Tag Archives: desserts

Tuesday Teaser #12: Magic Chocolate Cake and Creamy Smooth Chocolate Frosting

Tuesdays are always “Teaser Tuesdays” at Alf Hana.  We try out other people’s recipes and share our impressions and recommendations with you.

Are you a chocolate freak?  I am.  I love chocolate.

Did you know that chocolate actually has some health benefits?  Cocoa supposedly can help blood flow more easily, playing a role in the prevention of blood clots and heart attacks!  Because it also contains powerful antioxidants, it may also help reduce damage to coronary arteries.  When you choose your chocolate, be sure to choose the darkest, least processed available to get the most benefit.  *Also, be sure that if you’re watching your weight, chocolate still contains sugar and those calories add up!

Having said that, when you have a special occasion to celebrate, chocolate cake is a time-honored tradition.  There are many chocolate cake recipes around the internet, but this one is EASY, QUICK, LIGHT, healthIER than the animal-based alternatives, and TASTY!!!

This recipe originally comes from the Peaceful Palate by Jennifer Raymond, one of our favorite cookbooks!  Both the cake and the icing recipes are available online for free on compassionatecooks.com here.

We absolutely love this recipe.  I’ve made it as birthday cakes before and just recently took it in its cupcake form as a treat for a Ramadan iftar.   It makes one 9 inch cake or 12 cupcakes.

Here are some more pictures… I told you I love chocolate!

Nutritional Information (for the cake): 1 of 12 cupcakes

164 Calories; 6 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 25 g Carbohydrates; 1 g Fiber; 2 g Protein

Nutritional Information (for the frosting): 1 of 12 servings

66 Calories; 1 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 15 g Carbohydrates; 1 g Fiber; 0 g Protein

What’s your favorite cake flavor?

Alf Hana!!!


Pharaoh’s Friday #14: Easy Breakfast Konafa

During Ramadan, the Eastern sweets take over our taste buds!  We love all the delicacies especially since so many of them are prepared using plant-based ingredients.  However, I must admit I have not mastered all of them yet!!!  I promise I’m working on them, but in the meantime, take a stab at this really EASY  EASY recipe using konafa….
As we posted recently, konafa is basically shredded phyllo pastry.  There are all kinds of ways to eat and this has got to be the easiest!!!  We like to have it as a special treat for breakfast sometimes.  It is especially easy during Ramadan when we can find fresh konafa in our corner shop!
Serves 2
125 grams of konafa
1 tablespoon corn oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1.  Cut or tear the konafa into small, bite size pieces.
2.  Heat the oil and konafa in a pan on low heat until golden brown (about 5 minutes).

3.  Remove from the heat and add the sugar, raisins and cinnamon.

Nutritional Information: 1 of 2 servings (about 85 grams)
304 Calories; 11 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 47 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Fiber; 5 g Protein

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • Try adding some walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, or your favorite nut.
  • Would chocolate work?
What’s your favorite Middle Eastern sweet?
Alf Hana!!!

Purple Grape Crisp

Do you try to use local, seasonal fruits and vegetables in your cooking?  We do. Here in Egypt it’s not hard because it seems like there are always fresh fruit and vegetable vendors trying to sell their products on every corner.

Last week, on our way home from work, we walked by one such vendor who had sold most of his goods except for a box of plump, juicy purple grapes.  Now, I was tempted by them, but Mary stepped up first.  We wanted about one kilo, but it was the end of the day and the guy had 4 he wanted to get rid of.  Yes, FOUR!  We had just seen how expensive the grapes were in the supermarket (and not bought any!), so when he offered to go almost half the price if we bought them all, Mary couldn’t say no.  I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how we were going to finish 4 kilos of grapes before they went bad….and then came the idea for this recipe.

First it was a pie. Then, since we are both trying to control our calories, it morphed into a crisp.  I took the pie mix from one recipe, the crisp mix from another and modified both so they would be low fat and vegan.  And there you have it – a delicious, nutritious new creation!  And these purple grapes have the added bonus of being full of antioxidants that can help circulation and prevent heart disease!

Serves 12
½ cup packed, fine, light brown sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 cups grapes, halvedTopping:
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup packed, fine, light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon saltInstructions:
1.  Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (350 degrees F or 180 degrees C)
2.  Wash and chop the grapes in half.  I only halved the larger ones.  I left the small ones in tact.
Make the filling:
3.  In a large mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.

4.  When well-mixed, add the grapes and toss them until they are completed covered. Let them sit aside for about 10 minutes.
Prepare the topping:
5.  Put the walnuts on a baking sheet and let them toast in the oven for about 10 minutes.

6.  Once the walnuts are cooled, chop them.
7.  Mix the oats, walnuts, flour, oil, applesauce, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  It should be crumbly.
Make the crisp:
8.  Put the filling in a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) pan.
9.  Cover with the topping.  Spread it as evenly as you can.  I used the back of a spoon.

10.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
11.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Serving Suggestions:
*It goes well with non-dairy ice cream!!!
*Use pecans instead of walnuts.
*Use another kind of fruit…???Nutritional Information: (1 of 12 squares)
282 calories; 12 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 5 g protein
What’s your favorite way to eat grapes?
Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #10: Apricot Pudding (Qamar Al-Din)

Hi everybody!  Are you hot?!  It’s 40 degrees Celsius!!!  (That’s 104 for you Fahrenheit folks!).  Want something cool, creamy and sweet?!  Try this!  A traditional Egyptian dessert, this has been one of my favorites since I first step foot in Egypt.  Our version is low on sugar (we didn’t add any at all!!) but still has all the natural sweetness of the dried apricot!

¼ kilo pressed apricot sheets (1/2 of the package; 250 grams)

1 and ½ cups of water¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water

shredded coconut for serving

1.  Open up the sheets of dried apricot and separate about half of the package.

2.  Cut the 250 grams of dried apricot into small pieces and put in a saucepan.

3.  Cover the pieces of apricot with about 1 and ½ cups of water.  Make sure all the pieces are covered with water.
4.  Boil for about 10 minutes.
5.  Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

6.  Once cooled, press the mixture through a sieve with narrow holes.

After straining

7.   In a separate bowl, mix the ¼ cup of cornstarch with ¼ cup water until all the cornstarch is dissolved.
8.  Stir the cornstarch mix into the apricot mixture.

9.  Heat this mixture in a saucepan until boiling.  Boil for a few minutes until thick.
10.  Spoon into small dishes. Garnish with shredded coconut.  Refrigerate until sets.

Serving Suggestions:
*Add chopped nuts (pistachios, walnuts, or any you like!) to the coconut topping.
*Add chopped dried apricots and raisins to the apricot and cornstarch mix.
*These sheets can also be used to make a cold, refreshing drink commonly consumed during Ramadan.

Nutritional Information:
1 of 2 servings:
135 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g cholesterol, 32 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein

Have you ever had Qamar Al-Din before (as a pudding or drink)?  Which way do you like it most? What other ways do you like to eat apricots?

Alf Hana!!!

Are you a chocolate lover, a vegan and in Cairo?

Well, you probably have been looking EVERYWHERE for chocolate chips, right?  I know we always were!  In fact, for many years, I had to chop up bars of vegan chocolate so we could have chocolate chunks for our cookies….

BUT…no need for YOU to spend so much time chopping!  You can find chocolate chips now!!!!   Royal House has them in abundance.  They come in small, 200 gram bags. As you can see from the image, they are not very expensive so stock up!

Here is the contact information for Royal House, just in case you don’t know:

Royal House: Heliopolis, Roxy, in front of Merryland, behind Othman Ahmed Othman buildings

24514446 / 24514445 and for home delivery: 24514447 / 24514448 / 24514449

Now, enjoy your chocolate, chocolate lovers!

Chocolate Chip Brownie Surprise

We’re always searching for the perfect brownie recipe – one that is moist enough for me and “cakey” enough for Mary; one that is nutritious but satisfies that sweet tooth of mine…

Well, here’s our latest endeavor in the brownie escapade.  It has a quite unexpected secret ingredient that added the moisture I was looking for.  The final verdict is still up in the air, but all of our kind taste testers (you know who you are!) really seemed to enjoy it!


  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (that’s about 4 zucchini)
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk (we used soy)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C or gas mark 4).

2.  Prepare a large 9 x 13 inch pan (23 x 33 cm) by oiling it.

3.  Combine flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  

4.  Shred the zucchini.

5.  Make the vegan “egg” by mixing the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and the 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.

6.  Make the vegan “yogurt”.  Put the 1/2 cup of nondairy milk (soy milk) in a bowl.  Remove 1 /2 tablespoon.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Stir well.  Set aside.

7.  In a second large bowl, mix the cornstarch mixture, sugar, brown sugar, soy milk mixture, oil and vanilla.  Stir in the shredded zucchini.  Mix well.

8.  Spread the mixture into the oiled pan.  Top with chocolate chips.

9.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  When a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, they’re ready!

Calories: 168, Fat: 7 g, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 2 g

This recipe has been ‘veganized’ from the recipe “Zucchini Brownies” by Julie Swartzentruber and Mary Keith in the cookbook, Simply in Season.