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.

Chocolate Nut Hearts


Makes about 40 x 2.5 cm shapes

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

Charming chocolate shop-worthy morsels. Store in the fridge or freezer and they last well. Great for snacks or as a dinner party dessert on a platter with grapes, berries or sliced seasonal fruit. Children can help make these in minutes. As with eating the finest chocolate though, it will melt from warm fingers that then need to be licked. Sorry about that.

They have intense flavour and nutrition. Cocoa for flavonoids, iron and magnesium; nuts for zinc and protein; prunes for calcium, potassium, soluble and insoluble fibre. The recipe is strikingly delicious as is. More flavour options are also provided. Read more

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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

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

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

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About 50 tiny pieces

Vegan; no gluten, dairy, soy, cane sugar – or cooking required

Really, really good. The results are gourmet while the skill level required is primary school. Two colleagues – Linda Outhwaite and Jamie Smith – inspired me with their versions of this super simple and luscious confection. The high cocoa density adds a caffeinated thrill – as well as ample magnesium, calcium, iron and antioxidants. Among the latter are phenols linked with lowering high blood pressure. Some studies show this effect is negated if the chocolate includes milk, which seems to impede absorption. One type of phenol is flavonoids including (yes, another sub-category) epicatechins. These score impressively on the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score. This is used to assess how much power an antioxidant has for preventing destruction from free radicals. In excess free radicals are involved with premature ageing and disease. Read more

Vegan/Almost Vegan Chocolate Cake

(No gluten, dairy, egg, soy 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 complete without any accompaniment but for a glam occasion you could serve slices with some piped, sunny-hued Apricot Whip along one edge (as below; see also its use with  Fluffy Hotcakes).

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16-20 small squares
(Vegan; no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, egg, soy, citrus)

You can safely serve this to any fan of rich morsels (ie most females). If preferred, avoid all discussion of its nutritional virtues: it can win on taste and texture alone. A version of this recipe came from the popular Aussie blog Not Quite Nigella, but behind that was a long trail of variations and attributions probably dating back to Eve. My version is below.

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Makes 18
(Vegan; no cane sugar, dairy, gluten or soy)

Are you looking for a special treat or gift that tastes of and symbolizes all the rich, sweet, luxurious pleasures of life? Ask most women and of course this implies chocolate. To make it more challenging though, perhaps the recipient prefers to avoid cane sugar, dairy, gluten and soy. Is monastic austerity all that is left to them? This recipe can come to the rescue.

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