Tag Archives: homemade

Coconut Brownies [vegan, gluten-free]

I feel like we’re apologizing all the time for abandoning the blog. Again we haven’t written in a while. Not only is Tiia’s laptop broken and she can’t edit pictures, I also had to install mine completely new  and some of the already edited pictures are gone. Still it won’t make much longer and we should really get at least one new one.

A lot has changed in the past months. A few weeks after we moved to Lüneburg I already found work in a lovely café. Now the summer is over but the October is starting with beautiful weather and 15°C. Perfect weather to enjoy some vegan treats!

The whole October Lüneburg is part of the event “Lüneburg is(s)t vegan” which means “Lüneburg is/eats vegan”. Tiia and I are also taking part, so today I want to post a recipe for a chocolate brownie that is also gluten-free.

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

These brownies are perfect for everybody who can’t eat gluten, sugar, dairy or eggs. They are completely made without any flour and to make them a bit sweet, dates are thrown into the mix. The recipe also doesn’t use any commercial butter or margarine – instead I made some from desiccated coconut.

The delicious brownie recipe is adapted from this blog. The original isn’t vegan and I actually tried half of the recipe using eggs but I didn’t really like the result. The brownies with egg weren’t really brownies but more like a fluffy chocolate cake and that wasn’t what I was looking for at that moment. With using flax eggs as a substitute the brownies turned out perfectly moist!

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

If you want to you can decorate the brownies with a vegan whipped cream or a berry mousse. I used some vegan whipping cream made from oats and added some blueberries.

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

Ingredients (4-6 pieces)

225 g desiccated coconut
5-8 pitted dates
50 g vegan dark chocolate
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 flax eggs (3 tbsp ground flax and 9 tbsp water)
sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
cacao nibs

100 ml vegan whipping cream (optional)
1 tbsp blueberries, frozen or fresh (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175°C and grease your tin or baking pan with coconut oil. I used cake rings for the brownies which made them quite big. You can also use a small springform or a square baking tin and cut the brownies a bit smaller later.

For preparing the flax eggs mix 3 tablespoons of ground flax with 9 tablespoons of water and set aside.

Start making the coconut butter by placing the coconut into a food processor and process until the coconut releases all its oils and turns into butter. Depending on your food processor this might take a while. Scrape down the sides once in a while but don’t give up! It will work out in the end. If you have a high speed blender this might not even be a problem.

Once you have coconut butter you can add the dates and blend until everything is smooth. Then add the flax eggs, chocolate, cacao powder, soda and a bit of sea salt and blend together. Incorporate the cacao nibs without grinding them. Transfer everything into the baking tin and smooth the top out with a silicone spatula. Bake for around 17 minutes. It might take a bit longer if you don’t use individual cake rings like I did! Let the brownies cool down completely before decorating.

For the blueberry whipped cream I first strained the thawed blueberries (you can also use fresh ones) through a fine sieve and whipped up my vegan oat cream with the blueberry juice. I formed little clouds between two teaspoons but you can just serve the cream in a bowl with the brownies or pipe it on top of the individual pieces. Enjoy!

Stef

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

 

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Easy Whipped Shaving Soap

In one of my previous blog posts I shared how easy it is to make liquid hand soap out of a cold processed natural soap bar. Today’s recipe is just as easy and even takes less time.

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

You can buy special shaving soaps (or make your own cold processed one) but if you have lots of soap bars like I do and can’t use them up as fast as you’d like, this might be the perfect solution. Also a good way to pimp up a soap bar that you maybe didn’t like that much before. There is no need for alcohol or aggressive surfactants or paraffinic oils. If you take a look at the back of many commercial shaving creams you’ll see that they often include things you really don’t want on your skin. Natural cold processed soap bars are made from oils and are saponificated with NaOH and often are highly superfatted to prevent dry skin.

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

For this shaving soap I used a bar that I didn’t like that much on its own and added some coconut oil and pure aloe vera gel (for extra moisture) to the process. I you don’t have aloe vera gel or don’t want to use it you can just add an equal amount of water to the mixture.

Ingredients

50 g cold processed soap
100 ml water
50 ml pure aloe vera gel
1 tbsp coconut oil
a few drops essential oil (optional)

Grind the soap bar or chuck it in a food processor. The soap should be really fine, otherwise it won’t melt easily. Heat the water with the soap and oil in a medium sized saucepan on low heat until the soap has completely melted. You really need to stir a lot because of the small amount of water. Mine turned into a thick paste really quickly and the soap was dissolved almost immediately. Be careful not to let it burn! It might form little lumps at the bottom which may seem like unmelted soap. If you touch them, you’ll see that those lumps are actually more like a paste and it means the soap flakes have dissolved already. Stir in the aloe vera and keep it a little bit longer on the stove until everything is incorporated properly. Take it off the heat and set aside to let it cool down.

Unlike the liquid hand soap I have made, the shaving cream doesn’t need to gel up for a few days. I gave it a stir every few hours and it had set completely after a day. If you don’t stir it so frequently it might take a little bit longer. When the soap has set, whip it up by hand or with a mixer and add some essential oil if your soap wasn’t scented. It will be really smooth, creamy and easy to apply. Best is to keep it in a small tin in the bathroom.

Stef

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

Vegan Coconut Macaroons

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

My experiments to veganize recipes continue. At the moment I am trying to make vegan macarons so a substitute for egg foam is needed. Apparently you can use no-egg but I didn’t want to buy something ready made for it.

A while ago on Pinterest I saw some vegan meringues made from flaxseed gel so I wanted to use that method to make macarons. My first attempt didn’t turn out perfectly, so I’ll give it another try later. With no more almonds in the house and more flax seed gel I decided to make coconut macaroons instead.

This recipe is really simple and good for people with food restrictions since it doesn’t include refined sugars, nuts, dairy products and is also gluten-free. If you are on a low FODMAP diet you can eat around 18 g of shredded coconut according to the app provided my Monash University. Depending on the size of your macaroons that would mean 2-3 pieces.

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

But first let me explain how I got whipped “egg foam” from flaxseeds: you basically don’t have to do anything else than boil flaxseeds with water, strain them and beat the cooled down flax gel into a fluffy and shiny white egg foam!

I have to admit that I had my doubts. The gel that you get from the flaxseeds doesn’t look that appetizing, but then again egg whites don’t really either, but it works! The only problem is that it is not as stable as beaten egg whites once you try to bake it (it can’t be baked higher than 100°C). On the good side, the beaten flax foam doesn’t collapse like egg foam might, so you don’t have to be super careful while incorporating other ingredients into the flax fluff. I haven’t made simple meringues yet but at least for the macaroons I can say that they didn’t taste any different than macaroons made with egg.

Flaxseed gel

55 g flaxseeds
3 cups water

Mix everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Turn the stove down to low-medium heat and let it simmer for around 20-30 minutes. To get the gel, strain the liquid out of the seeds by sifting through a fine sieve into a bowl. It will more gel like once it has cooled down. I recommend making the gel the day before. When I made it first, the foam got way firmer the second day!

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Macaroons (~ 14 pieces)

75 g cold flaxseed gel 
3 tbsp agave syrup (or other liquid sweetener like maple syrup)
100 g desiccated coconut
30 – 50 g vegan chocolate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 100°C and line a tray with parchment paper.

Beat the flax gel around 5 minutes using a hand mixer until it’s fluffy and firm just like beaten egg whites.

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Add the syrup and the coconut using a silicone spatula to incorporate everything. You can then either pipe the macaroons onto the tray, form little balls or drop the macaroons with a spoon onto the tray. I molded them between two tablespoons. Bake them for 1h 15m until they get lightly golden. They will be still soft, so let them cool down completely.

Melt the chocolate in a hot water bath. When the macaroons are completely cold, dip them into the melted chocolate and put on a baking paper to dry. Store in the fridge until serving. Enjoy!

Stef

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Vegan Caramel Sauce

I have been fantasizing about making a Toffee Nut Latte for a while and have been experimenting with creating a vegan whipped cream so I wouldn’t have to buy a ready made one from the store. Unfortunately that didn’t work out as well as planned, so I gave the caramel sauce a try which turned out perfectly!

Vegan Caramel Sauce | 2women2cats |

This caramel sauce is made with coconut oil instead of vegan margarine which lots of recipes seem to use. I also didn’t use any nut butter for it but added some almond milk. If you can’t eat nuts (coconut is not a nut botanically) you can switch to soy milk or a different nut-free milk.

The colour of the sauce and its dark and deep flavour is a result of the coconut sugar I used. If you don’t like the taste of coconut sugar (it’s quite different from plain sugar) you can substitute it with brown cane sugar. The caramel can be used in coffee, hot chocolates or on desserts and ice cream and it will last in the fridge for several weeks (or even longer). If you don’t eat it with a spoon directly from the jar that is!

Vegan Caramel Sauce | 2women2cats |

Ingredients

60 g coconut oil, melted
100 g coconut sugar
100 ml almond (or other) milk
sea salt
ground vanilla

Combine the milk with the sugar in a saucepan and heat on medium until the sugar is dissolved. Add a litte bit of vanilla and salt and whisk in the coconut oil. Let everything simmer on low heat while stirring constantly until the caramel sauce starts to thicken up. When it has reached its desired texture take it off the heat and let it cool down. It will thicken up more once it has cooled. Pour it in a jar and store in the fridge. If you manage not to use it up immediately, it might seperate after a few days, so give it a stir before serving. Enjoy!

Stef

Vegan Caramel Sauce | 2women2cats |

Vegan Caramel Sauce | 2women2cats |

Laskiaispulla – Another Finnish Bun

March came so fast that I didn’t manage to update this blog with another traditonal Finnish recipe – the laskiaispulla. If you love to eat sweets buns and cake, February is your month! In the beginning of February Finland celebrates Runeberg’s Day. On that day the stores and bakeries are filled with Runeberg’s Cakes which are made with almond flour and decorated with raspberry jam in a sugar ring. Then on Shrove Tuesday (Laskiaistiistai) Finnish people eat sweet buns filled with whipped cream, raspberry jam and/or marzipan.

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Laskianen is originally a pre-Christian Finnish tradition where children would go sledding down the hills (sledding events are still done nowadays, mostly by uni students with fancy selfmade sleighs) to predict the crop growth of the coming summer and was later merged with pre-Easter customs. Like with every celebration, certain food traditions are also part of it and that’s why there has been so much old-fashioned baking at our house lately. If you ask me you don’t have to wait for a holiday (or the next February) to enjoy a freshly made laskiaispulla!

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For the basic sweet buns I used this Finnish recipe and converted the amounts into grams because in Finland most baking is done by using deciliters. This gets even more ridiculous in the summertime when you have to decide on how many liters of fresh peas you want to buy from the market (and lets not even talk about buying plums). But back to baking!

When measuring with deciliters it really depends on how firmly you pack the flour and sugar because that might change the weight and will lead to a different result. I would recommend adding a bit more flour if you have the feeling the dough is not firm and springy enough before the rising time.

Ingredients (for ~8 buns)

250 ml full fat milk
1/2 package dry yeast
100 g sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1 small egg
100 g melted butter
500 g plain white flour

pearl sugar for decorating and some milk for brushing the buns

raspberry jam and/or marzipan
200 ml whipping cream

Heat the milk on the stove in a saucepan until it’s lukewarm and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the sugar, salt, cardamom and the egg and give it a little whisk. Slowly mix in around 2/3 of the flour with a spoon or a hand mixer using the dough hooks. Knead in the melted butter and the rest of the flour. Transfer into a big bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm environment until the dough has nearly doubled. It really depends on the temperature and I’d say it would take around 1,5 hours in room temperature. You can also heat up your stove to 50°C, turn it off but leave the oven lamp on and let the dough rise in there for around 45 minutes.

When the dough has risen enough you can roll it into a log and cut it into 8 pieces (or more if you want smaller buns). Roll each piece into a bun and put on a tray lined with parchment paper. Brush some milk on top and decorate with pearl sugar. Let the buns rest another 20 minutes while you heat up the oven to 200°C.

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Bake them for around 12-15 minutes until they are lightly golden. Let them cool down completely before you start filling the buns.

For the filling whip up the cream (add some vanilla and sugar if you like) and set aside. Now you can cut the buns in the middle and and put some raspberry jam or marzipan on the bottom halves. Or both like in my case!

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Pipe the whipped cream on top of the jam/marzipan and carefully put the tops back. Now your buns are ready to be eaten. Enjoy!

Stef

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