February is Chocolate Lover’s Month. Wait, what? How did we nearly miss this? It’s the 26th of the month and we are just now discovering the existence of this decadently delicious holiday? We would’ve been celebrating all month long if we had known!
Even with only days remaining, it’s not too late to indulge in those chocolate cravings and give these yummy treats a try. Here are our favorite chocolate recipes, including three vegan treats!
Healthy Dark Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate truffles are generally deemed sinful thanks to the preponderance of cream and butter that is part of their charm. But it doesn’t have to be that way! This version relies on raw cashews and dates for a rich and healthy base that is packed with nutrients rather than high-calorie dairy. Yum!
1 bag or bar of dark chocolate (12 oz)
1 2/3 cups raw cashews
8 oz dates, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Zest of 1/2 of an orange
1. Melt chocolate in double boiler until just melted.
2. Meanwhile, blend 2/3 cups cashews with 2/3 cups water in blender on high for 30 seconds. Chop remaining cashews and set aside.
3. Fold together melted chocolate, cashew mixture, dates, sea salt, and orange zest.
4. Refrigerate until firm, approximately 45 minutes. Roll 3/4-inch balls in hands and then in chopped cashews. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Note: Truffles will keep in freezer up to 1 month.)
Makes 24 truffles
Nutrition info per truffle: 105 calories; 5 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 1 mg cholesterol; 1 g protein; 15 g carbohydrates; 1.5 g fiber; 5 mg sodium.
Rich Chocolate Vegan Brownies
We stumbled upon this brownie recipe in The Vegan Family Cookbook by Brian P. McCarthy (Lantern Books, 2006) that wowed us. Not only does it negate the need for animal-based ingredients, but it gives the option of including whole wheat flour–hurray!
The only caveat for us here is that is calls for granulated sugar. We’re not big advocates of refined sugar, and recommend replacing the sugar with a natural sweetener. Sucanat works perfectly with chocolate recipes like this because it gives baked goods a rich flavor.
1 cup flour (you can use half whole wheat flour here, if you prefer)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar (or Sucanat, as noted above)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/3 cup soy milk
1/3 cup extra light olive oil
1/4 cup silken tofu
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar (or Sucanat), baking powder, salt, walnuts and chocolate chips.
3. In a blender, blend the soy milk, oil, tofu and vanilla.
4. Add blended mixture to the flour mixture in the large bowl and stir until just combined. Batter will be thick.
5. Spread batter out evenly into an 8-inch square, oiled baking dish.
6. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Vegan baking has come a long way. Cow’s milk can be replaced with soy, rice and almond milk. Eggs can be replaced with ground flax seeds, applesauce and even blended silken tofu. You won’t miss the dairy or eggs in these cookies and they are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser!
Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
25 minutes prep/15 minute cook / 8 large cookies
2 cups spelt flour
1 cup vegan chocolate chips- try sunspire brand
1 cup walnuts chopped
˝ cup rolled oats
˝ tsp. sea salt
˝ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup canola oil
2 Tbl. filtered water
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Combine wet ingredients in another large bowl. Add wet to dry and mix well. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2. Place 8 scoops on a well oiled baking sheet and flatten slightly with hand. Space evenly so cookies have room to spread.
3. Bake until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Allow to cool before enjoying
Mark Reinfeld is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant. He is the coauthor of Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, winner of 9 national awards. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw coauthored with Jennifer Murray and Bo Rinaldi is available through booksellers everywhere. Please visit www.veganfusion.com for more information.
Chocolate Tantric Tart
This luscious chocolate pie is guaranteed to add some sweet heat to a romantic meal. Of its six ingredients, four of them are thought to be aphrodisiacal: Chocolate, almonds, ginger and chile. Powers of attraction aside, this recipe for Chocolate Tantric Pie is unusual and delicious, and is as easy as pie to prepare.
This is a sweet chocolate pie with the spicy bite of ginger and cayenne pepper. It’s guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth, internally warm your belly, and give you that unmistakable tantric glow. There is very little work to creating this dessert. For a gluten-free version, omit the pie shell for a no-bake flourless torte. You can also pour the pie mixture into a baking dish, just cool before cutting into squares and serve like fudge.
1˝ cups organic half-and-half or whipping cream
3 cups semisweet organic chocolate chips
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped candied ginger
˝ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
9-inch pie crust
1. Over medium heat, bring half-and half or whipping cream to a simmer in a 1-quart saucepan, stirring to prevent scorching on the bottom.
2. Whisk as you slowly pour the chocolate chips into the cream and continue to stir until the chocolate has melted. Stir in half the almonds and half the ginger. Stir in cayenne if using.
3. Pour mixture into a pre-baked 9-inch pie shell. Sprinkle and remaining almonds and ginger on top. Cool until firm, slice, and serve.
Adapted from Esalen Cookbook, by Charlie Cascio (Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2006).
Aztec Aphrodisiac Hot Chocolate
This sweet-and-spicy recipe is perfect for chocolate lovers and cold weather. The comforting aroma will calm your heart and stimulate your senses. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 cups of milk, 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 whole cloves, a pinch each of ground ginger and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. With a wire whisk, stir in 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom. Strain into 2 large mugs, top with whipped cream, and enjoy.
PREP TIP: For a lighter treat use water or almond milk instead of cow’s milk. For a richer delicacy substitute the cocoa with 1/4 cup of 70 percent dark chocolate chips by melting them in a double boiler and heating the milk, sugar, and spices in a separate pot. Strain the milk mixture before slowly stirring in the melted chocolate.
HEALTH BENEFITS: Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants.
Crystal Ketterhagen is Managing Editor of Yoga+ Magazine
Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake
The secret ingredient that makes this cake so utterly moist and delicious is a secret no longer: yes, the wonderful zucchini makes this single-layer cake a real standout. Your friends and family will never know they’re getting a healthy serving of veggies with their dessert; they’ll be too busy experiencing chocolate ecstasy.
3 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar, or less, according to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini or summer squash
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and dust with some unsweetened cocoa powder.
2. Melt the chocolate along with the oil in a double boiler or in a saucepan over low heat, taking care not to scorch.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium mixing bowl.
4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beating until combined, then fold in the chocolate and oil mixture, and the zucchini.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, then invert it on the rack, remove the pan, and cool completely.
5. May be served plain, iced with your favorite icing, dusted with organic confectioners’ sugar, or with fresh raspberries nestled around it.
Serves 8 to 10.
Inspired by The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, by Nancy C. Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman (Storey Books, 2002).
Vegan Zucchini Chocolate Cake
Mel’s version makes a lovely vegan zucchini cake – yum!
1 medium zucchini
1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup water
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teapoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium apple, shredded
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup Sucanat or organic brown sugar
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
8 ounces soy yogurt
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 12 tablespoons water until gelatenous
1/4 cup light vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1. Shred zucchini, place in a colander to drain for 15 minutes, then squeeze excess water out.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan.
3. Over medium heat, cook dates, stirring, in water until you have a smooth and thick liquid.
4. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add shredded apple, then stir in zucchini, dates, cinnamon, cocoa, Sucanat, chocolate chips, yogurt, flaxseed gel, oil and vanilla.
5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Care2 Healthy and Green Living.