Chocolate and Chickpeas Around the Web

(… and in print, too!)

As anyone who knows me personally will tell you, I’m a total introvert. A side effect of this is that it’s really hard to blow my own trumpet – possibly not so great for a freelancer! One of my mid-year resolutions is to have more self-belief and confidence in my worth as a writer, as a mother and as a person. If we aren’t our own biggest cheerleaders, who will be?

To that end, I really ought to share a couple of places where you can see more of my work if you enjoy following Chocolate and Chickpeas…

An Ethical Toybox: Chickpea Magazine


Chickpea Magazine is an American vegan publication which is, quite honestly, the most beautiful magazine I’ve ever had the privilege to be involved with. Not only are the recipes great and the features interesting, but it’s filled with gorgeous food photography and amazing hand-inked lettering. This is one of the magazines I’m more than happy to keep on the coffee table for visitors to flick through.

I was over the moon to be commissioned to write a feature for their Family issue earlier this year. It’s a subject close to my heart as we found it quite difficult to navigate new-parenthood while treading as lightly as possible, especially on a budget.

Grandma’s Stolen Brussels Sprouts: The Guardian

I’m not ashamed to admit it: when I checked my inbox and the acceptance email popped onto the screen, I did an excited dance around the house.

I’m really proud of this piece, partly because it was printed in the Guardian Family Supplement but mostly as it’s such a happy memory of my grandmother. On a writing course, one of the tutors once said ‘when you write about food, you’re never actually writing about food’ and I think she was right. Food, both cooking and eating, is such an evocative subject. It brings up memories of celebrations, traditions, family and experiences. Wring this short piece about my grandma stealing my sprouts was both joyful and cathartic to write. There’s even a bonus recipe, if you happen to like your sprouts boiled rather than roasted or stir-fried (they’re fabulous stir-fried!)

Check out Chocolate and Chickpeas on Instagram!


I’m late to the party with Instagram but it’s been a lot of fun so far. Please do consider following here for sneak peeks at recipes in development and food out and about.

You can also have Chocolate and Chickpeas delivered straight to your inbox – just sign up in the sidebar on the right and never miss a post!

That really is enough flagrant self-promotion for now. My little introverted self needs a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

Anniversary Chickpea Flour Pancakes [VEGAN]


Recently, the Mr and I celebrated having spent fifteen years together. It’s been a meandering journey; full of laughter and tears, learning, music, travel, multiple homes, an amazing child, excitable kittens and – above all – growth.

The great thing about finding each other so young is that we’ve navigated much of our adult lives hand in hand, with a constant ally and accomplice to have our backs as we discover who we really are.

We spent the day hiking through a local natural park, searching for an elusive monument which – it eventually turned out – was actually located outside the park which bore its name emblazoned on all the signage. C’est la vie. Everything was beautiful nevertheless, with stunning views from the hilltops and fairytale fields filled with buttercups and a delicate froth of dandelion clocks.

After a jaunt across a sprawling golf course, down a main road and through a pub car park, we finally found a hidden path which led to the beacon we’d sought. Spreading out the remains of our picnic with exhaustion and a slightly stubborn sense of achievement, we realised that the long and convoluted route we’d taken had actually been the best part of the day. We’d seen wonderful things which would have been missed if we’d simply parked up and taken the easy, direct path.

And that sums up our relationship, really. Every step we’ve taken has brought us to where (and who) we are. And looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Back at home, it seemed only right to celebrate our anniversary with the other half’s favourite dinner. Currently, that’s a chickpea-flour pancake which almost resembles an omelette, liberally stuffed with spinach and garlic mushrooms. Or, if we have some available, with roasted aubergine slices in tomato sauce. Fast, filling and full of flavour, it makes a great midweek (or post-hike!) meal for when we’re short on time, energy or inclination.

I’ve made a lot of these pancakes recently and it’s always a pleasure. There’s something distinctly satisfying about coating the base of the pan with a thin layer of batter and – of course – the all-important flip. So if they remain a family favourite for a while, I certainly won’t mind.

Here’s to making them for another fifteen years.

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5 from 1 vote
Easy Chickpea Flour Pancakes [VEGAN]
Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 people
Author: www.chocolate and
For the Pancakes
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 cup soya milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
For the Filling
  • 250 g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 250 g fresh spinach
  • 1 handful sweetcorn (frozen or canned)
  • 8 sun dried tomatoes
For the Pancakes
  1. Place the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly.

  2. Make a well in the centre and add the soya mik, water and oil. Stir in well with a whisk.

  3. Place an 8" nonstick frying pan on a low heat and pour a 1/2 cup measure of the mixture to cover the base in a thin layer.

  4. Cook for a few minutes until bubbles rise in the middle and the top becomes matte in texture. Flip carefully and cook for a few minutes more on the other side. Place in a low oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes.

For the Filling
  1. Place the crushed garlic and mushrooms in your largest nonstick saucepan and cook for 4/5 minutes on a medium heat. Tumble in the sun dried tomatoes and sweet corn then add the spinach (you may have to do this in batches) and allow it to wilt down, stirring regularly for a few minutes more.

  2. Place each pancake on a plate and half fill with the mushroom mixture. Fold over and enjoy!

Redemptive Root Vegetable & Red Lentil Soup [VEGAN]


It’s a good while since I’ve updated. Between home renovations (hello, working bathroom!) and family commitments, I’ve struggled to find time to blog – even when I’ve really missed it.

Recently though, I’ve been unwell for a couple of months and I feel very fortunate to be starting to recover now. Blogging has been a really positive experience so I’m determined to pick this site up again and run with it.

While not feeling so great, I’ve had next to no appetite and very little mental or physical energy for cooking. So this soup has been an absolute necessity around once a week. I’ve found the peeling and chopping quite a cathartic and relaxing task – but frozen or pre-prepared veg would work just as well.

The aim of this soup was to be nourishing, filling and above all, simple. Bright and cheerful in colour with a slightly smoky flavour from the lentils, it’s a comforting ‘hug in a bowl’ for difficult days.

The pumpkin is entirely optional and came about purely because I can’t bear waste – I filled our freezer with one-cup portions full of the roasted squash after last hallowe’en’s jack-o’-lantern. If you aren’t quite as ridiculous and don’t have a metric ton of pumpkin threatening to explode from your icebox every time you open it, you could swap for another root vegetable or leave out entirely.

All the prep can be done in advance and the blended soup freezes just fine – it’s been a boon for low-spoon times when I just haven’t had the wherewithal to put dinner on the table otherwise.

We tend to serve it with a chunk of whatever bread is available and a liberal sprinkling of pepper and nooch, but you could easily pair with whatever accompaniments cheer you up the most.

What are your favourite (minimal-effort) sides?

5 from 1 vote
Redemptive Root Vegetable and Red Lentil Soup [VEGAN]
Servings: 4 people
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 large brown onion peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 large parsnips peeled and chopped
  • 1 baking potato peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup roast pumpkin optional
  • 1/4 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • black pepper to taste
  • nutritional yeast to taste
  1. Heat the oil in your largest saucepan and cook the onion, garlic and celery on a medium heat for around 5 minutes - until the onion becomes soft and translucent.

  2. Tumble in the carrots, parsnips and potato (plus the pumpkin if using) and cover with the hot vegetable stock. Turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil.

  3. Toss the lentils and herbs into the mix and keep at a simmer for 25-30 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft and the lentils have broken down.

  4. Cool a little and then blend until smooth (you may have to do this in batches). Reheat when ready to eat, serving with chunky bread and an optional garnish of black pepper and nutritional yeast.

Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE)

Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]
Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]
The other half is admirably continuing to eschew processed sugar in the run-up to Easter. I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen, trying to come up with something he can take into work to stave off temptation when his colleagues raid the biscuit box. The current favourite is this carrot and apple muffin recipe. After eyeing them with the mother of all dubious expressions, my previously sugar-besotted partner finally tried one and decided “they’re not very sweet, but I actually really like them.”

Will he continue to avoid sugar after Lent, I wonder? Possibly not, though I’ll continue experimenting if he does. But these little fruit and veg-filled powerhouses will still work well for breakfasts on-the-go or a mid-morning snack with a brew, any time of the year.

Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]
Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]
The batter is so chock-full of apple, carrot, banana and raisins that the mixture turns out thick and easily spoonable into cupcake cases. The muffins only rise a little – just enough to form a pleasing dome on top – but somehow they keep from being tough, possibly due to the moisture from all the fruit. The flour is basically just there to hold everything else together! The first time I made these, the muffins stuck to the cases a little, but a quick blast of cooking spray solves that problem.

I’m still no whizz at baking without the dreaded s-word, but after this success we’ll certainly add a little sugar-free pizzazz to our usual cake-tin rotation. I can see these being excellent, healthy lunch-box additions once the little one starts school in September. That is, if he’ll consent to eating things with “bits” in by then. Oh well.

Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]
Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]
Carrot and Apple Breakfast Muffins [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]
Wet Ingredients
  • 150 g grated carrot (approx. 2 medium carrots)
  • 1 apple
  • 80 g apple sauce
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 50 g raisins
  • 50 g vegan margarine
  • 120 ml soya milk
  • 2 flax 'eggs' (2 tbs flax, 4tbs water)
Dry Ingredients
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Now is also a good time to prepare the flax 'eggs': place two tablespoons of ground flax seeds and four tablespoons of cold water in a cup and stir well. Put the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes to become gelatinous.

  2. In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork and add the grated carrot, apple sauce, raisins and soya milk.

  3. Chop the apple into small cubes (leaving the skin on if liked) and stir through the fruit mixture. Add the flax eggs and mix well.

  4. Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, stirring well to ensure the bicarbonate of soda is fully mixed in.

  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir.

  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin cases and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. A skewer inserted in the middle of one of the cakes should come out clean.

  7. Leave the muffins in the tin until they can be comfortably handled, then transfer to a rack until fully cooled.

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN, SUGAR FREE]

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN]
Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN]
I love my slow cooker.

It’s the one kitchen gadget I truly wouldn’t be without – and that’s coming from a family who chose not to replace their expired microwave when it gave up the ghost! It’s pretty well-loved these days, especially since it was second-hand when we were given it – but it’s been a reliable bastion of easy dinners when long work days, a newborn baby and a whole host of other hurdles to healthy eating have reared their heads.

It’s such a relief some days to be able to prepare food quickly in the morning while everyone’s eating breakfast and then come back later to a magically-ready, steaming bowl of soup, bolognaise or stew. And no, sadly I am not one of the dedicated cooks who saute their veg before adding to the slow-cooker.  Yes, it may add to the flavour, which is all to the good. But if I have to faff around frying off an onion, I might as well carry on with the rest of the meal. The idea here is simplicity. Chop it up, chuck it in, get on with the day, dollop on a plate.

Turning vegan has had little effect on the frequency with which I drag the pot out of the cupboard, as there are plenty of animal-friendly meals which we can use it for. Mr Chickpea has given up processed sugar for Lent and is getting bored of snacking on raw fruit, so I’ve been on a mission to brighten his day with treats he can actually eat (instead of gazing wistfully at). The obvious staple to keep in the fridge for him was a good old jar of stewed apples – they’re delicious, versatile, affordable and no sugar is needed if you pick the right variety. It helps that we like our apples tart, of course, and you could certainly add a tablespoon or two if that’s your taste.

This isn’t so much of a recipe as it is simple instructions, as apple sauce really is about as easy as it gets.  Just peel, core, stew in the slow cooker, mash if required and (careful: it’s hot!) decant into your favourite large jar. That said, the house smells amazing and our whole family enjoy it with porridge for breakfast, veggie sausages as a main course or plain yoghurt as a dessert.

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN]
Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN]
Slow Cooker Apple Sauce [VEGAN]
  • 700 g apples (around 8 medium apples)
  • 100 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Peel and core the apples and cut into quarters. Place in the slow cooker dish with the water and cinnamon.

  2. Cook on low for 4 hours (or high for 2 hours)

  3. When tender, mash with a fork until you reach your desired consistency.

    If you prefer the apples pureed, the sauce can be blended until smooth in a food processor.

Three-Ingredient Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse [VEGAN]

Aquafaba Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse
Aquafaba Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse

Impossibly light and airy, this is not the mousse to which I’ve become accustomed as a vegan. Wonderful as the heavy chocolate desserts based on coconut cream or avocado can be, it’s such a novelty to have a mousse that resembles those made with egg-whites. Not to mention it uses only three ingredients, one of which you were probably going to pour down the drain anyway.

The secret: aquafaba. It sounds so much more palatable than ‘bean water’, right? A little application of Latin always makes things better!

Taking the internet by storm, aquafaba is the cooking water from the humble chickpea (or any legume – butter bean and black bean aquafaba works well too). Whether you reserve the water from boiling your own or just use the canning liquid from a tin, it’s the magic behind a host of vegan desserts which were previously tricky or even out of the question. It’s my go-to egg replacer for a fluffy sponge when flax will be too heavy – but I’ve been itching to try something where it really shines rather than takes a supporting role.

Enter, the chocolate mousse. Aquafaba acts like egg-whites when whipped – gaining volume, becoming thick and glossy, and losing the beany smell of its liquid state. This recipe has only 100g of chocolate to nearly double the quantity of aquafaba, and I think that’s about as low as I’d go or it runs the risk of tasting watery. As it is, I found this just the right hit of chocolate for a midweek treat. If preferred, you could certainly add a couple of tablespoons of sugar but I like my chocolate dark and bitter.

A disclaimer is needed here. It’s really important not to skimp on the whipping stage! The mixture is right when you can invert the bowl over your head without risking your hairdo. And I’ll be totally honest: whipping the aquafaba takes time. If you’re lucky enough have a fancy stand mixer it will be easier but I managed soft peaks in around five minutes and stiff peaks in around twenty with nothing more than an ancient electric hand whisk and a sore arm. Some folks around the web have even had success with a manual whisk but personally I suspect they must be in possession of superhuman endurance. I’m in awe.

Once fully whipped, it’s just a matter of folding in some melted chocolate and almond extract – although vanilla would be perfect as well – then chilling overnight to set into a melt-in-the-mouth, light-as-air mousse. Easy! And with no added sugar bar the amount in the dark chocolate it even feels sort of virtuous. For a dessert.

Aquafaba Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse
Aquafaba Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse


Three-Ingredient Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse
  • 190 g aquafaba (the water from 2 cans of chickpeas)
  • 100 g dark chocolate (dairy-free)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
To Serve
  • 1 handful raspberries (fresh, frozen or tinned)
  1. Drain two cans of chickpeas and place the liquid in a metal bowl. Whip until it reaches stiff peaks - this will take some time, try to remain patient! It is ready when it becomes white, thick, glossy, and does not move when you tilt the bowl.

  2. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water - stir occassionally and make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Stir in the almond extract.

  3. Slowly and carefully fold the whipped aquafaba into the chocolate with a metal spoon, two tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated. The mixture will become slack and lose a lot of volume at this stage.

  4. If using, add the raspberries to the bottom of four glasses. Pour the chocolate mixture over the top.

  5. Refrigerate overnight to set.

Chocolate and Beetroot Tart [VEGAN]

Chocolate and Beetroot Tart
Chocolate and Beetroot Tart

I’ve always adored beetroot. Whether pickled in vinegar and added to salads or roasted with herbs and carrots – it has a beautiful, wholesome flavour and packs a punch with its vivid purple hue. Recently however, I’ve had a hankering to add it to a dessert (my favourite cakes often feature a hidden vegetable, usually carrot, pumpkin or parsnip, so beetroot was only a matter of time).

So with the in-laws due for dinner it seemed like the perfect opportunity for this beetroot and chocolate tart. Sadly, we’ve now all come down with lurgy and dinner has had to be cancelled… the only upshot being that I have been forced to self-medicate with a plate of dense, chocolate-laden pie. Come to think of it, I still feel quite unwell. Perhaps another slice is in order?

Chocolate and Beetroot Tart
Chocolate and Beetroot Tart

We don’t have a microwave, so the margarine and chocolate were both melted the old-fashioned way. Margarine can be placed straight in a small saucepan and heated gently until liquid, but chocolate requires a little more care. Just make sure the simmering water in your pan doesn’t touch the glass bowl (and refrain from stirring too much) and it should be fine. I find dairy-free chocolate seems to melt more successfully than the traditional kind anyway, so it’s reasonably fool-proof.

Not overly sweet, thickened with coconut and cornflour and featuring a biscuit base which gives a good opportunity to take out your frustrations with a hefty rolling pin (or cheat and use a blender if you’re feeling a bit more zen), this tart is a definite hit. The beetroot gives a fruity earthy note under the rich chocolate, and the coconut is undetectable besides from the creaminess it brings.

I’d like to think you’d be hard-pressed to tell this tart is vegan, though I’m well aware that vegan food can be just as calorie-filled as anything else. That in mind, it’s probably best to keep portion sizes small – despite the presence of a vegetable, this is hardly a healthy dessert! Mr Chickpea is off this evening to deliver some to the in-laws so they don’t feel left out, but I’m definitely hoarding an extra piece.

For medicinal purposes, obviously. Anti-oxidants from the beetroot, and all that jazz.


Chocolate and Beetroot Tart
For the Base:
  • 400 g digestive biscuits broken down to crumbs
  • 125 g vegan margarine melted
  • 1 tbs caster sugar
For the Filling
  • 250 g cooked beetroot
  • 250 g coconut cream
  • 200 g dark chocolate (dairy free)
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 30 g cornflour
  • 30 g cocoa powder
For the Base
  1. Melt the vegan margaine in a small pan on the hob. While this is heating, place the biscuits in a zipock bag and batter with a rolling pin until they become fine crumbs (alternatively, blitz in a food processor).

  2. Combine the crumbs, sugar and melted margaine in a large bowl, then press firmly into a tart dish with the back of a tablespoon.

  3. Place the dish on a baking tray and relegate to the fridge to firm up while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling
  1. Place the cooked beetroot, coconut cream, sugar, cocoa and cornflour into a blender and pulse until smooth.

  2. In a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water, melt the chocolate (making sure that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).

  3. Stir the melted chocolate into the beetroot mixture until well combined.

  4. Remove the biscuit base from the fridge and spoon the filling over, carefully smoothing into the edges.

  5. Bake for one hour in an oven preheated to 180C, until the top is staring to crack and the filling still has a slight wobble.

  6. Cool in the dish and then refridgerate for four hours (or preferably overnight) until firm.



FREE Cookery Conversion Printables

Free Cookery Conversion Printables

Let me say it straight: I love maths. I have great respect for number-wranglers.

Maths, however, does not love me. Despite my best efforts, something about the subject eludes my grasp and I’m probably better leaving well alone.

And what exactly does that have to do with cookery? Well, if you’re baking meringues there’s a big difference between a gentle drying out at 220 degrees Fahrenheit and a terrifying incineration if you opt for Celcius instead. All too often I have to pause, mid recipe, to parse out the correct temperature or swap from pounds into grams.

Interesting side note – do you know why pounds are abbreviated to lb? At first glance it looks like it makes no sense but it comes from the Latin word libra, meaning ‘balance’. The ancient Romans used a standardised measure of weight called the libra which was broken down into twelve unciae (or ounces!).

“What have the Romans ever done for us?” Well, weights and measurements, apparently.

Anyhow, my mathematics brain being rather less than agile, it’s irritating to have to stop cooking to check conversions for the thousandth time… so I made some printable cheat-sheets to pin inside our kitchen cupboards. One for liquid measurements, one for weights and one for temperatures – hopefully now I can avoid any awkward pauses and embarrassing slip-ups.

And if you fancy a copy, they’re free to download here! All the files are in pdf format and ready to print at A5 size, just right for a quick peek when the need strikes.



Spinach Pesto Cubes [VEGAN]

Spinach Pesto Cubes
Spinach Pesto Cubes

Despite careful menu planning, we always seem to have something lurking in the back of the fridge which is just about at the end of its life. On this occasion, half a bag of spinach was watching me woefully from behind the tomatoes every time I went to make a cup of tea. A little wilted but still edible, it had no place in the rest of our meals for the week – but I couldn’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good greens.

Luckily,  after the success of our basil and sunflower seed pesto, it didn’t take long to come up with a solution. Spinach pesto! Of course! The half bag of seeds left over made its way into the blender, along with the spinach and some garlic and lemon. And as we’d used up all the lemons in the fruit bowl, I used (promise not to tell?) bottled lemon juice. You honestly can’t tell the difference a lot of the time – and it’s an invaluable addition to our fridge for emergency pancakes, keeping sliced apples from browning and curdling soy milk for baking.

The resulting spinach sauce was fresh-tasting and delicious, but we still had no need for it this week. So out came our trusty ice-cube trays. A good dollop in each section, whacked in the freezer for a couple of hours, and the spinach pesto cubes were ready for transferring to a ziplock bag.

Just grab a couple from the freezer when required, defrost and add a sprinkling of nutritional yeast if desired. Quick, easy and tastes amazing – and who doesn’t like instant food?


Spinach Pesto Cubes
  • 90 g fresh baby spinach
  • 90 g sunflower seeds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 60 ml water
  1. Place all the ingredients except the water and oil into a food processor. Blitz on slow to combine, adding the liquids in a steady stream.

  2. Dollop into ice cube trays and freeze. Once hard, the cubes can be removed from the trays and placed in a freezer bag to save on space.

  3. Use as required!