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 :)
raw chocolate cake + earl grey chocolate mousse
raw chocolate cake:
earl grey chocolate mousse:
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.
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 :)
vegan roasted cauliflower soup with roast-y onions + rosemary
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.
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,
lemon rosemary vegetable stacks w/ lentils + creamy horseradish vinaigrette
horseradish + maple vinaigrette:
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.
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.
vegan dark chocolate + espresso spelt scones
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.