Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vegan Orange Blossom Layer Cake

Last Sunday was amazing.  By amazing, I don't mean I did anything out of the ordinary like traveling to a warm place away from Minnesota and having a crazy weekend.  I mean amazing in the sense that I enjoyed all of the little normal things I did and was grateful to be able to enjoy them.  We are having a particularly warm weather stretch this last 2 weeks, and it was total ice and snow melt down.  35F degrees in January is freaking awesome!  I was excited to go running not all bundled up with clear paths in the sunshine!  Just being out made me happy.  Then later that day, enjoying more fresh air on a walk with Eric and seeing the most beautiful raspberry smoothie colored sunset! Yes, that is how I describe my favorite sunsets here.

Not only did I get out and enjoy the great outdoors, I made this fabulous vegan layer cake as well.  Involving oranges as the main component...which are amazing this time of the year.  But not only that, I made a frosting with cacao butter in it that tasted like white chocolate!  Normally I do not have cacao butter in my pantry, but I decided to splurge a little and use it sparingly.

 This cake smelled amazing while it was baking, the aromas of orange and vanilla filled my home.  If a smell can bring you joy, this one definitely does. The cake itself even un-frosted tasted wonderful. How do I know this?  Yes I ate all the trimmings because that is one of the best parts of being a baker.  Once the frosting was added I knew it would be even more heavenly.  Not only did I add that white chocolate component to the frosting, I added a touch of orange flower water as well to make the cake even more aromatic.  This cake tasted like happiness. It was a wonderful contribution to my amazing day.  See what I mean?  I did nothing out of the ordinary and it all made me happy.  That is how life should be.  Enjoy the little things.

Vegan Orange Blossom Layer Cake
Makes 1 6 inch 4 layer cake
2 6 inch cake pans

1 3/4 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquid
2 Tbsp organic orange zest
1 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cider vinegar

4 cups young coconut meat*

2 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours and drained well 
3/4 cup coconut water
3/4 raw coconut nectar, maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2  tsp sea salt

seeds of one vanilla bean, or 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange flower water
1/2 cup coconut butter, warmed to liquid

1/4 cup raw cacao butter, warmed to liquid

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Line two six-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with parchment paper. Coat parchment paper and pan sides lightly with coconut oil so that the cake doesn't stick and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment fit to the pan.
Whisk flour, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well.
Whisk oil , zest, orange juice, vanilla extract together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended.
Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
Cool cake completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. Cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto platter; peel off parchment paper. Let cool completely, then place in the fridge to chill until very cold to make slicing easier. When chilled, slice cakes horizontally in half so that you have 4 layers.
Meanwhile, to make the frosting, combine all ingredients but the coconut butter and cacao butter in a high speed blender or food processor and process until smooth.  With the motor running, add the coconut butter and cacao butter and process a minute more.  Pour the frosting into a bowl and let sit in the fridge until the consistency of whipped cream. 
When ready to frost, place one cake layer on a plate. spread frosting about 1/2 inch thick over the first layer, then top with the second.  Repeat the frosting, then another cake layer, then more frosting then the last cake layer. Spread frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake.  Store cake in the fridge.
*If you do not have access to young coconut meat, you can use 4 cups soaked cashews instead along with the other cashews.
**if you would like a 4 layer 9 inch cake, double this entire recipe and bake in two 9 inch cake pans.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Raw Oatmeal Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I am one of those people who prefers cookie dough to baked cookies.  It is a textural thing.  For some reason that soft texture appeals to me more than drier baked cookies.  So, it would not be unusual for me to say...whip up a batch of cookie dough just for the sole purpose of eating it as is.  Vegan cookie dough of course.  After watching one of my co workers in the deli make many batches of cookie dough one day last week at work, and my other co workers sampling it, I decided that I needed some of my own when I got home.  Raw oatmeal chocolate chunk cookie dough.  

I love cookie dough of all kinds, and this was wonderful.  I decided that what would be even better would be to make a batch of raw ice cream and stir some of the cookie dough chunks into it.  I have always enjoyed cookie dough ice cream, but have never had oatmeal cookie dough chunk, so it was about time.  Simply heavenly it was...and I would say 32F degrees is plenty warm for ice cream, after all, that is considered a winter thaw here in Minnesota!  Cookie dough aficionados this recipe is for you!

Raw Oatmeal Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Makes about 6 cups

3/4 cup raw rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp chopped sweet apple
2 Tbsp raw walnut butter or almond butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
additional 1/2 cup raw rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped raw dark chocolate

Ice Cream:
4 cups young coconut meat*
1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup date paste
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp raw walnut butter (optional for silkier ice cream)
1/4 cup raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid

For the cookie dough chunks, in a food processor, combine 3/4 cup oats, coconut, flax seed, dates, sea salt, and cinnamon and process until finely ground.  

Add the apple, walnut butter, vanilla and process until smooth and starting to hold together. Add the remaining oats and pulse briefly.  
Remove from the food processor and knead in chocolate chunks (being careful not to handle them too much because they will start to melt).  
Roll into little balls and place in the freezer while you make the ice cream.
For the ice cream, add coconut water to a high speed blender or food processor, along with young coconut, nectar, vanilla, cinnamon, walnut butter, and sea salt. Process until smooth, then with the processor running, add the coconut butter slowly and process until well incorporated, about a minute. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to directions. Remove from ice cream maker, and stir in  raw cookie dough chunks.  Pour into a freezer safe container.  
Let sit in the freezer for at least four hours or overnight to firm up to scoopable consistency. 

*If young coconut meat is unavailable, you can either substitute 4 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours, and drained or 32 oz (4 cups) full fat coconut milk (if you do not mind the recipe not being raw).  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Raw Kitchen Sink Rice

Whenever I hear "kitchen sink" in the description of anything I think to myself it must be good.  Because it means there are lots of goodies mixed in.  Think about it.  Kitchen sink cookies: an excuse to include chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, dried fruit, and whatever else tasty that you feel like throwing in. Deliciousness.  At least that is how I feel, especially if it is a dessert, but savories can be awesome in this way as well.  I made a raw rice dish last week that I deemed "kitchen sink" simply because it had seemingly random ingredients in it but it was sooo good! Like eat a large plate good.  I combined things that I had in my pantry and this is what resulted.  Just so you know, you don't always have to carefully shop with an ingredient list to eat healthy tasty food, sometimes it just happens.  I used a celeriac for my rice (my favorite raw grain substitute), added in mushrooms, carrots, broccoli stalks (yes the stalks, because that is what I had), jalapeno, herbs, tomatoes and hemp seeds.  It may seem like a weird combo but it was delicious, and that is the nature of kitchen sink!

Raw Kitchen Sink Rice
Serves 1-2

1 head celeriac (3 cups diced)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp hemp seed oil or olive oil
sea salt to taste
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 stalk celery, diced
2 scallions, sliced
1 large carrot, cut julienne
1 broccoli stalk, cut julienne
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds

Pulse the celeriac in a food processor until you have small pieces like rice.  Combine with all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well.  Serve at room temperature. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Kumquat Orange Cupcakes

 Kumquats are like nature's candy.  I say that about a lot of fruits, but seriously there is nothing like the tart sweet burst of flavor that explodes into your mouth when you bite into one.  They are the perfect little package of deliciousness.  I admit I get quite excited when I see the first organic kumquats of the season at the store. They might be a bit spendy but so worth the splurge because they are so tasty.  I bought myself a bag last week after my first sighting of them, and I decided that they deserved to be used in a delicious dessert (at least the ones that were left after snacking).

Cupcakes were my dessert of choice!  I thought I could combine them with a bit of orange and create a citrusy masterpiece.  I actually pureed the kumquats into the cake batter so that all of there flavor was throughout the cake.  It tasted amazing.  I did something a little different also and added olive oil instead of the usual coconut or almond oils I use because I love it with citrus in baked cakes and it created the most wonderful soft moist texture.  These were simply heavenly. I shared them with my Mother who I am sure I inherited my love of citrus from and she thought they were wonderful.  If you need a little sunshine in your wintery day, these should be your next project.

Vegan Kumquat Orange Cupcakes (gluten free)
Makes 8

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup organic kumquats
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups thick coconut milk (from the top of a chilled can, about two 15 oz cans worth)
1 cup coconut butter (not oil) warmed to liquid
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup organic kumquats
a pinch sea salt
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Line two 12 hole mini muffin pans with foil liners. Whisk flour, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Combine oil, juice, kumquats and vanilla extract, together in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in vinegar and stir quickly. Transfer cake batter to prepared tins, filling 2/3 full and bake 10 minutes until tester inserted into center of one comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely
To make frosting, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Place in a bowl and allow to chill in the freezer until the frosting becomes thicker, whisking about every 15 minutes (it should take about 45 minutes to an hour).  Using a pastry bag and large tip, pipe the frosting into swirls on top of each cupcake.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Raw Tangerine Coconut Granola

I am a naturally introverted somewhat shy person.  I appreciate my time quiet time spent alone, big crowds drain me and I would much rather spend time with one person I enjoy or go for a run by myself than go to a party. So it is funny to me that I feel so comfortable sharing my personal thoughts, memories and experiences with you all through my blog, but it works.  I love sharing with all of you, and maybe it is my way of being a little more sociable than the introverted person I am.  So if you ever meet me in person and I seem shy, now you know why.  One of my favorite things is being able to relax at home on my days off and enjoy a little something special for breakfast after my run.  It seems that during the week I am always rushing and not able to enjoy the luxury of tasting my food since I am in a rush to get to work.  So on the weekends I have something I can really enjoy.  Like granola.  It takes a bit of time to chew so it seems more like a sit down and enjoy it kind of a food more than a grab and go with you item like a smoothie.  That said, I love to top off a smoothie bowl with some raw granola on the weekend. 

Last weekend I made this granola that created the most heavenly aroma as it dried in the dehydrator.  Raw Tangerine Coconut Granola.  I figured oranges usually get all of the attention, and tangerines are so sweet and tasty they deserve some use in a recipe this time. I combined them with coconut, almonds, pumpkin and seeds in a buckwheat base and it was all together wonderful!  This would make the best smoothie topper, especially for one involving matcha and I am hungry and I might have to try that since I have a little time to myself to relax.

Raw Tangerine Coconut Granola
Makes about 8 cups

2 cups raw buckwheat

1 1/2 cups dried large coconut flakes
1 cups raw pumpkin seeds, soaked for 6 hours and drained
1 cups raw almonds, soaked for 6 hours and drained
1/3 cup raw coconut nectar, agave nectar or raw honey (or more if you prefer sweeter)
1/4 cup raw coconut butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic tangerine juice
2 Tbsp tangerine zest

2 tangerines, thinly sliced, and slices halved

Soak buckwheat for 30 minutes, rinse very well (as it has a slimy coating that needs to be removed) and drain. Place in a large jar and set in a well lit area (natural light, but not in direct sunlight). Let sit for a couple days, or until little sprouts begin to emerge from the buckwheat, rinsing 2 times a day. Once sprouted, drain well, and place in a large bowl, along with the coconut, and nuts. In a food processor, combine the coconut nectar (or honey),coconut butter, sea salt, vanilla, tangerine juice and zest. Process until smooth and pour the mixture over the granola, add the tangerine slices and mix well with your hands. Spread out on 2 lined dehydrator, and dry for about 12 hours or until crispy. Can be stored in an airtight container for a few weeks at room temperature.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Raw Dark Chocolate Lemon Chia Truffles

There are no excuses as to why you should not take care of yourself.  So try and show yourself some love this year in 2015!  Now this could mean a number of things to different people.  To me, it means I try to be as kind to myself as possible.  I get enough sleep, try to eat things that make my body feel good, tell myself positive things, and get out and exercise.  I also listen to my body and when I need a little extra TLC, I do not neglect it.  
Now, I know many people are starting to fall off of the resolution wagon right about now, but that is ok.  You can make changes in your life to improve it any time of the year, not just January 1st.  Show yourself some love!  It shouldn't be about wanting to look perfect (because God knows we are always going to have something about ourselves we do not like no matter how fit we are), it should be about trying to be the healthiest version of yourself.  
So, love yourself, be thankful for the things about yourself you are proud of and try to take care of yourself the best you can.  If you fall off the wagon, don't guilt yourself. You can get back on again. Whether you are trying to eat healthier this year, trying to get in shape, or trying to be happier, you can do it, I have faith in you.  

If you are trying to eat healthier, or maybe incorporate more raw or plant based foods into your diet, that does not mean eliminating all things pleasurable.  On the contrary, you can enjoy foods you love!  Even chocolate.  Especially when it comes in the form of these Dark Chocolate Lemon Chia Truffles.  They are packed full of goodness with raw almonds, cacao and chia seeds with the tartness and aroma of lemon which is simply heavenly with the dark chocolate.  These are gooey and delicious but I find that one or two is just the right amount to satisfy. What makes them even better, is the fact that they are easy to make and non fussy.

Raw Dark Chocolate Lemon Chia Truffles 
Makes 20

2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 cup soft medjool dates, pitted
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid
1/4 cup raw cacao powder

First, In a food processor, combine the almonds, chia seeds and dates and process until very finely chopped.
Next, add the lemon zest, juice, coconut butter, cacao powder, and process until well blended.
Lastly, roll into balls, then roll in raw cacao powder.  Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Raw Citrus Lavender Cheesecake

Since I have been eating apples and pears for months now, I have to say I am pretty stoked about the emergence of more citrus at the store.  Of course they have had grapefruits and oranges for a while, but not the variety available now, and they all taste so much better now that they are in season.  I have been loading up my cart lately with citrus of all kinds.  Grapefruits, lemons, oranges, tangerines, kumquats, limes...little bursts of sunshine in my wintery Minnesota world really.  

I wanted to make a raw cheesecake last weekend with some sort of citrus because I am on this huge citrus kick.  But the problem was, I could not decide which citrus to choose as the star of the show.  They are all so good in desserts.  My solution: multiple citrus cheesecake.  Four different kinds in fact made it into this cake. As if that wasn't enough I decided to invite lavender to the party as well because I love the aroma of lavender and especially with a bit of citrus.  It is a heavenly combination.

 I kept it nice and simple with this cake, just blend, pour, set and serve.  No swirls or much assembly needed which is nice sometimes.  I did however feel the need to go crazy with citrus peels and slices in a garnish.  I told Eric I felt like I was creating some piece of artwork back in college again.  But hey, food is art and it deserves attention too!  This cheesecake turned out delicious!  Creamy, tart and sweet with a hint of lavender, just how I had pictured it.

Raw Citrus Lavender Cheesecake
Makes one 6 inch cake

2/3 cup raw sprouted buckwheat groats (or additional coconut)
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup dried finely shredded coconut
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
10-12 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped (if they are not soft, soak them in water until they are and drain them well)

4 cups young coconut meat*
1 Tbsp organic grapefruit zest
3 Tbsp grapefruit juice
zest of one organic lemon 
3 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of one organic orange
3 Tbsp orange juice
2/3 cup raw coconut nectar, raw agave nectar or raw honey
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean
a few drops DoTerra lavender oil (or other food grade oil) optional
1/2 cup organic kumquats
3/4 cup raw coconut butter (warmed to liquid)
2 Tbsp dried lavender flowers

Citrus zest strips and slices, dried lavender flowers (for decorating the cake)

Lightly coat a 6 inch spring form removable bottom pan with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process flax, coconut, buckwheat and sea salt in a food processor until fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers (if not holding together, add more dates). Firmly press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set aside.
To make the filling, in a high speed blender or food processor, combine coconut meat, juices and zests, coconut nectar, sea salt, vanilla, lavender oil and kumquats in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. With the processor running, add the coconut butter and process for a minute until blended.  Stir in the dried lavender flowers.
Pour the filling into the pan over the crust, place in the freezer for about 4 hours to firm up. Garnish the top of the cake with citrus zest, slices and pomegranate seeds. Store in the fridge.

*If you do not have access to young coconut meat, you can substitute 4 cups raw cashews soaked for 4 hours and drained.