Chocolate Cherry Coconut Slice

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Slice   24-30 small pieces

Paleo and vegan; no gluten, grain, dairy, cane sugar or soy

A dense, moist, coconut and cherry filling is sandwiched between thin layers of chocolate. A bit like a Bounty Bar in looks, taste and texture – with the pretty red dotting of dried cherries. Keeps well refrigerated.

There are 3 options for the chocolate base and topping: melt vegan chocolate (no dairy and usually sweetened with coconut sugar); melt dark chocolate (such as Whittaker’s Dark Ghana – dairy-free, but it has cane sugar and a little soy lecithin); or make ½ my easy Chocolate Ganache from another recipe.

175 grams vegan or dark, dairy-free chocolate*, or make ½ my Chocolate Ganache
1 Tbsp coconut oil*
   ***
2 cups desiccated coconut
¾ cup dried cherries (from specialty and health stores and some supermarkets), finely chopped
½ cup almond meal*
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract*

Chop the chocolate. Place in a small metal or heat-resistant bowl. Then place the bowl in the top of a steamer or double boiler. Place 5 – 10 centimetres of water in the bottom saucepan and bring to a boil then turn to a brisk simmer. DO NOT cover with a lid and DO NOT allow water to touch the base of the top saucepan (any water that gets into any melting chocolate will make it seize and stiffen). Remove from the heat when soft. With a fork stir the 1 Tbsp of coconut oil into the melted chocolate until smooth. Or make ½ recipe of Chocolate Ganache. Keep either option warm.

Line a square 20 cm pan with baking paper. Pour half the chocolate (or half the ganache) onto the base. Mixture will be very thin. Use a spatula to spread it evenly. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes or more to harden. Keep the remaining chocolate over the hot water, so it stays warm and melted while you prepare the filling.

Melt the coconut oil in a small to medium saucepan. Turn off the heat. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. Next stir in the coconut, cherries and almond meal. Mixture will be thick and moist.

Place the coconut mixture over the chocolate base and press firmly. Cover with the remaining chocolate. Use the spatula to spread it evenly. Chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to firm completely. Use a sharp knife and slice into 5 rows by 5 or 6 rows to create about 3 cm squares. Keep chilled, especially in hot weather. Stores well in fridge or freezer.

 Shopping and Preparation Tips*

  • Almond flour: very finely ground from dried, blanched, skinless almonds will give the best result. This makes it act and bind more like flour than just ground nuts or almond meal (which gives a crumbly texture). Purchase from health stores, some supermarkets or online, such as www.naturalgrocer.co.nz 

  • Chocolate: that is dairy/gluten-free is available in supermarkets, but does contain cane sugar (eg Whittaker’s Dark Ghana). Also at supermarkets is vegan and cane sugar-free, artificial sweetener- and additive-free chocolate (eg Panna, Wellington, Zimt); usually sweetened with coconut sugar.

  • Coconut oil: white, solid and available in jars from health stores and most supermarkets. Best quality is virgin or cold-pressed and organic, such as Ceres brand. Flavour and aroma should be mild. Less prone to oxidation and damage by heat than most other cooking oils. High in medium-chain fatty acids such as lauric acid, which can enhance immunity through antiviral and antibacterial benefits. Most oils and fats contain long chain fatty acids that are harder to break down and more readily stored as fat. Use to replace oil or butter in recipes.

  • Vanilla and other Extracts: use top quality vanilla without artificial additives. It and other real flavours such as almond are termed “extract” (as opposed to fake essence, often labelled “vanillin”). Good brands available locally and overseas are: Heilala Vanilla and Equagold. These are in most supermarkets and health stores.

Paleo Spice Cookies

Makes 2 ½ dozen

Paleo; no gluten, grain, dairy, cane sugar or soy; with option for peanuts

Dark, moist and chewy. Rich with spicy flavours – and spices are high antioxidant achievers. Low starch and high protein helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Lovely as a snack, for lunch boxes, or as a morsel of dessert on a platter with fresh fruit. Or for sharp colour contrast, sprinkle a platter of Paleo Spice Cookies with whole freeze-dried raspberries. They and the coconut products listed are all in most supermarkets. Or serve a cookie beside a small parfait glass of Chia Pudding (see my 4 recipe options), or my Vegan Caramel Nut Ice Cream. Read more

Vegan Caramel Nut Ice Cream

Makes about 3 cups

Paleo, vegan; no gluten, dairy, soy or cane sugar

Keep frozen fruit on hand and this can be made in 5 minutes. Cool, creamy, crunchy and naturally sweet. Thanks to the combination of fruit, nuts and legume (peanut) it is also a good source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Unlike most frozen banana mixtures, this one stays creamy when frozen and stored, rather than becoming rock-like. Read more

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Cashew ‘Cream Cheese’ Icing

No gluten, dairy, egg or cane sugar

You can dispense with any recitation of this cake’s nutritional virtues and confidently serve it on the basis of great taste alone. Moist, dark with layers of flavours and it improves with age. It is topped with a cream cheese-like icing made from cashews instead of dairy. A similar Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe on my site has a chunkier texture and a baked on topping. Read more

Cumin and Rosemary Crackers

Makes 32
Paleo, vegan; no grain, gluten, dairy, egg, or legumes; low FODMAPS; with nut-free option

Wonderfully crisp, crunchy, stylish and flavourful. Very easy to make, yet deceptively alchemical. Before baking, the mixture looks like porridge, not crackers. The change in structure is thanks to the linseed and chia seeds. Their high soluble fibre content absorbs much of the liquid and acts as a strong binding agent. They are also a good source of minerals and prebiotics which can help gut health. Read more

Salted Caramel Chocolate Nut Tart

Serves 12-16
Vegan, Paleo; no gluten, grain, dairy, soy, legumes, egg, citrus or cane sugar

I have prepared this often and I don’t think anyone has eaten it and not released a pleasurable sigh like a happy balloon.  Originally a recipe from the excellent gourmandeinthekitchen.com, I have made numerous adjustments, especially to simplify instructions, decrease sweeteners, and make the ganache-style topping creamier. The result is rich and satisfying, so serve in small portions. Read more

5 Minute Strawberry Jam

Makes 3/4 cup

Paleo; vegan; no grain, gluten, dairy or cane sugar

Vivid, fruity and fabulous. Just 4 ingredients, 5 minutes prep and about 15 minutes for chilling. Use on toast, or for a snack or dessert dollop on or ripple through coconut yoghurt or my Apricot Whip. Or sandwich between cookies or cake layers. Make while summer berries are at their luscious best. Or experiment with other seasonal fruits. Read more

Chia Dessert or Breakfast Pudding: 4 Fast Fab Flavours

Chocolate; Apricot Coconut; Apple Cinnamon; Vanilla Fig

Serves 2; 5 minutes prep

Raw vegan and Paleo; no gluten, grain, dairy, egg, soy or cane sugar

Yes, it might seem incongruous, but this is thick, creamy and dreamy enough for dessert while having superfood nutrient levels to qualify as breakfast.

Chia looks like tiny dark sesame seeds. It is similar to linseed or flaxseed in its nutrition powerhouse properties such as soluble fibre, protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. It has more antioxidants – including flavonoids, quercetin and phenolics – than many berries and other fruits. For digestibility, chia does not need to be ground or cooked like linseed does. Soaking though will maximise its high soluble fibre content, which is excellent for weight and blood sugar management, liver and bowel function. Read more

Blonde Bliss Balls

Makes 24

Vegan/almost vegan; no gluten, dairy, soy; with options for cane sugar

Like coconut ice without all the sugar. Pretty white balls are flecked with the bright red of dried fruit. Make them in minutes – a good project for children, and a lovely hostess or festive gift in bags tied with red ribbons. Best stored in the refrigerator, but they won’t ooze if left out. They keep for weeks and are great to have on hand for surprise guests, lunch boxes, and soulful snacking.

Truffle-like Bliss Balls are very trendy: small, healthy nuggets of nuts and dried fruit. They are usually vegan and often raw. Nuts and dried fruit are great sources of blood sugar-balancing protein, brain-nourishing fats, weight-regulating soluble and insoluble fibre, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and other micronutrients. Read more