Vegan almond, chocolate and raisin bites

By Fiona Sims

Vegan almond, chocolate and raisin bites

It seems the whole world is turning vegan. It’s been edging into the mainstream for years, but with the recent success of cookbooks such as Deliciously Ella by British blogger Ella Woodward, its celebrity endorsements from Bill Clinton to Beyonce, and its attention from top chefs, who are embracing rather than eschewing vegan cooking (including Soho’s Alexis Gauthier, who has just launched a vegan tasting menu), I’ve been dabbling in it myself with more frequency lately.

Ok, so I’m never going to go entirely vegan - not even close. I love my meat and fish, and couldn’t live without cheese. But I’m buying far less meat these days, along with a growing number of others – and when I do buy it, I’m shelling out for the good stuff, from suppliers such as Peter Hannan, whose Himalayan salt chamber-aged rib of beef is a revelation; and I pounce on any responsibly sourced wild fish going, savouring every flavour-packed mouthful. But for at least a couple of nights a week, I’m eating vegan.

It’s not that hard to find great vegan recipes on the savoury front, but I am still struggling with the sweet stuff. Rachel Khoo has come up with the best vegan chocolate cake I’ve found to date, involving copious black beans and avocados – though it costs around £20 to make. And the industrial quantities of maple syrup, dates and cashew nuts required for a large number of the best vegan dessert recipes out there are playing havoc with my waistline.

But I do need something small and sweet to nibble on once or twice a day. So here’s my attempt at a vegan sweet treat, packed with good stuff, which keeps me away from the Cadbury’s. I keep them in the freezer and let them defrost for five minutes or so before scoffing with a cup of coffee.

Makes 8

50ml unsweetened almond milk

2 tbsp raw cocoa powder (I use Fairtrade organic raw cacao powder)

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp almond butter

2 tbsp coconut oil

100g porridge oats

2 tbsp raisins or chopped ready-to-eat prunes

handful of cocoa nibs

Pour milk, cocoa powder and maple syrup into a saucepan over a low heat. Stir until combined and lump-free. Add coconut oil and melt into the mixture, stirring as you go. Add almond butter and stir again until smooth. Remove from the heat. Add the oats, raisins (or prunes, if you are using) and cocoa nibs. Stir until well combined. Spoon the mixture onto baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and transfer to the freezer until cold and firm.