21 February 2015

What to eat during the Oscars

Will you be watching the Oscars this weekend? If so, I hope you revel in the beautiful people and their spectacular cinematic performances with food and drink that is made to match. Here is Cocoa Bean's selection:

29 January 2015

Chocolate Cranberry Cornmeal Cake

Is it bad I'm already dreaming of summer?

I mean, it's not even February yet. And yet I catch myself re-imagining the feeling of warm sun on my face, the silky feeling of a warm breeze on my arms, and the incessant sound of birds. I actually miss the seagulls!

When I started dreaming of seagulls, I knew I had to find a remedy- and stat!

I am so glad I turned to cake. This cake offers the ultimate tangy-sweet combination I have yet to beat. The tartness of the cranberries offers a delightful kick, which is mellowed out by the almond extract and toothsome texture of the cornmeal. The whole thing finishes on a glorious, sweet and creamy note thanks to the chocolate.

It has been two weeks and I have already made this cake twice. I may even make it for my birthday. As long as I've got this treat between the rim of a bowl, I think I can put up with winter a little bit longer.

Chocolate Cranberry Cornmeal Cake


- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, whole
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8x8-inch square pan.
2. In a medium size bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, followed by the milk, vinegar, honey and extract. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate.
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and the cake is set. Allow it to cool for at least ten minutes before slicing. Serve warm or room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

21 January 2015

One-bowl Granola

 When I make granola, I never follow a recipe.

How can that be, you ask? It's partially due to the fact I never have all the ingredients on hand, but also partially because I don't want it to be the same every time I make it. Granola can get boring incredibly fast, which is surprising given the variety of nuts and seeds it can hold.

But this granola, a happy coincidence that happened the other day, deserves more than an honorable mention. This granola entices both the deep-throated mmm's and a second bowl serving.

Like any granola, this version is best enjoyed with milk or yogurt for a filling yet nutrient-dense breakfast. Otherwise it's just splendid with toothsome apple sauce for a healthy dessert. Or you can fully commit and eat it with ice cream. Or by the handful.

I encourage you to swap in/out different ingredients to make this recipe your own! It's a great base to build from, but then again, it is the best granola I've ever made. So perhaps try it my way first :)

Hint: the secret is the sesame seeds.

One-bowl Granola


- 2 cups large flake oatmeal
- 1/2 cup seeds (I used equal parts pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds)
- 1/2 cup nuts (I used pecans)
- 1/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tsp spices (I used 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp all-spice)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried fruits (I like adding pump raisins or dried cranberries)- optional


1.  Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the oatmeal, seeds, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar. Pour over the coconut oil and stir well. Add in the egg white, mixing until everything is well coated. Add the spices and stir again.
3. Evenly distribute the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the ingredients, and bake another 10-15 minutes or until toasted and golden brown.
4. Allow the mixture to cool completely before tossing in the dried fruits. Store in a well-sealed container for a week or two.