Category Archives: Desserts

Tamarind-Ginger Bran Muffins

Ginger, orange and tamarind add a delightful complexity to these muffins. As with so many foods, bran muffins are better with cocoa butter.

If your orange is at all pretty or shiny, the odds are good that it has a coat of wax on it, complete with fungicide. We favor orange extract over zest, but maybe you know someone with a tree.

Makes 18–20 muffins
Takes 45 minutes

1 1/4 cups water
1 3/4 cups wheat bran
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons melted cocoa butter
1 cup chopped nuts (use a softer nut, such as walnuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds)
1 cup dried fruits such as raisins or currants
2/3 cups molasses
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup minced dates
3 tablespoons tamarind paste
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon orange extract (or 1 teaspoon unwaxed orange zest, if available)

Preheat the oven to 400°F and put the water on to boil. Add the wheat bran and flax seeds to the boiling water and set aside.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt in one bowl. Melt the cocoa butter. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa butter, nuts, fruits, molasses, apple sauce, dates, tamarind paste, ginger, and orange extract. Then combine all ingredients.

Grease a muffin pan, then pour the mixture into the pan. Bake the muffins for about 15 minutes, or until a fork comes out fairly dry. Careful, they’re hot!

If you somehow manage to have any leftover muffins, store them in an airtight container wrapped in a cloth napkin.

Bonus Desserts

More bonus desserts: The photos at baked donuts with chocolate are attractive.

Aquafaba: This magical new vegan egg replacer is chickpea juice. A lot of the foods you can make contain chocolate. Try the meringue! Garbanzo beans as a by-product? I see chocolate-beet hummus in your future….

Avocado mousse: My friend made this and reports that it is amazing and not to be missed.

Brownies: Try searching for your your favorite vegetable + brownie. Cauliflower, carrot, corn, beet, spinach & other greens, squashes… the possibilities are endless. You can hide so many different kinds of vegetables in brownies!

Chocolate salami: We discovered this while browsing Wikipedia for all things chocolate. Chocolate salami keeps up the appearance of a processed pig or cow, and it really looks just like salami! This is a mock meat in no other sense: cookies replaces gristle and chocolatey goodness replaces the rest.

Fudge for breakfast: My grandma once told me that I get my sweet tooth from my grandpa. Early on in their marriage, she woke up one morning to find him at the kitchen table eating fudge for breakfast. Next time you make fudge, have some for breakfast. It’s totally a thing.

German chocolate cupcake: Need we say more?

Marzipan: Marzipan is a sculptable paste made of ground almonds and sugar. It’s often found dipped in chocolate, but you can also make it by adding ground nibs to the marzipan itself.

Sachertorte: This is a famous Viennese rich chocolate layer cake made with apricot jam and served with unsweetened whipped cream. It’s so good that there was a drawn-out legal battle (back in the day) over who could claim it as their own invention.

Gluten-free chocolate cake: It’s closer to a fudge, really, and that’s why we love it.

Pudding: Chocolate pudding is the stuff of childhood. There are loads of chocolate puddings out there, with variations including coconut milk, tofu, and avocado. Try adding cocoa powder or nibs to a banana pudding!

Snobinettes: Our former landlord, Robert, is a semi-retired professional baker and a great person to live upstairs from. He taught us about snobinettes, which are edible chocolate bowls shaped using water balloons, which are then pierced once the chocolate solidifies. Fill them with fruit!

Tiramisu: We have an Italian friend who has insisted for as long as we’ve known him that he makes an amazing tiramisu and he really must make it for us. At this point, the status of his elusive tiramisu is so elevated in our minds that it’s right up there with, well, chocolate.

Coffee Cake with Chili-Chocolate Crumb

This is the sort of cake you’d expect to discover at a café. Serve it with coffee or brewed chocolate (page 29).

Makes one 9 x 13-inch cake
Takes 60 minutes

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chili-chocolate crumb
1/3 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili flakes

Coffee cake
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plant milk
1/4 cup applesauce or blended apple
2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar

Follow the instructions for the base, then the crumb, then the cake.


Combine the flour, sugar, oil, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl. The “crumb base” is 3/4 cup of this mixture. The “cake base” is what’s left after the crumb base is removed.

Chili-Chocolate Crumb

Combine the crumb base, nuts, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and chili flakes.

Coffee Cake

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Stir into the cake base the following ingredients: raisins, walnuts, chili powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix in the plant milk, applesauce, and lemon juice.

Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Gently press the chili-chocolate crumb onto the top of the batter. Bake for 35–40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan, then gobble it all up.

Salad Brownies

This unique summer-fall hybrid was a bright idea that’s so wrong it’s exactly right. It looks like a brownie, but it tastes like a brownie salad.

If this is for a potluck, make the brownies ahead of time; they taste better the next day.

Makes one 8 x 8-inch baking pan
Takes 60 minutes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup raisins (or dried cherries)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup aquafaba (chickpea juice)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, cocoa powder, curry powder, baking soda, and salt. Squeeze the excess liquid from the zucchini into a nearby houseplant. Mix in the zucchini, apple sauce, raisins, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, aquafaba, and vanilla.

Pour the batter into a greased 8 x 8-inch baking pan. Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes; a fork will not come out mostly clean, so just keep them in the oven until you start to worry about them burning.

: Substitute flour for the oats and walnuts for the pumpkin seeds and you’ll get a brownie that is basically normal. These brownies are on the cakey side, but you won’t even notice the zucchini.

Tidy vegan icecream cone s’mores & chocolate-filled cupcakes

So we were camping with our parents last month, and my dad proposed injecting chocolate into marshmallows for s’mores, which got me thinking: how do you make a tidy s’more?  The answer?  ICE CREAM CONES.

There’s two ways to do this.

You can bend a wire into the shape of a circle at the end of a stick to make a little holder for your ice cream cone, fill it with chocolate chips and marshmallows, and wait patiently for the marshmallow to toast – ya gotta cook slowly and wrap the cone in tin foil or the tip will burn – this really does require patience.  My dad even engineered a wire shape that you can leave on the edge of the fire pit so you don’t have to wait around while the cone slowly cooks!

The other option is to leave the chocolate chips out on a hot day by mistake, and then you have a thick chocolatey mess that you can pour into the bottom of the icecream cone.  Roast the marshmallow over the fire the way you normally do, and drop it on top. This is my preferred method.  It requires less patience.

Someone else may have already invented this; I don’t know.  I’ve been offline and haven’t done a search.  We invented it independently and had a lot of fun.  Good times were had by all.  Highly recommended for the tidy s’mores lovers among you.

And a bonus for the bonus: Darin’s mom mentioned that someone she knows cooks chocolate truffles into the center of cupcakes.  I thought that sounded like a good idea and worth a mention, too.  YUM.

Banananana Bread (p. 53)

Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling ‘banana’, but didn’t know how you stopped.” -Terry Pratchett

I love fresh yellow bananas as a special treat, but when they start to go brown or black I store them peeled in the freezer until the next time I feel like making banana bread. The agave makes it quite sweet; if that’s not to your taste consider substituting cocoa nibs for the chocolate chips. Other fruit or vegetable purées can be used—this also works with applesauce, and we make a delicious green tomato cake in the fall.

Makes one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf
Takes about 90 minutes

1 cup mashed bananas
2/3 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat together the bananas, agave, and oil in a large bowl. They start out lumpy, but after a minute or two begin to combine and smooth. In a second bowl stir together the flour, bran, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until they combine completely. Then add the chocolate chips and mix until they are well-distributed throughout the batter.

Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Pour the mixture into it. Bake for 40–60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes or more before serving. Store your banananana bread in the fridge, or slice it and store it in the freezer.

Nana’s Carrot Cake for Birthdays, Double Chocolate Style (p. 63)

Nana’s Carrot Cake has been the Wick family birthday cake for a couple generations. Darin grew up on it and his father before him. This a cake so special it has even been known to turn up in the mail. I have been granted special permission from Darin to turn it into a chocolate carrot cake—as long as I promise not to call it a birthday cake, because the birthday version doesn’t contain any chocolate. I always make substitutions in recipes, and I never get to play with Nana’s Carrot Cake for Birthdays, so I enjoyed finally getting permission to alter this well-loved recipe.

Makes one 11 x 7-inch cake
Takes 45 minutes prep plus 60–65 minutes baking

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants (or more raisins)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons cocoa liqueur (optional)
2 large carrots (about 2 1/2 cups grated)
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Mix the raisins, currants, and chopped pecans with the cocoa liqueur and set the mixture aside. Grate the carrots and set them aside, too.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, baking soda, and salt. Mix it well and set it aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat in the applesauce, white sugar, cocoa powder, oil, vanilla, and ginger. Stir in the dry ingredients. Fold in the carrots, dried fruit, and nuts. Mix thoroughly.

Grease and flour the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch cake pan. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 60–65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out fairly dry. Frost the cake with Goose’s frosting (page 48) and cool it in the pan.

Chocolate-curry carrot cake with cardamom frosting: A friend gave this variation a rave review, so we felt compelled to mention it. Substitute curry spices for the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. Add cardamom to your favorite basic vanilla frosting, and frost the cake.

Chocolate Cardamom Mangoes (p. 57)

I spent a summer working on a mango farm in tropical north Queensland, so we had access to more mangoes than we could eat. When I think of these chocolate cardamom mangoes, they remind me of so many tropical memories. Serve this over rice for breakfast or over ice cream and brownies for a sweet dessert.

Makes 2 half-mango servings
Takes 20 minutes

1 mango (slightly firm is good)
2 teaspoons ground cardamom, divided
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons cocoa nibs, minced
1 teaspoon sugar

Cut mango into halves and remove the seed. Slice a 1/2 inch grid into the meat of the mango halves, leaving the skin intact.

Sprinkle one teaspoon of cardamom and the cocoa powder over the gridded mango halves.

Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the nibs, sugar, and the remaining cardamom to the pan. Scrape any flesh off the mango seed, mince it, and add it to the pan.

Put the mango halves in the pan flesh-side down and press down into the pan. Cook uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes, until they are heated through.

Turn off the heat and remove the mango halves from the pan to cool. When they have cooled enough to handle, invert the skins and scrape free any flesh that doesn’t fall off. Drizzle the sauce from the pan over the mangoes and serve them while they’re still warm.

Chocolate cardamom pears: If you don’t have access to tropical fruit, substitute a pear for the mango. Cut the pear into 1/4 inch cubes. Toss them in a bowl with cocoa powder and one teaspoon of cardamom, then proceed with the recipe. Instead of pressing them into the pan, stir occasionally while cooking. Once they are hot and coated with the sugar mixture, transfer them directly to a bowl and drizzle them with sauce from the pan.

Date balls #2 (p. 61)

I invented these while I was working on the original date balls, which were inspired by the coconut-date rolls found in the bulk section at our food co-op. You can make these in no time, and they look lovely in a glass jar. They get eaten so fast I wonder if I ever really made them.

Makes 15–20 bite-sized balls
Takes 15 minutes

1 cup minced dates
1 tablespoon minced sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon minced hazelnut
1 tablespoon minced cocoa nibs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one orange (optional)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (for coating)

In a bowl, thoroughly mix together all the ingredients except cocoa powder.

A spoonful at a time, roll them into balls. We recommend tablespoon-sized balls, but this is not an exact science.

Sprinkle the balls with cocoa powder or drop them into a small bowl of cocoa powder and roll them around. The cocoa powder makes the balls less sticky, easier to handle, and prettier.

Store them in a container that keeps its shape; in a bag they’ll get squished but still taste great.

Thrilling date balls: Find a chili powder with a super-high heat unit and make a few extra-spicy date balls. Share them with friends who are always seeking the hottest of spicy foods and they’ll be thrilled.

Trail mix date balls: You can make these date balls with all sorts of minced trail mix ingredients in place of the sunflower seeds and hazelnuts. Experiment! If you add too many nuts and you’ve run out of dates, sprinkle the extra mixture over oatmeal.

Date Balls (p. 60)

Recipe update from the tropics: you can substitute banana & tamarind for the dates. Then you have tamarind balls.  Also excellent.

Add these date balls to a platter along with other finger foods and all of a sudden your platter is extra fancy. The more finely you mince, the more elegant these date balls will look in the end—and the better they’ll hold together.


half a coconut, bowl-side up, no coconut water inside, still has its hair on the outside.

Makes 12 date balls
Takes 15 minutes

1 cup dates, pitted
1 tablespoon nibs
1 tablespoon shredded coconut (optional)
About 20 pistachios (12 whole plus 1 tablespoon minced)

Mince all the ingredients except a dozen of the pistachios. Combine the minced pistachios, nibs, and coconut.

One tablespoon at a time, roll the dates into cylinders or balls. Press a pistachio into the center, and work the nut and nib mixture into your ball like you’re breading it. That’s all! Voila! Date balls!