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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Beary-Cute Mini Cupcakes

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Do you have certain foods or snacks that you enjoy purely for the nostalgia factor?

I have a whole list. Most of them I rarely, if ever, consume today. It seems that as children, we were instinctively drawn to food that came in shiny, colourful plastic packets and was stuffed with sugar and fake flavours and colours… they were essentially staples of one’s diet.

As I grew up I turned away from these sugary, salty, colourful confections and instead snacked on things that came in more dull packaging that boasted words like “organic”, “gluten free” and “raw” because they make me feel like a proper adult.

But for the sake of nostalgia, and also to give me something to actually write about in this post, I’ve decided to scour the interwebs and share with you some of my favourite sugary snacks as a young lass.

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HavaHeart ice cream: I was honestly a little surprised that I only found one picture of these on the Internet… maybe they weren’t as popular as I thought. But these heart-shaped, chocolate-coated, vanilla ice-cream bundles of goodness on a stick were the Number 1 way to make a hot summer afternoon even better*. I think if they were shaped like regular ice-cream I probably couldn’t have cared less, but because they were shaped like hearts they were just downright amazing.

*Notice I said “even better” and not “bearable” like I usually would when talking about the hotter months of the year… yes, I actually liked summer when I was a child. Shocking, no?

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Cadbury Roses: Okay, so you were probably expecting more kiddie, colourful, sugary snacks on this list. I mean, Cadbury Roses? Aren’t those a little bit classy for a 5-year-old? Maybe. So I guess I was a rather classy 5-year-old, because I loved these. This bright blue box of chocolates would magically appear on most “grown-up” special occasions – parents’ birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers’ Day, and other such events. The shiny wrappers that clearly differentiated the chocolates were a bonus. Not only were they super pretty, but they allowed me to swiftly avoid the “disgusting” flavours which my 5-year-old self was not fond of, such as strawberry or mint.

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Tinny Teddies: Normal biscuits? Boring. Biscuits shaped like small bears with varying personalities? HECK YES. Tiny Teddies were the ultimate snack of my childhood. I used to pretend that they were going on little adventures into the “cave” (i.e. my mouth) where they would then proceed to scream in terror as they were chomped into a mush. Yes, that’s a bit creepy. Don’t worry, I don’t do that anymore.

Reminiscing about these beary-delicious snacks inspired me to whip up some cupcakes in their honour. Mini-cupcakes, so you can eat three times as much… I mean, because they’re small and cute.

Mini-cupcakes with pieces of dark chocolate in them, to balance out the childishness with a bit of classiness… everyone knows that classy adults love eating dark chocolate, right?

Mini-cupcakes with “Cookies ‘n’ Cream” icing made from crushed Oreos… because each Tiny Teddy might get a bit lonely by itself on each individual cupcake, and will need a friend… even if that friend is an Oreo that’s been crushed into tiny pieces and mixed with sweet buttercream icing to produce an unappetizing gray yet extremely delicious substance.

So the icing was a bit of an experiment, and could maybe do with oh-so-slightly less Oreo… hence why it’s that awkward grey colour. Everyone did seem to like the icing, but for aesthetic reasons you may want to cut back a little. It’s up to you; add as much as you’d like to suit your tastes. Maybe you could try out the choc-filled Oreos or one of the other flavours! That could be fun.

Here is the recipe – bake and enjoy!

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Beary-Cute Mini Cupcakes

½ cup caster sugar
80g butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup dark chocolate, chopped

ICING:
80g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
75g Oreos, crushed

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a 24-hole mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg, and stir well to combine. Sift in the flour and add the milk, vanilla extract and dark chocolate chunks. Stir well to combine.

Evenly distribute the batter amongst the cupcake cases, and bake for about 15 minutes, until cupcakes are well risen and spring back lightly when touched. Leave to cool fully before icing.

To make the icing, beat the butter and sifted icing sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the crushed Oreos. Using a knife or a piping bag, ice the cooled Cupcakes. Top each with a Tiny Teddy or some other cute animal-shaped cookie. Maybe even Mini Oreos. That could look nice.

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.

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.

Double Marshmallow Brownies

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Hello there, readers! It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged, or even baked for that matter. Don’t worry, I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth. But after coming back from overseas (which was indescribably AWESOME by the way), I’ve had a busy few weeks of catching up on assignments and sleep so I haven’t had any time to bake cupcakes and cookies and other forms of sugary goodness. Life has been quite hectic! In fact, I actually started writing this post several weeks ago but so much has happened since then and so I kind of forgot about it for a while.

But enough about my crazy life. Let’s talk about something that’s important and relevant to us all: BROWNIES!

I’m a huge fan of brownies. Who isn’t? Although I’m the sort of person who loves to try new recipes each time, when I make brownies I generally stick to the same recipe, one that I got out of a recipe magazine. It uses ridiculous amounts of dark chocolate (two entire blocks!) as well as tons of sugar and choc chips and it’s really rich and is amazing served warm with whipped cream or ice cream as dessert, so naturally it’s one of those recipes that I want to make over and over again. But on this particular evening, I though, “Why don’t I try something new?” I didn’t really feel like using up all that dark chocolate this time, and also, I was in a marshmallow mood and decided that I wanted to make marshmallow brownies – and my usual recipe is a bit too rich and marshmallows would probably just make it too sweet.

So I went on the hunt for a marshmallow brownies recipe. I noticed that a lot of them involved sprinkling the marshmallows on top at the last minute and letting them melt a bit, but there was one I found where the marshmallows actually go IN the batter and melt while the brownie cooks, adding to the texture and flavor of the brownie. I decided to go with this one, with a few little tweaks to suit my tastes.

The brownie mix was super easy to make, and while it was in the oven I found myself growing curious – I wondered if the sprinkling-the-marshmallows-on-top-and-letting-them-melt technique would work? When I took them out of the over after they were cooked, I decided to give it a go – although only over half the tray, in case it turned out really crap and ended up ruining my lovely marshmallow brownies (which were looking very puffy and delicious at that time). I sprinkled some mini-marshmallows and milk choc chips over half the tray and popped it back in the oven for a bit.

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The marshmallows on top didn’t really melt that much initially – I was worried about leaving it in there too long in case the brownie itself cooked too much and burned, so I took it out and used a spoon to sort of spread the mallows out over the surface of the brownie, like icing – it actually worked quite well as they had melted a little. So, I was left with a tray of half marshmallow brownies and half double-marshmallow brownies.

These brownies are rich, fudgy, sweet and chewy. It’s a bit like eating rocky road, but more chocolatey. The marshmallows that are within the batter aren’t actually visible, but you can definitely taste them – the whole thing has a marshmallowy flavor, with a subtle hint of rum from the rum essence. Of course if you’re not a fan of rum flavoured things you could definitely substitute vanilla essence, or some other sort of essence, whatever floats your boat.

Double Marshmallow Brownies
(from Cookie Madness)

115g unsalted butter
60g dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 granualted sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 plain flour
1 cup milk choc chips
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons rum essence (optional)
Extra mini marshmallows and choc chips for topping (about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of each)

Preheat the oven to 176 degrees C. Grease and line a brownie tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the cooking chocolate, and stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

When the mixture has cooled slightly, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugars, salt, and eggs (one at a time). Sift in the flour and stir until combined. Fold in the marshmallows and choc chips and add the essence if using.

Pour the mixture into the brownie tin and bake for about 25 minutes. When the brownies are just cooked, remove from the oven and sprinkle mini marshmallows and choc chips over the top. Place back into the oven for about 5 minutes to and let the topping melt.

When completely cool, slice into squares. Store in the fridge.