Cooking tangents: an interesting take on dessert.
This post is going to be an absolute mish-mash. Maybe this will give you an indication of the way my mind works (a million miles a minute) – and my inability to focus/stick to any sort of structure. Yeah, I’m pretty susceptible to a tangent… even while in the act of cooking. Things started with popcorn, visited a sugar-free sweetener, and ended up with cream cake, Confused? Yeah, me too.
It makes sense to start at the beginning. I wanted to make something using popcorn: Misty is obsessed with it, and after the success of my Popcorn Balls, I knew I had to experiment. I thought I would just make snack- bars, but then I decided that I could use these as an “add-in” to baking – like a fruity chocolate chunk? It’s always good to have a nut free option on hand, right?
Nut Free Fruity Choc-Chunks:
(Vegan, nut/gluten/wheat/soy/refined sugar free)
- 4C (popped) popcorn
- 1C dark raisins
- 1/4t sea salt
- 3T cacao powder (or carob/cocoa)
- 2T coconut oil*
- 1T water
- In a food processor, pulse together popcorn and raisins until they are all ground up. Add other ingredients, adding coconut oil and water last – it will seem like it’s not going to come together, but it will!
- Press out to your desired thickness – the mix is very sticky and soft (rolling out between 2 sheets of baking paper works well) and place in the freezer overnight. This gives the popcorn time to soak in the oil, and it forms more or a solid bar.
- Cut into small chunks and store in the freezer (fridge if you use cacao butter as suggested below)
* If you want a more solid chunk that holds it’s shape out of the fridge for longer, use cacao butter in place of the coconut oil.
You can use these as a snack bar (cut into larger pieces) or as a alternative to plain dried fruit or chocolate chips in baking/desserts – I know, I know, they are nothing like a chocolate chip – just something yummy to have on hand when you don’t have chocolate. I hardly ever use/buy chocolate chips due to the fact I can’t find a decent vegan option – I usually just chop up a good quality dark chocolate, or make my own raw chocolate. This recipe makes about 1 & 1/4 C worth of chunks.
I recently received a nice little package from the people at Natvia/Vitarium **- a company that makes a stevia/erythritol blend. As you can see from the picture, they produce a range of sugar-free sweeteners for use in both drinks and baking. From my experience this blend is an easily accessible (from the supermarket) option for those who want to cut down sugar. Most products that boast being “sugar-free” are usually flashing red warning signs for me (toxic! chemicals! crap!) but not this stuff – it’s natural – hooray. My personal preference will always be NuNaturals Vanilla stevia (which I get from the US) but many people find straight stevia has a bitter after taste that is unpalatable. Natvia doesn’t have that bitter after taste thanks to the inclusion of erythritol, which really does mellow out the flavour, and makes it a fabulous ingredient for wherever you would usually add sugar.
I decided to combine an experiment using both Natvia’s Baking Blend AND the Mocha flavoured Drinking Chocolate – as well as including my latest Fruit Choc-Chunk creation.
Vanilla Cream and Chocolate Brownie Cake
(Vegan, gluten, wheat, nut, refined sugar free)
Brownie Cake Base:
- 1 & 1/2C cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2C brown rice flour
- 3T natvia baking blend*
- 2T mocha natvia drinking chocolate powder*
- 2T cacao
- 1/4t salt
- 1/2C coconut milk
- 1/2t vanilla extract
* If you do not have access to Natvia, simply use 1/4C granulated sweetener, plus 3T cacao powder and 2t ground espresso)
- Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until well combined.
- Spoon mix into a lined loaf tin (make sure the baking paper has some decent over-hang to make getting the cake out of the pan easier) and bake at 160 degrees C for 25 minutes – it will appear cracked on top, and seem super dense – perfect!
- Keep cake IN the pan, chill in the fridge.
- 300g silken tofu
- 3T coconut butter
- 3T cacao butter (or additional coconut butter if you do not have cacao butter)
- 2t lemon juice
- 3T Nativa baking blend (or your choice of sweetener – 2T agave – 15 drops liquid stevia etc)
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1/8t sea salt
- 2/3C Fruity Choc-Chunks (recipe above)**
**You can sub in regular chocolate chunks or any sort of dried fruit if you don’t want to bother making the Fruit Choc-Chunks – cherries and pistachios would make a very festive looking dessert.
- Blend all ingredients except Fruity Choc-Chunks together until very smooth.
- Fold the chunks into the mix.
- Pour on top of brownie base, and place in the freezer for at least an hour – until “set” but not frozen.
- Cut into slices/squares.
- Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
Yeah, I know, beans and tofu in one dessert? AND no sugar? Trust me – it’s an interesting process, yes – but the end result is delicious. Super high protein and without the sugar-induced coma.
Do you go off on tangents while involved in the cooking-process as I do? Tofu AND beans in a dessert – game to try? Or has the silly season gone to my head?
**Disclaimer – I received some samples of Natvia, but was under no obligation to post/review the products. I also received one of the Vitarium Banana-flavoured powders to add to milk (targeted at children) which contains cochinel (colour 120) which I obviously am not a fan of – and will not give to Misty.