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9.2.2017

Le Chick! Caramel Bars – Nut-free and vegan super treat

Time to fulfil your wishes. Your nut-free wishes! Nearly every time I post a new sweet recipe I get messages from my lovely readers with allergies asking if it would be possible for them to prepare the recipe without nuts or almonds. Most of the times I have to disappoint them because nuts and almonds play such a significant role in many raw/health recipes, and the recipe just wouldn’t be the same if you substitute them with something else.

But now, my babies – now I have something magnificent for you! Something that is nut-free, raw, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and naturally sweetened, all at the same time. And delicious too! This one is truly a crowd pleaser.

And it doesn’t lay on coconut! Many times nut-free treats use coconut to get the creamy rich texture, but I know that the taste of the coconut doesn’t please everyone. And I have to admit that I don’t prefer a strong coconut flavor either and nowadays I use coconut in my recipes in veeery subtle ways so that the strong hippie vibe doesn’t push through. (All my love to hippies ♡)

So, therefore I picked a more neutral ingredient here that still gives a nice wholesome consistency. I picked chickpeas – le chick! Those brilliant little creatures that are so versatile, nutrient-rich and lovely. Then I accompanied them with fresh organic dates. Because dates are my no. 1 favorite sweeteners and they also add a nice little bonus to the texture and taste. I really could not survive without fresh dates in my kitchen.

Which brings to mind another quoestion I get asked a lot – Which dates do I use? Well, the ones that you can always find from my kitchen are fresh organic dates by Fontana that are sold in cardboard boxes in fruit ja vegetable section in supermarkets – at least here in Finland. I like the texture, the taste and the fact that they are organic. They are also easy to find because they are available very widely in the supermarkets – at least here in Helsinki. So I was very happy to pair up with Fontana with this post, because I actually use their dates A LOT.

And here’s my hot tip for a natural date sweetener:

Buy a package of fresh dates. Preferably organic. Take about 20 dates, take out the stones and place the dates in a blender. Add about 1 cup water and 1 tsp vanilla extract or ½ tsp vanilla powder, if you like. Blend until creamy and smooth sauce. Add more water, if needed. And if you like your sauce to be extra smooth, remove the date skins under a running water. Then pour the sauce inside a sealable clean jar. Now you have a lovely sweetener that you can use when baking in breakfasts or in any way you want. Store the date paste sealed in a fridge and you can use it easily for 2 weeks.

Now there you have it. Go ahead and make this date caramel paste & my Le Chick! Caramel Bars and serve them for example to your Valentine next week. Moi moi!

V

In collaboration with: Fontana organic dates


Le Chick! Caramel Bars

(Nut free, Vegan, Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free)

 

Base:

1 cup chickpeas (cooked / from a can)

10 fresh dates, pitted

5 tbsp coconut flakes / shredded coconut

½ tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

 

Caramel:

10 fresh dates

3 tbsp tahini (or your favorite nut/almond butter)

3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp water

3 tbsp coconut syrup (or raw organic honey)

½ tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

tiny pinch of sea salt

 

Chocolate frosting:

6 tbsp raw cacao butter, melted

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted

6 tbsp raw cacao powder

4 tbsp coconut syrup (or raw organic honey)

tiny pinch of sea salt

 

OR about ½ cup of your favorite raw chocolate melted

 

Tin size: 17 x 12 cm / 7 x 5 Inches

 

Base:

Cover the tin or freezer safe container with parchment paper. Add the chickpeas into the blender and blend. Add dates, coconut flakes and vanilla and mix until a thick sticky mass. You may have to scoop down the sides of the blender in between blending. Taste and add vanilla or sweetness, if you like, for example with coconut syrup. Spoon out the dough into the tin and even the surface with a spoon. Prepare the caramel sauce.

 

Caramel sauce:

Place all the ingredients into the blender and blend until sticky sauce. Add a drop of water, if needed, but try to keep the mixture as thick as possible. Spoon out the caramel sauce and spread onto the base mixture. Prepare the chocolate frosting.

 

Chocolate frosting:

Melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil in a warm water bath. Add cocoa powder, syrup and salt. Mix until a nice sauce. Taste and add some of the ingredients, if needed. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the caramel sauce. Place into the freezer and freeze for couple of hours or until solid. Take out of the freezer and cut into bars. Let thaw for about 15 minutes before serving. Store in the freezer or in the fridge.

 

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17.1.2017

Raw Licorice Chocolate Mousse Cake

New year, fresh winds! A new edition of my very first cookbook, It’s a Pleasure – Sweet treats without gluten, dairy and refined sugar (in Finnish: Kiitos hyvää – Herkkuja ilman sokeria ja gluteenia) has just came out in Finland with new recipes in it. 

I’m really excited that I had an opportunity to design new stuff for this title, as I feel that although the book came out already two years ago here in Finland, the subject is still very topical.

Well, actually I can’t think of a time when healthy yet delicious sweet treats would go out of style. At least they are very much trending in our household all the time. And it was only 3 months ago when the book came out in the US, so it’s great to blow some new wind to these sails also in Finland! (I know there might not be that kind of idiom in English, but you get the point.)

So cake, muffins, donuts, cookies, chocolates, candies, ice creams and other heavenly goods, all without gluten, dairy and refined sugar. Gentle yet effective ease for sweet cravings with 86 recipes. Pretty luscious package, if I may say. And you’ll recognice the new Finnish edition by the green stamp it has on the cover. 

To celebrate the new edition I wanna give away one copy of the new Finnish title to one lucky reader. All you have to do is drop a comment and say hello here in the comment field and I will pick a winner (located in Finland) on Sunday 22nd at 22.00. (10 pm)

Of course I don’t wanna leave you guys from other counties with empty hands, so I’m giving away one copy of the English title, It’s a Pleasure too. So eeeveryone can join! And please do!

Here is also one of the new recipes from the new Finnish edition: my current No.1 favorite raw cake, Raw Licorice Chocolate Mousse Cake, with a super soft and tasty filling and crunchy truffles. Enjoy, babes!

V


Raw Licorice Chocolate Mousse Cake

(raw, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free)

Crust:

1 cup almonds

½ cup pecan nuts

5 fresh dates

3 prunes

3 tsp licorice root powder / licorice root extract powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp anise powder

½ tsp sea salt

 

Filling:

1 cup cashew nuts (soaked for 1–3 hours)

1 cup coconut milk (room temperature)

6 tbsp coconut syrup or raw organic honey

1 tsp tamari soy sauce

1 cup raw cocoa powder

pinch of sea salt

5 tbsp cocoa butter (melted)

5 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

 

Chocolate Licorice Sauce:

2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

2 tbsp raw cocoa powder

2 tbsp licorice root powder or licorice root extract powder

½ tsp vanilla powder

2 tbsp coconut syrup (or maple syrup)

tiny pinch of sea salt

 

On top:

Small truffles made from the crust dough + black sesame seeds

raw cocoa powder

 

Tin/Cake mould size: 17 cm / 7 inches

 

Crust:

Cover the bottom of the cake mould with a parchment paper so that it is easier to remove later. Add the almonds and nuts into a blender and blend until fine crust. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until a thick and sticky dough. Check the taste and add more seasoning, if you like. Spoon out the dough out to a bowl and take aside about 4-6 tablespoons of the dough, from which you’ll later make the truffles. Press the rest of the dough firmly onto the bottom of the cake mould. Prepare the filling.

 

Filling:

Toss out the soaking liquid of the nuts and rinse the cashews in a cold water. Place the nuts into the blender and add the coconut oil. Add also the syrup and tamari. Blend. Add the raw cocoa powder and salt. Pour in also the cocoa butter and coconut oil. Blend until a smooth thick mass. Pour the mass into the cake mould. Even the surface with a spoon. Place the cake mold into a freezer for about 2 hours or until it’s totally firm. In the meantime prepare the truffles and the sauce. When the cake is firm, take it out of the freezer, remove from the mould, dizzle some shosola sauce on and decorate with the truffles you’ve made. Serve and enjoy. Store in the fridge.

 

Truffles:

Prepare small balls from the dough crust you had set aside. Roll the truffles on black sesame seeds pressing them firmly but gently so that the seeds stick and cover the balls evenly.

 

Chocolate Licorice Sauce:

Add the raw cocoa powder, licorice powder, syrup an salt into the melted coconut oil. Mix well so that you get a nice chocolate sauce.

More healthy sweet treats: It’s a Pleasure cookbook

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21.12.2016

Gluten-free & Vegan Carrot Cake

Before starting my Christmas zen, that I preached about in my last post, I just had to come and share one more Christmas treat with you guys! I know I already threw my Holiday greetings and all but when this recipe popped out of my computer I just couldn’t resist myself.

So I just drop this looovely carrot cake on your gentle hands without further introduction, because before I can start enjoying my Holidays I have to run and get couple of small presents and arrange our new home, to where we just moved – because my soul is yearning for a Christmas tree and one really can’t bring such a guest of honour into a chaotic environment, right? And you can also do the Christmas cleaning with a laid-back attitude, like listening to good old Christmas tunes from Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald while eating this carrot cake with the other hand and swiping the dust with the other. That’s quite yin & yang to me.

Well, anyways, this gluten-free and vegan Carror Cake is found from our Christmas book “Joulukirja” and it just so nice, moist and tasty and the spices are PERFECT for the Holidays. It is good to prepare the cake the day before, so that the texture gets just right overnight.

Enjoy, my loved ones & have a lovely Christmas! (Lets see if I will come back still one more time with some new recipe for the Holidays before the Christmas Eve.)

 

V


Gluten-free Vegan Carrot Cake

Gluten-free, Vegan

 

6–8 pieces

 

1 ½ cups full fat almond flour/almond meal

½ cup coconut flakes / shredded coconut

7 tbsp flax meal

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ceylon cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg powder

½ tsp ginger powder

¼ tsp cardamom

½ cup coconut sugar

pinch of sea salt

½ cup grated carrots

2 tbsp orange zest (from organic oranges)

½ un-sweetened applesauce

1 cup water

½ coconut oil, melted

 

Frosting:

1 cup cashew nuts (soaked for 30 minutes)

5 tbsp full-fat coconut milk (the thick white paste from a coconut milk can kept in a fridge)

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp orange juice

3 tbsp xylitol or coconut sugar

½ tsp vanilla powder

 

On top:

orange zest

ceylon cinnamon

nut crust

 

the pan: 2 l / 0,5 gallons foil casserole

 

The cake:

Preheat the oven to 175 Celcius / 350 Fahrenheit degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Grate the peeled carrot with a small/fine blade into another bowl. Add the orange zest. Add also the applesauce, water and melted coconut oil. Mix. Add the dry ingredients from another bowl and mix well. Pour the batter into the casserole and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until the surface has a nice tanned colour. Take the cake from the oven and let cool completely. The cake is very soft when taken out from the oven, but it will get firm while it cools. In the meantime prepare the frosting.

 

Frosting:

Take the soaked cashews, toss the water and rinse the nuts. Place the nuts into a blender. Take the coconut milk can from the fridge and scoop out 5 tbsp of the white thick mass from the can and add to blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add a drop of coconut milk do that you’ll get the mixture very smooth, but still keeping it as thick as possible. The texture should resemble thick greek yogurt. Check the taste and add some spices or sweetness, if you like.

 

Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake. Place the cake into the fridge and let it thickend overnight.  On the next day add some orange zest and sprinkle some cinnamon and/or nut crust on top of the cake. Serve and enjoy! Store in the fridge and use within 3 days.



19.12.2016

Gingerbread porridge

And so has the week before Christmas started. The perfect time to start fueling up hard core with all the lovely christmas flavors, spices and Holiday treats and taking the Christmas in with all your cells and taste buds. Showering with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, anise and ginger. Living the Christmas to the fullest! Like they say. Or like I say, at least.

Although I have a strong tendency to flip into the Christmas insanity, my passion is mainly focused on the food & the mood, not so much on the material stuff. Well okay, I have installed a small set of fairy lights (aprox. 8 meters long) on the balcony and a humble (only a half meter big) star on the window, but otherwise I mainly believe in peace & love kind of Christmas. Because when you just stop, breathe deep and be present then you are in the very essence of Christmas.

And it is just so much more romantic just to burn candles and enjoy small dishes and treats with christmas flavors all around the christmas time than to go bonkers with decoration and to stress over huge Holiday dinners that take insanely long time to prepare. 

“You get the most beautiful Christmas by returning back to basics: To the simple and tasty food that makes you feel good and to small handmade ornaments and gifts that touch the heart.”  Like we say in our new Christmas book that I made with my ever-so-lovely friend Riikka Kantinkoski. The book is all about a low-key Christmas with easy, natural and rustic interior ideas and healthy (gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally sweetened and mainly vegan) recipes for the Holidays and for the whole winter time. The book, called Joulukirja (“The Christmas book”) came out a few weeks ago and I’m super proud of it. Go check it out, if you happen to be in Finland and hang around bookstores!

The Gingerbread Porridge in this post didn’t make it into the book, but it most certainly would have if I just would have came up with it a bit earlier than last week. But hey, luckily I can share it with you guys now!

I got to use lovely Gluten-free & Deluxe products of Lidl in it, for example Gluten-free Rolled Oats, Walnut oil, Dates and Clove & Cardamom Mills. Those spice mills are especially my favorites because you can just go ahead and grind lovely christmas flavors on just about everything with them! On your porridge, on stews and casseroles, on cakes and other treats – or even on your cranky neighbour that needs to get into Christmas mood.

…I bet Lidl wouldn’t sign the last recommendation for use, but you get my permission.

Or even better, go ahead and prepare this Gingerbread oatmeal to the Grinch of your life and I bet you’ll see a warm light start shining through his/her eyes. I mean, this stuff really brings the Christmas. 

Be good, my friend & eat a lot of porridge.

V

(In collaboration with LIDL)


Gingerbread porridge

Serves 4

 

2 cups oat milk

2 cups water

1,4 cups gluten-free oatmeal

1,5 teaspoon gingerbread spice mix

pinch of sea salt

3 fresh dates

1 tablespoon walnut oil (or almond butter)

 

Top with:

apple bites

crushed walnuts or almond flakes

ceylon cinnamon

crushed clove

crushed cardamom

ginger bread pieces

raw organic honey or maple syrup or coconut syrup

oat milk

 

Pour the oat milk and the water into a pan and bring to boil. Add oatmeal, salt and spices. Cut the dates into small pieces and add into the pan. Cook in a medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the porridge is done. Stir in the walnut oil or almond butter.

Dose the porridge into serving bowls. Top with apple pieces, crushed ginger breads and almond flakes. Sprinkle on the spices and a drop of honey or syrup. Pour some oat milk on, if you like. Serve and enjoy!

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3.10.2016

It’s a Pleasure – Nut Caramel Candies

Life has had quite hectic twists and turns lately. Sometimes I wonder how it is even possible for me as one human being to cope with all these projects I have managed to gather in my life. But in some weird way person kind of multiplies herself, expands time or makes other magic tricks when stuff just needs to be done. And there is no time to sit around when a revolution awaits! A food revolution, you know, in which I try to take part with my work.

A part of my revolution dream has now become reality as my very first cookbook about healthy sweet treats, that came out in Finland some time ago has now been released in the US and it goes by the name It’s a Pleasure. I’m so happy about the outcome – the book looks and feels super pretty and nice and I hope it can help to transform globally the way people feel about sweets with it’s over 80 recipes for cakes, candies, cookies, muffins, ice creams, chocolates and other sweet treats – all without guten, dairy and refined sugar. Because there is just no better way to indulge than to savor with treats that left you feeling light, healthy and satisfied!

Try for example these overwhelming pralines. I have prepared big batches of them lately and people have LOVED them. And no wonder. The best pralines combine many elements: a soft filling, a texture that snaps nicely and something crunchy. Also, a hint of saltiness is a big plus. These chocolates are all of the above and can be created with very simple and wholesome ingredients.

Please, just try them! And if you wish to have a copy of It’s a Pleasure, throw me a message here below before Oct 10th and I’ll pick two winners to whom I’ll post the book next week – in Finnish or in English, you choose!

Until then – Viva la revolucion!

V

NUT CARAMEL CHOCOLATES


Nut Caramel Chocolates

Makes 15-20 pieces

Caramels:

  • 15 fresh dates

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1-2 tablespoons water

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • pinch of sea salt

  • 15-20 pecans

  • 4-5 tablespoons unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter

Icing:

  • 4 ounces unsweetened dark or raw chocolate, or ½ cup Basic Chocolate from the It’s a Pleasure book.

On top:

  • flaky sea salt

Pit the dates. Combine the dates, coconut oil, water vanilla extract and salt in the blender and purée. Caramel should be thick and smooth. Spoon the caramel in a freezer-safe container and put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes so that it thickens a bit and is easier to handle.

Line a small baking sheet with a parchment paper. When the caramel sauce has thicken take about a teaspoon-size dollops of the caramel and place onto the prepared baking sheet and mold the caramel into balls. Press a pecan into each ball. And then about half a teaspoon of peanut butter on each pecan nut and bring then the tray into a freezer. Freeze for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler / warm water bath. Take the pralines out of the freezer and dip each of them into the chocolate icing. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and return them to the freezer just to set. Bring out, serve and indluge. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Recipe from the book IT'S A PLEASURE by Virpi Mikkonen

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