27 oct. 2016

Spiced Cashew Butter

This two weeks without posting new recipes have been quite tough, I've felt overwhelmed by the amount of pending tasks on my to-do list...plus I had to finish a couple of my monthly recipes that I write for a spanish organic food brand, and that was my priority. Sometimes when I feel stressed my inspiration tends to vanish for a few days and, even though I do have an endless list of ideas, one of my latest kitchen experiments didn't come out as good as I expected. So yeah, I've become a little grumpy baker these days but hey, it's all good now!
I've decided to keep things simple this week and bring you an easy but amazingly delicious recipe...with an autumnish touch! This super spiced cashew butter is right now one of my new obsessions: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and of course I couldn't skip the vanilla; because vanilla (like chocolate) makes life better. Maybe I could have titled this recipe 'pumpkin spice cashew butter' but technically the combination of spices is not exactly the traditional one because I added pure vanilla powder and nutmeg and cloves are missing in this version of mine.
Yesterday was so gloomy and humid outside it looked like Silent Hill, so I prepared a warm cup of chai latte and a toast of kamut bread generously spread with my cashew butter, topped with cacao nibs and shredded coconut. Needless to say I didn't mind about that shitty weather anymore.

Receta en español aquí!

Spiced Cashew Butter

2 cups raw, unsalted cashews.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla powder.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom.
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground allspice.
1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt.
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, solid.
2 tablespoons coconut syrup, at room temperature.

Lightly coat a frying pan with coconut oil and roast the cashews until the look golden brown and release a toasty scent. Let them cool a bit to prevent the bowl of your food processor from overheating.
Place the cashews, spices and salt in the bowl of your food processor and process until the cashews have crumbled and the mixture looks like a grainy powder. You will have to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times but trust me, it will look like a soft butter in the end.

Halfway through the process add in the coconut oil, and keep processing until a ball forms. Again, stop your processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl; remember that is good to give the food processor a rest (unless you have a big super powerful one).
Continue to process, the ball will break up into a paste and a few more minutes later it will start to look smooth and almost ready yet still a bit thick.

Finally add in the coconut syrup, the butter will clump up again and you'll think this is never going to look like smooth butter anymore but don't panic, keep processing and it will soon break down again.
Process for a few extra minutes and the cashew butter will magically look glossy and glorious!
Transfer the batter to a clean jar, cover and keep refrigerated.
The butter will firm up after setting in the fridge but if you leave it at room temperature for 5 minutes approximately right before serving it'll soften again.

- It is crucial to use a good food processor. I love mine, it's a Magimix Compact 3200 XL...and nope, no one provided me with a food processor, I saved the money and bought it last year as a self-gift. This is not an ad, it's just my honest recomendation.
- Both the coconut oil and coconut syrup should be at room temperature, this way the butter won't clump excessively.

12 oct. 2016

Brownie-Crusted Pumpkin Blondies

The title of this post is quite convicing, isn't it? Actually anything that starts with the word 'brownie' quickly catches my attention: brownie ice cream, brownie cheesecake, brownie cookies...and simply brownies!
Halloween is right around the corner guys and this year I didn't want to wait any longer to publish my special recipe, so you have enough time to try this recipe two times. Not because you will need a second batch to make sure wether you like them or not, but because these are so damn delicious, rich, dense, luscious and mega chocolaty that they'll be devoured in one sitting.
I wanted to make something autumnish but with a good dose of chocolate cause that's how I roll (really, you know how big of a chocoholic I am), so pumpkin was a must but you can always take it to the next level. That's when my favorite recipes collide in one, I felt like a witch combining ingredients to make my perfect secret potion. Though this doesn't contain bat wings, spider legs or graveyard dust; it's all about a good combination of spices, pumpkin and dark chocolate.
I hope you enjoy making (and eating) these as much as I did!

Brownie-Crusted Pumpkin Blondies
(Yield: 12 blondies)

- For the brownie base:
85 g (3 ounces) dark chocolate, 70-72% cacao.
2 tablespoons semisolid coconut oil.
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar.
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour.
3 tablespoons pure cocoa powder.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
Pinch of salt.

- For the blondies:
3/4 cup baked, mashed butternut squash.
1/3 cup mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil.
2/3 cup organic light brown sugar.
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour.
1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
1/4 teaspoon salt.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts.

- Chocolate Ganache:
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.
115 g (4 ounces approx.) dark chocolate.
2 tablespoons coconut syrup (or maple syrup).

- Dark Chocolate Ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl. In a small saucepan heat the almond milk and once it begins to boil remove from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Add in the coconut syrup and mix with a spatula until the chocolate is melted and the ganache looks glossy and smooth.
Set aside at room temperature and allow the ganache to cool and thicken.
- Brownie base:
Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (350 ºF). Lightly grease a square brownie pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and stir in the coconut oil (it's important to measure the coconut oil while it's still solid or semi-solid). 
Add in the sugar, almond milk and vanilla extract. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a rubber spatula until smooth and spread into the prepared pan, make sure the top is even. Set aside.
- Pumpkin blondies:
In a large bowl, mix together the mashed pumpkin, oil, sugar, almond milk, and vanilla until smooth.
Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Mix just until combined and stir in the chopped pecans. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
Pour the mixture on top of the brownie layer and smooth the top with a spatula (or by gently tapping with the palm of your hands). Bake for 30 minutes. 
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the blondies cool almost completely in the pan. Then slice into 12 squares. To get perfectly cut portions it is very important that you let the blondies (also applicable to brownies) cool completely and, even better, let them rest overnight.
- Topping the blondies:
Use a small offset spatula to glaze the blondies with the chocolate ganache, making sure they are completely cold.

- Store the leftover ganache inside an airtight container in the fridge. You can also let the ganache set overnight, refrigerated, and use it with a piping bag and your favorite tip.
- All the ingredients I used were organic, though I specially recommend you to use organic light brown sugar. The conventional brown sugar usually has too much added molasses.
- Some whole grain flours, specially organic brands, have a lot of bran so I always sift them to make them a bit more fine. Very important: sift the flour in a separate flour, then start measuring. 
If you buy whole wheat pastry (pastry!) flour you won't have problems, these are still wholesome but with a lower protein content and less earthy flavour.

5 oct. 2016

Pecan Ginger Cookies

It's been a while since cookies made an appareance here on the blog, actually my last cookie recipe was back in june, so it's about time to give cookies the place they deserve! Cookies are quite easy to make even if baking is not your thing and you don't have to put your patience into practice since they are made in much less time than other desserts.
I believe my love for food started the day I made my first batch of chocolate chip cookies...and also my first lemon pound cake. The first ones came out quite flat and thus too crispy but they tasted heavenly good to me, plus the feeling of accomplishment was great.
Who can resist to freshly baked homemade cookies? These little cuties, along with a warm cup of your favorite tea (Rooibos to the win!...just FYI, Rooibos is not actually true tea) or milk, which in my case is oat milk.
Feeling a bit under the weather? Had one of those endlessly crappy days? Fancy something sweet and handy? Then the answer my friends is 'Cookies!'.

PS: I'm already squeezing my brains out to bring you a cool Halloween recipe next week!

Receta en español próximamente en la web de El Granero Integral.

Pecan Ginger Cookies
(Yield: 15-16 cookies)

1/4 cup agave syrup.
1 tablespoon molasses.
1/4 cup mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil.
2 tablespoons plant-based milk.
1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds.
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour.
1/2 cup whole grain spelt flour.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt.
1/4 teaspoon allspice.
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
2 teaspoons ground ginger.
Optional: 1/4 cup pecan nuts, chopped.

Preheat oven to 170 ºC (338 ºF) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together agave syrup, molasses, oil, milk and flaxmeal, until well combined. Sift in the flours, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix well using a silicone spatula to form a soft dough. Fold in the chopped pecan nuts.
Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough per cookie directly onto the lined baking sheets, leaving enough space between them. These cookies won't spread too much but it is important to always leave some room.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. If you want a rather cakey texture I'd recommend to bake them no longer than 13 minutes, but I prefer to add those extra two minutes so they are firm on the edges but cakey on the center.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire racks to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Note: the residual heat in the baking sheet finishes the baking nicely. Pull out your cookies just when they start to brown on the edges. Even if the centers are very soft to touch they will set as they cool.

29 sept. 2016

My Birthday Cake

It's been almost two weeks since my birthday and I totally forgot about sharing these pictures I took of my cake (yes, I did bake my own birthday cake for the third consecutive year). Sorry guys, but I've been a bit busy this week developing and cooking new savory and sweet recipes for my friends at El Granero Integral (it's a spanish organic food brand, btw). Better late than never, they say.
As you can see this is not actually a recipe post, I think I already told you in my last post why I decided to only share the pictures of this cake. But I will do it again, just in case you feel a little too lazy to read the whole previous post, hehe.
Well, this cake is from Fran Costigan's marvelous cookbook 'Vegan Chocolate' and I've published several recipes from her book before: this Sachertorte, these absolutely luscious Banoffee Tarts, a mega creamy Chocolate Dulce de Leche, a Mocha Crème Brûlée two years ago, my favorite Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream, and the most recent recipe that I made from her book was this Orange Almond Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache. Needless to say this book is one of my absolute favorites and whenever I need a dose of chocolate goodness I always grab it and find the best inspiration.

Since I've published many recipes from that book before and this cake I'm showing you today is exactly like the original from the book (minus some small changes) I thought it had no sense to simply copy and paste the text. I mean, the recipe is already perfectly explained in the book and I didn't make big nor important changes that need to be published. Actually the only difference from the original recipe is that I didn't make the chocolate coconut whipped cream, not because I don't like it (seriously, coconut whipped cream with a touch of chocolate...who doesn't love that?!) but because my coconut milk contained guar gum.
Now let me tell you why I didn't use that coconut milk: guar gum (and xanthan gum also) prevents or retards the fat from separating and this is not what we want. We need a full fat coconut milk that only contains coconut and water, this way we will get a nice thick cream after letting the can set in the fridge overnight. This white cream can be whipped like heavy cream with great results but if you use a coconut milk that contains some thickening ingredient then the cream won't separate well, or not at all.

This is an important factor to keep in mind if you wanna make a fluffy good coconut whipped cream; so remember: 
- When making ice creams: using unsweetened full-fat coconut milk that contains guar gum or xanthan gum is good. You will get creamy ice creams with no ice crystals. This is for recipes that call for a whole can of coconut milk. If the recipe says to refrigerate the milk overnight and use only the white thick cream, then I would recommend (actually I'd encourage you) to use full-fat coconut milk with no additives.
- When making coconut whipped cream: go for the most natural version. Unsweetened canned full fat coconut milk that only contains coconut and water, nothing more!...or you'll get a weird pudding-meets-chewing gum consistency.
That's all for today! I hope my tips about coconut milk were helpful and that you like these pictures. The cake was so unbelievably delicious, coconut and chocolate are always a damn good combo!
By the way, no one paid me nor asked me to talk about the book 'Vegan Chocolate'.