Leftover Red Wine? Make This Chocolate Cake with Drunken Raspberries

I’ve always been a huge fan of Chef Chloe ever since she showed the world on Cupcake Wars that vegans do it better (oh, and cruelty and cholesterol-free). Her latest book Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen will have you salivating until the (vegan) cows come home. So it should come as no surprise that I was thrilled when the team at Chloe’s kitchen offered to share one of my favorite recipes from the book with me for my readers. In fancy speak, it’s called Torta Di Cioccolato Al Vino Rosso Con Lamponi “Umbriachi,” but you can just call it “Now, please.”

Didn’t quite finish that bottle of red wine last night? Use it to make chocolate cake! This rich and seductive chocolate cake is fudgy on the inside with a hint of red wine. Top it with wine-soaked “drunken” raspberries and a dollop of coconut whipped cream for the ultimate lovers’ dessert. 

Cake:
1½ cups all-purpose flour*
1 cup sugar
¹⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
 ½ teaspoon salt
 ¾ cup dry red wine
 ½ cup water
 ½ cup canola oil
 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 *For a gluten-free alternative, substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour plus ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum

Topping:
½ cup dry red wine
 ½ cup sugar
 1 small container raspberries (6 ounces)
 Powdered sugar
for serving Coconut Whipped Cream, like So Delicious Dairy Free Cocowhip Coconut Whipped Topping

Make-Ahead Tip: Cake layers can be made in advance and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw cakes before serving.

Makes one 9-inch round layer

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk wine, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix.

Fill the prepared cake pan with batter. Bake for 28 to 30 min- utes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry with a few crumbs clinging to it. Be sure to rotate the cake halfway through baking time. Let the cake cool completely.

For the topping: In a small saucepan, combine wine and sugar and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Let boil for 1 to 2 minutes and remove from heat. Place raspberries in a bowl and pour the wine mixture over the raspberries.

Refrigerate and let soak for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Slice cake and dust each serving with powdered sugar. Then, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and spoonful of wine-soaked raspberries.

Copyright © 2014 by Chloe Coscarelli from CHLOE’S VEGAN ITALIAN KITCHEN published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
 Cover Photo: Photography by Miki Duisterhof,   Recipe Photo: Photography by Teri Lyn Fisher

Food Blog Hero Q&A with Holy Cow Vegan: Vegan Indian Food You Didn’t Know You Crave

The real title of this blog should be “Food Blog Hero Q&A with Holy Cow Vegan: Vegan Indian Food You Didn’t Know You Crave…But Must Tackle Immediately.”

Recently, I was lucky enough to pick the brain of one of my favorite food bloggers, Vaishali of Holy Cow Vegan. Her tantalizing vegan recipes (many of them Indian) run the spectrum from signature Bombay street food, Misal (If you’re not familiar, heck, even if you are, run, don’t walk) to banana coffee cake with chocolate streusel (both pictured below, courtesy of author). Her blog makes pulling off seemingly-complicated dishes approachable and fun, and her recipes never fail to introduce me to a brilliant flavor-pairing (zucchini for dessert, who knew?) or clever ways to spike a dish with not-your-average-spice-rack spices.

Misal

Banana Coffee Cake

Banana Chocolate Coffee Cake

1. What’s your favorite vegetable to cook with and why? Is there a secret-weapon veggie you use to slip into salads or soups or entrees that makes it super special? 

“I love cooking with most vegetables, but mushrooms are definitely one of my favorites. Although they’ve not been part of traditional Indian cooking, mushrooms go with virtually anything — I’ve tried them in curries, dals, sabzis (Indian side dishes) and even stuffed them in a paratha. I also love how mushrooms of all kinds contribute rich textures to vegan cooking. And they’re super-good for you, which is a huge bonus.”

2. What are your tips for ordering vegan Indian food when out? It can get tricky sometime! Is non-vegan? Any tips for decoding a menu or how to ask a waiter to make a non-vegan dish (say a stew made with ghee or dairy) vegan-friendly? Any vegan desserts on menus when eating out?

“I am not one of those vegans who will quiz a waiter about every last ingredient, especially when I am eating out with friends. The reason is that I don’t want to make a vegan lifestyle appear ridiculously unattainable to others. I usually ask the waiter if there is any ghee or cream in a vegetarian dish like a dal and if they say no, I will eat it. You might not always get dishes like dals and stews made to order because the ghee is part of the base when the dish is cooked, but with breads you have a little more leeway, since they will most often make them fresh for you and the ghee, in most cases, goes on the bread at the very end. It’s a little tough to get vegan Indian desserts in restaurants since Indian sweets are almost always milk-based, but jalebis are an option, if available. They are swirly yellow sweets made of chickpea flour and dunked in sugar syrup. They are delicious.”

3. What’s your favorite vegan Indian dish that anyone can (and should!) add to their repertoire of dinner options?

“Most vegans are really into dals when it comes to Indian foods, but I’d encourage them to try more curries made with vegetables and often a coconut and spice base, like My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry. While dals are wonderful for adding protein into your meal, curries like this one really perk up the taste buds and are a great introduction to the rich, varied cuisine of India.”

4. What advice would you offer to aspiring food bloggers?

“I’d advise them to blog with love. There are a zillion food blogs out there today, each one better looking than the next and SEO’d to the eyeballs, but when I think of great food blogging I always hark back to the early days when bloggers wrote about foods they cooked at home for the people they loved and why they created them, rather than just cook and post the hottest thing on Google Trends. I might be old-fashioned, but I think blogs that really engage you and have a personality are the ones that pull in and retain a loyal following. And here’s one more piece of advice: Check your grammar before you hit “publish.” 🙂 You don’t have to be a great writer, but there’s nothing as off-putting as a post with spelling and grammatical errors.”

*proofreads three times*

If I had to pick, Vaishali’s grain dishes are probably some of my favorites, and she’s been kind enough to let me share the photo of one of my favorites, Tawa Pulao. A serious treat for your senses and time-saver on weeknights. Get the recipe here.

Tawa Pulao

No-Bake Chocolate Hemp Truffles Anyone Can Make

First off, a confession: These are just tasty, dessert-y, chocolate balls (that yes, I somehow . But Somehow, calling them Truffles instead of Balls or Balls of Deliciousness just sounded better. So yeah. Second off: It is impossible to eat just one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Ingredients
1/4 cup cocoa or raw cacao or carob powder
1/3 cup Hemp Pro70 Chocolate
1 cup nut or seed butter (stirred well, really well)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown rice syrup (you can use agave syrup if you’d like, or honey if you eat it!)
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp Hemp Hearts (I also throw these in shakes and salad dressings for an extra dose of “hey, I’m doing a good thing, body!”)

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl to create a uniform texture.
2. Fold in wet ingredients by hand.
3. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in Hemp Hearts.

Pro-tip: Make a double batch. Especially if you use them for post-workout recovery. Erm, or, just to fuel your bedroom dancing to the 48th Annual CMA Awards. Yeah, or that.

Chocolate-Cranberry Bark That Will Make Your Fall Heart Melt

Right now, the three things that make me happiest are as follows (in no particular order):
1) Beer-soaked bro-country (yes, I said it)
2) My guilty pleasure obsession with 19 Kids and Counting/ 90 Day Fiance (yes, I know)
3) Eating dessert first…and second…and third…

And with no further ado, the dessert I can’t stop eating: Dark Chocolate Covered Crack. Erm, Dark Chocolate Bark spiked with Cranberries and Almonds and Other Goodness. Picked up the recipe at Food Fete last week, and have subsisted on a steady stream of this healthy chocolate bark (Yes, it’s superfoods-loaded) from the folks at Nature’s Path ever since for breakfast, lunch, and that yes-I-deserve-a-snack-while-cooking-dinner treat. Enjoy!

 


Serves 12 
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients
12 ounces good quality organic dark chocolate, finely chopped  (at least 70% dark chocolate)
3/4 cup Nature’s Path Qi’a – Cranberry Vanilla, divided
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper so it overhangs the ends. Reserve 2 tbsp Qi’a for sprinkling on top of the bark. Place the chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in the remaining Qi’a and almonds. Pour onto the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the reserved Qi’a and sea salt (if using). Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate is set.

Remove from pan and peel off the parchment paper. Break the bark into pieces. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

One-Step Cinnamon Apple Pie Pudding

Okay, fine. Two Step (OMG, DMB reference) if you count putting it in the fridge. If that’s too much effort for you, I don’t know what to say folks. And don’t let the recipe name above fool you into thinking this is just a swirl of calorie and sugar-loaded decadence. Quite the opposite: Fiber. Check. Whole grains. Check. Protein. Check.


Overnight Apple Pie Breakfast Pudding
•1 container (6 oz) plain Greek Style yogurt (such as So Delicious Greek Style Plain Almond Milk Yogurt)
•1/3 cup Grape Nuts Cereal
•¼ cup diced green apple
•½ cup vanilla almond milk
•2 Tablespoons slivered almonds
•2 teaspoons chia seeds
•¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Add all ingredients in a pint size mason jar. Secure lid and shake well. Store in refrigerator overnight. Enjoy chilled for breakfast the next morning.

Note: I adapted the original recipe slightly and added more cinnamon, a teaspoon of flax seeds and a drizzle of agave nectar. Feel free to play with the fruits (raspberries or blueberries would be a welcome swap for apples) and nuts (walnuts work well too).

Recipe and photography courtesy of Kristina VanniFor more great recipes check out www.Grape-Nuts.com or www.Facebook.com/GrapeNutsCereal.

Zoom Through Your Work Week with These Grape-Nuts Energy Bars

If you know anything about my eating habits, you probably know that it’s quite difficult to find me,  without a box, heck, an entire House of Cards season-worth stash of Grape-Nuts. I mix them into smoothies; sprinkle cinnamon and flaxseed over them with a handful of berries and call it breakfast; and I get weird looks when I drizzle a half cup over fried bananas as my go-to late night snack. Needless to say, when Post Cereal shared this recipe with me for my blog from Kristina Vanni, I knew my quest for the perfect snack bar had ended. Behold! Trust me when I say these energy bars will give you that jolt to make it through the morning grind or a pick-me-up come that 3:00pm hey-why-isn’t-it-nap-time o’clock. National Nutrition Month never tasted so good.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup Grape Nuts
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 flax egg (combine three tablespoons water and one tablespoon flaxseed meal, stir and let sit for five minutes)
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
1/4 cup agave nectar or molasses
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounce package pitted prunes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips such as Enjoy Life
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with nonstick aluminum foil making extended edges, or can use regular foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer, combine oats, Grape Nuts, flours, flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt; stir to combine.

Add flax egg, banana, honey, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in chopped prunes, walnuts, chocolate chips, and sesame seeds. Mix well to combine; dough will be stiff.

Transfer to prepared baking pan and pat in mixture evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are browned.

Cool completely on wire rack in pan. Use edges of foil to pick up and flip out onto a cutting board and cut into 24 squares.

P.S. Hate prunes? Swap ’em for dried apricots! Got pumpkin seeds? Throw ’em in. How about some leftover shredded coconut you’re looking to kill? In they go! Feel free to experiment with your mix-ins and flavor the bars to your own personal taste.

For more great recipes check out www.Grape-Nuts.com or www.Facebook.com/GrapeNutsCereal.

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever…That Just Happens to Be Vegan and Gluten Free

I know what you’re thinking. The cake pictured above cannot be good for you. And there’s certainly no way it tastes good if it’s vegan and gluten free to boot. It simple cannot. Admittedly, that’s what I feared too. Fortunately, I thought very, very wrong. This practically healthy, fiber-rich cake from baking godsend, Vegan Divas even got my dessert-averse boyfriend and sugar-tooth lacking father sneaking seconds. Since I served the cake at a gathering to celebrate Robert Burns, known as Burns Supper, celebrating his January 25th (1759, folks) birthday, I adorned it with some crafty candles (dork alert). Fair warning: The decadent, dark chocolate-y smell of the fragrant cake might transform your guests into a must-eat-cake coma, so delay serving at your own risk.

Ingredients
6 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/2 cups organic coconut milk or vanilla soy milk, gently heated
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla
1 14-oz can organic pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cup organic golden brown sugar
1/2 cup GF almond flour 
2 tablespoons tapioca or potato starch
1 tablespoon dry Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon or ginger

Instructions:

Place the chocolate pieces in the Vita-Mix (or a high speed blender container); add the heated hemp milk. Cover tightly- use caution with hot liquids. Turn on the mixer to high. Blend until chocolate pieces are melted. Add the vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree. Cover. Blend a minute.

Add the brown sugar, almond flour, tapioca, egg replacer, xanthan gum, sea salt, baking powder, cinnamon or ginger. Cover. Blend on high for a minute. Turn it off (unplug it for safety if you have kids nearby). Open the top and using a plastic spatula scrape down the sides if any flour is sticking to the sides- if you’re using a food processor instead, do the same. Cover. Plug back in.

Blend for another minute or two until the batter is creamy and smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan (valentine’s tin can) ; scrape all the batter out with a smallish silicone spatula. Smooth the top evenly.
Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is firm- anywhere from 50 to 60 minutes. Check the cake sooner if your experience indicates that flourless cakes and pies bake up quicker than 50 minutes; also, if your experience is that these types of recipes bake longer- check at 50 to 55 minutes; and follow your instincts. The center will be the last to cook- it shouldn’t be wiggly.
Cool the cake on a wire rack. The top will collapse a bit- no worries. When the cake has cooled, cover and chill it at least two hours before serving. The longer the better. 

Chilling creates a dense fudgy cake.

Serve with chocolate sauce, a few ripe berries, a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, or a few fresh mint leaves.

Don’t think you can pull it off yourself? Fear not! Order the delectable cake here for Valentine’s Day, along with a wide variety of other Vegan Divas’ pastries and goodies.

Serves 8 to 10. (Or in my case, devoured by six with a side of So Delicious Dairy Free Almond Milk Ice Cream which I don’t think any of my guests would have been able to guess it was vegan, too)

Whoops, got the candles wrong…

Ah, there we go. Much better.

No-Effort, No-Bake Boozy-Nutty-Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

Sometimes when I bake, I preface the recipients’ eating by telling them they are vegan. Or gluten free. Or low in sugar. Just so they know. Okay, and maybe so they don’t critique me as harshly knowing they were made with certain dietary constrictions in mind. No such warning is required for these heavenly desserts. Though if you really want to dazzle guests, you might want to casually mention they’re no-bake after the first bite. Oh, and vegan, gluten free and high in antioxidants and omega 3-s to boot. They’re practically healthy. Especially if you eat five. Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Inspired by this recipe from Justin Warner, I decided to add some walnuts and pecans for added crunch (and nutritional joy, of course). Follow my adaptions below or get creative and experiment with add-ins like almond slivers, dried cranberries and even cornflakes or Grape Nuts.

Ingredients:
•2 cups Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cup, start with that, I found that adding more to the final “batter” while mixing created a luscious consistency and made for a great taste)
•1 cup dried sour cherries
•12 oz granola
•12 oz “milk” or chocolate morsels
•1/4 cup chopped pecans
•1/4 cup chopped walnuts
•1 1/2 tsp salt

Assembly
1. Mix granola, chocolate, nuts, salt and whatever additional mix-ins you like (everything but the wine and cherries) into a big bowl so you can pay attention to sautéing them when the time comes and not being distracted by getting everything else ready.

2. Pour dried sour cherries into a medium sauce pan with 1.5 cups of the vino. Stir together over medium heat with a spatula or whatever kind of big spoon you have for ten minutes or so. Once it looks like most of the wine has been absorbed (about 70% or so) you’re good to go to step three.

3. Turn off the heat on your stove. Dump the contents of your mixing bowl into the sauce pan and fold granola mixture into cherries and wine. The chocolate will melt from the heat of the pan. At this point, add another half cup or so of wine, if desired, into the mixture and continue stirring the whole pot into one giant gooey ball of goodness.

From this…

To this…

4. Line a baking pan or sheet with parchment paper. Stick your hands inside two sandwich bags (if you have plastic hair dye type gloves, all the power to you, I didn’t), and mold cookie shaped balls from your batter and transfer to lined pan. Flatten down the balls to desired size and shape. (In my not so scientific rendition, this yielded about 14 cookies varying from medium to extra large and jagged)

5. Let freeze for at least half an hour. Garnish with mint and raspberries, if you want to get all shmancy.
6. Dig in!

P.S. Even though these cookies are “boozy” they might not do the 12% ABV trick, so pair with a wine of choice to keep riding the buzz. My lovely publicist pal Erin sent me this Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (and you’ll have leftover from the cookies anyways! At around $10 this wine is a serious steal) went lovely and Prosecco pairs nicely as well.


Because everything looks better on vintage trays…

Doesn’t it?

Or with flowers…

By a windowsill…

Yes, I devoured this whole plate. No, I don’t feel bad about it.

This Butterfinger Milkshake Sent Me to The Moon

I have a confession. I don’t even like Butterfingers. Or I thought I didn’t. Okay, real confession: They are my least favorite candy and when I was trick or treating growing up I used to trade all of mine for Crunch bars. Until:

BOOM! You’re starting at a Butterfinger (left, and on the right, mint chip, if you’re curious, also delicious, and my friend Angie and I referred to it as our “palate cleanser” between sips, well, gulps of inhaling the Butterfinger delight) milkshake from the amazing  Cafe Blossom (We went to the one on the Upper West Side). First-class Butterfinger shakes as a vegan are hard to find (let alone omnivore), but this one exceeded all expectations. My culinary school friend told me “Take it to go, it’ll be even bigger,” and man do I regret not doing that. Would have been the perfect breakfast. Cookie dough crumbly goodness with sweet chocolate drizzle and every sip explodes with goodness I couldn’t imagine from my least favorite candy bar.  They won’t divulge their secret, but I did find out it had something to do with Temptation ice cream, beyond that, and short of crack cocaine, I’m not sure what they put in it to make it so mindblowingly good, but man, all I have left to say is:  Run, don’t walk.

Easy Ooey Gooey Gluten Free and Vegan Brownies

Some days you just really want a brownie.

You’re food shopping and just thinking about that brownie. And then you’re at the gym, thinking about that brownie (And that 40 minutes on the elliptical will only erase half of its calories, oh well!) Finally, it’s 6:45pm and you’re ready to make dinner, but you can’t really focus on it because, well, you’re still thinking about that brownie. That day was yesterday. I decided to experiment with Cup4Cup’s gluten and dairy-free brownie mix. Even though I don’t follow a gluten free diet, Cup4Cup was created by chef Lena Kwak while working at the renowned Thomas Keller’s (Yes, that Thomas Keller. Per Se’s Thomas Keller) French Laundry, so I figured it’d be good.

The back of the bag has a simple (I’m talking even a 10-year-old could do it) recipe that requires only buttery spread or coconut oil (I used Earth Balance’s Organic Coconut Spread which is great for baking), water and eggs (ick!). In lieu of eggs, I made a flax “egg” with three tablespoons water and one tablespoon flaxseed meal for each egg the recipe called for. Tip: To avoid the ends getting slightly tough (whoops!) add a little extra coconut oil or butter.