Double Dark Chocolate Truffles (Vegan)

 

img_3584-3Keeping it short and sweet today. Just like this recipe. A sweet, simple treat for Valentine’s Day. Or any day. Maybe every day? These decadent truffles taste like they came from a fancy chocolate shop but in fact require only four main ingredients and a bit of chilling time to make. Insanely rich, smooth and satisfyingly chocolaty, they will surely impress your sweetheart or whoever the lucky recipient may be.

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I can’t say I always liked celebrating V Day. Totally jaded and turned off by the artificially manufactured saccharin sweetness of the whole thing made me indifferent at best. But I suppose over the years I have realized that celebrating anything in life is a good foil for the negativity and wretchedness of what goes on around us. The world needs more love. So why not honour it, even if it is with tacky cards and overpriced flowers. Better yet, with truffles. Double dark chocolate truffles. Vegan and easy at that. Make them and share them or hoard them for yourself. Love yourself. Love those around you. Love your family. Love life. And hey, love carnations too! They are in fact beautiful but for some reason have  been relegated to the bottom of the barrel for far too long. I love you carnations. You complete me.

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Don’t be scared of the long instructions, I’ve just included tips that that I have found helpful along the way. And here are some pictures to help you out as well…

Chilled bowl of ganache:

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Scooped ganache chillin’:

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Rolled and ready for some cocoa lovin’:

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Sprinkled with cocoa:

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Rock and roll  time:

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Double Dark Chocolate Truffles

Makes 16-18 truffles

Prep Time 30 minutes (total)

Chill Time 2 hours

Ingredients:

200g dairy-free dark chocolate chips (1 cup + 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips)*

125ml light coconut milk

1 Tablespoon (15ml) virgin coconut oil

pinch of sea salt

2 Tablespoons (30ml) cocoa powder

Directions:

1. Place chocolate chips in medium-sized bowl; find a plate that will fit over bowl to cover.

2. In a small saucepan combine coconut milk and coconut oil and  heat over medium heat until just starting to bubble. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate chips (don’t mix yet!) and cover with the plate. After about 2 minutes, remove plate add the pinch of sea salt and stir chocolate mixture. The chocolate chips should have melted in the hot liquid, but if there is still some unmelted chocolate, microwave in 15 second intervals until fully melted. You have now  made ganache! Cover bowl with the plate again and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until mixture has firmed up.

3. Once mixture is cooled and firm, but still moldable, remove from fridge. Using a small ice cream scoop (a great tool for this part, mine holds just a little bit more than 1 Tablespoon), scoop out ganache, level off and turn out onto the plate that was covering the bowl. Repeat until you’ve used up all the ganache. The chilled plate helps to prevent the truffles from melting or becoming too soft. If you don’t have a small ice cream scoop, use a Tablespoon measuring spoon for this.

4. Now roll each ganache mound with your hands into an evenly shaped, smooth ball and place on a small rimmed cookie sheet or a shallow glass dish; line the cookie sheet or dish with parchment paper if you like. It helps to cool your hands under running cold water, then drying them thoroughly before rolling – this prevents the ganache from sticking to your hands. You may have to wash your hands once or twice during the rolling process if they become sticky.

5. Once all the truffles are rolled, scoop the cocoa powder into a small fine-meshed sieve and sift over the truffles. Next, roll the truffles around by shaking the cookie sheet or dish gently until the truffles are entirely coated. I’ve found this to be the most efficient way to coat the truffles in the cocoa powder.

6. Transfer the truffles into an airtight container and keep at room temperature for a few days or in the fridge for up to a week (if they last that long). Enjoy!

* I used Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels; you can also use 200g of your favourite bar chocolate finely chopped. Choose good-quality chocolate as it’s the star ingredient!

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If  you do end up making these, share your creations on social media and tag with #soundbitesnutrition.

Have a lovely Valentine’s Day and eat lots of chocolate!

xo

ilona

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Eggnog Nicecream + Gingerbread Chocolate Sauce

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Some days I sit down to write a blog and know exactly what I want to say. Some days, like today, I have  no idea. My mind is blank. Or maybe not blank, but all the ideas I hold within are blunt and vague instead of sharp and focused. And so I am not writing with the fervour of wanting to spill words onto the page at break neck speed lest they disintegrate. This kind of a writer’s block scenario requires a bit more introspection. What do I really want to say? And so I settle on the truth.

Life has tossed a few obstacles on my path recently, both health and relationship wise. I have taken to yelling at the universe to stop being such an a**hole from time to time while trying to scramble over said obstacles  more or less intact. It is not a graceful process. There’s tears and pain and scars. But I am more than fortunate. I have an abundance of comforts and great friends and family to help me along the way. And I also have the opportunity to set aside time, energy and resources for self-care. I have been listening to my body and doing more yoga, going for hikes and listening to energizing and inspiring podcasts. I have been spending time with my nieces and nephews – talk about therapy! They bring me crazy amounts of joy and their giggles are pure magic. I am also just trying to give myself over to the process. Whether it be health or relationships or career, I have to trust that it WILL all work out. Perhaps not in the way I pictured or wished for. But in some way or another it will be okay. I imagine a crossroads up ahead where luck and hard work will intersect and I achieve what I am striving for. I just have to keep my eyes open and be willing to flex and bend and yield.

Now, I don’t have a witty or thoughtful segue to this recipe so…..gingerbread!!

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Gingerbread was the inspiration for this recipe. Gingerbread and eggnog. Essentially, I am in full on Christmas mode and wanting to devour the sights, sounds and flavours of the season at any chance possible. It started with making multiple batches of peppermint bark for gatherings in recent weeks, checking out the Milton Santa Claus Parade last weekend and  then going  to the Trans Siberian Orchestra with my family a few days ago. The Christmas spirit has been ignited. 

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This is called nicecream because in using only plant-base ingredients it’s a kind way to consume  ice cream without using dairy milk. And it’s nice. Really really nice. And kind of magical, because who knew that frozen bananas can yield something smooth and creamy and cold and so akin to real ice cream that you might not miss the real thing. And it’s also super healthy, because it’s  just fruit! I paired the nicecream with eggnog flavours and topped it all with a gingerbread chocolate sauce, which is a gingerbread-spiced version of my original chocolate sauce. I haven’t posted the recipe for the original sauce on this blog yet but people went nuts about it when I shared it on Instagram and Facebook. I guess people care about a chocolate sauce that is free from refined sugar, made from wholesome ingredients and versatile (you can use it as a fruit dip, on top of oatmeal, as a base for hot chocolate etc.) And because it’s chocolate. This version is filled with gingerbready spices and molasses – I use the blackstrap variety because they are a good source of iron and calcium, unlike other types of molasses. So there you have it, chocolate, eggnog, gingerbread, nicecream, Christmas. Enjoy!

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Eggnog Nicecream with Gingerbread Chocolate Sauce

vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free 

Makes 2 servings of nicecream +  approximately 1 1/2 cups of chocolate sauce

Prep Time 10 minutes

Ingredients for nicecream:

4 ripe bananas, frozen, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

small pinch of ground cloves

1 Tablespoon maple syrup optional)

Directions:

1.       Add bananas and vanilla into a food processor and process until a creamy, soft-serve ice cream consistency . This will take a few minutes, and at first will resemble a coarse, crumbly mixture. Keep processing and scraping down sides often until you get nicecream. Add spices and maple syrup (if using) and process for a few seconds until combined.

2.       Spoon into serving dishes, top with gingerbread chocolate sauce and enjoy right away.

Ingredients for the gingerbread chocolate sauce:

8 soft medjool dates, pitted

6 Tablespoons cocoa or cacao powder

1 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

pinch of sea salt

1 cup warm water

Directions:

1.       Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

2.       Store in an air tight jar in the fridge for up to one week. The coconut oil might solidify in the fridge, just heat in the microwave or by running sealed jar under hot running water to melt.

Notes:

I keep a stash of whole, frozen bananas in the freezer; they break up or chop easily even when frozen. You want them to be ripe, with black spots on the skin (but not mushy or brown inside) when you freeze them.

I used Mi-Del gluten-free Gingerbread Men for decoration. So adorable!

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola

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Awww man, y’all are gonna lose your shhhh for this one! Believe it or not, this is only one of the very few times I have made my own granola. I’ve had every intention in the past, just zero execution. Confession: that could be said about other aspects of my life too, I suppose. Procrastination is the name of my game and I am VERY good at it (let it not be said that I don’t have any skills!) If putting things off until the last minute and figuring out ways to avoid what I need to do by doing everything else instead was a sport, I’d be a world champion. That’s not to say I’m lazy – just good at deferring. And even in the kitchen, I cook all the time but creating workable, tasty recipes that make sense and can be replicated is another thing on its own – that requires planning, forethought, precision, and measuring spoons. All of which just slow me down in the kitchen. But the desire to share good food that is delicious and nourishing in equal measures finally succeeded – and so I have hunkered down, with note pad and pen in one hand and measuring cups in the other (or something like that) and started not just making food, but actually developing recipes. Who am I?? Also, it helps that my recent foray into this was received so generously by my family and friends, one just can’t help but be inspired to go on.

So let’s get on with this recipe. There are some food pairings that just seem to be made for each other: peanut butter and jam, coconut and pineapple, lime and tequila. And of course chocolate plus cherries, the darlings of this recipe. I mean, when have chocolate and cherries together ever been a bad idea? Never. Am I right? Thought it has to be said that the cherries also go beautifully with the hazelnuts in this recipe, and the almonds, and well the chocolate goes with just about anything (chocolate + hazelnuts, enough said.) So what we end up with is a jar full of goodness that just loves to intermingle, and each ingredient, while good on its own, elevates the others. A metaphor for a utopian society dare I say? If granola can inspire a visionary world view, well all the better in my opinion.

I had some family and friends try this granola out on its first outing and the reviews were fantastic. On top of yogurt, paired with almond milk for breakfast, or straight up out of the jar by the fistful, everyone fell in love. The recipe is pretty simple too: you mix the dry ingredients together, and essentially make a raw chocolate to coat everything in. Mmm, a chocolate bath. I know that dried cherries can be quite pricy but a little goes a long way. In any case, feel free to substitute dried cranberries instead if that’s all you have on hand. That goes also for the nuts and seeds, change those up if you want but keep the amounts the same. It’s a pretty flexible recipe – and far better than most of the granola you can buy, both in taste and nutrition. Nourishing dried fruit, seeds, nuts and oats with antioxidant rich cocoa powder and a touch of maple syrup. That’s it.

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Finally I have to say I chuckled a bit when naming this recipe. I though, once people read chocolate and cherries I will have them sold! They won’t even notice the word granola in there. Muahaha, got you!

Oh! One  more thing, as I was eating this bowl of granola I was rewarded with a delicious, rich chocolatey almond milk. Never a bad thing.

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola

vegan, soy-free, gluten-free option

Makes about 6 cups

Prep time 10 minutes 

Cook time 30-35 minutes

 Ingredients

1 1/2 cup large flake rolled oats, gluten-free if needed

1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300˚F (150˚C) and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts and dried cherries and salt. Stir well.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt coconut oil, remove from heat and whisk in maple syrup, cocoa powder and vanilla.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry mixture and stir well until everything is well-coated.
  5. Tip the granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Press down on the mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon so that it sticks together.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir, again spreading it our into an even layer and pressing it down. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet, it will harden as it cools. Break the granola up into clusters and transfer into an airtight container (I use glass jars).

Tips

You can chop the nuts by pulsing in a food processor.

Substitute equal amounts of other nuts, seeds, dried fruit as you wish.

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Valentine’s Sweets

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Anyone within earshot in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day heard me rant and grumble about how artificially sweetened and commercial I felt this holiday to be. Then my sister changed my outlook.

She said that any chance in life we get to celebrate should be embraced  And, this is what really hooked me, she  wholeheartedly felt that any holiday where the starring food was chocolate should not be tossed aside carelessly. Okay sis, I get your point. And I concur.

{I really do treasure these moments in life when a previously steadfastly held paradigm shifts.}

So celebrate with chocolate became my V-Day objective  Now most years I would inhale whatever chocolate-like product crossed my path. But being vegan makes you a bit more mindful and aware of what you stuff your face with. Another bonus of this whole journey. So I set out to make some homemade treats. With good quality ingredients.

I consulted my go-to site, Oh She Glows, and chose two recipes. Chocolate Chip Cookies because I was craving these and Mini Peanut Butter Cups In a Jar because their inherent adorableness and unearthly combo of chocolate and peanut butter makes them incredibly irresistible. Go ahead, I dare you to try.

Both resulted in sweet, sweet heaven.

Mmm chocolate chip cookies and cold almond milk…

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I devoured a few after the photo shoot. Ok, during as well. No regrets.

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And these decadent pots?

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Umm, yeah. I want a stash of these in my freezer at all times. I battled between wanting to hoard them all and sharing the love with my loved ones. I remembered my Kindergarten lessons and shared. Look at the delectable layers…

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Note that I didn’t have the patience to swirl the melted chocolate evenly over the surface of the pots. So I drizzled. Can’t say my taste buds cared.

With the cookies I was pretty precise with the recipe and measured things out as outlined in the recipe; I always think of baking as a chemistry experiment, where you want things to be in the right proportions to get a good result. With the peanut butter and chocolate cups I was a bit more liberal. I really don’t have the patience to measure peanut butter in a measuring cup only to then have to scrape it all out. So I did eyeball a bit and was probably more generous with some of the ingredients. All turned out well.

You know you’ve got all-star desserts when both your veg and non-veg friends and family start asking you for the recipes.

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I do encourage seasoned and newbie vegans alike to try these recipes out. You won’t be disappointed!

Much theobroma cacao love to you,

ilona