Caramel and Chocolate Black bean Stacks

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What’s better than ultra soft and chewy brownie? Or gooey sticky caramel? The sound and feel of dark chocolate cracking between your teeth as you bite and the crunch of candied nuts dusted with shredded Coconut? Well…? I’m waiting! Exactly as I thought. Nothing! Four of the best things in the world all stacked up on top of one another. Heaven!

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I love these little stacks and I like to take them everywhere with me. They are more robust than cake, so sticking them in a plastic tupperware and going out and about with them is fine. If you have kids they could probably run around with these without wondering what that gooey brown blob stuck to the top of their Lunch box lid use to be! You open up the box and they always look like “What? I woke up like this” kind of treats. These are a fabulous alternative to a Twix or Snickers bar. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t like a Snickers every now and again? But what the hell is in there? What are all of those mysterious names in the ingredients list? I don’t know about you but I refer to know what is about to travel though my body. What ends up in my tummy? What’s being absorbed into my blood stream and what do I get out of it in the end? (Queue toilet Humour!!) But seriously, is one of those many mystery names something that aggravates cells which will one day be bad for my health if eaten time and again? That’s why I’m a do it yourself kind of girl when it comes to the sweet stuff. Whether I’m making a cake full of butter, Sugar, and cream or a gluten free, sugar free treat. I know when I take a bite what’s about to go into this temple!!  Not to come across all sanctimonious but your body really is a Temple…Castle, Palace, cottage by the sea, whatever you want to call it.  You’re not renting it. It’s yours. You’ve got the keys. You are a property owner gorgeous, congratulations! I always feel that it’s the only thing in life I am truly in charge of and it is my decision how I want to treat it. Sure, there have been times when it felt and looked more like a run down, out dated semi detached. But I prefer it mostly Temple. In fact I’ve come to like it here. So with all that in mind I am sharing with you an old favourite. My Raw Caramel and Black bean Stacks!

FYI

In my ingredients list you will see a Refined Sugar alternative called Natvia. Natvia is not an artificial sweetener but a mixture of 2 different leaves from a plant which has a sweet taste. The reason I use a little of it here is that unlike most sugars it does not effect your blood sugar levels. It has no calories and comes up zero on the Glycaemic Index. You can use Maple Syrup in place of Natvia if you prefer in the recipe.

Also in this list is Almond butter. You can either make your own (recipe for Almond butter in last blog post below this one) or use I suggest Meridian. As it has nothing but nuts and a little salt in it.

Ingredients -Makes 6 Stacks

Black bean Brownie base

6 tbsp Black beans

2 tbsp Raw Cacoa Powder

3 Majool dates

6 tbsp Ground Almonds

6 tbsp Gluten Free Oats

Carmel

6 Majool dates

3 tbsp Almond Butter

1 tsp Almond milk (or whatever you prefer)

Chocolate Top

Either melt a bar of your favourite Dark chocolate, 75% and higher in a bowl over a pan of boiled water

Or

if you are keeping your desserts refined sugar free have a go at this –

3 tbsp Coconut oil

1 tsp of Natvia

3 tbsp Cacoa Powder

Crunchy nut clusters

5 tbsp of Cashews and Almonds. I crushed half of the nuts and left the other half whole.

1 tsp Natvia

3 tsp Coconut oil

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Method –

All about that base

–  First you want to soften the dates a little. This will help you when it comes to mixing. Chop your Majool dates and put them in a small frying pan over a low heat. It takes very little time for them to soften so keep an eye on them.

– Drain your black beans thoroughly, especially if they are from a can. The likely hood is that they have been kept in salted water or some kind of brine.

– Add your softened dates, sieved the Cocoa powder, then throw in the Almond flour  and oats in to the bowl. Get a hand blender and a hand  whizz together until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender or food processor get your elbow grease on and with a wooden spoon push the mixture up against the side and spread over and over until smooth.

–  If you are use to eating Snickers and twix bars etc..You may find that this brownie is not quite sweet enough for you. Add 1 tsp Natvia (Sugar Alternative) or 2 tsp Mable syrup.

– I put my mixture into fairy cake moulds. 1 tbsp and a half to each mould and pack down flat. Otherwise you can also line a small rectangular tin and cut into bars later. Put the raw black bean brownies into the fridge while you make your Caramel.

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Caramel

– In your small frying pan add your dates to soften (over a low heat) for a minute. Then add your Almond butter and combine with a wooden spoon.

If you find the mixture a little stiff add a tsp of milk.

– Now add  1 tbsp of the caramel mixture to the top of your brownies. Then put back into the fridge.

Chocolate top

– Time to get that Saucepan out again lovelies! Give it a good scrub down then over a low heat add your coconut oil. Then the Natvia, Stevia or chosen Syrup. Let it melt down to liquid.

– Now add your Cocoa  1 tsp at a time stirring with a wooden spoon.

-Take the Brownie/Caramel treats out of the fridge and with a teaspoon drizzle on a loaded teaspoon of the chocolate.

Crunchy nut top top

– Ok, Don’t hate me! But you’ve got to get that pan out again. Put a tiny bit of the coconut oil in the pan and toss in the nuts. Half crushed and half whole. Toast the nuts (we are looking for a golden colour) then throw in the shredded coconut and mix together.

– Sprinkle the nuts and coconut on the top of the melted chocolate mixture.

-Put in the fridge again to set for 30 mins.

Now enjoy, indulge and feel good!

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Thank you for reading and I hope you make some fabulous stacks! I would love to see your creations. You can find me on Instagram – @thecakediariesofficial or on twitter @thecakediaries1Treat yourselves well!

Yours truly,

The Cake Diaries

 

How to make Nut butter

Quick and easy, no fear nut butters.

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I love a good nut butter. They have the power to perk up any meal either sweet or savoury and I will try and add it to anything I can and I do.

Nuts provide us with lots of goodies like protein, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals and when added to say…breakfast will help you to become a little power house of energy.

Homemade verses shop bought.

I like to get creative with my nut butters with flavours that are not available in the shops but also I like to know what’s in my butters. Along with all the health benefits of nut butters most shop bought butters come with added sugars, salts and hydrogenated oils (which are trans fats and not good for us).

You can make nut butter out of most nuts and seeds.

Peanuts, walnuts, pecan, cashew, almond, pistachio, hazelnut, macadamia, brazil, sunflower seed, sesame seed or pumpkin seed.

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Here are a few of my favourite combinations that I make regularly.

Cashew and Chocolate

Almond and Vanilla

Pecan and Cinnamon

Here are your basics to making nut butter. Then you can add whatever you like to pimp up your butter or keep it plain as nature intended.

Now making butter can be very quick about 35 mins. Or much longer, taking upto a whole day. I will show you both options here –

1a – To soak or not to Soak? I am impatient a lot of the time so don’t soak them and just chuck them in the food processor but when I am forward thinking I will soak the nuts. This will help with a creamy texture and more intense flavour. By soaking the nuts you will wash away any toxins/chemicals which will help you to digest more of the goodness in the nut.

In a bowl cover the nuts in water (filtered where possible).Cashews 2 hours, Almonds 8 hours, Peanut 8 hours, Hazelnut 8 hours and 5 hours for your Pecan nuts. Leave in a cool place.

1b – If you haven’t soaked your nuts you can just chuck them in the blender and get going or you can toast your nuts for a lovely roastie, smokie flavour. Oven at 175.c for around 12 mins and just keep an eye on them as I never trust ovens. They don’t want you to get to know them!! When you finally think you and your oven are getting on and they’ve let you in on their secret they suddenly change the rules!

If you have soaked your nuts. Now it’s time to dry them out and roast them by dehydrating them – Oven, 150.c on an oven tray for 12 hours.

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2- Take your desired nut and put in a blender. Blitz on full speed, 2 mins at a time, stopping to scrap down the sides. Keep going like this until you get a smooth paste. If you like it crunchy like I do add some more nuts nearer to the end of the blitzing so you have some nice chunky pieces giving great bite and texture.

2 – You can now decide on your chosen texture i.e stiff or creamy. For some reason I like my Cashew and cocoa stiff so you have to spade it on the toast and watch it slowly melt into the hot bread.

3 – I like my Almond and Vanilla smooth. So now I would add almond milk a tsp at a time for a smooth creamy texture. For a more velvety and luxurious butter go for a healthy oil like walnut oil or my favourite coconut oil. Add slowly, a bit at a time to get the texture you desire.

3 – Now add your flavour if wanted – i.e salt, Tahini (great with cashews), maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, coconut, mixed spice, vanilla essence or chia spice  etc…

Cashew and Cocoa – Add 1 heaped tablespoon of Coco/Raw cocoa and 2 heaped tsp of natural honey. Now give it a quick whizz.

Almond and Vanilla – Add 2 tsp of good quality Vanilla extract. Now give it a quick whizz.

Pecan and Cinnamon – I love cinnamon so it’s likely I will always add more. Add 1 level tbsp of cinnamon and 2 tsp of maple syrup. Now give it a quick whizz.

With all these added extras its personal taste if you would like to add more of each to the recipe.IMG_4544

Enjoy and go wild with your nut butter. Spread it on celery, apples, hot toast, oat cakes, rice cakes, with banana sandwiches on porridge, drag it through yogurt, add it to stir fry’s, dollop on ice cream and eat it with a spoon!

This morning in celebration of Easter and Good Friday I’m enjoying my Almond and Vanilla with a toasted chocolate chip Hot cross bun!

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Happy Bank holiday Weekend everyone.

Treat yourself well.

Yours Truly,

The Cake Diaries xoxo

 

Stress busting Banana & Rasberry Bread

Healthy Banana Bread, shot through with Raspberries.

If I was to place a personal ad in a newspaper at the moment my name would be ‘Stressed in London’. Yep!

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For the last 3 weeks my days started a little like this –

Up early (I’ve even beaten the sun), I waddle to the tube with too many handbags, a large cake box in hand and my scarf trailing on the pavement behind me as I hop-foot-it through the streets,10 minutes late with a piece of toast hanging out my mouth. Then I’m on a packed tube usually nestled under a sweaty mans armpit in the middle of the scrum. With nowhere to hang on I am desperately trying to clutch the floor with my toes through my shoes to keep me from toppling over. Not a good start to the day and it goes on pretty much like that until I fall into bed at 1am!

IMG_4457I live and work in London and though I love it with all my heart sometimes it can get stressful! There’s a lot going on and oodles of opportunities banging on my door, queuing to get the best seat in my life right now. Now, I’m not taking any of this for granted, it’s  fantastic and I am so grateful. But the only problem is – I haven’t factored in eating or sleeping, eek! If only there was more than 24 hours in a day.

I am one of thousands of stressed out Londoners. The streets of central London are a feast for the senses. Working in the centre of town is a daily emotional Roller-coaster. There is so much to stimulate you in London even if you’re not actively taking part in its angst, joy, frustrations or delights.

Feeling stressed and not sleeping enough means bad decisions get made and we make ourselves feel 10 times more stressed out and anxious. If you are anything like me when stressed out –  you run around like a headless chicken. You forget to eat which eneviably alters your mood and you end up having that that ‘dip’ we know so well.To perk myself up I grab high sugar, high fat foods or caffeine loaded drinks to make myself feel more alive. For 30 glorious minutes I am soaring on a candy covered rainbow sugar high, feeling like I can take on the world. One hour later you will find me shrivelled in a corner rocking back and forth as my blood sugar drops and insulin level rockets. It is never more apparent to me that we ‘are what we eat’ at times like these.

If you are feeling stressed or anxious Caffeine and Refined Sugar feed your anxiety. They are not your friend, they are a double crossing, too faced bully and should be blocked from your Facebook, have their number deleted from your phone and ignored where possible. These are short lived stimulants and when they’ve done their job they will leave you feeling lethargic, depleted and can even make you feel a bit sad 😦

So, I got in the kitchen and decided to design a healthy treat to support you mentally and physically. I can think of nothing more comforting than thick, moist Banana bread.

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In this recipe I have looked at foods that sooth you, lift your mood and that are digested slowly, releasing a steady stream of energy. In my recipe I use Wholemeal Spelt flour (you can use regular whole wheat flour if you prefer), oats, almonds, banana and raspberries for the ultimate mood lifting, stress busting treat.

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Banana bread, shot  through with Raspberries –

Ingredients –

120g Wholemeal Spelt

120g Almond flour

1 egg

3 bananas

2 handfuls of Oat

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cinnamon ( I love Cinnamon and usually go big)

1 tsp Ginger

60ml Maple syrup

60ml Almond milk

Half tsp Stevia

As many Raspberries as you feel.

Pumpkin Seeds for the top.

Method – Pre heat Oven 150.c/ 300f

This couldn’t be easier.

Grease a medium loaf tin (I use coconut oil)

1-  In a large bowl mash 3 ripe bananas. ( The riper your Banana the sweeter and more ‘bananaerie’ the flavour.

2 – In a jug – whisk one egg and add it to your Bananas

3 – Sift in your flours x2, your Cinnamon, Ginger and baking powder

4 – After you’ve mixed in your flour, fold in your oats.

5 – Add your Maple syrup and Stevia.  (I am using Stevia which is a planted based sugar and doesn’t effect your blood sugar levels which keeps you balanced. This is not an artificial sweetener. Stevia is from a plant, so not a scary ‘sugar pretender’ but a very sweet leaf which has been used in cooking for 1500 years!!  If you don’t have stevia you can use 60ml again of Maple syrup).

6 – Fold in the Raspberries. I love to see the bright, sharp colour of the Raspberries smeared through the mixture. (Now I may be getting a head of myself here, dreaming of the seasons to come. It’s not quite Raspberry season. I personally love that sharpness of the Rasberry in contrast to the banana but if it’s too sharp for you add dates instead which are sweet, gooey and just delish!!

7 – Add the mixture to your Medium loaf tin ( Make sure that whatever sized tin you own that you don’t over fill it. We are aiming for using 3/4 of a tin). Sprinkle on your Pumpkin seeds

8 – Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 Mins. As you must be aware by now that using a tooth pick or shape knife inserted into the loaf is the best way to check if the dessert is cooked through. But with this dessert I like to see just a couple of crumbs clinging to my knife as I want it as moist as possible. But this is up to you and how you like your Banana bread.

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Now comes the dreaded bit. Waiting. Before you dig into this bag boy give it 10 mins to chill out in it’s tin. Then with a knife feel your way round the edges to free it from the sides and turn out!

Now dig in!! Cut a big wedge and serve warm with a huge mug of something hot or eaten for breakfast the next morning.  This Banana bread is not a light, fluffy cloud like delight but a thick, moist, filling and healthy pick me up which will keep you going between meals and elevate your mood.

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Beat stress with clean eating recipes, keep happy and treat yourself well!

Yours truly,

The Cake Diaries xoxo