Chocolate

Chocolate, Dessert, Fall, Gluten Free, Snack, Winter

HONEY FUDGE

They are four and a half and almost three. My babies are potty trained, can buckle their own car seats, and clear their plates from the table. The crib will be passed to a friend next month and I’ve been donating the toys that seem, well, baby-ish. We finally went on a family vacation last month, where we all slept in one room and it was great - no one needed to sleep in the bathroom and the equipment we had to schlep along was minor. While still not easy (is it ever?), I feel like we’ve crossed some sort of parenthood threshold where I can breathe a little easier. The exhaustion scale is tipping more towards mental than completely physical as they become more little people and less baby.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Curran (4.5) is pretty emotional. High highs and low lows. Cries easily, loudly, and feels his 4-year old feels deeply. He LOVES to eat. Is not a toucher/cuddler. Thrives off quality time. A collector of gadgets and junk. He hoards his treasures in various bags, backpacks and cases, and takes them around with him everywhere… a little seasonly obsessive, like his father and my sister. Right now we’re in a police man season, so lots of walkie talkies, badges, the jacket, etc. Cleo adores him, but mark my words Curran will be the one keeping her out of trouble in high school.

She likes to pester him and scream at the top of her lungs if he tries to give her a dose of her own medicine. She LOVES cuddles and touches and passes out “I love you’s” generously. She has a will of steel. She insists on dressing herself in the clothes I like least in her closet and no matter the question, the answer is always “pink!” She has my favorite intonations and facial expressions. She is a charmer and a little bit crazy.

Both kids have beautiful blue eyes, are tall for their ages, are quirky, and look like each other, while not a spitting image of either parent. How wild it is to get to know them - to observe what makes them tick or make their eyes light up. These things are equally magical and incredibly frustrating, all in the scope of a day. I somehow feel surprised that we’re in a new phase. So much of the past few years has been head down survival, but gradually, I feel I can stop and SEE them now, instead of just keep everyone fed and alive. Does that make any sense? Obviously I’ve always been “aware” of them, but now, more so them as the people they are becoming. Anyway. It feels really special. Parenthood is pretty wild, in so many more ways than just being tired, like everyone tells you you’ll be. I feel extremely lucky to be their mom.

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Chocolate Honey Fudge

This honey fudge was from the first week of Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club and it was a raging success (shameless plug that I still think you should join because it’s been so neat to cook dinner along side people and share ideas). It is not often you can please all the dairy free, gluten free, egg free, honey eating vegans, and vegetarians all at once, but we’re working on it! Cheers, us.

As this may be the most favorited recipe I’ve ever written, I figured it needed to live here too.


RECIPE INGREDIENTS

2 ounces dark chocolate, well chopped
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch) or raw cacao, plus more for dusting
pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup honey plus 1 Tbsp. 
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup crisp rice cereal

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate along the bottom of the pan. 

In a food processor or a strong blender, combine the almonds, cocoa powder and sea salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse sand, about 10 times. You want some crunchy bits of almonds. 

In a saucepan, combine the honey and coconut oil and bring it to a gentle boil. Stir to mix. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Add the almond mixture and the rice cereal into the wet mixture and stir to combine. Any extra add-ins would go in here. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, smooth the top and put it in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. 

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Dessert, Gluten Free, Chocolate, Snack, Feeding Babies

DATE + SEED BUTTER COOKIES

Date & Seed Butter Cookies . Mixer

I'll try to do another lunchbox post in a few weeks, as I get ready to send both off to preschool (tear! but also yay!). These would be a perfect addition, but I suppose they are a nice summer treat as well, while we're enjoying the last couple weeks of it. I personally can't wait to get back to a regular routine, while still having the beach weekends, warm nights, watermelon and corn. September here is my very favorite. 

I saw these on Dana's site a few weeks (months?) ago and haven't stopped thinking of them. We make nearly the exact ones, without the oats, and I figured it may be nice to have these in the repetoire here for all the nut-free people either by way of school rules or allergies. I generally prefer peanut butter to sunflower seed butter, but 'tis the season of lunchbox prep. 

Date & Seed Butter Cookies . Rolling
Date & Seed Butter Cookies . Dipped in Chocolate

DATE + SEED BUTTER COOKIES

Makes about 20-24 cookies

Recipe barely adapted from these and  Minimalist Baker

I make these pretty small so I can pack them in a lunch box, or use them for vegetable eating negotiations without bracing for a sugar high. They should be kept in the fridge as they fall apart and the coconut oil melts at room temperature. I'll make them without the cocoa dip for packed lunches to avoid the mess.
 

Ingredients

cookies:
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup unsweetened seed butter
1 Tbsp. chia seeds, optional
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon

chocolate glaze:
3 T. coconut oil, to a liquid
1 Tbsp.. maple syrup
3 T. cocoa powder
 

Instructions

Put the dates and oats in a food processor and pulse a dozen times until well chopped and sticky. Add the seed butter, chia seeds, pinch of salt and cinnamon, and pulse a few more times. If mixture looks dry and crackly, add a splash of water or coconut oil, and pulse again until combined.

Line a plate with parchment paper. Roll the mixture into small, tablespoon-ish, sized balls. Press the centers down with the tins of a fork, cross hatched if you wish. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

 In a small bowl, stir together the coconut oil, maple and cocoa powder. Dip the cold cookies, halfway, into the cocoa mix. Replace them back on the plate and refrigerate again to chill. Keep them stored in the fridge until ready to eat. 

Date & Seed Butter Cookies . Sprouted Kitchen
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Chocolate, Dessert, Feeding Babies, Gluten Free, Snack

CHOCOLATE CRISPY SUNFLOWER BUTTER HEARTS

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I love when Curran brings crafts home from preschool. I do not hang them or keep them, but I love that someone else is doing crafts and artsy things with him so I don't have to. I don't like junk or tchotchkes and I suppose crafts feel like a waste of materials and money. No offense, personal opinion, and I appreciate that other people love them but one cannot be good at all of the things. HOWEVER. My heart is not completely made of stone and I love my children so I went to Michaels (a store specifically for crafty people) last week to pick up Valentines supplies. Cards, stickers, glitter hearts, paint, heart cookie cutters, we're going for it. I really wanted to buy that $4 box of pre-made Minion cards, staple a bag of mini pretzels to it and call it done but my parents always made Valentines really special for my sister and I, so I'm going to do crafts for a minute in the spirit of family tradition. My (crafty) mom still sends us homemade Valentines. Where I do fail them in enthusiasm for crafts, I make up in cooking projects. They like to bake because they've caught on to the outcome. These sunflower butter hearts fit within all the allergy rules at preschool and my kids think cookie cutters are magical. They make a mess and push each other and the whole of it is harder and slower, but I think that is the refinement happening in me at this stage of parenting. Everything is harder with them. It just is, and when I quit fighting it and resign to things like Cleo never sleeping in the car no matter how far the drive or Curran being highly sensitive and crying easily, I give up the loosing battle for control. Instead of trying to fix it or solve it, for their sake or mine, I'm better for all of us. I'll be damned if they look back and think I didn't let them in on being in the kitchen, a place I love, because it made it harder and slower for me. Our food will be our crafts if that's how I need to do it. 

So. I applaud you if you have mini bags of pretzels or conversation hearts, but if you're up for a pretty simple, two dish cooking project, these could not be easier.

/// EVENT! ///

Hugh and I are hosting a food photography workshop in Seattle, WA on April 28+29. Tickets and a few more notes are available on the shop page. This will be our third workshop at Aran's beautiful studio and the whole experience is so refreshing for us and what we do for work. Hugh will go over light and composition and editing and I'll jump in for some styling and prep food with Aran and we get to bounce ideas off each other and learn how to be better at our craft. Basic understanding of your camera is recommended but you could just use your phone too, it doesn't really matter. We'd love you to come. Feel free to contact me with any questions at all. 

CHOCOLATE CRISPY SUNFLOWER BUTTER HEARTS // Makes 12ish

Because I know someone is thinking, "can I use all maple?", the answer is not really. Brown rice syrup is thicker and sets better than maple. It's the sweetener used in most packaged protein bars. I cut it here because I like the flavor of maple better and I wanted the hearts to be a little more tender. In short, you can go all brown rice syrup for the liquid sweetener yield, but not completely maple. They sell it at all health food stores, some conventional grocery stores or more conveniently, albeit more expensive, here
These are mildly chocolatey. If you want more, add a generous handful of chocolate chips to the mixture. 

1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup sunflower butter
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup rice crisp cereal
1 cup quick cooking oats*

* the quick cooking ones have a softer texture. The old fashioned sort will work, but have a bit of a raw taste in context as they're thicker. I'd suggest pulsing them in a blender or food processor if you go this route. 

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Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. 

In a large saucepan, warm the rice syrup and maple. Add the sunflower butter and coconut oil and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and let it cool a moment. Add the salt, cocoa powder, rice cereal and oats. Stir to mix. 
Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth down the top with damp hands. The mixture will be sticky, damp hands will help. 
Let it set in the fridge for a couple hours before cutting them into squares or using a cookie cutter for shapes. 
They are best kept in the fridge, and will keep covered for 3-5 days. 

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