Tag Archives: Chocolate

End of Winter Cranberry Chocolate Buns


Winter is finally starting to let up over here in Toronto. There are still a few patches of snow here and there but for the most part the weather is warming up and I can finally stop wearing my heavy winter boots! This winter has been the longest and coldest I can remember in a long time. Ice storms, -40˚C days, and countless extreme cold weather warnings. This past Christmas we dealt with about a week of power outages across the city. Mine lasted from the night of my Birthday up until the day after Christmas. I sadly remember sitting in a slump in my frozen living room, wearing 5 layers of clothing, on Christmas day crying “This is the worst Christmas ever, I hate Rob Ford”. Yeah, I blame it on Rob Ford.

So, to be honest, I don’t think I have ever been so excited for summer to come. With its hot days, going to the beach, walking around Toronto’s different neighbourhoods, biking around the island, sitting out on patios, going to farmer’s markets, and hopefully some gardening. That is what I’m looking forward to this summer.

But for now, since it is still a little chilly outside, I like to warm up with some tea or coffee and something warm to eat. These buns are a nice way to use up some frozen cranberries that most people have lying around after their winter season. The combination of tart cranberries and the sweet dark chocolate makes for a nice contrast. This recipe comes from one of my all time favourite books: Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It is a wonderful book that I was lucky enough to get for half price about 10 years ago in a small book shop in downtown Toronto. It is filled with wonderful recipes for buns, bread, tarts, cakes, and small pastries from their travels around the world. As well, each recipe comes with its own story from their travels or interesting backgrounds of where the food came from. It’s probably one of my favourite books just because of that. Who doesn’t love to read stories about the food they’re just about to make?

However, I did not follow the recipe exactly but instead made these little buns vegan by swapping the dairy products for vegan alternatives and omitting the egg from the original recipe. They’re just as delicious as the originals but maybe just a little bit better for the world.



Cranberry Chocolate Sweet Buns (vegan)
Makes 1 loaf of 8 rolls (can be easily doubled)
Adapted from Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

1 cup almond milk, heated until lukewarm
1 tsp active dry yeast
About 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp and a little more
1 tbsp sugar of your choice (caster, coconut, brown, etc.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, chilled
1/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 tbsp of almond milk or melted margarine for topping
2 tbsp coarse sugar for sprinkling

Lightly grease one 9×5 inch loaf pan with vegan margarine.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, pour in warm almond milk and stir in yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the flour. Add margarine, in pieces, sugar, and salt and stir to incorporate. Add 1 more cup of flour and stir in until fully incorporated. Now add in the chilled chocolate and cranberries with 1/4 cup more flour. Mix until incorporated. If not using a stand mixer, turn out onto a very well floured surface an knead gently, incorporate more flour until the dough is only slightly sticky. If using a stand mixer, just follow the kneading process and incorporate more flour until it is only slightly sticky.

Place dough into a bowl and cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Once risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently punch down. Cut into 8 equal sized pieces. Lightly grease the palm of your hand and roll each piece into a ball. Place each ball beside each other into the greased loaf pan. Cover the pan with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes while you preheat your oven.

Preheat oven to 400˚F and place rack in the middle.

Once buns have risen, lightly brush with almond milk or melted margarine and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Immediately remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.


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Truffles…The Raw, Vegan Kind


This past week has been a little bit stressful for me. No, I’m not over worked or tired from studying. I’m actually pretty busy doing nothing. I’ve been stressing myself out with the fact that there’s not much for me to do now that I’ve finished my studies for the time being and I’m only working a part time (very part time) job. Is it really possible that I’m able to stress myself out more than when I was super busy working a full time job and going to school full time? Oh yeah, and I’m sure the driving lessons aren’t helping. Nor the fact that my driving instructor always reminds me not to kill him.


Anyway, I’ve taken to meditation to try and relieve some of the stress and anxiety I’ve been having. The problem is that I’m only able to go for about 10 minutes without wanting to fall asleep or…eat something. Luckily, I’ve come across some studies where chocolate, the dark kind of course, is said to lower stress levels as well. Though, you’d think that with the vast amounts of chocolate I eat I’d be the most care free person in the world.


These dark chocolate truffles are a take on a recipe from Vegetarian Everyday, the new cookbook from Green Kitchen Stories. They’re a perfect healthy snack with no added sugar and an additional healthy boost from spirulina. I changed up the original recipe a little bit by making a few different variations. One is filled with syrupy balsamic vinegar and rolled in coconut sugar, another is mixed with a little bit of cayenne for some heat and rolled in cocoa, and the last is the regular truffle rolled in dried coconut. I’m sure there are a million different possible variations that would be delicious. Maybe some peppermint extract or some fresh herbs such as basil, rosemary, or lavender would be great. These truffles are also really beautiful and would make a great gift since they’re vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, and raw. They could also be made caffeine free if you’re into that sort of thing (just use carob instead of the cocoa).


Cocoa Date Truffles with 3 variations (raw, vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free)
Makes about 20 – 30 truffles
Adapted from Vegetarian Everyday by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl from Green Kitchen Stories

20 dates, pitted
2 tbsp extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil
2 tbsp raw cacao or regular unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp spirulina, or substitute with more cocoa
a good pinch of pink himalayan sea salt

Cayenne pepper, to taste
about 1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
extra cocoa powder
dried shredded coconut
coconut sugar

In a food processor, combine the dates and coconut oil. Blend on low until smooth. Keep scraping down sides of the bowl. Add cocoa, spirulina, and salt and pulse until thoroughly combined. This can also be done in a bowl by using your hands to knead everything together. Refrigerate mixture for about 30 minutes or until cold and firm. Divide the mixture into 3 equal pieces.

Cayenne Truffles: add cayenne powder to taste and knead with a fork or by hand. Start off with about an 1/8 tsp and taste for heat. Roll into balls and roll in cocoa powder.

Balsamic Truffles: remove about 2 tbsp of mixture from the second piece and mash in about 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar. The mixture should be very sticky. Divide the rest of the portion into balls. Flatten each out and place a little bit of the balsamic mixture into each one. Fold up the edges of the truffles and roll into balls. Roll in coconut sugar.

Basic Truffles: roll into equal sized balls and roll into coconut flakes or whatever else you would like

Truffles are best kept in the fridge.

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Cupcakes and a liver cleanse


Oh cupcakes. Remember when they were the “it” thing? Everyone was opening up a cupcake shop and making a million different flavours. Chocolate cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, bacon cupcakes…blue cheese cupcakes?! People just went ape shit for cupcakes and now that it’s died down I finally feel like making some cupcakes. No cheese, no weird flavours, and please…no bacon. Just a simple chocolate cupcake with a hint of almond..and oh yeah they’re vegan.


I know I’m supposed to be eating healthier and all that but these weren’t really for me. I made these especially for a dinner party and bringing a box full of gluten, sugar, dairy, fat, and delicious free cupcakes didn’t sound all that great. At least they’re vegan right? I only ate one…and a half anyway.


I am actually supposed to be avoiding gluten and dairy right now as I’m on a liver cleanse through the advice of my naturopathic doctor. I’m literally wrapped up in plastic wrap right now with castor oil  and a hot water bottle over my stomach in hopes that it’ll detoxify my liver. I feel like a stuffed sausage..a sweaty stuffed sausage. Now, I have never been to a naturopath before but I sure wasn’t expecting this. I was hoping for something more along the lines of a hypoallergenic diet or something diet based, not having to take 2 tubes of bitter yellow tincture 3 times a day. Oh boy is that stuff disgusting. But these cupcakes aren’t. Go make them, eat them, now!

The recipe for these chocolate almond cupcakes can be found at the lovely Oh She Glows blog by Angela Liddon

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly as written except omitted the almond milk in the icing recipe. This way I had to use less icing sugar to get the right consistency and also I dyed half the icing pink.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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A Kitchen Disaster…But Only Slightly

It’s probably not the best idea to start off a blog with a post about my failures in the kitchen, but here goes anyway.

I started this recipe for Gateaux Bastille with the best of intentions. A miniature cake of the darkest dark chocolate, moist chopped prunes, and the slightest hint of rum. Sounds great, right? Well actually, it was kind of great in the end but getting there was a mess. The chocolate I melted  turned into a grainy lump (probably because I did it in the microwave), I managed to burn a few of the cakes 10 minutes before they were meant to be done, and they baked into flat little disks instead of the puffed and sunken little cakes I was hoping for.

So, they’re not pretty. The flavour on the other hand was something else.

Moist, light, dark, deep, and the tiniest bit spiced from the rum and prunes. Pretty good for a bit of a disaster.

Gateaux Bastille 

Adapted slightly from The Wednesday Chef’s post on David Lebovitz’s recipe
Makes 12 individual muffin sized cakes

6 medium sized prunes, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp dark rum

125g bittersweet chocolate (70-85%), finely chopped
4 tbsp salted butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tbsp granulated sugar

In a small bowl, mix the chopped prunes with the rum and let soak for an hour or until the prunes soak up the liquid.

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cups and preheat oven to 375˚F.

Melt chocolate and butter in a medium sized bowl over a double boiler until smooth and let cool slightly.

While the chocolate mixture is cooling, whip eggs and sugar at high speed until very thick and light in colour. Mix soaked prunes and any remaining rum into the chocolate mixture and fold a third of the whipped eggs into the chocolate. This will lighten up the chocolate mixture so that it is easier to fold in the rest without deflating it. Finally, fold in the rest of the whipped eggs until just combined.

Portion into cups and bake for 30 minutes.But check after 20 minutes for doneness. It’s always a good idea to check on baked chocolate desserts before you think they’re done because they can burn pretty quickly. A toothpick inserted and pulled out almost clean means they are done.

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