Happy Peep-Eating Day!

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Happy Chocolate-Bunny Eating Day!

Or something.

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My dad and his brother started the day off by sending each other peep-eating photos. I guess that would make it Happy Peep-Eating-Day?! Or maybe it was a Peep-Off. Apparently my cousin was also photographed eating them, perhaps it’s a family affair? Whatever. The peep-eating trend obviously stops with me…sorry about that. Given that I absolutely abhor those nasty little piles of sugar-coated marshmallowy goop (nothing personal to the peep eaters out there, vacuum vati notwithstanding), I made this instead! Happy cake eating day to me! Because Easter=chocolate. Because…chocolate. Why do you even need a reason??

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And then you add dates and bananas and coconut and more chocolate and mmmmm.

AND you omit the refined sugar and all that gunk. So really, I’m doing vacuum vati a favor by providing some balance to offset his peep-eating ways. Not that a peep (or ten) once a year is a bad thing…. just don’t blame me when you discover your insides are technicolor. Just sayin’.

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And really. It’s Eater (I mean Easter, whoops. See??) so that means brunch and eggs benedict and cake and chocolate. Preferably chocolate before breakfast or chocolate ganache eaten with a finger spatula (don’t look at me like that. I know you’ve done it). Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, my Easter has included none of these things except a finger spatula (I did make cake, after all).

MY Easter started off at 5 am with toast… and then a sunrise service…and then shadow yoga studies at nine… and then a ravenous stuffing of basil-y and mushroom-y eggs into my face at 11:30 because I was ravenous after yoga and breakfast at 5; before which I had thrown a two layer cake together in twenty minutes. That is winning, that is. Oh. And I recently ate a truffle (salted caramel dark chocolate), courtesy of my mom who knows me SO well and put only intensely dark chocolate things and raw cocoa nibs in my Easter basket. Thanks mom!

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Ramble ramble ramble…

CAKE!

Let’s move on.

Happy eater Easter! Enjoy your chocolate or cake or family or whatever it is that you happen to be doing. Whatever you do, please do yourself a favor and eat something delicious!

Also, one lasty little thingy…. happy 200th posts to me on my bloglet! You go, little bloglet. You’re so cute. I do rather adore you. Consider this a happy 200th-post cake celebration, hooray!

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It's Easter. You get a flower!
It’s Easter. You get a flower!

Banana Date Layer Cake

This cake is not for the sweet-loving at heart, given that it is naturally sweetened and naturally not very sweet! But it IS good, so I would recommend it for those of you who either can’t or don’t eat refined sugar. It makes a dense, lightly sweet cake with a rich chocolate ganache. Despite being lightly sweet, it went over quite well for a mixed audience. I think it would be FAB with ice cream…It can be gluten free, if you choose, and it’s refined sugar free. Sub in maple for the honey in the ganache, and it becomes vegan. It’s also fairly easy to whip together, which is always nice. Recipe lightly adapted from Green Spirit Adventures, here! Serves… a lot. I fed this to a big family Easter dinner and we still have a few slices left over for Vacuum Vati’s breakfast.

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Banana Layer

  • 3 super-ripe bananas (the nastier looking, the better)
  • 3 dates (soaked if needed)
  • 6 tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Cocoa-Date Layer

  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 8 dates (Soaked if needed)
  • 6 tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Ganache

  • 200 g dark chocolate (I used two 100 g bars of 73%), broken into smallish pieces
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3.5 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • a hefty pinch of sea salt

Garnish

  • unsweetened coconut
  • roughly chopped walnuts and pistachios
  • extra dark chocolate chips

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Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease two round 9″ cake pans. Bake the cakes at the same time for ease of everything…

For the banana layer. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Whiz everything else (bananas, dates, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla extract) together in a food processor until mostly smooth. Toss wet into dry, and stir until just combined. The batter should be really thick—spread it evenly into the prepared pan rather than pouring it (good luck, it won’t pour..). Smooth the top and set aside until you finish the other layer.

For the cocoa date layer: Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and powder, and salt. Wash out your food processor, and whiz everything else together again (told you this was easy): almond milk, dates, coconut oil, almond and vanilla extracts. Wet into dry again, stir to combine again—this will also be a really thick batter, so spread it in evenly.

Bake both cakes at the same time for about 30 minutes (until a tester comes out clean)—my banana layer went for 30 and my cocoa layer for 35. Let cool until you can handle the cake pans, then turn them out to cool completely on a rack.

For frosting purposes, combine almond milk, almond extract, vanilla extract and tahini in a small saucepan over low heat. Once it’s warmed through, add the chocolate pieces and stir until completely melted (I turned off the heat after a few minutes but kept stirring). Stir in honey and salt.

Once all is said and done, find a cake plate… pick your bottom layer, then slap on a good layer of ganache on top of it. Pour a boatload of shredded coconut and chocolate chips into the middle, then slap on the second layer. Drizzle/pour/gratuitously indulge in being messy the rest of the ganache over the top and sides. The goal here is RUSTICATED! Top with chopped nuts, more chippies and coconut.

Glory in its beauty… then slice and eat. Happy Eater!!

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Nuts for texture

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My favorite part of Indian food is the dessert.

Once (not that long ago… ahem, possibly less than a month), my family went out for Indian food at this ridiculously delicious place in LA… and I was goaded encouraged to order dessert before dinner… and then a dessert for after dinner. And I thought, why not?! Because I always get so full with naan and curried goodness and end up eating dessert anyway, and then I can’t move for a week. Or maybe a few hours but it feels like a week.

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So this time I got smart!! A bowl of kheer to start the dinner… and a bowl to end it. A proper way to do things, if you ask me.

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Anyway. This isn’t exactly like the kheer you find in Indian places—it’s made with quinoa and rice milk rather than white rice and dairy (which obviously gives it a nutritional bump), but it’s close enough that I love it anyway. Give me some textural, lumpy puddingy thing and I’m totally sold. Seriously. I can’t stand mousse or regular pudding, but tapioca?! Oh yes. Rice pudding? In a heartbeat. Bread pudding? Bring it. You see? Nuts for texture.

Besides, this one is gluten free, refined sugar free, and full of protein! Why *wouldn’t* you eat this for dessert?! It’s perfect, provided you’re nuts for texture like me :) (or maybe just nuts, that’s a distinct possibility)

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Quinoa Kheer

Recipe adapted from A Brown Table, here! My fambam was in a pudding mood so it served three…
Gluten free, high protein, refined sugar free, and dairy free (if you sub in vegan butter)! What’s not to love?

  • 1.5 c cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp butter (mine is Kerrygold Irish butter, salted)
  • 4 dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • chopped pistachios for garnish

Melt butter over medium heat in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Add chopped dates and cardamom, and saute for just about a minute. Toss in quinoa, almond milk, coconut sugar, and honey, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced significantly (you’ll be able to tell—it will become thicker, with a more puddingy consistency. It will still thicken as it cools, so I stopped mine when it was reduced by about a 1/3). Stir frequently as it simmers, as the milk will scald if left too long. Let cool at room temperature, then stick it into the fridge for another hour or two. Serve chilled with chopped pistachios!

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