Energy balls are all the rage now. Look in any self-respecting modern “healthy” cookbook and you’ll find at least one recipe for them. There’s a good reason for this. They are easy to make and utterly delicious. I’ve made quite a few over the last few years and these goji berry bliss balls are the latest.
Dates are something I have a long association with, not just at Christmas. I grew up on date and banana sandwiches and I scoffed a fair few fresh ones during my various stays in Egypt. Fresh dates are something else all together, but as these are very hard to come by in the UK, Medjool dates are the next best thing and are in fact known as the “Fruit of Kings”. If you haven’t tried these before, they are big, plump, soft, fleshy and very sweet with a rich honeyed caramel flavour and make an excellent sweet treat all on their own. I was sent a beautiful gold box of twenty Medjool dates to try before Christmas. Apart from eating some of them just as they were, I had plans to stuff them with homemade marzipan and dip them in chocolate. Sadly, time ran out as time does and these plans didn’t materialise. Post Christmas, I’m keen to have something healthier, but I still want to make use of them as an ingredient.
Rather late in the day I know, but I loved the wrapper of this so much, it took me a while to get around to eating it. It was actually a Christmas present, but it wasn’t until the end of February that I decided to savour the contents. It’s a shame I didn’t write up about it at the time as recollections are already starting to dim.
There were a few simple ingredients, all raw: Cocoa Nibs (14.2%), Chilli (1.3%), Coconut butter, Agave nectar, Golden raisins, Lucuma powder, Carob flour, Ground almonds. The wrapper proudly states, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free and Guilt Free – who could resist?
This was very different in texture to any other raw chocolate bars I’ve tried, which is probably why they’ve called it a pie. There was a nice crunch of cocoa nibs and I could taste the carob – it was quite delicious. Like all delicious things, it was over far too soon. A word of warning, however: you need to be a chilli lover to enjoy this particular bar, oops pie, as it’s very hot. As a chilli lover, I did.
Handmade in St Ives, Cornwall by Living Food, this bar and other flavours actually are available at our very own Taste Cornwall in Liskeard.
I’ve been meaning to have a go at making some raw chocolate for a long time, but for one reason or another haven’t actually got around to it – until recently! The raw chocolate products I have bought are really delicious, although quite unlike chocolate as we know it. Raw chocolate is meant to be actively healthy. The ingredients have minimum processing and the cocoa itself has not been heat treated which is the case with most of the cocoa powders we are familiar with. There is also no sugar involved. The downside is that the ingredients are all quite expensive, especially if using organic ones as I have done. Although some time ago I’d cut a recipe out from the Natural Store magazine, this was a bit of an experiment and I wanted to try some different flavours; these ended up as being plain, rose, lucuma and cinnamon.
This is what I did:
Melted 100g chopped raw cocoa butter in a bowl over hot water
Added 1 tbsp coconut oil.
When melted, mixed in 4 tbsp raw cocoa powder and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt.
Beat in 3 tbsp raw agave syrup (this is where I may have gone wrong as the recipe I was meant to be following suggested if not blended really well the agave syrup would sink – hey ho, guess what happened!).
Spooned 1/4 of mixture into some shell shaped moulds.
Added 1 tsp of whizzed up dried rose petals to another 1/4 and spooned that into rose shaped moulds.
Added 1 tbsp lucuma powder to the remaining mixture and spooned 1/4 into a mini silicone loaf tin.
Added a drop or cinnamon essential oil to the last remaining 1/4 and poured that into a mini silicone loaf tin.
Put them all into the fridge to set for a couple of hours.
This chocolate smelt wonderful as I was making it and I had high hopes. Oh well, it was my first attempt! The mixture containing the lucuma powder wasn’t too bad and had only separated slightly but the shapes had separated out and the agave syrup ran all over the place when I turned them out. The rose flavour didn’t come through at all and the bits of rose petal didn’t add to the general enjoyment. Luckily, the taste was good, quite similar to the products I’ve bought and enjoyed. The texture certainly needs working on, but I think it is worth having another go. I will need to find a better way of creating a rose flavoured chocolate, but the cinnamon flavour worked well. They were very simple to make and although expensive are a lot cheaper than the ready made bars.
I’ve been rather busy over the past few days making bread and trying to get to grips with sourdough, so chocolate recipes have been on hold. But as I’m back to work on Monday, thought I’d better rectify this while I’ve still got a chance.
I’ve had a packet of lucuma powder lurking in my cupboard for some time now which I bought when I was last in Totnes – time to try it out! For those who are unfamiliar with lucuma (and I include myself in this catagory), it is an Andean “superfood” made from the fruit of the lucuma tree. It is meant to be particularly rich in beta-carotene, niacin and iron. It is quite sweet and is used extensively in raw products as a sugar and flour substitute. It also makes the best ice cream ever – apparently! Dipping my finger into the powder, it tastes remarkably like Hunza apricots – quite delicious. As I really want to see if the flavour comes out in a cake, I have decided to make a simple chocolate cake with no other flavourings.
This is the recipe I came up with:
Melt 6 oz butter in a pan with 5 oz Rapadura (or brown sugar of choice) and mix thoroughly.
Sieve 4oz flour (3 oz wholemeal spelt & 1 oz buckwheat) into a bowl together with 1 tsp baking powder, 1.5 oz cocoa, 2 oz lucuma and a large pinch of salt (Himalyan pink).
Make a well in the centre and pour butter mixture in. Mix this together with 3 eggs (still no duck eggs to be found).
Mix in 1 large tbsp yogurt.
Spoon mixture into a 21 cm round cake thingie and bake for 30 mins at 180C (gas 4).
Unfortunately 30 minutes was just a few minutes too long in my oven and I managed to burn the top slightly. The texture was light if a little too dry for me. The flavour was subtle, but the fruitiness did come through. My guess is, you’d need to double the amount of lucuma to really get the flavour and maybe only put in 1 oz cocoa. I’d though about adding some yogurt to the mix, but decided I didn’t want to mask the lucuma too much. In retrospect, I think this would have been a good addition producing a slight sharpness and a moister sponge. However, CT and I consoled ourselves with the thought that this cake had to be doing us good! There was an additional bonus – the whole house smells wonderful.
Hello, I’m Choclette. I’m a vegetarian recipe developer and writer from Cornwall. I have a sweet tooth and a passion for baking and chocolate. Welcome to my award winning blog. Here you will find nourishing home cooked food with a twist as well as wholesome foodie tales.
Finishing off a three course extravaganza with this vegan chocolate tart yesterday. The dedicated vegan menu looked so good, all four of us opted for it, though only two were actual vegans. Food very satisfying as was the wine. So pleased to have found such a good eating place in our new home town.
Calling all chocolate lovers. Find out why there’s so much more to chocolate than an overly sweet confection. Savour the flavour and explore the many different taste profiles from around the world. Don’t miss a live on Facebook chocolate tasting with the one and only Willie Harcourt-Cooze. 6.30pm on 14 March. Head to @williescacao on FB to find out more and sign up for the event. (Ad).