Hello! Tomorrow’s International Chocolate Day YAY!

international chocolate day
post op fun on Pop’s boat

Greetings!

We’re back after the summer hols and looking forward to international chocolate day tomorrow!  There are a load of chocolatey recipes at the bottom of this post to help you celebrate this wonderful day too 😉

It was a strange Summer this year, we had a mini break in Cornwall, and lots of fabulous days out – making the most of our proximity to London and the seaside! But the whole summer was over-shadowed by one consultant, who’d told us Aars would need to have an endoscopy this summer. She did not communicate – post appointment in May – you can read about that appointment here! Neither did she did communicate pre-endoscopy or post-endoscopy. So I feel like I have expended a lot of energy this summer, futilely trying to wrangle some information out of the woman who is meant to be aiding Aaron’s health.

As you know Aars has had plenty of experience of hospitals; in A&E, admitted and as an outpatient. Everyone we have come across on these occasions has been incredible. But the consultant we have been interacting with (rather not interacting with) this summer has bucked the trend.

Aars got sicker and tireder, it was a miserable way to spend his Summer holidays. He decided that he was going to stop eating gluten on the 18th August after he had completed the three months she had required for the endoscopy. I had called her secretary to ask about the date of the endoscopy and had spoken to her a few times after that initial call – every time I was told that the consultant had not yet responded to my messages. By the 4th August we were well into the final month and still hadn’t heard from her about the endoscopy appointment.

Thanks to Aars’ wonderful GP’s effective pestering, we finally got a letter from the hospital on the 8th August with the date of the endoscopy. He was booked in for Monday 15th August.

international chocolate day
post op recovery in hospital

The consultant told us, both immediately before and after the operation, that Aaron must continue to eat gluten until we got the results. She said that she would call us with the results on the 19th of August, 23rd of August at the latest. So Aars carried on eating gluten.

We did not hear from her, and I had no joy ringing the hospital and her secretary daily. Aars set a deadline for himself/her as all his symptoms were worsening; the 30th August. He didn’t want to return to school feeling weak, tired and ill… By the 30th August we still had not received the results from her, I checked with the GP to see if the consultant had written to her rather than us (as she’d done this previously). But no word. I’d been calling her secretary’s number at least once a day – by the 30th (Aars’ deadline) I was up to 10 calls in one day. The phone was either engaged or rung until it was cut off.

Aars returned to school on the 1st September having spent his entire summer feeling knackered and ill due to all the gluten in his system. He’d had enough, and had lost any remnants of faith and trust in the consultant. I spoke with his GP and she agreed with Aars cutting out gluten – even if that means we do not get the definitive diagnosis of Coeliacs Disease. It is very clear that that gluten has a really negative impact on his body, and the month when he cut it out between April and May had a hugely positive impact on him. He grew, he put on weight, his energy levels soared, he went from the bottom ten of sixty boys in cross-country to the top ten – it was remarkable.

We still have not heard back from the consultant regarding Aaron’s biopsy results, in three days it will be a month since he had the operation, and she said we’d have the results in four days! The GP has written to her again – but no results yet! By the end of the summer I was very stressed. It’s frustrating when all you want is for your child to be healthy and under the orders of a consultant you are feeding him something that makes him sick. I obeyed on trust – trust that she would inform us of the results, inform us of the plan and how long this would continue… instead all there was was radio silence.

So Aars is gluten-free. We have given up on the consultant. If we ever get the biopsy results that would be a bonus – but I have stopped calling her. It’s a shame that he spent his whole summer eating a food that makes him so ill. It’s a shame that she didn’t keep her word and communicate the results so that we could make an informed decision about how to proceed. I really hope that his eating gluten for nearly four months does count for something – but I’m pretty sure it won’t, and it was a waste of his summer holidays, and a waste of my time pestering her to let us know when the operation would be, followed by futile calls trying to get the results of his biopsy.

From now on the recipes I post on free2bake will be gluten-free. If you use normal flour – it will work well in these recipes especially if you’re egg-free like us. If you do have any questions about recipes using normal flour please get in touch as for most of the food I have cooked Aars previously has had normal flour in it so I have a mass of recipes which will work for you.

I am going to be experimenting with different types of gluten-free flours too which is exciting! In the meantime, did you know that it’s international chocolate day tomorrow? Very exciting!! So here are some of our fave chocolate recipes for you to enjoy 🙂

recipes for international chocolate day YAY!

these are our favourite little chocolate bites – we call amazeballs ‘cos they are amazing!

chocolate (date & coconut) amaze-balls

  • Yield:

    18 amazeballs
  • Cooking Method:

    melting
  • Prep Time:

    25 mins
  • Cook Time:

    0 mins
chocolate (date & coconut) amaze-balls

These chocolate (date & coconut) amaze-balls are bite-sized balls of yum! Full of great ingredients which make them, very nearly, a healthy treat! They are sweet and rich and more-ish, they make great gifts and when we have tea parties the children gobble them up unaware of all the goodness they are devouring! The other bonus is that they are really easy to make. 

Ingredients:

  • ½ C dried dates*
  • ¼ C water
  • 1 flax-*gg (1 Tbs ground flaxseed + 3Tbs water)
  • 100g dark chocolate at least 70% broken into pieces
  • ½ C desiccated coconut 
  • TO COAT:
  • ½ C desiccated coconut

Method:

  1. Put your dried dates in a small bowl with the water and leave them to soak them for at least an hour before making these chocolate (date & coconut) amaze-balls.

  2. When the dates have soaked for an hour, make your flax-*gg in a mug by combining the ground flax-seeds with the water; then leave for about 12 minutes to go gloopy like an egg. (I grind my own flaxseeds in my spice-grinder

    chocolate (date & coconut) amaze-balls
    ready to roll

  3. Pop 18 tiny cases on a plate ready for your truffles to go in, and get the desiccated coconut for coating the truffles into a flat bottommed bowl big enough to roll the amazeballs around in.

  4. Drain your dates, then blitz them into a sticky paste (I use the spice grinder on my Kenwood chef).

  5. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water on a very low heat. When the chocolate is melted stir in the date paste, the coconut and the flax-*gg. Combine them until all the mix is dark (see photo)

  6. Now you can create your little balls of YUM! The mix will roll into lovely, shiny, dark chocolate balls, pop them in the desiccated coconut, roll them about until the are covered in the white flakes, then place them carefully in the waiting cases. Pop the lid on the box and put your chocolate amaze-balls in the fridge to cool for an hour before you indulge.

Notes:

*You can use pitted fresh dates if you prefer

You can store these in the fridge for up to 6 days in an air-tight container but ours tend to disappear within 3 days - can't imagine where they go ;P. 

For a grown up treat check out my Disaronno chocolate treats

I reckon they taste best served at room temperature within the first 4 days of making. 

our delicious Mexican free-from proper hot chocolate

proper hot chocolate

  • Yield:

    serves 3 initially
  • Cooking Method:

    toasting, melting
  • Prep Time:

    15 mins
  • Cook Time:

    15 mins
proper hot chocolate

This gorgeous hot, liquid treat is completely dairy free and TOTALLY delicious. Hot chocolate kinda done the Mexican way, this is adapted for my sons palette - so it's less intense. It is however still very rich so you only need a small cup of it. I use is 85% chocolate, it's decedent & delectable but according to some it's great for me too 🙂 what a bonus! I make it when I roast malibu almonds - just gather 20 from the tray when they come out of the oven and get blending. 

Ingredients:

  • 20 almonds for this recipe (but I do a tray full and eat the others later!)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate (I use 85%)
  • 500ml cold water

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (fan) and pop your the almonds & cinnamon stick onto a baking tray. When the oven is hot put your tray of goodies in to roast for 4 mins, then get them out the oven - enjoy the aroma as you put them into a spice grinder along with the vanilla sugar & about 30g of your chocolate. Give them a grind - is smells divine!

  2. Now pop the paste you've just created into a small pan along with the remaining 70g of chocolate and the water. Warm them up over a low flame, whisking it as it slowly heats up. Don't let it reach simmering point, just before it gets there remove from the heat and pour through a sieve into your waiting small cups! 

Notes:

I keep all the contents of the sieve. For the following few days I recycle it, adding 50g chocolate, 1 Tbs vanilla sugar, 300ml water to the mix, melting it all in a pan then pouring the lot into a liquidiser to blitz then back in the pan to heat up and through the sieve into waiting cups. It stays as scrummy; the flavours and warmth of the cinnamon and roasted almonds persist.

some yummy, healthy chocolate smoothies

chocolate ginger smoothie

  • Yield:

    1 generous mug or 2 normal glasses
  • Cooking Method:

    blending
  • Prep Time:

    10 mins
  • Cook Time:

    0 mins
chocolate ginger smoothie

This chocolate ginger smoothie is über luxurious and lush. It's a wonderful combo of cosy rich raw cacao powder and firey ginger root. It is somehow really comforting, warming and refreshing, as it packs a great big zinging ginger punch!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cm³ ginger root peeled & chopped up
  • 1 banana skinned & broken up
  • ½ an avocado peeled & stoned
  • 3 Tbs raw cacao powder
  • handful of blueberries (I keep mine in the freezer)
  • handful of ice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-5 dates stoned (dependant on how sweet you like your smoothie)
  • 1 C milk alternative of your choice

Method:

  1. Bung all the ingredients into your blender and blitz thoroughly until it's a smooth thick consistency. Pour into your favourite glass and enjoy! 

Notes:

Enjoy sharing this treat of a drink with your children and friends 🙂

mental mint-choc smoothie

  • Yield:

    1½ pints!
  • Cooking Method:

    blending
  • Prep Time:

    10 mins
  • Cook Time:

    0 mins
mental mint-choc smoothie

This mental mint-choc smoothie is über luxurious and pretty surprising. It’s really refreshing, thanks to the mass of fresh black peppermint I bung in. It’s awesome as it tastes naughty but makes your body feel really nice! Like you are feeding it something truly delicious and nutritious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana skinned & broken up
  • ½ an avocado peeled & stoned
  • 400ml m!lk alternative
  • 3-5 dates stoned (dependant on how sweet you like your smoothie)
  • 2 Tbs raw cacao powder*
  • handful of blueberries (I keep mine in the freezer)
  • handful of ice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • huge handful of black peppermint**

Method:

  1. Bung all the ingredients into your blender in the order above and blitz thoroughly until it's a smooth thick consistency. Pour into your favourite jar and enjoy! 

Notes:

*If you're using normal cocoa powder add an extra Tbs

**If you're using normal mint add in a little extra as black peppermint is really strong!

a naughty but nice gooey chocolate cake (with gluten)

gorgeously gooey chocolate cake

  • Yield:

    2 cakes
  • Cooking Method:

    baking
  • Prep Time:

    40 mins
  • Cook Time:

    25 mins

Allergens:

gluten
gorgeously gooey chocolate cake

This is Aars' absolute favourite cake - it is gooey and sticky and not very pretty; but absolutely delish and über chocolatey. As he has to eat gluten again this is my original recipe which I have been baking for Aars since he was four years old. He requests it every birthday and it has never failed to delight everyone we have fed it to! Always serve this cake warm - it's gorgeously gooey! 

Ingredients:

The Cake:
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C sunflower spread
  • 4 Tbs (heaped) raw cacao powder*
  • 2 C self-raising flour
  • 2 C demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ Tbs ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 C mini marshmallows*
  • ½ Tbs vanilla extract
The all important icing:
  • ½ C sunflower spread
  • 4 Tbs (heaped) raw cacao powder* 
  • dash of salt
  • ¹/3C m!lk alternative (we used koko a thin coconut m!lk)
  • ½ Tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 C sifted icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (fan) and prep 2 bread loaf tins with paper cases. 

  2. Pop the water, spread & cacao powder into a pan & place over a low heat to slowly melt, stirring occasionally.

  3. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, bicarbonate, cinnamon and salt.

  4. Once the ingredients in the pan are melted and combined, stir in the marshmallows. When they start to melt into the mixture add the dry ingredients from your bowl and remove the pan from the heat. Continue to stir until everything is combined and then add in the vanilla - mix it in well.

  5. Now ladle the gloopy mix into your waiting bread tins and pop into the oven for 25 minutes.

  6. It's time to get to work on the icing as it needs to be poured onto the cakes as soon as they come out of the oven. In a clean pan add the spread, cacao, salt & m!lk alternative. Place the pan over a low heat and slowly melt.

  7. Once it's melted, keep it on a low heat and add in the icing sugar, I do it in ½C batches sifting it as I go. When all the sugar has been added and the icing is smooth add the vanilla and take off the heat.

  8. When your cakes come out of the oven use a skewer to stab some holes in it and pour the warm icing over the top. Leave to cool but ALWAYS ALWAYS serve this cake warm! 

Notes:

*if you don't have raw cacao powder use normal cocoa powder
*if you don't have mini marshmallows chop up some big ones! 

Use your families favourite m!lk alternative. To understand C measures check out my post here.

And the gluten-free version

oh-soooooooo gooey chocolate cake

  • Yield:

    2 cakes
  • Cooking Method:

    baking
  • Prep Time:

    40 mins
  • Cook Time:

    25 mins
oh-soooooooo gooey chocolate cake

This is Aars' absolute favourite cake - it is gooey and sticky and not very pretty; but absolutely delish and über chocolatey. This is a really great gluten-free version of the cake I've made for him since he was about four years old. He requests it every birthday and it has never failed to delight the whole family from toddler to Great Granny! Always serve it warm - it's gorgeously gooey! 

Ingredients:

The Cake:
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C Sunflower spread
  • 4 Tbs (heaped) raw cacao powder*
  • 1 C gluten-free oats
  • 1½ C gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 2 C demerara sugar
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ Tbs ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 C mini marshmallows*
  • ½ Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs cidre vinegar
The all important icing:
  • ½ C sunflower spread
  • 4 Tbs (heaped) raw cacao powder* 
  • dash of salt
  • ¹/3C milk alternative (we used koko a thin coconut milk)
  • ½ Tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 C sifted icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (fan) and prep 2 bread loaf tins with paper cases. 

  2. Pop the water, sunflower spread & raw cacao powder into a pan & place over a low heat to slowly melt, stirring occasionally.

  3. In a large bowl combine the oats, self-raising flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt.

  4. Once the ingredients in your pan are melted and combined, stir in the marshmallows, when they start to melt into the mixture add the dry ingredients from your bowl and remove the pan from the heat. Continue to stir until everything is combined and then add in the vanilla and vinegar - mix them in well.

  5. Now ladle the gloopy mix into your waiting bread tins and pop into the oven for 25 minutes.

  6. It's time to get to work on the icing as it needs to be poured onto the cakes as soon as they come out of the oven. In a clean pan add the spread, raw cacao powder, salt & milk alternative. Place the pan over a low heat and slowly melt.

  7. Once it's melted, keep it on the heat and add in the icing sugar, I do it in ½C batches sifting it as I go. When all the sugar has been added and the icing is smooth add the vanilla and take off the heat.

  8. When your cakes come out of the oven use a skewer to stab some holes in it and pour the warm icing over the top. Leave to cool but ALWAYS ALWAYS serve this cake warm! 

Notes:

*if you don't have raw cacao powder use normal cocoa powder
*if you don't have mini marshmallows chop up some big ones! 

Use your families favourite milk alternative and if you don't need to be gluten free this cake works brilliantly with normal oats & flour.

And some scrummy chocolate brownie biscuits

chocolate brownie cookies

  • Yield:

    makes about 18 biscuits
  • Cooking Method:

    baking
  • Prep Time:

    5 mins
  • Cook Time:

    8 mins
chocolate brownie cookies

These chocolate brownie cookies are a bit bonkers! As the name suggests they are like chocolate brownies in a cookie form; the outside of these delights are a little crispy and crunchy, while the insides are über gooey and chewy like every good chocolate brownie should be. They are great fresh from the oven and they never last longer than a couple of hours in our house! I created them to use up some home-made nutella and we have been baking them ever since.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C ground almonds
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • grind of salt
  • 4 Tbs maple syrup
  • 4 Tbs muscovado sugar
  • ½ C cornflour
  • 4 Tbs raw cacoa powder
  • 4 Tbs homemade nutella  

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan) and prep a baking tray with some baking paper.

    chocolate brownie cookie recipe
    room to expand

  2. In a bowl combine all the ingredients, mix it up until it's all combined in a gooey sticky mess*.

  3. Dollop blobs of the mix on to your tray, leaving a good space between the blobs as they will spread. They don't look pretty at this stage but don't worry!

  4. Pop into the oven and cook for 8/9 mins. Don't cook them any longer as they will go really hard and crunchy. 

  5. Let them sit on the tray for a few minutes before transferring onto your cooling rack or plate! They are delicious eaten whilst still warm.

Notes:

*You can add chocolate chunks to the mix at this stage too if you fancy an especially chocolatey hit! 

I hope that there is something lovely and chocolatey there for you to enjoy tomorrow!

Smiles and love,
Rai x

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