Fudgy Chocolate, Pistachio & Pumpkin Seed Butter Cookies

Fudgy Chocolate Seed Butter Cookies
Fudgy Chocolate Sunbutter Cookies
I’ve tried to think of a dozen different ways I could start writing this post, but words fail short every time. Ironic, for a copywriter. The simple explanation is that my feelings have been very muddled over the last few weeks because a massive change has happened in my life (which I don’t yet feel ready to talk about, sorry guys) and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. I seem to come to a different conclusion every day. 

With all these mood swings, my routine has been thrown off kilter and I lost my baking mojo for a while. I thought that would be one of the things I would turn to comfort myself but no, even baking held no appeal for me anymore. I haven’t been sleeping well, have to drag myself to the gym to get some exercise, and don’t even have any enthusiasm for cooking these days. For someone who loves to eat, it’s a bizarre way to feel.

I’m lucky to have the most wonderful friends who have cleared their weekends to spend time with me and keep me from staying home and brooding, which is usually how I would process a difficult situation. My friend Nessie came over one weekend and we baked a first batch of these cookies using pumpkin seed butter, but they were far from the final result, which I’m sharing with you today. 
Fudgy Chocolate Sunbutter Cookies
I brought these to work (so I wouldn’t eat them all by myself) and to my utter surprise they were all gone before elevenses. I knew they were tasty, but people absolutely went crazy for them. And I have to say, that give me a nice (and much-needed) little ego boost. Seeing people enjoying my cookies made me want to start baking again — the most satisfying part of baking is not producing the perfect [insert name of baked good] but knowing that people will enjoy it. 

Moral of the story: nothing lasts for ever, this too shall pass, and I don’t know what the hell I would do without my friends and chocolate cookies. 
Fudgy Chocolate Sunbutter Cookies
Note: just in case the title wasn’t obvious enough, I must insist that they cookies are the fudgy, cakey type. I know that’s not everyone’s thing, and I usually prefer a crunchy, buttery cookie too, but these are surprisingly moreish. The chocolate and pumpkin seed butter make such a heavenly, wholesome mix. I haven’t tried making these with any other seed butter but I have a feeling sunbutter would work really well. 
Fudgy Chocolate Sunbutter Cookies
Fudgy Chocolate Sunbutter Cookies 

Fudgy Chocolate Pistachio & Seed Butter Cookies
Yields 16
Fudgy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cookies with pistachio nuts and a secret ingredient: pumpkin seed butter! They need to bake slightly longer than traditional cookies but retain that gooey, fudgy centre. These cookies are an all-round crowd-pleaser and perfect comfort food for young and old.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Dry
  1. 160g (1.25 cups) plain flour
  2. 180g (3/4 cup) caster (white) sugar
  3. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  4. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  6. 40g (1/4 cup) pistachios, roughly chopped
Wet
  1. 140ml (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) coconut oil, melted
  2. 3-4 tbsp soya milk, slightly warm*
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 85g (half a jar, or 3 oz/1/3 cup) pumpkin seed butter**
Instructions
  1. Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºC/gas mark 4).
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Make a well int he bowl with dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine evenly, then use your hands to finish the job.
  4. Form 16 large balls from the dough and place them onto the trays, flattening them slightly with the palm of your hand.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
  6. Enjoy still slightly warm or cool. Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Notes
  1. *It's important to make the soya milk just a little warm (for example in the microwave or on the hob) because if it's cold it will react with the melted coconut oil and harden it before you get a chance to mix it with the other ingredients.
  2. **I haven't tried using other seed butters in this recipe, but sun butter has a similar consistency to pumpkin seed butter and would probably work well here, though the flavour would be altered.
The Vegan Cookie Fairy http://thevegancookiefairy.com/
Aside from my gorgeous friends and lovely coworkers, there is one other thing that’s made the last few weeks much easier to bear, and that’s Edinburgh. Every time I walk through the buzzing West End, every time I hear a seagull screeching down my chimney, every time I see the sun setting over the rooftops or the North Sea wind messes up my hair, I know this for certain: I was meant to live here, and I wouldn’t be happy anywhere else right now. I’m that person walking down the street listening to the Proclaimers on my iPod and singing along to every word. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Edinburgh

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Love and cookies,

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Vegan Evening @ Bread Street Brasserie – Vegan In Scotland

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In this blog series I review vegan/vegetarian restaurants, cafés and shops in Scotland. Since I’ve moved here there have been more and more veggie options on offer in mainstream restaurants and special diets and vegetarian places are opening up all the time. To help you navigate the veggie dining-out scene in this breath-taking country, I’m making it my mission suss out vegan/vegetarian places to eat all over Scotland — if it takes me all the way out to the Hebrides! (The things I do for you guys…)


Raw Chocolate Cake @ BSB #veganinscotland
I think by now you’ll all have noticed I have a habit of taking ages to get round to doing things. Just like the last Vegan In Scotland review – The Chocolate Tree, my new favourite place on Earth – I was aware of Bread Street Brasserie‘s vegan evenings for months before I actually booked a table there to see what the fuss was about. It’s thanks to your suggestions on Twitter that I discovered this place, btw, so feel free to always message me any vegetarian/vegan (friendly) place you’d like me to check out!

I took an open-minded omnivore friend of mine to dinner at Bread Street Brasserie, all the better to get a well-rounded opinion for my review. BSB doesn’t usually do vegan food, only for this monthly event, and I think it’s important in a non-vegan world that we are able to cater enjoyable plant-based meals to both vegans and omnivores alike – to me, that’s a pretty decent scenario. 

It felt quite luxurious to be sitting down on a Thursday night in BSB’s glamorous 50s-60s decorated restaurant. A waiter promptly introduced herself to us and helped us identify the vegan wines (!) on the menu. There was brown bread to nibble on, too – a European touch I very much appreciated. 
Nettle Soup @ BSB #veganinscotland
For each vegan evening they host, BSB creates a three course menu with three different choices for each course. It’s been chilly in Edinburgh, and neither my table companion nor I felt like having anything other than the nettle soup for starters – we direly needed something to warm us up. The soup arrived just moments later, and it sure warmed us up – plenty of pepper will do that for you. We dropped a small dollop of margarine into our bowls to soften the sharpness of the soup, after which it was perfectly fine.

Continuing with our comfort food theme, we then ordered a leek and mushroom pie for my friend and for me steamed ‘cheesy’ cauliflower on a bed of radish and samphire. Again the food was served without delay and our friendly waitress was always around to top up drinks and check on us. My friend was rather surprised at her ‘pie’ – apparently a euphemism for stroganoff and mashed potato – but enjoyed it nonetheless; my cauliflower and samphire dish could not have been more perfect. The chef did a brilliant job with these seasonal ingredients, and turned them into a deeply satisfying meal. 
Vegan Mushroom Pie @ BSB #veganinscotland
Vegan Cheesey Cauliflower & Sampphire @ BSB #veganinscotland
We have a massive sweet tooth, my friend and I, so expectations were high for dessert. The quinoa and banana pudding piqued her interest, while I, predictably, went for the chocolate lava cake. Sadly the pudding turned out to be a small mound of butterscotch mashed banana and quinoa – which tastes as unappetizing as it sounds – and my lava cake was a raw concoction with delicious chocolate cream inside – but not a lava cake, really. But it was as rich and moreish as I could have hoped for, and if I hadn’t been so full already, I would have eaten ever last crumb. 
Vegan Raw Chocolate Cake @ BSB #veganinscotland
Vegan Quinoa Banana Pudding @ BSB #veganinscotland
In conclusion, a bit hit and miss. Not bad at all, especially for a restaurant that does not usually serve only plant-based meals, and for such an upmarket place the bill came to a reasonable £22 for each of us, wine included. (The set menu for the night was £17.5, drinks not included). We left feeling full and nourished, and happy for having tried something new. It certainly did not put off my friend, which is always a plus when introducing vegan food to an omnivore! In hindsight, I also realised my entire meal was gluten-free, save for the bread. 


 

Bread Street Brasserie
34 Bread Street,
EH3 9AF Edinburgh
0131 221 5558

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Bread Street Brasserie and none of the food was complimentary. All opinions are my own and that of my table companion. 

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Love and cookies,

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Chocolate Chunk Espresso Ice Cream

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Espresso Choc Chip Ice Cream #vegan
#Vegan Espresso Choc Chip Ice Cream 2 #Vegan Espresso Choc Chip Ice Cream 3 #Vegan Espresso Choc Chip Ice Cream 4

Hi guys! Sorry for the absence… I know posts have been sporadic lately, and there are good reasons for that, believe me. Life just happened, I needed a bit of time to myself, and I wanted to focus on my new job, which I’m very much enjoying. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating tasty desserts for you guys…

The weather in Scotland has been hit and miss the last few weeks – I know everyone will say that’s nothing out of the ordinary, but I insist, the weather in Edinburgh is actually fairly OK. It doesn’t rain that much, ok? Still, this ain’t the Bahamas.

So my philosophy: if we’re going to be a waiting a while longer for summer, I don’t see why we should also wait for ice cream. Just make some now and enjoy it from the comfort of your cosy, well-heated home. 

#Vegan Espresso Choc Chip Ice Cream 1
#Vegan Espresso Choc Chip Ice Cream 6

Espresso has always been my favourite ice cream flavour, alongside pistachio. That will probably never change. But guess what’s even better: chocolate chunk espresso ice cream. Or, if you fancy a bit of extra work, espresso ice cream with chocolate-coated espresso beans. 
#Vegan Espresso Choc Chip Ice Cream 5

Espresso Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
Serves 4
This chocolate chunk espresso ice cream is one of my all-time favourites: rich enough to be eaten on colder days but still deliciously cold and creamy for a summer's day, it hits all the right spots and is even better with chocolate-covered coffee beans. You don't need an ice cream machine to make this recipe.
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Espresso ice cream
  1. 20g (1/4 cup) ground espresso beans or espresso powder
  2. 125ml (1/2 cup) hot water
  3. 2x 400ml (14oz) tins of full-fat coconut milk
  4. 2 tbsp Suma coconut sugar
  5. 100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (reserve some for garnish)
For chocolate covered beans
  1. 20g (1/3 cup) espresso beans
  2. 1 tsp coconut oil
  3. 75g (2.6 oz) dark chocolate
To make the ice cream
  1. Grind the beans to a fine powder, either in your food processor or in a coffee grinder.
  2. Brew the coffee, or if using espresso powder simply mix with hot water in a cup. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Blend the coconut milk, coconut sugar and cooled coffee in a high-speed blender for about five minutes. Unless you're using an ice cream machine, it's important to get as much air into the ice cream before it goes into the freezer - this helps prevent ice crystals from forming - so I like to blend it for a good five minutes.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks after blending.
  5. Pour the ice cream mixture into a large loaf tin, or any other container of your choice, and pop it into the freezer.
  6. I use the following method to prevent ice cream from crystallizing in the freezer: every 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours, you want to take it out of the freezer and stir it. This gets more air into the ice cream, thus keeping it smooth and creamy rather than let it turn into a rock solid block of ice, which is what will happen otherwise. If you don't stir the ice cream, good luck trying to thaw it when the sweet craving hits.
To make the chocolate-covered coffee beans
  1. Line a tray with baking parchment or grease-proof paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a heat-proof bowl suspended over a pot of boiling water. Take off the heat when melted and stir in the coffee beans, making sure they're totally covered. Pour onto the lined tray, spreading out each coffee bean individually as much as possible. Place in the fridge for about 30-60 mins to set.
  3. Break up the chocolate-covered coffee beans when they are completely set and scatter over your ice cream.
Notes
  1. This recipe serves about 4 people if each person has 2-3 scoops.
  2. If you want to use regular sugar, or maple syrup or agave nectar, feel free to do so. This recipe is pretty versatile.
  3. The chocolate-covered coffee beans are totally optional, but they are really tasty.
The Vegan Cookie Fairy http://thevegancookiefairy.com/
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Suma Wholefoods as part of the Suma Bloggers Network, but as always, all opinions are my own and I think Suma is the bomb dot com. 

 

And hey, if you like ice cream, check out my e-book of vegan ice creams, The Vegan Cookie Fairy’s Decadent Vegan Ice Creams Anyone Can Make!

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Love and cookies,

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The Chocolate Tree – Vegan In Scotland

In this blog series I review vegan/vegetarian restaurants, cafés and shops in Scotland. Ever since I moved here, I noticed it is noticeably harder to eat out and stick to a plant-based diet in Scotland than it was when I lived in London. After several months of frustration, I am making it my mission to suss out vegan/vegetarian places to eat all over Scotland — if it takes me all the way out to the Hebrides! (The things I do for you guys…)


The Chocolate Tree - Blog Review #veganinscotland
The Chocolate Tree - Blog Review #veganinscotland

I’ve been very excited about this review for a while. I moved to Edinburgh four months ago now, and I was eager to find my essential foodie spots: the farmers’ markets, my preferred supermarket, my local pub and café, and the like. It was at the Edinburgh farmers’ market, on a cold Saturday in January, that I stumbled upon a stall of chocolate bars. The stall holder handed me a free – FREE – cup of hot melted chocolate. Just water and chocolate, melted together. It coursed through me like a magic potion, thawing my chilled body. And man, it tasted good. 

That stall belonged to The Chocolate Tree. 

Most weeks I visit the farmers’ market. I make sure to buy my fruit and veg first, and what money I have left goes on chocolate. I knew the company owned a shop in Edinburgh as well – not far from where I live in the West End, actually – but I knew the temptation would no doubt bankrupt me and expand my waist size exponentially. 

And yet, I had to know… so I finally went!

Let me walk you through the wonderful shop that is The Chocolate Tree, in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. 

The Chocolate Tree - Blog Review #veganinscotland

It’s a little like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory meets the witch’s wood carving shop in Brave: all dark and moody wood furniture, electric wallpaper and classic mural paintings. The business started as a solar-powered chocolaterie touring festivals across the UK, and TCT is still committed to recycling and being kind to the environment: they use biodegradable cellophane for their packaging and reusable FSC certified paper to print their labels on. 

I’ve quickly fallen in love with this brand and this company because a) their chocolate is orgasmic, and they’re not afraid to play with flavours (but more on that later) and b) their staff are so dedicated to giving you the best experience enjoying their chocolate. They are always chatty at the market stall, telling me all about their chocolate-making process and telling me about their vegan options, and giving me free hot chocolate to taste. 

My favourite flavours so far are peppermint, cardamom, salted caramel and haggis (!!). I was really into winter spice over the cold months, and probably would still enjoy it now if I wasn’t so enamoured with cardamom. It’s important to mention that their chocolate is made bean-to-bar, which means it’s all made right here in Edinburgh from raw cacao beans to achieve the best result possible.
The Chocolate Tree - Blog Review #veganinscotland
The Chocolate Tree - Blog Review #veganinscotland
I had the most delicious vegan chocolate Easter egg, made with creamy coconut milk, and I wish I had bought more (but my bank account thanks me for exercising some restraint) because IT WAS THAT GOOD, but they also had plenty of dark chocolate bunnies (and they might still have some if you hurry and snap ’em up!). 
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You can’t visit the shop and not try the Giandutto truffles. You know how much I love that hazelnut-chocolate combination – just see my Gianduja Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe for proof – and these truffles did not disappoint. All their truffles are labelled with vegan and dairy-free when they are so. 

They also sell sorbets (all vegan) and ice creams (not vegan) in their shop, plus a vegan chocolate spread that I have yet to try but have my eye on. And if you need an impressive cake for a party, you’re in luck: The Chocolate Tree also makes whole cakes! 

In short, The Chocolate Tree is the perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon sipping on hot chocolate at one of their  tables by the window. And don’t forget to take a few of their chocolate bars home with you – one isn’t enough!

**************

The Chocolate Tree
123 Bruntsfield Place
Edinburgh EH10 4EQ
0131 228 3144
www.choctree.co.uk

+ they’ve got a shop in Haddington, too! 

11 Hardgate
East Lothian
Haddington
EH41 3JW

**************

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Love and cookies,

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Ladies’ Dessert: Maca Chocolate Mousse To Balance Your Hormones (vegan + almost raw)

Maca Chocolate Mousse
I’ve got a final recipe to share with you for the “Ladies’ Recipes” series, in which I use maca powder in every day recipes to help you balance your hormones and hopefully reduce painful cramps. A BIG thank you to everyone who shared their experience in the comment section of the Raspberry Maca Smoothie and Vanilla Maca Porridge posts – creating a dialogue is exactly what I wanted to encourage, so we could all swap tips and hopefully inspire each other not to feel embarrassed or ashamed of our personal experiences with period pains. 

The best tips I’ve seen in the comments are:

  • keep hydrated: drinks lots of water prior to your period, and during
  • avoid sugar and highly processed foods, as well as coffee and alcohol
  • a hot water bottle helps calm the cramps – get a mini one so it’s discrete at the office :)
  • and using maca, of course :)

My dear friend Ellie also mentioned keeping your knees/feet higher than your uterus helps (!), so place a pillow underneath your knees when you sleep. The things you learn…!

Since we’ve covered breakfast twice, I thought it best to move on to my second favourite meal of the day… dessert!

Avocado chocolate mousse is one of those desserts that is just ridiculously easy to whip together; if you’re like me, you usually have an avocado or two in the kitchen. Raw cacao powder is the healthiest and most nutrition ingredient to use, but you could easily make this with cocoa powder. I like to add almond or peanut butter for extra creaminess and flavour. If you use raw nut butter and raw non-dairy milk, this recipes is entirely raw. It’s up to you how you customise it! This makes a single serving; to create a bigger batch, simply multiply the measurements by however many people you wish to serve. 

Bon appétit, ladies!
Maca Chocolate Mousse
Maca Chocolate Mousse #vegan - hormone balancing dessert

Ladies' Dessert: Maca Chocolate Mousse To Balance Your Hormones
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Ingredients
  1. 1 avocado, pitted
  2. 125ml (1/2 cup) almond or soya milk
  3. 2 tbsp cacao powder
  4. 1 tbsp maple syrup
  5. 1 tsp peanut or almond butter (optional)
  6. 1 tsp maca powder
Instructions
  1. Blend all till smooth. Enjoy straight away or keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
The Vegan Cookie Fairy http://thevegancookiefairy.com/
I’m pleased to say my first week at my new job went really well – the team is so welcoming and inclusive, and it looks like my job will be challenging and varied. Just what I’d hoped for. Thanks for all your well wishes, it meant a lot to me!

 

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Love and cookies,

thevegancookiefairysignature-2