Matt’s birthday dessert – including the infamous homemade “Magic Shell”

I’m about to introduce you to Choc-Top. It’s like the Magic Shell you used to get as a kid (or last year in our case – same thing really) and put on your ice cream, after which you would whack it with your spoon to see if you could shatter it. I think it was one of the best ice cream toppings. Ever. And I even learned to recreate it just before giving up dairy (for the most part, of course). I was afraid my efforts were wasted since I really don’t love most vegan ice cream substitutes. And it hurts to spend $6.99 on something you don’t really love.

That is until last month when faced with Matt’s birthday and his request for something cold and frozen for his birthday cake. Really? Isn’t it bad enough that his birthday is always right before Father’s Day? And I’d already failed in the present department – read: I bought him a belt, a boring brown belt. So, his cake was important. And you can’t just call up Cold Stone and get a vegan ice cream cake. Jerks.

So somehow, while perusing Sunflower with two of my screaming children, the inspiration came. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to buy a treat and I grabbed some Newman-Os. Okay, I get it. They may be vegan but soo not healthy, but since I was failing in present-land, I needed to succeed in treat-land.

And I was shopping hungry again. Fortunately, the soy ice cream was on sale, so I bought two pints with minimal cursing at the price.

To make this short story too long, I made a vegan ice cream cake with a bashed up Newman O crust (with some coconut oil to give it structure), two pints of soy ice cream, and Choc-Top on top in a spring form pan. I let the whole thing set up until singing time and belt present opening.

The results were very tasty, and it made a lovely ice cream cake that could not be consumed in one sitting by our family (thank goodness). But, I also learned a few things:

1 – Put the candles in when you pour in the Choc-Top or they are NEVER going in.

2 – Choc-Top is hard to cut, so if you have an electrically heated knife, use it. And if you have one, I’d really like to know, because I just made that up.

3 (Most Important) – If you try to cut the cake and the Choc-Top stays in place but the rest of it collapses, there may be a problem with your freezer. Take that opportunity on Father’s Day to clean out said freezer and throw a bunch of food away. Then consider that it might not be the freezer, but rather the ground-fault interrupt in the BATHROOM! that your daughter pushed for fun the other day that led to complete and total freezer melt-down. Literally.

Choc-Top

9 oz (3/4 bag) Ghiradelli Semi-sweet morsels, or other vegan chocolate

1/4 c. unrefined coconut oil

In a heat proof bowl over simmering water (a double boiler, if you will), melt the two together and stir. Remove from heat. Lick the spoon.

Store in a glass jar at room temperature or pour immediately over preferred frozen treat, which will, of course, melt said treat but leave you with a really cool shell of chocolate where your treat once was. To return Choc-Top to a liquid state, place jar in bowl or cup of hot water. Betcha didn’t know it was that easy to have SO MUCH FUN!! You’ll probably start covering frozen bananas and ice cubes, and maybe even a cake. Just make sure your freezer is still working when you do.

Variations: add toasted nuts or coconut; replace unrefined with refined coconut oil and add a teaspoon or two of vanilla/almond/orange/peppermint extracts or a few drops of essential oil.

Why this works (in case you’re wondering): Coconut oil is solid to just above most room temperature, and liquid at 76 degrees or just higher. When added to something cold, it becomes hard, thanks to the solidity of the chocolate combined with the coconut oil. And they’re both super tasty, so why wouldn’t you combine them?

Matt’s birthday dessert – including the infamous hardshell Choc-Top

I’m about to introduce you to Choc-Top. It’s like the Magic Shell you used to get as a kid (or last year in our case – same thing really) and put on your ice cream, after which you would whack it with your spoon to see if you could shatter it. I think it was one of the best ice cream toppings. Ever. And I even learned to recreate it just before giving up dairy (for the most part, of course). I was afraid my efforts were wasted since I really don’t love most vegan ice cream substitutes. And it hurts to spend $6.99 on something you don’t really love.

That is until last month when faced with Matt’s birthday and his request for something cold and frozen for his birthday cake. Really? Isn’t it bad enough that his birthday is always right before Father’s Day? And I’d already failed in the present department – read: I bought him a belt, a boring brown belt. So, his cake was important. And you can’t just call up Cold Stone and get a vegan ice cream cake. Jerks.

So somehow, while perusing Sunflower with two of my screaming children, the inspiration came. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to buy a treat and I grabbed some Newman-Os. Okay, I get it. They may be vegan but soo not healthy, but since I was failing in present-land, I needed to succeed in treat-land.

And I was shopping hungry again. Fortunately, the soy ice cream was on sale, so I bought two pints with minimal cursing at the price.

To make this short story too long, I made a vegan ice cream cake with a bashed up Newman O crust (with some coconut oil to give it structure), two pints of soy ice cream, and Choc-Top on top in a spring form pan. I let the whole thing set up until singing time and belt present opening.

The results were very tasty, and it made a lovely ice cream cake that could not be consumed in one sitting by our family (thank goodness). But, I also learned a few things:

1 – Put the candles in when you pour in the Choc-Top or they are NEVER going in.

2 – Choc-Top is hard to cut, so if you have an electrically heated knife, use it. And if you have one, I’d really like to know, because I just made that up.

3 (Most Important) – If you try to cut the cake and the Choc-Top stays in place but the rest of it collapses, there may be a problem with your freezer. Take that opportunity on Father’s Day to clean out said freezer and throw a bunch of food away. Then consider that it might not be the freezer, but rather the ground-fault interrupt in the BATHROOM! that your daughter pushed for fun the other day that led to complete and total freezer melt-down. Literally.

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Choc-Top

9 oz (3/4 bag) Ghiradelli Semi-sweet morsels, or other vegan chocolate

1/4 c. unrefined coconut oil

In a heat proof bowl over simmering water (a double boiler, if you will), melt the two together and stir. Remove from heat. Lick the spoon.

Store in a glass jar at room temperature or pour immediately over preferred frozen treat, which will, of course, melt said treat but leave you with a really cool shell of chocolate where your treat once was. To return Choc-Top to a liquid state, place jar in bowl or cup of hot water. Betcha didn’t know it was that easy to have SO MUCH FUN!! You’ll probably start covering frozen bananas and ice cubes, and maybe even a cake. Just make sure your freezer is still working when you do.

Variations: add toasted nuts or coconut; replace unrefined with refined coconut oil and add a teaspoon or two of vanilla/almond/orange/peppermint extracts or a few drops of essential oil.

Why this works (in case you’re wondering): Coconut oil is solid to just above most room temperature, and liquid at 76 degrees or just higher. When added to something cold, it becomes hard, thanks to the solidity of the chocolate combined with the coconut oil. And they’re both super tasty, so why wouldn’t you combine them?

Kalmata Cannellini Bean Dip, Ab Fab Bug Spray, and a little Special Sauce

Vegan week 5 and loving it!  Our kitchen is exploding with produce, the crockpot is cooking up a veggie soup, the cuisinart just knocked out “larabars” three ways, fresh salsa on the cutting board and more goodness in the works.   And grilled veggies have been lovely with this old time (since freshman year in college- don’t ask) favorite seasoning.  Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt is amazing on roasted potatoes as well.


Funny thing.  My husband ate olives.  And liked them.  Shhhhh- he doesn’t know it yet.  He swears he never will.  Hates the suckers.  Not that I wouldn’t tell him if he asked, but he hasn’t so neither have I.  They were mixed in this yummy bean dip:

Kalmata Cannellini Bean Dip
(a fresher version of the Engine 2 Diet recipe)

2 cups Cannellini Beans, cooked in crock (or 1 can, drained and rinsed- I like fresh much better)
1 clove Garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tblish lemon juice (to taste)
1 tsp fresh thyme (yay for gardens!)
1tsp fresh rosemary (yay again! rosemary loves UT soil)
1/4 tspish sea salt (to taste)
4 Kalmata olives, roughly chopped

Blend.  I like to see bits of olive so I don’t over puree it.

Serve with pita chips or as a fresh veggie dip.  Or on a sandwich.  Or as an appetizer spread.  Possibilities.

Up next:  Homemade Insect Repellant!  This concoction was born last year as my sister and I perused the aisle with natural bug sprays.  As I read the ingredients and looked at the prices, I knew I could do better.  This is what we ended up with.

Two spray bottles (actually 3, my sister took one out into the field with her- she’s a wilderness therapist.)
Olive Oil– you could use any oil carrier you like.  The olive oil goes on quite nice.  And it looks pretty in a clear bottle. 😉
Essential Oils-
Tea Tree, Lemongrass, and Citronella.

Easiest recipe ever.  Ok, maybe not ever, but pretty close.

2 oz carrier oil
20 drops lemongrass
20 drops citronella
10 drops tea tree

Multiply for larger batches.  Mix.  Pour into bottles.  Yup.

This bug oil is absolutely fabulous.  It smells yummy, goes on smooth, moisturizes summer tanned skin, and most importantly, KEEPS THE BUGS AWAY.  One full year of use later, I will never even consider putting the evil DEET on my children.  Remember how I mentioned my sister took a bottle?  It worked so well being out in the woods for days at a time that she came back for a refill.  Ab fab my friends, ab fab.

And lastly, a little flavor for your ears- a little somethin’ somethin’ to put on as you get ready to sauce it up in the kitchen:  Baby’s Got Sauce by G-Love and Special Sauce.

Chocolate Sauce is what’s in the works. This recipe reminded me more of a hershey syrup more than fondue like I hoped.  Amanda’s Magic Shell made with coconut oil (why can’t I find the recipe on the blog?!?) is a thicker chocolate dip than this turned out to be, but still it was tasty with strawberries, even tastier with cherries and extra delish drizzled over Peanut Butter Chocolate So Delicious Ice Cream with sliced bananas.

Once again, found this in the Engine 2 Diet cookbook.  Yeah Rip.

Chocolate Sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 c water
2 Tbl cocoa powder
3 Tbl agave nectar or maple syrup (I used maple agave, thinking I would be doubly awesome, but my awesomely talented taster *Amanda* decided the agave left it a bit bitter- going maple next time)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water until there are no lumps.  Whisk in the remaining water, sweetener, and cocoa.  Cook in a heavy saucepan over low hear, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Drizzle.

We’ve got sauce.

Dig.