Vegan MoFo Day XIX : Free-Trade, Organic Deliciousness Giveaway

A few weeks ago, Guppy and I were reading one of my all-time favourite children’s books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Mr. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Store

It was so rewarding to snuggle with Guppy and read a chapter every night before bed, however, there was a down side.

Suddenly, I was constantly thinking about chocolate – just like poor Charlie!

Chocolate cravings don’t generally hit me (ever), but I found with each passing chapter I was day dreaming about the stuff.

So I gave in.

I thought I would try something new, so I went for these two flavours from my favourite free trade brand – citron noir and noir quinoa.  I thought they were both so fantastic that I would share them with you!  I must share them with someone, they are that good.

The citron noir is loaded with candied lemon zest – lemon and chocolate!  Brilliant.  If you’re not a big citrus/chocolate fan, then you’ll probably prefer the quinoa and dark chocolate bar.  Somewhat reminiscent of a crunchy type chocolate bar, this one was also a big hit with yours truly.  Both bars are also vegan, organic and fair-trade so you can indulge without guilt.

Would you like some chocolate?  Just leave a comment below and let me know which one you’d like – you’ve got until next Thursday, November 25th at midnight France standard time to enter.  Winners will be announced before the end of Vegan MoFo. Wee!

Vegan MoFo Day XIV : Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (with instructions for non-food processor people)

Chocolate Hazelnut spread on Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Scones

I’m going to come right out and say that I’m not a big fan of chocolate spreads in general as I tend to find them too rich.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t indulge every once in a while.  This is also not an everyday food by any means, and if you do like your chocolate spread every day, please go and find yourself a healthier version.  Ok?  Thanks.

Did you make your ganache?  Have you roasted your hazelnuts?  If you made the Peanut Butter Cup Cookies you probably had ganache left (unless you ate it all!).  This spread was born out of a new way to use my left-over ganache besides making truffles.  I like truffles, but seeing all those fresh-roasted hazelnuts got me thinking about that famous Italian spread and voila.  If you’ve already got roasted hazelnuts and some left-over ganache, this will take you 5 minutes, maybe less.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

160g/1 generous cup roasted hazelnuts (or any nut, really)

100g/3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp ganache

15 to 30ml/1 to 2 tbsp vegetable oil

If your ganache is in the fridge, you’ll need to warm it up either in the microwave or in a double boiler.  While you’re doing that put your hazelnuts in your food processor with an S blade and grind them up as much as you would like.  Personally, I like a little crunch so I left them closer to a coarse meal than powder.  Add some of the oil to help things along, and add more if necessary (this will depend on the oil-content of your nuts).

like so

Now, fold this into the chocolate ganache.  In a sterilised, air-tight jar this will last a few weeks in the cupboard.  In an air-tight container in the fridge it’ll last even longer.  It hardens up when it’s cold, but a warms-up just beautifully.

But wait!  I don’t have a food processor!  (Or I’m lazy and don’t want to roast nuts and wash my food processor). No panic.  Just use your favourite nut butter (hazelnut?).   You can add the same amount of nut butter to the ganache when you’re warming it up, just stir well.  Done!  Wasn’t that easy?

This obviously lends itself to many add-ins and subs, so play with it!  Pistachios are a personal favourite, but don’t let me influence you.

Vegan MoFo Day IX : Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

It’s Vegan MoFo Day IX already!  I am so impressed by all the amazing recipes and formidable camaraderie taking over the blogosphere.  One thing I’ve been particularly enjoying is discovering so many new blogs and bloggers!  Don’t forget to visit the Vegan MoFo Blogroll and spread the love!

Now for the cookies!

These are really like big thumb print cookies, but bigger is better, right?  As far as cookies go, I’m thinking yes!

These are a healthier peanut butter cookie baked with a big ‘ole slob of ganache in the middle – what could be better?  These make a lot, like 3 dozen, so get ready to share!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

3 to 3.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (milling is very different here, so start with 1 cup and add more as needed.)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

generous pinch salt

1/2 cup brown sugar (plus a little extra for rolling)

1/2 white sugar

2 tbsp canola oil (this might not be necessary, depending on your peanut butter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cups natural peanut butter (chunky is fine)

3/4 cups non-dairy milk

1/4 water

about 1/2 cup ganache

A quick note about the ganache.  If you use the recipe here you’ll end up with just enough left for making some Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (recipe coming soon!), but please use any kind your little heart desires, ok?

Like two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  Stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just mixed (too much mixing makes for gummy cookies).  This is a thickish/dryish dough, so if yours is too liquid to handle, add a little more flour until the right consistency is reached.

Now for the fun part – roll the dough into balls, a bit bigger than a walnut.  (Like two walnuts?) Roll it in the brown sugar (this is optional), then place it on the baking sheet.  Flatten it a little, then move on to the next one.  When all the dough has been rolled, you’ll need to make little holes in each cookie – the easiest way is just to wet your index and poke a hole.  Like so:

Now put them in the fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour.  While they are chilling, you can make your ganache, have a cup of tea and read a few blogs.  When that’s done, you’ll need to fill them with chocolate.  My method is to use one of Guppy’s old aspirin plungers, but you could use a spoon or whatever.  Before you start, pre-heat your oven to 165°c/325°f, then get to work!

Now it’s time to bake!  They’ll bake for about 20 minutes, depending on how thick/flat they are.  When they’re done, leave them to cool on the baking sheets, that way, they’ll brown a little more on the bottoms without burning the chocolate.



Vegan MoFo V: Easy Ganache and “High Moral Standards”

I know what you new vegans are thinking, “Ganache?  Authentic ganache cannot be vegan!”.  Maybe you weren’t thinking that, but believe me, when discussing “authentic” ganache with certified pastry chefs (or people who just think they are pastry chefs) the inevitable questions about the compatibility of veganism and pâtisseries or pastries, always rear their ugly head.  When I mention that I don’t use dairy crème liquide or even cow’s milk, accusations and name-calling usually ensue.  Seriously.

I realise that in France we have a certain fierté or pride, concerning our pastries and our culinary traditions.  This is understandable, given the international reputation our sweet treats have.  The general belief is that in order to cultivate  the authentic “frenchness” of our recipes, tradition must be respected.  Unfortunately, the cult of authenticity often attracts blind followers.

What does “authentic” mean to you?  For some people, it’s about following the recipe by the book and any derivation is heresy or blasphemy or even worse (is there worse?).  For me it’s about taste.  Taste, and ethics.  I don’t think it’s ethical to “grow” animals (sentient beings)  like plant crops (non-sentient beings), impregnate the females (rape anyone?) then pry their babies from them in order to sell their milk.  For me as a woman, a feminist and a mother, that is wrong on so many levels.

But you can have your ganache and your “high moral standards”* people!  Granted vegan ganache can hardly be called heathful, it’s at least less deleterious to the cows than its omni counterpart. Ganache is not an “everyday food” people – be sensible, please.

You’re going to need to have some ganache on had for some soon-to-be-posted recipes, so it’s only fitting I share my go-to recipe with you.  Try it, or make your own favourite ganache.  Don’t eat it all.  Trust me, you’ll need it!

Get your  soy milk and agave ready!

Easy Chocolate Ganache

200g (about 7 oz) dark chocolate, broken or cut into smallish chunks

1/2 non-dairy milk (I use soy)

1/4 cup agave syrup

Using a small sauce pan, heat the soy milk to boiling (don’t let it get crazy boiling or you’ll get a layer of soy-skin on top).  Turn off heat and add the chocolate chunks.  You can either leave this set for a few minutes (maybe wash a few dishes?), then stir, or just stir right away.  You’ll have a little more stirring to do if you decide not do let it set, but it’s ok.  When the chocolate is completely melted, add the agave and stir until combined.  You can either use immediately, or let it cool.  This hardens up to a nice fudge-like consistency if left at room temperature long enough, or refrigerated.

Don’t eat it all!  You’re going to need it for the next few recipes…

* “high moral standards” – that’s one of the comments, in an ironic, snarky tone, I’ve heard when sharing my ganache recipe.  Personally, I take it as a compliment!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins : Sweet Freedom Saturdays

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (Vegan)

My oh my…these are mighty amazing. In fact, these were the best Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins I’ve ever had, or made, ever. For reals. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they were probably the healthiest, too.

I brought some to work yesterday morning to share with my colleagues, and they disappeared in less than 5 minutes. If you’re looking for some delicious and healthy vegan propaganda to share with your entourage (that doesn’t taste like health food), these muffins are for you!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (Vegan)

Have you made anything yummy from Sweet Freedom this week ? Go check out Diann’s Figaros – they are at the top of my list for things to make next! Stay tuned next Saturday for another installment of “Sweet Freedom Saturdays”. We’ve also got a brand new Sweet Freedom Flickr Group – come join us!

Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Hummus (no, not together, sillies!)

Then again, hummus and pancakes could be good together…I mean, a pita isn’t that different from a pancake, right?

Ok, anyway…before I get to the food, I need to send huge thanks to three amazing bloggers and friends : Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel, Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Diann of Eat’n Veg’n Vegan Food & Recipes. These three amazing ladies are participating in The 60-Day Project of birthday gifts for my mum, and their goodies have arrived safely chez elle (to her house). I spoke with Mammafish Sunday morning and she was giddy with birthday delight : Celine’s gift arrived on her actual birthday (what timing!), and Ricki‘s and Diann’s packages arrived the following day and she got to open them at her birthday dinner! She just loved everything and was marveling at your thoughtfulness and talent! You are all very appreciated! Merci!!!


I was feeling the need for some comfort food, and pancake brunch on Sunday is as good an excuse as any. I’ve made Chocolate Chip Pancakes before, but they often ended up burnt, or a little too done. These delicious pannycakes were perfect: fluffy and ever-so-chocolaty, and you’ll find the recipe in the upcoming 500 Vegan Recipes. You could smother them with jam or even peanut butter, but we went with maple syrup, of course…

Another test recipe which is more than worth mentioning is the Traditional Hummus :


I tend to fancy myself as a bit of a hummus snob, and seem to always have some freshly made in the fridge, but I have a confession to make kids : I have never, ever, had such creamy and silky smooth hummus. Ever. And it’s easy-peasy. So there. I don’t know what I did to get to be a tester for 500 Vegan Recipes, but I’m one lucky Shellyfish! I recognize the above photo has the personality of boiled potatoes, so how about this one:


And to end this post on a happy note I’d like to share this gem, in honor of National Poetry Month (in the U.S.). This is one of my favourite poems. Washington Post writer Richard Thompson compiled some classic “Bushisms” and penned this oeuvre back in 2002 (I think). I am incapable of reading this poem without laughing out loud.

Make The Pie Higher

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.
Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked? They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our
wings take dream. Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful that the human and the fish can coexist! Now got knock down the tollbooth and have a happy Sunday.

Looking for some very special volunteers…the 60-Day Project

Mammafish (aka my mum) : Do not read this post. I repeat – avert your eyes and click away now!


So here’s the deal kids – my dear, sweet Mammafish has a milestone birthday coming up very soon. I have been trying so hard to think of something unique and special to give her, because here’s the deal : she’s got 6 kids, and this is her 60th birthday, so she’s had her share of “oh, how sweet, another mug. I love it!” gifts. She has always been grateful in her motherly way, but I’d like to try and mix it up a little. I’m going to be honest : budget is a huge issue for me, and though I have had some fun ideas, nothing really jumped out at me and screamed “This is it!”.

Until now.

Introducing “The 60 Days of Gifts” project!

My genius plan (if I do say so myself) is to send my mum a series of gifts over 60 days – beginning on April 3 (meaning, I hope to have the first gift arrive by the 3rd, her birthday). We celebrate “Birthday Week” at the Fish household, meaning special favours for the birthday girl or boy for a week, but this is an amplified version!

I am planning on sending her a few special gifts from France, but I’m looking for a few very special volunteers to also send her a little something. Like what? Well, I’m thinking some nice chocolate, not a lot mind you – where not going for piling lavish gifts on the woman (though I would love to), but to have this wonderful wave of love washing little treasures into her mailbox. I mean, who doesn’t love receiving mail? And surprises? Or maybe something small and handmade like a beautiful card or an embroidered tea towel – just something small, sweet and sincere. Again, chocolate is always a good idea.

But Shellyfish, we all think you’re mum is probably cool and all, but why would we send her anything? I mean, she’s a total stranger, and we don’t even send our own mothers gifts often enough.

I am indeed picking up what you are laying down my friends. Here’s the deal, once my sweet mumma has received her little gift from you, I’ll send you a little something special from me. Ta Da!

What will I send you? I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure yet because I need to first see how many people want to play along, but it will be something handmade and not too heavy to ship from France. Or, I could reciprocate the favour and send some yummy French chocolate to you or your loved one of choice for a birthday at a later date (or right now, darn it!). I’m thinking maybe an embroidered notebook or something similar. I would also be open to suggestions. It’s like a kind of “Pay It Forward” except that the birthday girl doesn’t give anything – she just gets to receive lots of love from all over the world and feel very special.

Once I have an idea of how many people might like to play along, I’ll contact you and give you more specifics such as the date you need to send (or hand-deliver if you’re near-by) your little envelope of love out by – because we don’t want everything arriving on the same day! Just to be clear, she lives in the U.S.A., so that’s something to consider as far as shipping goes.

I’m really excited about this! I think it’ll be fun, and I especially hope it will be something very special for her. I can’t wait to see what your response is! Please feel free to comment me any questions and I’ll update the post to be more specific if need be.