Chunky Coconut Granola (Clean)

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How is it already Saturday? I was so looking forward to using this October break productively. I was going to finish all my college essays and come up with a Math IA topic and finish my Extended Essay and study for my upcoming math integration test and my psychology socio-cultural level of analysis test and get started on writing my psych IA and oh god I’ve done nothing. Well, then again, I didn’t do nothing. I mean, I did watch more movies than I’d normally watch in half a year, and I finished a book. Oh – and I ate a lot of food. That counts for something, right?

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I just read my first Lee Child book – Killing Floor. It’s the first book in the Jack Reacher series and I have to admit that I was mildly disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe the book just wasn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. I watched the movie afterwards, which was based on a different book in the series, and I feel like I could pretty much predict aspects of every story in the series. Always has to be a damsel in distress (or any hostage really), a betrayal, a car being tailed, and Reacher shoving his thumbs in someone’s eyes. Has anyone read the whole series? Am I close?

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Oops I haven’t even told you anything about this recipe yet. I’m tired and cold. Forgive me.

Now, I have a lot of granola recipes, but this one is definitely a favourite. I’m not usually the biggest fan of coconut-flavored things, but this is seriously amazing. The granola is suuper chunky. You know granola’s gonna be chunky when the whole sheet of it just sticks together and you can break it into chunks as big as you’d like. Check this out (warning – bad quality phone pictures incoming):

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“Is that what I think it is?” YES. It’s a giant sheet of granola. You could’ve broken it in half and called it reaaally chunky granola.

Point is, this granola gives you the clusters of your dreams, and is infused with such an aromatic and sweet coconut flavour that you will not be able to resist.

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Chunky Coconut Granola

Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (135g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (40g) toasted and salted coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup (80g) raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (25g) raw pecans, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) coconut sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, coconut flakes, almonds, pecans, coconut sugar, and salt
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil and maple syrup over low heat and whisk until fully combined. Add in the vanilla sugar and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together until the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated in the coconut oil mixture
  5. Spread the granola mixture evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, turn the pan around so that the granola bakes evenly, and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Granola has a tendency to be a little unpredictable in the oven, so keep and eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  6. When the granola is golden brown, remove from oven and allow it to cool completely before breaking it into chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!

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My 17th Birthday Cake (Cheat)

~5-layer midnight cake with cheesecake filling, covered with a generous layer of pink buttercream, glossy chocolate ganache, and topped with whipped cream and Oreos~

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Guess who’s 17 years old!

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I have a love-hate relationship with birthdays. I love everything about them, except the fact that I’m another year older. I prefer other people’s birthdays, with all the celebrations and games and cakes and gift-opening, but without me being consciously aware of my ageing.

It’s weird, isn’t it? The way that day by day, hour by hour, we age, but it’s only once a year for 24 hours that we actually acknowledge it. Then again, acknowledging our constant ageing would take some of the fun out of birthdays.

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I don’t understand why people want to get older. A pessimistic way of putting is is that every year, you’re a year closer to death. You become more likely to get sick. You have more responsibilities. Then again, an optimistic way of seeing is is that every year, you are faced with new opportunities. You’ll graduate and start a new chapter of your life. You might get a job. You might meet “the one”. You might get married. You might have kids. Who knows? In the end, the best way to predict your future is to live it the way you want. Sometime’s it’s just easier to be passive to all that happens around you, so that when things go wrong, you can blame the world and carry on, but wow, that must get boring. The happiest people are those who take control of their lives and steer it the way they want to go. When things go wrong, they acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them, and when things go right, they’re living Heaven on Earth. You pick (hint: I’d go with the second one).

I always seem to get really reflective on my birthday. Is it just me?

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But let’s focus on the real reason you’re here: CAKE!

Another reason why I always get excited about birthdays – cake. This year, I decided to bake myself a 5-layer midnight cake with cheesecake filling, covered with a generous layer of pink buttercream, glossy chocolate ganache, and topped with whipped cream and Oreos. Helll yes.

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To be honest, the cake is pretty much just a chocolate cake with black food colouring added. I used to not like chocolate cake. I thought that it was too rich. I’d always opt for vanilla or red velvet. Chocolate cake just wasn’t my thing, but alas, times have changed. Maybe I’d been deprived of chocolate cake for too long, but this chocolate cake was the bomb. Even before I baked the cake, the cake batter was waving chocolatey scents at me, trying to get me to give in and admit that chocolate cake is one of the best kinds of cake. While I was trimming the cakes, I nibbled on some of the cake crumbs and I was in awe, trying to understand how I had ever disliked chocolate cake. This chocolate cake is velvety. It’s suuper moist and it’s perfectly sweet. It has a wonderful cocoa flavour that isn’t overwhelming, and it pairs beautifully with all the other flavours going on in this cake.

Speaking of other flavours…THE CHEESECAKE FILLING. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but cream cheese frostings are magical. Maybe that’s a biased opinion because they’re my favourite, but tbh I’ve never met anyone who dislikes cream cheese frosting. The cheesecake filling tastes pretty much just like cream cheese frosting, but there isn’t as much butter. The butter’s replaced with whipped cream, which is just folded in at the end, so that you end up with filling that’s extra fluffy and light, but definitely is not missing any flavour.

I don’t want to be writing an essay here, so I’m just going to tell you that the buttercream, chocolate ganache, whipping cream, and Oreos are perfect. Simply, utterly, perfect.

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5-Layer Midnight Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Pink Buttercream

Adapted from various sources (linked below)

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 1/4 cups (285 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) “black” unsweetened cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon black gel food colouring)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature

For the cheesecake filling

  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g freshly whipped cream
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted

For the pink buttercream

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (500g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink food colouring

For the chocolate ganache

  • 5 ounces (150 g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey

For the whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar, to taste
  • Oreos, for topping

Method

I’ve included generic bad-quality, unedited photos that I took while I was assembling the cake for reference. Let me know if you have any questions!

  1. For the cake, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, black cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla, and then mix in eggs
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter equally among the three lined and greased 8-inch cake pans or weigh for accuracy. Each pan should weigh about 600 grams
  5. Bake the first two layers until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely. Repeat with the final cake layer. When ready to assemble the cake, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. For the cheesecake filling, use an electric mixer to whip cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in whipped cream until combined
  7. For the pink buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, vanilla extract, food colouring, and 1 tablespoon of whipping cream and beat until combined
  8. To assemble the cake, trim the cake layers, and then halve them so that each cake becomes two layers.
  9. Place approximately 1/2 tablespoon of the cheesecake filling (or buttercream) on the center of a cake board, and place your bottom cake layer onto the cake board. Add about 1/2-3/4 cup of cheesecake filling onto the top of the cake, and using a small offset spatula, spread the filling so that it covers the top of the cake. It’s okay to let a little bit of filling go over the side. Add the next cake layer and repeat until you’ve reached your final cake layer
  10. Cover the cake with a thin layer of the cheesecake filling (or buttercream), also known as crumb coating it, and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes
  11. Cover the cake in pink buttercream and chill in fridge for at least 15 minutes
  12. In the meantime, make the chocolate ganache. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate, butter, corn syrup and salt in the microwave, about 50 seconds, and stir until smooth. Let cool until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes
  13. For the whipping cream, use a whisk or electric hand mixer to whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the powdered sugar. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip
  14. (Assembling, continued) Remove the cake from the fridge and spoon the chocolate glaze to the edges of the cake, gently pushing some over the side and letting it dribble down. When you’ve finished putting chocolate glaze on the edges of the cake, spoon chocolate glaze into the centre until covered
  15. When the chocolate has set slightly, pipe the whipped cream around the edges of the cake and top each swirl with half an Oreo
  16. Serve!

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Fruity Rainbow Fro-Yo Popsicles (Clean)

Expect lots of ice cream recipes these days, ’cause my freezer it literally full of it right now.

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Also – I figured out a problem to that Photoshop problem. I had a bunch of recipes with unedited photos, but my laptop died and my brother’s laptop doesn’t have Photoshop. My solution – using a 7-day trial. Hell yes.

So instead of working on my college apps and my math IA, I’ll gladly spend these next 6 days editing all the photos I had procrastinated.

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These fruity popsicles are perfect for the killer heat this summer. I haven’t left my house for the past week until today, when I took my dog for a walk. I had only been outside for about 5 minutes before I started sweating and my dog was panting like crazy. Needless to say, it was a short walk. When I got home, the first thing I went to grab was one of these popsicles. I gave my dog her water, which she lapped up, but then she just stared at me longingly as I enjoyed my cold popsicle. Poor puppy.

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Feel free to sub in whatever fruit you want, depending on what you have on hand. Oh, and no – blueberries do not make a blue layer, but you could experiment around with spirulina powder to get a turqoise-colored layer.

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Fruity Rainbow Fro-Yo Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 3 cups greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cherries or raspberries
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped kiwi
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon açai powder
  • Honey, to taste

Method

  1. Distribute the yogurt evenly among 5 bowls
  2. In a food processor, blend each fruit separately and set aside. Start off with the lightest colors and gradually use darker ones to avoid washing your food processor/blender every time (pineapple -> kiwi -> cherries/raspberries -> blueberries
  3. Stir the pineapple, kiwi, and cherry/raspberry fruit purees into the bowls of yogurt. For the two distinct layers of purple, stir about a tablespoon of blueberry puree in one, and the rest into the other. Add the açai powder to the yogurt with more blueberry.
  4. Stir in half a teaspoon or so of honey into each bowl, if desired.
  5. Layer the yogurt into popsicle moulds. If your yogurt is runny, it may be easier to freeze the yogurt in between layers
  6. Freeze for 4-6 hours

4-Ingredient Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (Clean)

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I’ve been making cookies a lot these days, and I’ll admit that I’ve been eating a lot of the raw cookie dough as well (*gasp* salmonella!), but hey – I’m not sick yet!

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Anyways, you can stop making excuses for eating the raw cookie dough (“I’m making sure the cookies will taste good…”). Instead – you may as well just make an entire batch of safe-to-eat cookie dough. Wait, no…sorry, I meant an entire batch of safe-to-eat healthy cookie dough!

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I swear, this healthy cookie dough is healthier than any baked-cookie dough you’ve ever had, but it tastes just as good. It has the same sweetness and flavor and texture and it’s studded with plenty of chocolate chips. Except, with this one, you don’t need to worry about raw eggs or raw flour or any other bad stuff.

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All you need is to grab 3 ingredients, throw them all into a food processor, throw on some chocolate chips, grab a spoon, and dig in!

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4-Ingredient Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 (400g) can white beans or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
  • 2 tbsp honey (can sub with any liquid sweetener of choice)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Method

  1. In a food processor, process the beans, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract until fully combined and smooth
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips
  3. Eat! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Silky Chocolate Truffles (Cheat)

You know those reallllyyy good Japanese chocolate truffles? I’ve figured out how to make them at home.

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I still remember the batch of chocolate truffles that made me fall in love with chocolate truffles. To be honest, it was only a year or two ago, and I don’t mean Lindt chocolate truffles, I mean pure, silky, squares of chocolate that literally just melt in your mouth. My friend had just gotten back from Japan and he gave me a box of Royce Nama Chocolate.

My life changed.

The box of truffles was gone within a day.

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Luckily for me, I always manage to get my hands on more Royce Nama Chocolate, but even then, the chocolates don’t last very long (I mean in terms of storage, although true, I do end up finishing them all in a very short period of time), so I needed to figure out a way to make them myself.

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I used very few, simple ingredients for this. I didn’t want anything to overpower or affect the pure flavor of chocolate. Thus, the truffles are mostly made from high-quality chocolate, along with cream, butter, and a bit of liquid sweetener to give it that irresistible silky texture.

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Not to mention, this recipe is super easy to make. It literally takes like 10 minutes to throw together, and you just wait a bit for it to set and voila – you have a perfect Mother’s Day gift. I’m being totally serious when I say that these taste way better than any store-brought version. Plus, it saves you the trouble of running around looking for gifts, and of course, homemade goods are always so much better gifts that store-brought ones.

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Notes: The recipe can easily be doubled if you want a larger batch of chocolate truffles, which I recommend (because c’mon…12 truffles is not enough 😉 )

Silky Chocolate Truffles

Makes 12 truffles

Ingredients

  • 250g high quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g heavy cream
  • 20g light corn syrup or honey
  • 60g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50g cocoa powder, for dusting

Method

  1. Add the chopped chocolate into a food processor
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the heavy cream and corn syrup/honey, and heat over medium heat
  3. When the heavy cream mixture is almost boiling, turn on the food processor to process the chocolate
  4. With the food processor on or off, add the heavy cream mixture to the chocolate and process until it just comes together
  5. Add in the butter and process to combine until no butter streaks remain
  6. Pour the mixture into a baking pan lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap and spread evenly
  7. Allow the mixture to cool for a few hours, until set, before placing it into the refrigerator for 20 minutes
  8. Remove the ganache from the baking pan and remove the parchment or plastic wrap. Cut into cubes and roll in cocoa powder
  9. Serve truffles at room temperature

Blueberry Almond Granola (Clean)

YAY FOR MORE BREAKFAST FOODS!

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I know that I recently posted breakfast cookies, but c’mon you can’t get enough of breakfast foods, right? I would totally be up for having breakfast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but that’s not really likely to happen. Well, it might. Come to think of it, that should be something on my (nonexistent) bucket list – eat breakfast all day. Hell yes. I’ll make a mental note to do that for my birthday. Just kidding, my birthday’s on a Monday. I just googled (or Yahoo-ed, because my VPN is being a b****) National Breakfast Day and apparently that’s sometime in early March. Seriously? Okay, you know what – I’ll add that to my baking bucket list. I know, it doesn’t really count, but shhh…

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Alright – back to the reason you’re here: granola.

Lemme tell you a little story. One day I came home to find this a bunch of packages of food on our dining room table, and I was so excited. Unshelled macadamias – so good! I just sat there for a good half hour or so breaking apart macadamias, feeling especially proud whenever I broke off the shell and was left with a full, gorgeous, sweet, and aromatic macadamia. Sorry jk that’s irrelevant, but as I was saying, there were a bunch of packages of food, including unshelled nuts and nougats and – dried blueberries. There was this pretty big package and inside it were these perfect snack-sized packages of dried blueberries. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of eating dried fruit. If it’s in a salad or in granola, I love it, but by itself? Nah.

So, eventually we (mostly my mom and grandma) finished off the little packages of dried blueberries, and my mom decided to order another package online. Somehow, she managed to order 5 packages – each with like, 20 mini-packages inside. Okay, that’s a lot of dried blueberries. But then, as a baker, I was like, I CAN BAKE THIS INTO STUFF! I usually don’t bake with dried blueberries because they’re slightly costly and we don’t usually have them around, but now we had a good bunch of dried blueberries, so I went hunting on the web before facepalming and thinking – duh, granola.

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And now we’re here.

Here, with this aromatic almond granola that’s studded with sweet, sweet dried blueberries. Cases like these – dried fruit tastes so darn good.

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I don’t know why I haven’t tried this combo before. I’ve done lots of blueberry-white chocolate, but never blueberry-almond. That’s about to change. This is seriously such a good combo. I’ve been throwing handfuls of this granola into all my nana ice creams and onto my smoothies (after I take a photo, of course, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see the ice cream/smoothie underneath. Yes, I do put on that much granola).

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Blueberry Almond Granola

Adapted from Recipe Runner

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup silvered almonds
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, almonds, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar until fully combined
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, honey, almond extract, and vanilla extract
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together until well combined
  5. Spread the granola onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown, making sure to remove the granola from the oven and stirring it to ensure that it bakes evenly
  7. After the granola is done, stir in the dried blueberries and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Chocolate and Walnut Breakfast Cookies (Clean)

I usually try to keep things from being repetitive on this blog, and by that, I mean I never post two muffin recipes without at least 4 other types of recipes in between. Yeah….that’s changed. It’ll probably be a one-time thing, but nonetheless, I’m guilty.

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Two posts ago was the recipe for these AMAZING cranberry and dark chocolate oatmeal cookies. In that post, I told you guys that my new favorite go-to snack were cookies, and I still stand by that. I am literally eating one of these cookies as I type.

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These cookies have the classic chewy texture of any other oatmeal cookie, with a slightly crispy exterior, especially when you re-heat them in the oven. When heated, they get so aromatic thanks to the walnuts, and the chocolate chunks melt and go all gooey and you will find yourself eating more cookies than you planned, but that’s okay, cause they’re pretty damn good for you.

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Chocolate and Walnut Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

Makes 25 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, flaxseed, baking soda, and salt
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the coconut oil and peanut butter together for 30 seconds, then whisk to combine. Add in the mashed bananas, egg, honey, and vanilla extract and whisk until combined
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until the dough comes together. Fold in the dark chocolate and walnuts until well combined
  5. Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of the cookie dough and roll into a ball. Place onto a greased or lined baking sheet and flatten into your desired shape. They will not spread while baking. Repeat this for all of the dough
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes