Date Caramel Shortbread Squares

It might be because my home has been surrounded for fog for the past week, or that the temperature seems to be lowering down a little more every day, but I do not really feel like cooking savoury meals these days. The sole thing I am looking forward to whenever coming back home is curling up in my sofa, with a warm tea and something to satisfy my sweet tooth (a huge piece of something though!). Thus, my fridge and cupboards are filled with sweet treats and desserts, which I have the pleasure to enjoy by myself since my parents are not really into those…

The sole thing I am looking forward to
whenever coming back home is
curling up in my sofa, with a warm tea
and something to satisfy my sweet tooth

It’s been a week since being back from my short but amazing weekend in London, and apart from the serenity and peace I cultivated away from my home and routine, I brought back some amazing sweets in my luggage. Livia’s Kitchen’s shortbread millionaire bites are simple, natural and delicious snacks that you can bring with you wherever you go and enjoy at any time of the day (that because they are tasty like hell!) – they are made out of a few easy, healthy ingredients and may be found at many different places all across London. But due to a lack of space, I could only bring four bars back, which obviously have already been digested!

Just like a queen wears a crown,
those squares are topped with a cracking,
sweet and incredibly tasty chocolate layer

For these are insanely delicious, I wanted to make them myself, so that I could have a fresh tray in the freezer all year long (seriously!). I therefore created my own recipe for them – they do not taste exactly the same, which is good, but are still achingly luscious! The melting and yet firm bottom layer, with its distant flavour of vanilla, is perfectly balancing the creaminess and sweetness of the date caramel. The latter does not actually taste like dates at all, but more like a whirlwind of caramely and nutty flavours. And just like a queen wears a crown, those squares are topped with a cracking, sweet and incredibly tasty chocolate layer, which help bringing this dessert to another level. Enjoy!

Date Caramel Shortbread Squares

Portions: 20 to 24 squares.
Preparation time: 30 minutes.
Freezing time: one hour.

Ingredients

For the oat base:

125g of ground rolled oats or oat flour
150g of ground almonds
60ml of maple syrup
2 ½ tbsp of coconut oil
1 tsp of vanilla powder or extract
1-2 tbsp of water (if needed)

For the date caramel:

300g of Medjool dates, pitted
4 tbsp of almond butter
2-3 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of coconut oil
½ tsp of vanilla powder

For the chocolate layer:

200g of vegan dark chocolate (70%)
or
85g of coconut oil
55g of cacao powder
4 tbsp of maple syrup
A pinch of salt

Method

(1) Start with the oat layer. Blend the oats in a food processor until obtaining a flour like consistency. Then add the ground almonds, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla powder and water, and pulse until the dough comes together when pressed with the hand. Line a brownie tin with parchment paper and grease it with coconut oil. Press into the tin, form a very fine and compact layer, then freeze for about 30 minutes.

(2) Move on to the date caramel. Pit the dates and blend them in your food processor until obtaining a paste. Then add the other ingredients and blend again, until smooth. You may need to scrap down the sides a few times. Spread onto your base evenly and put it back into the freezer.

(3) If using vegan dark chocolate, melt it slowly in a bain-marie before covering the caramel. If not, start by slowly melting the coconut oil in a bain-marie; then add the other ingredients and stir until glossy and smooth. Quickly pour the chocolate layer onto the date caramel and using the back of a spoon, spread it nicely and evenly, sides included. Back in the freezer for 20 minutes.

(4) Take it out of the freezer 15 to 20 minutes before slicing, to avoid cracking (or not – see pictures!).


Cashew Cream Filled Gingerbread Cookies

Those that have been sticking round with me for a while know how fond I am of winter, its comfort, silence and amazing flavours. Even though I now am on the West Coast of the United States for a little while, it is just as if my soul lingered back in the snowy mountains, smelling those scents of hot cacao, crispy fires, cinnamon cookies and gingerbread mixes. There is nothing like novelty and freshness, adventure and new horizons, but no matter my love for the sun, the sand and all those new discoveries within easy reach, my heart still belongs to my home country, Switzerland, to all those I left, those I love.

Just like there’s no weather
to enjoy a lovely hot cacao,
there is no season to enjoy
gingerbread loafs, cookies or biscuits.

This is when you tell me gingerbread is a Christmas and winter thingy – well, not for me! Just like there’s no weather to enjoy a lovely hot cacao, there is no season to enjoy gingerbread loafs, cookies or biscuits. And those babies are just going to verify this statement.

Delicious tastes of coconut, ginger and cinnamon are merging together and creating this complex flavour that gives those biscuit their originality. Two crunchy and nutty outside layers, surrounding the creamiest and most scrumptious (I adore this word) buttery heart. You’d be better off either eating them at room temperature, removing both biscuits to avoid spilling the cream all over or just out of the fridge, still hard and crunchy. Enjoy!

Cashew Cream Filled Gingerbread Cookies

Portions: 18 pieces
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 16 – 18 minutes

Ingredients

For the biscuits:

200g of shredded coconut, reduced in flour
225g of ground almonds (almost as thin as flour)
6 tbsp of spelt flour (or else)
225g/175ml of maple syrup or honey
100g of coconut oil, melted
¼ tsp of vanilla powder
1 ½ tbsp of ginger powder
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of cardamom
¼ tsp of nutmeg
A pinch of salt

For the cream:

4 tbsp/150g of cashew butter
35g of coconut oil, melted
1 tsp of vanilla powder

Method

(1) Preheat the oven to 150°C. Mix the ingredients for the biscuits in a large bowl. Once incorporated, form a ball with the dough, roll into wrapping paper and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

(2) Press the dough down in-between two sheets of parchment paper to prevent it from sticking, on 0.5 cm approximately. With a round cookie cutter (or a champagne glass/regular glass), cut little cookie circles and place on a tray covered with parchment paper.

(3) Do as explained on point 2 until you are out of dough. Place the biscuits in the middle of the oven for about 15 to 16 minutes (check it regularly). They have to be golden-brown and the centre still slightly soft. Set aside to cool down.

(4) Mix all the ingredients for the cream and place in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Take a biscuit, place a tsp of cream in the centre and cover with another biscuit. Repeat until done with all the biscuits. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Guest Recipe: Susan's Victoria Sponge with Chia jam and Coconut Cream

Susan Jane is blessing us with another of her absolutely scrumptious recipes. If this cake is not a sign from the universe that you should start dancing on the healthy baking path, I do not know what you need…maybe cakes shooting stars ?! This Victoria Sponge is the very first recipe I have ever made when starting my plantbased diet. I remember it vividly – not only were my birthday party’s guests a little shocked to learn about what truly was in that cake, but I also was delighted to see that I could indulge myself with delicious treats while not feeling guilty at all. And all of this while still being fully aware of all the benefits of the food I was eating. There is nothing boring about healthy food – we are justing thinking out of fear because we have been taught that food (aka. survival) is about refined and animal products. This is how we have been raised because the society we’ve grown in has worked that way for decades (if not centuries). Susan Jane and I, as well as all the healthy food bloggers out there, want you to come with us on this health journey and to open yourself to new possibilities and ways to approach food and nutrition. Without further ado, let me introduce you to a little piece of heaven: Susan’s Victoria Sponge Cake!

Not the traditional butter, cream,
sugar and bleached-flour variety.

This Victoria Sponge will make your taste buds fist-bump and your health insurer applaud.

Make it for a group of Brits, and you’ll have friends for life.

PS: Find her blog + cookbooks here!

Healthy Victoria Sponge w/ Chia Jam & Coconut Cream

Portions: 10 servings. Double to serve 20.
Preparation time: 45 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Ingredients

For the sponge:

1/2 cup coconut flour (65g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup ground almonds (23g)
1/2 teaspoon mineral-rich salt like Pink Himalayan
4 medium (not large) eggs
2 tablespoons natural soya yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
just under 1/2 cup unscented coconut oil, melted (120ml)
1/2 cup light agave or honey (125ml)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the chia jam filling:

2/3 cup frozen raspberries, defrosted (125g)
1-2 tablespoons chia seeds
Squeeze of lime (optional)
3 dates, pre-soaked and stones removed (or use medjools)
Coconut yoghurt to spread (or see my online recipe for DIY organic cream cheese)

Method

(1) To make the chia jam, let the raspberries thaw first. Then whiz them in a food processor or hand-held blender with the chia seeds, lime and licky-sticky dates. Allow the chia seeds to thicken the jam for 40 minutes before using.

(2) For the sponge, you’ll need to oil an 8×8 (20cm x 20cm) brownie pan, or a 10-inch (25cm) circular tin. It’s also important to preheat your oven to 170 degrees, 150 for fan-assisted or 325 Fahrenheit. I find the best oil to use for greasing is unscented (as opposed to extra virgin and raw) coconut oil. Unscented coconut oil won’t turn the edges of the sponge infuriatingly dark. The meat of the coconut is lightly steamed before pressed, in order to remove the strong coconutty aroma from the oil.

(3) Take out two large bowls. In the first bowl, sift your flour with the baking powder. Stir through the ground almonds and some salt.

(4) In the next bowl, whisk the eggs and yoghurt together, adding a splash of vanilla extract. Then pour in the melted coconut oil and sweetener, stirring vigorously to prevent lumps. Gradually drizzle in the lemon juice, whisking all the while.

(5) Scrape this gleefully sticky mess into your prepared tin. Level with a spatula. Then bake for approximately 20 minutes, depending on the circumference of your tin (I use a regular 8×8 brownie tin). The deeper the tin is, the longer time it needs. If you leave it in longer than 30 minutes, I will throw a tantrum.

(6) Remove the sponge from the oven, and admire. Let it cool for 60 minutes before ejecting from the tin. Then carefully slice the sponge in half (of course you could always double the recipe, and make two tiers instead). Smother great big clouds of coconut yoghurt over one half. Parachute a little chia jam on top of this. Then crown with the other half of the sponge.

(7) Serve on a plate with many napkins and giddy fingers. And a side of Sinatra.


Almond, Chocolate & Sweet Potato Blondies

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. And when you need to reduce your sugar intake, well, you come up with the most delicious ideas. Because (healthy!) sweets truly are bare necessities in one’s life. For someone that usually eats energy balls on the reg, that prepare choc brownies when invited for a dinner party or just because he fancies it, that has a love/hate relationship with honey, maple, dates and so many more healthy sugars, it truly was a great challenge to bring new twists to my regular desserts and snacks.

As I was preparing some sweet potato puree for the fam and our “Buddha Bowl” evening, I wondered if I could use this sweet-tasting puree for dessert purposes. Knowing that it was working with brownies, why wouldn’t it with blondies?! It took me some time to define the right ingredients and to pair the nicest flavours together but I guess I have found my happiness so far.

Those blondies are THE absolute best

when it comes to eating sweets.

They are soft and chewy, which is totally indispensable; very sweet despite their low extra-sugar content (it makes a little less than a teaspoon of maple by portion – great right?!), since the sweet potato itself already is very sweet-tasting. These babies are a powerhouse, nutritionally full of healthy fats, vitamins A, magnesium, potassium and calcium, and some plant proteins. I am quite sure you could make them even more interesting by adding superfoods – maca, baobab or other powders – or other adaptogens – lion’s mane, ashwagandha, etc. I absolutely adore those as an afternoon pick-me-up, to fill me up for the rest of the day, or as a dessert obviously. And if you’re afraid it will taste like vegetable – well I promise it does not!

Moist, decadent, satisfying,

full of textures and flavours,

you’ve just been served by the heavens!

Almond, Chocolate & Sweet Potato Blondies

Portions: 16 pieces
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

1 tbsp of coconut flour (or arrowroot flour alternatively)
50g of brown rice flour (or spelt)
125g of almond meal (almost with a flour texture)

Wet ingredients:

2 tbsp of chia seeds + 1 tbsp of milled chia seeds + 4 tbsp of water
175g of sweet potatoes, cooked and pureed
125g of almond butter (or the one you would prefer)
50g of dates, mashed to paste
3 – 4 tbsp of maple syrup
2 dl of plant milk (almond, oat, spelt, etc.)
125g of crushed pecans
100g of dark chocolate, sliced in little nibs

Method

(1) Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line up a brownies tin with parchment paper. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

(2) Peel and cut the sweet potato in cubes. Place in a large volume of water, bring to a boil and cook until very soft. Puree and take only the amount you need for the recipe (eat the rest!). Mix the whole and mix chia seeds together with the water and let sit for about 10 minutes.

(3) In the meantime, mix the dates in a food processor (or with a fork!) and add the almond butter, maple syrup, plant milk and sweet potato puree. Mix until fluffy.

4) Serve immediately, with the toppings of your choice. I personally love some more maple, a few frozen or fresh berries, some nut butter & a few seeds on top. Enjoy!

(5) Spread nicely in your brownies tin, evening out the surface. Place in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes up until 30. A knife inserted in the centre must come out clear and the surface must be hard to touch and golden brown. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.