Sunday 18 September 2011

Gleegan blueberry cake pops for a potluck

What a glorious day for a picnic!  With our first warm day of spring, the whole of Melbourne seemed to be enjoying the sunshine at the Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy today.  Planet VegMel couldn't have chosen a better day for a potluck picnic to celebrate 2 years of bringing together vegan (and vegan-friendly) blogs in Melbourne.  Add good food and good company to the mix and you have a great afternoon.

Blogger potlucks are always a great occasion to relish a challenge and impress a crowd.  However after the last one when I stretched myself a bit far (and fortunately was too ill to share the failure), I decided to stick with what I knew.  I made chickpea crackers (above) and roasted carrot hummus (based on this pumpkin hummus) so that there would be something I knew Sylvia could eat other than sweets.  They were easy, though I accidentally baked the crackers in a lower oven for a bit longer so they were crunchier than my first effort.  I left the spices out of the hummus to please Sylvia.  My dish to wow the crowd was cakepops.

Cakepops are my latest discovery.  I have made them with cake (but no sticks) and with cherry ripe filling and sticks.   They are impressive and rich but each is only a small mouthful.  I decided to make a batch that were vegan and gluten free - a combination that is also known as gleegan.  (A word I have learnt from Planet VegMel.)  I found a raw cakepop challenge for some good inspiration.  I particularly liked the sound of those posted by Barefoot and Frolicking.

I took a few ideas but in the end used what was in the pantry and my intuition.  I ground up the cashews and dried blueberries.  You can see from the photo that my mix wasn't really finely ground.  Blame my food processor or my impatience.  Once I added the maple syrup it was too sweet.  I added lime juice and the taste was good but the mix was too moist so I added coconut.  I tried some beetroot powder but they were still a grey colour rather than a glorious purple.

Sylvia had ordered a green one for her, a pink one for dolly and a purple one for me.  Oh dear!  At least it was easy enough to mix up between Monroe and The Killing (we have the DVD).  I then rolled balls in front of the telly and stuck the sticks in.  The freezer was full.  I got brutal with a few things that had sat there for too long and made room for the cakepops.

Mornings are generally slow in our house.  It takes a while to get Sylvia fed, washed and clothed.  The picnic was at 1pm.  I left for the supermarket at 12 to buy chocolate.  I started dipping the cakepops in chocolate at 12.39 and finished at 12.55.  Not a bad effort!  I was glad I knew what I was doing.  It also helped that E distracted Sylvia with bubbles and Zinckie cat.

I told Sylvia it was time to go and have our picnic on the grass.  She went and sat on the grass at the front of the house.  We got her into the car and headed off to the Edinburgh Gardens.  I still haven't charged my mobile phone for a few months (sorry mum!) so I just figured we would find the Planet VegMel group.  I knew there were a few people arriving by bike.  There were so many groups of people picnicking with bikes beside them that I began to worry.  But our group was beside the bandstand as promised.

It was great to see old faces and some new ones too.  As usual, there was a great spread of food, a little overwhelming at times and I missed eating foods because it was easy to be distracted.  My ploy to take savoury food that Sylvia would eat worked.  She loved the dip and bicckies.  So did others.  I decided not to eat the peanut sauces with savoury dishes in case it came into contact with Sylvia's food (because that she is allergic to peanuts).  I had Mel's quiches, Vicki's rice paper rolls and some of Danni's freshly baked sun dried tomato bread.  Lovely!  Sylvia and I shared a few small cups of K's refreshing chilled Lemon Chamomile Tea.

Dessert was great but overwhelming.  I had coconut covered truffles (don't know who made them), Mel's apricot delight, Cindy's peanut butter cookies with chocolate ganache, and Steph's chocolate caramel slice.  The last is a favourite of E's.  He ate three pieces and as we left he said he wished he had snaffled the rest to take home.  I was intrigued by K's version of chocolate ripple cake with gingernuts and soyatoo but got too distracted to try it.

Sylvia was quite shy at first but warmed up with the potluckers.  She was very chatty with K and gave her a few cuggles.  She also enjoyed watching Vicki's little girl.  When the cakepops were passed around (before they melted) they were enjoyed by everyone but there was a few over.  Sylvia loves them and couldn't think of much else than the "lollypops".  I tried to watch her but only managed to grab her after she had devoured three!  And a piece of caramel slice.  Fine compensation for no time to go on the swings!

It was a great way to celebrate Planet VegMel.  Yet again, I must say how friendly and welcoming I find this group of bloggers.  Without Planet VegMel I wouldn't have met any of them or found so many great recipes.  Emily and Steph had made some badges and a zine as part of the celebrations.  Steph has also written the part 1 round up of This recipe sounds very familiar - an event to encourage us to revisit some great Planet VegMel recipes.  (Part 2 still to come.)  Great stuff!  I look forward to many more years of Planet VegMel.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: SHF Chocolate Crackle Top Biscuits
This time two years ago: MM Heirloom Ginger Fluff Sponge
This time three years ago: Hobart Highlights

Gleegan Blueberry Cakepops
with inspiration from Barefoot and Frolicking
makes about 20

1 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup (70g packet) dried blueberries
3/4 tsp beetroot powder (which had a negligible effect)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 tbsp lime juice (about half a lime)
2 tbsp maple syrup (I think or maybe 3)
250g dark chocolate (I used 50% cocoa)

Blend cashews and dried blueberries in a food processor until finely ground (or as long as you can bear to let it run).  I mixed in the rest of the ingredients by hand, checking the taste as I went but you could just mix it all in the food processor.

Choose a board or plate that will fit in your freezer (with enough room above it for sticks to stand up.  Line it with baking paper.  Roll into balls about the size of a walnut and place on lined board or plate.  Gently press a stick into each ball.  (I use icy pole sticks but also saw a post where someone used chopsticks.)  Place in freezer, preferably overnight (which I did) or at least a few hours.

When ready to dip cakepops in chocolate, melt chocolate in microwave in a small deep bowl and prepare playdough (or somewhere for chocolate to dry) and one or two tubs to put set cakepops in.  Take about 3-5 cakepops out of the freezer at a time.  Quickly dip each in melted chocolate holding on to the stick, hold for a minute and then prop upright in playdough or whatever you have where they can sit upright.  Once the chocolate sets (and this will be quick) you can set aside.  Repeat with other cakepops.

Store cakepops in the freezer or fridge.  They can be brought to room temperature to serve.  Mine came out of the freezer and sat about for an hour or two on a balmy day before being eaten and the chocolate still was hard enough to crack!

On the stereo:
A Secret History: the Best of the Divine Comedy


  1. And a good time was had by all...... The cake pops look good, but I am more interested in your crackers. Must have missed them before. Have to have a look :)

  2. The chocolate caramel slice was based on your recipe, so thanks for sharing it in the first place! And your cake pops were AMAZING, I would love to eat them again.

    Just a note that the sun-dried tomato bread was in fact baked by Danni. :oD

  3. Sounds like a great event and how lovely to have other veggie bloggers near enough to meet up - or any food bloggers come to that! I would have been really happy with your hummus and biscuits - excellent. And well done for trying to make raw truffles; they look very impressive.

  4. Johanna, your cakepops definitely impressed all who tried them! It was a real treat to sample some recipes I've previously admired on your blog - the crunchy crackers were just my thing too.

    I'm so glad the three of you were in good health to join us this time!

  5. It was fantastic to meet you and your family yesterday and although I'm not usually into sweets, I was blown away by your cake pops! They were incredible!!!

  6. And it was Steph and Emilly who made the badges :)

  7. What a fantastic idea! I'm glad you had good weather to match what looks like a wonderful afternoon. Your contributions look fantastic too, and have prompted me to move your bookmarked crackers recipe a little further up my 'To Make' list :)

    PS. We just started watching Monroe (Mr Bite records things and we watch everything a few weeks or months after other people...) and I love it!

  8. What a lovely get together and the food looks and sounds delicious! :D

  9. Thanks Jacqueline - definitely give them a try - sylvia loves them and they have a good nutritional value

    Thanks Steph - we all loved the caramel slice - might have to make this again - maybe with the soy condensed milk because e commented that it was less sweet than usual. Glad to share the cake pops with you. Have put Danni's name by the bread.

    Thanks Choclette - raw recipes are very good for finding gleegan alternatives but I didn't try any raw chocolate because I love my regular chocolate too much

    thanks Lisa - was pleased to have a picnic on such a sunny day

    Thanks cindy - was glad we could get along - the crackers were more crunchy than last time because I got the oven temp wrong (well I forgot to put on the fan) but I was impressed because usually my crackers aren't crunchy

    Thanks Mel - great to meet you too - strangely enough when we got home I found that sylvia had taken lots of photos of you!!! Always love when a dessert can impress a non-sweet tooth

    Thanks Danni - have fixed that too

    Thanks Kari - it was wonderful - yes try the crackers - and glad you are enjoying monroe - we have got out of the recording habit but use iview occasionally to catch up

  10. Oh, that's true motherly love! Avoiding the peanut goodies for your daughter's sake :) Oh, wait, until dessert I guess, bit who could resist such cookies? :P

    I so hope that, one day, I could attend one of these fabulous meet-ups! And I love the sound of your cake pop; am imagining them with my new dried cherries from Costco!

  11. These were so delicious!
    It is nice to have Holly & Sylvia as 2 little potlucking buddies :)

  12. WoW! These cake-pops are starting to be quite a thing. Mayve you should set up a little side-line business? ; )

    Wish we could've been at the pot-luck. Sounds a hell of a lot better than most of them we've attended so far, when we've been forced to pretty much stick to our own offering!

  13. I love blogger potlucks and this sounds like such an awesome event! Cake pops are so much fun and this is such a unique flavor! Love it!

  14. LOL - Sylvia is a girl after my own heart in the sweets department. Sounds like it was a fun day.

  15. Johanna they are perfect to take along to a picnic. What a lovely day out.

  16. look at that light!

    isn't it grand that spring's returning. sounds like a fun day.

  17. Wow! Wow! It's Spring by you and it sure sounds like a wonderful time was had by all. I am intrigued with the notion of a blogger potluck. I have never heard of such a thing in my neck of the woods. Very cool indeed. I'm going to have to check into it for sure. I would love to do my annual online picnic in person!

    As for those Cake Pops of yours Johanna, they are just delightful. However, I too am intrigued with those crackers. I must remember to check out that recipe.

    I'm in awe of the fact that Sylvia is old enough to now socialize and make her own choices. She sure seems to be growing fast.

    And YOU, you too have found a comfortable path in the world of blogging and I am thrilled for you! Your excitement lights up my page.

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  18. Thanks Vicki - it was lovely how the kids were very interested in each other

    Thanks Adam and theresa - do you mean you catch up with bloggers but there is no food suitable for you! that would be sad - I'd be sure to make you a cake pop if you came along (do you eat them?)

    Thanks Joanne - yes blogger meet ups are great - I tried to keep the flavour simple but did wonder about adding lavender

    Thanks Cakelaw - I am sure you would have been more restrained than sylvia, but I have no doubt you would have enjoyed them as much :-)

    Thanks Brydie - almost perfect - apart from my fear that they would melt

    Thanks Lucy - spoken like a try photographer - am enjoying a bit of spring weather - first asparagus today!!!

    Thanks Louise - would love to attend a picnic with you in person - am sure it would be fun - and sylvia would have a great time too - yes check out those crackers - they are great

  19. Love the idea of a blogging pot luck like this ... almost as much as I love the name of the venue lol. Great looking cake pops, yumo!

  20. 1. Love the term Gleegan, never heard of it before
    2. So jealous that you've got such a great community of vegans bloggers in Melbourne there. I can only hope someday to have similar in my part of the world here in Saudi!
    3. Cake pops, incredible.
    4. What is beetroot powder and where do you get it and what function does it have in the recipe (colour I am imagining?)

  21. They sound great and what a lovely thing to take to a potluck. I am envious of you having such a great group of bloggers who all share the same desire to interact and share delicious food and at the same time am in awe of your organisation skills in actually making stuff and getting there, small child in tow!!!

  22. Sounds like such a fabulous group! I've been to a few meetups but never one quite so large or at a picnic with so much food (we met at restaurants). How lucky for you. :D And glad that Sylvia enjoyed it, too. The cake pops do look wonderful. I think I'd enjoy a raw cakepop filling more than a baked one, actually!

  23. Thanks Chele - great name isn't it!

    Thanks Girl on Raw - 1. it always amuses me, 2. hope you find some like minded bloggers in saudi, 3. oh yes!, 4. I use beetroot powder for colour - was disappointed at it in this recipe but it has been great in other recipes where I want a rosy hue

    Thanks Ricki - I love actually tasting other bloggers' recipes - even though I always miss dishes I wish I had tried - it is even nicer for a few familiar faces that I have seen at other potlucks - I think these raw cakepops would be up your alley - looked at some of your cookie dough truffles but they had oats which are not suitable for gf diets in australia

  24. thanks Hannah - (sorry I missed your comment) - I wanted to avoid the peanut sauce but could eat a peanut cookie without leaving a trace that might contaminate sylvia's food - so yes I was rather thoughtful to only eat the peanut desserts - life's tough :-) and I think these would be great with sour cherries

  25. I love how you made the cake pops out of fruits and nuts! I've never made cake pops but lots of people complain about how they don't taste good. However if they had one of yours I think it'd be different. Especially with the coconut in there too yum! I still need to make those crackers..


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