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.