WELL BEING & OTHER STORIES

Recipes, rituals and other stories to realign the body and mind

FALL

YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THESE CHESTNUT BROWNIES

Seasonal, Snacks, Sugar Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Recipe, Gluten free, Dairy Freedanielle coppermanComment

So, although it's practically sunbathing weather compared to most Decembers in the UK, winter is coming, and more importantly, (in the words of Coca Cola) the holidays are coming. Silently, alongside public Christmas light displays, Starbucks' red cups and pumpkins and chestnuts filling my local grocery store, winter is unfolding and I have an underlying suspicion that it's just gonna come out of nowhere and hit me in the face with blue lips, frozen toes (no matter how strong my sock game), and some seasonal illness for good measure. My response will be these seasonal brownie bites, inspired by the abundance of chestnuts this time of year - definitely not one of those ingredients you come across in a recipe that makes you think 'where on earth?!'.

These brownie bites are perfect as a sugar-free snack with full-on chocolate vibes during the winter, and would be well received making an appearance at duvet days, movie nights, cocktail or dinner parties, wrapped as a gift to give or kept in the freezer when the boxes of Celebrations and balls of Chocolate Orange begin to get a bit much.

INGREDIENTS

makes 8- 10 small brownies or 1 dish around 9 x 5 in

FOR THE CHESTNUT BROWNIE LAYER

170g medjool dates
80g chestnuts
90g raw almonds
70g raw walnuts
20-25g raw cacao powder
25g coconut oil - melted
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 Teaspoons Himalayan pink salt
10g coconut palm sugar or natural sweetener of choice - optional

ELEVATE IT

1/2 Teaspoon of some or all of the following:
He Shou Wu Powder / Maca Powder / Chaga Powder / Reishi / Shilajit / Cordycepts / Mucuna / Ashwaganda

FOR THE CHESTNUT CARAMEL LAYER

100g chestnuts
2 tablespoons almond butter or tahini
25g coconut oil - melted
65g dates
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup plant milk or water
1 teaspoon honey, coconut syrup or other unrefined sweetener of your choice
1 tablespoon maca

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER

250g cacao butter (or coconut oil) (can also use half cacao butter + half coconut oil)
150g raw cacao powder
40ml coconut syrup or other unrefined sweetener of choice
Pinch of Himalayan pink salt

+ Can also use store-bought dark or raw chocolate bars. I like Ombar.

METHOD

Start by making the brownie layer. place the almonds, walnuts and chia seeds into a food processor and blend until they form a flour like consistency, similar to breadcrumbs. next, add the chestnuts and blend again for 30 seconds. then add the dates, cacao powder, coconut oil, himalayan pink salt and coconut sugar, if using. blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the mixture comes together to in a slightly sticky dough-like consistency. make sure the mixture is smooth and that there are no large chunks of nuts involved, as this recipe tastes so much better when the mixture is completely smooth.

Once blended, either place into a cupcake or mini loaf tin tray (i use this one) or into a standard loaf tin or baking tray (around 9 x 5 in). Using trays with individual mini sections will be easier to handle, but you can use a larger tray and simply cut into individual pieces once set. Whichever you use, spread the mixture on the bottom of the tray/tray sections, making it about 1 to 1.5 cm in height. Place in the freezer to set.

Whilst the brownie layer sets, make the chestnut caramel layer. In a cleaned food processor or your blender, pulse the chestnuts for 20 seconds until they begin to break down into small pieces. Add the dates, almond butter or tahini, coconut oil, vanilla, syrup of choice and maca, if using and then continue to blend until smooth - about 1-2 minutes should do it.

Once the bottom layer is beginning to set and firm to touch, spread the chestnut caramel layer on top until the entire base is covered. Smooth evenly to ensure a more level finish to coat with the raw chocolate.

Return to the freezer and set for about 1-2 hours, or overnight. Unfortunately this step is necessary in order to easily coat the brownies in the chocolate layer. If you can't wait, follow the following step for drizzling the melted chocolate over the bars instead of dipping the bars into it.

Once set, start making the chocolate. Leave the brownies in the freezer until you have made the chocolate. bring a small pan of water to the boil and then set a heatproof bowl over the top. Add the cacao powder, cacao butter or coconut oil (or combination of both), salt and sweetener of choice to the bowl and whisk as the mixture melts together. Once combined, remove from the heat but leave the bowl over the water to avoid the chocolate cooling and thickening too quickly.

Remove the brownies from the freezer and remove from the tins carefully with a knife or cake slice. If you used a large dish, slice into desired sizes. Set each individual brownie onto a cooling rack with a layer of baking paper on the surface underneath the rack. One by one, add a brownie to the chocolate mixture and, working quickly, use a fork to turn the brownies through the mixture until fully coated. *You could alternatively keep the brownies on the rack and pour or spread the chocolate mixture over them, but I find this method a little messier. Sprinkle each one with chopped pecans or hazelnuts, Qnola or himalayan pink salt before the chocolate has fully set. You can also experiment with drizzling a second layer of chocolate over the smooth chocolate layer, and if you have leftover chocolate you could double dip, for a thicker, crunchier outer coating.

If the cooling rack fits, place it in your fridge or freezer once each brownie has been coated. If it doesn't fit, wait for the chocolate to set slightly at room temperature, and then transfer the brownies onto smaller plates or to tuppaware.

+ store in the freezer, and remove 5 minutes before serving.

CHAGA CHAI ALMOND MILK WARMER

Sugar Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Recipe, Drinks, Dairy Free, Business Storiesdanielle coppermanComment

 

The Winter Solstice - the shortest day of sunlight and the longest night of the year - occurs at 4.49am on December 22nd this year. The term 'solstice' derives from the Latin word 'solstitium', which means 'Sun standing still'. The day after Winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June. To celebrate elongated and (hopefully) brighter days, a friend and I have organised an offering of medicinal lattes, tea infusions and a candlelit meditation, followed by a sharing style, bring-a-bowl floor feast for our closest friends, friends of friends and family members. We wanted to bring people together at this busy time of year, where stresses can overpower and disrupt living in the moment at a time that’s supposed to be joyful. Often, as the year comes to an end, panic kicks in about not having achieved enough in the last 365 days, whilst what we should really be focussing on is all that we have accomplished. I’m looking forward to sharing this special moment in our annual cycle with new and old acquaintances, without any sense of time or urgency. In MT Wolf’s song, Burgs, the speaker points out that when we entered this world, we did so with great awe and such wonder. We arrived wondering what it was all about and what our time here was going to be like, but as we became comfortable, we began to wonder more about ourselves - our jobs, our to do lists - forgetting what we came here for. The chance to be here happens briefly, so spend more time taking it in, as well as the people here with you, and enjoying your time here, rather than stressing about it.

I’ve been adding medicinal mushrooms (not as illegal as they sound) to my food and drink for years now. They bring a powerful energy and interesting flavour to things like smoothies, lattes, porridge and savoury meals. They combine with other ingredients to enhance their nutritional benefits. In this recipe I use chaga, which is an adaptogen containing deeply cleansing antioxidants. As an adaptogen, it can help to alleviate stressful feelings and anxiety by balancing the body’s various systems, energizing systems that are fatigued, and quieting those that are overactive. Combined with healthy fats and protein provided by the almond milk, this makes the perfect evening remedy to sooth the soul, calm the mind, and encourage good quality rest.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2

1/4 Teaspoon Chaga Powder (I also like to use Shilajit)
1 Teaspoon Cardamom Pods
1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Seeds, Powder or Bean Paste
2 Cups Almond Milk (or other plant based milk)
1/2 Teaspoon Raw Honey, optional

METHOD

Set the almond milk in a small saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add the vanilla, ginger, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks and heat, stirring constantly, for 10-20 minutes. The longer you simmer, the more the flavours from the spices with infuse the milk. Add the honey towards the end if you want to add some sweetness, then whisk with a hand whisk or an electric whisk (I use this one) to create a frothy texture. This isn't essential, but it is nice. Remove from the heat, transfer to glasses or mugs and serve warm or enjoy chilled over ice.

COCONUT PALM AND SALTED ALMOND DUSTED TOFFEE APPLES

Snacks, Sugar Free, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian, Recipe, Gluten free, Dairy Freedanielle coppermanComment

I arrived in New York October 23rd. People were already in fancy dress. People's dogs were already in fancy dress. Halloween in the USA is no joke. It is real.

A brief timeline of my first few days in the city:

Settled into my friends apartment in East Village.
Ate at Dimes too many times. Ate at Hu Kitchen too many times.
Saw too many dogs dressed in tutu's.
Said Hola to my agents, had new digitals taken and began a marathon of castings.
Regretted bringing so many jumpers because the weather here is currently tropical.
Said goodbye to my laptop as my flatmate bathed it in lemon and ginger tea. Was forced to take a break from my usual work, so between castings and meetings, made some healthy toffee apples.

Toffee apples are everywhere right now as Fall celebrations like Halloween and Bonfire Night arrive. I was never very fond of them as a child, they were too tough to get into, and the reward for hurting teeth, cutting lips and getting sticky hands wasn't tempting enough for me. They just aren't that good. There I said it. But what I came up with in my friends apartment on the rainiest Fall afternoon, using organic coconut sugar instead of refined sugar, no dairy and the juiciest organic apples, kind of changed my mind about a few things. Particularly my opinion on toffee apples. These ones are much less sickly, much more nutritious, much more flavoursome and the coating is slightly chewy, as opposed to the solidified shards of toffee commonly found coating shop bought options. And if you're worried about people (kids) not liking a healthier version, my flatmate and her boyfriend polished these off in under 2 days, blissfully unaware of what ingredients went into them. They probably don't even know what coconut palm sugar is. So go with it, no one will know...

INGREDIENTS
makes 4-6

1 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar
250ml Cold Water
1 1/4 Cups Almond or Coconut Milk
Generous Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice - optional
4 Small - Medium Apples of choice (I used Granny Smiths)

+ You will need a selection of bamboo sticks, kebab sticks or lollipop sticks.

TOPPINGS (estimate the amount required depending on which ingredients you choose, and how much you want to coat the apples)

Chopped Salted Almonds (or any nut/seed of choice)
Golden Linseeds
Chia Seeds
Cacao Powder
Maca Powder
Chopped Cacao Nibs
Granola or Qnola

METHOD

Start by boiling the water in a medium saucepan. As it begins to boil, stir in the coconut palm sugar, and let the mixture boil on a high heat for 2-3 more minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce to a medium heat, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer here for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly as it can stick to the pan or burn easily. Keep a close eye on it, watching it thicken, and continue to simmer until it becomes darker brown in colour, thicker and begins to reduce slightly. To test whether it is done, take a teaspoonful and rest it on a plate to cool. As it cools it should become even thicker and should be slightly tough to touch. If it is still sticky and runny, continue to simmer and allow it to thicken even more. Once you are happy with the consistency and once it begins to set more solidly, remove the pan from the heat.

Now you need to work relatively quickly as the toffee will cool rapidly. Lightly grease a plate or a baking tray with coconut oil. Take one apple at a time and insert whichever sticks you are using through the middle of it. It shouldn't go all the way through to the other side, but deep enough to ensure it won't slip out. Now, carefully tilt the sauce pan to one side, dip the apple into the toffee mixture, and turn the apple repeatedly to coat it evenly. Lift it out of the toffee and continue to turn it above the mixture, to let any excess drip off. I recommend scraping the bottom gently, to ensure it doesn't stick too much to the plate/tray that you place them on. As the toffee begins to stop dripping, place the apple on your prepare surface, and repeat with the other apples. You can either leave the apples bare like this, or roll them through the toppings of your choice. I chopped some salted almonds finely and placed them in a medium bowl, then gently rolled the apples around in the bowl until the almond dust stuck. If it is easier, you can top the apples by taking a handful of your toppings and pressing it into the toffee coating.
Once coated, or if you are leaving them bare, place the apples in the fridge to cool and set a little more, for around 1 hour. The longer you leave them, the better.

+ These will last for around 2 weeks in the fridge or in an airtight container.
+ You can also use this toffee recipe to make individual toffees. Instead of coating apples, simply allow the toffee to cool a little, and then take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and mould it into individual shapes, or fill chocolate moulds with the mixture, and set in the fridge.