Black beans and chocolate. Probably not the first combination that comes to mind. But these decadent black bean brownies are the perfect vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free dessert (and no one will ever guess that they’re packed with awesome, healthy ingredients… including beans)! Plus, you can make them using simply a blender. This is what I call a win-win-win situation 🙂
When my cousin’s birthday was approaching, I knew that I had to make a “wow” dessert – one that could stand by itself, and every one would enjoy. Inspired by my cousin’s everlasting love for coffee and cheesecake, as well as my family’s obsession with chocolate, I decided to combine these key foods to make a mocha cheesecake. And did I mention that it’s raw, vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free (and they didn’t even notice!)?
Vanilla, hazelnuts, chocolate; these are a few of my favorite things.
So when it came to creating a cheesecake recipe, I wanted it to involve all of these ingredients in the most harmonious way possible while tasting like an actual, real cheesecake. These vanilla bean hazelnut cheesecake bites are decadent, smooth, creamy, and not to mention gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free (oh, and no-bake!).
When I think of Winter Wonderland, peppermint and candies comes to mind. It just so happens that peppermint patties are one of the easiest and homemade friendly candies to make. With just a few ingredients, you can make creamy, fresh and minty candies everyone can enjoy for the holidays!
Superfood and candy – now that sounds like an oxymoron. Enter peanut butter cup chia pudding, the perfect way to satisfy your candy cravings, while taking in some superfood benefits!
Can’t decide between a cupcake or cookie? You can have your cookie and cupcake with this innovative twist on the classic, the “Cookie Cupcake.” Not a keen cupcake decorator? When it came to testing out my brother’s birthday cupcakes, I have to admit they weren’t beautiful. Luckily, I have discovered the easiest way to decorate a cupcake that is sophisticated looking, and so easy, a little kid could do it!
The process is more simple than anything you’ve frosted before – you basically glue a cupcake and cookie together with chocolate.
I am often asked what I think is the perfect summertime treat. Without a doubt – sorbet! Sorbet is not only an incredibly easy dessert to make at home, requiring very few ingredients, but also, perfect for every age group – children, adults, and elders. It is especially great for those with many food intolerances and allergies. It just hits the spot for those who aren’t looking for a dessert that’s too fruity, too tarty, or heavy (like my family!). A true crowd pleaser!
In Italy, people generally have “sorbetto” in the summer to finish a meal. In other fine dining instances, small amounts of sorbet, called the “intermezzo”, are served between courses. It is considered a palate cleanser, and prepares your taste buds for the next course. Either way, it is a delicate part of any meal, and with the mint, it instantly places a refreshing taste in your mouth. At the end of your spoonful, there’s a very subtle tang from the lemon which is softened by the sugar, and if you choose, honey. You can get this summer hit made within 45 minutes (freezing not included)!
Summer is officially here, and for those that hope to stay healthy during the heat, I have the perfect recipe for you – vegan chocolate pudding. You can make within 5 minutes because there are only 5 ingredients: cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and… avocado. Before you judge this snack based on the avocado, I assure you that you will not even taste it. Proof: my brother’s friends loved it, and asked for seconds. Also, the chocolate flavor masks any trace of avocado. Overall, it’s an extremely healthy alternative for the summer, and it actually cools you down. Snacks in the summer often include heavily color-died popsicles, or ice cream sandwiches – but this pudding is guaranteed to make you feel more satisfied, and stay full longer. Avocados contain a high amount of potassium, monounsaturated fatty acids (aka “heart healthy fat”), fiber, and antioxidants which help combat aging. Aside from all the health benefits this pudding may offer, it is incredibly easy to make, and within several times of making it, you’ll notice that you don’t even need to measure out each ingredient.
It’s creamy, velvety, and is quite addicting for chocolate lovers!
- 2 medium-sized ripe avocados
- ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup maple syrup (add to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- a dash of salt
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
When the annual Café Cultural, at my brother’s school came up, we were delighted to share our Italian heritage with the traditional Italian savoiardo. Savoiardi are an Italian dessert that are similar to Lady Fingers, but since they are Italian, they are double in size. As it turns out, I was very lucky to have used my Sicilian great grandmother’s recipe. In Italy, people will usually buy savoiardi, and since it is a dry sponge-like cookie, Italians will dunk it with their coffee for breakfast. My mother and grandmother tell me that my great grandmother would actually make her own savoiardi, and as a treat, would make it for her children and grandchildren. When she came to America, her original recipe went from “strutto” (lard) to Crisco (instead I used Spectrum’s Organic Shortening).
Savoiardi are extremely easy to make and require few ingredients – eggs, all purpose flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour, sugar, baking powder, shortening, vanilla extract, and lemon zest/juice. As I mentioned before, they’re dry and lemony, and taste just like they were from Italy! They’re topped with granulated sugar, which adds a crunch.
I initially was going to pipe the savoiardi batter, but decided not to, and do it the rustic way that my great grandmother would have done.
Method: Fill a heaping spoonful of the batter. On the greased or parchment lined pan, spoon out some of the batter with your finger in an up and down motion while sliding the spoon the opposite direction.
The savoiardi end up looking slightly different each time, but that’s the beauty of it!
The children at my brother’s school event, Café Cultural loved it, and you will too!
- 6 extra-large eggs*
- 3 cups all purpose flour**
- 1 cup sugar + more for sprinkling
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ¼ lb shortening
- 2 or more tsp vanilla extract
- a lot of lemon zest
- a touch of lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix sugar with shortening on high speed.
- Beat in one egg at a time also on high speed.
- Add flour and baking powder, and mix until fully combined.
- Add vanilla extract, and lemon zest/juice.
- Pipe with finger on rack (mentioned in detail above recipe).
- Sprinkle sugar before baking.
- Bake for 15-25 mins.
**If you want to make them gluten free, use 3 cups Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 baking flour.
Many can agree that nothing is quite as good as chocolate, and this tart is no exception! This Easter, I was a little stuck on what recipe I should make. I came across a vegan chocolate tart on Bon Appétit, and decided I must make it! Within an hour, you’ll have an instant crowd pleaser! To make it gluten free friendly, I just swapped their whole wheat flour for a normal gluten free flour blend, and oat flour to make the flour consistency heavier. Also, I used maple syrup (grade A, dark amber) instead of light agave syrup, but you can use either one.
The crust is crispy and hearty with oats, and a little chocolate flavor. The filling is super rich and creamy which is why I cut the tart in small pieces. Warning: You will go back for more! When you bit in, you get the crumble from the crust, and smoothness from the filling which is quite a pleasure to eat!
The coconut oil helps the chocolate melt into your mouth, and the little amount of espresso enhances the chocolate flavor. This recipe heavily depends on the quality of cocoa powder you use. For such a chocolatey dessert, I recommend Valrhona’s cocoa powder – it is such a treat to use and eat! For the actual chocolate, if you really want it to be dark, use about 4 out of the 7 oz in 100% chocolate. Don’t worry – the filling will still be sweet! I also sprinkled flaked sea salt on top, which is delicious.
Enjoy this recipe!
NOTE: Depending on the size pan you use, you might have extra filling left. If you do, Bon Appétit recommends you use it for truffles, or I recommend melting some of it (if it isn’t already melted), and mixing it in with almond butter!
- 1¼ cup oats
- ½ cup gluten free flour blend
- ¼ cup oat flour
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted, slightly cooled
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp espresso powder
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 7 oz dairy free dark chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
- ⅔ cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup coconut oil
- ¼ tsp kosher salt, plus more
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease (with coconut oil) a rectangular pan, 9 inch diameter pan, or a 13¾ x 4½ inch tart pan with removable bottom.
- Pulse oats, flours, coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon in a blender until the mixture looks like wet sand.
- Firmly press into bottom and up the sides of pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.
- Dissolve espresso powder in ¾ cup of hot water in a blender. Add cocoa and let sit 5 minutes.
- Add melted chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, and1/4 tsp salt. Pulse for 30 seconds,
- Scrape filling into cooled tart shell and smooth top. Add sprinkled salt on top.
- Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour. Bring out 15-20 minutes before serving.