Friday, December 01, 2023


One of my greatest moments in growing up was realising that one does not have to have a really special occasion to make and enjoy a cake, and that is what I wholeheartedly recommend even to this day. There is nothing better than preparing a simple everyday chocolate cake with ingredients that are already in the cupboard. Quick and easy to prepare, yet so very delicious.
Few things in life are as wonderful as enjoying some quiet time with a slice of cake, a cup of strong coffee, and a good book. And for those moments, chocolate cakes are simply the best.
With two layers of moist chocolate cake and a glorious mousse filling and frosting, this little weekday gem is just amazing as an afternoon treat. Truly best served with a cup of strong coffee, and some chopped nuts of your choice, for a lovely little crunch.

For the soft chocolate cake
150 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
100 grams granulated sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
big pinch of salt
120 millilitres hot water
2 heaping teaspoons instant coffee granules
35 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
60 millilitres oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 heaping tablespoons ground flaxseed
5 tablespoons cold water
150 grams vegan vanilla yoghurt
For the chocolate mousse filling
120 grams dark chocolate (80% cocoa solids)
200 millilitres plant double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Start by making the lovely chocolate mousse filling. Chop up the chocolate finely, add it to a medium saucepan, and pour in the plant double cream. Add in the vanilla and place it over medium heat. Gently stir with a spatula as everything melts together. As soon as it is all blended and ready, remove it from the heat, and let it cool down to room temperature. Cover the top with a piece of cling film or baking parchment, and place it into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably six.
To make the soft chocolate cake layers, start by adding the ground flaxseed into a small bowl, and pouring in the cold water. Mix very well and place it into the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes, until it starts to gel. Set the oven to preheat to 180°C.
Take another small bowl, add in the cocoa powder and instant coffee granules, and pour in the hot water. Mix well and let it sit for a few minutes, to bloom the cocoa.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl, add in both types of sugar and the salt, and mix well. Make a well in the very centre and add in the oil, vanilla, bloomed cocoa powder, prepared flax eggs, as well as the vegan yoghurt. Gently stir until the batter comes together. No need to mix vigorously or for too long, as the cakes need to be as tender as possible.
Prepare two small round baking pans (15 cm) by lining them with baking parchment, and then evenly divide the cake batter between them. This is best done by weight, but estimation works well enough, too. Bake them immediately, in a nicely preheated oven, at 180°C, for 18-20 minutes. Test them with a toothpick to make sure they are done. Let them cool in the pans completely.
When everything is cool and ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cakes, if necessary, and set them aside for the time being.
Take the filling out of the refrigerator, and whip it into a mousse, using an electric mixer on the highest setting. It should be able to hold stiff peaks, and be quite dense and rich. Divide the mousse filling into two parts, one for the filling, and one to use as frosting.
Place the first cake layer on the serving platter, and carefully spread on the first portion of the chocolate mousse. Top with the other layer, and decorate the cake with the rest of the mousse. Place it into the refrigerator for at least eight hours. When ready, slice it into rich slices, and serve with additional dark chocolate shavings, toasted nuts of your choice, and strong coffee. Yields 10 servings.

Friday, November 24, 2023


Mint and chocolate are an absolute dessert classic, and even though they are a wonderful combination year-round, as the holidays approach, they are even more prominent in sweets and pastries. Combined with brownies, the epitome of comfort desserts, it is the pièce de résistance of any gathering.
Deeply chocolate brownie base, light and creamy mint frosting, and a gorgeously fudgy chocolate topping; a match made in dessert heaven. Adding just a tiny bit of lemon juice to the minty frosting simply elevates it and gives it that signature icy flavour, making it perfect with the chocolate.
This type of frosting is one of my favourites for all sorts of desserts, but I find it pairs most beautifully with fudge cakes and brownies. The contrast in textures is pure bliss.
And although I do serve it in very generous slices, it can easily be sliced into sixteen moderate pieces, and served that way. And if chilled very well, or even slightly frozen, it can be sliced into even smaller pieces, to serve a small gathering.

For the fudge brownies
150 grams plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
120 grams light brown sugar
35 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
90 grams vegan block butter
30 millilitres vegetable oil
80 millilitres water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt
For the mint frosting
400 millilitres soy milk
45 grams cornflour
120 grams granulated sugar
90 grams vegan block butter, cubed
1 teaspoon clear mint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
For the chocolate topping
100 grams dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
50 grams vegan block butter
50 millilitres soy milk

Start by making the mint filling, as it needs a bit of time to cool down. Take about 100 millilitres of the milk and whisk it with the cornflour, mint extract, and vanilla bean paste, and set it aside. Pour the rest of the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place it over medium heat, and let it come to a boil.
As soon as it starts to boil, pour in the cornflour mixture, and start whisking. Let it cook for about 2 minutes, until it starts resembling a glossy pudding. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two. Add in the vegan block butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Cover the top with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the brownies, take a small saucepan and add in the granulated sugar, cocoa powder, vegan butter, oil, water, vanilla, and salt, and place it over medium heat so everything melts together. Once everything is melted and hot, but not boiling, remove from the heat and sift in the flour and the baking soda. Mix only until everything is incorporated.
Line the bottom and sides of a square baking pan (18x18 cm) with baking parchment, pour in the batter, and immediately bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 15 minutes. Depending on your oven, they may take a bit longer to bake through, so make sure to check them with a toothpick early on, so they stay fudgy, and not overbaked. Take them out of the oven, and let them cool in the pan.
Once the brownies are cool to the touch, and the custard is ready, proceed to assemble.
Place the pudding into a large bowl, add in the fresh lemon juice, and whisk with an electric mixer on high until it becomes creamy, about a minute or two. Place the brownies gently onto the serving platter, close a cake form around them, and add all of the frosting on top. Level it nicely, and place it into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
To make the chocolate topping, chop up the chocolate finely and place it into a small saucepan. Pour in the soy milk and add in the vegan block butter. Melt everything over low heat, and let it cool down slightly. Take the frosted brownies out of the refrigerator, gently and evenly pour on the glaze, tap to level, and return to the refrigerator for at least 6 more hours. Serve with hot coffee, preferably after letting the brownies stand for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Yields 9 rich servings.

Friday, November 17, 2023


The mornings are chillier, the days are shorter, and we are undoubtedly heading for winter. And there is nothing that warms the soul as much as homemade pastry and a cup of coffee or tea after a long autumn walk.
Even though there are plenty of options to buy pastries these days, nothing will ever come close to a homemade one, enjoyed straight off the hot baking sheet, especially on a chilly day.
These lovely, flaky pastries are filled with soft dates, rich cocoa powder, and plenty of espresso powder, for a wonderfully deep flavour. Gorgeous warm spices blend so amazingly well with cocoa and coffee, with just enough sweetness from the dates.
I chose to additionally sprinkle them with vegan chocolate chips, but grated chocolate works just as well, and so do chocolate chunks or dark chocolate callets. Those are purely optional, of course, but they add a lot of flavour.
Bake them until golden, and serve them hot, right off the baking sheet, with strong coffee, of course. Alternatively, and particularly if not using chocolate chips, toast them whole, and enjoy a whole new plane of crispiness.

For the soft vanilla dough
300 grams plain flour
100 grams strong bread flour
240 millilitres warm water
30 millilitres vegetable oil
20 grams fresh yeast
30 grams granulated sugar
10 grams salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate espresso filling
30 millilitres piping hot water
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
100 grams Medjool dates
50 grams vegan block butter, slightly softened
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 levelled teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
100 grams vegan dark chocolate chips, optional

Start by making the super soft vanilla dough. Take a medium bowl, crumble in the fresh yeast, add in the sugar and the warm water, mix well, and set it aside for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Sift both types of flours into a large bowl, add in the salt, and blend well. Once the yeast is ready, make a well in the centre of the flours, pour in the yeast, oil, and the vanilla, and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms.
Flour the work surface well, place the dough in the centre and flour the top, too, and proceed to knead by hand for about 5 minutes or so, until it becomes supple and smooth. If it is sticking too much, feel free to add a bit more flour. Place the kneaded dough back into the large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for about an hour, in a warm spot.
When the dough is ready, make the filling. Pour the piping hot water over the cocoa powder, mix well, and let it sit until warm. Add the dates into a small blender, pour in the cocoa paste, and add in the rest of the ingredients. Let it run until a smooth batter is formed.
Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knead it gently, then divide it into twelve equal parts and roll each one into a large circle. Spread a portion of the filling onto the dough, sprinkle on the vegan chocolate chips, if using, and roll it up starting from one side. Pinch the seam together and make a pretty coil or any other shape you desire.
Arrange all the pastries on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, cover them with a clean cloth, and let them rest and rise for about 30 minutes, while the oven preheats. Bake them in a nicely preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 12-15 minutes, or until evenly browned. Serve immediately with strong coffee. Yields 12 pastries.

Friday, November 10, 2023


My love for coffee is a well-known fact. And even though I am not a fan of flavoured coffees, I absolutely adore coffee desserts. This cake being a prime, wonderfully delicious, example.
I truly love this type of cakes, as they have a moderate number of servings, making them perfect for smaller gatherings and friendly brunches. Even with the simplest of decoration, they still manage to capture hearts, especially served in generous slices.
This filling is one of my favourites and it works amazingly well with chocolate, nuts, and fruit. However, there is something so delightful in the combination of the subtle coffee flavour and the creaminess of it. Something that just keeps inviting for more.
Four wonderfully soft cake layers, three layers of coffee filling, and three glorious layers of pillowy whipped plant-based cream. Such a delight to enjoy, especially after being allowed to come to room temperature before serving.
And on a final note, you can increase the amount of coffee in the filling, if you want, or even add a shot of coffee liqueur if not serving the cake to children.

For the coffee cake layers
200 grams plain flour
50 grams semolina
100 grams granulated sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
240 millilitres hot water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
For the coffee cream filling
500 millilitres soy milk, cold
50 grams cornflour
50 grams plain flour
100 grams granulated sugar
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
150 grams vegan block butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
200 millilitres plant-based double cream, chilled

Start by making the coffee cream filling. Pour the cold soy milk into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sift in the flour and the cornflour, mix well, and then add in the sugar and espresso powder, and mix well again. Place the pot over medium-high heat, and let it slowly heat up. As soon as it starts to steam, start whisking somewhat vigorously. Let it come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, until it thickens and becomes glossy. Cover the top with cling film or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the coffee cake layers, start by dissolving the espresso powder in hot water, pouring it into a large bowl, and setting it aside to cool down as much as possible. Turn on the oven to 180°C, so it can preheat. Next, take another large bowl and sift in the plain flour and the baking powder. Whisk them together, and then mix in the semolina and the sugars. Add the vanilla to the cooled coffee and mix it well. Set it aside for a bit more, and prepare for the baking by lining the bottom and sides of a rectangular baking pan (20x30 cm) with baking parchment.
Just before baking, pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly whisk until blended. As soon as the batter is ready, pour it into the prepared pan, tap it a few times on the counter, and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 10-12 minutes, checking for doneness early on. Every oven bakes differently, and the cake should remain as soft and moist as possible. As soon as a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, it is done. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool down in the pan completely.
Once the coffee cream filling is cool and ready, whip the plant-based cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form, and set it aside. Place the softened vegan block butter and the vanilla into a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for about 5 minutes, so it becomes light and airy. With the same beaters, mix the cooled filling until thick and creamy. Without stopping the beaters, add a tablespoon of the custard at a time to the whipped butter, and blend them together until smooth.
Once the filling is whipped and ready, proceed to assemble the cake. Level the cake, if necessary, and slice it in half crosswise and lengthwise, to create four thin rectangular layers. Take out a few tablespoons of the filling for decoration, and divide the rest into three equal parts by weight. Divide the whipped cream into three parts by volume.
The assembly is pretty straightforward; take one of the cake layers and place it on a cake platter. Add a third of the filling on top, followed by a third of the whipped cream. Repeat this until all of the filling and cream is used up, and then top with the final cake layer. The cake is pretty firm, so use the reserved filling to frost and decorate the top and the sides, and place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Yields 12 rich servings.

Friday, November 03, 2023


Cookies have always been my go-to dessert choice for unexpected guests or just a simple afternoon sweet snack. They usually come together quickly, everyone loves them, and because they use cupboard essentials, they are almost always readily available.
And this is, by far, my most favourite cookie recipe. Soft, chewy, deliciously full of dark chocolate, and perfect served with strong coffee. What more could one want from a cookie?
No special equipment, no chilling, no creaming; only one fork and a bit of patience. Which is why I wholeheartedly recommend them to all cookie-lovers. They are ready in less than 30 minutes, and simply gorgeous for picnics and gatherings.
Do keep in mind that they use flax eggs, so the tiny little flax specs will show up in the baked cookie. If desired, use golden flax meal to minimise it showing up in cookies.

1 tablespoon flax meal (12 grams)
2 ½ tablespoons cold water (30 millilitres)
40 grams vegan block butter, cold
80 grams light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
100 grams plain flour
3 teaspoons cornflour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
generous pinch of salt
100 grams dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar

Start by making the flax egg. Put the flax meal into a small bowl, add the cold water and place it into the refrigerator for at least 5 minutes, so it starts to gel. Turn on the oven to 180°C, so it preheats.
Take a medium bowl, add in the cold vegan block butter and mash it with a fork until a thick paste forms. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla, and continue mashing until they come together as best as possible.
Check to see if the flax egg is ready to use, and if it is, add it to the bowl, along with the salt. Continue mashing and mixing with a fork until it all comes together. The liquid from the flax egg will help bind things very nicely. Finally, sift in the plain flour, cornflour, and the baking soda, and mix until a soft cookie dough forms.

If using dark chocolate chips, stir the majority of them into the dough, leaving some behind to sprinkle onto each cookie before baking. If using a chocolate bar, roughly chop it and stir the larger portion into the dough, leaving bigger pieces to be pressed into the cookie before baking.
Divide the cookie dough into six portions and arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, making sure there is plenty of room between them. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips or pieces, and bake immediately in a nicely preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 8-10 minutes. The centres will be incredibly soft right out of the oven, but after cooling for a few minutes on the baking sheet, they will firm up and be ready for serving.
Serve them pleasantly warm, with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of milk of your choice. Yields 6 large cookies or about 3 servings.