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.

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