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These sweet little cakes are full blown TREAT. YO. SELF. territory. They take a bit of time, the ingredients are decidedly luxe, they’re individual, there’s a fresh coconut and some dehydrating involved (although I’m super-confident that you could bake the batter in an oven at low temperature)… You have to dredge up the will and gumption to make raw food, high-vibe magic happen here. It was my birthday this week and dang if I wasn’t gonna make something delicious that made me feel so good. Also, tea + cake is one of my most loved breakfast combinations ever, so there’s that to consider.

We had a cozy weekend in the city to celebrate another year of being right here with lots of tasty eats + drinks. February tends to be kind of blah across the board, but there have been glimmers and sparks of great things to come to keep our lives a little more vibrant. I’m excited for it all, big and little.

And these cakes! I’m generally crushing on individual desserts at all times, so I went in that direction here. I enjoyed an earl grey and chocolate milkshake as part of a dessert trio at a tiny restaurant a long time ago that has sadly closed its doors since. The combination certainly latched itself onto my memory. I just had to find a most fitting dessert and well, here we are. My morning beverage of choice all fancied up with plenty of chocolate. Good life.

The cake portion is comprised of walnuts, very fine almond meal, maple syrup, vanilla + raw cacao. I dehydrated the cake (in my incredibly budget, entry-level dehydrator from the local hardware store) and was so pleased with the results. Exactly like a rich and dense brownie and heavy with deep chocolate flavour. I imagine the cake could be made in the oven as well. Put the temperature as low as you can and keep an eye on it to see how quickly it dries out. The mousse is all cashews and fresh coconut meat with strong earl grey tea, vanilla, more cacao and extra virgin coconut oil. It was my first time working with a fresh, young coconut so I was rather anxious to lay a knife into the thing and go wild. When I pried its natural lid off, I saw some pretty pink flesh inside and freaked out a bit. A little googling revealed that the pigmentation was a sign of extreme young-ness in the fruit (and good luck apparently!). All sighs of relief and lots of tasty, mega-hydrating coconut water to drink. The mousse turned out so rich and airy with subtle citrus + floral notes from the tea.

In terms of serving it up: I don’t need to tell you that cake + ice cream is a birthday staple, so there’s that. I also put a little bit of nature’s sprinkles on top in the form of pomegranate seeds. They served as a wonderfully tart respite from all of the heavy richness going on. While they’re still somewhat plentiful, I would highly recommend it.

Partyin’ down over here and all of my big hugs, friends :)

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raw chocolate cake + earl grey chocolate mousse
barely adapted from Sarma Melngailis’s recipe in Living Raw Food
serves: 4 – 6, depending on how you cut the cake
notes: I sifted the almond flour to get it super fine. This is really important in terms of the cake’s texture. I would recommend purchasing a finer ground almond meal/flour if it’s available. Also, here’s a video (link) to help you with cracking open a young coconut! I would recommend NOT using a super-cherished knife for this, just go for a sharp one with some good heft, an old beater of sorts.

raw chocolate cake:
1 cup raw walnut pieces, soaked 2 hours or longer + strained
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup filtered water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder is fine too), sifted
1.5 cups very fine almond flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

earl grey chocolate mousse:
1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked 2 hours or more
1/4-1/3 cup young coconut meat (this is what I yielded from 1 coconut)
2 tbsp raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
heaped 3/4 cup strong-brewed earl grey tea (or water!)
3/4 cup liquid extra virgin coconut oil

chocolate sauce/shell:
1.5 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
splash of vanilla extract

for serving:
pomegranate seeds/other fruit of choice
vanilla ice cream of choice (I like Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss)

Make the cake: combine the soaked walnuts, maple syrup, water and vanilla extract in the pitcher of a blender. Gradually bring the blender speed to high and blend until walnuts are fully liquified/incorporated into the liquid. Set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the sifted cacao powder, fine almond flour and sea salt. Add the maple and walnut mixture to the bowl. Stir with a spatula until fully combined. Spread the batter onto a parchment lined dehydrator tray (an offset spatula is very helpful here). It should be about 1/2 inch thickness. Smooth out the top as much as you can.

Dehydrate the cake at 115 degrees F for around 24 hours. You want the cake to be firm and dry on the top. The parchment should peel away with little effort. Wrap the cake in cling film and set aside in the refrigerator  until ready to use. I had mine wrapped and stowed away for 2 whole days and it was fine.

Make the mousse: combine the cashews, coconut meat, cacao powder, vanilla extract, sea salt, maple syrup and earl grey tea in the pitcher of a blender. Gradually bring the speed of the blender to high. Blend until cashews are thoroughly puréed and the mix is homogenous. With the motor of the blender on low, remove the lid and slowly pour in the melted coconut oil. This step emulsifies the filling like a salad dressing and evenly distributes the oil. Once you’ve poured it all in and the mix is homogenous, turn the blender off and scrape the mousse into a medium bowl. Cover the bowl with saran, pressing it onto the top to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Assemble: cut  12 rounds out of the sheet of cake. I used a 1.5 inch round cookie cutter, but you could also just cut out some squares with a sharp knife. Line a small baking sheet with parchment and place 4 of the rounds onto the sheet with a bit of space around each. Spoon a fat dollop of the chocolate mousse on top of each round. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet pan and place another cake round and dollop of mousse on each. Place the tray in the freezer for another 10 minutes, remove it and place the final cake round on each mini cake. Store cakes in the freezer, covered in cling film, until ready to serve.

Make the chocolate sauce: whisk together all of the ingredients right before service.

To serve: put one of the cakes on each plate. Top with a spoonful of chocolate sauce, pomegranate seeds + serve a scoop of ice cream on the side.

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  • Caitlin27/02/2013 - 7:50 am

    happy birthday, laura! the cake looks absolutely fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf27/02/2013 - 9:24 am

    I absolutely love baking with breakfast tea – it gives such a wonderful flavour and works so well with chocolate. As for this cake – amazingly impressive – now I just need to get myself a dehydrator…ReplyCancel

  • Winnie27/02/2013 - 9:40 am

    I am always drawn to raw food desserts like this but just don’t have the patience to make them (and also, I tried a few times but wasn’t successful with the whole coconut cracking business…wrong knife, I know). This cake is so so beautiful, though, and really inspiring…maybe I will give it a go sometime. Happy Birthday :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn27/02/2013 - 9:42 am

    The happiest of birthday weeks Laura! Cake is a very excellent way to celebrate.ReplyCancel

  • carey27/02/2013 - 9:54 am

    These little cakes look absolutely divine. I’m a big fan of tea-infused sweets, and I’m loving the idea of chocolate + earl grey. And with all those other flavors, bundled up into an individual cake and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds — total awesomeness. (:

    I hope you had a wonderful birthday, Laura!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley27/02/2013 - 11:10 am

    Wow!! Happy happy birthday!! This is amazing and super impressive. I love that you tried dehydrating it and it worked! Looks completely delicious. Fabulous photos. Love the sound of that chocolate sauce/shell. Treat yo’ self, indeed.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica27/02/2013 - 11:31 am

    Does anyone know how long to bake at lowest temp if we don’t have a dehydrator, my oven goes to 175 degrees….ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright27/02/2013 - 11:36 am

      Hey Jessica,
      I would put your oven to the 175 degrees and leave the door open just a bit so that air can circulate/it doesn’t get too hot. Alternatively, if you have a fan in your oven you can just turn it on and leave the door closed. My estimation is that this cake would take 5-6 hours to bake with your oven set up at 175. I would put it in during a time where you can keep your eye on it though. As long as it lifts from the parchment paper and springs back a bit when you press your finger on it, you’re good. Hope this helps you.

  • Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough27/02/2013 - 11:48 am

    Happiest birthday wishes to you, Laura! These cakes sound like the best kind of treat yo self-age. :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia27/02/2013 - 12:28 pm

    Happy Birthday Laura!!! This cake looks DEVINE :)ReplyCancel

  • Mandy27/02/2013 - 1:19 pm

    Love you site and all your recipes! Just wanted to let you know that all the “good luck” stuff surrounding the pink coconut is a myth! Coconuts should have bright white flesh (no matter how young they are). A pink or grey coconut is BAD and may give you a stomach ache. Next time, take that puppy back and get yourself a fresh one :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright27/02/2013 - 1:25 pm

      Hey Mandy,
      I ate the dessert and drank the water with no stomach aches at all! Is that weird? Maybe it was good luck in some strange way ;) Thanks for your note though. Hopefully my next one is more typical.

  • Christine27/02/2013 - 1:52 pm

    Happy birthday Laura! This looks fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar27/02/2013 - 2:43 pm

    I absolutely love this! Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Alanna27/02/2013 - 2:57 pm

    Oh my! This looks absolutely incredible! I think my gluten-intolerant, earl grey-swilling, chocophiliac sister would DIE if I made this cake for her birthday. I’ll have to find out. ;) Earl grey chocolate shakes sound amazing, too. “Nature’s sprinkles” = brilliant! And I’m glad to learn that pink coconut flesh is a good thing – I’ve been sketched out by it, too. Stunning photos, as always.ReplyCancel

  • Kristy27/02/2013 - 3:09 pm

    Happy birthday, lady! This cake looks wonderful and has me eyeballing my kitchen trying to figure out where I could possibly put a dehydrator… ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Courtney27/02/2013 - 3:42 pm

    Treat yo’ self indeed! These little cakes look so amazing and I love that your paired earl grey with a bit of chocolate. Happy Birthday!ReplyCancel

  • Erin27/02/2013 - 4:13 pm

    You’ve outdone yourself- these cakes are just gorgeous! Happy {belated} birthday and here’s to a wonderful next year! XOReplyCancel

  • Melissa // The Fauxmartha27/02/2013 - 4:37 pm

    Crazy, crazy beautiful! And the happiest of birthdays to you my friend!ReplyCancel

  • Kris27/02/2013 - 7:52 pm

    The happiest of birthdays to you, Laura! I hope this year is filled with many more glimmers and sparks. The cake is gorg!ReplyCancel

  • Claire27/02/2013 - 8:40 pm

    Simply mouthwatering. Happy birthday!!ReplyCancel

  • Shira28/02/2013 - 12:36 am

    OH. MY. This is looking unbelievable! I cannot get the thought of that chocolate & earl grey milkshake out of my mind…I must try this! Happy Birthday Laura – sounds like you made it a special one!ReplyCancel

  • marissa @ the boot28/02/2013 - 3:04 am

    wow…i am so impressed! a very happy birthday to you and what a cake to celebrate with!ReplyCancel

  • Becs @ Lay the table28/02/2013 - 9:31 am

    Happy birthday, looks incredible!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique28/02/2013 - 1:32 pm

    Happy Birthday to YOU! The cakes look like a real treat.ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae28/02/2013 - 1:48 pm

    Happy belated birthday, sweet lady! These cakes look divine and make me wish I had never returned that fancy dehydrator I ordered last year. Might just have to make them in the oven. Or get your budget friendly dehydrator ;) Stunning photos, too – you’re knocking my socks off.

    Also, when is your road trip through ‘Merica? Fingers crossed I’m still around so you + Kels + me can unite powers in the kitchen and make a killer feast.ReplyCancel

  • Nat @ The Apple Diaries28/02/2013 - 10:30 pm

    You had me at earl grey chocolate mousse! I love the addition of the coconut meat and cashews as well.

    Great recipe :)ReplyCancel

  • Hannah01/03/2013 - 9:35 am

    Happy birthday Laura! beautiful cake.ReplyCancel

  • SARA FORTE03/03/2013 - 2:26 am

    how pretty! happy birthday, sweet girl. I hope you felt celebrated and loved. Every birthday girl deserves her own personal sized cake and I can’t say I’m surprised that you made one so creative and beautiful. Cheers to a fabulous year ahead.ReplyCancel

  • Liren04/03/2013 - 1:38 am

    A belated (but hearty) happy birthday, Laura! I’m so glad you had a delicious celebration – these individual cakes are brilliant and gorgeous. So worth the labor of love and absolutely worthy of a celebration.ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen04/03/2013 - 4:11 pm

    I can’t believe how utterly do-able this sounds. Although I think I’d struggle to make it to the actual assembly stage – I’d be sitting on the floor eating all the batter. Happy birthday!ReplyCancel

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen04/03/2013 - 4:49 pm

    Wow this looks absolutely amazing! I love the ingredients list too :) Hope you had a great birthday!ReplyCancel

  • dervla @ the curator05/03/2013 - 1:40 am

    Happy birthday! The light in these shots is incredible!ReplyCancel

  • SouthernSpoonBelle06/03/2013 - 5:58 am

    You share a bday with one of my favorite friends back home– a good day, indeed. Hope you had a fab day, and thanks for sharing this beautiful recipe! Any raw brownie-style treats I’ve made are always so dense (not a bad thing), I look forward to trying this more cake-like creation.ReplyCancel

  • sandra07/03/2013 - 2:30 pm

    this is so amazing. the perfect completion to your perfect day! and all vegan. I love it!! will definitely be making this at some point – when I can get enough time on my hands… Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • 50+ Best Dessert Mousse Recipes28/03/2013 - 10:40 pm

    […] Raw Chocolate Cake + Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse […]ReplyCancel

  • Emma Galloway12/04/2013 - 9:39 am

    Yum, I LOVE the look and sound of these!xxReplyCancel

  • katecrackpot21/04/2013 - 12:21 pm

    I discovered your inspiring blog when I was looking for a raw choclate cake recipe!
    I tried this one yesterday and I had to stop my bf from eating it just before I had the chance to put it into the oven.

    I just have to try it again because we both couldn’t wait for 24h, so we ate it all right away :D

    I will definitely try some other recipes you have published! Thanks for inspiration and adorable food-photos!ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw chocolate cake with lavender mousse from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

pin it!pin it!
This recipe is easy in many ways. There are 5 affordable, seasonal and accessible main ingredients. It’s just a roast + blend kind of affair, so there’s minimal hands-on time. A bowl is so warm and filling on its own, while the flavour and heft is kind of easy to appreciate as well. There are obvious creamy and nutty qualities, but just the right high note of acidity from a squeeze of lemon waves hello when needed. The rosemary is strong (she does love to be a star), but contends aptly with the musky cauliflower and sweet onions. Potatoes combine with the high water content of the crucifer to make a sincerely creamy purée. This is a recipe I count on in the closing phase of Winter, the most trying phase I feel. There is much to anticipate; the seedlings and building projects of warmer days, but for now there are cellar vegetables and hot ovens to stay loyal to.

In the past couple weeks I’ve made not one, but two things that were complete and utter failures. I am certainly capable of making a lot of delicious things, but I won’t have you believing that everything my hand touches turns to gold on the first try. I have a lot of working experience and knowledge when approaching food, but a little exercise in humility never hurt anyone. The first error was a batch of gluten free and vegan cinnamon buns that was so improbably vile. My expectation was high (as it often is with cinnamon swirly things), so the sting was bitter sharp on that one. The second mishap was a flax granola that was, as I suspected it would be, much too flax-y for my liking. One taste of each elicited a highly dramatic and exasperated “I CAN’T EVEN” kind of dismissive hand wave and head shake to any inquirers. Those things simply weren’t meant to be in my world right now. Some day they will come (but not actually on that flax granola tip). Tenured Chefs get it wrong sometimes and the thought of this provides comfort, a laugh and the motivation to move on.

So I moved on to something I knew front to back and all through the dreamy middle. I used to cook at a little café and when I made it up, this roasted cauliflower soup was always received with a certain surprised approval. Cauliflower, potatoes, and onions on that soup of the day sign… sort of peasant-sounding fare on the surface (there is a charm to that for some). The rosemary fragrance and deep-warming nature of it brought people around I think. I go kind of wild with toppin’s on this (like everything I eat), but the soup is lovely in its simplest form with a little black pepper sprinkle.

Hope you’re all having some cozy and easy days by the oven or wherever you like to be. I had a brief glimpse of sunbeams and chirping birds on an outing today, so I know that the world is at work on something wonderful for us all over again in the coming months. Be warm in the meantime :)

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vegan roasted cauliflower soup with roast-y onions + rosemary
makes a large batch
I tend to be of the “More lemon! More brightness!” mindset, but I’m telling you: reservation will pay here. You want just a faint brightening instead of an outright lemony-ness. It will bring out the caramelized qualities instead of burying them in acidity. Also, if you aren’t using homemade stock, most definitely use a no-salt-added variety. I advise on liberally salting the vegetables pre-roasting, so being in control of this factor throughout is ideal.

1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed
1 scant pound yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed (I use yukon because of the waxy/creamy quality)
2 medium-large cooking onions, papery skin removed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (mine was particularly lush, so perhaps 2 normal sprigs is advisable)
2 tbsp oil
salt and pepper
juice of 1/3 of a lemon (like 2 teaspoons)
5-6 cups vegetable stock

optional toppin’s:
some kind of flavourful oil (truffle, extra virgin olive, walnut etc)
toasted + chopped nuts
chopped leafy herbs
balsamic reduction
squeezes of lemon
flaky sea salt or fresh pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the core from the cauliflower and chop it into rough florets. Place the florets into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

Chop the potatoes into pieces about half the size of the cauliflower florets and toss them into the baking dish as well.

Chop the onions into rough 1-2 inch pieces and toss them into the dish. It doesn’t matter if the layers stick to each other.

Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprig and chop/mince them up. Sprinkle the rosemary over the vegetables in the dish. Liberally salt the vegetables and season with pepper to taste. Add the oil and toss the vegetables until evenly coated with the oil, herb and seasoning.

Roast vegetables for about an hour, flipping and tossing them here and there with a metal spatula/spoon to promote even browning. When done, remove from the oven and squeeze the 1/3 lemon over the hot vegetables (I just drop the lemon into the warm pan when I’m done so that it can release some oil too). Using your metal spatula, toss the vegetables with the lemon juice, scraping the browned bits off the bottom.

Once the vegetables are cool enough for you to handle, start blending them in batches with the stock. Purée until smooth and pour into a big soup pot. Continue blending in batches until you’ve used up everything. Heat the large soup pot full of purée over medium heat until it boils. Add more stock or water to thin the soup out if necessary and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve hot with optional garnishes.

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  • Kathryn20/02/2013 - 5:28 am

    Oh I know that feeling all too well – when I’m feeling positive, I like to think that each of those kitchen failures is making me a better cook. In the darker moments, I feel like never turning the oven on again. I always find a need a killer recipe in that situation and this recipe really looks like one.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin20/02/2013 - 7:43 am

    what a delicious, creamy soup! i, for one, am a huge lover of “peasant” type meals. and when roasted cauliflower is involved…i’m jumping all over it.ReplyCancel

  • Natasha20/02/2013 - 8:03 am

    I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. I think I made three different things in a week, all failures. I decided it wasn’t meant to be and took a break from trying to make it work. I guess I just needed to reset. I feel like I learn so much from the failures though, so I guess it’s ok to have them. And returning to something tried and true probably helps. This soup looks wonderful–warming and comforting.ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf20/02/2013 - 9:26 am

    I love that photo with the cauliflower and lemon – beautiful! As for mistakes, everyone makes them – I’ve had so many kitchen disasters but the positives always win through :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kierstan20/02/2013 - 9:34 am

    I am all about roasted + pureed soups like this one. I am going to have to add it in to my rotation.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle20/02/2013 - 10:35 am

    Gorgeous, lady. This (plus my new tea addiction) is exactly the kind of thing I need to get me through late February/early March. I feel like that is the time of Canadian winter you start questioning why you choose to live in this goddamn country, am I right? The rest of the time, it’s pretty great.ReplyCancel

  • Kate20/02/2013 - 11:12 am

    Every failure teaches us a little more about us, and about what we work with, eat, share and talk about to others. I never look at them as a bad thing.

    I love the photos of that soup, too. I love the textures against the creamy background. Whenever I’m faced with a smoothly pureed soup, I long for something in it to sink my teeth in to, to feel like I’m actually eating something as opposed to tasting and swallowing. My teeth like the workout, I think. But top a smooth soup with big chunks of extras, and I will dive in, spoon first, and will likely come up smiling. What a beautiful dish.ReplyCancel

  • Mariela Alvarez-Toro20/02/2013 - 11:29 am

    Looks delicious. Funny thing, I just posted about a cauliflower and leeks soup over at my blog. Check it out! And thanks for the beautiful imagery.

  • Leslie20/02/2013 - 12:14 pm

    I am so glad this calls for rosemary, it is exactly the sort of ingredient that can entice me to try a cauliflower soup. I can’t wait to make this for the weekend!

    And Then The Doorbell RangReplyCancel

  • Heather20/02/2013 - 12:30 pm

    I’m glad you finally settled on this soup, because it looks incredible.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne @RollWithIt20/02/2013 - 1:04 pm

    This soup looks perfect for a cold day. I love the idea of rosemary – great idea!

    I had a week of baking disasters in my kitchen too – the gluten-free cake mix is killing me right now! Cannot get the right consistency. So instead I made come glazed carrots – and all was well in the world again.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle20/02/2013 - 1:39 pm

    This looks so warming and filling. With the terrible cold days we’ve been having in Boston I will definitely add this to the ever rotating list of soup recipes I’ve been living off of.ReplyCancel

  • Joanne20/02/2013 - 3:55 pm

    I love that you roasted the veggies for the soup…that must give it such a fabulous depth of flavor!ReplyCancel

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)20/02/2013 - 5:28 pm

    Beautiful! And sounds so delicious, too. Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables to roast. And especially love all the exciting toppings and garnishes :)ReplyCancel

  • Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking20/02/2013 - 10:27 pm

    Oh this soup looks amazing!!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar20/02/2013 - 10:58 pm

    This looks so fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • Eileen20/02/2013 - 11:14 pm

    Hooray for creamy cauliflower soup! That rosemary looks so thick and green too. :)ReplyCancel

  • Shoba Shrinivasan21/02/2013 - 1:01 am

    Thats such a hearty warm filling soup.. Looks like its an easy fix as you throw everything including the rosemary in to the oven and then puree it…me Likes!!! Lovely clicks by the way<<< Did you use a macro lens? Great shots.


  • Shira21/02/2013 - 1:18 am

    Simply beautiful Laura! The best way to win is with delicious soup – I’ve been enjoying roasted cauliflower in so many ways recently and happen to have 2 in the fridge that have begging me to make soup with them :) YUM!ReplyCancel

  • Yum! I absolutely LOVE roasted Cauliflower. I was just dreaming about something along these lines yesterday – what perfect timing for me!!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne21/02/2013 - 2:54 pm

    Ohh, I get so frustrated when my surely “brilliant” recipe concepts disappoint in execution. You’re much more of a chef than I, so it’s heartening to hear it happens to the best. I wasn’t keen on cauliflower until I tried it roasted last year, and I wasn’t sure about cauliflower soup until my friend served it at girls’ night. Delicious! Your version sounds amazing, I’m a big fan of anything involving lemon and rosemary.ReplyCancel

  • la domestique21/02/2013 - 3:20 pm

    This morning I baked Heidi Swanson’s rye soda bread and have been dreaming of a soup like this one to garnish with crunchy croutons when this loaf nears its end. This looks perfect. We got a good snow last night, and it does feel oh so wintry here. Stay warm!ReplyCancel

  • […]  Roasted Cauliflower and Onion Soup – The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth22/02/2013 - 9:44 am

    Ahh, I so love the roast and blend method. I was making my own cauliflower soup this week when the oven broke. So I blanched and sauteed instead. My recipe really went off the rails when I added WAY too much bacon, so that instead of cauliflower soup, I have bacon soup. Anyway, kitchen failures keep things real, and I guess we learn from them? Here’s hoping And here’s to your gorgeous, bacon-free, cauliflower soup!ReplyCancel

  • Charul @ Tadka Masala23/02/2013 - 7:31 am

    Your pic made me drool, like literally! Yumm looking soup and so simple and easy to make. Roast and blend. I am sooo making it. :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia01/03/2013 - 2:41 pm

    WOW, this looks and sounds so delicious. Im having a real love affair with cauliflower at the moment – i cant get enough of it! I can’t wait to try it out myself.ReplyCancel

  • […] my return, I was catching up on some blog reading and stumbled upon this recipe on Laura’s blog. Before we go any further, I simply have to say that I have become quite smitten with this (new to […]ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen04/03/2013 - 4:28 pm

    I admit I’m not the soupiest person – given the chance I’ll almost always choose something else on the menu. This sounds amazing though, and as the weather is getting colder I think I really will give it a try. Especially as it has so few ingredients and so little effort involved…also I hear you on the failing-at-recipes-blah feeling, so good when you get the confidence back though!ReplyCancel

  • hana07/03/2013 - 5:03 am

    these pictures are gorgeous. is it shot with film? and what kind of camera?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright07/03/2013 - 7:55 am

      Hi Hana! Thank you for your comment. I do shoot with a digital camera (A Canon 5D Mark II), but I process the images with Visual Supply Co’s digital film manipulation software. Very cool thing to play around with if you shoot digital and have Lightroom or some such program on your computer. Here’s their site:

  • Maria09/03/2013 - 1:05 pm

    Just made this soup and it’s GREAT! I left out the rosemary (not a fan) and I used chicken stock (all I had!) but it came out GREAT! I also added some garlic cloves to the roasting. You’re right about the lemon part, using it sparingly!ReplyCancel

  • Judith Heinemann14/03/2013 - 12:46 am

    I made this soup this evening and it is wonderfully delicious.
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. It will remain one of my favorite soups.

  • […] ♚ I love roasted any veg soup, so this is definitely my sort of thing – Vegan Roasted Cauliflower Soup […]ReplyCancel

  • Amelia27/06/2013 - 6:36 am

    Hey there, in the same cruciferous boat I bought a collie on a whim and wanted a soup from it, I found your site and we made this one tonight! Deeelish and Amazing! (I am satisfied but still go back for spoonfulls hehe)
    To up the vegan lovin’ protein I added a tin of organic canellini beans (white ones) and also some garlic cloves and thyme. Brilliant, well done :) xxx AmeliaReplyCancel

  • TheBigBeef27/07/2013 - 5:58 pm

    Ive known alot of women that could not cook, this recipe is so simple even they could feel like a big winner!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle24/09/2013 - 3:06 pm

    That looks yummy! I’ll put this on my recipe list. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • BrandyBora200025/09/2013 - 12:27 pm

    This was such a great soup! I made fried shallots as a topping.ReplyCancel

  • […] 2. Roasted Cauliflower and Creamy Onion Soup from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Letta e rifatta per il mio palato a partire da qui. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Kelsey made a shaved cauliflower salad.  Jeanine made cauliflower steaks.  And both Maria and Laura made cauliflower soups. So here I was thinking I’d be the only person making a roasted […]ReplyCancel

  • sue26/10/2013 - 3:59 pm

    is this soup freezeable?ReplyCancel

  • Jooly07/11/2013 - 10:02 pm

    Luscious. My only add was about 1/2 cup of white wine as my thinning agent. My particular cauliflower was about the size of George Clooney’s space helmet in Gravity, so I named this batch after the recipe’s predominant herb and called it Rosemary Clooney Soup.ReplyCancel

  • michael15/11/2013 - 12:51 pm

    Hi Laura,
    Big fan of your recipes and your gorgeous blog, although this is my first post. It gives me a wonderful taste of my home and native land which I miss dearly since my move to the U.S. nearly 10 years ago. At any rate, any chance a sweet potato with light colored flesh (japanese yam) might sub for the yukon golds in this recipe? As much as I love potatoes, they just don’t love me back.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright15/11/2013 - 5:06 pm

      Hi Michael! Thanks for your kind note. I think a Japanese yam would work just fine here. It might not make for suuuuch a creamy/thick soup, but it’ll certainly get the job done. And the sweetness of it might be nice with the roasted onions/cauli.

  • Michael Phelan15/11/2013 - 9:42 pm

    Thanks very much for getting back to me, Laura. Made it tonight with the Japanese yam and it was lovely. a bit sweet for my taste so i’ll have to try a yukon gold the next time.ReplyCancel

  • Lena20/11/2013 - 4:41 am

    Looks amazing! How many people do you think this would serve? Also, as I am hoping to make this for Thanksgiving, do you think that it could be made ahead and hold up well in the fridge? Thanks for the great recipe!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright20/11/2013 - 9:08 am

      Hi Lena, If I remember right, I think this makes roughly two litres of soup. So 7-8 smaller servings I guess? This recipe holds up wonderfully in the fridge–I find it actually tastes better if it gets a day or so to hang out. Also, if you need to double the recipe and are worried about leftovers, it freezes incredibly well. Hope this helps!

  • Lena21/11/2013 - 11:37 pm

    Thanks for your help, Laura! Can’t wait to taste the soup on Thanksgiving. :)ReplyCancel

  • Senel Akarca07/02/2014 - 2:24 pm

    Roasted some garlic with this and it’s amazing! Served it with some pumpkin seeds and sourdough. Angelic.ReplyCancel

  • {Sunday’s Soup}17/02/2014 - 1:26 pm

    […] Original recipe found here. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Lemons Cauliflower Pepperoni Pizza Casserole by Closet Cooking Pickled Cauliflower by RecipeGirl Roasted Cauliflower Soup by The First […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Roasted Cauliflower + Onion Soup from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Cindy08/08/2014 - 3:05 pm

    Hi Laura,

    What kind of vegetable stock did you use? Mine was tomato based which made it a bright orange and entirely masked the taste of the vegetables. The vegetables, though, mmmm, amazing.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright12/08/2014 - 8:50 am

      Hi Cindy,
      I almost always use a vegetable stock that has celery, carrots, onion (not red), leeks, thyme, parsley stems, peppercorns and sometimes parsnips if I have them. I usually make my own and it turns out pale yellow to golden almost always. When I specify vegetable broth/stock in my recipes, this is the kind I’m referring to. I never use cruciferous vegetables, leafy things or highly acidic vegetables (like tomatoes) for stocks as they change whatever soup I’m using them for too much. I’m guessing your vegetable stock had tomato pulp too? This would explain the colour change and weirdness in taste. Next time seek out a plainer one like I described and it will definitely turn out as pictured/taste better.

  • Ruth27/09/2014 - 12:56 am

    love the recipeReplyCancel

  • […] Roasted Cauliflower and Onion Soup […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Either way, the flavor is there. Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Sesame Kale Chips Adapted from The First Mess Serves […]ReplyCancel

  • Gloria Huerta01/12/2014 - 1:37 am

    We made this tonight … and it tasted like mashed potatoes … so I decided to sauté two stalks of leeks in vegan butter until transluscent, add about half a cup of yeast flakes, add roasted sweet corn (which I had on hand in the freezer), then I added the potato/cauliflower mixture to it and watered it down some; adjusted the taste by adding garlic salt ….ReplyCancel

  • Njemile15/12/2014 - 10:31 am

    I am searching for vegan recipes which are light on the carbs! Trying to achieve the creamy soup texture without potatoes OR calorie-laden nut mixtures.ReplyCancel

  • Njemile15/12/2014 - 11:40 am

    Okay, I just made the soup and the puree of roasted cauliflower with hint of light coconut milk did the trick. I got a nice and creamy base for my soup!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright15/12/2014 - 12:03 pm

      That’s great Njemille! Sometimes if I’m trying to make a soup creamy without extra heavy fats and overly excessive carbs, I use cooked white beans pureed into the mix as well.

  • […] Rosemary Cauliflower Soup Adapted from The First Mess Makes enough for 4-5 lunches, if served with a […]ReplyCancel

  • […] You could try pumpkin seed granola. It sounds swell. And also, cauliflower, lemon and rosemary soup, with cheese on toast. Edit: melted cheese on everything […]ReplyCancel

  • Cauliflower puree21/10/2015 - 3:51 am

    In your picture this soup looks great but the real taste is even better! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • […] would help the bacon shine, and something creamy would compliment the crispiness. I stumbled upon a roasted cauliflower and onion soup by the wonderful blog, The First Mess, that seemed ideal, satisfying the mild and creamy elements. […]ReplyCancel

pin it!pin it!pin it!
“Just go with it!” has never been an expression that I’ve enjoyed hearing. It’s most definitely in my top 10-phrases-I-don’t-wanna-be-told-right-now list. I had a very specific plan for this pre-Valentine’s day post. The recipe was going to be delicious + wholesome (duh), but also adorably quaint in a not-too-try-hard sort of way. I ordered a crucial ingredient from Amazon. To avoid shipping costs I had the item sent to my man’s American postal box just a short drive away. Then there was a snow storm, which I’m sure a lot of you became very familiar with. I couldn’t get to there, that place with the thing that I needed (actually!). I had to toss my 110% laid out plan and… go with it. Bleh.

I had the loose idea for this winter vegetable stack thingy in my mind, so I went to work on it instead. And by “went to work on it” I mean: I raged. Like hard. I still hadn’t accepted that my tiny plans for my tiny website on the huge internet on this gigantic earth had gone awry. I slapped it all together, made a huge mess, enjoyed eating it in a hurried way, but then started wondering if this was the kind of thing that only I could enjoy (just adding to my ridiculous rage-pile, you know). Sometimes when Mark and I are thinking about going out to eat somewhere and he asks me what I feel like, I put my hands up and huff out “I just want a plate of vegetables!” (likely cranky from way too much sugar at that point). He’s usually good at sorting a tangible plan out of my ambiguous wishes for fibre and vitamins, making me realize that I’m being a huge pain, and eventually forging a way ahead. It takes two to make the meal-time satiation thing go right sometimes.

So if you’re like me and you enjoy just a bunch of vegetables for dinner/any meal, this could definitely be your thing. It’s pretty easy in a make-ahead sense too. Roast the veggie slices, make the lentils, blend the dressing, keep everything warm until you’re ready to serve, build, drizzle, garnish, voila! Fancy healthy-happy dinner time for you and the total babe in your life.

All my kisses, hugs, and plates of vegetables,

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lemon rosemary vegetable stacks w/ lentils + creamy horseradish vinaigrette
serves: 2
notes: Do remember to cover the beets for two thirds of the cooking process. I’ve had beets shrivel up so horribly because I forgot to cover them while roasting. You can also make all of these components ahead of time and just re-warm them for serving, making meal time a little quicker and less harried.

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed + chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 small celery root, peeled
1 fat sweet potato, peeled
1 large beet, peeled
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed

2 tsp grapeseed oil
1 shallot, diced fine
1/2 cup lentils (I used a mix of French + brown), rinsed
1 cup filtered water + extra
salt to taste

horseradish + maple vinaigrette:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
splash of filtered water
1 tsp dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp maple syrup
horseradish to taste (I used 2 heaped tsp of fresh grated horseradish root)
salt + pepper
heavy 1/3 cup grapeseed or olive oil

to serve:
black olives
very roughly chopped parsley (I keep it rough because I like it as a separate, leafy kind of component-not just a garnish kinda thing)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 medium-large baking sheets with parchment + 1 extra, smaller baking sheet. Set aside.

Combine the rosemary, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

Slice the celery root + sweet potato about an inch thick across. You want to cut them so that you get a large cross section for stacking. Cut one little portion off of the bottom of each vegetable so that you have a flat and steady surface for the vegetable to rest on the cutting board. Proceed to make slices from there. Lay the celery root + sweet potato slices on one of the medium-large baking sheets. Brush both sides of all vegetables with the rosemary and lemon oil, season with salt and pepper, and slide baking sheet into the oven. These should take about 35-40 minutes to brown up and soften. Remove and set aside.

Slice the beets about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices on the smaller sheet. Brush with the lemon, rosemary and oil mixture, season with salt and pepper. Cover baking sheet with foil and place in the oven. Slide baking sheet into the oven. Roast for 20 minutes covered. Remove the foil and roast for another 10-15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Slice the cauliflower into 1 inch thick cross sections with the core intact. Lay the slices on the last baking sheet and brush with the rosemary + lemon oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper and slide into the oven. The cauliflower should take about 20-25 minutes, so make sure you prep this one last. Remove and set aside.

While the vegetables are roasting, start the lentils. Heat the 2 tsp grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the diced shallots. Stir them around until they become translucent and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rinsed lentils to the pan and stir them around in the oil and shallots. Add the water to the pan. bring lentils to a very faint simmer, like just a couple bubbles coming to the surface here and there. Cook until the lentils are soft with a tiny bit of bite intact, topping up the pot with more water as necessary, about 25-30 minutes. Season lentils with salt and stir in a glug of olive oil to keep the lentils individual.

Make the vinaigrette: Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and blend on medium-high until mixture is creamy and incorporated. Check for seasoning, adjust to your liking and set aside. I tend to like vinaigrettes on the more acidic side, so you may wish to add more oil.

To serve, divide the warm lentils among 2 dinner plates, pressing down on them with the back of a spoon to make a flat surface. Stack the roasted vegetables on top of the flattened lentils. Drizzle the whole thing with horseradish vinaigrette. Garnish with olives and chopped parsley. Serve warm.

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  • Caitlin13/02/2013 - 8:01 am

    i’m not a fan of “just go with it” either. i feel like that is usually a recipe for disaster(for me). but this vegetable stack is proof that it can also work out for the best.

    i loved the part “i just want a plate of vegetables!” i am the same exact way ;)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf13/02/2013 - 9:25 am

    I hate it when plans become out of your control – so frustrating! This looks like a pretty delicious dish to be holed up against the snow with. And hoping you’ll post your other recipe sometime soon anyway? :-)ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae13/02/2013 - 9:57 am

    I have to admit, when I “just go with it” things turn out in a disastrous form. Yours, however, turned out beautifully and I am l-o-v-i-n’ the shots, girl. Also loving these stacks and thinking I might be able to pull them off despite not being the greatest cook (ahem, I made sweet potato fries last night and burnt them – ’nuff said).ReplyCancel

  • Sunny13/02/2013 - 9:58 am

    That looks and sounds absolutely heavenly! Can’t wait to try it out myself!

    Sunny :)

  • Grace13/02/2013 - 10:17 am

    I’m learning how to “just go with it” but it hasn’t been without some hangry mini meltdowns or flinging my arms in the air in surrender. I often find myself eating roasted vegetables with hummus for dinner. This dish looks perfect!ReplyCancel

  • tara13/02/2013 - 10:17 am

    I know it’s such a funny thing to say, but how beautiful those lentils look! It’s amazing the difference mixing the brown + French make, in showing each off. Lovely.ReplyCancel

  • carey13/02/2013 - 12:09 pm

    Oh my god, I understand that “I just want a plate of vegetables!” crankiness all too well! I think (nope, I know) that I drive Johnny insane whenever we’re trying to agree on any sort of formal, respectable dinner, be it at a restaurant, take-out, or making something at home. (I harbor an unjustified level of resentment towards him for being an ex-vegetarian-turned-meat-enthusiast, while I’m an ex-vegetarian that still pretty much eats like one anyway. It feels like we’ll never understand each other!) (:

    So yeah, this is pretty much exactly what I want to eat, all the time. I love it.

    (We were lucky enough to only get an average snowfall from that storm — around 6–8 inches. I saw pictures a friend in Maine posted, and it looked like they had over 2 feet. Stupid snow!)ReplyCancel

  • Christine13/02/2013 - 1:19 pm

    This recipe sounds delicious, and your pictures are lovely! Even though it’s not what you had set out to make, I think you should still be pretty proud of it :)ReplyCancel

  • Joanne13/02/2013 - 1:48 pm

    I am not that great at just winging it in the kitchen, especially when I have my heart set on something! So I totally get it. And I always want a huge plate of veggies. ALWAYS. This stack looks marvelous to me.ReplyCancel

  • […] Dinner & 2 (!) V-Day mixes for your listening pleasure. […]ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn13/02/2013 - 3:16 pm

    I, for one, am glad that you decided to wing it. These flavours are pretty epic and the pictures? Breathtakingly gorgeous. You nailed this one.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen13/02/2013 - 3:39 pm

    This stack sounds like the perfect escape from the stodge of winter stews and root veg. I love the idea of basing the whole thing on a big bed of delicious lentils!ReplyCancel

  • sandra13/02/2013 - 4:29 pm

    what a lovely mess. so creative and full of fun flavors. i love it.ReplyCancel

  • Sonja13/02/2013 - 8:47 pm

    Girl, this is amazing! I would never have guessed that this was not your original idea. These photos are GORgeous. And may I ask, what was the original plan?ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany13/02/2013 - 9:08 pm

    I just found you and I am SO GLAD I did. Beautiful photography and great recipes! Love what you’ve got going on here.ReplyCancel

  • Sofia14/02/2013 - 12:55 am

    I’m totally with you on the plate full of vegetables, it’s what I crave most of the time. Gorgeous photos! Can’t wait to try this.ReplyCancel

  • Shira14/02/2013 - 1:02 am

    Super beautiful! Loving the stacked idea … and regardless of the first try (which I am sure was delicious) – you nailed it! YUM.ReplyCancel

  • Alexa14/02/2013 - 2:22 pm

    There is nothing more satisfying than vegetables! I’m def making this!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne14/02/2013 - 5:43 pm

    I can totally imagine you raging hard in the kitchen, furiously chopping up those vegetables… It’s making me smile now! I don’t know exactly what you had in mind for Vday, but I think this recipe looks perfect. Seriously, Laura, those photos are magazine worthy.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley14/02/2013 - 5:50 pm

    This is beautiful! Love the stack idea. :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)14/02/2013 - 7:18 pm

    This is beautiful! I love the stack of vegetables. It looks incredibly hearty and yummy. And the photography is beautiful, as always.ReplyCancel

  • Manu15/02/2013 - 10:10 am

    wow this looks delicious!! cauliflower is so underrated!! i love your pictures too!ReplyCancel

  • […] been eating them every day, mostly in salads. I can’t wait to try them in Laura’s Lemon Rosemary Vegetable Stack with Lentils and Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette, Marla’s Rustic Roasted Beet & Sweet Potato Salad, or Debi’s Baja Style Tofu Tacos […]ReplyCancel

  • sara forte15/02/2013 - 10:07 pm

    i feel you. I usually want the same thing, lots of tasty vegetables, but seems it nearly impossible to find that done creatively around here. Always easier to get what I want at home but so fun to go out. Beautiful plating, i love things stacked up. xoReplyCancel

  • Searchable Saturdays | V16/02/2013 - 9:06 am

    […]     […]ReplyCancel

  • Judie Keech17/02/2013 - 7:27 pm

    Made the roasted veggies today and wow is that good! Thank you!
    I did add one thing, roasted red peppers. Otherwise stuck to the recipe. I will definitely make this again!ReplyCancel

  • sarah18/02/2013 - 11:08 pm

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never put up my hands and exclaimed, “I just want a plate of vegetables!” But, as always, I come here and wish that I did say that frequently, and ate this delicious vegetable stack all weekend instead of chocolate heart cake. I think I need you for a neighbor. :)

    Beautiful photos!! as always. I just love those beets.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough18/02/2013 - 11:44 pm

    This. Is. Stunning. New reader here and I am definitely hooked!ReplyCancel

  • […] eggplant rollatini by Lemon rosemary vegetable stack with lentils and creamy horseradish vinaigrette by Chickpea tacos with guacamole by Creamy zucchini, lemon and […]ReplyCancel

  • hugin20/02/2013 - 6:41 pm

    i was a little uncertain about this, ’cause i’m not the biggest fan of cauliflower, but in the end, it was so delicious, and the cauliflower was the best part! thank you so much for posting this, even if it wasn’t quite what you’d originally been set on! :)ReplyCancel

  • Top 10s - 80twenty22/02/2013 - 6:42 pm

    […] This past weekend we had a little dinner party where, to our great delight, we ate big, beautiful plates of veggies. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Lemon Rosemary Vegetable Stack With Lentils. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Running around the Indonesian supermarket, I was surprised to find a bunch of beets and cauliflower and an abundance of sweet potatoes.  Our host had an abundance of lentils, and so I prepared an adaptation of the following recipe from The First Mess. […]ReplyCancel

  • Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche03/08/2013 - 8:18 am

    WOW! This is stunning! Looks delicious :)ReplyCancel

  • Pami31/08/2013 - 4:53 am

    This is stunning and sounds delicious. As fall is right around the corner, this will definitely be on the menu soon. There are definitely times when you just need a big plate of vegetables!ReplyCancel

  • […] Lemon Rosemary Winter Vegetable Stacks with Lentils and creamy horseradish vinaigrette, via The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • cheri06/02/2014 - 6:54 pm

    What a great post and pics, love this recipe!ReplyCancel

  • […] 1|2|3|4|5|6 […]ReplyCancel

  • […] came across this recipe on The First Mess a few weeks ago when a friend of mine tweeted about the blog. Twenty minutes […]ReplyCancel

  • […] you could call this recipe The Leaning Tower of Excellence. The lentil foundation adds that extra punch of […]ReplyCancel

  • […] recipe inspired by The First Mess. […]ReplyCancel

  • gwen thompson15/11/2014 - 5:21 pm

    Looks so yummy, can’t wait to try.

    I love stacking veg, already do a sweet potato, red pepper and tomato on quinoa.ReplyCancel

  • […] 1. Lemon Rosemary Vegetable Stack with Lentils + Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 1. Lemon Rosemary Vegetable Stack with Lentils + Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette […]ReplyCancel

  • Leah Rustad16/12/2014 - 2:05 am

    My family LOVED this recipe! They are not fans of horseradish, but the dressing came out quite mild, I actually added more, and they still enjoyed it. This recipe is so tasty, satisfying, and elegant looking, it’s a winner I will cook again. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Josianne30/01/2015 - 12:39 am

    What a tasty treat!
    Celery root (and winter veg in general) never tasted so good.
    It’s the second time in a week that I make this goodness :)
    Your recipes are making it easy to stay on the healthy track of life.
    Thank you!!!ReplyCancel

  • […] love. this strawberry cookies-n-cream cake [what sugar reset?] these lentil & roasted vegetable stacks because a plate of veggies = yes please. these coconut almond quinoa breakfast cakes. these tempeh […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Lemon rosemary vegetable stacks with lentils […]ReplyCancel

pin it!

dark chocolate espresso scones (vegan) – The First Mess

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Before I tell you about these cozy vegan scones (based on my favourite spelt scone recipe), all flecked with ground espresso and shards of dark chocolate, I want to talk about small changes. Oh, and big, unexpected outcomes. Simple and serious pleasures that result from small and mindful movements.

Up until a month ago, this was a typical morning for me: dog busts through the door, jumps on the bed, starts relentlessly licking my face and whimpering excitedly. It’s cute, but I scrunch my face up and tell her to seriously quit it. Feeling super groggy and on the edge of barely-rested, I reluctantly get out of my warm bed. The floor is harshly cold. The super regimented movements of coffee production come next. A firm “nah” to a tall glass of water to hydrate my probably parched body–clambering for a giant cup of caffeine is at the top of my list. IT IS the list. And I live and die by the list. Once a piping hot sixteen ounces of dark roast are at my fingertips, I’ll watch the news or putter about on the computer, doing absolutely nothing in particular for way too long. Non-productivity reigns, still groggy/miserable, bound by caffeine’s chains, no breakfast to speak of quite yet… Ready to face the day? Ah, I guess I could rig something up…

I took coffee out of the equation and my world basically turned upside down.

Pup still comes crashing in all excited (and I couldn’t be happier about that), but now I feel seriously rested, like to the core. I remember to put on wooly socks. I have a bit of an early-morning-super-glow-y stride into the kitchen and get the tea kettle working. The first cup is always herbal, something with lavender or chamomile to keep the blissed-out-calm-upon-waking thing going. I get to look at the winter scenes out the kitchen window while I wait for the bubbles. Then I read a book (this one currently) and, for lack of a better descriptive phrase, I chill the most. Next, I move to some earl or lady grey, all filled out with some warm, vanilla scented almond or cashew milk, I start to get ready for the day ahead, actually eat a balanced breakfast, think about the many other delicious cups of tea I’ll probably consume… you get the idea. Different beverage = better life.

I still try to have one really good coffee on a day off–it’s one of my favourite things to do with my man, actually. And I’m not saying that cutting down coffee consumption is for everyone or that it will just solve your life’s problems. It very simply worked for me within the context that I needed it to. I knew that my morning routine wasn’t contributing anything actually good to my existence overall. Initially, I just hated feeling weakened by one, small habit; that I needed coffee to be somewhat agreeable towards other beings in the am. It was an issue of control, no doubt. I changed that one small thing and life kind of spilled and tumbled forward to a more abundant daily disposition. Stillness is more easily arrived at and I’m not a completely terrible person in the early hours anymore. Many wins.

Since tea is more my pace these days, I thought I’d make you something wholesome, but indulgent, to go with a calming brew. I’ve made this spelt scone recipe many times, always changing up the add-ins and aromatics based on the season and my own cravings. I used to love one in particular from a local bakery with ground espresso and big, dark chocolate pieces. I decided that a homemade version was needed, a coffee flecked indulgence that plays nice with tea. I had a dark bar of chocolate infused with espresso in my pantry that had to be used in this one glorious purpose. I thinned out my basic coconut cream recipe for a nice, fatty and sweet dollop of goodness to compliment the hearty structure and strong flavour of the scone. A dab of sour-sweet raspberry jam finishes this out nicely. Luxe breakfast or sweet snack, this part is up to you.

pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!

vegan dark chocolate + espresso spelt scones
Lightly adapted from the Babycakes NYC Cookbook
serves: makes 6-8
notes: I use a combination of whole and light spelt flour, but I’ve also made it with 100% of one or the other and it worked out great.

1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup light spelt flour
1/2 tbsp ground espresso or coffee
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup melted coconut oil + extra for brushing
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water
50 grams of dark chocolate (this was 1/2 a standard bar for me), roughly chopped

to serve:
slightly thinned out coconut cream (recipe here)
jam of choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the whole and light spelt flour, ground espresso, sea salt, and baking powder. Stir to combine. To the flour mixture, add the melted coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir until a very crumbly/dry batter forms. Add the hot water to the mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped dark chocolate until evenly mixed throughout the batter.

Grease a 1/3 cup measuring cup and fill it with portions of the dough. Drop the portions onto the parchment lined sheet, giving each an inch or so of space. Brush the tops with melted coconut oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-14 minutes, flipping the sheet around at the halfway mark. Allow scones to cool slightly before serving with coconut cream and jam.

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  • Sophie {The Cake Hunter}06/02/2013 - 6:21 am

    I’m in love! These look amazing. I want to put coconut oil in everything I bake because it’s just the best ingredient I’ve used in years. Definitely pinning this to my to do list.ReplyCancel

  • Natasha06/02/2013 - 7:55 am

    I love the idea of a vegan scone, especially one with coconut oil and chocolate. Although, I definitely don’t think I will be giving up my morning coffee anytime soon. It makes me feel like the day has begun! I for some reason am opposite with tea–I love it mid-afternoon. In any case, vegan scones are now next on my list. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar06/02/2013 - 8:40 am

    These are so pretty! And look awesome too. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf06/02/2013 - 9:33 am

    I’ve never drunk coffee so haven’t had to contend with the problems it brings, but I always remember my Mum telling me how hard it was to quit back when she was my age. She now drinks herbal teas and infusions and feels so much better for it!

    I love the look of these simple little scones and am also a fan of coffee in baking (even though I don’t drink it), so they would be my idea of the perfect breakfast.ReplyCancel

  • erin06/02/2013 - 10:19 am

    I’ve been back and forth with moving away from tea and I’ve found similar results (even down to the not being grumpy when the dog wakes you up in the morning!) But like you, I still enjoy a good cup every once and awhile.

    These scones look absolutely perfect and I love that they are vegan (Oh and your photos, absolutely gorgeous- the lighting is just perfect!)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle06/02/2013 - 10:22 am

    You know my love of scones runs pretty deep lady! These look glorious! My morning routine is pretty much the opposite of yours (wake up, run, barely have enough time for breakfast/getting clothed before I run out the door). I don’t even have time for coffee until I get to the office! But I am feeling the effects of too much coffee throughout the day on my sleep patterns, for real. Considering switching to tea for the afternoon pick me up, for real. This is just a reminder to run down to tealish or David’s to pick up some sweet loose leaf options. What are your favourites mid-afternoon enjoyment?ReplyCancel

  • Michelle06/02/2013 - 10:23 am

    Also, realized I used “for real” in two consecutive sentences, and forgot a word. Can you tell I haven’t had my morning pick-me-up? :)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle06/02/2013 - 11:16 am

    So many sweet recommendations! I LOVE Genmaicha and those others sound amazing (especially the Creme Brulee Rooibos, wowza). On it.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn06/02/2013 - 2:49 pm

    I used to have a serious caffeine problem – not so much the quantity but that I would get to a certain stage in the day and NEED some. I’ve felt so much better since I just cut it out (apart from the minimal amount in chocolate obviously).

    These scones sound just the perfect tweet – sweet but with a little bitterness and just a touch of wholesomeness. Love them.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney06/02/2013 - 5:47 pm

    Though I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker, I do love a good coffee & espresso flecked baked good. These look like something I could get behind for breakfast. I love that you topped them with the coconut cream and raspberry jam. YUM!!ReplyCancel

  • jillian {gingerspoon}06/02/2013 - 7:02 pm

    I can relate in so many ways–trying life without coffee this past month, love of wooly socks and warm things, and an irrepressible affinity for the combination of dark chocolate and espresso. These look fantastic, and I’m so glad they play nice with tea…perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen06/02/2013 - 8:39 pm

    Well, now I have an excellent idea of what might happen to the coconut oil that’s been languishing in my cabinet. :) These scones sound amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Katie (The Muffin Myth)07/02/2013 - 2:28 am

    I gave up coffee years ago because it makes me feel anxious and crazy, but I drink a lot (a LOT) of tea – particularly black tea. I haven’t slept well in ages, so I decided to cut waaaaay back on tea. Now I start my day with hot water with lemon, and then one cup of black tea. No black tea past 9am, maybe a cup of oolong or green tea a little bit later. I’ve only been doing this for a week or so, but last night I actually slept. I’ve also started an evening meditation routine, so that may be helping as well.

    Anyways, these scones look great. I’ve got the remnants of a bag of spelt flour kicking around which I need to use up before I can justify buying a new one. These scones look like just the ticket! Thanks for another great recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin07/02/2013 - 10:18 am

    when i was college, i started out drinking two cups of coffee in the morning. fast forward 5 years, after i moved out of my parents house, and i was drinking half a pot of coffee in the morning- all within a one hour period of time. in the back of my mind, i always wanted to stop drinking it. as luck would have it, my coffee maker broke this past july, forcing me to stop drinking it cold turkey and switching over to green tea. the first few days of withdrawal were brutal- migraine headaches, depression, inability to concentrate. but, after that it was smooth sailing, and i’m so happy that i’m off that stimulant completely. espresso tasting goodies are the exception though, as i’d eat one of these scones in a heartbeat ;)ReplyCancel

  • la domestique07/02/2013 - 11:50 am

    I’ve been weaning off caffeine completely before starting a cleanse today, and the first few days were tough, but now I feel really good. I’m a real chocoholic and those scones look so good!ReplyCancel

  • […] roasted carrot salad with cashew labneh, avocado + frisée all the way and on the baking side, dark chocolate espresso scones w/ coconut cream + jam are calling my […]ReplyCancel

  • Maria07/02/2013 - 6:14 pm

    Scones are one of my very favorite breakfast treats. Can’t wait to try these!ReplyCancel

  • Richa07/02/2013 - 7:46 pm

    the only time i drank loads of coffee was when i was working in a the finance industry.. thank god i changed jobs after just a year and a half.
    These scones look heavenly with that coconut cream and jam.!ReplyCancel

  • Julia08/02/2013 - 2:09 pm

    wow!! we had a snow day here today.. so that meant i got to play in the kitchen. just finished nibbling on a still-warm-from the oven scone!! this recipe rocks!! i’m a one cup a day gal. i periodically give up coffee for a few weeks at a time. always feeling great when i do.. much like you. i ALWAYS seem to come back to it though?! i love coffee everything!! so these scones are just brilliant. i’ll try to save one for monday morning, when i “give up” my coffee. again. thanks:)ReplyCancel

  • […] doing this Perfect Health Diet, I’d totally be all over these scrumptious-looking Dark Chocolate Espresso Scones with Coconut Cream & Jam (The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Kristy08/02/2013 - 6:12 pm

    I have been slowly weaning myself off coffee too and trying to save it for the weekends, making it more of a treat. I was actually toying with the idea of making espresso scones, though, and now I don’t need to look any further for a recipe! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne10/02/2013 - 5:20 pm

    First, let me say that these photos are spectacular, Laura. Second, I hear you on the coffee thing, but I swear, I really, I… can’t give it up. I’ve been thinking about spending my first hour awake reading instead of opening up my computer first thing. That counts, right?ReplyCancel

  • sarah11/02/2013 - 12:29 am

    I’ve given up coffee many times over the years, and always find myself crawling back to it at some point. I do hate the thought of needing it – I need it so I don’t get a headache, I need it to feel awake, I need it to be human. Tea is a much better choice! Really, but I don’t drink it.


    Anyway, you’re awesome. I always feel challenged and encouraged by your good choices. And your scones! Beautiful. I love scones.ReplyCancel

  • Nat @ the Apple Diaries12/02/2013 - 7:07 am

    Absolutely delectable! What a great idea for a healthier, more creative scone recipe. I have a beautiful homemade rosella jam that would go perfectly with these ;)


  • Jacqui12/02/2013 - 4:18 pm

    I love a good scone recipe; for breakfast or snack! And love the coconut cream/jam combo on top! I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I do love the ritual of a morning (or all day long) cup of tea. Glad you were able to make the small change you needed to have a better start to the day : )ReplyCancel

  • RootedVegan15/02/2013 - 1:25 pm

    I love baking with coconut oil, but sometimes I can’t find it and I still want to make scones, etc. Have you ever used canola oil or grapeseed oil in place of coconut oil? Just curious if it can be swapped out with a similar effect? Thanks for any tips!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright15/02/2013 - 2:30 pm

      Hi there! I think canola or grapeseed would work just fine in terms of structure for these scones. I just love using the coconut oil because it gives off that buttery-coconutty flavour. With that in mind, canola or grapeseed might give the scone a lighter flavour in general.

  • […] und falls ihr jetzt lust auf scones zum frühstück habt, kommt hier das rezept (entdeckt auf lauras the first mess) […]ReplyCancel

  • ellen19/02/2013 - 5:53 pm

    Just pulled one out of the oven. I am not one to resist coffee and chocolate, but I don’t keep coffee in the house! I did add some cocoa nibs for the roasty flavor, and used whole wheat flour. They turned out awesome, and pretty moist. I used maple for the sweetener and sprinkled the tops with coarse sugar for looks and a little added sweetness. Can’t wait for tea time this afternoon :)

    P.S. I think you mean allow scones to COOL before serving.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright19/02/2013 - 5:58 pm

      Your version with cacao nibs and maple syrup sounds delicious, Ellen! And thanks for catching that little error :)

  • Kasey24/02/2013 - 8:52 pm

    The day after I found out I was pregnant, I immediately stopped drinking coffee and I had a RAGING headache for 3 days. But, soon after, I felt less tired. I had fewer headaches and weirdly, I had MORE energy. I’ve slowly been getting back into it, but I find I’ll drink less than half a cup (just for the taste of it) and feel pretty happy and satisfied. Gorgeous scones, lady!ReplyCancel

  • […] over this dark chocolate espresso scones from The First Mess which is also my new found blog crush. I admire not only the recipes posted on […]ReplyCancel

  • […] over this dark chocolate espresso scones from The First Mess which is also my new found blog crush. I admire not only the recipes posted on […]ReplyCancel

  • Ellie25/04/2013 - 10:54 am

    Hi there, i really want to try this recipe but was wondering… will veg. oil work instead of coconut oil and all purpose flour instead of spelt flour? thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Ellie26/04/2013 - 1:11 pm

    thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen20/11/2013 - 3:00 pm

    Hi Laura!

    Is this recipe considered gluten free?

    Thanks and can’t wait to make it :)

  • […] is not really Kuchen, but it goes very well with the morning or afternoon-coffee (or both): “dark chocolate espresso scones“ (from the beautiful blog The First Mess). I actually had a serious scones-craving for weeks […]ReplyCancel

  • Oishi Vegan11/03/2015 - 10:32 am

    These scones look scrumptious, I have never tried to use spelt flour but this recipe inspires so much that I will try soon :-)


  • Valesca15/10/2015 - 5:30 am

    I tried these last week and they are soooo good! Making them again for a vegan brunch this weekend! Do you know if i can store them in the freezer?ReplyCancel

    • Laura15/10/2015 - 7:22 am

      Hey Valesca! I feel fairly confident that you could store the portioned dough in the freezer and bake them right when you take them out. They’ll probably take a little longer though. Let me know how it goes :)

pin it!

mushroom and stout pot pies w/ sweet potato crusts (vegan) – The First Mess

pin it!pin it!

I decided that I wanted this year to be challenging and adventurous. Those are the only concepts/freeform goals that I’m taping up in the most visible spot of my mind for the time. Nothing quantifiable. Just things to work on and places to go–these goals can be rather expansive once you lay into them, which could explain why I’m telling you about my year two thousand and thirteen (wowzer, I know) goals on January 30th. Late to the party again, but totally fine with it this time. The extra consideration and space offered substance to those airy ideals.

Mark and I planned our first adventure of the year two days ago (just a little road trip–comin’ for you, America) and I started a bit of a challenge exactly yesterday. It’s a small and big undertaking at the same time. Up until a couple years ago, I ate strictly vegan foods. I gave up that way of living rather slowly when I moved away from the city, still maintaining a mostly plant-based diet, sure, but allowing for a bit more flexibility. Towards the end, I had qualms about the lifestyle, wondering if it was strictly a choice for the privileged. Why shouldn’t I be grateful for any form of wholesome food that came my way, animal-sourced or not? How a vegan diet, or any way of eating, aligns with or directly contradicts the ways of accessibility is varied across time, place and the community of people that surround.

I will say that eschewing animal-based products did bring an overall lightness in everyday being to my own life. My energy was even and good, perfect stillness in sleep, a freed mind in certain heady ways, lots of vegetables–undeniably good living on the whole. Slipping into some decidedly omni ways has more often than not felt like a denial of a truer nature to me. Rules and labels are not a part of my world and I certainly don’t conceive of anything spanning eternity, but a certain recognition has welled up within. I always do what feels right, based in thought or bodily intuition. In this particular moment, going back to that lightness is what I want most. There is that twinge of fear–of deprivation and judgment, but fear becomes a nonentity when you decide to take on exactly what you want with purpose.

And in the vein of intention and purpose, I made you these stout pot pies. I wanted to offer up something of this nature for a while, trying them with biscuit-y toppings and the like. This one is easily the best version so far. I basically filled out the mushrooms with all of the dark and more potent ingredients I had that would work together. There’s the mushrooms, all cooked down to a messy and unctuous jumble, leeks, shallots, garlic, thyme, stout, tamari, balsamic vinegar and bits of olives for a fruity-salty hit. The sweet potatoes get just the right amount of crispness from a visit in the oven and help to sop up the goodness below. It’s very hearty, peak-winter fare to see us through it all.

pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!

mushroom + stout pot pies with sweet potato crusts
serves: 4-6 (depending on how hearty you want the serving to be, what else you’re eating etc.)
notes: I think it’s important to use a stout that you would normally drink on its own for this. If you don’t like it in the glass, the taste of it reduced down will not appeal to you either. Feel free to use a mix of red wine and vegetable stock in place of the stout if you like (like 1/2 cup red wine + 3/4 cup vegetable stock). I would skip the balsamic vinegar or drastically reduce the amount to a tiny splash if you go the red wine route though. There should be enough acidity from the reduction of the wine.

3 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil + extra for greasing, divided
2 shallots, fine dice
1 leek (white part only), chopped
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed + extra for garnish
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 lbs mixed mushrooms (I used cremini, portobello + shiitake), trimmed and sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 tbsp spelt OR wholewheat flour (or GF flour/flour blend of choice–I’ve read that sorghum flour is great for thickening sauces)
1 cup stout or other dark, heavy beer
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
5 sprigs of parsley, leaves removed + chopped
1-2 small sweet potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 4-6 ramekins with grapeseed oil and set on a baking sheet.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the shallots. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add the leeks and all but a 1/2 tsp of the thyme to the pot and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste to the pot. Saute until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pot all at once. Cook mushrooms until tender and glistening, about 8-10 minutes, stirring often and adding a bit of liquid or extra oil if necessary. Sprinkle the flour over top of the mushrooms. Stir and cook out the raw flavour of the flour for about a minute.

Pour the stout into the pot, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until liquid is reduced slightly. Remove from the heat. Stir in the olives and chopped parsley. Season the mixture to taste.

Divide the mushroom mixture among 4-6 ramekins. Layer the sweet potato slices on top, overlapping the circles as you go. There should be 2 solid layers of sweet potatoes on top of the mushrooms. Brush the top of the sweet potato slices with the remaining oil, season the slices with salt, pepper and remaining chopped thyme. Bake pot pies for 30-35 minutes, or until mushroom mixture is bubbling and the sweet potatoes are browned and lightly crispy on the edges. Serve hot.

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  • Kathryn30/01/2013 - 5:35 am

    I think choice of diet should be an intensely personal thing – only you really know what is best for you and your body and how food makes you feel. I’m the first to admit that I probably need to move to a more plant-based (and less cake-based) diet so I’m excited to see what you have in store here for us :)ReplyCancel

  • ana cooks30/01/2013 - 6:20 am

    you kill me with your shots…such a great inspiration for me and my work! love it!
    thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • Claire Suellentrop30/01/2013 - 7:55 am

    Lovely. Such a balance of hearty and light. If I don’t have small ramekins, do you think the recipe would hold up as one big pot pie in a glass baking dish? Or would I need to adjust the cook time?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright30/01/2013 - 8:14 am

      Hi Claire,
      I think it would be fine in one big dish-probably an 8 inch square would be good. You might need more sweet potato slices to cover the top though. The cooking time will be roughly the same, since the filling is pretty much cooked when it goes into the pan. Hope that helps :)

  • erin30/01/2013 - 9:14 am

    The shots of these are just gorgeous, Laura! (Who knows, I’m working on becoming a mushroom eater and they definitely look delicious!)

    (and better late than never with the goals, I think I’m still solidifying mine!)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf30/01/2013 - 9:23 am

    I was vegetarian between the ages of 11 and 20, mostly for ethical reasons but also because I simply wasn’t a big fan of meat. Now I do eat both meat and fish, but in small quantities and only when I know exactly where they have come from and that the animals in question have had a good life, diet etc.

    I wish I’d had a dish like this up my sleeve when I was veggie – it looks so hearty and filling and exactly the kind of thing to feed to a doubting meat eater!ReplyCancel

  • Autumn30/01/2013 - 10:12 am

    WOW this looks and sounds amazing! I’m not a fan of olives.. if I were to leave them out should I sub something else? Or do you think it would take too much away from the dish. Thanks! Can’t wait to try this :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright30/01/2013 - 10:24 am

      Hey Autumn,
      Thanks for your lovely comment! I think the dish would be just fine without the olives. I just enjoy the briny, salty bits here and there, but there’s plenty going on in these pot pies without them.

  • Sarah30/01/2013 - 10:55 am

    Hi Laura,
    I love mushrooms—this is just gorgeous, I can’t wait to try it or something similar. Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods.

    Re: food choices and intention: you’re spot-on. “Fear becomes a nonentity when you decide to take on exactly what you want with purpose.” I like that. –SReplyCancel

  • Melanie30/01/2013 - 11:14 am

    This looks so appropriate for the cold rainy weather. It looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique30/01/2013 - 11:53 am

    I’m feeling you, Laura. I just posted about making similar changes to my lifestyle on la domestique! Your photos are stunning and the recipe looks hearty and satisfying for these frigid winter days.ReplyCancel

  • sara forte30/01/2013 - 12:57 pm

    so stunning. I have to touch base with my eating habit too, especially when people ask, and I check in about how I feel. They are frequently broken rules, but on my watch, I eat what feels better. I don’t need a label or to classify it, but you gotta do what feels right. and if you can’t make crazy tasty foods like THIS, there isn’t much to miss. Gorgeous work lady and good luck with you goals. Please come to CA :)ReplyCancel

  • dana30/01/2013 - 1:46 pm

    You have outdone yourself – the recipe, the beauty of the ingredients, the photographs. Absolutely stunning. I WILL be making these soon – they look perfect for a dinner party. Lovely job, friend!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne @RollWithIt30/01/2013 - 1:57 pm

    I love your photos! This recipe looks great – I just wish I could eat mushrooms (I could, but my husband would kill me for the gas that comes along with eating them!).

    Thank you for your honesty with how you eat. It is something I have been struggling with lately. A big reason I don’t think I could ever go vegan…I love leather shoes…it’s a problem really :). I also don’t think I could follow the rules of being vegan and would be paranoid that I was breaking them all the time. Being paranoid about how to eat cannot be healthy…But I do stick to a primarily plant based diet and choose high quality meats in smaller portions.

    Have a great trip! I hope it includes some cross boarder shopping – prices are pretty good down there!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole30/01/2013 - 2:16 pm

    These pot pies look amazing! Can’t wait to try them soon.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen30/01/2013 - 3:27 pm

    These little pies sound perfect for chilly nights! I really like the idea of using sweet potato slices for a sweet-savory crust.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin30/01/2013 - 5:24 pm

    well, i’m all for you going back to your vegan ways(said the vegan), especially if it includes more recipes like this! sweet potatoes and mushrooms just so happen to be two of my favorite things in the world. plus, it’s pretty gorgeous ;)ReplyCancel

  • What a phenomenal idea. I haven’t combined mushroom and sweet potatoes before in a dish and this seems like just the kind of adventure I’m looking for this year too! Thank you for the irresistible inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • hannah30/01/2013 - 7:15 pm

    sweet potato crust?! that is brilliant. i’ve got to try this soon.ReplyCancel

  • Kristy30/01/2013 - 8:23 pm

    I am happy for you and your choosing to stay true to your own nature when it comes to your eating choices. You explained your choice so eloquently.

    Also, I want this real bad. Any kind of mushroom stew sort of concoction has my name written all over it, and the sweet potato crust is totally my kind of thing. I usually veer away from pot pies because I don’t care for the biscuity crust! I love it.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanine30/01/2013 - 8:25 pm

    Wow, these look amazing! As usual, I love every single ingredient you use. Here’s to a year of trips and adventures…ReplyCancel

  • Sonja30/01/2013 - 9:44 pm

    Laura, these are so cute! What a great idea with the sweet potatoes on top instead of crust – I love it! The flavors of the filling sound wonderful too.

    I couldn’t agree with you more on avoiding rules and labels related to eating. (Though sometimes it makes it hard when you try to convey your philosophy to other people!)ReplyCancel

  • sarah30/01/2013 - 10:30 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful. Your photos are gorgeous, and your pot pies sound amazing. And, Minnesota? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Angela31/01/2013 - 8:48 am

    Your blog is beautiful and mouth-watering and you seem to be so positive person.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar31/01/2013 - 4:48 pm

    I love that crust on top! What a fabulous, healthy, recipe :)ReplyCancel

  • Hannah01/02/2013 - 12:48 am

    Laura these are beautiful and the thought of those rich dark mushrooms is making me hungry even though it’s bedtime. Can’t wait to try this. I think your concerns about being thankful for food (whatever it may be) and conscious of food accessibility are valid. To my mind, the best way to address those concerns is to work towards all people having the same choices that you do. Denying yourself the opportunity to feel whole and nourished and healthy won’t help anyone … but figuring out ways to get education and access and real choice about food to everyone just might. I love that you’re conscious of what makes you feel your best – while also being conscious of the privilege you have in pursuing that. Thanks as always for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth01/02/2013 - 3:43 pm

    There is something about this time of year that begs for lightness, and I love that these sweet little pot pies strike the perfect balance of hearty and vegan. If your adventure gets you near Brooklyn, look me up! I’d love to grab a drink or meal of some sort.ReplyCancel

  • sandra02/02/2013 - 6:20 pm

    What a great idea. I was thinking of making a faux shepard’s pie with a couscous meal, left over from a few days ago for the base, and whipped butternut squash for the topping – but this looks equally good!!ReplyCancel

  • Kevin02/02/2013 - 11:00 pm

    These look amazing, can’t wait to try them! One question though, what size ramekins did you use? We only have smaller dessert sized ones so I’m looking to purchase 4 to make this recipe. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright03/02/2013 - 8:59 am

      Hey Kevin!
      I used 1 cup sized ramekins for this, but I think dessert ones might be more appropriate. I found the servings that I made a little on the hefty side, so I’d go with your smaller ones. Alternatively, you could assemble the whole thing in a 8 x 8 square dish and make one big pot pie. Hope that helps!

  • Ashlae03/02/2013 - 12:32 am

    Love this, girl.

    I’m a big fan of doing what feels right. I followed a strict vegan diet for two years then started eating animal products – full force – for a good six months. Craving my former plant based ways and I’m back to eating a mostly vegan diet. With a few eggs every now and then. But ahh, the lightness – I feel it. I crave it.

    PS – hoping to the winds that Denver’s on your road trip list. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Nat03/02/2013 - 4:32 pm

    Yum, this recipe looks delicious! Such a creative way to use sweet potato, which is a vegetable that is often underestimated. I’ve only recently discovered sweet potato nachos and can’t believe I had never heard of them before!

    Great photos as always :)ReplyCancel

  • Victoria04/02/2013 - 4:08 pm

    Have you read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver? It is a book about the importance of eating local – she is a beautiful writer, and the book travels through journalism, family-saga, and diary as her and her family struggle with eating only locally on their farm for a year.

    It addresses your thought process on whether eating vegan (or plant-based) is really a responsible, sustainable food choice.

    ps. these look awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)04/02/2013 - 8:20 pm

    Just discovered your blog! It is beautiful (don’t know why it took me this long…). This dish sounds delicious. Definitely bookmarking this for the future!ReplyCancel

  • Shira05/02/2013 - 12:57 am

    What a fabulous post Laura! I wish you the best in your girls for the coming year, and better to get them done right than rush it! These pies look absolutely beautiful too.. I am so loving your blog and your outlook – after many years I have officially given up on labels too. Listening to the body is key, as hard as that is sometimes! Thanks for a refresher :)ReplyCancel

  • Shira05/02/2013 - 1:00 am

    Oh gosh, what a funny error – that was supposed to read ‘goals’ not girls!! Blurgh :)ReplyCancel

  • Mushrooms Canada05/02/2013 - 9:47 am

    What an excellent combination of delicious ingredients! I absolutely love the mushroom mixture, they compliment each other so perfectly. Thanks for sharing this wonderful winter recipe, I look forward to trying it out!


  • kaela10/02/2013 - 12:43 pm

    I don’t even like mushrooms and this looks fabulous. And I love the look of that wooden mandoline – is it a Benriner? I’ve been in the market for a good one for a while, but fear-of-slicing-fingers-off keeps me from getting one.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright10/02/2013 - 12:53 pm

      Hi Kaela! It is a Benriner. Definitely a no-frills sort of mandoline, but it gets the job done and stays sharp. It comes with a finger guard if you’re scared!

  • kaela10/02/2013 - 2:11 pm

    Thanks! Maybe it’s time. 2013: Go Mandoline or Go Home. :)ReplyCancel

  • Lorna11/02/2013 - 9:40 am

    Hello. Thank you for this lovely recipe. I understand your comment about veganism possibly being a choice for the privileged. I’ve been vegetarian since I was a small child – over 30 years, and am increasingly becoming uncomfortable about it, especially since I was diagnosed as coeliac two years ago. I first became vegetarian from an ethical point of view – when I was 10 my teacher showed a video of veal calves in crates, animals going to slaughterhouses etc. and I was so traumatised I never ate meat again. I know it’s possible to buy meat from animals that were well looked after now, but I still can’t bring myself to eat it.I hate eating out, even at friend’s houses, because I feel like an awkward demanding prima donna. There is, for me, no solution – I can’t bring myself to eat meat, fish or chicken, and obviously can’t get round the ceoliac thing, so I cook – a lot. Websites like yours are a godsend. Thank you again!
    Lorna xReplyCancel

  • Sarah12/02/2013 - 12:27 pm

    This is so beautiful! I would never have thought to cook w/beer before… but this would be the recipe to start. Great pics :)ReplyCancel

  • Relish Blogs – Week 2.1815/02/2013 - 11:12 am

    […] First Mess And then there’s The First Mess. If the idea of Mushroom + Stout Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crust doesn’t reach out and grab you (yeah, right), the pictures of them will. We want those on our […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Mushroom and Stout Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crusts from Laura of The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Mushroom and Stout Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crust from The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Kaye05/05/2013 - 12:18 pm

    This recipe looks beautiful and delicious! Amazing photography, too! I appreciate you sharing your story about your reasons for adding meat back into your diet. I disagree that being vegan is synonymous with living a life of privilege. I’m saying this because I’m a poor vegan and have found it cheaper to eat meatless! lol :) I think the opposite could be said, that eating meat is a privilege because one feels it’s okay to take the life of another living creature – against their will – when there are other options for nourishment that don’t rely on taking an animal’s life.ReplyCancel

  • […] ♔ This clearly has to be veggie heaven! It looks stunning and tasty, like the ideal food to dish up for some vegetarian food critics Mushroom Stout Vegan Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crust […]ReplyCancel

  • Courtney18/11/2013 - 10:51 pm

    Can you make the mushroom mixture the day ahead and put in the fridge overnight? Thanks!

    • Laura Wright19/11/2013 - 9:18 am

      Hi Courtney, you certainly can make it ahead. Just make sure you let it come to room temperature before cooking it in the oven for the final step.

  • […] 33. Mushroom and Stout Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crusts A savory pie that combines beer, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms is the perfect melding of decadence and healthy food. As a Thanksgiving entrée, this dish is pretty simple and speedy, with just a few steps and minimal dishes to wash. […]ReplyCancel

  • Musette #2 | Flossy's Fuel26/11/2013 - 9:07 am

    […] comforting fall meal: Mushroom and Stout Pot Pies by one of my favorite bloggers, The First Mess. So much flavor in these little crocks. Tip: place […]ReplyCancel

  • Mary Christ14/01/2014 - 5:47 pm

    this is one of the only times I have commented, this sounds amazing!! I eat healthy and everything…within moderation!

    I love your ideas Laura, you just seem to take life way seriously, does it make you tierd? No criticism, just an observation.ReplyCancel

  • Maree17/02/2014 - 5:07 am

    Just cooked this for dinner tonight, beautiful! I’m so excited that I have found your site!ReplyCancel

  • Cass Markovich06/07/2014 - 1:04 pm

    I am not a lover of beer. What do you think red wine or just broth would do to the recipe?

    • Laura Wright07/07/2014 - 5:37 pm

      Hi Cass! For certain, red wine would add a bit more acidity but also some more depth of flavour. Broth would be the lightest option in terms of body. I think a half and half mix of each would be perfect :)

  • […] example for your kids to eat healthily? No worries, because we have found this amazing recipe for mushroom & stout pies with sweet potato crusts. Pastry free and full of veggies, this pot pie packs a punch without packing in high […]ReplyCancel

  • Ken31/10/2014 - 11:20 pm

    I was inspired to try this because of the shot of the mushroom stew in the pot. I envisioned it over potato dumplings (Klösse). My mushroom stew looked great, but I didn’t care for the taste. Maybe I just don’t like stout (I used Widmer Obsidian Stout), which had a smokey flavor that I was only so-so about in the glass. I did like the texture and the way the dish came together. I have a picture, but don’t know how to share it. I’ll retry with the red wine, or maybe just beef broth. It’s basically a good recipe. Thanks for sharing it.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright02/11/2014 - 7:44 am

      Hi Ken, thanks for this feedback. I found that the flavour of the stout came through strong in this, so if you aren’t a fan of it, might be best to stick with broth/stock for the future. You essentially reduce/concentrate the flavour of whatever liquid you add to this, so if you don’t like the taste of whatever you’re adding on its own, safe to say it won’t be good if you cook it. Hope you have better luck next time.

  • Anna11/11/2014 - 2:03 pm

    @Laura – Hi! Which particular stout did you use when you made this?

    • Laura Wright13/11/2014 - 6:43 am

      Hey Anna! I honestly can’t remember which one it was. And when I make things like this, I never buy the same one twice. I usually just go to the liquor store and see what they have. Although, I don’t think I would use something like Guinness–it has too much of a burnt/lactic-ish flavour for this recipe I think. Aim for something with more of a coffee/nutty vibe! Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful/exacting.

  • […] especially when alcohol is involved. With the use of balsamic, soy sauce garlic and herbs, this savory dish introduces holiday decadence to healthy, vegetarian ingredients. But if you aren’t a fan of the […]ReplyCancel

  • AnnMarie20/11/2014 - 7:29 pm

    A friend of mine just told me about these & they’ve now become the centerpiece for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. They need to travel, though. How far in advance do you think I can make them and would you make any adjustments to the baking time if I’ve frozen & then thawed them? Or, would you not recommend freezing for travel?ReplyCancel

  • […] Supper Whole Roast Heritage Breed Turkey // Brooklyn Supper Roast Turkey Breast // Brooklyn Supper Mushroom and Stout Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crust // The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Thanksgiving Dinner23/11/2014 - 9:31 pm

    […] squash & apple latkes, GF dinner rolls, parmesan roasted cauliflower, salad, and mushroom & stout pot pies w/ sweet potato crust. I’m planning to make a couple of savory pumpkin pies for dessert, to balance out the […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Mushroom & Stout Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crusts (The First Mess) […]ReplyCancel

  • […] course, being surrounded by so much beer I can’t resist throwing some of it in to my cooking. This recipe for mushroom and stout pot pies with a sweet potato crust from Laura over at The First Mess is one of my favourite things that I’ve made this year…you […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 1 Recipe of the day: Mushroom + stout pot pie with sweet potato crust […]ReplyCancel

  • Phanie Pack26/03/2015 - 3:25 am

    I made these today!!!!! AND I LOVED THEM SO MUCH as did my husband, and my 4 year old daughter who tried to convince my husband to share the last one with her.

    Posted them on my blog

    Thank you! I love your recipes!


  • […] Mushroom + Stout Pot Pies with Sweet Potato Crusts//The First Mess: A vegan twist on the classic dish, this hearty recipe is sure to pique the […]ReplyCancel

  • Brooke25/11/2015 - 10:47 am

    This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I love it so much, I am making it for myself and my family for dinner. Mushrooms, beer, sweet potatoes, thyme… What more can a girl ask for to begin her 30th year of life?! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Brooke25/11/2015 - 10:48 am

      I meant to say that I M making it for myself and my family for my birthday dinner tonight. It’s that lovely. Thanks again.ReplyCancel

  • […] […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Chicken or vegetable pot pie is a winter classic. It sticks to your ribs and is a one-pot wonder that reminds us of our childhoods (shout to to Marie Callender!). But by using thinly sliced sweet potatoes rather than puff pastry for a crust, you get the benefits of an extra vegetable while cutting out all the additional butter! Get the recipe here. […]ReplyCancel