Spanish hot chocolate (vegan)

14 July 2015

To the observer, it may look as if I've abandoned this blog. Not (quite) true. In February, I spent 3 amazing weeks in Japan, and then immediately on return, began honours study in Philosophy, which threw me into crazy levels of reading and writing, and therefore less time than before for experimental cooking. I was working on a few things, but somehow failed to get them to a publishable state. Apologies!

Spanish hot chocolate

To make up for it, here is a truly decadent hot chocolate recipe. I was at San Churros with a friend, and had the revelation that surely I could reproduce their $6 Spanish Hot Chocolate at home, for much less. My first attempt, used a mixture of coca and melted chocolate, but didn't quite taste right. The second turned out as thick chocolate custard - not a success as such, but not exactly a failure either. After a few more attempts, and I hit on the winning formula. Rich and thick, sweet but not too sweet, and a hint of chili to really warm you up on a cold and wet winter's day. Because of all the cocoa, the amount of sugar listed below is enough to make it just-barely sweet. You may want to add another teaspoon if you prefer yours sweeter. The chilli is optional, but really makes the drink in my opinion.

This recipe also multiplies really easily - I've done up to six servings at once, just multiply it out, and see how many lives you can improve. Note, however, this drink is not for the faint-hearted, it is truly rich and decadent.

Spanish Hot Chocolate


  • 1 cup soymilk (or milk of choice)
  • 6 teaspoons (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) cocoa
  • 3 tsp cornflour 
  • 6 teaspoons (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) tablespoon sugar 
  • Small dash of vanilla
  • Large pinch of cinnamon
  • Small pinch of chili or cayenne

  1. Add soymilk, cocoa and cornflour to a small saucepan. Whisk together over medium heat, ensuring that everything is well combined before the milk gets too warm. If in doubt, whisk together first, then heat, but I'm impatient.
  2. Bring to the boil, whisking constantly, until mixture boils. Reduce heat, and keep stirring for 1-2 minutes more, or until desired thickness has been achieved.
  3. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne.
  4. Transfer to a mug (a silicone spatula is handy), and enjoy chocolate-induced bliss.

Spaghetti bolognese - tvp version (vegan)

09 January 2015

Towards the end of last year, we had visitors, including a 6-year old. One night, I made a lentil walnut loaf (this one), which the adults enjoyed, but I'm pretty sure she only ate it because her mum gave her a stern talking to about eating what other people prepare. The next night, I thought it would be nice to make something kid-friendly, no lentils in sight, preferably as indistinguishable from the real thing as I could make it.

Vegan spaghetti bolognese

It paid off. The "not hungry" little girl had one small serving, then a second. This was followed up by a third helping, minus pasta, during which she learned that there was no meat in the sauce, after which she followed up with another 2 small sauce-only serves. Win! I've made it several times since - it turns out that Hunter also enjoys the kid-friendly recipes quite a lot.

Spaghetti bolognese (TVP)

Serves: 4-6

  • 2-4 tablespoons light olive oil (not virgin)
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (no need to peel)
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1 1/2 cup TVP crumbles
  • 1 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons beef style stock powder (I use Massel brand)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 140g tub tomato paste
  • 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
  • small pinch chilli flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 500g thin spaghetti
  • Nutritional yeast to serve

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrot, celery and garlic, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. 
  2. Meanwhile, mix the stock powder and liquid smoke into the hot water
  3. Add the dry TVP and stock mixture to the pot and cook over low to medium heat until water is completely absorbed.
  4. Add wine and cook until evaporated
  5. Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, Italian herbs, chilli flakes, sugar and water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until thick. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet directions. A little bit of olive oil in the cooking water helps to prevent the spaghetti sticking together. Drain.
  7. Serve bolognese sauce atop pasta, with extra freshly ground pepper, and nutritional yeast if desired.
  • Originally, I prepared the "mince" first, removed it, cooked the onion mixture, and then added the "mince" back, but this is easier and there doesn't seem to be any perceptible flavour difference.
  • Cut back on the oil at your own risk, as TVP, unlike mince, doesn't contain any fat at all, and needs some added fat to make it taste right. You can probably use less oil than me though.
  • TVP can be bought from Indian grocers, and no doubt other places as well. It's much cheaper than frozen vegan "mince", and also lasts more or less forever in your pantry.
  • The amount of chilli I add isn't enough to give it any bite whatsoever, but it still lifts the recipe.

Decadent chocolate mousse with macerated berries

06 January 2015

I've been slack on the blogging front lately. I've been playing with lots of recipes, but haven't been able to get anything to a level where I'm happy sharing it here. In the meantime, here's an overdue post, the dessert from our early Christmas dinner.

This dessert took a bit of assembly, but the result is rich, decadent, and visually impressive.

Decadent chocolate mousse with macerated berries

Serves: 5-6

Macerated Berries
I'm afraid I can't give too much precision here, because I was anything but precise, but the basic idea was:
  • 1 punnet raspberries
  • 1 punnet blueberries
  • 1 punnet blackberries
  • 1 punnet strawberries - quartered
  • White sugar to taste
  • Vanilla to taste
Mix all the berries in a bowl, sprinkle with maybe 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla. Feel free to add other flavourings if you like, a splash of liqueur would go well. Stir gently, cover with clingwrap, and put in fridge, at least for 2 hours and preferably overnight, stirring every now and then if practical.

The berries will soften slightly, absorb the vanilla flavour, and create a deliciously sweet berry syrup.

The mousse component was Miyoko Schinner's Ultimate Chocolate Mousse, which I can vouch for as being excellent. I used Green and Black's 70% dark chocolate (vegan and fairtrade), and the full 1 cup of coconut solids still resulted in a very dark and rich mousse - perfect for my tastes, but still a bit too strong for Hunter.

Refrigerate the mousse for about 15-30 minutes before assembly - if it's too runny, it will run down around the berries and cover them, but if it's too stiff you won't be able to get smooth layers.

In a glass of choice (I used a tumbler, but a martini glass would work also), spoon a layer of mousse into the glass, add a layer of berries with some syrup, another layer of mousse, and another layer of berries.

I found it better to make fewer thicker layers, as if I tried to make my berry layers too thin, the mousse ended up largely hiding the berries. I also didn't refrigerate the mousse before starting, which I think was part of my problem, the last one I made had much more defined layers, but also a rough top, so feel free to play around with it and leave comments on what did and didn't work for you.

An early vegan Christmas

15 December 2014

Mum and her new husband are in Melbourne at the moment, so yesterday we celebrated an early Christmas together. While, in my less sane moments, I dream of cooking up a Christmas feast for a dozen plus people, cooking a fancy dinner for just four was quite enough effort. The photos aren't brilliant as I took them in a hurry so that people could start eating, but they give an idea of what was on the table.

Christmas dinner

The centerpice dish was a Seitan Roulade, from Food Craft Lab, the sister site of, run by the same guy. This was quite a success. Mine wasn't quite as well rolled as it should have been, but put flat and viewed from above, it looked pretty good. If you want to try this, it's a bit of effort, but worth it. If you want to try this, I found that kneading for the full 5 minutes, as I did on my test run, gave a slightly tough result, probably because it gets a little extra "kneading" in the sheet forming process. The second time, I kneaded for only 3.5 minutes, and that had a better texture. Also, the glaze may need a bit more water, and easily makes enough for two roulades, probably enough for three.

Seitan Roulade

This was accompanied by Gracious Vegan Gravy, also from Food Craft Lab. This is not a quick gravy, but it is seriously good. I recommend making it a day or two before so you one less thing to worry about.

Gracious Vegan Gravy

Side dishes were roast potatoes - baked with olive oil, fresh rosemary (absolutely do not use the stuff out of a tube for this - it tastes bitter when roasted), garlic powder, and freshly ground salt and pepper

Baked potatoes with rosemary

Roast butternut pumpkin, purple carrot and sweet potato, with olive oil, salt and pepper. I swear the stuff in the middle is not burnt! It's just dark purple carrot...

Roast pumpkin, purple carrot and sweet potato

Stir fried Bok Choi - made as per Veganomicon p. 113 and sprinkled with sesame seeds on top.

Stir fried bok choi

I thought I had over-catered, but before long, all that was left was a little roulade and gravy, along with some overly full and lethargic humans.

There was also dessert, but dessert deserves a post of its own.
Update: Desert post now up

Happy Birthday to Me

08 December 2014

Saturday was my birthday, so I baked myself a cake. Happy birthday to me!

Vegan chocolate birthday cake

Since it was my birthday, I chose to have a chocolatey chocolate cake. What else? The cake recipe was from, topped and filled with a (not quite) double amount of Rich Chocolate Ganache from of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, p. 143, and drizzled with melted white chocolate. A friend helped with the strawberry arrangement. I would never have thought to stand them on end like that, but I was quite pleased with the result.

Vegan chocolate birthday cake

A few notes on the recipe:
  • If you're looking for a rich vegan chocolate cake, this is a good one. You could look at it as a rich chocolate cake, or a light mud cake. Either way, it was good.
  • The cake recipe explicitly said to use natural, not Dutch processed cocoa powder, and someone commented that they had had poor results using dutched cocoa. However, I bought a 5kg bag of organic fair trade Dutch processed cocoa powder earlier this year... The cake still rose as it should have. If you're Australian and confused about what I'm talking about, most cocoa in Australia is dutched.
  • I didn't have any bread flour on hand, so I mixed vital wheat gluten/gluten flour into ordinary plain flour. Use 1 teaspoon per cup. I removed the equivalent amount of plain flour first, or, in other words, used 1 teaspoon of gluten flour for 1 cup minus 1 teaspoon of flour, though that may have been unnecessarily pedantic.
  • I went easy on the espresso powder, because I didn't want a coffee flavour in my cake.
  • There are two layers of cake here, sandwiched with chocolate ganache. To do this, I doubled the recipe and spread it between two cake tins. 
  • Be careful watching the cake towards the end. I tested mine at the minimum time, and it was still underbaked, but a few minutes later, the toothpick came out completely clean, and I was aiming for not quite clean to ensure moistness - and it was on the dry side, though not badly so.
  • There is a lot of cake here. You could get at least 16 slices out of this.
  • I need to figure out how to ice the sides of a cake without also icing the plate...
  • To do the white chocolate drizzle, I used a small round icing tip. However, if you don't have any icing tips, you should still be able to get a good effect using one of these methods
    • Just dip a spoon in melted chocolate and gently drizzle it from a height. This will produce a thick and thin result, but I've done it in the past for other applications, and it still looks great.
    • Snip the corner off a ziplock bag, fill it with melted chocolate, and use the snipped off corner as make-shift piping tip. The hole should small, err on the small side, you can always make it bigger.

My first multi-step decorated cupcakes

23 November 2014

No new recipes today, I'm afraid, But I have some pictures of my recent efforts that I want to share. Yesterday was a good friend's birthday, and as I'm finished exams (Yay me!), I tried my hand at some decorated cupcakes to take along. This is only my second attempt at piping icing, and my first attempt at 2-part piping (the buttercream, and the ganache), but I think they looked impressive enough, if not exactly the product of an experienced and steady hand. Unfortunately, most of the photos didn't turn out (the photos of all the cupcakes laid out in rows for a start), but here are a couple of half-decent ones.

The recipe I used was the Peanut Butter Bombs on p. 37-38 of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World . I followed the instructions exactly, except that I only used 2 cups of icing sugar in the frosting instead of 2.5, and didn't add any soymilk to thin it out as a result. The icing was still more than sweet enough. I was a bit concerned that with less sugar, the icing mightn't be stiff enough, but I iced them the night before, and the icing was still well-defined the next day. I also sprinkled them with crushed nuts instead of chocolate shavings, for no particular reason.

I can see more decorated cupcakes in my future.

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce (vegan)

15 November 2014

I tend to eat a lot of pasta, I suspect most vegans do. It's quick and easy, but tomato based sauces can get repetitive, and creamy sauces just aren't an everyday thing. I usually have a chunk of pumpkin mouldering in the back of the fridge... pumpkin lasagne is good, why not pumpkin pasta sauce? The first time I made this, I raved about it for days afterwards, it really is that good, and simple enough to make for an everyday dinner.

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce

Serves: 4-5

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups mashed roast pumpkin
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 vegetable bullion cube
  • ¾ cup soy milk, or to desired consistency
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • I cup walnuts, Crumbled (for garnish)
  • 1 packet fettuccine

  1. Get water boiling, and then prepare fettuccine according to packet directions.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, in a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic until translucent.
  3. Meanwhile, dry-toast walnuts in a frying pan or in the oven until fragrant (optional but worth it).
  4. Add pumpkin, bullion cube, soy milk and nutritional yeast, and some freshly ground black pepper. Heat through
  5. Use an immersion blender to puree. Alternatively, cool, and transfer to a blender.
  6. Serve atop fettuccine, garnished with walnuts, and some more freshly ground pepper

Roast pumpkin pasta sauce