Chocolate cake

Today I have a nice recipe to share with you again. I made it the first time last weekend – and the second time the day before yesterday… Hmm, maybe I should rethink my diet. ;P

The cake is dangerously chocolatey, super easy and fast to make and absolutely addictive. Especially for chocolate lovers like me. ❤

Sometimes I have to laugh at my own peculiarities. A few days ago, I was in my university town once more to hand over my room. Afterwards I went to one really nice store there because where I live now, we don’t have such a nice one. At the cash point, I saw someone from my Master’s program (and someone I do like!) and what did I strange, HSPy, impossible to understand person do? I turned around and lingered about in the store for a little while until I could be sure he would be gone. And why? Don’t ask me. I think I’m just a really solitary kind of a person and if I go meet people I need to be prepared for it. If I meet someone just by chance, I’m often overwhelmed and somewhat unwilling to interact. It’s strange, I know… Maybe in this particular case, it also had to do with me wanting to leave this Master’s thing behind and this, I guess, also requires to not have too much contact with my former batchmates for  a while. Whatever, when it happened I just tried to analyze myself and couldn’t really come up with a good explanation for my behavior. And I will be honest, this has happened many times before in my life. I just hope he hasn’t seen me, otherwise I don’t want to know what he must have been thinking. 😀

Now I finally start feeling free and self-determined again, and it’s been three weeks since I came back home for good. This rather short time has already been like balm for my soul and I am glad that it’s in my hands to decide how long and in which way this will continue. These last days were especially awesome: all the trees are greening now and the weather is amazing. Wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt is not exactly normal for April in my place. 🙂

Fine, let’s come to the actual topic of this post – chocolate cake!DSCF2014[1]

Sponge cake:

480 g wheat flour

200 g cane sugar

60 g cocoa powder

15 g baking powder

pinch of vanilla powder

pinch of salt

120 g vegetable oil

450 g sparkling water

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly, then add oil and water and stir as little as possible until you achieve a nice batter. Put in a 26 cm springform pan, lined with parchment paper if necessary, and bake at 180 °C for about 45-50 min. Check with a toothpick if it’s done. Let the cake cool in the pan for a while, then remove the ring and let cool completely.

“Butter” cream:

500 g almond milk

35 g corn starch

2 tbsp cane sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla powder

Take 100 g of the almond milk and stir in the starch, sugar and vanilla powder. In the meantime, bring the remaining milk to a boil, once boiling stir in the milk mixture and keep stirring until thick and smooth. Let the pudding cool to room temperature before proceeding.

250 g vegan margarine/buttery spread, at room temperature (for Germans: I use Alsan)

30 g cacao

60 g cane sugar

1 jar (250 g) thick jam, e.g. peach, plum, etc.

Beat the margarine until fluffy and add the pudding spoon for spoon while beating. Once it’s all mixed and a nice cream, divide it: take 200 g into a separate bowl, which leaves you with about 550 g in the first one.

To the big part, add the cacao and cane sugar and beat until it’s a nice chocolatey cream.

To the smaller part, add 2-3 tbsp (heaped) of jam and a little sugar if the jam is not so sweet. Beat to combine. If it gets curdled, add a little coconut flour.

Now slice the cake into three layers and put the bottom one on a plate. Cover it with a thin layer of jam and spread a bit more than a third of the chocolate cream on top. Put the middle layer on top and cover it with a thin layer of jam again. Now put on the jam-cream and add the third layer. Cover the whole cake with chocolate cream and decorate as desired. Now store the cake in the fridge and eat within 4-5 days. My opinion: It tastes best when eaten the next day or later.

Maybe this sounds a bit complicated or long, but it actually isn’t. I’ve made much more time-consuming cakes before, so just give it a try. It’s worth it. 😉

Have a nice day, and bye for now!

Ayumi

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Moving and general thoughts + Goal for today

Hi there,

I feel really bad for not posting regularly. Somehow it’s like I have less time now that I’m finally done with my Master’s. Straaaaange… Anyway, I guess I was also a bit too excited in the beginning, and I think daily posts are maybe not for me, I’m just not that much of an internet person. Guess I’m just mentioning this so you guys don’t think I already lost interest in this whole blogging business – don’t worry, I think it’s just the frequency that was a bit of an overkill for me. Blogging is awesome, and I’m happy to be able to connect with great people like you. 😉

So the last days I have been clearing my room in my university town, and now we have a bunch of moving boxes sitting here. Again. I think I didn’t tell you yet, but my mom and I (my weekend self, as during the week I lived where I studied) moved from a single-familiy house to a flat after my parents finally broke up completely, which was a few months ago. And this had been super stressful. We had just so much stuff accumulated, a lot of which we couldn’t take with us, of course. But sure enough, we still had sufficient to just somehow be able to store everything away. That time was exhausting, both physically and mentally. Carrying all these boxes and furniture and driving back and forth and what not, and all the while my mom being pretty finished. Finally that time was over, focus on Master’s thesis again. And now I’m somehow allergic to moving, and just the sight of these cardboard boxes makes me sick. I guess the best solution would be to simply unpack them and somehow try to find a space for the additional stuff, but it’s all going in slow motion because I feel like I can’t do it anymore. After this, I hope I’ll be done with moving for a while at least! 🙂

Well, moving on to something happier. Seems like Spring is really here, the trees start to unfold their leafs and the sun is shining a lot. How I missed that… It’s so simple, but being an HSP, it’s one of the best things ever for me to just listen to the birds, feel the sun on my skin and be one with the world. Many people don’t understand how I can love walking/hiking so much. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind spending my each and every day in the forest, just walking around and enjoying the company of nature. It gives me much more than human company (although I love having my mom with me, but we both love walking separately as well). I guess it’s really about accepting the way one is. For so long I was trying to be more normal, more the way I was expected to be. Once I finally found that I actually didn’t want that and was pretty okay with the person I am, I suddenly saw the world much brighter. I wish there wasn’t this constant pressure from society to be as adapted and average as possible. I’m sure there are many, many people that also just act as if, simply because they don’t dare showing their real personality.

Let’s be proud of who we are! After all, we are caring and compassionate and usually think about what we do before we do it. Being an HSP can be difficult, but it has loads of advantages. For example, having become a vegetarian and then a vegan has changed my life for the better dramatically. And without this strong tendency of mine to empathize with everyone and everything, I guess I would never have gotten there. I am a firm believer that life leads us to all the places we reach for a reason. And if we think positive and are thankful for what we get, we’ll be more and more on the right track.

Goal for today: Tidy up the mess! If you have a mess too, feel free to join in, together it’s more fun and we can share our achievement with someone. 😉

Have a lovely day! ❤

Ayumi

UPDATE:

Yay, I really managed a lot of cleaning and stuffing away my mess. It’s not perfect still, but I’m definitely getting there. Hope you were successful too! 🙂

It’s spring!

I’m back!

Although I am very lazy these days, because I finally escaped from my Master’s thesis schedule and only now realize how exhausted I actually am. It’s so nice to just sleep as long as I want and not have to worry about deadlines anymore. It will take a while until I’ll be ready to start thinking about my future, I guess. And that’s totally okay, the last two years were not fun.

I hope you all had a great Easter (for those celebrating Easter, that is 🙂 ) and a relaxing time with your families. Mine was great, I baked a lot and although (as expected) my grandfather didn’t touch much because it was vegan (and he actually isn’t so well these days), everyone else was happy.

Yesterday I got my internet connection here at home and realized that I didn’t crave it as much as I had expected. Guess that’s a good thing, I always pity the people that feel the need to be online 24/7. What kind of life is that? Go outside and enjoy the beautiful nature!

Today was an awesome day, for the first time it was really warm outside and I felt that I could have actually worn a sleeveless shirt for my walk if I had dared. Awesome! And the birds were chirping like crazy, everywhere the first flowers are blossoming and even trees start greening. Oh yes, how I am looking forward to that. Spring is my favorite time of the year, when everything comes back to life. It feels like a miracle every year again.

I hope you all had a great spring day as well.

Bye for now,

Ayumi ❤

Chocolate chip cookies

Hey people,

so, I have to say, going out was actually fun. As expected, I was quite exhausted afterwards, but I still enjoyed seeing all these people some of which I hadn’t met in a while. I have to admit that I have really no clue whatsoever about going to bars in general, I have only very rarely done that in my life, and I still don’t like it, and it’s always funny to me how people talk about all these different locations and their advantages and disadvantages and I’m just asking for a place that please shouldn’t be too loud. 😉

We started out at a very cramped place with loud music which I really didn’t like because I nearly had to scream to talk to people. After that we went somewhere else and I was so happy while we were outside, I wish others would feel the same way – I would be perfectly fine with just roaming around the city for a few hours, talking and enjoying the fresh air. Well, you can’t have everything… They were already nice because they took into account that it shouldn’t be too smoky (another thing I can’t stand at all) just for me. We unfortunately ended up in a place where smoking was allowed, though, and my eyes started hurting and my stomach revolted a little, and today my skin (I have a mild form of atopic eczema) has some reddish and wet spots now. Sometimes being sensitive in so many ways is a real pain… Anyway, in general it was good and I had fun, which is already an achievement for me. 🙂

As indicated yesterday, I was making goodbye cookies for a really good friend from India today, and I guessed that’s a good time for sharing another recipe with you. Being an absolute chocolate monster, I of course went for chocolate chip cookies, and I really love this recipe. I created it a while ago and it never failed me so far.

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Here you go, for about 30-40 small cookies:

340 g wheat flour

180 g sugar

180 g vegan butter

100 g chocolate, cut into small pieces Schokolade

30 g cocoa powder (unsweetened)

10 g starch

½ tsp baking powder

1 pinch of salt

~ 50 ml almond milk or any other plant milk

Knead all ingredients together until they form a nice dough. If necessary, add some more liquid or flour.

Form small balls and flatten them into circles and place them on a baking tray with parchment paper on it.

Bake the cookies at 180°C (upper and lower heat) for ~ 12-15 minutes. Let them cool completely and then store in a glass or metal container.

They can be kept for a few weeks and are crisp and very chocolatey! Yum! 😉

Now, people, I won’t have internet for about a week because at my “real home” with me mom, we only get a new connection then. Anyway, as it is Easter I guess nobody will feel such a strong need to roam the internet (hopefully) and rather spend the time with their families!

I wish you all a great Easter, hopefully the weather at your place is not as crazy as here in Germany. The last few days it was going from storm to bright sunshine to hail to rain to fat snow flakes all within a few hours, and all back and forth. Guess the Easter Bunny will have a hard time this year. 😉

See you all back in about a week!

Best, Ayumi ❤

Into the blue…

Hi everyone,

after a fateful and much hated day yesterday, I am back on track. There are soooo many things one can do in this world, this one stupid job that I wanted and now can’t get won’t decide on my overall life happiness. Actually, I enjoy the thought of not knowing about my future at all – a little bit, at least. Sure it’s scary and at times I completely freak out and feel like screaming, but overall I take it as a great opportunity to find my direction in life. I think that when I chose my career the first time, after highschool, I was still so much of a child and so inexperienced and insecure, I just wanted to get something started to be out of this situation of not knowing what to do. I was so scared of the world back then, I think I would have never been able to make a proper and educated decision about what I want to do. So I picked what seemed the most interesting to me – I liked biology in highschool, so why not study it? And for my Master’s, I had already felt strange about continuing but was not at that point where I would have dared to draw a line and say “Stop”.

Finally, here I am now, finishing my Master’s and looking out into the blue. Except for some faint ideas, everything is completely open and possibilities are endless. Maybe I will find the greatest thing for me, and maybe I’ll be disillusioned pretty soon. Somehow, though, I have the feeling that I am doing the right thing. Lately, I am absolutely obsessed with all kinds of songs that address in one or the other way this topic of not knowing what the future will bring. For example… “It’s a shot in the dark but I’ll make it” (Rather Be, Clean Bandit), “Neither of us knows what’s in store” (The Days, Avicii) or You Can Never Be Ready (Sunrise Avenue). Actually, these are all some of my very favorite songs at the moment, apart from my anime music… It’s such a relieve to feel like it’s totally okay to not always know what life will bring. And it’s really thrilling for me, because I have never tried it so far. I guess my being an HSP doesn’t make things easier, because if one thinks about everything ten times as much as most people, it naturally takes much more courage to do something so insecure, as one replays all the possible scenarios of how this can go wrong so many times. But now I am finally doing it, and I am proud and confident about it.

Did you ever have this feeling of dangling in the air, not knowing which of the many possible directions you are going to take? If yes, how did it turn out? I would love to hear some stories!

Apart from all that, it’ll be Easter soon (looking so forward!) and I’m glad to finally be able to spend a few calm days with my family and hopefully baking something. I have made a plan of baking some really tasty treats so that my anti-vegan grandfather will have a pretty hard time if he wants to stick to not eating my baked goods. I’ll let you know if it works out! 😉

All the best,

Ayumi ❤

Btw, now that I have recovered a bit from yesterday, I am gonna add my remaining thankful thoughts from Saturday. Yesterday I just wasn’t able to do it.

Being vegan is no insult

Strange title, you might think. Well, let me explain to you. I just remembered a visit at my grandparents’ house a couple of weeks ago. I love my grandparents and always look forward to seeing them but since I have become a vegan, things are getting really ugly at times.

Several months ago I’ve had a heated argument with my grandma, when she was being angry with me because I didn’t want to eat her non-vegan cake but offered her my vegan one. She was like, okay, if you want me to eat your cake you’ll also have to eat mine. I tried to tell her that she really can’t compare her eating my cake with me eating hers because I don’t want to eat animal products on principle while she very likely doesn’t mind eating plants. I think that day she didn’t really give in, but at least she hasn’t brought it up again. My whole family always enjoyed my baked goods a lot, so I was pretty shocked in the first place that anyone would react in such a negative way just because my cake didn’t contain eggs anymore.

The really bad thing is still to come, though. Here I have to say that my grandparents are very passionate omnivores, including meat in all of their meals. Of course I don’t exactly approve, but I’ve never tried to convince them of at least reducing their intake a little. I know that they are old people and have lived like this for their whole lives, and I think it would be disrespectful to try to lecture them. So I am not aware of ever having behaved in a judgmental way regarding their diet. On this occasion I am referring to, I baked a really good yeast cake, and I even made sugar sprinkled areas especially for my grandpa who loves sugar cake. He didn’t even touch it. I think Christmas, when we had my grandparents over for dinner, was the last time he has eaten something I cooked. Since then he always refused, but I had assumed that it was just because he is very picky and usually his appetite is not big these days. But this time I knew that couldn’t be it and I asked him to please try because I had made this sugar sprinkled section especially for him. His reply was something like, as long as you don’t eat a proper mettwurst sandwich I’m not gonna eat your strange vegan cake. I tried explaining to him the same thing I had discussed with my grandma months ago, but he wouldn’t even listen. I was crying because I was so sad and angry. I enjoy giving pleasure to people I love and this was just so unnecessary. I tried again and again, but eventually just gave up. I don’t know what else to do.

I think the fundamental problem here (I’m sure many vegans have experienced similar things) is that omnivores feel threatened by the vegan diet. As if one vegan person making vegan food was a personified condemnation of their diet. I assume that people reacting this way are so defensive because they feel that if they really thought about the topic properly, they would have to admit that we are right. Veganism is just better for the world, for the animals and for ourselves. And the only sustainable lifestyle. But what I really don’t like is that even if you don’t try to lecture people at all they react this way. Just like, no, I don’t want to know about this, veganism doesn’t exist, please remove this from my life. It’s so intolerant, a characteristic commonly attributed to vegans. It shows that there is still a very long way to go until at least vegans can get the acceptance they deserve. Probably it is also more extreme in case of old people who can’t really handle the idea of changing their diet for the benefit of the inferior animals. After all, what good would that do? Humans are the crown of creation, right? *biting sarcasm*

What I want to say with this post is that to me it seems vegans are often more tolerant towards their non-vegan fellow humans than the other way around. It is just so hard to make people understand that veganism is not some strange phase that comes and passes but a lifestyle to which most vegans are very devoted. To me, at least, it is a huge part of how I define myself. And I wouldn’t give this away again for anything in the world. Living a cruelty-free life is the only way to be the person I feel I am.

Do you also sometimes struggle with people you really care about that just can’t seem to accept your diet choices? Any advice?

Ayumi

Crunchy Peanut Chocolate Bliss

Hurray, I am finally sharing my first recipe with you! First I wanted to wait until… yeah, until when? I guess until my food photography skills have improved by 1,000% which will take a while. Since it’s weekend and one actually has time for making something nice now, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get this over to you. So I will take the photography part as learning by doing, since it would be cruel to keep delicious recipes from you just because they don’t look as delicious on my photos as in reality. Just try for yourselves and you’ll see the real beauty of these little darlings! ❤

I’m a total peanut butter addict. It became “worse” when I went vegan, so there must be something about peanuts that perfectly complements a vegan diet. At least I have the impression that every vegan food blogger I know goes crazy for peanut butter too! 😉

Peanut butter + chocolate = cloud nine!

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These home-made chocolates are not only much healthier than any store-bought chocolate creation, they also taste better. But try for yourselves… 🙂

For about 20 crunchy peanut butter chocolate bliss balls:

100 g crunchy peanut butter

10 g cacao nibs

20 g agave syrup

200 g dark chocolate (~ 70%)

some crumbled cornflakes

Combine peanut butter, cacao nibs and agave and carefully melt the dark chocolate in a waterbath. When its all melted, pour 25 g of the chocolate into the peanut butter mixture and stir it in immediately. This mousse now goes to the fridge for a while until it starts firming up. Keep the melted chocolate at temperature in the meantime. Form around 20 little balls out of the dough and place them in the freezer for maybe 15 min until they are relatively hard. Dip into the melted chocolate and let excess chocolate drip off, roll in the crumbled cornflakes and place on parchment paper. Not done yet: Put the balls into the fridge until the chocolate is hardened and then dip them into the melted chocolate once again. This will preserve the crunchiness of the cornflakes. You can decorate with some more crumbled cornflakes or cacao nibs.

I would recommend to store the balls in the fridge as the consistency and crunchiness is best when cooled.

What’s left to say? Enjoy and try to make them last for longer than a few minute – I highly recommend hiding. They are just too good to resist. 🙂

Have a great Sunday!

Ayumi