RAW VEGAN COOKIE DOUGH AND BERRY BARS (V+, ChF, GF, P, R, GrF)

Warning: This is yet another long post about food blogging. (Sorry I know I sound like a broken record). If foodie talk is not what you came for, just scroll down to the end of this blog post and you'll find the recipe. No offence taken.

Gosh so what am I on about this time? Well, to answer that question I need to take you back a few weeks to late June . It was the My New Roots Cookbook Supper Club, which I attended with two friends, one of whom knows me really well. Seeing this was a supper club hosted by gorgeous plant-based blogger Sarah Britton, it was impossible to escape food blogging talk. So when I was asked about my blog I mentioned nonchalantly that it was a lovely, pleasant hobby of mine, but certainly nothing else. My friend interrupted, looked me straight in the eye and said: 'But Kimberly, The Little Plantation means soooo much more to you than that.'

What? What was she talking about? I just shrugged it off at the time and thought nothing more of it.

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Fast forward to September 2015 and some pretty awesome things have happened with the blog. Someone with a heck of a lot of followers very kindly shared my Swedish Crisp Bread Recipe on their facebook page, sending visitor numbers through the roof (I still don't know who this was, but am desperate to find out). And then somehow my Simple Vegan Blackberry Crumble was repinned so many times, it's kinda taken on a life of its own. But why did it actually really matter? The penny still hadn't dropped.

Moving on to a week or two ago and through the ingenious power of instagram I found out about some food related talks called #CookbookConfidential, which sounded pretty interesting. One of the discussions that caught my eye was titled How to Develop a Career in Food. After yet another bad day in the office and receiving a voucher off to attend the event (was that the universe telling me something?) it sounded rather appealing and I made my way to the glorious Southbank Centre on the river Thames to listen to the big boys and girls in food talk about, well, food.

So was the presentation helpful? Well kinda no and kinda yes. No because the three top tips were pretty lame. The first one was: Be Prepared to Work Hard (Don't you patronise me mister!). The second one was: Don't get into food expecting to find fame (?!? If I wanted that I'd apply for the X Factor) and thirdly: Don't have a specific goal in mind. If it is meant to be, the universe will make it happen. Ok, so I get that point, but it's pretty unpractical advice, isn't it? I mean, what am I supposed to do with that?

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But Yes it was somehow extremely helpful too. You see, I think I finally realised that perhaps, just very maybe this space, plant-based food, nutrition, food photography, food styling, recipe development, food writing and all that goes with it DOES mean so much to me. Much more anyway than I'd ever been able to admit to myself. Until that very moment during that naff talk, when it dawned on me. I mean, what other signs did I need to finally be honest with myself? None, you'll be glad to hear.

After a much more helpful and utterly thought provoking talk by Olia Hercules and Eleanora Galasso about food and social media I practically skipped home. Now all that was left to do was figure out the minor issue of what exactly it was I wanted to do and how I was going to achieve 'it'. Sadly I still haven't quite worked that one out :(. Yet:).

But I'm never one to sit still and so to find answers to my new found questions I've got a couple of ideas up my sleeve. HA!
Firstly, I am going to the BIGGEST and BEST Food Blogging Get Together this side of the Atlantic – FOOD BLOGGER CONNECT - where I'll have the chance to rub shoulder with loads of super experienced and successful food bloggers (think David and Louise from Green Kitchen Stories), get inspired and most importantly gain clarity about my own path in all of this. I'll keep you posted on how I go and if you're attending, please do e-mail me beforehand. It would be lovely to connect.

For my other big ideas I suggest you stay tuned and revisit the blog in two weeks time ;). Or just follow me on instagram to keep up-to-date.
Thank you all for reading and take care.

P.S. Wanna help this blog flourish? Please spread the word or - better yet - repin and share my blog posts ;) All your help is greatly appreciated. 

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RAW VEGAN COOKIE DOUGH AND BERRY BARS (V+, ChF, GF, P, R, GrF)

And now, finally, the recipe. These bars are UTTERLY delicious, fool-proof and super quick to make. I prepared them for the first time in July, just before we set off on our 6-week holiday. It was boiling hot, we had a lunch to prepare for loads of people and I just couldn't face turning on the oven. You can see the ones I prepared that day here when I made them in the shape of squares, rather than bars. They went down a storm with my son's friends (and their parents). I used the red currants from our garden and knowing I NEEDED to share this recipe with you, I froze a fair amount, which I used here today :).

The recipe below is adapted from Anna Jones's lovely new vegetarian cookbook A Modern Way To Cook, which I highly recommend. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we did and thanks again for stopping by :). 

Preparation Time: 5  -10 minutes
Melting Time: 5 - 10 minutes
Cooling Time: 15 -20 minutes
Makes: about 6 chunky bars or 12 smaller squares

Ingredients:
250 (organic) Brazil nuts (see tips below for alternatives)
3 tablespoons maple syrup (see tips below for alternatives)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon (organic) vanilla powder
50grams dark (vegan) (organic) chocolate (see tips below for details)
60grams (i.e. a handful of) fresh or frozen red currants (see tips below for alternatives)

Instructions:
Line a 500g/1lb loaf pan (like this one) with greaseproof paper.

Put the Brazil nuts into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbles. Add the maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla mixing in the food processor until just combined.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Top evenly with the red currants and pop in the freezer for 15 – 20 minutes or until set. About 5 minutes before you take the raw cookie dough and berries out of the freezer, start melting the chocolate (if you are unsure how this is best done, please feel free to check the instructions here).

Remove the bars from the freezer and take out of the loaf pan. Evenly spread the chocolate over bars. Wait to cool, cut into 6 – 12 pieces and enjoy!

Store in the freezer and just take one out if and when you feel like one.

Tip 1: Brazil nuts are great sources of selenium, but they can be hard to come by and a bit expensive. So, if you prefer using a nut mix instead (say of Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans and almonds) that will work really well too.

Tip 2: I really wanted to keep this one truly vegan, but of course you can use honey to replace the maple syrup if you prefer.

Tip 3: Does this recipe need chocolate? I'm not 100% sure. It tastes great, no doubt and it makes for stunning visuals, which is why I used it here, but the recipe is just as complete without it.

If you do want to use chocolate, I'd recommend one that has at least 70-85% cacao in it as you don't want these bars getting too sweet. I used one of these vegan chocolate bars. You can also use cocoa nibs instead of the melted chocolate for a nice bitter crunch! Should you use chocolate that's sweeter and lower in cacao, you might want to reduce the maple syrup by 1 spoon :).

Tip 4: Instead of red currants, I've used raspberries as well as cherries. I think pomegranates will also work well here.

Looking for more dessert ideas? How about some simple vegan blackberry crumble? Or these deliciously easy gluten-free granola bars?

Want to read more about my thoughts on food blogging and food photography? Than please press here.