Thursday, 13 October 2011

Chocolate Cake- vegan, sugar-free

I made this cake last Saturday as we had guests. I served it with Strawberry "Sweet Freedom" vegan icecream, which is also sugar-free. I used my usual cake recipe (see post 16.12.10), adding cocoa powder and replacing the sugar with half- and- half date syrup and "Sweet Freedom" syrup (made from fruit concentrate and carob). The icing and filling is the closest I could get to chocolate fudge icing without using powdered soya milk, sugar and/ or melted chocolate (none of which I had to hand at the time), and is satisfyingly rich and gooey: to equal amounts of date and "Sweet Freedom" syrups I added plenty of cocoa powder, a little soya milk and a dollop of tahini- I just kept adding and mixing until I was happy with the taste and texture. The chocolate beans on top are dairy-free and naturally coloured, but do contain cane sugar; if you are feeling particularly puritanical, you could always use a grated vegan, sugar- free chocolate bar such as the one you can get in Holland and Barrett (I forget the brand).
Those arbiters of taste and food critics extrordinaire, the kids, didn't even notice that there wasn't any "proper" sugar in this cake, so I thought it was worth sharing 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Kartika month is here!

Kartika worship of Sri Radha Krishna in Vrindavana, India (image:
Today marks the beginning of the last month of Caturmasya- known as Kartika, Damodara, or Urja Vrata.  ("Urja" refers to Srimati Radharani, Krishna's shakti or power/ energy). In this month we fast from sesame and mustard oil. We offer a ghee lamp to Krishna daily and sing the beautiful "Damodarastakam", remembering Krishna's childhood pastimes of stealing butter, herding the calves and cows and being bound by His mother. Here is a video of Damodarastakam I made last year, which should explain it more:

During Kartika month we celebrate Gopastami. when Krishna and His brother Balarama first herded the calves, then the cows, the appearance and disappearance days of many Vaisnavas, the appearance of Radha Kunda, Divali, Govardhan Puja (more about that nearer the time) and Tulasi-Shalagram Vivaha. Many devotees have gone to India to perform Vraja- Mandala Parikrama (sadly not me and my husband this year...) for the month. Today I will make my vrata for the month and try my best to keep it. Last night I got the temple room in my house ready, with extra flowers and a picture of Damodara-lila on the altar:

Hoping for the energy and determination to get up a bit earlier every day this month to do some special prayers..!