Chocolate (and vegetable) cupcakes.

I don’t really know what to say.

I’ll be the first to admit to being quite a fan of slipping legumes and vegetables into sweeties, so I was fairly stoked to find that this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop theme is “Cake and Three Veg”. However this time, I may have developed a slightly crazed obsession and got a little bit freaky with my veg-sugar combinations.

It’s always nice to think that eating a cake could actually be providing you with nutritious goodies like iron and protein, not just sugar. In the past, I’ve experimented a lot with chickpeas, pumpkin and zucchini in cakes, and have come up with delightfully tasty results. As I sat, brainstorming ideas for this month’s little challenge, for some reason I became fixated on the idea that including just one vegetable would definitely not be enough. The result was this: Chocolate, bean and chard cupcakes with potato icing. I know. I’m still not sure whether this decision was a strange delusion or what, but I did it. The truth is that these are just the vegetables and legumes I happened to have in the kitchen and garden. Simple decision really.

I stealthily went about my baking, feeling terribly uncertain about what on earth I was doing. My dad walked past as I was finishing icing the last cake. He remarked that they looked good, and asked if he could have one. My response was something along the lines of, “Errr, yeah, you can if you like… but they might be a bit… weird. I don’t know. It’s up to you. I won’t mind of you hate them.”
Not exactly brimming with confidence, was I? Must work on that.

I was pleased that the feedback was positive, and that they were “good” and “chocolatey”. Relief. I chose not to tell him what was in them, out of fear that the rest wouldn’t be eaten.

And so, here is a piece of advice on serving sweet foods made of vegetables. Unless you have very adventurous friends, hold off telling people what’s hidden in your tasty creations until after they’ve tried it. In fact, it may not even be necessary to tell people at all. Though in the case of these cupcakes (which are pretty much a meal in themselves), a warning not to eat too many might be in order. You could even try serving them as a main+dessert combination, just to revel in the confusion that will follow.

There is just one problem. I know exactly what is in these cakes, and my head is putting up an extreme mental barrier to eating them. Healthy – yes. Chocolatey – yes. But there’s chard in them. I love chard, but my brain screams “not with chocolate!”. Never mind. I’ll just have to feed them to unsuspecting visitors*.

*To my friends, I promise I won’t trick you into eating any more vegetables unknowingly. Legumes, yes. Chard and potato, no.

Chocolate (and vegetable) cupcakes

Makes approx 15 cupcakes

Cake mix:
2 large leaves (or equivalent) of chard
230g cooked red kidney beans
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa

Icing:
320g potatoes
3/4 cup icing sugar
50g dark chocolate

(Note: if you’re piping the icing, you’ll need more than this, so scale it up a tad. But you should be right if you’re just spreading it on with a knife.)
Preheat the oven to 180C and line muffin pans with patty pans or other liners as you see fit. (I made some up out of squares of baking paper and brown wrapping paper. Suitably earthy, I thought, given the contents of these cakes.)

Blitz the chard in a food processor, then add beans, oil, sugar and water and whizz until you get a fairly smooth consistency with as few lumps of chard and beans as possible. It will look green and you will wonder what you’ve got yourself into. Don’t worry!

Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the wet to the dry, and mix well. Fill the pans to 3/4 full, then bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Meanwhile, peel, chop and boil the potatoes, then drain and mash really well. Melt the chocolate using which ever method works for you, then add it to the potato along with the icing sugar. Mix well, and pipe (or spread) on the cupcakes when cool.

Place innocently on display and wait for people to eat them.

 

This post is part of the November Sweet Adventures Blog Hop. Check out the other entries via the link above.

 

Choc berry chickpea slice

On the weekend, I got a little creative. (The best kind of weekend, right?)
I challenged myself to make a slice, using the berries that have been sitting in the freezer for longer than I care to admit. Not knowing exactly how to make a slice, I experimented and was quite pleased with the results. After refining the recipe slightly, I am now happy to report that this is quite delicious, and also has chickpeas in it! I’m yet to try it with only chickpeas (and no flour), but if you experiment yourself with this one, please let me know how it goes!

I love using chickpeas in baking because they’re such a great little alternative to flour, and so full of protein that you can feel a little bit less guilty for indulging in baked goods – winning! These are also vegan (if you use vegan chocolate). Huzzah!

Chickpea tip: We always have chickpeas pre-cooked and frozen in small portions in zip lock bags. Cook up a whole heap at once, then you can just use them as you need, rather than having to think ahead in order to soak them in time for your meals!

*Edit – Take a look at Lemon chickpea slice for a light and lemony variation.

Choc berry chickpea slice

1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raw sugar
2 chia eggs (2 tablespoons ground chia seeds, whisked with 6 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup water
1 cup mixed berries (or whatever berries you please) – could be fresh or frozen
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, or block chocolate cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 180C, and line a baking pan (of the sort you would make brownies in), about 20cm x 30cm.

Make up your chia eggs in a small bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes. Meanwhile, whizz chickpeas in a food processor until they resemble something between breadcrumbs and flour:

Place them in a large bowl with all other dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon). Whisk together to mix and get rid of any lumps.

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, chia eggs, vanilla essence and water until well mixed. It should be quite thick. Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Carefully fold in berries and chocolate until just mixed.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for around 40 minutes, or until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for a while in pan before removing to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, slice into bars or squares, and serve dusted with icing sugar.

**Don’t be concerned if they look a bit undercooked once you’ve sliced them. These are really moist and fudgey due to the moisture from the berries, which gives them a really great texture.

Sunday feast.

I am not one to buy into days designed to get people buying stuff. I really despise the culture of consumerism that has become inherent in Mothers’ Day (and Fathers’ Day, Easter, Christmas etc). However, I do really appreciate that there is one day each year when we recognise the awesome role of our mothers. Of course as my Mum reminds me each year, “every day should be Mothers’ Day”, which is true – showing appreciation for the people we love is undoubtedly something we should practice daily. But each year on Mothers’ Day, my sister and I have always gone to special lengths to make it especially nice. This is usually achieved by handmade cards, flowers, and breakfast. This year, Gran was coming over for the afternoon too, and we decided to bake her some things to have with cups of tea. Queue extreme baking morning!

I decided to make crumpets for breakfast. There is absolutely no comparison between homemade and store-bought crumpets. The home-made variety are so much fresher, lighter and flavoursome, plus you can eat them straight from the pan. More on crumpets in a minute.

For Gran, we decided to make a spiced banana loaf cake (my sister’s specialty), and some sweet biscuits (my job). Dad was looking after lunch – roast chicken (as I wouldn’t be there to cause trouble with my picky pragmatic-veganism), plus roasted purple congo potatoes from the garden.

I put my hand up to provide afternoon tea, as Mum’s siblings were coming around. Beetroot chocolate cupcakes. I’d been meaning to try this recipe for ages, and with the beets jumping out of the ground, it seemed logical. Also, I’m in a bit of a chocolate phase right now (having baked ginger pumpkin brownies for a friend’s 21st the night before).

Feast!

And here are some nibbles of the feast that was Sunday. I may add the recipes in separate post later :)

Crumpets

Lemon biscuits + Choc chip caramel biscuits 

Beetroot chocolate cupcakes

(and just for fun, though not a Sunday feast item…)

Ginger pumpkin brownies