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.
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.
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.
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 Pavé (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.
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?