I have never been the most athletically talented person, but I think I may have found my true winter calling- snowshoeing!! A friend suggested trying it out. I put on a borrowed pair the other day and duck footed, glided off! My own bright turquoise and gold pair will arrive next week. The snow shoes give me great balance; no fear of careening out of control down a hill on cross country skis and best of all I can traipse to my heart’s content through deep snow in the woods taking photos!
Walks on the last few weeks have been glorious, even with frigid temperatures. The contrast of light and shadows on the snow, water and sky has been breathtaking; some days with brilliant blue skies and others cloudy, misty and atmospheric.
I have picked some of my favorite photos for a slideshow:
All of this cold weather has made me crave chocolate even more than usual and put me in the mood for chocolate cake! I wanted to find a recipe that tasted fudgy and rich; without the fat and calories. I found this simple one bowl vegan chocolate cake recipe from allrecipes.com. For a low glycemic cake, I swapped out the sugar with Monk Fruit Sweetener and Coconut Sugar. To fancy up the cake, I made a dark chocolate pudding filling to sandwich between the layers and for the topping. I adapted the recipe for the chocolate pudding from a treasured old cookbook called fittingly, Chocolate Cake by Michele Urvater. With the addition of Lily’s Stevia Chocolate Chips and some toasted pecans for decoration, it was irresistible!
Snowy Day Chocolate Pudding Vegan Chocolate Cake
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar*- see note
- 1 cup water
To Make Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease and line one 8×10 cake pan with greased wax or parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 25-30 minutes. Do not overbake, the cake should remain soft and fudgy. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Remove cake from pan, peel off wax paper and place on rack to cool.
Chocolate Pudding Filling– adapted from Chocolate Cake by Michele Urvater
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup monk fruit sweetener ( this makes a very bittersweet pudding, feel free to add up to 1/2 to 3/4 sugar.)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 ounces dark chocolate chopped (I used Equal Exchange Extremely Dark chocolate, but you could semi or bittersweet chocolate for a sweeter taste)
To make the pudding:
In a small mixing bowl, with a fork or small whisk, combine the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of the milk.
In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the remaining 1 cup milk to a simmer with the sugar, stirring occasionally so the milk does not boil over. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Whisk the cornstarch and milk in the bowl again to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved, and add this to the hot milk and sugar mixture. Return the saucepan to the heat and bring to a simmer until the mixture thickens, whisking constantly. Remove from the hear and add chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts into the mixture. Stir in almond extract. Put pudding in a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
To fill the cake:
Carefully slice cake with a serrated bread knife in half and place one piece on a plate. Spread half of pudding mixture and place other half on top.
Spread remaining pudding on top and sprinkle with Lily’s Stevia Chocolate Chips. Decorate with toasted pecans. This would also be nice to decorate with sliced strawberries or raspberries.
* I was curious to find out why vinegar was called for in the recipe. For the kitchen science geeks, it turns out that vinegar reacts with baking soda to create a chemical reaction that makes the crumb of the cake light and tender!
I have become more than a little obsessed with the Great British Baking Show and in one installment the contestants made rich molten chocolate puddings filled with peanut butter. I decided to make my own lighter version with the vegan chocolate pudding batter and they were delicious- also addictive!!
To make muffins:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly grease a muffin tin ( this recipe will make about 8 muffins)
1 recipe of vegan chocolate cake batter
Fill each muffin cup with the vegan chocolate cake batter about 2/3 of the way.
Place a heaping teaspoon of peanut butter in the center of each muffin.
Top each muffin with remaining batter.
Bake about 10-12 minutes. The centers should jiggle slightly and it’s better for these to be slightly under baked!
The other day as I sat carving oboe reeds in my study, my husband called excitedly from the living room. He had just come upon a poem, very appropriate for our time, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Published in 1818, the famous poem describes how powerful men are destined to fade into oblivion. Very cheering to think that one un- named boastful tyrant we know only too well, will follow this route!!
Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week!“
STAY SAFE AND WARM!!