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Pumpkin and Chocolate Layer Birthday Cake

November 27, 2016

It was my birthday on Wednesday. I'm 25 now,  and my age has started to show a little bit this year in the form of a sprinkling of white hairs and the beginnings of crows feet. I panicked when I first found the white hairs, especially because I thought I was a few years away from that, but I've gotten used to it now. All I can do is take care of myself and wear sunscreen, and the rest is genetics, right? I'm not sure if sunscreen matters quite as much here since it's never sunny but I'm wearing in anyway. The Christmas markets started this week too and all the decorations are up around the city now, and it's cute and kitschy and very German. I started a praktikum, kind of like an internship, at a pottery studio earlier this week as a trial period to see if the master potter hires me on for a six month term or not. I'm mostly doing my own work and in the process of opening up an online store (!) and I'll keep you updated about that at it progresses. So far I've been making a lot of ceramic mushroom tree ornaments and I'm in love. 

This is my third birthday cake since starting this blog. A fun thing about doing these posts around the same time every year is seeing how my photography has changed over time (thankfully for the better) especially since I've starting dedicating more time to taking pictures. Last year my family showed up while I was trying to take pictures of the cake - you can see my brother's-in-law hand in the first image for that recipe. The first time, I shot on a white coffee table with a sheet of white paper behind to try to get a seamless background. Graham took a peek and called it sad looking, but if you want to see it, you can find it here. They're both good recipes but I think this is by far the best one yet. 

I had planned to do a four-layer cake, and you still could use this recipe to do that if you have smaller cake pans. Mine are the standard 26cm / 10 inch and I think to get the type of tall layers I wanted it'd have to be an 8 inch pan or smaller. You could double the recipe and make four cakes in total but it'd be enormous if you did that, because it's a big cake as is. It's very pretty with just the two layers, though, and much easier to do. I wanted to add coconut whipped cream to the mix but the craziest thing happened when I was whipping it. My cream turned into butter! I have no idea how it happened but if I can replicate it I'll share it here. I still haven't found a brand of canned coconut milk that makes good whipped cream in Germany. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! They don't seem to behave the same way. If you want to make coconut whipped cream, it would be a nice addition to this cake, especially between the two layers after the glaze has been added.


This cake wasn't very enthusiastically received by my family at first. I guess pumpkin isn't used as much for sweet recipes here as it is at home, and isn't as widely used overall. Pumpkins originated in the Americas (the oldest evidence is in central America, although they were also extensively grown further north) and unlike tomatoes they don't seem to have become as much of a staple here. It doesn't help that hokkaido is virtually the only variety available. My aunts were skeptical of a pumpkin cake, my youngest cousin outright refused to eat it or the pumpkin cinnamon buns, and my omi thinks the only thing you can make with pumpkin, really, is soup. Everyone except my pokemon obsessed cousin had at least one piece after a little convincing and they loved it, but next time I might just say it's cinnamon and forget to tell them about the vegetable hiding in there. 

There's a (coconut) milk chocolate glaze poured over both of the cake layers, which is delicious, but will make a huge mess if you're not careful. I wrote a tip below for an easier way to glaze the cake without as much chocolate going everywhere. The cake layers aren't tooth achingly sweet but the glaze adds a little extra bit of sweetness that makes it into more of a celebration dessert. If you can't find physalis to top it with, try some toasted nuts instead or simply glaze it. I think this would be a beautiful cake for the holidays, especially if you added some Christmas spices like nutmeg and cardamom. The chocolate cake is a good basic recipe that could be adapted in a number of ways on its own.

If you bake both of the layers at the same time, try to have them on the same rack if you can so that they bake evenly. The chocolate cake cooks a little bit faster anyway though so it doesn't matter too much. I've chosen to use all sifted or light spelt for the layers, but you could do half whole and half light if that floats your boat. This is one of the few times I won't use whole grain flour and I think that's fine. It's still vegan, low in sugar, and uses healthy fats and real, whole food ingredients, because it wouldn't be one of my recipes if it was full of junk, right?

There are plenty of notes at the bottom of this recipe with possible substitutions and tips, so make sure to read those before starting to make the cake. It seems like a lot of recipe but you don't have to cream sugar with butter or any of that shit so it doesn't take as much time as you'd think. Plus, you don't have to spread icing!




Pumpkin and Chocolate Layer Birthday Cake
Makes a large layer cake


Pumpkin Cinnamon Layer

2 1/2 cups sifted (light/630 type) spelt flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar*
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch salt
1 cup non-dairy milk*
3/4 cup pumpkin puree*
1/2 cup olive oil*

Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F and grease a 26cm / 10 inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Whisk to break up any clumps.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the milk, pumpkin puree, and olive oil until thoroughly mixed and there is no separation between the liquids.

Add the liquid mixture to the larger bowl and gently whisk until just combined. Don't over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until light gold and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool for ten minutes before removing the sides of the the pan, and then cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate Cake

2 cups sifted (light/630 type) spelt flour

3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350F and grease a 26cm / 10 inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, vanilla, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk and olive oil, whisking until fully incorporated. Add this to the flour mixture and gently whisk until just mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the pan and a toothpick doesn't have crumbs sticking to it when inserted into the cake. Cool for ten minutes before removing the sides of the the pan, and then cool completely on a rack.

Milk Chocolate Glaze

1 400 ml can of full-fat coconut milk

200 grams dark chocolate*
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch salt

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan on medium, heat the coconut milk until it comes to a simmer.

Pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate and let it sit before five minutes. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt, and whisk until a smooth chocolate sauce forms.

Place the bowl in the freezer for thirty minutes to an hour, or until just warm, and then whisk again. You don't want it to set up completely because then it won't be pourable. If it does set (for example if you leave it in the fridge overnight), you can either use it as a chocolate icing or gently reheat it over a water bath.

To assemble the cake, cut the dome off the top of the chocolate layer, then eat it. Put the chocolate cake onto a pan base or plate (see the tip below) and pour a little less than half the glaze over it, from the centre. It will move outwards on its own. Place the pumpkin cake onto the chocolate layer and pour glaze over to cover the top and drip down the sides. You may have some glaze left over, but I'm sure you can find another use for it. Place physalis* onto the top of the cake, opening the paper layer to make little wings.

Tips:
• In hindsight I suggest have the cake on the base of a springform, on a cooling rack, with a bowl or plate underneath to catch the extra chocolate that drips off the cake when you pour it. You can see the huge chocolate mess I ended up with here from pouring it on after setting everything up.

Notes:
1. You can use raw sugar in place of coconut sugar (I've tried it with something called vollkorn rohrzucker, which is a finer grained, darker coloured raw sugar) and it will work well.
2. I used homemade oat milk (it's so cheap!) but you could use almond or whatever other milk you have on hand. Canned coconut milk won't work but most non-dairy milks you buy in a carton will.
3. You can use canned pumpkin puree, but it's really easy to roast a pumpkin - just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake at 200C cut side down until you can pierce the skin with a fork. I used a hokkaido which is a little dryer than a sugar pie pumpkin.
4. You can use a different light tasting oil, like grape seed, in place of the olive oil. Don't use coconut oil as the cakes will become too dense as they cool.
5. Don't bother with raw cacao since you're baking it anyway - natural cocoa powder is much less expensive and tastes great in cake.
6. Make sure you use bar chocolate, because chocolate chips have additives to keep them from melting too much. Most dark chocolates won't have milk in them, but just look at the ingredients if you're making this for someone who can't have milk products. 

I think that's a record for the number of notes for a recipe! Happy baking!

Pumpkin Chickpea Stew

November 19, 2016

As many of you know, Graham and I packed up and moved to Germany a couple of months ago. For the first two months neither of us had jobs and we were worried about running out of savings quickly, so I've been cooking and baking on a tight budget. Really tight budget. I currently don't have chia, nuts, frozen berries, quinoa, or coconut oil in the house - things I consider staples but that can be on the pricey side. I've been developing recipes based on what I do have, and many of these very simple meals have been surprisingly delicious (and affordable).

I've switched out coconut oil primarily for olive oil. We have had a few jars of coconut oil since moving here, but I've generally stopped using it for baking in favour of olive oil, and saved coconut for higher heat cooking. We've been eating a lot of in-season apples that we picked at my grandmother's instead of berries, and replaced quinoa with brown rice. I did have a little container of chia but haven't replaced it.

If you're looking to eat healthy on a budget, there are a couple of tips that I can't recommend more highly. First, buy dried pulses and cook them on your own. They cost pennies, they're healthier than the canned varieties, and you're reducing waste by doing it. Use spices to brighten otherwise simple meals, like cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables and look in the frozen section for things like spinach and peas. Frozen is just as healthy, almost always cheaper, and you don't need to worry about forgetting it in the fridge and having to throw out food.


Luckily I'm starting at a pottery studio this week and set up a website over the past few days to start selling my work once it's completed. It should be ready to go in about a month, so I'll keep you updated! That being said, we'll still be working with a lower income for the foreseeable future and my recipes will reflect that.

This recipe utilizes seasonal pumpkin, cooked chickpeas, coconut milk, and lots of warm spices to make it a little more interesting. I usually add tomatoes to my stews but left them out the first time I made it because it was a Sunday and the shops were closed. Not adding tomatoes made the stew much cozier and let the spices really shine. I added spinach after my first trial and you could leave it out, but it helps to boost the nutrition content. Served over brown rice it's a filling meal that's perfect for this time of year.

Don't forget to keep your pumpkin seeds! Scoop the seeds and separate them from the flesh, then soak overnight, dry on a board for a few hours, and roast at 150C/300F with a little oil and salt for about forty minutes or until golden and crunchy. They're high in protein and good fats, and they're very satisfyingly crunchy.


Pumpkin Chickpea Stew
Serves four

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb ginger, minced
1 pinky sized piece of fresh turmeric, minced*
1 small pumpkin, chopped into 4 cm chunks (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pod cardamom, crushed*
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 can coconut milk
1 cup frozen spinach (optional)

2 cups cooked brown rice

Heat a large pot over medium heat with a tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and cook for about two minutes, or until it's starting to soften. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and turmeric and cook for another minute or until fragrant.

Place the chopped pumpkin into the pot and let it start to soften, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Add the cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and cayenne pepper and stir to coat everything in the spices. Pour in the vinegar and stir to loosen any spices that stuck to the bottom of the pot, then add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then stir in the chickpeas, coconut milk, salt, and pepper and reduce to a simmer.

Let the stew simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft. Add the spinach and heat through. Taste and see if it needs any more salt, then serve hot with 1/2 cup of brown rice for each bowl.

Tips:
• To cook chickpeas at home, soak them for 24 hours first, covered in water and with a splash of ACV to break down the phytic acid that makes you gassy. Yep.
• Soak the brown rice for the same reasons - I can never seem to get the water ratio quite right after soaking my rice, so I just cover it with water to cook and them drain it once it's done, like pasta.

Notes:
1. If you can't get fresh turmeric, use 1/4 teaspoon powdered instead and add it at the same time as the other spices.
2. I just gently crush my cardamom with a hammer. To substitute powdered cardamom, use slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon.

Winter Vegetable Slaw

November 14, 2016

I can't write a post so soon after the US election and not talk about what happened with my old neighbours to the south. Part of what frightens me most about the outcome of the election is that it wasn't really that surprising. A xenophobic, racist, sexist ass was elected, and he never tried to hide any of those disgusting traits while campaigning. Instead, he ran wild with hate filled rhetoric and the people not only embraced it but became more open about their willingness to hate, too.

I am the child of an immigrant to Canada, and often told coworkers and others when they tried to engage me in a harmful conversation (usually about children in our classrooms) about 'problems' immigrants pose to a country that is made up of almost entirely immigrants. The real issue in the US isn't one of immigration, though. It is pure racism. Immigrants of a different skin colour are not welcome, but white people are still fine. The new president's wife is an immigrant, but that's okay, because she's white. It's horrifying. We can talk about the state of the US education system as being a factor here, but many other nations are engaging in the same type of rhetoric and seeing growth in far-right political parties. Germany is seeing support for neo-nazi parties as the number of refugees swell, and this is a country that remembers very well what happened last time leaders with those kinds of ideas were in power.

America is facing four years of fear and hate. But our daily actions, even those of us who don't live there, can alter the course of what could become a nation that is even more deeply broken than it is now. You can show public support for refugees, immigrants, people of colour, and women. You can support organizations that fight for human rights. You can keep fighting, or start fighting.

One of my all-time favourite musicians, Leonard Cohen, died this week as well. Have a listen to my most loved song by one of the best artists of our time in his honour. I listen to this song every evening as I do blog and recipe related work and it is so poignant and beautiful.

Let's move on to the recipe.



If you're not familiar with slaw, it's often called coleslaw and it's a cabbage based salad. You might have turned your nose up to it as a child if it was served alongside your hot dog at a barbecue or some other outdoor meal (I always hated it) and it's normally some bland cabbage in a weird, sweet, mayonnaise based dressing. It is horrible, but this is not. We're departing from the kind of slaws I've unwillingly eaten with my boyfriend's family or at other western Canadian homes and embracing a crispy, bright salad that features the best of the season.

My version includes apples, carrots, kohlrabi, beets, and purple cabbage. If you're planning on making it ahead of time and especially if you're serving it to guests, you could use golden beets instead of red and choose green cabbage. The deep purple shades bleed into the other ingredients and turn everything pink within a half hour of mixing. This is a very simple salad and the vegetables can be changed depending on personal preference. Like my potato and lentil salad, mayo is left out altogether here and replaced with a lighter, brighter dressing. This time it's apple cider vinegar to complement the apples in the salad, with plenty of mustard for a bit of a kick. We tend to eat mostly cooked vegetables during the colder months and this is a good way to get some raw foods in while staying seasonal.

You have a couple of options for the salad in terms of size - if you're serving this to kiddos with little mouths, try grating the vegetables instead of slicing them. A food processor will speed things up a lot in that case. If you have a very sharp knife you can slice everything thinly by hand if you don't mind things a little chunkier and extra crunchy (my choice) and it will keep very well for up to two weeks in the fridge if you go with larger pieces. Grating, however, will spread the dressing over everything more easily. It's essentially two different salads depending on how you choose to cut up the vegetables, and they're both good.



Winter Vegetable Slaw
Serves six as a side

Salad

3 apples
1 kohlrabi stem, peeled
2 carrots
3 beets
1/2 head purple cabbage

Grate or julienne/slice all of the ingredients and place them in a large bowl. Cut the apples last so they don't brown before you add the dressing (local apples usually brown very quickly).

Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Stir or shake all of the ingredients together until combined and pour over the salad. Mix the salad thoroughly to coat everything in the dressing and serve. It's even better the second day and keeps well in the fridge.

Notes:
1. Of course, the number of each type of vegetable you use is going to depend on their size. You're trying to get about equal amounts of everything, with a little more (about 1.5:1) of cabbage.
2. Try radishes, daikon, parsnips, rutabaga, or celery root as a substitution for any of the root vegetables in the recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Bun Cake

November 07, 2016

I had plans to make apple cinnamon buns. Those plans changed into an apple cinnamon wreath bread, like this one, but we only have one baking sheet right now and it was in use. I put the bread in a springform pan instead because it's my only other oven-safe thing in the kitchen right now (we just moved again) and it morphed from a wreath into a cinnamon bun cake. I'm okay with that. It turned out to be one of the prettiest things I've made, and a cake made out of cinnamon buns is just about the best thing ever. Christmas breakfast, birthday cake, impress your in-laws coffee cake, or just because, this is a double duty breakfast dessert kind of treat.

This is another example of my bread obsession. It is the world's coziest food and I love everything about it. Bread making is the most amazing thing - like all kitchen science (baking) it's so much fun to see it transform from simple ingredients into something nourishing and beautiful, and you're the one who made that happen! You are magical. If it's a little chilly in your part of the world, or not that cold but it won't stop raining, bake up a cinnamon bun cake, grab a blanket, and get snug. This recipe is not crazy sweet, with just a little maple syrup as a sweetener. You're using some ground hazelnut and grated apple for extra sweetness and to keep things from drying out, so less sugar and oil are needed.



If you want cinnamon buns instead, you can roll the bread up according to the instructions, but slice it into buns instead and bake them in a baking pan. Check out the recipe for my pumpkin cinnamon buns if you're looking for another seasonal baking project, or make both! Sneak some vegetables into those treats. If you like the idea of making bread but don't think you're quite ready for kneading/rolling/braiding, try this no-knead easy rye bread - I promise anyone can make it and it's a great introduction to bread making. But remember that you are an amazing kitchen scientist.

By the way, I recently discovered that commenting on posts with an iPhone doesn't work for some reason. I will eventually switch over to wordpress, which should hopefully fix these little glitches, but not quite yet. Unfortunately for the time being if you'd like to leave a comment, it works for every other type of device (as far as I know) just not for iPhones - but as always, if you have a question, suggestion, or just want to say hi, you can email me at alexandra@occasionallyeggs.com. I'd love to hear from you!



Apple Cinnamon Bun Cake
Makes one large cake

Dough 

1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast or 1 square fresh yeast
1 cup oat or nut milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil, room temperature
1 large apple, grated
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup hazelnut meal
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups spelt flour*

In a large bowl, add the warm water and maple syrup. Sprinkle the yeast over top and let it sit for 15 minutes, or until foaming.

Stir in the milk, coconut oil, grated apple, cinnamon, salt, hazelnut meal, and 1 cup of flour until combined. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring between additions, until it becomes too stiff to stir.*

Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and knead, adding a little flour when it gets too sticky. Keep kneading and adding flour until you have a soft, smooth, elastic ball of dough.

Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover it with a clean tea towel. Set the bowl in a warm place (like your oven with the light on) and let it rise until doubled in size, or about an hour.

Once the dough has risen, gently punch it down to deflate it, then turn the dough onto a well floured counter and roll out to about 2 cm thick. Evenly spread the filling, then roll it up (to get the longest possible roll if you have a rectangle). Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then twist the two sides together, keeping the cut side up as much as possible.

Grease a 26 cm / 10 inch springform pan and place the twisted bread, filling side up, around the outer edges of the pan. As it rises it will fill in the hole in the centre of the pan. Let it rise again for about 40 minutes, or until it's almost doubled again.

Bake at 180C / 350F for 40-50 minutes, or until golden. Best served warm but it will keep for two days on the countertop.

Apple Cinnamon Filling

1 large apple, grated
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder

Spread the coconut oil onto the rolled out dough, then sprinkle the apple over top, followed by the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Roll up as outlined above.

Tips:
• The dough will be soft. Take the sides off the springform and place the dough on the base part of the pan, then put the sides back on, instead of trying to lift the dough into the pan.
• If you don't have a springform pan, try baking the dough in a bundt pan, but place the dough filling side down (so that when you flip the pan, it will be facing up).
• If you're worried about the rolled dough sticking to your counter, roll the dough out on parchment paper instead.

Notes:
1. You can use either all light or all whole spelt flour. I like to do a mix of half whole and half light for this recipe, and the amount of flour you add will be a little different depending on the ratio you choose.
2. If you have a bread maker, go up to 2 1/2 cups flour and use your kneading attachment to knead the bread for you. Add flour 1/4 cup at a time, continuing to knead, until you have a soft dough that's no longer sticky. Knead for about five minutes, but try to avoid over kneading, as spelt is a little more sensitive than regular flour.

Mini Raw Bounty Bars

October 23, 2016

Like most kids, I grew up on sickly sweet store-bought chocolate bars and collected tiny versions at halloween. Bounty bars were one of my favourites. I tried one again a while back and couldn't finish because it was so intensely sweet. After trying a few healthier versions of bounty bars online over the past few years and not being pleased with how they turned out, I decided to come up with my own version. Coconut + chocolate = the best and homemade bounty bars need to knock my socks off. I thought about calling them something else (coconut chocolate bars? Honestly I just couldn't think of a catchy name), but I grew up with bounty bars and I'm basing this recipe off the memory of that. The big thing was that I wanted them to taste reminiscent of that childhood treat, minus the toothache, but I also wanted them to work for all of you.

These are filled with pure, natural, good for you ingredients and I promise that the coconut filling won't fall apart on you. I wanted to make a bar that didn't have to be pressed into a sheet pan and then cut into bars, partly because I just have gigantic pans that are the same size as my oven right now, and partly because I hate doing extra dishes. If you have kids they're going to love squishing the coconut mixture into bars, and if you've had a bad week you can use it as therapy.

These chocolate bars aren't like the ones you got in your treat bag as a kiddo. They're made with dark raw chocolate, filled with creamy coconut (in shredded, oil, and butter form), and topped with my fave superfood, bee pollen. I chose raw honey as the sweetener in this recipe because 1. it's super healthy, 2. it's locally and sustainably produced, and 3. it's stickiness helps hold everything together. If you're looking for a vegan option I would suggest a sticky, thicker syrup like brown rice syrup to help keep things from crumbling - see below the recipe for another note on that. 

I made the chocolate with raw honey too, which can be a little tricky without clear directions because honey acts like water and doesn't like to bind with cacao butter. See the photo below for an idea of how it should look once they're properly mixed and you can add the cacao powder without worrying about separation. You'll have to use some elbow grease if you're whisking by hand, but just think of it as a workout (i.e. you're burning more calories which means more bounty bars). 

Raw chocolate is fabulously healthy, and is high in magnesium, antioxidants, and vitamins - it will make you feel and look better if you regularly choose raw over a conventional chocolate bar. If you tend to feel some hormonal shift during certain times of the month, consciously snack on some raw chocolate! It can help with mood swings and make you feel happier in general. I feel a million times better if I have some before the communists take over every month. You can substitute coconut oil for some or all of the cacao butter, but the resulting chocolate will be less rich and melt more easily than it will with 100% cacao butter. 



I originally tried to make these with minimal ingredients, but the coconut butter in particular is vital to keep the filling from crumbling, and helps add to the strong coconut flavour. If you're looking for a budget friendly option you can make your own coconut butter instead of buying it, and I've included instructions on that below. If you want them to be a little more room-temperature friendly, you can switch out the raw chocolate for melted dark chocolate and they won't melt as easily. If you go the raw chocolate route they'll need to be kept in the fridge and just taken out as you eat them. Even with making your own chocolate and the addition of coconut butter in the filling, you're only looking at 5 ingredients for the filling and 5 for the chocolate (including salt and vanilla) so it's not too bad.

I chose to make these bars mini size because I think they're more fun to make/eat that way and also because it's a little easier to do portion control if you're having one small treat instead of a full-sized chocolate bar. Because yes, these are a much healthier option, but of course you can overdo it. That being said, I totally ate four at once when I was in crave mode. The great thing about these is that I didn't feel sick even after eating too many at once. If you're having a halloween or holiday party these make a great little treat for guests, but I like to have them in the house just for us, too. 





Mini Raw Bounty Bars
Makes about 12 small bars


Coconut Filling

200 grams / 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup coconut butter, softened*
1/4 cup raw honey*
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, softened*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Up to 2 tablespoons water, if necessary

Mix all of the ingredients except for the water in a large bowl until thoroughly combined (use your hands). Once everything has been mixed, it should stick together easily. If it's a touch too dry, add a tablespoon of water and mix again. If it's still not sticking you can add one more tablespoon.

Take about two tablespoons of the filling and squeeze it into a rough bar shape. Place the bar onto a board or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all of the filling has been shaped into bars, and then place the board in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before coating in chocolate. Wet your hands slightly after every 3-4 bars to keep it from sticking to your hands too much.

Once the bars have been frozen, coat them in chocolate. Use a fork to turn the bars over so that they're completely covered and then gently tap the fork against the bowl to help remove any excess. If you want to top the bars with extra coconut or bee pollen, do it before the chocolate has time to harden. Place the coated bars on a cooling rack or back onto the parchment covered board and let the chocolate solidify before placing them in a sealed container and storing in the fridge. You can put the bars back in the freezer for a few minutes first to speed the process up.

Raw Chocolate
50 grams cacao butter
3 tablespoons raw honey*
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch salt

In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, gently melt the cacao butter. Once it's melted, remove it from the heat and whisk in the honey until fully incorporated (see above photo) and becomes a smooth golden colour and the consistency of soft butter. If you don't whisk it for long enough you risk separation.

Add the cacao powder, vanilla, and salt and whisk again until combined. Coat the bars before the chocolate hardens - you should have plenty of time if you freeze the bars before you start making the chocolate. If for some reason it becomes too solid to dip the bars into, just gently melt it again over the water. Don't get any water into the mix or the chocolate will seize.

You can also use a bar melted dark chocolate with a teaspoon of coconut oil in place of making your own chocolate if you're looking for a faster option, or one that doesn't melt as easily at room temperature.

Tips:
• To make homemade coconut butter, blend unsweetened coconut (shredded or flaked) in a food processor for 7-10 minutes, or until you have butter. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed. For this recipe, 100 grams of coconut will give you the required amount, but depending on the size of your blender you might want to make a larger batch and keep the extra to eat on toast.
• You can use a small saucepan to make the chocolate, but only as a last resort. You can see that I did not use a double boiler here, but that's only because I didn't have a glass bowl. If you do make it in a pot watch it very carefully as cacao butter burns easily and remove it as soon as it's almost melted, stirring to melt any small pieces of the cacao that remain.

Notes:
1. You may need to soften your coconut oil and butter over low heat so that they can be mixed in, depending on how cold your house is. If your honey is solid you can heat it slightly as well.
2. Honey can be replaced by a sticky sweetener like brown rice syrup if you don't eat honey. I'm not a big fan of agave or coconut blossom nectar because they're both very unsustainable, and maple syrup probably isn't sticky enough to work here.
3. Virgin coconut oil will help to bring out a more pronounced coconut flavour than refined oil will.
4. You can use maple syrup instead of honey for the chocolate recipe, especially if you've never made raw chocolate before as it is a little bit easier to mix with the cacao butter.