Vegan Mud Cake with Cashew Icing

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Everyone loves a good chocolate cake recipe so I thought I would experiment and make a chocolate cake that is vegan, therefore free of egg and dairy.  This cake is so beautifully moist, gooey and decadent.

I have used the cashew icing recipe in a few of my previous desserts but I wanted to make a vibrant pink icing for Valentines Day. I initially tried using raspberries but the icing was lumpy and didn’t have a good consistency, I tried again using beetroot and it blended so well and the colour came out so beautiful.

This delectable mud cake is the perfect dessert and it is unbelievably easy to make. I made this for Valentines Day but it would be a hit for any celebration.

Cake Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups of unbleached all-purpose gluten free flour
1 cup of coconut oil, melted.
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
1.5 tsp of baking powder
2.5 tsp of baking soda
1 1/4 cup of raw cacao or cocoa powder
1/3 cup of melted dark chocolate. (I used Whittakers 70% Dark Ghana)
2 tsp of vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups of coconut sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tsp of cinnamon

Icing Ingredients:

1 small beetroot – slice into small cubes (skin off)
1.5 cups of raw cashews
2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil
1.5 Tbsp of vanilla essence

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and lightly grease 2x 8 inch baking trays.
2. Mix the coconut oil, olive oil, dark chocolate and vanilla essence in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cacao, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and stir well.  The mixture should be think and creamy with no lumps. If the mixture is too thick, add more melted coconut oil and if the mixture is too wet add more flour or cocoa.
4. Divide the batter and add evenly to the 2 baking trays. Place the trays in the oven.
5. Bake for around 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool before icing.
6. To prepare the icing, blend the cashews, coconut oil and vanilla essence in a blender or food processor.  Slowly add the beetroot until the mixture turns into a vibrant pink colour. If the mixture is too thick, add a small amount of water so it turns into a smooth and fluffy consistency.
7. Once the cake has cooled down, frost the first layer of cake with pink icing. Add the top layer and ice generously. I sprinkled desiccated coconut over mine, alternatively dust with icing sugar or cocoa.

I served mine with a dollop of coconut yogurt but it would also be delicious with dairy free ice-cream. Store in an airtight container in the pantry. Cake should keep for 4-5 days.

Enjoy! L x

 

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Coconut Ice

 

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With the silly season just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recipe that is delicious, easy to make, and can be taken to upcoming summer BBQ’s and parties.  I wanted to make a healthier version of the classic coconut ice recipe by replacing the original recipes refined sugar with coconut sugar and red food colouring with beetroot juice. The beetroot juice gives the slice a beautiful, vibrant pink colour.
This is a chewy treat that is quick to make and super moreish. It is perfect for a sweet afternoon treat served with a herbal tea or wrapped up as a Christmas gift.

* Vegan
* Raw
* Gluten Free
* Dairy Free

Ingredients

4 cups of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1 small beetroot or 1 tsp of beetroot powder
400 grams of coconut milk
3/4 cup of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

Method

1. In a sauce pan, mix the coconut oil, coconut milk, vanilla and coconut sugar on a low heat. Combine ingredients until the coconut oil has melted. Take off heat and mix in the desiccated coconut.

2. Line a shallow baking tray or baking tin with baking paper. Halve the mixture, and press half of it into the baking tray. Place in freezer.

3. Prepare your juicer and juice the beetroot. Add 2 tablespoons of the juice to the remainder of the mixture, combine well.

Note: If you do not have a juicer, slice up the beetroot and boil in a pot for 5 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons of the water to the remainder of the mixture.  The water would have turned red from the beetroot, making the mixture a pink colour.

4. Add the pink mixture to the base and press it in well. Place the coconut ice into the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.

5. Cut the coconut ice into squares and store in the fridge. It will melt if it is kept in room temperature for too long.

Enjoy! L x


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Cookie Dough Truffles

These cookie dough truffles are the perfect little snack to have when on the go.  I usually make a batch of these on a Sunday night to keep in the fridge to have for the following week. Whenever I feel like a sweet treat I will have one.

There are only 5 ingredients needed to make these and they take around 5 minutes to make.

* Raw
* Vegan
* Gluten free
* Refined sugar free

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Ingredients

1.5 cups of raw cashew nuts
1.5 cups of pitted dates
1/4 cup of desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon of coconut oil (melted)
1/3 cup cacao nibs

Directions

1. Place the cashews, dates, desiccated coconut, coconut oil and cacao nibs in a food processor and blend well.
2. Take mixture out of the food processor and place into a bowl.
3. Separate the mixture and roll into small balls. Repeat until all the mixture is used.

This recipe makes approximately 10 truffles.

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Enjoy. L x

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HAIR // Julia’s Beauty Essentials

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Welcome to part 2 of my beauty blog post series –  this post will cover the products I use on my hair.  If you missed the first post I wrote last week about face skin care you can read it here.

My absolute favourite indulgence is going and getting a blow wave, it’s all part of my scheduled “me time”… that helps me justify the cost! A fresh blow wave makes me feel like a million dollars, I would choose one over a pair of new shoes any day!

I have been dying my hair for years and years and have been every shade possible.  Black, brown, orange, red, white, yellow (oops) and blonde.  If you regularly dye your hair you will know that trims and treatments help keep the health of your hair in good shape.  Diet also plays a big part as ultimately what you eat becomes part of you.  If you would like to learn more about the connection of diet and hair I would recommend the purchase of Dr Libby’s book “Beauty From The Inside Out“.

Just like face skin care I am moving towards using natural based hair care and have found there to be a lot of brands available at reasonable prices.  My absolute favourite hair care brand is Original & Mineral.  I have blogged about their blonde shampoo and conditioner here and when in Auckland get my hair dyed with their products at Stephen Marr.  (If you are in Auckland book in with Donielle at the Takapuna salon, she is incredible!).  Their products contain over 90% natural ingredients and they have taken out most of the nasty chemicals that we should not be using on our skin – Parabens, Triclosan, Sodium Chloride and Propylene, just to name a few.  Their products are not tested on animals and are Made In Australia.  At the supermarket more natural based brands are popping up, Eco Store is one of them and at $10.95 a bottle of shampoo only a few dollars more than chemical based brands such as Herbal Essences.

* These blog posts are not sponsored.  All of the products featured are because I use and love them, so my comments are completely genuine and come from the heart.  

HAIR

J&LHAIR

Top left clockwise: Original & Mineral “Know Knott”  conditioning detangler Coconut Oil Shop “Ancient Wisdom” Coconut Oil | Original & Mineral “Detox Deep Cleansing Shampoo” | Sans Ceuticals “Activator 7” Hair, Face & Body Oil | Herbology “Organic Hair NourishertreatmentOriginal & Mineral “Hydrate & Conquer” Conditioner  |

SHAMPOO:

Original & Mineral  “Detox Deep Cleansing Shampoo” // 350 ml / $39.00 NZD
– If you love giving your scalp and hair a deep clean, have it free of any dirt and build up oil then this shampoo is just what you need.  I love the smell of peppermint oil and cucumber, and the ingredients also include grapefruit extract.  I would recommend using this product every time you wash, however if you are on a budget then alternate every second wash.  Made in Australia and not tested on animals.  You can buy here if you are in New Zealand and here if you are in Australia.

CONDITIONER: 

Original & Mineral ” Hydrate & Conquer” // 350 ml / $39.00 NZD
– This is my favourite conditioner and it won me over purely based on the smell.  I have been using this conditioner for 18 months now and nothing else comes close to being as perfect.  I used to not be overly fussed with salon hair products and thought that supermarket brands did just as good a job – nope, I was wrong.  Hydrate & Conquer is King! As the formula is so rich and nourishing you only need a tiny bit, apply to your ends, leave on for a few minutes and you will smell divine.  A 350 ml bottle lasts me a few months (I have long hair) so it is well worth the price.  Again, Made in Australia and not tested on animals.  You can buy here if you are in New Zealand and here if you are in Australia.

SCALP TREATMENT:

Herbology ” Organic Hair Nourisher” // 50 ml / $35.00 NZD (approx)
– Herbology is a small, carefully selected range of products made from high quality organic oils and blends that help you care for your body, from head to toe.  The founder of the brand is an Aromatherapist who lives in New Zealand where the products are made.  Considering the products are all organic and NZ made I find the pricing to be very reasonable.   The Organic Hair Nourisher is a beautiful hair and scalp treatment made with Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Avocado oil with Rosemary and Lavender essential oils.  The best way to use this product is to massage into your scalp and roots of the hair, comb through and leave in for an hour or so before you wash it or over night and wash out in the morning.  Best done weekly/fortnightly or if you have very dry hair, an itchy scalp or dandruff I would suggest applying twice weekly.  You can buy here.

HAIR MASQUE:

Coconut Oil Shop “Ancient Wisdom” Coconut Oil // 160 ml / $14.70 NZD
 You can eat coconut oil and it also doubles as a beauty product which is great as you can purchase coconut oil at an affordable price.  For years I have used coconut oil as a hair masque and find it to be very effective in keeping my hair nourished and soft.  Before you go to bed apply coconut oil to the ends of your hair, tie your hair up in a top knot or plait, place a towel on your pillow and sleep with the oil in your hair.  The next morning wash it out and as it is an oil I find it best to double shampoo your hair to ensure the oil is all washed away or when your hair dries it will look greasy.  I like to do this masque every few weeks and in Summer once a week.  You can purchase coconut oil here.

SERUM:

Sans Ceuticals “Activator 7” // 250 ml
– Sans Ceuticals products are Made In New Zealand, most of the products are vegan friendly, all products are made entirely of natural ingredients, with the exception of retinal palmitate.  The Activator 7 Oil can be used on your face too however I just use it in my hair as a serum.  The product is highly concentrated so only a very small amount needs to be used.  Pre & after blow drying or after using a straightener or curling tongs run the oil through your hair ends.  It leaves your silky smooth and shiny! Some of the ingredients include Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Baobab  Oil (high in Omega 3,6 & 9).  In you are in NZ you can buy here and for international stockists click here.  

CONDITIONING DETANGLER: 

Original & Mineral “Know Knott” Conditioning Detangler // 250 ml / $39.00 NZD
– If you have thick or long hair you will understand why a detangler can be your best friend.  Know Knott saves me from ripping my hair out when I am combing it, which in turn helps reduce split ends.  Cold-pressed organic Argan and Macadamia oils will leave your hair conditioned and make it easier to get any knots out.  Spray though wet hair from roots to ends and your comb will glide through with ease.  Free of any harsh chemicals, not tested on animals and Made In Australia.  If you are in NZ you can buy here and in Australian you can buy here.

 

I am still on the search for a natural based dry shampoo and curling products.  What are some of your favourite hair care brands? Share below!

Julia x

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Apple and Carrot Cake

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This is a recipe for a quick and easy apple and carrot cake that will melt in your mouth.  The cake is gluten free, grain free and refined sugar free. It uses cinnamon, coconut sugar and honey to naturally sweeten it, and the apple makes the cake moist and light.

This cake tastes delicious on its own, or you can add the cream cheese icing on top which complements the carrot nicely. I made this cake for a dinner party and it went down a treat!

Ingredients:

Base

2 carrots, grated
2 apples
2 cups of  gluten free flour
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
3 large organic eggs
3/4 cup of raw honey, melted
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
3 teaspoons of vanilla essence
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of himalayan salt
1 cup of walnuts (to decorate)

Topping (optional)

180 grams of cream cheese
50 grams of organic butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Peel, core and chop the apples and cut into small cubes. Place them in a pot and add 2 cups of water and leave them on medium/low heat for 15 minutes. Drain the water and leave the apples to cool down.
3. In a large bowl mix the grated carrot, flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl beat the eggs for 1 minute. Add the melted honey, melted coconut oil and vanilla, mix well.
5. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, making sure it is well combined. Add the apple to the mixture.
6.  I used two cake pans to make a double layered cake but this recipe also works well using one cake pan. Using oil or butter, lightly grease the cake pan/s. Slowly pour the mixture into the cake pan/s.
7. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Check the cake with a toothpick before removing from the oven, the toothpick should come out clean once cooked.  Some ovens are stronger than others so check the cake once it has been in the oven for 25 minutes to ensure it doesn’t overcook.  Allow cake to cool completely before icing.
8. Make the icing: In a glass bowl add the cream cheese and butter and beat together for 2 minutes or until well combined.  Add the vanilla and beat for another minute. The mixture needs to be thick and creamy so it can be applied to the cake easily.
9. Place the cake onto a cake tray and top with the frosting.  If you baked two cakes then ice the middle layer first and then place the second cake on top and then ice the sides.  I used a knife to apply the icing.
10. Once the cake is iced sprinkle the walnuts over the top.  Store the cake in the fridge to ensure the icing doesn’t melt.

L x Enjoy

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Banoffee Pie

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Calling all Banoffee Pie fans out there, this recipe is truly divine. The combination of dried nuts, dates, banana, avocado, cacao and peanut butter make a beautiful guilt free dessert. The traditional banoffee pie is full of refined sugar and contains dairy, this recipe is refined sugar free, gluten free and vegan.
This banoffee pie is creamy and chocolatey and has a hint of peanut butter.

This indulgent recipe is perfect for a dinner party.

Make this pie using a 20cm pie dish or alternatively you can use mini cake trays.

Ingredients

Base

1 cup of  walnuts or raw cashew nuts
1 cup of raw almonds
1.5 cups of pitted dates
1/4 cup of cacao nibs (optional)

Filling

2 bananas
1 avocado
1/4 cup of raw cacao powder
1/2 cup of cacao nibs (optional)
1/4 cup of raw maple syrup or 1/4 cup of coconut sugar
1 cup of peanut butter

Topping

2x 400g cans of coconut milk. (These need to be kept in the fridge overnight, a layer of cream will form on top. This is used for the top layer of the pie.)
1 banana

Method

1. In a food processor blend the base ingredients until they are blended finely. Press into a pie dish and make sure the crust is 0.5 cm’s thick so it doesn’t crack when taken out of the dish. Place in the freezer.
2. Blend all the filling ingredients together until smooth. Place onto the base of the pie and then set in freezer for 10 minutes.
3. To make the topping, spread coconut milk over the pie (the coconut milk fat should have formed at the top of the can overnight). Slice up one banana and place on top of pie. Sprinkle with cacao powder and place in the freezer for an hour before serving.

L x

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Peanut Butter and Cacao Brownie

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Chocolate and peanut butter are two foods that taste incredible when combined.  These decadent, chewy peanut butter and cacao brownies are the perfect guilt free comfort food. The peanut butter makes the brownie creamy and rich and the cacao nibs gives it a crunchy texture. This is such a simple recipe to follow and can be easily adapted by adding nuts, shredded coconut, dried fruit and white chocolate bits.
I served my brownies with plain yogurt and they also taste great eaten on their own, they are moist so do not worry if you do not have yoghurt.

*Gluten Free

Ingredients

2 eggs
3/4 cup of peanut butter. I used 100% NUTZ Crunchy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup of coconut sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup of cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup of raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 9 by 9 inch pan with baking paper and grease with coconut oil or butter.
2. Combine the eggs, yogurt, coconut sugar, oats, almond milk, cacao nibs, cacao powder, vanilla essence and mix well.
3. Pour the mixture into the pan and spread evenly.
4. Heat the peanut butter in the microwave for 1 minute, until it is slightly melted. Pour the melted peanut butter over the mixture. Using a fork mix the peanut butter through the mixture creating a marbled effect.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  I melted some dark chocolate chips and swirled them over the brownie before placing in the fridge.
6. Place the brownie in the fridge for 1 hour before serving, although it does taste amazing fresh out of the oven.

L x Enjoy

 

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Avocado and Coconut Smoothie

This green smoothie contains three of my favorite high quality fats which are Avocado, Coconut Oil and Peanut Butter.

Fat is one of the three basic macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) that your body needs to survive. It has many special roles from providing superior long lasting energy to supporting the development of hormones. Fat is needed for protecting vital organs, it’s also required for assimilating the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Your cell membranes are made from fat.  The right balance of healthy fat allows your body to create strong but flexible cell membranes that can receive nutrients and excrete wastes efficiently. Certain high quality fats are also able to reduce cholesterol levels and aid in detoxification.

The avocado gives it a fluffy and creamy texture without having to use any dairy. I sprinkled some desiccated coconut over the top of the smoothie.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

1 Avocado
1 teaspoon of coconut oil (I used Coconut Oil available from the Coconut Oil shop)
1 tablespoon of peanut butter (I used 100% NUTZ LSA blended peanut butter)
1 apple
1 cup of spinach
1 lemon
1 1/2 cups of water

Directions

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until there is a smooth consistency.

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For more delicious Avocado recipes check out the NZ Avocado website!

 

Libby x

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Benefits of Coconut Oil

For a few months now I have been using coconut oil and cannot believe how much my skin has  benefited from this. Coconut oil or ‘white gold’ is the only thing I will apply to my face every night, I can’t live without it. In this post I will tell you why using coconut oil is one of the best things you can do for your health.

The benefits of coconut oil include increased immunity, hair care, skin care, weight loss, maintaining cholesterol, stress relief, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, dental care and bone strength.

There are medium chain fatty acids present in coconut oil – lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid. This type of fatty acid refers to the length of the fat molecule which can make an enormous difference in our bodies. Coconut oil contains at least 40% lauric acid, this is also found in breast milk. Lauric acid is then converted into monilaurin in the body and provides our bodies with antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties. This is why breast milk is the best source of food for babies and coconut oil is a great food for everyone else.

Skin Care

Coconut oil easily absorbs into the skin, making it an excellent non-greasy moisturizer. Use it right after coming out of the shower, while your skin is still a little damp. It can also be used as massage oil. Coconut oil has high moisture retaining capacity. When applied to your skin this is what prevents it from drying out and cracking, providing significant improvement in skin hydration and water content.

The Lauric acid gives it its anti microbial properties. Using a small amount is supposed to reduce breakouts by reducing skin bacteria. Wash your skin first with a mild cleanser, and then apply a very small amount of coconut oil to the affected area.

Coconut oil can also be used to treat sunburn. The antioxidants in the oil can help reduce redness and limit some of the damage done to the skin by sun exposure. One of the ways that the sun damages your skin is through free radicals. Coconut oil is full of antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals. Make sure that you are using pure unrefined virgin coconut oil, this form is the safest on your skin. it has a low melting point so it will not solidify on your skin and clog up your pores.

Weight loss

A lot of people are put off using coconut oil because it is a fat. Coconut oil is actually used to promote weight loss. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzyme systems. The oil works by increasing the bodies metabolism so it can burn more energy and reduce weight. Coconut oil slows down the digestion of food, which helps you feel fuller after a meal. Many people notice that after adding coconut oil to their diet, they are less prone to snacking. Coconut oil slows down digestion which helps prevent blood sugar fluctuations after a meal by slowing the rate carbohydrates are broken down into glucose.
Coconut oil helps cleanse the body, balances the digestive tract and nourishes all cells in the body.

Hair care

Coconut oil is amazing for your hair! It helps in healthy growth of hair providing a shiny complexion. It reduces the protein loss for damaged and undamaged hair. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair.  I apply it to dry hair before going to bed and wash it out in the morning, you can also apply it during the day for two hours and then wash it out.

Cooking

Coconut oil is one of the few oils that is not damaged when heated to temperatures used in cooking, baking and frying. When you chose a cooking oil you want to choose one that wont be damaged under heat. Oils such as corn, sunflower, canola and soybean are damaged by heating and can cause health problems. You can use coconut oil at very high temperatures and even leave it at room temperature for months without it going rancid.

Immunity

Coconut oil is great for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. These antimicrobial properties can kill a variety of disease-causing bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites, yet they do not harm friendly gut bacteria or contribute to antibiotic resistance.

My favourite Coconut oil is available from The Coconut Oil Shop. I purchase the ‘White Gold Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil’ which is produced from organic coconuts harvested in Sri Lanka. The Coconut Oil Shop also sell fermented coconut which helps support gut health (Julia is a big fan of this).   The Coconut Oil Shop deliver free within New Zealand.  You can also check out their Facebook page.

You can add coconut oil to smoothies, herbal teas, baking, popcorn, breakfast oats, salad dressing, saute over vegetables and use as a cooking oil.

Libby x

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Chocolate Bounty Balls

These taste just as good as real bounty bars, like the ones I used to eat when I was little; except these are not full of preservatives or refined sugar.

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Ingredients:

For the filling –

1/4 cup coconut cream
1 Tablespoon of raw organic maple syrup
1/2 cup cashews
1 1/3 cups of desiccated coconut (shredded also works)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil

For the outside coating –

1 Tablespoon of raw organic maple syrup
2 Tablespoons cacao powder
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Method:

1: Place coconut cream, maple syrup, cashews, coconut and coconut oil in a blender or food processor.  Blend until ingredients are combined.  They will be a paste like consistency (similar to hummus), when this happens you can remove from the blender.
2: Roll the coconut mixture into balls and place into the freezer on a lined baking tray.  The mixture should make 12 – 15 balls.

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Off to the freezer…

3: Time to make the chocolate coating.  If your coconut oil isn’t warm enough to be in its liquid state then melt it under the tap in its jar with hot water or place into a small pan and melt.  Once done let it cool for a minute or two and combine with cacao powder and maple syrup.

4: Take the balls out of the freezer; if they are hard dip into the chocolate mixture and place back onto the baking paper.  Repeat with all of the balls.  Place into the freezer.

5: Repeat step 4 again so that the chocolate mixture is thick.  The second time you have dipped the balls into chocolate roll in some desiccated coconut.  Place back onto lined baking tray and let the balls set.  Once hard remove and store in a container in the freezer.

Enjoy! Jx

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