Sigh.

The pancakes are soft, fluffy, and are packed with creamy pumpkin. They’re pleasantly spiced with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Warming spices and pumpkin go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly. I use a fairly heavy hand with the spices because bland pumpkin recipes are icky, and because I’m a cinnamon fiend. Not that I’ll ever try, but I had my initial skepticism about the cinnamon challenge (where people eat a spoonful of pure cinnamon powder) because I was quite sure I’ll be able to swallow the stuff…I guess it must be awfully nostril-chokingly spicy though, judging from the few videos I have stumbled across. I still go to town when adding cinnamon spice though. That stuff is good.

The panettone part of the pancakes come from additions that hopefully give a recognisable mimicry of the familiar flavors produced by the traditional enriched sweet dough bread, golden spiced and richened with butter and eggs and run through with chunks of candied citrus. Coconut butter, candied orange peel, sultanas soaked and plumped with fresh orange juice and the spices along with vanilla bean paste and almond extract give a Christmas, traditional side to the simple canvas of buttery sweet pumpkin. It made me think of the stollen-bread a local bread company made and that we used to eat frequently, even without it being the festive season. Granted, the stollen wasn’t authentic–there was no almond paste running through the middle, and no icing sugar dusting; but it was amazingly delicious for a chain produced loaf. The mix of candied peel and plump, soft dried fruit chunks threaded through the subtly spiced white dough was something incredibly addictive to my childhood self.

And if you should so choose, you could make it Santa and Rudolph style! This would definite appeal to kids, or the kid in you, or both–there’s a sort of pleasure you get with stabbing Santa between the eyes with a fork. Too graphic? Yeah, sorry. I promise I’m not some sort of Santa axe murderer. But in all honesty, it’s great fun, looks super cute, takes little effort and makes for an impressive pancake platter. With kisses of Greek yogurt (or cashew cream, tofu mousse, or whipped coconut cream if you’re dairy free) for Santa’s beard and the fur trim lining his hat and a pretzel stick broken up to form Rudolph’s antlers, it makes for quite an effective and edible caricature of some of the most classic figureheads of the Christmas season.

Now that I’ve moved from my childhood home and that I’m significantly older, I do realise how important the passage of time is. I remember past Christmases, days that started off with chilly rain and turned the marble tiles cold to the bottom of my feet, and had us curled cozily on the couch unwrapping presents in our pyjamas while the Jim Brickman Christmas song CD played. Endless mugs of chalky warm Milo with too much powder than was strictly necessary, thick and malty and chocolaty. Christmas trees, fake and real, adorned with scratchy tinsels and on one occasion salt dough ornaments that we made, painted, and wilted into soft mush in our humid heat. It was a beautifully golden time, and I’m still remembering new things everyday. Hopefully this Christmas things would be just as close to my heart. How are you spending the festive season, friends? Do you have any fond Christmas memories with families or friends?

pumpkin panettone pancakes

You will need:

-a handful of sultanas, soaked in the juice of 1/4 an orange

-1/2 cup flour (I used spelt and wholewheat, you can use buckwheat, brown rice, all purpose and more)

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/4 tsp baking soda

-1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste

-1/4 tsp nutmeg, or to taste

-1/8 tsp allspice, or to taste

-1 tbs coconut sugar

-2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax+6 tbs water left for at least half an hour)

-1/2 a large banana, mashed

-1/4 cup pumpkin puree (I steamed pumpkin and then mashed it)

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1/4 tsp almond extract

-zest of 1/2 a small orange

-140ml plant based milk of choice

-1/2 tbs coconut butter (or 1 tsp coconut oil)

-2 tbs candied orange peel

For the character pancakes: raspberries/strawberries, Greek yogurt/cashew cream/tofu mousse/whipped coconut cream, melted dark chocolate, pretzel sticks

Soak your sultanas in orange juice. In a small bowl, mix together your flour, raising agents, spices and coconut sugar. In a larger bowl, whisk together your banana, pumpkin, flax egg, vanilla, almond, orange zest, coconut butter and plant based milk until combined and then add your dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined, adding a little more plant based milk to loosen if required–it should be slightly thicker than your average pancake batter, but not dough-like. Fold in your candied orange peel and soaked sultanas and set aside while you heat your pan on low heat. When the pan is hot enough such that a drop of water hisses and evaporates immediately upon contact, grease the pan and make your pancakes. Once the edges dull, flip them over and cook till the underside is golden brown.

If you choose to make the Santa and Rudolph pancakes:

For the Santa, scoop about 1/2 cup of batter onto the pan into a round circle. Use a small spoon and create a triangle hat-shape over the top of the circle with more batter. Let that cook until the edges dull and small bubbles appear and flip it over. Cook until the underside is golden brown and remove.

For the Rudolph, add 1 tsp cacao/carob or 1/2 tbs cocoa to the remaining batter. Scoop about 2/3 of the remaining batter onto the pan in a round shape. Reserve a little batter and cook the remaining 1/3 of the batter alongside it. Once both pancakes are done, cook the remaining batter in a mini-pancake.

For assembly, melt 1 to 2 squares of chocolate. Position halved strawberries or raspberries around the triangle-top of the Santa pancake to form the hat. Fill in Santa’s beard and the fur trim of his hat with either Greek yogurt, tofu mousse, cashew cream or whipped coconut cream–I piped mine with a star nozzle for effect, but you could just spread it on. Dot his eyes with the melted chocolate and add a round slice of strawberry or a small raspberry for his nose! For Rudolph, position the 1/3 pancake over the 2/3 pancake till it looks like his face and is to your liking, and then cut away the overlapping portion of the smaller pancake (which you can snack on!) Fit the trimmed larger pancake and the smaller pancake together. Take the mini pancake and cut out Rudolph’s ears and attach those to the top of his head with a little melted chocolate. Draw on his features with the chocolate as well, add a slice of strawberry/raspberry for his nose, and snap off portions of pretzel stick for his antlers.

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