May I Have Your Vote?

This past Saturday, I participated for the second time in the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Annie at An Unrefined Vegan was once our host and organizer and did an amazing job at it!  It truly is a fun and exciting feeling to be connected to so many bloggers from so many different places.  Plus, my meal-making inspiration is now overflowing with ideas from all the other delicious looking dishes that were shared!

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

Now, I don’t do much self-promotion, but I am here today to ask you for your vote.  You see, for the potluck, I made and virtually brought this Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze.  Remember it?  I’ve been wishing I had some more of it myself!  While it may be long gone (for now), it is time to honor those potluckers who made everyone’s favorite dishes.  If you liked my cake, you can vote for me here under the desserts category.  If you are also inclined, head on over to the Virtual Vegan Potluck’s featured ingredient page and re-pin my cake.  The dish featuring the secret ingredient with the most re-pins is also a winner.

Thank you for your vote (or for just reading this far) and for joining me in another blogging adventure!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple-Caramel Glaze

One of my favorite things to do these days is to spend an afternoon home alone baking, feed the finished product to Mr. Move Eat Create when he returns, and then ask, “Do you know what was in that???”

Whole on cake stand from above - edited

Of course, I know that its unlikely he’ll guess correctly, but I wait and anticipate his answer.  Then, I excitedly share what the secret ingredient actually was, basking in my sneakiness and healthy baking subterfuge.

I first discovered the odd fun of this little game when I made zucchini brownies.  I reached new levels of enjoyment with it after sharing my batch of Chocolate Covered Katie’s black bean brownies, and totally had a blast with it after making this creation here.

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

This cake was a perfect opportunity for me to:  a) practice my gluten free baking skills, b) use nutritious ingredients (like vegetables) to make something traditionally lacking in health promoting properties, and c) eat chocolate.

As an added bonus, I was already in the process of fine-tuning this recipe when the Virtual Vegan Potluck sign-up and announcement came out, indicating they’d be featuring a key ingredient this time around and that the key ingredient was beets!

Perfect!  I had clearly earned some good food blogging karma somewhere.

slice on plate - edited

For this final version I added a maple-caramel frosting which was so good that I may have scooped up and eaten much of the excess drizzle with my fingertips.  And it may have made me so happy and weak in the knees that I had to sit down.

If all that extra sweet drizzle isn’t you’re thing, I also made a version that was topped with a simple dusting of vegan powdered sugar.  It, too, was wonderful.

________________________________________________________________________

Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze

Makes one bundt cake

A Move Eat Create original recipe

(but inspired by various recipes throughout the Internet)
                                                      Sliced into on cake stand - edited

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 medium beets, diced
  • 2 ¼ cups gluten free all purpose flour (I like Pure Pantry for baking)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 ½ tspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup vanilla (or plain) coconut milk
  • 1 tblspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 small very ripe mashed bananas
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

For the glaze:

  • ½ cup vegan brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance
  • 2 tblspns coconut milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn maple extract (optional: If you don’t want the maple flavor, sub additional vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup vegan powdered sugar

Directions:

To make the cake:

  1. Place diced beets in a pot and fill with enough water to cover by an extra inch or two.  Bring to a boil.  Let beets boil for approximately 7-8 minutes to soften.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or oil your bundt pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare dry ingredients.  Place flour, cocoa powder, flax seed, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.
  4. Place boiled, drained beets in a food processor or good blender.  Add coconut milk and apple cider vinegar.  Puree until smooth.
  5. Pour beet mixture into a medium bowl.  Stir in vanilla extract, turbinado sugar, and mashed bananas.  Mix well to combine.
  6. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in.  Mix well by hand to combine all ingredients thoroughly.  Pour in your chocolate chips and stir a couple more times to distribute them throughout the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

To make the frosting:

  1. Melt brown sugar, Earth Balance, and coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk/stir frequently during this process.  Once they melt, the mixture should turn a nice shade of brown.  This should only take 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and maple extract.  Let sit to cool for a few minutes.
  2. After the sauce has cooled for about 5 minutes, stir in the powdered sugar.  This will thicken the sauce, making it a more substantial frosting/glaze.  Stir/whisk well until all powdered sugar has been incorporated into the sauce.  Let cool completely before drizzling over cake.

And now, please check out other dishes in the potluck!

To visit the dish presented before mine click this link:  go_bck-300x257

To visit the dish next in the line up click through here:  go_forward-300x243

 

** I am also submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Friday, hosted over at The Veggie Nook.  A wonderful weekly gathering of delicious vegan recipes!

Orange Chocolate Bar(k) with Hazelnuts and Cherries

Have I got something delicious to share today!  Is it a giant cookie sheet-sized chocolate bar?  Or is it chunks of chocolate bark-like candy?  It certainly could be whichever you most fancy, but either way, it makes for a satisfying sweet snack.

chocolate candy pieces 3

I’ve been wanting to make something along these lines for a while and I just kept getting distracted with elaborate recipes to try or old favorites that lure me back to them.  Something this simple just kept getting pushed to the wayside.  It had to happen that way, I guess, but I am a bit sad for it.  I am sad, in fact, for the time I wasted not knowing how wonderful this would turn out to be!

I do realize that some people out there don’t like chocolate.  I understand this to be true, but I will not pretend to understand how it is true.  Chocolate never fails to please me.  I am careful about how much of it I eat, so I don’t get myself too hopped up on sugar, but the nice thing about this is that I find a small portion of really good chocolate will totally satiate my sweet tooth, leaving me content and not yearning for seconds and thirds.   Hooray for reasonably satisfied cravings!

ingredients for chocolate candy

The recipe you see below is delicious, but it is also easily adaptable to your preferences.  If you favor a different type of fruit and/or nut, those tastes could be accommodated with simple substitutions.  Other add-ins I plan to try include: mint extract, quinoa and/or rice puffs, pretzel sticks, dried blueberries, and espresso beans.  The possibilities are wonderfully endless!

Plus, given that this is candy that YOU make yourself, it’s candy that you can make to be as real and natural as YOU like – no artificial or processed ingredients need be present in this chocolate bar(k).  That is candy worth getting excited about!  A further note about this – you can obviously use whatever chocolate you prefer.  I used Enjoy Life Mega Chunks because I’m a big fan of Enjoy Life products.  These mega chunks are vegan and non-GMO verified, made from simple, pure ingredients.  This is my personal opinion and not given under any type of prompting from the company – I’m quite certain they have no idea who I am!  They also make other tasty items, like Plentils (YUUUMMM) that are suitable to vegans and those who eat gluten-free.

_______________________________________________________________

Orange Chocolate Bar(k) with Hazelnuts and Cherries  hazelnuts 2

 

Ingredients:

10 oz chocolate chips/chunks or chopped chocolate bars of your choice (I used Enjoy Life Mega Chunks)

The zest of one medium orange

2 oz raw hazelnuts, chopped

1/3 cup dried unsweetened cherries, chopped small

Directions:

  1. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with a piece of wax paper.  Set aside.
  2. Place a metal bowl over a pot filled with about 1-inch of water (or use a double boiler if you have one).  Pour chocolate into bowl and turn on heat to medium. Stir chocolate frequently as it starts to melt over the heat, being careful to keep heat moderate and chocolate moving so as not to burn.
  3. As chocolate begins to melt, pour in the orange zest and mix well to incorporate.  Continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted.  Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in half of the chopped nuts and half of the chopped cherries.  Mix well.
  5. Pour chocolate onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Use a spoon or spatula to spread chocolate out evenly over the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle remaining nuts and cherries over the top of the chocolate.
  6. Place uncovered in the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours, or until the chocolate is set.  Cut into bars or break into chunks as desired.  Chocolate can be stored for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

 

Recipe: Cherry Almond Chocolate Snacking Cakes

Sometimes only chocolate will do.  I actually don’t bake chocolate items all that often, but some days . . . it absolutely must be done.  Last weekend was such a case.

I wanted chocolate cake.  But I didn’t want a giant, frosted chocolate cake.  I wanted something smaller, something that I could pull apart with my hands as I ate it.  Perhaps a bit denser then a layer cake, but still soft and spongy.

I also wanted add-ins.  I was imagining some sort of treat baked into the chocolate batter, something that would compliment the chocolate flavor without taking it over.  I was inspired!  But I needed a basic recipe to start with.

Enter one of my most trusted food blogs.  Smitten Kitchen has yet to lead me astray.  Everything I have made from this fantastic site has been tasty and satisfying.  So when I was able to find this recipe for Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes (originally from David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris), I knew I had my starting point.

I made several adaptations to the recipe in order to create the kind of cakes I particularly wanted and they came out wonderfully.  I love the texture of these snacking cakes, as well as the versatility.  They feel appropriate for just about any time of day – perfect for a sweet treat at breakfast, a snack throughout the day, or a light post-dinner dessert.

Adding the dried cherries really did add something special to the flavor of these, I think.  I used a moderate amount so they didn’t overwhelm the other components, leaving chocolate as the stand out ingredient.  The flavor, though, that the cherries contributed was lovely.  The combination of the almond oil and almond extract also imparted a deeper flavor to the cakes, though if you’re not a fan of almond flavor, you could easily substitute a different oil and omit the extract. I’m actually curious how orange extract would be in these, in place of the almond.  I may have to test that out soon!

________________________________________________________________

Cherry Almond Chocolate Snacking Cakes

Makes 12 cakes

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (baking squares or chips will work)
  • ¼ cup almond oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat Greek)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 3 tblspns egg replacer, combined with 9 tblspns water (or 3 large eggs if you prefer)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn almond extract
  • 100 grams whole wheat pastry flour
  • 100 grams spelt flour
  • 1 ½ tspns baking powder
  • ½ tspn course salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg replacer with water (or eggs) until just combined.  Add applesauce, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and almond extract.  Stir until well combined.
  4. Chop the dried cherries into small pieces.
  5. Melt your chocolate with the almond oil.  You can do this in a heatproof bowl over lightly boiling water on the stove, or in the microwave (as I did).  Combine the chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat for 20 more seconds.  Stir again.  Repeat until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the oil.
  6. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Pour in the yogurt mixture and stir together until just combined.  Then, pour in the melted chocolate and continue to stir until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.  Finally, fold in the chopped dried cherries so that they are distributed throughout the batter.
  7. Spoon batter into muffin cups (about ¼ cup batter in each cup).  Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Let stand for 5 minutes in the tins, then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

*Notes:

– You could certainly use other flours in these.  I particularly liked the combination of the whole wheat pastry flour, which I think contributed to a lighter texture, with the spelt flour, which complimented to the nutty undertones of flavor.

– Add toppings if you like.  A dusting of powdered sugar, a glaze, or a ganache would be lovely.  I just wasn’t in the mood!

Have A Surplus of Springtime Zucchini? Make Brownies!

I hear/read a lot this time of year about the abundance of zucchini.  Many who are a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, like I am, find themselves flooded with the little green vegetable.  It is not entirely uncommon to hear a bit of groaning about it.  Zucchini isn’t the most popular of vegetables, though I must admit that I’m not entirely sure why.

I personally don’t mind the plenty of zucchini that the warm weather brings.  I love it.  I cube them and sauté them with corn, lime juice and Mexican seasonings.  I slice them thin and eat them raw after marinating the slices in a delicious vinaigrette for several hours.  I stuff them in burritos.  I roast them!  I bake them!!  I julienne them!!!

You get the idea.

I happen to think that one of the most ingenious methods of using up zucchini is to put them in brownies.  I’m sure you are all familiar with zucchini bread, which is delicious in its own right, but baking brownies with them takes the concept of zucchini-filled baked goods to a whole other level.

A whole other scrumptious chocolate-y level, that is.

I baked these brownies a couple of weekends ago and am excited to share them with you now.  These are the kind of brownies that are chewy and fudgy, almost cake-like (as opposed to the slightly more dry, crumbly kind of brownies).  They are super moist and taste more than a bit decadent, though they also happen to be pretty darn nutritious as far as baked chocolate treats go.  They use whole wheat flour, no oil or butter and the zucchini adds moisture and richness to the brownie, while also providing you with nutrients that promote a strong nervous system, keen eyesight, and healthy skin.  How can you pass up a brownie that does all that?

You can’t.  You mustn’t.

And, I’d be willing to bet that if you bake them in secret, your brownie-eating friends and family won’t even know they’re getting a healthy dose of vegetables until you tell them!

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies

Adapted slightly from blissful eats with tina jeffers

Ingredients

  • 2 tblspns egg replacer, mixed with 6 tblspns water (or 2 large eggs)
  • 1 tblspn vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (I think turbinado sugar would work well here, too)
  • ¼ cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ tspn kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tspn baking soda
  • 1 tspn ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tspn ground cardamom
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 large zucchini)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks (or chips)
  • Sea salt or vanilla-flavored salt (optional)

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare an 8×8 inch baking pan by spraying with cooking spray.
  2. Grate zucchini.  Once grated, squeeze out excess water from the zucchini.  This step is important in order to prevent too much moisture in the brownies.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer (mixed with water), vanilla, sugar, applesauce, zucchini, and salt until combined.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamom until well combined.  Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Add in the chocolate chunks (or chips) and mix to incorporate.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  If desired, sprinkle sea salt or vanilla-flavored salt on top.  Bake the brownies at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the center is just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow the brownies to cool before slicing into squares (I cut mine into 16 pieces).

** Note:  Because these brownies are on the moister-side, I found them to hold up better stored in the refrigerator rather than out on a counter.  Let cool completely before covering and storing in order to prevent any steam/condensation from forming.  They are best eaten within 3 days of baking.