Thursday, 16 April 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes

Vegan baking can be a bit of a minefield. When you remove the conventional eggs, sugar and milk from a cake mixture, you can end up with a right mess. I won't lie, there have been several times that I've attempted to bake a vegan cake and I've ended up with a thick, tasteless catastrophe. However that is certainly not the case with these chocolate cupcakes! These bad boys are incredibly light and fluffy, full of chocolate flavour, very easy to make and, absolutely delicious.

I decided to set myself an additional challenge when making these - they had to be refined sugar free. I try and keep all types of refined and processed food in my diet to a tight limit, but refined sugar is the one thing I try to limit the most. Sugar is absolutely everywhere these days meaning that it is extremely hard to avoid. However there are more than a few types of completely natural sugar, which means it isn't difficult to keep my sweet tooth happy!


The Cupcakes
100gm vegan butter (I used Nuttelex)
1/2 cup raw coconut sugar
1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (I like to use almond or coconut)

1. Preheat a fan forced oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the vegan butter and coconut sugar with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy.
3. Add in the spelt four, cacao, baking soda and plant milk and mix using an electric mixer unit everything is really well combined.
4. Take a muffin tin and line it with patty cases. Fill each case with the muffin mixture. (I wanted mine to rise quite a lot, so I filled them to the rim, but this will just depend on how big you want the cupcakes to be!)
5. Bake for approx. 25 minutes When cooked, a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
6. Allow to cool while you make the icing.

The Icing
1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp pure maple syrup (agave also works)
1 tbsp plant milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1. Halve the avocado and scoop the insides out into a blender with a spoon. Add in the cacao, maple syrup and plant milk. Blend until well combined, makings sure to scrape the sides down.
2. Use a spoon to scoop the icing mixture into a piping bag and pipe it onto the cooled cupcakes. Alternatively you could just spread it straight onto the cupcakes with a knife. I garnished mine with some crushed pistachio nuts and dairy free choc chips.
3. When iced, place in the fridge for half an hour to allow the icing to firm up. Store them in the fridge (that is if you don't eat them all straight up!)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Lemon and Lime Cheesecake.

This week when I was doing the groceries with my mum I saw a huge bin of limes for $2 a kilo and I thought to myself that was an absolute bargain. I have a great weakness for sales. I'm that foolish person who reads the word 'sale' and let's the consumer mindset pull me in and bam! I must buy. It is not an option.

So while mum was off with the trolley buying whatever food items we actually needed, I filled a big bag with limes and off I went. This all worked fairly well until we got to the checkout and mum was like 'Rebecca, why do we have so many limes? I didn't put these here...' And, being all on the spot and stressing out because the limes were on sale and I therefore simply had to have them, I blurted out 'cheesecakes! I'm going to make some cheesecakes with them mum!' Thankfully mum accepted this fairly poor excuse with only a slight raise of her eyebrows and I got the limes, which I might just add again, were an absolute bargain.

So the outcome of these events were that I basically had to make cheesecakes otherwise mum was never going to let me buy limes on sale again and that would be a literal tragedy. Obviously it is a great hardship to have to make then eat cheesecake, so I was really, really upset by this task....

I first made vegan cheesecakes a few months ago and since I've had a few more goes, which have all worked for me, but I kept thinking there was something missing. And you'll never guess, but it was the limes! Yay for sales!!!! Honourable mention must also go to secret ingredient apple which always leaves people baffled because these delicious little pieces of lemon and lime heaven taste nothing like apple which is kinda fun because when people ask how you made a cheesecake without any cheese, thereby making it vegan, and you say cashew nuts, they are pretty much always completely shocked. Adding in that the secret ingredient is in actual fact a humble little apple is like the icing on the surprise cake.


The Base
2 cups pecan nuts
1 cup macadamia nuts
10 medjool dates (pitted)
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil (melted to be in it's liquid form)

1. In a high speed blender, combine all of the ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture that holds when you roll it into a ball. (If it doesn't hold, add a few more dates)
2. Take a square cake tin and line using baking paper/parchment. Tip the nut mixture from the blender into the lined tin and spread evenly, taking particular care to ensure the base mixture is level all over the tin. Press down with the back of a spoon and place in the freezer to set for a minimum of 30 minutes.

The Filling (i.e. Lemon/Lime heaven)
1 cup cashew nuts (soaked in water for minimum 3 hours, then drained)
1/2 cup coconut milk (the clear liquid part, separated away from the white, solid creamy mixture)
2 tbsp coconut cream (that solid white creamy stuff you separated away from the milk part)
Rind of 1 lime
2 limes, juiced
Rind of 1 lemon
1 lemon, juiced
1 peeled and cored apple (any variety works)
2 tbsp pure maple sweetener (agave syrup/rice malt syrup also work)
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil (melted to be in it's liquid form)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Take all of the ingredients above and mix in a high speed blender for approx. 4 minutes, or until the mixture is completely creamy and smooth with no hard nutty lumps. I had to scrape my blender down a few times to ensure the cashews were 100% blended.
2. Remove the cake tin with the set base from the freezer. Pour the filling mixture into the tin, before returning to the freezer. Make sure the tin is flat in the freezer otherwise you'll end up with a lopsided cheesecake. Freeze overnight.
3. When serving, remove from the freezer and allow to stand for approx. 10 minutes, to slightly defrost. Cut into pieces and serve with a dusting of lemon and lime rind and some fresh mint leaves.

(these will keep in the freezer for a few months I think but to be honest I don't actually know for sure because they've never lasted so long for me to test this theory...)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Spicy Pita Pizzas

Here's a fun fact; I made these for my friend Em and she couldn't deal with the spice, so I'm going to issue a warning right here and now that if you don't like a bit of pizzaz in the food you eat, either be very light handed with the spice or make something else (obviously another recipe of mine, because you're here anyway, so what reason do you have to not?!).

That aside, the other members of the household loved these pita pizzas. They're super easy to make, full of delicious flavour and they're very good for you given they're full of creamy avocado, vitamin and mineral rich chickpeas and pine nuts. I was planning on elaborating on the pine nuts, but basically I'm just going to say that I absolutely LOVE pine nuts so anything containing pine nuts is already delicious in my opinion. These pita pizzas also look amazing, so they'd be the perfect lazy Friday night dinner to whip up when you're having a movie night with your friends and have them think that you're some kind of crazy masterchef when in actual fact you've only expended a small amount of effort.

I'm going to treat you to another fun fact; I actually super randomly had a dream the other right in which this recipe came to me. I tried it all out, did some experimenting and this is the end result. Now, if that isn't a cool story as to where the idea for spicy pita pizzas came from, then I don't now what would be!

Here's another fun fact; you should go make these. They're yum. And they're easy. And they're delicious. And, just do it.

(makes 4 pizzas)

Avocado Sauce
2 avocados
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 handful fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper

Roasted Vegetables
1 head cauliflower, broken off into small florets
1 can (400gm) cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
salt and pepper

4 pita breads
handful fresh coriander (cilantro)
handful roasted pine nuts

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Drain the chickpeas and pat down with some absorbent paper towel to get rid of any excess liquid. Take the cauliflower florets and chickpeas and spread them evenly on a baking tray lined with paper. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and then add on the garam masala, cumin, chilli flakes and a garnishing of salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes. At 10 and 20 minutes, stir the vegetables around well, before returning them to bake. When cooked, remove and allow to slightly cool.
3. In a bowl, take the two avocados and mash them into a paste with a fork. Add in the garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, lime juice and some salt and pepper (to taste). Take the coriander and chop roughly with a knife. Add the coriander to the avocado mix and combine well using a fork.
4. Take a pita bread and, using a spoon, dollop a large spoonful of the avocado sauce onto the pita bread. Spread the avocado evenly over the bread. Then, take some of the roast veggies and spoon them on top of the avocado. Repeat for the other pita breads. Serve with a generous garnishing of fresh coriander, roasted pine nuts, pepper and, if it takes your fancy, a drizzle of olive oil. *insert emoji of licking lips*