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.