Chocolate Chickpea Truffles

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Chickpeas. Who doesn’t love a good chickpea? They’re the perfect addition to your next soup, salad, casserole, dessert…

“Whoa – wait! Hold the phone!” you rudely interrupt. “Dessert? What is wrong with you, woman? Have you gone quite mad?”

But hear me out. Chickpeas are actually a surprisingly useful ingredient in crafting tasty, yet unbelievably healthy, sweets. I’ve made Chickpea Brownies before, which were quite delicious, and my most recent creation was these yummy Chickpea Truffles! Just like chocolate truffles, minus the guilt.

Here’s the story. I was in the kitchen with my very first loaf of bread rising in the oven – yes, my very first loaf of bread! Hate to go off topic, but I kneaded to brag about that one because I’m super proud of myself – but I was very much in a “cook/bake all the things” kind of mood. I wanted to make something healthy, though, to counteract the carb-fest that was coming together in the over at the time.

I basically made this up as I went along. I knew it would include chickpeas, almond butter, cocoa powder, and honey for sweetness. I threw in some quick-cooking oats as well, to give it texture and hold it together. I chucked it all in the blender ‘til it was smooth, then I chopped up some chunks of dark chocolate for extra chocolately goodness and antioxidants and stirred them in.

After rolling them into balls, I decided to coat them in a blend of chia seeds and cocoa powder. This made them ridiculously chocolatey, which is great because everyone loves chocolate. The only downside is that anything rolled in cocoa powder tends to get a little bit messy… so maybe don’t eat these whilst all dolled up in your Sunday best.

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Chocolate Chickpea Truffles

170g canned chickpeas, drained weight (I used two x 125g cans)
6 tbsp quick-cooking oats
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp. cocoa powder or hot chocolate mix
2-3 squares of chopped dark chocolate (or 2-3 tbsp of dark chocolate chips)
1 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder, extra (for coating)
2-3 tbsp chia seeds

Combine all ingredients except for chia seeds, choc chips, and the extra cocoa powder in the blender, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips/chunks.

In another bowl, combine the chia seeds and extra cocoa powder. With dampened hands, roll the chickpea mixture into balls and coat in the cocoa/chia mix. Place balls on a plate or tray, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until firm.

Enjoy without guilt! :)

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Orange Marmalade Brownies and #MealForAMeal

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Lately – over the past week, at least – I’ve been a bit of a Domestic Goddess.

No, I don’t mean I’ve been doing loads of housework or anything. Don’t get me wrong, I do find housework fun at times (wife material right here) but I mean that I’ve been spending a lot of time making tasty things happen in the kitchen! Much of it can be seen on my Instagram – my username is @sarahwielgosz (creative, I know) and any kitchen shenanigans I get up to will be tagged with #sneakypuddingblog … if you happen to try out a recipe from here, it’d be swell if you could use that hashtag too!

On the topic of hashtags, a thought occurred to me whilst I was writing this post. I’ve seen the hashtag #mealforameal floating around on Instagram and Facebook. I’m sure most of you already know about it, but basically when you hashtag your food photos with that tag, a donation is made to OzHarvest that allows them to feed someone in need. Although there will always be starving people out there and one hashtagged photo of your lunch isn’t going to change the world, it’s a small step that we can each take to raise awareness of the issue. Besides , we’re all obviously addicted to snapping photos of our food, so we might as well make something good come out of it!

Anyway, back to the topic of my recent baking kick. The kitchen has been my second home lately, which is a bit weird because technically it’s in my home. I’ve overcome my aversion to kneading dough – I baked raspberry jam-filled scones and even some Damper! I’ve found the time to cook dinner for my family – lamb stew, fish pie, and lots of other delicious winter warmers.

Last Saturday I had some friends over for a board games night, and I really felt the urge to whip up some brownies to share around. I’ve made a variety of brownies before – brownies that are rich and fudgy, and brownies that are lighter and more cake-like. Brownies stuffed with marshmallows, and even completely egg-free, butter-free and sugar-free brownies with chickpeas as the secret ingredient (recipe coming soon!) This time, wanting to try something different, I searched my cupboards for some inspiration and came across a jar of orange marmalade. Chocolate and orange is a tried-and-true combination so I thought, why not?

Essentially, I prepared brownies the normal way but swirled the orange marmalade on top before they went in the oven. If you want to make these, the trick is to not use too much marmalade and to distribute it evenly, otherwise some of the brownies are just going to be drenched in marmalade and be a bit too gooey. Still delicious, but just not something that I want to serve to people in my house for fear that they’ll drip chocolatey-and-marmaladey-goodness all over my couch, floor and Monopoly set.

So, here’s the recipe. Enjoy! And if you do bake these (or anything) don’t forget: #mealforameal!

Orange Marmalade Brownies

125g butter
200g dark chocolate
2 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a brownie/slice tin.

Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan, stirring, until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Beat the brown sugar and eggs until creamy, then beat in oil. Sift in flour, salt, cocoa powder and cinnamon and add the melted butter/chocolate mixture and the chos chips. Stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and evenly swirl the marmalade through the mixture. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked (test with a skewer) Allow to cool and firm up in the tin for a while (10-15 minutes) before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve warm with cream or ice cream, or refrigerate and enjoy cold. :)

Almost-Vegan, Almost-Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Brownie Cups

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I believe I have most definitely jumped on the “healthy baking” bandwagon.

When I baked these, it had actually been a while since I’d baked a batch of rich, gooey chocolate brownies or a big loaf of sweet, buttery banana bread. (Just FYI, I’ve been very lazy in terms of blogging and I baked these many, many weeks ago)

Not that I’ve totally gone off those things – not at all! I just really enjoy the challenge of taking a bunch of fairly “healthy” ingredients and whipping them up into something that tastes like, well, an “actual dessert”.

So where did this healthy-baking kick begin?

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, in the final days of Autumn, and there was a slight chill in the air – a precursor to the delightfully freezing winter days to come. I was at my computer, doing something really important like looking for cute dresses on Modcloth, when suddenly, a realization hit me. “I need to bake.”

Only, there was one little dilemma – no eggs! Sure I could have gone shopping and bought some, but who could honestly be bothered? The lazy-girl way seemed much more appealing – bake something with no eggs. In fact, I thought; while I was at it, why not bake something with no butter as well? And use Spelt flour instead of regular flour? Why not make something a bit healthy, something I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about eating ten of… not that I did… heh heh heh… *shifty eyes*

I scoured the Internet for a recipe, and eventually came across this one. I pretty much had all the ingredients for it, and actually had some dark chocolate and some bananas that I needed to use up. Perfect!

I adapted the recipe a little, though. For example, instead of white flour, I used Spelt flour; and I used almond milk instead of soy milk because that’s all I had… and I also added a bit more. Finally, instead of cooking them in a brownie pan, I made them in cupcake cases so I wouldn’t have to grease the pan and slice them after. Told you I was lazy. Though actually, cupcake cases are a bit more convenient as well… it’s like each brownie comes with its own personal crumb-catcher!

These little guys taste sensational. Seriously, you wouldn’t think they were meant to be healthy. That combination of peanut butter, dark chocolate and banana… heck yes! I seriously could not get enough. They were still good a few days after they’ve been baked as well. So moist. The only thing I would change would be perhaps finding something else to replace the cup of sugar in the recipe… like something that’s not sugar, for instance (Hence why they are “Almost Healthy”). And maybe throwing in some mix-ins like choc-chips or dates, ‘cause that’s always an absolute blast.

Also, I call them “Almost Vegan” because of the chocolate I used… if you have some sort of vegan cooking chocolate though, you can use that.

Here’s the recipe. Now get your hot little self into the kitchen, bake up a batch of these bad boys, and enjoy!

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Banana Peanut Butter Brownie Cups

1 cup Spelt flour
½ cup baking soda
½ cup baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 mashed, ripe banana
½ cup peanut butter
30g dark cooking chocolate, melted
1/3 cup almond milk

 Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius, and fill a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Sift flour, baking soda and powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine banana, sugar, peanut butter and melted chocolate. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, adding the almond milk as you do so.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Date, Cocoa & Chia Balls

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Since I’m going to be talking about one of my “healthy” recipes in this post, I was going to begin this post with a statement like, “I’m a bit of a health-freak” or something along those lines.

But that would be a lie, at least most of the time.

I ain’t no gym junkie. I do go to the gym, but I mostly spend the time huffing and puffing away on whatever machines I feel like that day whilst daydreaming about all the nice clothes I can wear if I keep up my exercise routine ‘til bikini season rolls around, and at the end I’m like, “Yes! I burned 400 calories! That’s like, a whole slice of cake! Go me!” Then I go home and eat a whole slice of cake. No, I’m joking, that’s just gross.

I do like to eat healthily though – I may not live solely on kale smoothies and quinoa, but I like making healthy choices when it comes to what I shove in my cake-hole (or quinoa-hole… that sounds kinda weird, though, I don’t think I’ll use that saying anymore)

But cooking and baking is my weakness. I like to make sweets to share with my friends and family – cake, cookies, that kind of thing – but often what I bake ends up on my own plate too, negating the whole “being a health-freak” thing. Yet I love to bake, and I love to bake often. Dilemma.

Well, it’s not necessarily the biggest dilemma ever… because lately I’ve developed a fondness for cooking/baking/assembling guilt-free indulgences.

I decided to experiment a little in the kitchen the other day, and came up with a recipe for these delicious little balls of fun! Date, Cocoa and Chia Balls. No butter, no sugar, but lots of deliciousness!

The recipe is still kind of in the beta stage. Basically, I chopped up a bunch of dates and chucked them in the blender with the other ingredients, but I found that nothing was happening to the dates except for being shaken madly about in the blender… so I added more water to help them blend. It worked, but it made the mixture quite soft. They were fine once I rolled them into balls, coated them in Chia Seeds and put them in the fridge overnight, though I would have liked them a bit more chewy. I honestly didn’t regulate the amount of extra water I poured in there, but I guesstimated 1/3 cup when I wrote down the recipe… maybe a bit less would be better?

Why not try the recipe out yourself and have a bit of a play with the proportions? It’s a no-bake recipe, so you needn’t worry about the whole “Baking is a science and you need the exact measurements of everything” deal. You could also roll them in something else like desiccated coconut or cocoa powder if you’re not fond of using Chia Seeds.

Also, a word of warning: These taste a bit like brownies. Brownies are addictive. Therefore, you might possibly find these addictive. But they’re healthy, so it’s okay, right? Right?

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Date, Cocoa and Chia Seeds Balls

1 ½ cups dried dates, pitted, chopped
6 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee (I used Moccona Hazelnut infusions, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy) dissolved in about 1/3 cup of hot water (if you’re not a coffee fan, just use the water on its own)
A pinch of salt
Approx. half a cup Chia Seeds

Place all the ingredients except the Chia Seeds in a blender or food processor. Blend to a fairly smooth paste, adding extra water if necessary.

Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls (it might be a bit sticky… I recommend rinsing your hands before doing this, it makes it easier to handle) and roll in the Chia Seeds to coat. Place the completed balls onto a lined baking tray, and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Nutella Swirl Vanilla Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese frosting

Hi everyone! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Let me tell you, these past few weeks have been a little on the crazy side, but now that all the madness is over, I can finally say that I’m no longer a student!

Yes, that’s right, I’ve finished my graphic design course at last. I’m in the “real world” now and to be honest it’s a bit terrifying. Like, it’s not just my “holiday” break right now, a time that I can spend lazing about, watching movies, playing The Sims ‘til 3am and baking cookies all day long. This is my life now. I have to apply for jobs and be a grown-up.

So, I went on a job-applying-spree the other night, and had my first interview on Wednesday! It was for an unpaid internship, but experience is experience. I threw on my brand new pair of what I call my “job interview shoes” (sensible, black high-heels, which are actually more reminiscent of an old lady’s Church shoes than a pair of sexy businesswoman shoes, but shhh, no-one has to know that), a dress I’d bought the other week, and a smart cropped blazer. I felt like a savvy, sophisticated businesswomen, at least until the shoes started painfully digging in to the back of my ankles (ouch ouch OUCH) as I limped my way back home… then I felt more like a child playing dress-up. :P

That’s been my life lately, I just thought I’d give a bit of an update. I don’t know, do you guys enjoy reading blogs where the writer gives little insights into what’s happening in their personal lives (nothing too personal, don’t worry, I’ll keep my shower-stories and other private things to myself), or have you been skimming through these paragraphs whilst thinking, “Gosh darn it, get yourself back in the kitchen, woman! I want me some cakes, just get to the recipe already!”

Well if you identify as the latter option, don’t you fret! Cakes are coming. I’ve got a few different recipes up my sleeves; different things I’ve baked in the past few weeks. I baked Hot Cross Buns for the first time ever, then I baked them again, for the second time ever! It was my first time baking with yeast… exciting, no? That’s going to be the next post, though. Today I’m going to share something sweet and Nutella-packed, as a delicious apology for the neglect I’ve been showing you, my dear readers, lately (in fact, maybe it’s make up for all the times I’ve promised to post more and then neglected to do so… there is a lot of Nutella in these after all).

So I present to you…

Nutella-swirled vanilla cupcakes…

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…with Nutella and Cream Cheese frosting!

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Didn’t end up taking a proper shot with my SLR camera, so I hope you’re all okay with Instagram pics! If you’d like to follow me on Instagram my username is sarahwielgosz but be warned that I don’t only post baking pics, much of it will be selfies, my dogs, books I’m reading, cups of tea and just general weirdness… I’ll try to tag my food/baking pics with #sneakypudding so you can just search those up if you need a Sneaky Pudding fix. ;)

So here’s the story. Easter was a couple of weeks ago, remember? If you chowed down on enough chocolate and ended up in a sugar coma, your memory might be a little fuzzy, but I assure you, Easter most definitely happened. Anyway, a bit before Easter, we got a packet of these candy-coated Easter eggs so I could back something Easter-themed… but as I ended up baking a batch of Hot Cross Buns on Easter Sunday itself, I figured I should use up the candy eggs by the Sunday after, because it feels weird to eat Easter stuff when more than a week’s gone by since the special day. We also had a jar of Nutella in the cupboard, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t eat Nutella with normal meals or snacks; it’s most definitely a treat/indulgence.

I decided to use up both in the one go, by whipping up these delectable cupcakes! The icing, by the way, is amazing. Way too amazing. There was some left over and for the next few days, I would occasionally indulge in a sneaky teaspoon or two as “dessert”. Hey, I was stressed out with assignments, okay? Chocolate helps. Oh, and fun fact, it was my first time successfully using a piping bag! Go me!

Here’s the recipe. Left-over candy-coated Easter eggs optional, of course. Personally, I think topping each one with a strawberry would be a good decision too. Whatever floats your boat!

Nutella-Swirled Cupcakes

80g butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons of Nutella, approximately

ICING:

1 cup Nutella
225g Cream Cheese
1/3 cup icing sugar, approximately

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add the egg and vanilla and stir until well-combined.
Sift in the flour and salt, and add the milk. Stir until well-combined (don’t overmix!)

Evenly distribute the batter amongst the cupcake liners. Using a knife or skewer, swirl small amounts of Nutella into each cupcake to create a marbled effect. (if your Nutella is a bit solid, you might want to microwave it for a little to melt it, just to make this task easier).

Bake for 18-20 minutes in the oven, until the cupcakes are well-risen and spring back lightly when touched. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack.

For the icing, combine the Nutella and Cream Cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and well-combined. Add the icing sugar and continue to mix until combined (you can adjust the amount of icing sugar if you’d like, adding less or more depending on how sweet/thick you want the icing… I find the icing sweet enough without it, but added some to make it thicker and easier to work with).

If the icing is a bit runny, place it in the fridge for about half an hour; this will make it easier to decorate the cupcakes.

When you’re happy with the consistency of the icing, use either a piping bag or a knife to spread it on the cooled cupcakes. Top them with whatever decorative element you wish (or leave them plain if that’s your thing) and enjoy!

Peppermint Candy Cane Cupcakes

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One of my favourite parts of baking for Christmas time (or for any holiday or birthday or whatever) is making cupcakes and getting creative in regards to decorating them. I mean, cupcakes are awesome at any time of year, but it’s always a blast to jazz them up to suit the occasion!

I don’t exactly do a lot of cupcake-decorating, though. I don’t even own a piping bag, so I can’t do that fancy swirly-whirly icing that always looks so pretty. But I’ve got tonnes of ideas – I even have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to snazzy-looking cupcakes.

For Christmas this year though, I decided to keep it simple – choc-mint cupcakes topped with mini candy canes. After I kind of failed at making peppermint marshmallows (hey, it’s my first time attempting marshmallows, don’t judge) I still wanted to whip up something sweet and pepperminty for my extended family at Christmas… so I figured, why not cupcakes? Everyone loves cupcakes!

These guys are super simple to make, and can be made in normal- or mini-form depending on what floats your boat. If you’re making them as mini cupcakes though, just remember to bake them for 12-15 minutes rather than 18-20; otherwise, just follow the recipe.

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Peppermint Candy Cane Cupcakes

80g of butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup self raising flour
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon peppermint essence
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup dark choc chips

ICING:
1 cup milk chocolate buttons
¼ cup cream
½ teaspoon peppermint essence
12 mini candy canes

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius, and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, then stir in the egg until well combined.
Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, and add the milk, peppermint essence and dark choc chips. Stir until combined.
Divide the batter amongst each cupcake liner, and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until cupcakes are risen and spring back lightly when touched (and a skewer pierced into the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean). Leave to cool in the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the topping, melt the milk chocolate buttons with the cream and peppermint essence in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken slightly, then smooth over the surface of each cupcake. Top each with a mini candy cane.

Coconut Mocha Cookies

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Do you ever look in the pantry or fridge and just feel a bit guilty for having a whole bunch of cooking or baking ingredients that you never use? Or that you bought for one particular recipe, but only needed a little bit, so there’s a whole box/sack/packet left over? And you really don’t want it to go to waste?

Because that totally happened to me this weekend. Actually, it happens to me quite often, especially with cooking chocolate. Sometimes a recipe only calls for half of one of those big blocks of cooking chocolate, and the rest gets wrapped up and stowed away in the fridge for “next time” you decide to make a chocolatey treat. Of course, when “next time” rolls around, the recipe needs more than that bit you have left in the fridge so you end up just opening a new block.

Well, this recipe is a great way to use up that neglected block of chocolate (as long as it hasn’t been neglected for like, twelve years or something… you might want to have a quick peek at the expiration date, actually) since there’s no set amount of chocolate you have to use – just melt some down and use as much as you desire. It’s fairly quick and easy too, so it’s great for when you get the sudden urge to bestow delicious cookies upon your friends and family… an urge that tends to hit me quite often.

So before I delve into the story of these cookies, it’ time for a fun fact: I suffer from – no, rather, I enjoy – a coffee addiction! Coffee actually has numerous health benefits, and it makes me way easier to deal with during the early hours of the morning. Without my morning (caffeine) fix, I’d probably look and feel like Grumpy Cat for the first six or seven hours of my day.

The other cool thing about liking coffee so much is that I’m always inspired to add a bit of it to otherwise non-caffeinated recipes, giving them an extra flavor kick! That’s exactly what happened with these cookies. I also dipped half of them in some melted dark chocolate (oh look, another addiction of mine) so I could use the word “mocha” in the recipe title (and because I decided it would taste nice, too). The cookies are soft and chewy, with the coffee and coconut flavour coming through nicely – they’re still alright on their own even without dark chocolate. The dark chocolate makes it very rich and indulgent. Ever had a  coconut mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks? It’s a little like that, in cookie form.

And to finish off on a totally random note before sharing the recipe, wow, autocorrect recognises the word Frappuccino! Good job, autocorrect! :D

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Coconut Mocha Cookies

100g unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules, dissolved in about 1 tablespoon hot water
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
About 150g of dark cooking chocolate (you may need less or more, depending on how much chocolate you want to coat each cookie in and whether or not you want to leave some plain)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line two baking trays.

Combine butter, sugar, vanilla and coffee in a large mixing bowl and stir until smooth and well-combined (you may want to use an electric mixer for this). Beat in egg until just combined. Sift in flour and add desiccated coconut, and stir until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls (it will probably be quite sticky – it helps to dampen hands with water when doing this) and place on trays, flattening slightly, making sure to leave plenty of room to spread.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden and cooked through. Leave on trays to cool.

When cookies have cooled, melt at least 150g of dark chocolate following packet instructions. Dip half of each cookie in the dark chocolate, using a knife to smoothen. Spread dipped cookies out on several plates and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for chocolate to set and harden.