Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Crunch

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

One of my philosophies regarding Valentine’s Day is: whether you are in a relationship or whether you are single, take advantage of this day of love to do something special.

I don’t mean to necessarily have a grandiose 6 course dinner with your loved one or binge on ice cream if you are single... 

If you are in a relationship, why not take this occasion to write each other a beautiful card? Maybe cook a nice meal together with all your favorite foods. You could try and replicate your first date together and reminisce how much you both have evolved and grown as individuals and as a couple. I truly don’t think that Valentine’s Day should be the only occasion you take time to tell your partner that you love them, but I do fall in the camp of people who think that it’s still a lovely day to tell your better half how you feel about them and to organize a little something memorable. 

On the other hand, if you are not in a relationship, view Valentine’s Day as the perfect day to practice self-love and self-care. Start your day with a gratitude list, take time to go outside, admire the beauty around you, maybe make yourself your favorite meal, light some candles and blast some music from your favorite artist – I think Sabrina Claudio would be PER-FECT for a solo Vday celebration!

In any case, whether you are in a relationship or single, I think Valentine’s Day is also the ideal occasion to indulge in some chocolate... And I am not just talking any chocolate...

I am talking a next level-type chocolate dessert: Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Crunch.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Crunch

We are talking layers of textures and flavours, all with ZERO guilt. Not only should you never experience guilt on Valentine’s Day but also, these little parfaits are entirely made with whole foods and are sweetened with dates! Yes dates, not white sugar, not milk chocolate. Plain, simple, juicy dates.

So what else exactly is in these parfaits?

Quite simple:

LAYER #1: Coconut panna cotta:

  • Coconut milk, for its rich and creamy texture

  • Dates, for their natural sweetness

  • Agar powder, which is a natural vegetable substitute for gelatine

LAYER #2: Hazelnut & chocolate crunch:

  • All recipes in my opinion should have a crunchy element and for this specific recipe, because we are going all decadent and a little fancy, hazelnuts were just the perfect touch – paired with the chocolate, you just feel like you’re eating some elevated Ferrero Rocher!

LAYER #3: Creamy, decadent chocolate mousse:

  • Made with silken tofu, cacao powder, dates, a pinch of salt and instant coffee to really bring to life that chocolate flavour.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Crunch

Now that you know what is in this recipe, let’s show you how to make it yourself! These Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Crunch are truly little cups of goodness! I mean who does not love layered desserts that are not only healthy for you but also combine chocolate AND coconut AND hazelnuts?!

If you guys do end up making these parfaits (which I really hope you do!), I’d love it if you shared your thoughts on Instagram by tagging me (@muriellebanackissa).

Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Crunch

Prep time : 1 hour 25 minutes
Cooking time : 5 minutes
Total time : 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield : 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

Coconut Panna Cotta
1 cup full fat coconut milk
2 soft dates (soaked in boiling water then drained, if necessary)
1/2 tsp agar powder

Hazelnut & Chocolate Crunch
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 heaping tbsp dark chocolate, chopped
Pinch of fleur de sel (optional) 

Chocolate Mousse
1 packed cup silken tofu
1/3 cup soft dates (soaked in boiling water then drained, if necessary)
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 tsp instant coffee
Pinch salt

STEPS

Coconut Panna Cotta

  1. Add coconut milk and dates to a blender and blend until completely smooth.

  2. Strain into a small saucepan.

  3. Add agar powder and whisk until homogeneous.

  4. Bring to a boil then decrease the heat and simmer for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally.

  5. Divide among 4 small glass cups.

  6. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Hazelnut & Chocolate Crunch

  1. Line a small plate with parchment paper.

  2. Evenly spread the hazelnuts onto the parchment-lined plate.

  3. Drizzle chocolate onto the hazelnuts and sprinkle some fleur de sel.

  4. Refrigerate until set.

 Chocolate Mousse

  1. Add all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

  2. Set aside.

Assemble parfaits

  1. Break apart the chocolate covered hazelnut chunks and sprinkle half of them onto the set panna cotta layer in each glass cup.

  2. Top with chocolate mousse.

  3. Garnish with the other half of the chocolate covered hazelnuts.

  4. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until serving.

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Coconut Panna Cotta with Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Crunch
 

Leek and Onion Jam (Sweetened with Dates)

About 10 days ago, I decided I would take part in the Eat Capture Share Winter Food Photography Challenge, hosted by the lovely Kimberly from the Little Plantation.

Every week for whole month, she would send us 3 themes to respect for the 3 images we were to post on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 

I was super excited to take part of this challenge as I had never done anything like it before. I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to get outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself creatively speaking. 

When I got the first email detailing the first 3 themes of the week, my heart started beating faster in excitement... then... I read that the first theme was LEEKS and ONIONS and Kimberly encouraged us to create a moody image.

My heart dropped.

Moody... Me? Most of my images, as you might have notice from navigating through my website, are very far from moody. I tend to create images that are brighter, with a blue tint and very often a pop of color.

Let’s just say my experience in terms of moody photography is very limited to say the least. So how did I tackle this challenge? I hopped on my favorite online learning platform: YouTube. I started watching all the moody photography video tutorials I could find, trying to learn as much as I could about how to recreate this type of ambiance. 

After I gathered a couple of key points to keep in mind, I started to brainstorm how to bring this theme to life. After half an hour or so, I had made a choice: leek and onion jam!

How did I come up with this idea? Umm.. I knew I wanted to make a recipe and not simply shoot the ingredients as they were. I also knew I wanted to create something that would highlight the rich, caramel like flavour of onions. I used some balsamic vinegar to add a deeper flavour profile and balanced out the sweetness of the jam by adding an acidic element: rice vinegar.

Leek and Onion Jam

When I put this jam together, I had honestly no idea how delicious it would turn out! I say this rarely, but I feel like this jam is one of the best things I have EVER made... Yes, it’s that good! I love the fact that you can have it with some crackers or on a toast with some vegan cheese. Add it to your burgers or sandwiches. I think it would even be delicious mixed into a creamy mac and cheese.

The possibilities for this spread are truly endless.

I really hope you guys try this recipe as it is absolutely AMAZING! If you end up making it, please share your creation on IG and tag me in your post (@muriellebanackissa)

Also, one side note, if you want to watch the complete tutorial of how I made this recipe, head over to my Instagram stories.

Leek and Onion Jam

Prep time : 5 minutes
Cooking time : 30 minutes
Total time : 35 minutes
Yield : 1 cup

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp avocado oil
1 large red onion, sliced (about 2 cups or 280g)
1 leek (white parts only), sliced (about 3 cups or 230g)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 medjool dates, chopped (1/3 cup packed or 80 g)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt plus more to taste

STEPS

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, red onion, and leek.

  2. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add garlic and dates and stir.

  4. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the onions have caramelized. Stir occasionally.

  5. Turn off the heat and add balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, pepper and salt.

  6. Enjoy on toasts with vegan cheese, in burgers, sandwiches or even in a mac and cheese.

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Leek and Onion Jam
 

Vegan Eggs Benedict (PLUS: Silky Nut Free Hollandaise)

aka a breakfast for all the brunch lovers out there!

Vegan Eggs Benedict (PLUS: Silky Nut Free Hollandaise)

When I was in Vancouver at the beginning of the month, I had some of the most amazing vegan food I’ve ever had! Burgers and poutine at MeeT, Afghan dishes at East is East, decadent donuts at Cartems, the famous fried artichoke sandwich at the Arbor and much much more!

 If you are interested in my recommendations on the best places to eat in Vancouver, just check out my previous blogpost Vegan Vancouver Eats.

As mentioned in that blogpost, one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver was Heirloom. Their eggs benedict dish was to die for – seriously! I was not a huge fan of eggs benedict before turning vegan as I always found them too rich and decadent, but Heirloom’s eggs benedict totally converted me.  

Vegan Eggs Benedict (PLUS: Silky Nut Free Hollandaise)

The eggs benedict I preferred were the Avocado Benny. They were simple: English muffin, mashed avocado, fried or crumbled tofu, hollandaise sauce. So simple and yet, this dish left me eating every single crumb and literally licking the sauce off the plate.   

When I got back to Montreal, after publishing my previous blogpost, I asked my Instagram followers what recipe inspired by the food I ate in Vancouver I should recreate. The two options were Earl Gray donuts (inspired by Cartems Earl Gray baked donuts) or... eggs benedict (inspired by the dish I had at Heirloom).

The majority voted for eggs benedict – how surprising hahah! I mean who could resist this decadent brunch dish?

Vegan Eggs Benedict (PLUS: Silky Nut Free Hollandaise)

I was on a mission to create the eggs benedict of my dreams: uber-tasty, satisfying, filling and healthy! I think I hit the nail on the head with this one. Let me explain the different layers & hopefully convince you that YOU should make this recipe for your next brunch:

  • Whole grain English muffin, this one goes without saying. You need a doughy base. You can definitely stick with the traditional English muffin, but I thought why not add a little bit of extra fiber and whole grains?

  • Tomato lox. When I was brainstorming for this recipe, I looked online and it seemed that a lot of people love their eggs benedict with smoked salmon. I tried looking for an alternative to it and stumbled upon Megan’s recipe for tomato lox on her blog Carrots & Flowers. I had had a tomato lox at a restaurant at some point last year, but never really attempted to make it myself. I followed Megan’s recipe to a t and the result was so tasty, I could not believe my taste buds. Honestly, who needs salmon?

  • Wilted spinach. Simple explanation for their presence in this recipe: we all need to eat our greens.

  • Pan seared tofu. Quick and easy to make, but makes this dish a lot heartier.

  • Liquid gold. Quick question, why have we been calling it hollandaise sauce all these years? It’s pure magic! This sauce, contrary to many of the vegan hollandaise recipes on the web, does not contain cashews therefore it is a lot lighter, while still tasting like heaven! It has one ingredient that you might not necessarily be familiar with: black salt (which ironically is pink!). Black salt is often used in vegan cooking to give an eggy flavour to a dish. It is not a must to make this recipe, but it really does make a difference so I would suggest getting your hands on some - it is available online or can be found at Indian grocery shops.  

Well now that I have described every element of this recipe, let’s jump right in and show you how to make it yourself! If you do end up whipping up this recipe, snap a photo and share it on social media by tagging me (@muriellebanackissa)

Vegan Eggs Benedict (PLUS: Silky Nut Free Hollandaise)

Prep time : 15 minutes
Cooking time : 30 minutes
Total time : 45 minutes
Yield : 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

Tofu
1 tsp avocado oil
1 block of firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 8 cubes
Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce
1 pack silken tofu (300g)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp turmeric (or more for a deeper yellow color)
1/4 cup filtered water
Pinch of cayenne or more, to taste
Pinch of pepper or more, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
1 tbsp margarine, melted

Spinach
4 cups spinach
Salt and pepper, to taste

 Other
4 English muffins
Vegan Tomato Lox* (recipe from Carrots & Flowers)
Fresh chives, for garnish

STEPS

  1. Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add avocado oil and spread evenly on the pan.

  2. Season blocks of tofu with salt and pepper and arrange on the pan.

  3. Cook on each side until golden (about 3 minutes per side).

  4. In the meantime, make the sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients except the margarine in a blender. Blend until smooth.

  5. As the blender is running, slowly pour the melted margarine into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

  6. Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring regularly.

  7. Heat a medium pan and add the spinach to it. Sauté over medium heat until the spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.

  8. Cut your English muffins in half and toast to your desired doneness.

  9. Assemble your eggs Benedict by placing both halves of English muffin on a plate. Top with a few slices of tomato lox, followed by some wilted spinach and a cube of tofu.

  10. Pour some hollandaise over and garnish with chives and a crack of pepper.

  11. Serve as is, with roasted potatoes or a simple salad.

NOTE:
* If you are looking for an alternative to the tomato lox, simply swap it with a mashed avocado, just the way Heirloom does it ;)

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