Easy chocolate covered strawberries recipe [vegan friendly, RECIPE]

I’m going to a 4th of July BBQ and I volunteered to make dessert. I asked if there were any dietary restrictions and my friend said it would be great if I could make something vegan-friendly. I said yes without thinking. But later I realized most of the stuff I make uses butter or eggs so I couldn’t use my go-to dessert recipes. But then I realized, dark chocolate is vegan – just read the label though because some name brands can skimp on the cocoa and add milk… more on that later.

chocolate dipped strawberries

The recipe doesn’t take a long time to make and it’s a great dessert for groups. You don’t need serving spoons or knives – just pick it up and eat! Best part, you just need 2 ingredients to make it:

  1. 12 oz. chocolate chips (semisweet chocolate) – read ingredients to make sure there aren’t any animal products in the chocolate
  2. 2 dozen medium sized strawberries

I admit I read every bag of chocolate chips in the baking aisle in the store. Interesting bit is that not all semisweet chocolate chips are made the same. The ones that were more inexpensive had some milk or dairy mixed in but the more pricier chocolate chips didn’t and I assume it’s because it had a higher cocoa content. I ended up going with Guittard real semisweet chocolate but the Ghirardelli all natural semisweet also works if you can find it in stock at your grocery store.

So you have your goods, now what?

  1. Wash your strawberries and dry thoroughly.
  2. Lay a clean sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  3. Get a pot and fill it with water halfway and put it on the stove with medium heat. Get a metal bowl and put it on top. I have a bowl that’s slightly bigger than the pot so it sits nicely on top and doesn’t sink into the water. Don’t use glass or plastic.
  4. Put the chocolate chips inside the bowl and get a wooden spoon to stir s the chocolate melts. Use a wooden spoon so it won’t scratch your bowl like metal or plastic spoons.
  5. Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the stove and grab your strawberries.
  6. Dip your strawberries halfway and swirl in the chocolate. Lift up and let the excess chocolate drop off and place the strawberry on the parchment paper that’s on the cookie sheet. Once you’ve put it there, don’t move it around or you’ll have a chocolaty mess.

Once you’re done, let it cool outside for about 15 minutes then put it in the fridge for a couple hours. In less than 3 hours, from start to finish, you’ll have your chocolate covered strawberries for your party!

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Baking gluten-free almond macaroons [RECIPE]

This is my second attempt trying to bake almond macaroons. The first time I did it, it turned out pretty bad so I didn’t even bother taking photos. I recently found a recipe that I posted on my Pinterest board for chewy almond macaroons from Saveur. I love almonds and it’s gluten-free and vegan-friendly – which is a safe dessert to bring for potlucks if people have aversions to certain ingredients.

The recipe calls for just a few ingredients:

  1. Almond paste (do not use marzipan)
  2. Superfine sugar (aka Baker’s Sugar)
  3. Salt
  4. Amaretto liqueur
  5. Powdered sugar

I’m not going to lie, almond paste is pretty expensive. I bought mine for a little under $7 for 7 oz. This recipe calls for 18 oz. Next time I may try to make my own almond paste if I have the time – or shop around for a beter deal (but I doubt I will find anything better). Here’s how it looks after the ingredients were all mixed and they were put on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

You’re supposed to take the macaroons out when they have turned golden however, mine took a long time to turn golden and when it did, the macaroon shape flattened to look like a cookie – it didn’t look like the one that Saveur posted.

DO NOT use regular granulated sugar. The recipe calls for “superfine sugar” which is something between the consitancy of granulated sugar and powdered sugar. I was going to buy the superfine sugar but it was almost $5 for a carton and I only needed 1/2 cup. I did some research online and apparently, you can put granulated sugar in the food processor for a couple minutes or until it gets really fine.

Granted the look of the almond macaroons didn’t look like I had expected BUT it tasted great. There was a little caramelization on top and the cookie was dense and chewy. Even though the base of the recipe is almond paste, the almond flavor didn’t overpower the cookie – it was subtle and sweet. If you have tips to make this dessert better, please share your tips with me! I’d really appreciate it.

If you’re willing to give it a try, here’s the RECIPE for chewy almond macaroons.

Vegan eats at Larchmont’s Cafe Gratitude

I know it’s Valentine’s Day and restaurants will be crawling with couples. Blech!!! This post isn’t about where couples should go for a V-day dinner – this post is about going out to a place that appreciates you today… and gives YOU gratitude.

Cafe Gratitude is a popular vegan spot in my neighborhood that I’ve been wanting to try but also at the same time trying to avoid because of the crowds. However, one night I met up with my friend and his vegetarian girlfriend from Minnesota. I suggested this place because he vegan dishes are something the Twin Cities wouldn’t have. Cafe Gratitude has had their bit of news lately but this post is about the food so let’s get to it.

One of the really unique things about this place is the positive affirmation labeled dishes they serve up. They all start with the first person, “I”, and a positive descriptor. For my main dish, I ordered “I am transformed.” And yes, when they serve the dish to you, they say “You” and the descriptor.

My “I am transformed” was basically corn tacos with caramelized butternut squash, black beans, avocado, salsa fresca, and cashew nacho cheese with a side salad. The tacos were surprisingly filling and also rich with flavor. I liked the little kick in the sauce. When I finished the tacos, I saw this little surprise on my plate…

They had the same message on my “I’m so adoring” (aka tiramisu) plate.

The tiramisu is vegan so that means there’s no dairy. I was a bit hesitant at first but the waitress insisted it was one of her favorites. My fork smoothly cut through my slice of tiramisu that had layers of chocolate mousse, whipped cream, and almond-espresso batter. Because of the almond, it had a nice rounded nutty after-taste that I liked. This is a pretty dense dessert so I recommend splitting it with someone – I wasn’t able to finish it on my own.

So on this Valentine’s Day, I hope you give gratitude to yourself and enjoy some good food.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cafe Gratitude
639 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004