Posts Tagged 'cocoa powder'

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes + Chocolate Peppermint Frosting

Hiya blog friends!  Before I get into my latest création délicieuse, I wanted to point out a couple fun blog updates for you all.

1. If you missed my last post, you may not have heard the excitement.  I joined Twitter!  So if you’re interested in what I’m up to between posts or care to get sneak peaks into what my next baking adventure might be, you can now follow me there or keep tabs by checking out the widget along the right side of the blog.

2. You already know that everything I bake is full of whole foods and free of refined flours or sugars.  But I thought I’d take the health factor a step further and label my recipes with specific dietary preferences(V) = vegan; (GF) = gluten-free; (DF) = dairy-free.  So check out my Recipes page if you haven’t been in a while.  Perhaps an oldie but goodie will now catch your eye!

Ok, baking time!

My sister and I had BIG plans for our Christmas dinner desserts this year – an eclectic assortment of seasonal mini cupcakes.  Flavors to please every palate.  All bite-sized to allow for maximum taste bud enjoyment without maximum belly filling.

Well, all did not go according to plan…

We started with five cupcake ideas.  Imagine the spread!  The family would be blown away.  But we then remembered all baking and frosting would have to be done on the same day we were cooking Christmas dinner itself – darn tight travel schedule!  And five quickly narrowed to three.  No worries – three still provided a great variety.  So the ingredients were bought, the holiday arrived, the family opened presents and we got to work.

And two of the three recipes bombed!  One did not rise at all and left us with flat cupcake “discs” as they not so affectionately became known.  The other was a crumbly mess – though we were able to miraculously salvage it by transforming the cupcake scraps into a quite yummy bread – cupcake? – pudding.  Chaos feeds creativity people.

And then there was one…

The sole recipe to survive – or dare I say, thrive! – was for Mini Chocolate Cupcakes + Chocolate Peppermint Frosting.  I found this recipe for chocolate cupcakes and this one for chocolate frosting and basically followed them to a tee.  Just added some vanilla extract to the cupcakes – because I believe no recipe is complete without vanilla – and some peppermint extract to the frosting – because otherwise we wouldn’t have Chocolate Peppermint going on, now would we?

Oh – and these were very fun for me to bake because they contained a new-to-me ingredient – COCONUT FLOUR!  Using coconut flour is not only thrilling for me – it also means the cupcakes are gluten-free!  Whoo!

Here’s the recipe:

Cupcakes:

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated butter substitute (I use Earth Balance)

2 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

2 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk (or almond, rice, etc.)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray mini cupcake pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, oil, agave and vanilla extract until well-combined.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until blended.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 10 minutes.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting by blending together non-hydrogenated butter substitute, unrefined powdered sugar, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, soy milk, cocoa powder and salt with an electric mixer until smooth.  Once cupcakes cool, spread frosting on top.  Makes 16 mini cupcakes.

These cupcakes are SO cute and SO tasty!  I think I have a new addition to the Sweet + Natural favorite recipes list.  The frosting is an absolute dream.  Fluffy but rich.  Chocolately but refreshing.  And I am very excited to have had such success with my first ever coconut flour baking attempt!  That is one ingredient that will definitely be experimented with further in my kitchen.  Yep yep.

Have you ever baked with coconut flour?  Any tips for the newbie?

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse

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Guess what?

My oven broke.

Ha! I think this was its way of getting back at me for my negligence these past couple of weeks. I already knew it was temperamental, but this takes sensitivity to a whole new level. You don’t want to use me? Fine, I’ll stop working. A little passive aggressive, no?

So that’s getting fixed. But in the meantime, I couldn’t leave you all hanging with no new recipe! So today I’m sharing a sweet treat that requires no oven. Now I know this is a “baking” blog, but I personally would rather have a no-baked treat than no treat at all. So let’s roll with it.

Last summer, I came across this recipe for chocolate mousse made from avocados, or – in Jason Mraz The Creator’s words – chocomole. Cute name, right? I was instantly intrigued. It was right after a beach vacation where my friends and I made a GINORMOUS bowl of guacamole and proceeded to devour it quicker than I thought humanly possible that we really enjoyed. My friend, Kristen, Co-Guacamole Maker Extraordinaire, spotted the chocomole recipe the same day and forwarded it to me. It was clearly a must-try. So when I thought about making a no-bake sweet, guess what immediately came to mind?

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The recipe is SUPER easy and all you need is a food processor to make it happen. But! It is pretty vague about how much of each ingredient to use. So I got to Googling and found a billion different versions, including one by the lovely Gena. Most of them seemed to suggest the same taste, adjust, taste, adjust process as Mr. Mraz. So that’s what I did – and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!

You can add some extra sweetness if you’d like – agave nectar or maple syrup would be great and make it nice and smoooooth! – but I just wanted to keep the recipe as simple as possible.  Plus I think it’s really cool that there’s absolutely no added sweetener in this version.  This really is health food my friends.  

Here’s my Chocolate Avocado Mousse:

1 avocado

8 Medjool dates, chopped

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in food processor. Blend, blend, blend – scraping sides when necessary – until smooth. That’s it! Makes 2-3 servings.

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I loooooved this. It was so thick and fudgy. I am amazed at how so few and healthy – and maybe odd? – ingredients can come together to create something so delicious. Will definitley be making this again and again.

Have you ever made a sweet treat from avocado?

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Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting

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So I’m back in NYC after two gloriously relaxing weeks visiting the fam in St. Louis – hooray for holiday break and vacation days to use up!  I could have stayed even longer – ahh, the life of no responsibility – but I do have to say, it feels good to get back to my usual routine.  Not gonna lie though, I’d be happy to go without the return of work tomorrow!  Oh well, c’est la vie, right?

Before I left STL and between holiday festivities, I made sure to squeeze in some more baking time.  You didn’t really think that Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake was the only thing I whipped up while I was there, did you?!  That treat was for the sister.  This one’s for the dad.  And it comes with a back-story…

My dad e-mailed me a few weeks ago with a baking proposition.  One day last month, he was finishing up a working lunch with some colleagues when the dessert tray appeared at their table.  A richly dark, moist-looking cake immediately caught his eye.  Upon his asking, the waitress proclaimed it to be a “chocolate carrot cake.”  Now this was something Dad had never heard of before!  Intrigued and delighted, he ordered it on the spot and greatly looked forward to that first taste.

Much to his disappointment, said waitress later returned to inform him that his forthcoming dessert was actually a spice cake, not the carrot cake of his dreams. Well, poor Dad couldn’t get the thought of a chocolate carrot cake out of his mind, so he asked me (repeatedly) to bake one up when I came home.  And bake one up I did.  This version has cream cheese frosting, because that’s the way Dad likes it.

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My recipe for Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

3 cups grated carrots

3/4 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

Frosting:

12 ounces Neufchatel cheese

3 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together carrots, agave nectar, eggs, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool in pans.

While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting by blending together Neufchatel cheese, unrefined powdered sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth.  Once cakes cool, spread about a third of the frosting over cake #1.  Place cake #2 on top of cake #1.  Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

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Melty chocolate and carrot specks!

This cake was a huge hit around my house! The chocolate chips gave it some extra special chocolate sweetness and the cream cheese frosting was addicting!  I snuck a lot of licks from the bowl before it got to the cake.  You know, for testing purposes.  And though I made it for Dad, I think Mom may have liked it even more.  After a couple bites and some long, contemplative looks, she declared it the “best thing you’ve made yet.”  Don’t worry, I enjoyed some slices myself before she could polish it all off (j/k Mom, j/k).

What have you seen combined with chocolate that was somewhat surprising?

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Chocolate Peppermint Chewies

REMINDER – Don’t forget to send your BSI recipes to me by tomorrow, December 14 @ 7:00 PM EST!

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I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  I LOVE Christmas.  I love the white holiday lights and decorated store windows.  I love Christmas trees with presents piled underneath.  I love family time and the happy and generous feel of the season.  I love Christmas songs and Christmas movies on TV.  I love cozy fires when it’s snowing outside.  Ok…I realize the White Christmas dream doesn’t come true all that often, but it’s how I imagine the holidays to be anyway.  What can I say – I’m an idealist.

If there’s one flavor I love this time of year more than others, it’s peppermint.  To me, peppermint epitomizes the taste of the holidays.  I mean, really, what would Christmas be without candy canes?!  A little less joyful if you ask me. 

To honor peppermint’s reign over Christmastime, I choose it as this week’s BSI.  And I made Chocolate Peppermint Chewies!

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Whole Foods makes some chocolate cookies that I’ve been eyeing for awhile.  They have no flour and no butter or oil – basically just sugar, cocoa and egg whites.  I’ve never actually tasted them, but they always look awesome and I thought they’d be great cookies to add a little peppermint flair to.  I found this recipe with similar ingredients, so I decided to adapt it and give it a go. 

Here’s my naturalized, peppermintized version: 

2 1/4 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cocoa powder

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

3/4 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together unrefined powdered sugar, salt and cocoa powder.  In a separate bowl, mix egg whites, vanilla extract and peppermint extract.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with an electric mixer at low speed for 2 minutes – the batter should be shiny and smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to overnight.  Preheat oven to 350*F and spray cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.  Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto cookie sheet.  Don’t flatten and be sure to leave space between the drops – these cookies spread out in the oven!  (Note: I used cooking spray for my cookie sheets and suspect that made them like Slip ‘n Slides for the dough.  I’m thinking using parchment paper instead would prevent major spreadage.)  Bake for 9-10 minutes until tops are glossy and crackly.  Let stand for 3 minutes and remove to cool.  Makes 16 cookies.

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Check out those glossy crackles.

I’ll be honest here, I was a little skeptical of these guys when they came out of the oven – they looked all crunchy and stuff!  But my doubt quickly disappeared after a taste test – they weren’t crunchy in the slightest!  The edges are crispy, but still soft, and the middle is fudgy like a brownie!  And the peppermint flavor was a perfect match for the chocolate goodness.  It left my mouth feeling quite refreshed.

What’s your favorite peppermint treat for the holidays?

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Cinnamon Walnut Brownies

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There’s something I think I should state up front.  If I’m going to be blogging about baking and sweets and deliciousness, it’s best to just get it out in the open now.

I love chocolate.

I mean, I. LOVE. chocolate.  I’m notorious for it.  So much so that when planning my birthday dinner last year, my boyfriend immediately rejected a restaurant if it didn’t list a chocolate dessert on the menu.  So much so that my mom once bought me a page-a-day calendar featuring photos of chocolate, facts about chocolate, quotes about chocolate.  So much so that I kept every one of those calendar pages I tore off.  Hey, you never know when I might need to remember that the largest slab of fudge was made in Canada and weighed 5050 pounds.  Or when I might want to make a giant collage o’ chocolate photos.  They could come in handy.

It is only fitting then that my first blog baked good be made of chocolate.  And what chocolate treat is better than a brownie!  If you couldn’t guess from the image in my header, brownies and I have a secret love affair.  Mmmmm.  And so I bring to you, Cinnamon Walnut Brownies.

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I used this as my inspiration but made a number of adjustments based on what I had on hand and where I wanted to take the recipe.  Namely, adding cinnamon to the mix and thus giving the brownies their namesake.  Here’s how mine ended up:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup agave nectar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In one bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together agave nectar, oil and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in walnuts.  Spread into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Believe it or not, this was my first attempt at healthifying – it’s in the a dictionary – a brownie recipe.  Brownies are sacred in my book – I like them dense and fudgy and insanely rich and don’t even try to give me anything less and say it’s a brownie.  So I guess I was a bit intimidated at the prospect of replicating that perfection with more wholesome ingredients.  My Cinnamon Walnut Brownies aren’t quite there yet, but they definitely have potential.  Next time around, I’ll try baking them for 15 minutes or maybe lowering the oven temperature to 325*F to make them as gooey as brownie-ly – ok, that one’s not in the dictionary – possible.  And I’ll for sure double the cinnamon and halve the vanilla to up the spice factor and let the cinnamon shine.  That flavor was a bit too subtle for what I was going for.

There you have it!  My first Sweet + Natural treat.  Do you have a favorite healthy brownie recipe? If so, do share!  But don’t forget my criteria…

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