Chocolate Chunk Vegan Brownies


45g (1.5 oz) semi-sweet or dark chocolate (I used Guittard 75%)
45g (6 tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso Powder
½ tsp salt
120ml (½ cup) boiling water
50g (¼ cup) melted coconut oil
2 tbsp tahini (or sub coconut oil)
150g (¾ cup) coconut or castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla Extract
1 cup (120g) All-Purpose Flour (you can use spelt or rye flour too)
½ tsp Baking Powder
90g (3oz) dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Maldon sea salt for finishing touch

1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease and line an 8″ (20cm) square pan.
2. In a bowl, combine dark chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder and sea salt. Pour boiling water over and whisk until you achieve a smooth chocolate mixture.
3. Add coconut oil, tahini, sugar and vanilla and whisk to combine. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
4. Once cooled, add flour and baking powder to the mixture and whisk till smooth. Fold in dark chocolate chunks and walnuts.
5. Pour batter into pan, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool for at least 2 hours or until completely cool before cutting (you can also chill them in the fridge).

Buckwheat Rhubarb Galette

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

120g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
40g (1/3 cup) buckwheat flour
113g (1 stick) butter, cold
40ml (2 Tbsp) ice water
2 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

500g rhubarb stalks
100g castor sugar
1.5 Tbsp cornstarch
Egg wash (1 small egg whisked with a splash of water)
Turbinado sugar

Optional – Rhubarb Glaze:
150g (5ox) tops and tails of rhubarb
100g (1/2 cup) castor sugar
A splash of water

1. Whisk all-purpose and buckwheat flours, sugar, and salt in a large bowl to combine. Add butter and work into dry ingredients with your hands, mashing it into big flat pieces and smooshing it between your palms into the flour, until you have pea- and nickel-size pieces.
2. Drizzle ¼ cup ice water over mixture and rake it in with your fingers until evenly dispersed. Squeeze clumps with your hands to moisten until a shaggy dough forms, then turn out onto a work surface.
3. Gather dough together, pushing and working it into a ball, then flattening it, until only a few dry spots remain. Pat into a ¾”-thick square. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide dough into 4 pieces. Stack pieces on top of one another, placing any unincorporated dry bits in between layers, and press down to combine. Form dough into a ¾”-thick disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Filling and Assembly:
4. Preheat oven to 400°F and Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Take out the chilled dough a few minutes before rolling out.
5. Roll out dough on a well-floured surface to a 14″ round, rotating dough and tossing more flour underneath as needed to keep it from sticking. Transfer dough to the baking sheet and refrigerate to chill.
6. Prepare the rhubarb: cut off and discard the leaves, trim off and reserve the ends of each stalk. Cut the stalks into three or four pieces and then cut each piece lengthwise into 5mm (1/4″) strips. Toss the rhubarb pieces with the cornstarch and sugar in a medium bowl.
7. Remove the baking sheet from the fridge and arrange and mound the rhubarb filling in the center of the dough, making sure to leave a 4cm (2″) border around edges. Fold dough up and over filling, overlapping slightly, and make a decorative edge. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar for a nice crunch.
8. Bake galette until filling is bubbling and crust is deeply browned, 40–50 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve with whipped cream.

You can make a glaze for the galette by boiling the reserved bits or rhubarb with the sugar and water until the fruit is soft. Strain the syrup into a bowl and brush it over the baked galette for a nice shine.

Sesame Oatmeal Cookies

Tahini is constantly on rotation in my kitchen. I love to use it in salad dressings, drizzle it on roasted vegetables, or mix it in carob molasses for a quick dessert. I’ve also been experimenting with it in pastries and found that the sesame taste overpowers neutral-ish ingredients like a carrot or zucchini. However, it sometimes compliments and enhances dominant ingredients wonderfully like this chocolate soufflé cake. Or it can also add unexpected notes of nuttiness and bold flavors in these oatmeal raisin cookies.

Recipe adapted from Melissa Clarke

180g (1 cup) golden raisins
160ml (⅔ cup) rum for soaking (substitute with apple juice, or any other liquor)

180g (1½ cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp fine grain salt
226g (1 cup, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g (1¼ cup) light brown sugar
50g (¼ cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp tahini
1 tsp rum
300g (3 cups) thick rolled oats
15g (2 Tbsp) sesame seeds

1. Optional: Soak the raisins in the rum for at least an hour. Lightly toast the rolled oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet until lightly golden (6-8 minutes in a 350°F/180°C oven).
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, 2 tsp cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes until pale and creamy. Turn off the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. On low speed, beat in the eggs, tahini, and vanilla until well incorporated.
4. Add the flour mixture and mix until barely combined. Drain the raisin (reserve the rum for another use or add in a splash in the batter!) and mix that in with the oats until just combined.
5. Put the bowl in the fridge for 30 min until the dough firms up.
6. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Scoop 1 tablespoon portions of the batter and place them 2 in./ 5 cm apart.
8. Bake for 9-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking until the edges are golden and the tops look underdone. After 2 minutes of taking them out of the oven, transfer to wire racks to cool completely and firm up.
9. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (they can also be frozen for up to a month).

Apple Cake with Spelt Flour

A wonderful apple cake recipe that’s highly customizable. I lightly adapted Emiko Davies‘ recipe and added thinly slices apples to give the top of the cake a rustic look. Feel free to fold in chopped toasted walnuts in the batter or plump raisins to add texture and a chewy bite to the soft melt-in-your mouth cake.

Recipe adapted from Emiko DaviesFlorentine: The True Cuisine of Florence

2 large apples, peeled and sliced 1cm thick
1 small apple sliced thinly with a mandolin slicer for decoration (optional)
Juice and zest of one organic medium lemon
300g (2⅔ cups) spelt flour (or use all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
3 large eggs, at room temperature
150ml (⅔ cup) whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter and flour an 8″ inch (20cm) cake tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Place the apple slices in a bowl with the lemon juice and 2 extra tablespoons of sugar to reduce browning.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on, beat the softened butter and sugar on medium high until pale and creamy for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat very well until you have a thick, pale mixture. Turn the speed to low, gradually add the milk and vanilla extract until incorporated. Using a large spatula, fold in the flour mixture until barely combined then mix in the apple slices.
5. Pour the batter into a cake tin and place the thinly sliced apples all over the surface, overlapping them slightly. Bake at 180°C for 55-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
6. Cool down completely before turning it out on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Banana Bread with Dates and Walnuts

A classic banana bread recipe with soft chewy dates and toasted crunchy walnuts baked in the batter. The not too ripe bananas and few teaspoons of cornstarch in the batter give it a nice tender structure that’s not too moist and mushy. Feel free to experiment with other add-in ingredients like substituting the dates with figs, and the walnuts with toasted skinned hazelnuts!

Makes one 9″x5″ Loaf
Recipe adapted from the Tivoli Bakery Cookbook

155g all-purpose flour
28g (2 tbsp) cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
250g ripe bananas, peeled
juice of half a lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g butter, at room temperature
110g caster sugar
100g walnut halves
140g pitted dates, sliced
1 small banana, less ripe (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 160C (320F). Grease a 9″x5″ (23cm x 13cm) loaf pan and line with baking paper.
2. Sift the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mash the ripe bananas with the lemon juice in a separate small bowl. Stir in the whisked eggs and vanilla extract.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the egg/banana mixture beating well between each addition until fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix gently until barely combined then add the walnuts and dates.
4. Peel the other less ripe banana and cut into two thin slices lengthways. Pour the batter into the tin, and place the two banana slices on top (if the slices are thick then they will sink into the cake). Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave the tin for a few minutes then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Katayef bi Ashta

Katayef bi Ashta

People often tell me that they’re not good at baking because it requires a lot of precision. They sometimes ask me what recipes they should start experimenting with and I usually recommend cookies, brownies, or one bowl cake recipes that don’t have a lot of steps. I’m adding these traditional Lebanese Katayef delicacies to the repertoire: They are half-cooked pancakes filled with Ashta (Arabic word for clotted cream) or in this case ricotta cheese flavored with orange blossom water. It’s a classic and versatile dessert especially during Ramadan because you can fill them with any sort of flavored cheese. I also love that the sugar syrup is served on the side so you can control the level of sweetness per serving.

Makes 15 Katayef (1 Tbsp batter)

Sugar Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
a few drops of lemon
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp orange blossom water

To make the sugar syrup, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow the syrup to boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes until it reaches a light, syrupy consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the rose flower and orange blossom water. Set aside to cool down completely and store in the fridge (this step can be made a couple of days in advance).

Katayef (pancakes)
 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk

250g Ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp Orange Blossom Syrup
Ground pistachios

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the water and milk in a separate small bowl then gradually pour into the dry mixture while whisking to prevent lumps from forming.

2. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 min on the kitchen counter and place two damp kitchen towels near the stove.

3. Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat, and test the batter by pouring 1 tablespoon on the skillet. The surface of the Katayef should bubble a lot (Note: if it doesn’t bubble then adjust the batter by adding more water a tablespoon at a time to make it thinner). Cook one side of the pancake until golden brown and the surface dries out completely.

4. Transfer to the damp towel and cover to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

5. Mix the ricotta cheese with the orange blossom water and place a tablespoon of the filling on each pancake. Pinch the edges of to seal the Katayef on one side only. Sprinkle the top of the filled Katayef with ground pistachios and serve with sugar syrup on the side.

Note: Katayef can also be filled with nuts, sealed completely (half-moon shape) and then deep-fried until golden brown or baked in the oven at 400°F (200°C).