Heavenly Crispy Dark Chocolate and Fruit Bar

Heavenly Crispy Dark Chocolate and Fruit Bar, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Behind every recipe there has to be a story. And behind this one there really is not much to tell. I was craving something sweet and chocolaty, and debating what to make, when I came across a recipe for vegan fudge that comes together in a bowl with no baking or complicated steps required.

I love these types of recipes where the most “cooking” or “baking” you have to do is melt some chocolate. My go to recipes are different types of balls, or bon bons if you like, and I made some using pumpkin for a nice Thanksgiving treat, some using apples, walnuts, and dates, and a recipe that made them taste like chocolate chip cookie dough.

This recipe takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of chocolates with chewy fruit and crunchy nuts that were so much fun to eat. For those of you who like your chocolate smooth, this may seem too weird, do keep en open mind. These bars have just the right balance of crunch, chewiness, coconut flavors, and chocolate that they will put a smile on your face in single bite. Plus: they have no added sugar, as they get plenty of sweetness from golden raisins.

For the  crunch you could use any mild tasting breakfast cereal, like crispy rice, corn flakes, or something like Cheerios. You can also skip cereal all together and go for some nuts. Chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans would work really well in these bars; while cashews, peanuts or macademia nuts are probably not going to give you what you are looking for in terms of the flavor.

For the chewy fruit component, golden raisins work really well, but you could use dark raisins or dried cranberries. No matter which one you decide to go with, before you use the dried fruit, soak them in hot water for at least an hour. The raisins will be plump and juicy after soaking, so you will need to drain them, pat them dry, and they are ready to go.

If you are wondering how to melt the chocolate, you have two options: double boiler ad microwave oven. I use the microwave method where I combine the chocolate with a bit of cream or milk and microwave on high for 30 seconds. I take the bowl out, mix well, and put back for another 30 seconds. Mix again and repeat until most but not all (about 75-80%) of the chocolate has been melted. At that point the mixture has enough internal heat to melt the rest of the chocolate chips with constant mixing. This will give you smooth and well melted chocolate. If you are using a double boiler you will have to continuously mix the chocolate as it melts – don’t walk away! Having the chocolate go too far is not fun!

The bars are really mix, pour and let it set type of treat. I recommend that you line your deep dish with some parchment or wax paper, and that you let these bars set at room temperature, which will take a bit longer than if you put them in the fridge. You should store them in the fridge, in a container with a tight lid, but for the best burst of flavor do let them warm up just a bit before biting in. Yummy!

Crispy Dark Chocolate & Fruit Bar

What you’ll need:

10 oz. (283 g) vegan dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chips)

1 cup crispy rice cereal (like Nature’s Path)

1 cup golden raisins, soaked in water, drained and pat dried

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 tablespoons coconut milk, cream or any vegan half & half (I used ripple, plain & unsweetened)

What you’ll do:

  1. Soak golden raisins in some hot water for at least an hour. You want them to be nice and plump. Drain them, and pat dry them add to s large mixing bowl.
  2. Add rice crispies, melted coconut oil, and unsweetened coconut flakes. Mix well.
  3. Line an 8 x 8 (20 cm x 20 cm) baking pan with some parchment paper. Set aside.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl (or a double boiler) mix the chocolate chips with coconut cream (or milk or half & half), and melt the chocolate slowly. If using a microwave, check and mix your chocolate every 30 seconds. Pull the chocolate out when 75% is melted. Keep stirring and the residual heat will melt the rest of the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate over the rice crispies, raisins and coconut flakes. Mix well.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan, even it out, and leave in on the kitchen counter for at least an hour. This will allow for the chocolate to harden and settle. If you are in a hurry you can use the refrigerator – in that case the bars will be ready in about 15 minutes depending on how thick you made them.
  7. Take the chocolate out and let it come to room temperature before cutting and serving. These little treats are great on the go bites as well, so you may want to make a double batch!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Coconut Bread Pudding: So Yummy, Good for the Tummy

Easy Coconut Bread Pudding
Easy (and Vegan) Coconut Bread Pudding, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

A lovely dessert is always a welcome ending for a great meal. I have a major sweet tooth, but I am not a great baker and cake maker. So, my desserts are usually no-bake, like the Chocolate Bon Bons and the Blueberry Cheesecake, or simple cookies, muffins and crumbles that are full of fruit and really forgiving when it comes to exact measurements.

Still, none of those come even close to the simplicity and versility of my Coconut Bread Pudding. This bread pudding requires no prior knowledge of baking techniques, and uses plant-based ingredients. The final product is deliciously sweet, comforting and satisfying, so you can eat it as a dessert, as well as breakfast or brunch.

In terms of the skills required to make this wonder bread pudding happen, you only need how to mix and soak. The recipe starts with a super easy wet mix which you can whisk in a flash. Then comes bread which you can cut up or break into chunks by hand. The best type of bread to use here is a spongy one, because the main thing the bread needs to do is soak up the wet ingredients. One trick people sometimes use is to leave a loaf of bread on the kitchen counter for a day or so, and use this, slightly stale bread, to make the bread pudding. In my opinion there’s no reason to do this on purpose, but if you have stale bread on your hands then transforming it into a bread pudding is the way to go! Regardless whether you use fresh or stale bread, you should give your bread chunks time to soak up all the juices before taking the next step, so leave them in the wet mix for at least fifteen minutes.

Once the bread is ready, add raisins and shredded coconut, mix gently, pour into a baking dish and about half an hour later you will have a kitchen that smells like heaven and a bread pudding that tastes like paradise!

Coconut Bread Pudding

What you’ll need:

6 slices of bread, cubed (or about 1/2 of a large bread loaf)

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

1/4 cup raisins

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).
  2. Chop the bread into 1 x 1 in (2.5 x 2.5 cm). Note that these are approximate measures and you don’t have to go crazy here. The point is to have bread chunks that can hold their shape yet have enough surface area to soak up all the liquid. If you are using stale bread you can go smaller. If you like your bread pudding to maintain more of your bread dough texture go bigger! Place the bread chunks into a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl (or a large soup plate, which is my preferred way) mix the wet ingredients, everything except raisins and coconut flakes.
  4. Pour over the bread chunks and gently fold everything together. Be gentle here if your bread is very soft because you don’t want to end up with a mushy mess. Larger bread chunks and more rustic bread can take a bit more beating but do proceed with caution. Let the mix rest for at least 15 minutes.
  5. When the bread has soaked up (almost all) the liquid, add raisins and coconut flakes and mix gently. At this point your bread chunks will be fragile and mushy so you want to preserve their structural integrity as much as possible so give your pudding a more interesting texture.
  6. Spray a bottom of a deep 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) baking dish with cooking spray and pour the bread mix in.
  7. Put in the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Keep an eye on your oven, as you want the top of your bread pudding to be nice and brown. Let it cool for a moment or two and dig in. You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top of you like, or add some fresh fruit if you are feeling adventurous!

Enjoy for breakfast, brunch, snack, dessert… Sky is the limit!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Today is a double whammy of a day. It’s the National Oatmeal Cookie Day and at the same time the National Raisin Day. So I just had to join in the celebrations by putting those two together into these lovely, healthy and chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that use couple of very simple ingredients and take no time to make.

I decided to start with some naturally sweet ingredients in order to completely omit using added sugar. So I went for a combination of carrots and raisins, both with an amazing amount of sweetness that baking brings out to an amazing extent.

For my oatmeal, I decided to toast some of it to add extra dimensions of nuttiness to the flavor of these cookies without the need to use any nuts. Additional trick I used is to grind most of the oats which made it easy to skip using flour. Still, I did add a bit of corn starch to help the cookies along, and “flax egg” to bind everything together.

Of course, you can’t have a good batch of moist cookies without adding a bit of fat and in this case I decide to use solids out of the can of coconut cream. I used all the liquid and couple of tablespoons of solids for my Bread Fruit Curry, so I had some solids leftover. You can also use coconut oil in this application as well. The oil does not need to be fully melted but it does need to be softened so that can mix well with the rest of the ingredients.

So without any further ado I give to you on this special day gluten-free and dairy-free, no sugar added Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, No Sugar Added Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, No Sugar Added Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

What you’ll need (for 24, 2 in (5 cm) diameter cookies):

3 large carrots

1 cup raisins

2 cups oatmeal

1/4 cup flax meal

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup corn starch

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Place raisins into a large cup and cover with hot water. Let them soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Add flax meal to a large cup and mix well with 3/4 cups of hot water. Let stand for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Toast 1/2 cup of oat meal in a toaster oven until they begin to slightly brown and start smelling lovely and deliciously toasty, which should take about 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on the toaster oven though as the oats will burn quickly. You can toast the oatmeal on the stove top, using a frying pan. I recommend dry toasting them, although you can use a drop of oil or cooking spray to help the toasting along.
  5. Add the toasted oats to a food processor and grind to a fine meal. Pour the toasted oatmeal into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Add another 1 cup of oatmeal to the food processor and grind as finely as the previous batch. Combine with the ground toasted oatmeal.
  7. Add reminder of the oatmeal (1/2 cup) into the mixing bowl without grinding for added texture.
  8. Grind carrots finely using the food processor and add to the oatmeal mix.
  9. Drain the raisins well and add to the oatmeal and carrots.
  10. Add “flax egg” and mix well. The mixture should be moist but not runny.
  11. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If your coconut oil needs a but of melting, put it in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds. Keep an eye on it because you don’t want it to be completely melted, just soft enough to be able to mix well.
  12. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spoon out the cookies with a tablespoon. This should yield 24 cookies, 12 per baking sheet. Use your fingers to shape the cookies into nice, flat rounds or any shape you like. Their final thickness is about 1/2 in (1 cm) and they will not spread or rise much so make sure that you do actually flat them out before baking.
  13. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. The cookies will be soft to touch but will firm up a bit as they cool.
  14. You can frost them with simple sugar frosting if you like, but I did want to keep this recipe “added sugar” free and they are delicious as is. Enjoy!!!
  15. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017