Celebrating with a chocolate coconut pie

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This week the christmas lights went on in Ljubljana. Well, I wasn’t there, but this didn’t stop me from celebrating. I’ve realized it’s been actually eight months since I started writing my blog. I have no idea when did the time go by. I remember planting tomatoes on my balcony in april. And I still haven’t eaten the last one. I remember the rainy summer we had this year. But I loved it. Every time I looked trough the window I saw that freshly washed green under the dark grey sky. I remember a morning when the road was covered in gold. Fallen leaves and the smell of winter. They say time passes by quickly when you’re enjoying your life. I must have had an amazing year. It’s december now.

I am here. I am now. And I celebrate every moment of my life. I live! And I am grateful for being given that second chance. Diabetes has completely changed my life. In the end, for the better. And I sure wouldn’t be writing this today if it hadn’t happened.

A reason more to celebrate is my first post in Slovene! After eight months I finally have the courage to write and read after myself in my mother tongue. Words are a powerful tool. They make us dream and create stories. And I will continue to create mine.

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It’s also the beginning of a holiday season. One of my favorites in this part of the year is the 6th of december, Saint Nicholas day. I have good memories of  it. Because it’s simple. And all I got for presents was always warm and from the heart. Oranges, dried figs and chocolates. That’s what my grandparents gave me.

I am celebrating all this with a rich chocolate coconut pie. It has a crunchy spiced almond cookies crust that gives it a hint of Christmas scent and velvety chocolate cream. And thanks to coconut it has a sort of caramelly taste.

And the best for the end: it is vegan and gluten free (just use your favorite cookies, mine were Balance Almond cookies that are sugar free), it is lactose free and I actually didn’t add any sugar (I used Blance chocolate sweetened with stevia and that was it).

It’s rich, dense and smooth. Share it with your friends!

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Ingredients*:

  • 100 g hazelnuts
  • 140 g almond cookies (I used Balance by Klingele since it has no added sugar)
  • 30 g virgin coconut oil
  • 200 ml coconut milk (homogenized, I used Vegalife)
  • 25 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 200 g chocolate (I used Balance milk chocolate sweetened with Stevia)
  • 40 g virgin coconut oil
  • unsweetened cocoa for dusting

*I’ve been using a cake ring measuring aprox. 20 cm. You will get 8 pieces with that. But the cake is really rich, so that size is more than enough. Also, if you prefer thinner layer of cream, use 1/4 less ingredients for the cream.

Preparation:

  1. Put the cookies in a food processor and pulse until you get bread crumbs consistency. Melt 30g of coconut oil and pour over. Mix well and press to the bottom of a cake pan (with removable bottom) or even better, a cake ring. Let cool in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  2. Preheat oven at 180°c and roast the hazelnuts until golden brown. Shake the pan two or three times to get them evenly roasted. To remove the skins, put the hazelnuts between two kitchen towels and roll over with your hands. The skins will go off by itself. Chop bigger pieces.
  3. Melt chocolate using a double boiler. Chocolate should always be melted at low heat, up to 32°c so it doesn’t get grainy and lumpy. Add cocoa and 40g of coconut oil.
  4. Meanwhile, heat coconut milk just to have approx. the same temperature as chocolate. Add chocolate mixture. Do not over mix.
  5. Take the cake ring with the crust from the fridge and pour four or five tablespoons of coconut mixture over, just so that the hazelnuts will stick to the crust. Add 2/3 of chopped hazelnuts and carefully pour over the rest of the coconut chocolate mixture.
  6. Let sit in the fridge at least 12h.
  7. 10 mins prior to serving take the cake out of the fridge, dust with unsweetened cocoa and garnish with the rest of the roasted hazelnuts. Raspberry or two won’t do harm either.

Three ingredients, three cakes

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Every year round the first of November I pack my bags and head to Budapest to a swing dance event called Lindy Shock. This one has been 6th in a row for me! Unfortunately I don’t get to see the city that much because I’m mostly going through a cycle dance-eat-sleep. What I do get to see is that mysterious part of the day when the sun has not arisen yet, but it’s bright enough to see those grayish mists rising from the river up the city walls. There is something magical in those early morning hours when the city is waking up and all you see are those lost souls from yesterday’s party returning back home… suddenly I realize I smell winter. Clean. Sharp. Cold.

So yes, I’m in need of something cosy and warm. From Italy. And I run by this classical italian (or should I rather say Piemontese) dessert. It’s called Torta di nocciole:

  • 200g toasted hazelnuts
  • 200g sugar
  • 4 eggs

Three ingredients. Minimalistic. Simple.

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No butter needed and I’m replacing sugar with mashed bananas. It’s lightly sweet, but I find it just perfect. I’m making two versions of this. One is with almonds the other with roasted hazelnuts. Both work well, it’s up to you to decide. The one with almonds has a mild taste and is perfect for spreading some cinnamon butter on top. Thanks to roasting the nuts, the hazelnut version has more pronounced and rustic taste and topping it with some coconut cream is pure delight. Or, you can always try the original recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 200g almonds or roasted hazelnuts
  • 200g bananas (without peel)
  • 4 eggs
  • vanilla pod (optional)

Toppings:

  • butter + cinnamon + maple syrup
  • coconut cream & roasted hazelnuts

Preparation:

  1. For hazelnut version, put hazelnuts on a baking sheet and oven roast at 200ºc until lightly brown (If you want, you could do the same with almonds, but that’s optional).
  2. Ground the nuts into flour consistency using a food processor. Add bananas and pulse several times. Than add egg yolks and vanilla and mix on the highest speed until you get a smooth consistency.
  3. Beat the egg whites, than add one third at a time into the banana mixture. Do not over mix.
  4. Bake at 180ºc until lightly brown (it took me aprox. 25 mins, but the time depends on the oven).
  5. Let cool and top with cinnamon butter or coconut cream and sprinkle with some roasted nuts.