Desserts

Copycat Swiss Miss Chocolate Pudding

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raw chocolate pudding

My introduction to pudding was very cold and brief. It was not love at first sight. It’s slimy texture was far from appealing to me. Then I had a change of heart when pudding became my consolation after I had my braces slapped on to my teeth. I literally couldn’t eat solid food for nearly two weeks. My mother would stock up on pudding among other things. Swiss Miss pudding was my favorite brand. They were inevitably devoured shortly after they filled up the refrigerator. Only then did I regret having preconceived notions against pudding.

While I enjoyed eating pudding, making pudding seemed intimidating and painstaking. Only this one time did I bother to make pudding from scratch following a recipe, of course. It was my final time. Never did I struggle to temper the egg mixture. It was a scrambled epic failure. I ended up making what I can best describe as scrambled eggs in chocolate. Yummy. Subsequently, I had to toss it in the bin along with the illusions of mastering in making pudding. Even this incident would make Amelia Bedilia seem less catastrophic.  Luckily, I only made one serving worth of pudding before it was qualified as a waste. I then stuck to just eating pudding and not causing further damage to my pots and pans.

My hankering for pudding returned after being dormant for a while. Swiss Miss pudding is not available where I live and I find the brand that my local store carries to be too sweet. Then the idea of learning how to make vegan chocolate pudding crossed my mind. I am very eager to share this healthy chocolate pudding recipe with you because it’s rich, silky, decadent and most importantly, super easy to make. Plus, I added my own twist.  Only this time I did not encounter a kitchen disaster when making this vegan chocolate pudding. This healthier version has everything you can expect from a Swiss Miss chocolate pudding but without the eggs, cream, and sugar. All it takes is blending all the ingredients in a food processor and voilà! No more burnt pots. No more scrambled puddings. While this healthy chocolate pudding may seem like child’s play, the verdict is worth the lack of effort. And I am all about damage control in the kitchen. Thankfully, my kitchen disasters have been minimal.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 ripe avocado, skin and seed removed
  2. 1 large ripe banana peeled
  3. 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  4. 1 teaspoon if vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup or agave nectar (you can add a bit more for desired sweetness)
  6. 1/2  plus more of cup of freshly squeezed orange juice or low fat milk of your choice
  7. 1 teaspoon or orange zest (optional)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of instant espresso powder (optional)
  9. 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  10. Pinch of salt

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend till smooth. Add a bit more liquid as needed for desired consistency. Spoon the pudding into ramekins or bowls, cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Top with chopped walnuts if you like.

Yields  1 1/2 – 2 cups

 

 

 

Soy-Free Vegan Raw Cheesecake

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raw cheesecake

No-fuss elegant delectable desserts are my favorite to make – no-bake desserts specifically. It’s not just because I am lazy or pressed for time (even though I frequently finding myself in these circumstances; I blame the heat). I may have used this proverbial quote before but I will reiterate it again: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  In my case, I can’t stand the heat but won’t let it chase me out of the kitchen. With this soy-free vegan raw cheesecake that I recently made, I remained in my kitchen without the heat.

I’ve had my fair share of raw desserts before and even made some myself. Raw cheesecake was a novelty to me, especially a soy-free version. Many people I know are not particularly fans of soy oriented dishes and desserts so I wanted to share a dessert idea that both vegans and non-vegans can compromise on and mutually enjoy. Unless you have a nut allergy, you will appreciate this raw cheesecake recipe regardless of your dietary orientation. I,  for one,  love nuts. That is why I was devastated upon recently discovering my allergies for chestnuts and pine nuts. I pray hope that more onset nut allergies won’t follow. Thankfully, I can still eat cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts – ingredients I used in this no-bake raw cheesecake recipe.

When I served this raw cheesecake to guests, they had a hard time believing that I used nuts instead of Tofutti cream cheese. I like using cashews and macadamia nuts in my desserts primarily because they are versatile, creamy, and lovely tasting. I very seldom use macadamia nuts because they are very expensive so I alternatively used almonds instead which gave this raw cheesecake a ricotta cheesecake texture. With this raw cheesecake, it’s almost like biting into a slice of a New York style cheesecake minus the high fat content from the cream cheese and sour cream. Even a small slice is extremely satisfying and will give you a comfortable feeling of fullness without weighing your stomach down. You can enjoy a dessert that is equally exquisite, rich and gourmet without tacking on the extra calories. If you enjoyed my nut cream recipe, you will rave over this raw cheesecake recipe.  Hassle-free and easy to make, this soy-free, no-bake vegan raw cheesecake is perfect for beginners consisting of only 6 ingredients excluding the pie crust! This recipe is practically fool-proof. In fact, I will be very impressed if you manage to screw this recipe up.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Prepared pie crust
  2. 2 1/2 – 3 cups of cashews, macadamia, or blanched almonds
  3. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup of pure mayple syrup, agave nectar or honey
  5. 1/2 cup of coconut butter melted
  6. Juice and zest  from 1 lemon
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  8. 1/4 cup of water plus more for soaking nuts

Instructions

Cover nuts in a bowl and let it soak for 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain. Combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling a food processor or blender and process for 6 minutes or until completely smooth. Pour contents into prepared pie crust then cover and freeze till ready to use. Remove cheescake from freezer 5 minutes before serving. Store in freezer up till 2 weeks.

Yields 8 servings

 

Copycat Entenmann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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vegan chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are universally a classic favorite. They come in many different shapes, flavors, and textures but I have a preference towards soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies. That’s what drew me to Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies. For many years, I have been going through many great pains to replicate the original chocolate chip cookies but could never achieve the softness and chewiness that I desire in these cookies. I’ve only learned recently that the brand of butter/margarine used in these cookies make a difference.  I used a spread rather than the hydrogenated margarine I normally use in my cookie baking.

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I have been struggling to make one of the simplest snack foods known to mankind. I don’t normally mind chocolate chip cookies that are crispy but after many painstaking efforts and attempts, I managed to bake a batch of dense and chewy chocolate chip cookies. Who would have thought that a little chocolate chip cookie would have me in a vice? But not for long though.  I also discovered that chilling the dough prior to baking the cookies helps. This method prevents them from spreading and getting crispy while baking.

The most challenging part of baking cookies  is resisting the urge to taste the batter. I didn’t do myself any justice by making a vegan chocolate chip cookie batter since I didn’t have to concern myself with eating something that had raw egg embedded in it. Cookie dough is very tantalizing.  Anyhow, while this vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe may not match Entenmann’s version to the T, the texture and flavors come pretty close. Not only did the results surprise me after having one bite of these chocolate chip cookies, I nearly forgot that they were vegan. I don’t bear a grudge with eggs but I was prepared to make a gamble for the mere thrill of it. And I’ve hit the jackpot!  While there are myriads of chocolate chip cookies, I wanted my vegan chocolate chip cookies to stand out. In this instance,  I take the cake, or the cookie, in this recipe.

I hope I did Entenmann’s proud with my chocolate chip cookie. It’s the least I can do since Entenmann’s products are not available where I live and I am not about to order a box of Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies online. I may be a chocolate chip cookie fanatic but I am not that desperate. Plus, I will be visiting my hometown soon enough so there will be plenty of opportunity for me to catch up on what I missed out of all these years.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1.  3/4 cup of raw granulated sugar or brown sugar
  2. 10 tablespoons of Mazola or EarthBalance spread
  3. 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  4. 1 tablespoon of  molasses
  5. 2 tablespoons of flaxmeal dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
  6. 1 cup of spelt flour sifted
  7. 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour sifted
  8. 1/2 cup of oat bran, wheat bran or grounded walnuts
  9. 1/3 teaspoon of salt
  10. 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  11. 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  12. 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar with the flaxmeal until well combined for at least a minute. Then add the vanilla extract, spread, and  molasses and blend for another 30 seconds or until creamy. In a small bowl, add the sifted flour, oat bran, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and whisk together. Add half of the flour ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix well and add the remaining half. Fold in chocolate chips. On parchment-lined cookie sheets, drop one ounce spoonful’s of batter leaving a few inches in between drops.  Bake for about 8 minutes or so (depending on your oven). Bake one pan at a time.  When removing the cookis from the oven, they are suppose to be soft and dense.  Let cookies cool completely before removing them from the parchment paper. Once cooled,  gently pry them from the paper using a sharp edged spatula.

Yields about 2 dozen cookies

 

Homemade Raw Butterfingers

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I am completely utterly shameless when it comes to my infatuation with chocolate candy bars among other chocolate treats. Don’t worry, though. I won’t be torturing you with every lurid detail of my relationship with chocolate. As a lot of you may already know, I have already established the fact that I am a certified chocoholic and very hopeless one at that. Chocolate peanut butter treats already own me. Although I am not a compulsive nosher, if you taunt me with butterfingers, snicker bars, or peanut butter cups, I won’t put up a resistance. It’s not worth it. I don’t eat butterfingers on a regular basis anyways so for just this one time, I wanted to make butterfingers candy bars.

Learning how to make homemade butterfingers is not a far stretch from making homemade snickers bars.  The methods are quite similar and the flavors are comparable. Although snickers bars are more popular, I wanted to give some spotlight to butterfingers.  Healthy butterfingers are candy bars that defy all logic. They are perhaps one of the underrated chocolate candy bars in the market. Many people claim that they are palatable and nothing more.  My homemade raw butterfingers have the same toffee-like crunch as do the commercialized butterfingers but unlike the original version, these butterfingers candy bars are whole grain, high in iron, and completely void of high-fructose corn syrup. Plus the filling doesn’t stick to your teeth as much.

This vegan butterfingers recipe doesn’t get any easier. Unlike many vegan butterfingers recipes, mine doesn’t require any cooking.  Peanut butter and peanuts are recommended for this recipe but you can use almonds and almond butter if you have a peanut allergy. After having a bite, I was stunned by the authenticity of the flavors in these butterfingers. My cousin claimed most of them as his own.  The texture had that similar sticky, sweet, and chewiness that we all expect from a regular butterfingers candy bar.  For those of you butterfingers skeptics out there, I urge you to try my homemade raw vegan butterfingers recipe.  It’s really a winner. Trust me on this one.  I promise that you won’t be too disappointed as it doesn’t involve much effort.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 cup of bran flakes, corn flakes, or dried white mulberries (you can use rice cakes although the texture won’t be as authentic)
  2. 3/4 cup of peanut or almond butter
  3. 1/2 cup of pitted pre-soaked  dates
  4. 1/3 cup of chopped peanuts or almonds
  5. 2 tablespoons of agave nectar or maple syrup
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  7. 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  8. Bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Pulse the first ingredient in a food processor until crumbly. Then add the remaining 6 ingredients and pulse until large sticky clumps form.  Add more agave or syrup if the dough is not holding together.  Pour and spread dough out evenly onto a prepared 8×8 pan.  Cover and freeze for 15-20 minutes or until firm.  In the meantime, melt chocolate chips in a microwave or over a double boiler.  Set aside.  Remove dough from freezer and cut into bars while they are still in the pan. Gently pour melted chocolate over each bar.  Return them to the freezer and freeze for an hour before serving. Store them in the freezer if you wish to retain the crunchiness of these butterfingers bars.

Yields 8-10 bars

 

Grasshopper Cheesecake

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mint cheesecake

Just because Shavuot (Festival of Weeks) have ended doesn’t mean it’s too late to have some cheesecake. While I don’t need a special reason to eat cheesecake, Shavuot definitely gives me an incentive. I was cruising through cheesecake ideas up till the weeks leading to Shavuot and I found one that struck my fancy…..well, I found several that were just as tantalizing but I had to narrow it down to one.  Otherwise my kitchen would have turned into a cheesecake factor which wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing. Growing up with minty desserts among other delicious homemade dishes, I wanted to make a cheesecake for hubby that hit close to home. Considering that mint and chocolate are one of his favorite combinations in a dessert, I felt that this chocolate mint cheesecake recipe – a.k.a. grasshopper cheesecake would be highly appreciated in my household. The concept of a mint chocolate cheesecake was unique to me.  I suppose I do owe Girl Versus Dough for the inspiration.

As delicious as the original recipe was, I created a lighter version for the sake of my waistline and for the reputation of this blog. Heavy cream, loads of eggs, excess amount of sugar, and cream cheese high in fat shouldn’t be the ingredients that define a good cheesecake. This post is not meant to criticize those who do. I tend to have a preference towards a dense cheesecake such as a New York style cheesecake but am willing to make some sacrifices once in a blue moon. You are almost guaranteed to taste the same flavors in my chocolate mint cheesecake recipe as you would expect from the original recipe. You can also expect a chocolate mint cheesecake that is just as rich, smooth, and creamy.  The only thing I would have done differently was to have made another cheesecake or minimally another dairy dessert. Even though it was only the 4 of us, the cheesecake was polished off within minutes. I always worry about not making enough to feed everyone no matter how much cooking I do and there was a shortage in the dessert department considering that cheesecake is a delicacy to us.

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 9 inch low-fat chocolate graham craker pie crust
  2. 12 oz of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  3. 1 package of low-fat or skim cream cheese softened
  4. 1/2 cup of low-fat or skim ricotta cheese
  5. 1 1/3 cup of granulated sugar divided
  6. 2 eggs or 1 egg and 2 egg whites at room temperature
  7. 1/3 cup of brewed coffee
  8. 1 cup of low-fat sour cream
  9. 1/4 cup creme de menth
  10. Whipped cream and chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place prepared pie crust in the oven and bake for 15 minutes to set. In the meantime, melt chocolate chips in a microwave or over a double boiler. In a shallow bowl, blend cream cheese, ricotta cheese, 2/3 cup of sugar, and coffee in a bowl. Beat in eggs and add chocolate. Carefully pour the filling on top of the pre-baked crust and spread into an even layer. Bake 20 minutes until filling is just set in the center and the edges puff slightly. While the cake is baking, mix sour cream, cream de menthe and the remaining sugar in a bowl unti smooth. Carefully pour the sour cream mixture on top of the cheesecake and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Once done, transfer cheesecake to a rack to cool. Once fully cooled, cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if/as desired.

Yields 8-10 servings

 

Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie

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mexican chocolate cream pie

Chocolate pies are on the top of my list of favorite desserts. They feed into my love for chocolate along with the smooth and luscious texture that I immensely enjoy in chocolate pie. Unlike the original Mexican chocolate cream pie recipe, my version makes up for the fact that it doesn’t use heavy cream, a lot of eggs, and sugar. If fact, I don’t use eggs or dairy milk at all in my Mexican chocolate cream pie recipe. And yet, you still get the flavor and silky texture as you would in a regular chocolate cream pie.  The raves and compliments I received from my other chocolate pie recipes verify that. Cooking light doesn’t require you to compromise on the flavors even though certain ingredients have the capacity to alter the texture. From my perspective, cooking light is about making changes in our eating habits while enjoying the foods we love. Cooking light doesn’t entail making that many sacrifices, especially in chocolate cream pies. I don’t often find myself pining for the original ingredients. I sometimes forget that I didn’t use them.

Those who know me well will confirm that I love Mexican food. From tacos to burritos, chili, and enchiladas, I can’t get enough of these dishes. Nachos, in particular, are my favorite Mexican snack food – I normally make my own variation. Oddly enough, I have not tried Mexican themed desserts primarily because of my lack of knowledge and familiarity in that department. When I first discovered Mexican chocolate cream pie, I was thrown off by one of the ingredients; ground chili powder. I’ve eaten many sweet and spicy dishes but not in a form of dessert. The concept behind infusing chili powder and chocolate seemed odd but adventurous to me. It seemed a bit risky but worth taking my chances on. I’m glad to have gambled or my anxiety would have forced me to miss out on this spectacular dessert. I only wish I could have thought to make this pie around Cinco de Mayo. The pie was consumed within 48 hours and we all ate it straight from the pan.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Prepared graham cracker pie crust
  2. 1/2 cup of granulated raw sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  4. 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon of instant espresso powder
  6. 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
  8. 1/3 teaspoon of cinnamon
  9. 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
  10. 1 3/4 cup of low fat milk of your choice
  11. 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chopped
  12. 1 cup of reduced calorie dessert whip

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake pie crust for 10 minutes.  Combine corn starch,flaxseed meal, cocoa pwoder, espresso powder, sugar, salt, chili powder and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Place chocolate in another bowl.  Place milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until bubbles form around the edges. Do not boil. Pour milk over chocolate and let it rest for 2 minutes before whisking. Add the other ingredients while whisking the chocolate. Once completely incorporated, transfer chocolate mixture to the pie crust. Bake for another 10 minutes. Place on wire rack and allow it to completely cool. Cover pie with plastic wrap and chill in the refridgerator for 3 hours or until firm.

In a clean bowl, beat dessert whip till stiff peaks form. Spread or pipe over into chilled chocolate cream pie. Dust with a bit of cocoa powder, chili powder and cinnamon if you like before serving.

Yields 8 servings

 

Raw Snickers Bars

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snickers

No matter how hard I try to be consistent in regards to healthy eating, fighting my insatiable cravings for chocolate is a hopeless and futile agenda. I don’t even bother to care most of the time. It’s a losing battle.  That doesn’t mean I’m constantly stuffing myself silly with chocolate confections. But the notion of having an allergy to chocolate would almost be apocalyptic, heaven forbid. Considering how I make and serve chocolate treats weekly, I am not concerned about that at the moment. I could only compromise on so many treats. I am not ready to surrender my love for chocolate yet. Thankfully, there are so many ways to make chocolate treats tasty and healthy.  I always welcome healthier alternatives for the sake of my teeth, waistline, and strong adversity to processed “goods” which have been persona non grata in my pantry.  Just because I won’t buy these commercial treats doesn’t mean I won’t attempt to make them myself.  Snickers bars are no exception.

Snickers bars come in second place to peanut butter cups on my list of favorite chocolate treats.  The combination chocolate and caramel wins me over almost every time. Nothing beats sweet and savory in one bite.  At first, I was skeptical about the idea behind healthy snickers bars.  It almost seemed like an oxymoron considering that the ingredients in snickers bars consist of corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors; ingredients I try to avoid consuming in any possible way I can.  Vegan snickers bars seemed most tangible to my dietary needs.  If I could make homemade chocolate peanut butter cups from scratch, then I can only imagine how simple making homemade raw snickers bars would be.  Words don’t even begin to describe the elation I felt when I learned that not only making healthy snickers bars was possible, but is as easy as well.

Veganizing snickers bars almost seems like an abomination. The flavors of these raw snickers bars are just as sinful but I feel that I would be doing a lot of injustice to myself by eating the commercial bought version. While these raw snicker bars may seem like an overly-simplified way to make nougat for a candy bar, it works 100 percent for me as it will for you. The heroes of this candy bar are the caramel made from dates, peanuts (I used pecans) and dark chocolate coating anyway – this simply adds a healthier, not-too-sweet base to bind all the goods together.  Sugar-free and gluten-free,  these vegan homemade raw snickers bars are loaded with only all-natural ingredients and plenty of fiber therefore you don’t have to worry about the hidden sugars and unhealthy fats. The results are so decedent that you won’t miss the processed version. I do plead guilty to eating processed snacks occasionally but I no longer have to worry about binging on them now that I’ve learned how to recreate a healthier version.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 cup of peanut or almond butter
  2. 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
  3. 1 cup of hazelnut or almond flour
  4. 2 tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil
  5. 1 tablespoon of low-fat milk of your choice
  6. 1/4 teaspoon of  salt
  7.  1/2 – 1 cup of caramel sauce
  8. 1/3 cup of chopped peanuts, walnuts, or pecans
  9. 16 onces of bitter or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  10. 4 tablespoons of trans-fat free margarine

Instructions

For ther nougat base, combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Then press the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and use your hands to create a uniform rectangle shape that is about 1/2-inch thick. Place in the freezer to set. Once firm, distribute caramel sauce evenly.  Sprinkle chopped nuts over the top of the caramel layer, and use your hands to gently press the chopped nuts into the caramel filling. Freeze for another 30 minutes to set.  Melt chocolate chips with margarine in a microwave or double boiler. Remove candy bars from freezer and slice into 6 or 8 full size bars.  Coat each bar from top to bottom with a spoonful of melted chocolate. Return bars to freezer and allow them to freeze for another 15-20 minutes before serving. The longer these bars freeze, the firmer they become.

Yields 6-8 snickers bars