Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies

I just got home yesterday from a lovely week of camping with the family. It’s really amazing what a road trip, a change of scenery (forest!), and some campfire time can do! Even with the lack of sleep over the past week and a few too many treats, I’ve come back feeling really energized and eager to get some things done I’ve been putting off.

Anyway, all those nights sitting around the campfire watching my family enjoying s’mores (while I happily sipped my tea and munched on Oreos or dark chocolate), reminded me of this recipe for Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies that I made a few months ago. I’ve never really liked marshmallows or s’mores but when I received a bag of Dandies in a package from the Canadian Vegan Food Swap, I was curious to try out some recipes with them, and this is one of the things I came up with.

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With a few tweaks, I used this Dark Chocolate Brownie recipe as the base for my brownies. I knew the addition of chocolate chips, marshmallows, and cookies would mean a lot of sugar, so I wanted to start with a brownie base that was on the healthier side. These ones are quite low in sugar for a brownie, use whole grain flour, and are oil free. Even if you don’t wish to make S’mores Brownies (though really, why wouldn’t you?) I’d still recommend trying this brownie recipe.

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Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies
1 tbsp ground chia seeds (or ground flax)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup Sucanat (or organic brown sugar)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 cup vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies)
1/2 cup crushed vegan graham crackers or ginger snaps

Preheat your oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9’x13′ pan.
In a small dish combine the ground chia with the warm water and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, applesauce, milk, vanilla, and vinegar.
In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt.
Whisk the chia mixture into the wet ingredients.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour about 3/4 of the batter into your prepared pan.
Spread the marshmallows out over the top of the batter, then sprinkle on the crushed cookies.
Drop the remaining batter on top of the cookies and marshmallows, one teaspoon at a time.
Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Cut the brownies into squares before they are fully cool, otherwise it will be difficult to cut through the marshmallow. I cut mine into 18 pieces.

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These brownies are best enjoyed warm, so that the chocolate chips and the marshmallows are a bit gooey. Enjoy!

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These Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies were a huge hit. The brownies are super chocolatey, dense, and moist, without being too sweet and the toppings sent them over the top. I had a hard time not eating the whole tray in about 2 days, and when I shared with Jem (just so I wouldn’t eat them all) she loved them. Apparently she had “a brownie experience”!

I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (6/11/13).

You May Also Enjoy:
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Frosted Blueberry Cake, Wheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding

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Blueberry Blackberry Chia Jam

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I really like using frozen berries and chia seeds to make quick sauces for oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, and desserts.

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Instant Cranberry Sauce, Sugar-Free Blueberry Sauce, Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart

Once I realized that I could make delicious healthy sauces like this, I knew that it would also be possible to make jam in the same way. It would just have to be a little thicker. I’ve also started seeing some recipes for chia jams spreading through the web.

The other day I was making soup and biscuits for dinner and was upset to find that I was all out of jam (an absolute must for me with home-made biscuits), until I realized it would be the perfect opportunity to try making some of my own. Now I only wish I’d tried it sooner!

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Now this is healthy home-made vegan comfort food! I’ll be posting about the soup (it’s kind of like minestrone) and the biscuits (from The Joy of Vegan Baking) soon.

This jam is super simple to make, as the chia seeds to most of the work for you, and has only a few ingredients. The results won’t taste exactly like store-bought jam, mainly because it will taste a lot more like fruit and a whole lot less like sugar. I don’t know about you, but jam that actually tastes like fruit, sounds like a great idea to me. Your home-made chia jam will also be free of additives, preservatives, and processed sugars and full of antioxidants, omega 3’s, calcium, iron, protein, and lots of fibre. This is guilt-free jam!

Title, Berry Chia Jam

I’ve been devouring this jam all week on biscuits, toast, oatmeal, and even vanilla ice cream. This recipe makes approximately 1 cup of jam, and I had no problem using it up in about four days.

When deciding how much to make, keep in mind that because this jam has no preservatives, additives, or massive amounts of sugar, it will not keep forever like store-bought jam. I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t want to leave it any more than one week.

Blueberry Blackberry Chia Jam (Yields 1 cup)
2/3 cup blueberries, fresh or defrosted from frozen
2/3 cup blackberries, fresh or defrosted from frozen
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp ground chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut sugar (or to taste)

1) Using a blender, food processor, or hand blender, process the blueberries, blackberries, and vanilla just until there are no whole berries left. This took me about 2 seconds with my hand blender, which I’d recommend using if you have one, as it will leave  you with a lot less clean up than a blender or food processor.
2) Stir the chia seeds and sugar into the berry mixture. If you used a food processor or blender you’ll need to transfer the berry mixture into a different container first. You can use the sealable jar or container you’ll be storing your jam in.
3) Make sure the jam is in a sealed container (a mason jar works perfect) and place in the fridge overnight, or at least for a couple of hours. The chia seeds will soak up the liquid, gelatinize, and turn this into a jam-like consistency for you.
4) Keep your chia jam in a sealed container in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Notes:
– I prefer the texture of ground chia seeds in my jam, but whole chia seeds will work as well. As I also prefer the texture of ground chia in things such as smoothies and puddings, I buy whole chia seeds, grind some with my coffee/spice grinder, and keep a small jar of this in my fridge. 
– While I’m sure that other berries or fruit could be substituted for the blueberries and blackberries, keep in mind that different fruits have different levels of moisture, which means you might need a different amount of chia to achieve a jam-like consistency.

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Silver Hills toast with almond butter and Blueberry Blackberry Chia Jam. Yum!

I’ve shared this recipe with Healthy Vegan Friday #37Raw Food Thursdays (4/4/13),  Gluten Free Friday #34Wellness Weekends (Apr4-8/2013), and Meatless Monday A-Z #29 (Create w/ Blueberries.

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Chocolate Chip Protein Pancakes with Sugar-Free Blueberry Sauce

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #19Only one more to go! Barring an unexplained lengthy interruption tomorrow (knock on wood), I will actually have succeeded at writing 20 posts in one month! I don’t think I actually thought I would make it!

I have never really been interested in pancakes. They’ve always seemed way to doughy for me, and then as soon as you pour syrup over top, way too soggy. No thank you!

The only pancakes I’ve ever really enjoyed were the mini pancakes my grandma used to make for my sisters and I. They were nice and thin, probably more like a crepe batter, and we always ate them with butter and icing sugar, rather than syrup. Unfortunately, my grandma has passed away and I have absolutely no idea what the recipe was for her special pancakes. So I’ve pretty much given up on pancakes and focused on other breakfast food. Like waffles, which I absolutely love!

Definitely not the most attractive breakfast, but so good! My Natural Vega One turned these green!

Anyway, these protein pancakes from Sensual Appeal attracted me because they didn’t look like those thick cakey pancakes that everyone seems to enjoy so much. Plus they have chocolate chips! Even though I couldn’t even remember the last time I had pancakes, or wanted pancakes, I wanted to try these ones. So, with a couple adjustments and some lovely Sugar-Free Blueberry Sauce I enjoyed these for breakfast one morning. I hope you do too.

I do suggest making the blueberry sauce before you start the pancakes, to give the chia seeds time to work their magic.

Chocolate Chip Protein Pancakes (Serves 1-2)
1/4 cup protein powder (I used Natural Vega One, which has a light vanilla flavour)*
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup water
Vegan chocolate chips, to taste (I used 2 1/2 tsp Enjoy Life Mini Chips)
*You can use whatever protein powder you like here, just make sure its one that you enjoy the flavour of, because you will be able to taste it in these pancakes.

Mix the dry ingredients together, then stir in the water. Warm a pan on medium heat and spray lightly with oil. Pour the pancake batter onto the pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips. You can make a couple of large-ish pancakes or some smaller ones, like I did. The pancakes are ready to flip when they will move easily around on the pan. Flip, and cook for another minute or two. Repeat.

Sugar-Free Blueberry Sauce
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp ground chia
5 drops liquid stevia

Place blueberries in a microwave-safe dish (I use a glass measuring cup) and defrost in the microwave. They should yield to pressure, and look like the second photo, after a good stir. You want at least half, but not all of the blueberries to be squished. Stir the ground chia and stevia into the blueberries and set aside until ready to use.

When pancakes are done, plate and cover in your Sugar-Free Blueberry Sauce. Enjoy!

I may just have to rethink this whole no-pancake thing.

You May Also Enjoy:
Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding, Blueberry Coconut Crumble Bars, Cinnamon Power Granola

My Breakfast This Morning: Chickpea Flour Omelette

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #16

This morning I woke up hungry, but with no clue at to what I wanted for breakfast. I staggered around the kitchen a bit but none of the usual suspects like toast, fruit, cereal, tofu scramble, or oatmeal seemed very appealing.

So I turned on my computer and took a look at my Vegan Breakfasts to Try board on Pinterest. As soon as I looked at the recipe for this Chickpea Flour Omelette from Vegan Richa I knew I had found my breakfast. This is exactly why I love Pinterest! Even half asleep I could easily choose my breakfast from all the beautiful photos laid out for me!

This was more like a savoury stuffed pancake than an omelette (though I think the black salt would have given a more eggy taste) but it was delicious! I stuffed mine with spinach, bell peppers, diced pickled jalapeño, and Earth’s Island Vegan Cheddar. So good!

This was also very quick and easy to throw together, which is especially appreciated in the mornings. In the few months before I went vegan last year I was pretty much obsessed with veggie and cheese stuffed omelettes, and this recipe was the closest I’ve come to recreating that. I would eat this any time of day, and will definitely be making it again!

Anyway, while I did change a couple minor things, the recipe is essentially the same, so I’m just going to share my changes instead of writing out the whole recipe again.

As Richa suggested, I used ground chia seeds in place of the oat flour. I did have to add about 1/8 cup extra water to my batter, probably because of this.

I left out the black salt, as I don’t have any (yet).

Also, I chose to sprinkle my veggies and cheese on top of the batter once it was spread in the pan, rather than mixing it right into the batter. Because of this I didn’t flip my entire omelette over. I just cooked it for longer on the one side, and then folded it in half.

You should definitely try this Chickpea Flour Omelette!

Updates (Nov 24, 2012):
I’ve made this Chickpea Flour Omelette a few more times in the past month and it has been wonderful each time!
I’ve used both a combination of ground flax and chia seeds, and just flax seeds and both ways worked well. The only difference I noticed is that I had to add a bit more water when using the ground chia seeds.
I finally found some black salt and tried it in this omelette yesterday. It really does have an eggy sort of taste. I was scared it would taste too much like eggs, but it was just enough. I will definitely be using the black salt in this from now on, but if you don’t have any, sea salt works just fine.
And while we’re talking salt, I’ve been using only 1/8 tsp salt, instead of the 1/4 tsp stated in the recipe, only because I like putting some vegan cheese in my omelette, which is already salty enough for me.

Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #15

Yes! Chocolate and almond again! Apparently I don’t get tired of this combination.

This Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding is quick to throw together, tastes like a great chocolate dessert, but is healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast. As documented in this WIAW post, I actually did eat it for breakfast one day mixed with some Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal and covered in blueberry sauce (recipes coming at some point, I promise).

This chia pudding uses ground chia seeds, because I don’t really like the texture of the whole seeds. If you like the texture of tapioca pudding, you’d probably be fine using the whole seeds, you just may have to adjust the measurements a little bit.

Also, I decided on chocolate and almond because I had some unsweetened chocolate almond milk on hand, but any non-dairy milk would work.

Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding (Yields 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup ground chia seeds
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp carob powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
10 drops liquid stevia

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and stir well. Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour to thicken. Stir once more before serving. I like to garnish my pudding with something like nuts or coconut, to add some texture. Enjoy!

Nutritional Info for 1/4 cup (using Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Breeze): 68 calories, 9g carbs, 4g (healthy) fats, 4g protein, 1g sugar, 46mg sodium.

the veggie nook

This has been submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #14.

You May Also Enjoy:
Chocolate Almond Porridge
Almond Joy Cookie Bars
Chocolate Vega Macaroons

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #7

In my Thanksgiving post on Sunday I mentioned that I was making a Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart as my contribution to our family dinner’s dessert. I couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out. This is a super rich dessert: perfect for a special occasion when there are lots of people to share it with. The combination of a nutty crumbly crust, creamy dark chocolate ganache, and tart cranberry sauce makes this a dessert worth savouring, sharing, and remembering!

The inspiration for this dessert came from this Fresh Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart. This tart from Sweet Sugar Beanis not a vegan recipe, but I really liked the idea of pairing dark chocolate ganache with fresh berries, so I added it to my inspiration pile when I came across it this summer. I’ve also been experimenting with making small batches of berry sauces using chia seeds as a binder and I knew if made thicker, this could work great as the fruit part of the tart.

As soon as I started seeing fresh cranberries in our local grocery store, the idea for this Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart came together. While this would probably work equally well with any other berry, using cranberries makes this a perfect seasonal fall and winter dessert: perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Plus I have a major soft spot for all things cranberry!

Please don’t be intimidated by the three different things you need to make for this recipe. Each one has 5 ingredients or less, is simple and quick to make. Plus all three can be made ahead of time, so there is no need to feel rushed. I made the crust one day, the cranberry sauce the next, and then made the chocolate ganache and assembled the tart the morning before our Thanksgiving dinner.

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart (makes 1 10-inch pie)

No-Bake Date Nut Crust
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup sliced almonds
6 tsp ground chia seeds
15 dates (3/4-1 cup), pitted
1/4 tsp salt

Place pecans and almonds in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the ground chia, dates, and salt and process until thoroughly combined. The mixture should start clumping together. Press mixture into a lightly greased 9 or 10 inch pie or tart pan. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble tart.

Cranberry Sauce
3 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp organic maple syrup
3 tbsp ground chia seeds*
*If you can’t find ground chia seeds, whole chia seeds can be ground up in a coffee or spice grinder.

Combine all ingredients in a pot or saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times. You want at least half of the cranberries to pop, but not all of them. Remove from heat, stir well, and let cool until ready to assemble tart.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
3 cups roughly chopped vegan dark chocolate*
1 15 ounce can light coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
*I used 2 1/2 cups 72% chocolate and 1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate, but feel free to choose your percentage according to how dark you like your chocolate. While I personally would have used darker chocolate if making this just for myself, I had to keep the tastes of my family in mind. Also remember that the darker the chocolate, the less sweet your tart will be. 

Place chopped chocolate in a large heat-safe bowl. In a pot, bring coconut milk to a boil, remove from heat, and pour over top of the chopped chocolate. Let this sit for 5 minutes, then add vanilla and stir for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and glossy. Immediately pour chocolate into prepared crust. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, until chocolate is cooled and no longer liquid.

Once chocolate is cooled and set, spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the top. Keep in the refrigerator until serving. The tart will be difficult to cut if the chocolate warms up. Enjoy!

How do you like the photo collages? I made them through PicMonkey. Fast, easy, free photo collages and editing, with tonnes of options!

This post has been submitted to this week’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Healthy Vegan Friday #46. Perhaps its a little more than ‘slightly’ indulgent, but certainly a lot healthier than it could be!

You May Also Enjoy:
Chocolate Vega Macaroons, Blueberry Coconut Crumble Bars, or Peach Cornmeal Cake