Blueberry Coconut Muffins

Last weekend, my parents and I hit up the London cafe scene for a quick brekkie on Sunday morning. I had a thick slice of banana bread toasted to perfection with a healthy slab of salted butter, my dad had a classic butter croissant and my mom had a super rustic blackberry coconut muffin, which was the inspiration for these muffins. Oh and don't worry, coffee was involved too. Iced coffee for me (currently obsessed), a flat white for the mom and two flat whites for dad. We need something to get us going on Sunday mornings, right?

So back to that blackberry coconut muffin. It was a muffin like no other. It barely even resembled a muffin. It didn't come wrapped in a muffin wrapper, it didn't have a straight body nor a high, crispy muffin top. In fact. the base of the muffin was all of two to three centimeters tall, and the muffin top was strangely flat. But boy, oh boy, the muffin knocked our socks off! It was dense, yet light. It felt whole-wheat-y, but not in the "healthy" sense. It was perfect sweet. It had fresh blackberries baked right into the batter. And it had lots of COCONUT. If you haven't noticed yet, I've been on a major coconut kick lately. Coconut everything - oatmeal, muffins, cookies, body lotion, shampoo, body wash, lip balm. EVERYTHING.
Anyways, I was greatly inspired by this great muffin and while mine does not in any way physically resemble the muffin we ate, the flavors most definitely do. I used blueberries instead of blackberries as they are much nicer right now. One thing I did definitely do was stick with the coconut!

I tried baking these in a muffin pan which I "buttered" with some coconut oil instead of using my usual muffins liners, as recently I've found my muffins sticking to the liners (no good).

Makes 6 muffins
2/3 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, toasted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 egg
1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, tossed in 1 tbsp flour

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grab a muffin tray and brush 6 of the muffin cups with coconut oil. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the self raising flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate larger bowl, beat together the coconut oil and sugar. Then add the egg, vanilla extract and milk and beat again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined.

Add in the toasted coconut and blueberries and fold gently.

Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.



Coconut Almond Chocolate Thumbprints

It's cold, grey and rainy outside. It's the middle of September. I'm sitting at home feeling blue and looking outside wondering what to do (I rhymed!). Actually this is not true at all but I felt like it fit with my complaining about the weather.

I got back from the gym this morning feeling energized and ready to face the day. I usually feel this way, but there are always those one-off days where the gym just drains all my energy and all I feel like doing is sitting on the couch, turning on the TV and eating my heart out... Everyone has these days, right? Please say yes.
No matter what, we all need a little pick-me-up sometimes. For me, a sweet treat does the trick. So do sunshine, friends and family, but let's be real here, food is always invited to the party.

Especially food that can be eaten in two bites, so you can eat it again in two bites more. No control, no problem. Don't take this out of context but it's true. As long as most of the time we eat foods that are good for us (this does not mean low calorie or low fat!), we are allowed to treat ourselves, and often. What's most important is that we feel healthy and happy! One summer you may pack on a bit of weight, but so what? Life goes on, live a little.

These cookies actually fit both bills - they're relatively good for you (chocolate included), and they feel like a real treat (and they can be eaten in two bites or less!).

Thumbprints are originally filled with jam and sometimes drizzled with a simple glaze, but I've taken the original idea and filled a delicious coconut almond base with a mixture of chocolate and almond butter. Chocolate is life, am I right?

Makes 10-12 cookies
For base cookies:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1/4 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1 egg
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

For filling:
1/3 cup chocolate chips (dark, milk or white - I used dark)
1 tbsp white almond butter
desiccated coconut, for decorating

Preheat oven to 170 C and line a cookie sheet with baking paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the almond flour, plain flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and desiccated coconut.

In a small bowl or mug, use a fork to beat together the wet ingredients - coconut oil, egg, maple syrup and vanilla.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix. The dough should be form enough to roll into balls.

For the dough into little balls and place on the cookie sheet. Press thumbs into each ball to form the thumbprint cookie shape.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned and crispy to the touch. Make sure they aren't too hard otherwise they'll turn out like biscotti!

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When cookies are almost cool, prepare the filling. In a microwaveable bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and almond butter for 45 seconds. Stir together to form a thick glossy filling mixture. If some of the chips haven't melted yet, microwave further in bursts of 5-10 seconds until the mixture is smooth.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, spoon filling into each thumbprint. Sprinkle on some coconut.

Let the cookies set for a while (or not - who doesn't love melting chocolate centers...) and as always, enjoy!


Chocolate Banana Bread

Now before we even begin to talk about the food, I have to say that am I not the least bit pleased with the changing London weather. I can't hide from the (abysmal) fact that I preempted the arrival of autumn when I posted this apple cranberry spice loaf... but really? WHY.

In case I haven't made it clear already, I am a warm weather, summer, lots of sun and blue skies kind of girl. For those of you out there exactly like me, you must be wondering if there even is another "type". Let me assure you, there is. Case in point: my beloved sister. She yearns for cold weather, snow and days she can wear thick coats and knee-high boots. I on the other hand, dread them. Thankfully, my ability to cope with the cold weather is pretty good, but it doesn't mean I like it!

Getting back to what you're all really here for.

Chocolate here, chocolate there, chocolate chocolate everywhere. Chocolate is an obsession, an addiction, a weak point of mine. When I see three (incredibly) over-ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl, banana bread or muffins immediately come to mind. But not one of them has been a completely chocolate recipe. Bananas and chocolate are a pairing that was meant to be. I don't know why it took me so long to actually get down and fully combine the two.

This good-for-you (for the most part) banana chocolate bread tastes like a slice of decadent chocolate cake with the most wonderful fruity undertones and perfume. You are most definitely allowed to talk yourself into eating this for breakfast, and then permitted to eat it again as an afternoon snack and then, if you're really feeling it, with a scoop of rich chocolate ice cream for a post-dinner dessert.

As I'm writing this, there is a small sliver of this bread still left, and well, we know who's getting to eat it (Read: ME)!

So ripen those bananas, pull out your loaf tin, turn on your oven and get baking!

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2/3 cup unrefined sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and coconut oil. Add the eggs, mashed banana, yogurt and vanilla and beat again until light and fluffly.

In a separate medium bowl, sift together the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and fold gently until just combined.

Pour the prepared batter in the loaf tin and optionally, place a few banana slices on top for decoration.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.