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Light & Silky Chocolate Pudding Cups {Vegan}

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As we gear up for Valentine’s Day, chocolate recipes abound. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with splurging on decadent desserts every once in a while, (especially on a holiday), there are plenty of healthier versions of those indulgences if you’re interested in feeding your sweet tooth without consuming loads of sugar and saturated fat.

This chocolate pudding is one such dessert; it is rich, satisfying, and delicious, but it contains zero refined sugars or animal fats. Cashews comprise the base; and when they’re soaked and blended with water, cocoa powder, and a bit of maple syrup, a silky smooth pudding-like consistency emerges that makes the perfect vegan treat.

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These pudding cups make a great snack or dessert for kids and adults alike, so bust out your high speed blender and whip up this easy chocolate treat for those you love on Valentine’s Day!

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Light & Silky Chocolate Pudding Cups {Vegan}

by Lauren Zembron

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients (2-4 servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups raw whole cashews
  • 6 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp instant espresso powder, optional (I would suggest omitting this if you’re serving the pudding to kids)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cold filtered water

Instructions

Place cashews in a bowl of cold water and let soak for at least 4 hours, (or 8 hours if you do not have a high speed blender such as a Vitamix), then drain.

Place drained cashews, maple syrup, cocoa powder, espresso powder if using, and 1/2 cup cold filtered water in a high speed blender or food processor, and blend/process until perfectly smooth, adding more water (1 tablespoon at a time) as needed to reach desired consistency. Take care not to let the mixture start to heat up if you are using a high speed blender!

Chill in the refrigerator until fully cooled.

NOTE: If you are using a high speed blender, the end consistency should be light & airy. You may not achieve this exact texture if you are using a regular blender or food processor.

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Crunchy Chai Spice Granola Clusters

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Pumpkin spice gets all of the love this time of year, (I succumb to the temptation as well, and will be posting a pumpkin spice recipe soon), but what about other aromatic autumnal spice combinations? Chai spice is basically pumpkin spice with the addition of cardamom and allspice; you’ve still got the sweet cinnamon, spicy ginger, and warm nutmeg & cloves, but the additional two spices give the blend a deeper, more exotic flavor profile.

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The fragrant spice blend is used here to flavor crunchy granola clusters that are lightly sweetened and insanely addictive. You bake the granola at a low temperature in one giant “sheet”, and then break it up into clusters as big or as small as you’d like.

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Oat flour helps to hold the clusters together. I love this brand, and keep it on hand for ease of use, but you can absolutely make your own simply by tossing a few big handfuls of old fashioned rolled oats into a high-speed blender or food processor and blending/processing until the oats break down into a fine flour.

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Clusters, magnificent clusters!

You could certainly eat this clustery granola with milk for breakfast, but I personally think it’s better suited for snacking on throughout the day.

I helped myself to a few handfuls while taking photos for the post; even Lily couldn’t keep her hands away. In fact, when I asked her if she liked the granola, she said: “No. I LOVE it!”

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Well said, kiddo, well said.

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Crunchy Chai Spice Granola Clusters

by Lauren Zembron (method of baking adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil (such as safflower oil)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

both old-fashioned rolled oats and oat flour can be found in certified gluten-free versions

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, oat flour, salt, and all of the spices.

    In a medium bowl, combine vegetable oil, coconut (or brown) sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract; whisk until well-mixed. Pour mixture over oat mixture and stir until dry mixture is fully and evenly moistened.

    Spread mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Press down so the top is even. A pastry roller comes in handy here, as you want the mixture in as thin & even a layer as possible. The mixture should reach the edges of the baking sheet. The mixture will be sticky, so it can be helpful to lightly wet your fingers or a rubber spatula (if you don’t have a pastry roller) with water before pressing down.

    Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until hard through the center and golden brown, rotating baking sheet about every 15 minutes for even baking.

    Let cool completely, then break into pieces.

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