It’s January. It’s bloody freezing. I’ve hit a new level of pale, the Christmas tree has gone to festive heaven and everyone appears to be chasing a dry January (with varying levels of success) or hitting the gym. With these bleak facts in mind, I’m not going to share a protein-5cal-superfood recipe (that would be off brand anyway); instead, here’s a delicious way to use up any old dried fruit and nuts you have lying around after Christmas. It’s not an energy ball but it’s not the worst thing you could be eating. Enjoy!
- 200g 70% dark chocolate
- 50g coconut oil
- 100g tahini
- 1tbsp maple syrup
- generous pinch sea salt
- zest 1 orange
- 150g mixed nuts (I used pistachios, almonds and pecans), roughly chopped
- 120g dried figs, roughly chopped (I love figs with orange and tahini, but you could use any dried fruit)
- 2tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- Place the chocolate, coconut oil, tahini, maple syrup, seas salt and orange zest in a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and melt gently, stirring occasionally.
- Once the contents of the bowl have melted, mix briefly to form a smooth, glossy liquid. Set aside to cool a little.
- Once the chocolate mix has cooled, stir through the mixed nuts, dried figs and most of the sesame seeds. Tip into a lined tin/mould (mine was roughly 20x12cm) and level out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds, then leave in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
- Once set, slice up and serve (keep refrigerated).
I’ve tried a lot of vegan brownies which are dry, crumbly or ‘raw’. Sure, there’s a time and a place for healthy alternatives and we can’t just slob around eating sugar-laden baked goods all day, but if I want a brownie and I’m vegan (I’m not I’m just being really selfless…) I want the real thing, not a load of dates and coconut oil. With this not-very-2018 thought in mind, I’ve been attempting to put together a recipe for a completely vegan and gluten free brownie which rivals a conventional dairy/egg based one. The recipe I’ve devised delivers a fudgy core and crisp top, rich flavour and all round delicious result- give it a try, it’s a good place to start with vegan baking.
Ingredients (makes 16 small brownies, or 9 big ones!)
- 125g smooth peanut butter, plus 50g more for the core and topping
- 75ml vegetable oil
- 275g dark chocolate (I used half 60% and half 80%), plus 75g roughly chopped for chocolate chips
- large pinch salt
- 100ml aquafaba (the starchy water you get in a can of chickpeas- you will get about 100ml from one can)
- 1tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 1tbsp water (this replicates an egg yolk very well!)
- 100g dark brown soft sugar
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 100g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves Farm)
- few chopped peanuts, for topping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 20x20cm square brownie tin.
- Mix together the flaxseed and water at this stage to give it time to thicken an form an egg-yolk consistency. Put the oil, peanut butter and 275g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Allow the ingredients to melt together, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat to cool to room temperature.
- Place the aquafaba in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until soft peaks just form. At this stage add in the flax mixture, sugars and salt (it’s amazing how much this looks like eggs whisked together with sugar!). Whisk again until the sugars are well incorporated then fold in the cooled chocolate mixture with a metal spoon, followed by the flour. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared tin then dot over half of the extra peanut butter and some of the chopped chocolate. Top with the remaining batter and repeat the peanut butter/chocolate stage, then finish with the peanuts (if using).
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until crisp on top but very slightly wobbly in the middle. Leave to cool completely then slice up and serve.