Chocolate Hummus

Ok, so this is good.  Like, really, really, ridiculously good!!  Yes, that’s a Zoolander reference.  Yes, thanks for noticing…..

I’ve seen countless recipes for this one, thought to myself “I should try that, it sounds good” and then never did.  So if you find yourself here thinking the same thing, do yourself a favour and DO IT!  Do it now!  It takes less than 10 minutes, you probably have all the things you need in the house and you will not regret it!

Bonus?  This can GO TO SCHOOL in lunchboxes because there are not nuts!!  But your kids will want to eat it with a spoon, spread it on toast, wrap it in a tortilla with bananas, dip apples in it…..

prep

10 minutes

Bake time

 

makes

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 356ml can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 C pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp tahini (or nut/seed butter of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted or avocado oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Acai Smoothie booster 
  • 2 Tbsp Dark Dutch Cocoa or raw cacao powder
  • 1/8tsp Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse chickpeas and pick out skins.  Add to a food processor or high-powered blender.
  2. Add maple syrup, tahini, oil and vanilla.  Puree until smooth. Approximately 3 min.
  3. Add cocoa, smoothie booster and salt.  Puree again until combined. Another 2 min.
  4. Serve with crackers, fruit, on toast, eat with a spoon…enjoy!
  5. Will keep in fridge for a week. But it won’t last.  You should probably double the recipe….

Notes

If tahini or nutbutter aren’t your thing, reserve the aquafaba (water in the can with the chickpeas) and use 2 Tbsp in place of nut/seed butter.

Melt coconut oil in a hot water bath for a few minutes before using.  It will blend better than if solid.  If coconut oil is too overwhelming flavour-wise, try the avocado oil instead.

For the smoothest experience, once chickpeas have been rinsed and skins picked, soak them for 10-15 minutes in boiling water first.  Drain water before blending.  If using dried beans that have been soaked and cooked, add an extra 7-9 minutes of cook time to make them extra soft.

All Butter Scottish Shortbread

These cookies are a staple in our house! When we were still living in Scotland before Mr Fab Food’s papers came through for him to live in Canada, one of our favourite biscuits was a house brand from Tesco (a grocery store chain found all over the UK) – Tesco’s Finest Chocolate Chip shortbread.  We can’t get them here in Canada, they’re hard to ship and have arrive intact and we don’t get over there/have family come here more than once every few years.  So, creating our own version was a must!  It’s taken me years to perfect them to be “the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth” according to one friend and “what I imagine Heaven tastes like” according to another.  And this year, so good that folks were placing orders for delivery and pick-up so they could have them at their own home for the holidays!

The basic recipe is from one of my most treasured cookbooks – Maw Broon’s Cookbook – from my Scottish besties the year I lived there and met Mr Fab Food.  Over the years I have played with the recipe to get the most perfect texture and sweetness so that the cookies melt in your mouth, aren’t too sweet and are definitely “moreish” as the Scottish would say.  The ingredients couldn’t be any simpler, but my notes in the bottom give a few tips to make them the most requested cookie at your house too!

prep

15 minutes

Bake time

35 minutes

makes

40 cookies

Ingredients

  • 500g unsalted butter, room temperature, divided 
  • 175 g caster sugar (see notes on this one)
  • 600g unbleached organic AP flour, sieved (see notes on this)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Place 375g of the softened butter in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Melt the remaining 125g and pour over top.
  3. Whip butter using stand mixer, a hand mixer or by hand (this is where having the mixer can come in handy!)
  4. Add the sugar and continue to whip until smooth and creamy.
  5. Mix in flour until the dough is soft and slightly shiny (so you know the flour is completely incorporated in the dough)
  6. Remove from mixer.  At this stage you can add other ingredients for texture and flavour – some faves here are dark chocolate chips, white chocolate & cranberry or toffee bits & chopped nuts.
  7. Fold in any desired add-ins without over stirring.
  8. Scoop dough into 2tsp balls.  Roll into a ball and place on a lined baking sheet.  Press down slightly with fingers or the back of a spoon to flatten.
  9. Bake in pre-heated oven for 32-38 minutes depending on your oven.  When cookies are slightly browned at the edges they are done.
  10. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. These cookies freeze well and make great gifts!

Notes

  1. Depending on where you live in the world, caster sugar has a number of names – powdered sugar (not to be confused with icing sugar which is completely different!), quick dissolving sugar or fruit sugar.  And, the reality is, if you’re trying to cut out refined sugar you don’t need any of them!  You can use organic cane sugar or coconut palm sugar in this recipe (I haven’t used caster sugar in 2+ years!!) by blasting your preferred sugar in a coffee grinder until it reaches the soft, powdery consistency you need for these cookies!  The sugar itself isn’t as important as the TEXTURE!  The quick-dissolve is what insures it combines well with the butter and will give you the buttery, flaky cookies you want, rather than the grainier texture you’d get from using granulated sugar.
  2. Melting 125g of the butter has been a game changer for the final texture of these cookies!  “Secret” recipes handed down suggest that hand-kneading the dough is what is key!  The warmth of your hands will help texturize the dough.  That’s fine when you’re baking for friends and family, but when I am giving these away to teachers and neighbours or selling them, we don’t always want to be handling the dough too much!
  3. The final key for soft, buttery, flaky dough is the part in the instructions that says to sieve the flour!  Even AP flour that has likely been sifted before bagging will settle depending on where and how you store it.  That extra step of sieving your flour will break up any lumps or compaction and give it the fluffiest texture!  

Homemade Marshmallows

As the days get colder, the girls request hot chocolate when we get home from school often, especially when the snow comes!  I’ve perfected a dark and delicious “haute” chocolate mix and was on a mission to find decent marshmallows to add to the mix as part of a Kids in the Kitchen workshop we ran with the library last winter.  There are a few available on the market with nicer ingredients but when it came right down to it, the reality was that in order to guarantee my marshmallows didn’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, canola oil or refined white sugar, I was going to have to make my own!  So, here you have it….fluffy, sweet, soft and delicious marshmallows using grass-fed gelatin, raw local honey and pure vanilla!  They melt delightfully into hot cocoa, can be used in other desserts (a crispy treat square perhaps!) or are super fun to eat just as they are!!

prep

20 minutes

set time

4-10 hours

makes

25-40 depending on shape and size

Ingredients

  • 1C filtered water, room temperature, divided in half
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed gelatin (I use Greatlakes Gelatin but use any one you trust!)
  • 1 C raw honey (try and buy local if you can – support your local ecosystem and local beekeepers!)
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/8tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C arrowroot starch or tapioca starch
  • coconut oil (for oiling pan)

Instructions

  1. Place gelatin and 1/2 cup of water in the bowl of a stand mixer to soften.
  2. While gelatin is softening, add honey, salt, vanilla and remaining 1/2 C of water to an 8 Cup multipurpose pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. While liquid is heating, line a 1/4 sheet pan with silicone liner.  Generously oil the liner with coconut oil and then sprinkle with arrowroot flour.  If you don’t have 1/4 sheet pan and liner, use an 8X8 pan lined with parchment paper (stack the paper in both directions and allow to overhang the edges of the pan for easy lift out later).
  4. When liquid begins to boil, continue boiling until it reaches soft-ball stage (235-245F).  This will take approximately 8-9 minutes of rolling boil.  Watch closely and use a candy thermometer if you have one.
  5. When it reaches soft-ball temperature, remove immediately from heat.
  6. Start stand mixer on low and gently drizzle hot liquid into the gelatin.
  7. When completely combined, increase speed to high and whip until light marshmallow fluff begins.  This can take 6-10 minutes.  Watch it closely.
  8. When it gets light and fluffy, remove from mixer and spread quickly into your prepared pan.  It starts to set FAST!
  9. Smooth surface with an oiled spatula or you can oil your hands or cover with arrowroot flour so you don’t stick.
  10. Set in a cool dry place for 4-10 hours to completely set.  Remove from pan and cut into shape and size you prefer!

Notes

A stand mixer is not necessary for this but I find it easier because of the heat and length of time to reach the fluffy stage.  Drizzling the hot liquid into the bowl with one hand while holding a hand mixer over the hot bowl can be tricky/uncomfortable!  But it is doable.  The Multipurpose pot is also very helpful here because it has a pour spout and handle making the drizzling much easier.

Be sure to have oiled/lined pans ready to go before you start!  Once you reach the soft fluffy marshmallow stage and remove from the mixer, you want to be able to transfer the fluff to the pans quickly as it will start to set very FAST!  Complete setting takes hours, but you won’t be able to spread or flatten into your pan after about 60 – 90 seconds!

When cutting into desired shape, oil or cover knife/kitchen scissors with tapioca starch.  They will stick to the marshmallows if you don’t!  I find scissors to be a bit easier to work with or a pizza cutter.  You may have to play around to find what works best in your kitchen.

Nana Stanger’s Savoury Cheese Biscuits

These biscuits are a classic in our family. One of the first things I learned to make entirely on my own and something that was ALWAYS on the dinner table when we went for dinner at Nana and Grandpa’s house!  Nana’s classic recipe is really simple and I have tweaked it only a little bit over the years!  The dough comes together in minutes and the final product bakes in 10 so they can be on the table hot and delicious with everything else!  

These are also a great recipe to do with kids! Like I said, one of the first recipes I learned to make entirely on my own and my sister and I always got to help Nana!

prep

10 minutes

Bake time

10 minutes

makes

15

Ingredients

  • 1.5 C flour
  • 1/2 C hemp hearts
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 C buttermilk (don’t have any on hand?  See notes below!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 C shredded sharp cheddar (or more!  We measure cheese with our heart!)
  • For even more depth of flavour add 1 Tbps Herb & Garlic, Nacho Cheese or 3 Onion dip mix

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Mix vinegar with milk as noted below and allow to sit.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor (or a large mixing bowl) combine flour, hemp hearts, baking powder and dip mix if using.
  3. Add butter in chunks.  Pulse in food processor until mixture resembles course sand.  This can also be done by hand, it just takes a bit longer.
  4. Crack egg into buttermilk and mix well.
  5. Add cheese to food processor/mixing bowl and mix until just combined.
  6. Turn on food processor and pour in milk/egg mixture and allow to combine fully with dry ingredients.
  7. Pour dough onto well floured surface.  Flour hands and rolling pin.  Knead dough roughly by folding and flattening 12-15 times.  The nice thing about this dough is that you can’t really over knead which is why it’s a great one to do with kids! The folding is what will give the biscuits their layers and make them flaky and fluffy when done!
  8. Roll dough to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.
  9. Cut using a round cookie cutter or a drinking glass if you don’t have a cookie cutter.
  10. Place biscuits on a lined baking sheet and bake 10 minutes until fluffy and golden.

Notes

Don’t have buttermilk just hanging around?  That’s ok! Most of us don’t!  To make 2/3C for this recipe add 2/3Tbsp apple cider vinegar to your measuring cup and pour in milk to reach 2/3C.  Let sit 5 min while you mix the rest of the ingredients.

A food processor is not necessary for this recipe but makes it much easier!  If you don’t have one, you can mix the butter with the flour using a pastry cutter or 2 forks or knives to cut it into the flour until it looks like coarse sand. 

These go really well with my Roasted Tomato and Pesto soup, 5 bean chili and Savoury Beef stew!

Gluten-free Ginger Cookies

These tasty cookies are a modification of one of my favourite recipe assignments during the Culinary Nutrition Expert program!  The modifications came when I was asked to create GF, DF cookies as a birthday party goody bag for one of my sweetest little Kids in the Kitchen pals ever!  Sometimes GF flours are harder to work with when making cookies.  Up until taking the CNE program I had never attempted GF cookies because they were that intimidating!  You want them to be crispy outside, chewy inside and sometimes that is hard when using GF flours!  This recipe has a tonne of flavour and is really easy!  

prep

15 minutes

Bake time

7-10 minutes

makes

24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 C brown rice flour
  • 3/4 C buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 C coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Gingerbread spice
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 C coconut oil
  • 2/3 C coconut sugar
  • 1/4 C raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • extra coconut sugar for rolling on dough

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with silicone baking mat or unbleached parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, gingerbread spice and sea salt. Set aside.

3. Gently heat the coconut oil in a saucepan until liquid. Remove from heat and whisk in coconut sugar, honey and fresh ginger. Allow to cool until you can touch it.

4. Once cool, whisk in egg and apple cider vinegar. If you add egg too soon it will begin to cook.

5. Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

6. Scoop dough into 1 Tbsp measures. Roll into balls and roll in extra coconut sugar for nice sparkly texture on finished cookies.

7. Place a few cm apart on baking sheet. Press with cookie stamp, flatten with spoon or leave as balls.

8. Bake 7-10 minutes until fragrant and puffed slightly.

Notes

The fresh grated ginger and extra coconut sugar for rolling are what take this recipe over the top!  If you don’t LOVE fresh ginger, use less but don’t give up on it entirely!  It’s a tuber that grows in the ground – this is one worth sourcing locally and organic!!! 

Coconut flour is great in cookies because it gives a little bit of extra sweet and helps with the chewy texture. However, it absorbs A LOT of moisture so don’t use more than the 1/4 C suggested or your cookies will be dry and fall apart.  You could also use almond flour, but then they aren’t nut free and I wouldn’t be able to send them to school with the girls!