Sunday, 15 March 2015

Recipe: [Raw, Vegan + Gluten Free] Chocolate Ganache Bars

99.9% of the time, given the option, I'll always choose something made with butter, eggs and sugar than something billed as 'vegan', 'raw' or 'gluten free'. I honestly think that unless you have some sort of intolerance you should not be eating 'vegan' or 'gluten free' anything that originally ought to have butter and flour in. I still have not got over the time I was in a West London cafe when I was given a free brownie, and when I bit into it it tasted like sawdust in my mouth. You guessed it: gluten free. I was at my friends birthday lunch at Annie's Burger Shack in Nottingham last weekend, and one gluten intolerant person on my table had the gluten free bun, but the person next to me just had his burger without, explaining that all of the gluten free buns he'd ever tasted where nothing like real bread, so where was the point? I agree totally.
Vegan Raw Chocolate Ganache Bars
Chocolate Ganache Bars [Raw, Vegan]
Maybe I'm about to get all of my readers with food intolerances jumping down my throat, but I honestly think if you can't eat classic white bread or brownies, don't eat white bread and brownies. Why not eat something you can actually eat, balanced with the right textures and flavours, compromising on nothing, instead? This is where this recipe for these Chocolate Ganache Bars, which just so happen to be raw, vegan and gluten free come in. You can stash them in the freezer for whenever you fancy something sweet that is not packed with refined sugar. More importantly, they're not full of any ingredients that are only 'normal' for people with intolerances like laboratory engineered vegan margarine: just oats, ground almonds, pitted dates, vanilla extract, honey, cocoa powder, a pinch of sea salt and a good serving of coconut oil.  
Hemsley Sisters
Back in January I attended a cooking demo in London with the Hemsley sisters to showcase Vita Coco's new cold pressed coconut oil. Now, as I used to live in Southern California, I've been familiar with coconut oil as an ingredient for ages. However, I've never used it much myself as it was not too easy to get hold of in the UK. However, I've been seeing a choice of brands, including supermarket own brands popping up in store over the past few months, so the event gave me the perfect opportunity to learn about ways I could use an ingredient that in my mind was essentially just a component of my roommates delicious vegan banana muffins.
Hemsley + Hemsley's Beetroot & Cinnamon Smoothie Hemsley + Hemsley's Mint Choc Pavé
As well as using it as a delicious base to fry up vegetables as a soup base, I learnt that it is a great addition to add more flavour, add a little creaminess and to make a smoothie a bit more filling. You can find the recipe for these delicious Beetroot & Cinnamon Smoothies here. My favourite coconut oil tip so far that I got from Jasmine Hemsley, is to cook my scrambled eggs in coconut oil. it gives them a great flavour, and a wonderful loose texture. I've not made my eggs with butter ever since I tried it. I've also been using the oil on dry skin, as a lip balm and on the dry split ends of my hair, where it has been working wonders. 

For a little bit of sweet and the end of the meal the girls cooked us at the demo we had little squares of their Mint Choc PavĂ© (you can find the recipe for it on the Hemsley + Hemsley website). They'd used the coconut oil to make slabs of a ganache textured chocolate, to stash in the freezer (coconut oil is only solid under 23 degrees). I was particularly impressed with the chocolate later, so I set to creating a crumbly base to make the ganache into some sort of bar. It seemed a shame to use dairy in the base where in the chocolate layer we'd managed to successfully create something dairy free, without compromising on texture of flavour. 
Raw Chocolate Ganache Bars Vegan Chocolate Ganache Bars
You can find the recipe for my Chocolate Ganache Bars over at Great British Chefs. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this recipe as it is something a little different for me. Would you be interested in seeing more recipes from me that are suitable for people with intolerances, are made with everyday ingredients and are delicious and uncompromising enough for everyone to enjoy, and happen to be pretty healthy, too?


  1. Holy moly they look absolutely delicious! I'm a huge fan of coconut oil as & ingredient & a beauty staple. Definitely going to attempt to make these :)

    Rachelle x

  2. Can't wait to hear what you think! x

  3. They look so nice. I'm so going to attempt these. I'm a celiac and was diagnosed last year, I agree if you don't have an intolerance don't eat gluten free stuff, it can't be good for you in the long run plus it's just not as nice. I personally miss real bread and pasta so much, but have found some really great replacements out there. Carluccio's gluten free pasta is amazing and Marks and Spencer's gluten free bread is great, although I always toast it... I find any gluten free bread will just fall apart unless toasted. xx

    Alana Says…// and lifestyle

  4. I have to say, I think you've only tasted bad gluten free and vegan options if you think they're all bad. I make a mean chocolate brownie with black beans instead of flour, and my fairy-cakes are second to none. Even my Dad, who is more sceptical than you, think that my treacle tarts are to die for.

    Food served up in supermarkets or most restaurants that make a nod in the direction of GF tends to be shitty. If you really need to cook the way we do, you learn the good ways to do it.

    And margerine excepted (because a girl needs something to spread on her quinoa toast), everything I cook with would pass the "five ingredients or less" test.

    A bit gutted that I can't try these, but for the life of me I can't find a good low-fructose substitute for coconut oil.

    Love and hugs from your most food intolerant reader ;)

  5. Definitely need to try these!!! It looks amazing :)

  6. These look so delicious and decadent!

  7. As I mentioned, my roommates vegan banana muffins were delicious, but not as good as if they had been regular banana muffins. But I'd still choose to eat something else if I had to go vegan for some reason, as I'd know they'd never be as delicious. Though, can you email me your fairy cake recipe? I'm now officially curious! x

  8. As a long time reader of your blog, this post really disappointed me. I am Coeliac and struggle with living a gluten free lifestyle, without judgement from those outside of it saying i shouldn't be eating substitutes because they cannot compare to the real thing. In reality, if I simply went without what I could no longer eat the "normal" version of, I would have a very limited and unhealthy diet. This is a really easy comment to make and not such an easy thing to put in practise. I think that you were aware that you were alienating readers with food intolerances when you specifically referred to them jumping down your throat in the post. I don't want this to sound incredibly harsh, but constructive criticism. As a food blog, and as there are more people diagnosed with food intolerances, I feel you should be more open minded when talking on a lifestyle that you do not share, and one that is not actively chosen by many, but is necessitated by health problems.

  9. Look so gorgeous.

  10. Hi C, and thanks for sticking by my ramblings so long!

    I knew when I wrote this post it would not necessarily be popular with everyone, but I've been thinking over your comment since I got up this morning. I've got a good friend with Coeliac, so I do appreciate how limiting and serious the condition is. I still stand by what I said before, but I think I do need to clarify a little. If this all makes sense, I think it is an issue of classification.

    Let us return to Annie's Burger Shack the other weekend where the GF guy I was sitting next to chose not to have a bun with his burger, as he did not see the point of a GF bun as it tasted nothing like real bread. I still agree with him; it may just be a burger place, but all of those burgers have been very well thought out and the flavours have been balanced and paired, from the patty to the sauce and the bun. By replacing the bun with a GF bun, you're making alternations to that which don't necessarily showcase the dish in the way it has been intended and to the fullness of its flavour. I've been to a very lauded and slightly experimental top London restaurant with said Coeliac friend, and getting in touch with the place ahead of time to check the menu, she managed to order a whole meal, without alterations, and really enjoyed it. She's also vegan. All of those dishes were presented and enjoyed how they were intended; if she'd been able to chop and change something else on the menu without cross contamination, it just would not have been the same, it would have been a sad substitute and a whisper of what was intended.

    Sticking with GF bread for a moment, I do know how to make homemade and from scratch an okay GF white bread. And it is okay, but it just does not have that texture or flavour of a classically baked French loaf. Obviously what you eat based on your needs is a personal choice, but there are also so many recipes for loaves and loaves out there made with different grains and grain based flours that do naturally happen to be GF, which do not compromise on quality and flavour.

    Going back to the idea of 'classification', I don't think substitutes should be classified as the thing they're imitating, because they're not the same. But that does not mean that I don't believe that there are delicious and good for you things out there that are vegan, GF, etc. I just believe that ingredients and food stuffs should be treated with respect and showcased in the best way.

    I hope I have managed to clarify my position a bit; I appreciate that you don't agree with it (the world would be pretty boring if everyone only agreed with everyone else, or people did not voice their opinions because they were worried that not everyone will support them!), but I hope you might now understand a bit better why I hold them? I'd be happy to answer any more of your questions or consider any more of your observations! I do honestly find feedback like this helpful!

  11. I have to admit that the Hemsley and Hemsley girls have amazing recipes. I didn't trust them at the beginning but after buying their book (because everyone was talking about it and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about) I have started to try more and more vegan / raw/ gluten free recipes. I still prefer dairy, sugar, flour and... well, old classic stuff that apparently is not very healthy. But I believe in eating everything with moderation so I think I will try those bars. Oh well, what can I say? I love all kinds of food ;)

  12. I was the same, until I went to this cooking demo and found absolutely everything they served up was totally delicious, then I got the book. I'm a big fan of their Turmeric & Ginger Tea in the back, though I tried that quicker than toast courgette salad, and I really was not a fan. I think that might just be a one off though; I've got lots of salads bookmarked for Summer, lots of the meat dishes look fantastic, and we're making the Salmon with Chemola on Sunday night - fingers crossed!

  13. Please try the Moroccan chicken stew. It's out of this world!

  14. That is one of the ones I have bookmarked - will do!

  15. I completely agree with the ordering gf bread at a burger joint - I've given a try twice and both failed miserably. Honestly, in one I had to remove it and ate the patty solo. You'll also never find me anywhere near vegan margarine and processed foods. Iiick. Gross.

    I do however strongly disagree that "imitation" foods should only be left to people with intolerances. I've had so so many vegan + gluten free + refined sugar free desserts which have been absolutely delicious, and I've even taken it to parties in which people didn't even guess that they were the "healthified" versions. They just need to be done right.

    That being said, I am the kind of person who eats everything. I'll enjoy a delicious slice of sourdough same as I'll enjoy a gluten free raspberry brownie.

    The way I see it, if it healthier AND tastes amazing, it's a win win, as both our taste buds and bodies will love it!

    OH, and coconut oil is the best make-up remover ever!

  16. Amy for this recipe you could swap the coconut oil for cacao butter. It also hardens at when cold and is low fructose! You can't cook with it, but it's an awesome base for chocolate - it's what I always use in my chocolate bars!

  17. Maybe I did not get it across properly, but I don't think GF etc. should be eating the imitations either - no one should! I think something else totally new that is not pretending to be a muffin etc. should be chosen, so it can be enjoyed to the fullness of flavour, texture etc. as it is intended.

    And I still need to try the makeup remover thing!!!