Cozy Kabocha Cake

There’s definitely some things I miss about home.

Steamy, luxurious baths not shared with dozens of other naked bodies. Warm, or just not ice-cold water in bathroom taps. Having an oven.

But one nice thing about living abroad is that you can really join with a community wherever you are—and here in Korea, we’re lucky to share our experience with plenty of other foreign teachers, including a considerable clan of friendly Canucks. And some are even kind enough to let you come over and play with their oven.

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Earlier this week, I posted a photo on Facebook of a “mystery” Korean ingredient I’d been playing around with in the kitchen (and have continued to do so all week!). The best guess was butternut squash… and it was quite close!

This stuff, my friends, is actually pure Kabocha flour—dried, ground kabocha squash, full of beautiful beta-carotenes and vibrant colour. Kabocha squash tastes kinda like a sweet potato-butternut squash-pumpkin smash-up. The sweet and starchy squash is quite popular over here—it’s a common topping for pizza, often found in tempura, or served as a mashed veggie side. In the fall the grocery stores sell them in bulk, and in restaurants they’re usually served with skins intact, something I found quite strange at first until I realized the skin is edible, too. Hello, bonus nutrients!

The flour, which I picked up in the baking section of HomePlus was the special, nay, magical, ingredient in this sunshine-shaded cake.

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And oh, the joys, oh, the solace, of an incredible—albeit out-of-season—baked treat, a taste of comfort served alongside a steaming cup of coffee. I think if I close my eyes and click my heels a few times I really might be home…

IMG_4372Chocolate-Chunk Kabocha Cake (vegan)

Adapted from Alien’s Day Out (also available to order in muffin form from her amazing vegan bakeshop!)

Makes one standard loaf or two small-sized loaves

Dry ingredients:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup kabocha flour (or pumpkin powder)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Wet ingredients:

7/8 cup water

2/3 cup sugar (I used cane sugar)

1/4 cup grape seed oil

1 tbsp brown rice vinegar

Add-Ins

dark chocolate bar chopped coarsely

1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F or 175C and grease your bread pan with coconut oil.

Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold until combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks and walnuts (or whatever other add-ins you prefer).

Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth out with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick or fork comes out clean. Remove from oven and let the bread sit in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool on a cooling rack.

Proceed to gobble the entire loaf (among friends…) in two days and don’t feel sorry.

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Double Dark Chocolate Cacao Chip Brownies with Coconut-Vanilla Icing

Some of the world’s best inventions are by accident.

Post-it notes. Popsicles. These brownies.

In cleaning out my kitchen for an upcoming move (more about which I will share soon), I’ve been emptying my cabinets and trying to creatively use all my ingredients. There were a few flops, a few recipe makeovers, and then there were these.

I tried to make some chocolate granola bars to bring road-trippin this week. But the granola bars were just too good. So good, I decided to slather them with icing, thus converting them from health-snack status to divine, decadent desserts.

Scrumptious, sweet, satiating, and shareable. Very, very shareable. So shareable I had to take them into work, and then bring them on my road trip to ensure all of my friends were able to sample these little delights, and couldn’t take proper pictures at home. So shareable that I had to share them with you.

Double Dark Chocolate Cacao Chip Brownies with Coconut-Vanilla Icing (raw, vegan, gluten-free)

For the brownies:

Ingredients:

Start by making date paste: In a food processor, combine 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates and 2 tbsp filtered water, adding more water and combining as long as needed to achieve a nutella-like consistency. (Optional: combine in this mixture 1 tbsp bee pollen. 1 tbsp sprouted flax, 1 tbsp hemp or chia seeds, 1 tbsp maca… it’s easy to sneak a few superfood goodies in here!) Date paste acts as a great fruit-based sweetener and binding agent, and if you make extra it can be saved in the fridge.

Leave the date paste in the food processor and then add:

1/2 cup cup walnuts

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1 cup oats (I used gluten-free)

3/4 cup cacao powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the food processor until the “dough” starts clumping together and forming a large ball. Transfer out of food processor and press dough into a pyrex tray, flattening with hands.

For the vanilla frosting:

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut butter

1/4 cup agave or honey

2 tbsp vanilla

dash of sea salt

Directions:

Make a “double boiler” by placing coconut butter in a small bowl and placing the bowl of coconut butter in a tub of hot water. Stir the coconut butter to aid its melting—it should be pudding-like, not runny. Stir in the agave, vanilla and sea salt, and while the mixture is still hot spread evenly over the top of the brownie base. Sprinkle with cacao powder and store in the fridge so the coconut butter doesn’t melt. Mine made 20 small square brownies.

These are dense and quite filling which is why I highly suggest them for sharing! Or, if you want some bite-sized goodies for later, do the opposite—put the icing at the bottom of a shot glass and top with brownie base. Put in the fridge for a few hours and pop out of the glass with a knife when you are ready to eat—brownie thimbles!

A Blizzard Good (for you) Enough for Breakfast

Guuuuuh. Soooo. Good.

For the first time probably ever, I was able to hold off an ice cream craving long enough for it to pass last night.

Long enough, at least, for me to whip out the food processor and make my own.

My first experience a few years ago with Banana Soft-Serve was a flop, one I’d account to a crappy blender and a poor ratio of nut milk to frozen banana. This time, however—a grand success! Nothing easier than a frozen banana with a splash of almond milk (or coconut, for extra creaminess) and a splash of maple syrup, just process and serve. Soft-serve for softie chefs. Simple, and so seriously perfect.

Layers of silky chocolate sauce and chewy cookie dough don’t hurt either.

This Raw Cookie Dough Blizzard is actually about as healthy as most breakfasts I eat. Just a restructuring of the same ingredients. (Kinda like this, but good for you.) Thus, I deem this a worthy hot-weather-worthy brunch. Rolled oats (I used gluten-free!), nuts, coconut, raw cacao in various forms, banana, and a little maple syrup or honey—sounds like the perfect granola, but believe it or not, it’s just the rearranged ingredients for the above parfait.

Wish I could say this combo was my idea, but it seems to be a popular blogosphere idea. Rawified makes it super-simple (like five-minutes simple, hence why I used her recipe!), Angela‘s dished her own interpretation,  and VeganLisa demoed hers at last summers Toronto Vegetarian Festival.

Now you have my blessing. Go forth, be fruitful (bananas!), and multiply (make extra cookie dough, and save some for me!).

 And to those of you who have shared their recreations of my recipes and posts…. thank you!! It does truly make my day when someone has been inspired by, helped by, or even just enjoyed reading the blog. So please keep it up, feel free to comment, abuse my Facebook wall, Twitter handle, etc. It is all much appreciated 🙂