Tag Archives: chocolate

Recipe: Salted Chocolate Coconut Ganache Torte with Chocolate Cashew Crust

Chocolate Cashew Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 c. unsalted cashews
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut butter (or coconut oil; if not worried about dairy, butter might be a good substitute)
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. fine Himalayan sea salt

Crust Instructions: Add cashews to food processor and pulse till coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until thoroughly combined. Press into greased 8″ round (or square) pan (I use Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray and wet my hands slightly to press the crust on the bottom and sides of the pan; you could use a spring-form pan, if desired). Chill in freezer until ready to fill.

Chocolate Coconut Ganache Filling Ingredients:

Filling Instructions: Bring coconut cream to low boil over medium-low heat. Empty chocolate chips into a large glass bowl. Pour boiling coconut cream over chips, let sit for 2-5 minutes, then whisk gently till smooth. Add vanilla and whisk gently until combined. Pour into chilled crust. Return to refrigerator to set and chill for at least 2 hours.

Top with any or all of the following: 

  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. coconut flakes
  • 1/4 c. roughly chopped, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 – 1 c. whipped coconut cream (or whipped cream, if not concerned about being dairy-free)
  • 1/2 – 1 c. fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a combination would be nice; or you could serve this on the side)

Serving Instructions: Serve chilled in small slices or petit-four sized squares. Just before serving, sprinkle with 1-2 tsp. coarse, pink, Himalayan sea salt (if you do this earlier, the salt may dissolve into the dessert). It looks especially nice on top of whipped cream or whipped coconut cream, since it’s a beautiful pink! Serves 12-24 (depending on how large you cut). Bonus: This recipe is gluten free and dairy free! Bon appetit!

Journal Journey: Days 43-45

Day 43: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Leftover curry and rice for lunch. Had a really good workout at the gym after work. Dinner of salmon, yellow rice, and salad with an avocado-based Caesar dressing (started experimenting with this tonight–it was pretty good but a little too acidic…maybe a little less lemon juice and anchovy paste next time). Read for a while tonight, with a cup of hot tea.

Day 44: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Large granny smith apple and a handful of nuts for breakfast with coffee. Chicken noodle soup for lunch. Went to the gym, then I surprised Bryan with dinner from a little Greek restaurant–I had a falafel sandwich with tabouli and got him a beef and mushroom pizza. Then I had a small evening snack of blueberries, almonds, and a  square of dark chocolate with a cup of Vanilla Sleepytime tea. Finished reading my current book, French Women Don’t Get Fat–hope to have a book review post soon.

Day 45: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day! Woke up late, so today’s breakfast and lunch were the same as yesterday’s. I’m actually thinking I need to start making a big batch of soup at the beginning of the week to take for lunches…at least till it gets warm outside. Good day at work…called Bryan on my way out to check in before heading home. We typically don’t do anything too fancy for Valentine’s–and try to avoid restaurants–so we decided burgers sounded like a good idea for dinner. I stopped by Publix to grab some buns and picked up a bar of Bryan’s favorite dark chocolate. I came home to a surprise Valentine’s card and my own bar of dark chocolate. So sweet!

I mixed up a fresh batch of guacamole with avocado, onion, garlic, tomato, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Bryan mixed up the hamburger meat with an egg, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, sage, sriracha, and a little lite soy sauce. Bryan topped his burger with cheddar, mixed greens, cilantro, mayo, ketchup and mustard; I topped mine with a tiny bit of mayo, mixed greens, cilantro and the guacamole. Quite possibly the best burger I’ve ever had! Finally, we delved into our chocolate with a few almonds for dessert. Now to pick my next nighttime reading book…

Dairy-Free Chocolate Bars (and a Guilt-Free Chocolate Treat!)

The most important ingredient in chocolate is not milk, but cocoa! And the more cocoa the better, if you ask me. Dark chocolate comes in all shapes and sizes, but I prefer somewhere between 70% and 85%. That percentage is the percentage of cocoa to total ingredients. Since I’m trying to be dairy-free right now, I didn’t want to have to stop eating chocolate in general, so I’ve been doing a little research and here are a few bars that fit into this new-to-me lifestyle:

My Favorite Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Bar!

My Husband’s Favorite! (I like it too!)

My Favorite Organic Brand! (I also love the Espresso Dark Chocolate Bar from Green & Black’s.)

And if you’re wanting a high-protein snack with a little chocolate kick, consider chopping up about 3 or 4 squares into these “Raw Cookie Dough Bites” from A Dash of Compassion‘s blog. The recipe in the link makes about 12 one-inch cookie dough balls. I used honey instead of agave nectar, and they were deliciously guilt-free! Plus, they make a great on-the-go breakfast, if you’re in a hurry, since they’re just nuts, oats, a little honey, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and some dark chocolate. Feel free to substitute raisins for the chocolate if you want them to be even more nutritious!

Recipe: Chocolate Beet Cupcakes from Simple Bites

We got a bundle of beets in our produce basket this week, and while I love them roasted and chopped in a salad or sauteed in butter and garlic, my husband’s not a huge fan. I saw a recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes made with Beets on an episode of Good Morning America Health several months ago and have been waiting for a chance to try it. So, when I saw we were getting beets in our basket, I started looking for recipes and came across this one from Simple Bites. The beets give it a deep dark color, almost like Red Velvet cake, while keeping the cupcakes moist and semi-nutritious. These were a definite win for kids and adults alike!

First, you have to make the Beet Puree, so here’s how to do that from Simple Bites:

“1. Roast beets as directed in my recent Roasting Vegetables 101 post [excerpt below].”

Excerpt from Simple Bites Roasting Vegetables 101: “Preheat oven to 425°F. Group beets by 3′s on 2 separate sheets of aluminum foil. Wrap tightly, making sure the package is it as airtight as possible. Place on a baking sheet and bake until beets are slightly soft to the touch, about an hour. Remove from oven, open packages and cool beets slightly, then trim ends and rub skins off.”)

[I sprayed mine with olive oil and put 2 small beets in each piece of fool. I might recommend peeling them before you roast them, but this worked fine.]

“2. Peel and roughly chop beets. Transfer to a food processor and whiz until finely chopped, but not totally smooth. It’s better to still have some texture. Beet purée is now ready to use.”

[We didn’t have a food processor, so we used a potato masher and it worked fine. If you don’t have access to fresh beets, canned beets would probably work because they’ve already been steamed. Drain and pat dry, then mash or throw in your food processor.]


image from Simple Bites

Declan's too little for cupcakes, but we had some leftover organic beet puree, so Julie mixed it in his organic rice cereal and he loved it!

Here’s the cupcake recipe from Simple Bites:

“Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 2 oz dark chocolate, chopped [I used an organic 70%; 6 of 10 squares on a 3.25 oz. bar; I saved 2 of the squares to chop and sprinkle over the icing at the end, and Julie and I ate the other 2.]
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter [aka, 1 stick]
  • 1 cup cake flour [I used organic all-purpose flour, and it worked fine]
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup raw cane sugar [I used Florida Crystals organic sugar]
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup beet purée (about 4 small)

1. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place the chopped chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave on low, at 30 second intervals, until ingredients are melted. Stir often during the melting process. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. [You can do this step in small saucepan over low heat, if you prefer.]

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat remaining butter and sugar together until well combined. Scrape down the sides often. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in beet purée, followed by melted chocolate mixture.

5. Remove paddle attachment, and using a sturdy spatula, fold in flour mixture by hand. Do not over mix.

6. Using a lever ice cream scoop to make the job easier and mess-free, divide cupcake batter among muffin cups.

7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in tins for a few minutes, then cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

8. Use a spatula or piping bag [I used a ziploc bag with the tip cut off] to frost cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below). Just before serving, top with desired ‘extra’ decoration… Enjoy!”

Looks like Chocolate Cupcakes to me!

While the cupcakes are baking, mix up your maple cream cheese frosting. Here’s Simple Bites’ recipe:

This rich frosting is the decadent touch that really puts these cupcakes over the top. If you don’t have maple syrup, a half a cup of powdered sugar and a few drops of milk will work as well.

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  1. With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add maple syrup and a pinch of salt and beat again until smooth.
  2. Frost cupcakes as desired. Makes enough for twelve cupcakes.”

[Note: It only makes enough for a dollop of icing on each cupcake, so if you like to spread it on thick, double the recipe. Also, it’s not a very sweet frosting, so if you prefer, add powdered sugar (and possibly a Tbsp. of milk) till you get the desired thickness and sweetness.]

After they cool, top with a dollop of frosting and sprinkle with shaved dark chocolate. We let ours cool on a wired rack, then put them back in the pan to easily transport outside for dessert.


This picture doesn't do justice. Every time her mommy pulled the cupcake away from her mouth, Kate would jump up and down and squeal for more!

Will wiped off the icing but gobbled up the cupcake.

Isaac and Will are two and have no idea they're eating vegetables! So cute!

[Note: Comments in brackets are mine. ~Melissa]

Mexican Coffee Recipe

by Harriet Dickson (my pastor’s wife from Ohio)

Makes 8 servings.


  • 3-4 c. brewed coffee (the original recipe says 3/4 c. coffee, but I never knew if this was coffee grounds or brewed coffee or just a typo, so I use one french press of coffee or one small pot of coffee)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. milk (I use 2% organic)
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. Hershey’s Syrup (I use the Dark Chocolate Syrup)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  • Brew coffee and cinnamon together. (Mix cinnamon into coffee grounds before brewing.)
  • Heat rest of ingredients together in a saucepan.
  • Add brewed coffee to saucepan.
  • Serve hot.

This makes a great holiday beverage or just a good dessert coffee. After making it a time or two, you won’t even need to measure. Just add the ingredients in the proportions you like.

Chocolate Pudding in the Raw (Feb. 16, 2010)

I have a friend that switched to a primarily raw foods diet for health reasons. She’s had great success with it! And though I’m not ready to follow in her footsteps, I am willing to try many of her recipes.

Last night I tried her chocolate pudding recipe made with avocado and agave nectar. Here it is:

1 avocado (peeled, pitted)
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (she uses carob powder, but I hear that’s an acquired taste)
4 Tbsp. agave nectar (I found this at Publix next to the honey)
1 c. water
Juice of 1 orange

Basically, just blend it all up and chill it for several hours. To be honest, I didn’t even taste the avocado. However, I think next time I will eliminate the orange juice and reduce the amount of water (I like my chocolate pudding thick). But it was a good experiment! And I’m excited to try it out on my nephew who’s allergic to whey.

Original recipe courtesy of Catherine Hosack at adventuresinuncooking.wordpress.com.

An alternative chocolate pudding recipe can be found at this Raw Foods Recipe Blog: http://www.thedailyrawcafe.com/2007/09/chocolate-pudding.html.

Feb. 17, 2010: Okay, I tried it tonight without the water and orange juice, and I liked it so much better! It was rich, creamy, and thick (not runny like my first try). Yum! Be sure to share though: this recipe definitely is for 2!

Life is Like a Box of…Chocolate Chip Cookies (Feb. 2, 2010)

When someone asks me how a good God could let bad things happen, my first thought is to put the “bad things” in perspective. I’m reminded of 2 things: 1. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…,” and 2. chocolate chip cookies.

Why these two things? Well, when I’m explaining it to kids (I’m a former camp counselor and current 4th grade Sunday school teacher), I compare life to chocolate chip cookies. What’s in chocolate chip cookies? There are some really good things like chocolate chips and sugar, and then there are some things that taste nasty if left by themselves, like flour, baking soda, raw eggs, and vanilla extract. Have you ever tasted vanilla extract? If you haven’t, just put a drop on your finger and lick it. It’s one of the most bitter things around. BUT when you mix all the ingredients together (the good and the “bad”) and put them under heat (the pressures of life), what comes out is delicious chocolate chip cookies.

So, though some experiences may look bad in and of themselves, when mixed with the good, and baked in the heat of life, the ultimate end is good. One condition does remain: “to those who love God.” Without the reference point of God, the bad things won’t make sense. We must believe that He is Good AND Sovereign (in control). If He were good but not sovereign, then He would be a powerless philanthropist. If He were sovereign but not good, then He would be an inconsiderate dictator. But He is both good AND in control, so we can trust Him.

We were all born as sinners and must accept the grace of Jesus Christ in order to be freed from that sin. His substitutionary atonement on the cross put my sin (and yours) on His shoulders and His righteousness on mine, if I accept it. The result of faith in Christ: receive eternal life in heaven with Him, instead of eternal life in Hell apart from Him. So, when “bad things” happen, I think of them as God drawing me closer to Himself. Everything that happens is part of His grace. And in the end, we’ll sit down to a heavenly feast with Jesus. Who knows? Maybe there will even be chocolate chip cookies served.