Tuesday, June 11, 2019

DIY Beginners Guide To Soap Making (Without Active Lye)

When it comes to creating soap, one of the biggest concerns for newcomers is
the fear of working with active lye. Active lye can be caustic and dangerous when you’re unfamiliar with how to properly handle it. This how to make soap for beginners guide doesn’t use active lye, so you can safely create your own uniquely scented soaps without worrying about handling harsh chemicals.

Soap making is a fun, therapeutic and creative do-it-yourself craft that can be enjoyable
for the entire family. The best part about making your own homemade soap recipe is
the easy customization. Your recipe can be tailored down to your favorite colors, scents, essential oils and design!

Soap Base

This DIY soap making method without lye requires a soap base. All soaps contain lye,
but with the ”Melt & Pour” soap method, you’ll use a large block of premade soap base (no lye handling) that you can melt down and customize with your favorite colors and scents and pour into a mold. Melt & Pour Soap or Goat’s Milk Melt & Pour Soap are easy bases to find and use if using the “Melt & Pour” soap method. Once you’ve decided on your soap base, you can gather all of your supplies to start customizing your homemade soap recipe.

Oils & Butters

One of the most important aspects of your soap recipe will be your oil and butter.
Different kinds of oil and butter add different moisturizing and cleansing properties to your soap. Some of the more popular and common types of oil and butter are coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, avocado oil, eucalyptus oil and argan oil.

Coconut oil: A natural moisturizer with cleansing properties that can remove dirt
and dead skin cells from the body and face. Coconut oil is antioxidant rich and can provide the skin with firming and anti-aging properties.

Cocoa Butter: Offers intense hydration and abundant antioxidants, neutralizing
free radicals to reduce the signs of aging, and it can reduce the appearance of stretch
marks and scars.

Shea Butter: A soft, solid, skin-loving emollient with moisturizing qualities that leaves
the skin soft and luxurious.

Avocado Oil: A super-lightweight vitamin-rich oil (A, B, D, and E) that absorbs easily
into the skin.

Eucalyptus Oil: Has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that can help
soothe pain, itching of rashes and other skin irritations.

Argan Oil: A golden and lightweight oil that is quick absorbing. Argan oil feels silky to
the touch and is packed with vitamins E and A and moisturizing properties.

There are plenty of other oil and butter options if one of these isn’t for you, so do
your research. Some oils can leave your skin feeling dry or too oily, so pick an oil or
butter that fits your skin's needs.

Fragrances and Essential Oils

Fragrances are the best part of the soap. The aroma will determine if you want to use
the soap. It’s important to choose skin-safe scents, as some “fragrance” additives may
not be skin safe or previously tested in soap. Check manufacturer labels and
ingredients before use. The biggest concern with fragrance is determining how much
fragrance or essential oil you’ll need in your recipe for scent retention. You can use
this fragrance calculator to help you determine the right ratio for your soap melt and
pour recipes. Here are a few scents to get you started and inspired:

Floral Fantasy: A mixture of sweet pea, freesia and a hint of pear. This scent pairs
nicely with lavender and vanilla, and together they create a floral combination that
is calming and soothing.

Lavender Vanilla and Eucalyptus: A true therapeutic combination of scents. Lavender
has powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, sedative, calming and anti-depressive
properties. Vanilla is a natural sedative that works to soothe inflammation and
hyperactivity to help you truly relax. These two essential oils combined with
Eucalyptus, a soothing scent, make this fragrance combination the perfect addition
to your nighttime shower to wind down and get ready for bed.

Petal Mania/ Sun-Ripened Fruit Bath Fizzie Fragrance: A fresh floral and sweet fruity
blend that creates a harmonizing pleasant note. Easily combinable with vanilla to warm
and enrich this fruity and floral fragrance. BONUS: Produces bath fizzies, a fun and
light effervescent characteristic to add to your soap.

Soap Color, Molds and Add-ins

After you decide on your scent, the fun continues! Adding color to your soap can bring
your soap recipe to the next level. Adding color depends on your method - pigments,
powders, natural colorants.

Here’s how you can add pigments to your soap:
  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of pigment/color with 1 tablespoon of glycerin or 99% isopropyl alcohol.
  2. Add ¼ teaspoon of dispersed color to the melted soap until you get a color you like.
  3. Add shavings of color blocks to the melted soap until you get a color you like. Color blocks are essentially super concentrated melt and pour, so they incorporate more easily into soap than loose pigments.
  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of powder with 1 tablespoon of 99% isopropyl alcohol or distilled water.
  2. Add ¼ teaspoon of dispersed color to the melted soap until you get a color you like.
Whatever colors you choose, feel free to experiment with how you pour them before
they set. You can easily swirl colors to create a fun and visual masterpiece with
your soap recipe, for example.

Lastly, picking a mold will complete your recipe. When adding your soap to your
mold, you can add in anything else that’s essential to your recipe, such as
bath salt herbs, soap shavings, soap curls, lemon or orange zest, poppy seeds, steel
cut oats and more!

Here are a few of our favorite soap molds to help you get started:

Making homemade soap is a lot easier than you think! It’s a great way to make
personalized gifts and spend hands-on time with your friends and family. The most
important thing about making soap is to have fun and enjoy experimenting with
how scents smell when combined to create the perfect soap for you. Here are a few
soap making recipes for free that are easy to follow, have minimal supplies and can
be easily customized to fit your skin’s needs:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

3 Vegan Sweet Treats for Easter That Are Sure To Impress

Easter comes at one the most delightful times of the year. The weather is perfectly balanced between sunny and breezy, and flowers are in full bloom as spring asserts its arrival. No doubt one of the best parts of Easter is enjoying a variety of sweet treats - especially those chocolate eggs! \

But if you are vegan, you might find yourself limited in dessert options each year. Even if you think something is safe to eat, you always have to ask if it’s vegan. Rather than waiting for a hesitant answer, you may want to opt for bringing your own dessert. Not only is it much cheaper to make your own sweets at home, but this also ensures that you have vegan-friendly options for yourself as well as other fellow vegans. Plus, if you have kids, making delicious treats can be a fun family bonding experience as you prepare for Easter.

Here are three easy vegan recipes you can try at home this year so that you can bring your own delicious dessert to your Easter celebration. These recipes are so good, your non-vegan friends won’t even notice the difference!

Vegan Carrot Cupcakes
This recipe is a bit more advanced in the sense that it takes some time to prepare. But if you are a pro multitasker, you can tackle this challenge in 30-40 minutes. Besides, with so many delicious details in this recipe, you are sure to impress everyone you serve them to.
  • Carrot cake cupcakes
  • 100 g / 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 90 g / 3/4 cup gram flour, aka chickpea / garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • A pinch of salt
  • 120 ml / 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (can also use olive oil)
  • 240 ml / 1 cup water
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 carrots, grated (equaling about 1/2 cup full)
  • 75 g / 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 150 g / 1 cup of pecans or walnuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 150 g / 1/2 cup raisins

Coconut "cream cheese" frosting
  • 170 g / 1 cup cashew nuts, soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 60 ml / 1/4 cup coconut milk, or other dairy-free milk
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 60 ml / 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Marzipan carrot decorations
  • 60 ml / 1/4 cup carrot juice
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 3 heaped tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or more, if needed
  • optional cocoa powder
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs or parsley leaves

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two muffin pans with paper cases for 20 cupcakes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix brown rice flour, gram flour, baking powder, spices and salt. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk up coconut oil, water, maple syrup and vanilla
  4. Little by little, add your dry ingredients from the first bowl to the wet ingredients in the second bowl.
  5. Once they are mixed, add in the grated carrot, desiccated coconut, nuts and raisins.
  6. This batter should be thin and this is not a reason to worry! Pour your mixture into your muffin pans and place them in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Once the cupcakes are golden brown or you can stick a toothpick in the center of a muffin without getting batter stuck to it, your cupcakes are ready!
  7. Give them a few minutes to cool before you add the frosting.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Just simply add all of your ingredients together in a high-power blender or food processor while your cupcakes are baking. Mix the ingredients until you have a smooth mixture.
  2. Place your mixture in the fridge to allow it to cool and thicken while you wait for your cupcakes to be ready.

Marzipan Carrot Decorations:
  1. It’s perfectly fine to use store-bought all-natural orange food coloring, but if you prefer to make your own, use 1 tbsp of carrot juice and mix it with the arrowroot powder in a small bowl.
  2. Pour the remaining carrot juice in a small pan and boil it. When it’s boiling, add the arrowroot mixture and mix it until it has thickened. 
  3. Lower the heat and cook for a few more minutes before placing it in the fridge to allow it to cool.
  4. Now for your marzipan! In a medium bowl, stir the ground almonds and maple syrup until you have a malleable dough.
  5. Add 1 tbsp of carrot juice and arrowroot mixture at a time until you have your desired color. Add more ground almonds to make the dough firm and smooth but not sticky.
  6. Roll a piece of the marzipan into a small ball (about the size of your thumb), and mold it into a carrot shape. 
  7. Dip a knife in cocoa powder and use that to make the lines in the carrot.
  8. Flatten the top of the carrot to place rosemary or parsley leaf.

Now just add the frosting, place your carrot decorations on top and you are set! Your guests are bound to love this small, delicious and creative dessert. You can decorate it with Easter cupcake treat wraps to make your cupcakes extra festive!

Vegan Cake Pops
This recipe gives you a lot of creative freedom for Easter. Cake pops are ideal for any themed occasion and can be molded into a variety of shapes. Mold them into tulips, Easter eggs, and even bunny or chick heads to add a creative and delicious touch to your Easter celebration. Your kids will have tons of fun decorating these treats.
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat vegan cookies
  • ½ cup vegan cheese spread
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¾ cups dark vegan chocolate
  • Cake pop sticks

  1. Crush the cookies and add them to a food processor along with your cream cheese spread and 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Blend well.
  2. Empty the mixture into a large bowl and mix it even more with your hands.
  3. Roll your mixture into 12 small egg- or sphere-shaped cakes and freeze them for 15 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, melt your chocolate and 3 tbsp of coconut oil in a double boiler. Pour your mixture into a tall but narrow glass so you can use the chocolate for dipping later. 
  5. Grab your eggs from the freezer and place them on your cake pop sticks
  6. Dip each cake pop into the chocolate, and voila! Now all you have to do is decorate your cake pops with edible confetti or anything else you’d like.

Vegan Chocolate Creme Eggs
These mini chocolate eggs are inspired by Cadbury’s iconic and delicious chocolate creme eggs. What’s the best part about the creme filling? Not only is it heavenly delicious, it’s vegan!
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • vegan food colouring (optional)
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Creme Filling:
  1. Mix your agave, vegan butter, vanilla extract and salt in a small bowl, then slowly add in the powdered sugar to make a very sticky mixture. *This is when you would add in your food coloring if you prefer to do so.
  2. In a double boiler, melt your chocolate chips.

Chocolate Eggs:
  1. Using a decorated chocolate egg or mini chocolate egg mold, drop some chocolate into each shape with a spoon and push the chocolate up to cover the sides.
  2. Flip your mold over and shake it to remove any excess chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Flip your mold back over and scrape off excess chocolate with a spatula or the back of a knife.
  4. Place your mold upside down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put it in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes or until your chocolate is completely firm.
  5. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and place an oven-safe plate inside your oven.
  6. When your chocolate is firm, take the chocolate eggs out of the mold.
  7. Take your creme filling out of the freezer and scoop some into a smaller egg shape that can fit inside your chocolate shells, and place it inside one half. Make sure you don’t overstuff each shell so that you can stick the two halves together later.
  8. Using the warm plate from the oven, press the other half on the plate so that the edges of the chocolate egg can melt. 
  9. Now take the creme-filled egg half and the melted egg half and softly press them together.
  10. Voila! Your delicious creme-filled eggs are ready for you to decorate and serve. If you made smaller chocolate eggs, you can neatly serve them on Easter egg paper candy cups for better presentation.

These cute little sweet treats are a delicious and impressive dessert for kids to make, to serve to guests or simply to treat yourself with a vegan, guilt-free dessert. For more Easter dessert supplies, look through our large selection of products, including countless chocolate molds, cookie cutters, cake pop sticks and more. To get more recipe ideas, be sure to check out our Pinterest page filled with many more creative dessert recipes. Happy baking.

Treats To Make for Your Someone Special

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. If you don’t book your reservation weeks in advance, you will find it nearly impossible to get a table as the day approaches. It can feel like trying to find a spot at a bar on the day of the Super Bowl - chaotic. But who doesn’t want to celebrate this day with a significant other? 

The surest way to avoid all of this commotion is to opt for a gourmet meal prepared right in the comfort of your own home. Not only do you avoid wait times and crowded spaces, but cooking with your significant other can be a lot of fun. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a delicious meal you’ve prepared yourself? Besides, your home will surely be a more intimate setting than a crowded restaurant. However, don’t forget the sweetest part of Valentine’s Day dinner - dessert!

Even if you do decide to eat out, there’s nothing like coming back home to a delightful treat paired with a glass of your favorite rosé. So go ahead and treat yourself and your special someone with a scrumptious dessert. Whether you prefer a quick and easy no-bake recipe or you’re in search of a decadent cake, here are a few delicious recipes so you can end your Valentine’s Day on a sweet note.

Red Velvet Cheesecake
This is a more complex recipe that takes a few hours to chill, so you may want to start by making dessert first. It delivers 20 servings, so you’ll have the opportunity to indulge for days!

  • Powdered sugar
  • Chocolate leaves
  • Fresh raspberries or small strawberries
  • Cocoa powder - unsweetened

Prep time: 45 minutes
Bake: 1 hour
Cool: 1 hour
Chill: 4 hours
  1. Start by melting your ½ cup of butter and 1lb of chocolate in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once you’re done, transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool.
  2. Mix your chocolate pieces, wafer cookies, brown sugar and almonds into a large food processor and bring them to a fine ground.
  3. Add ½ cup of melted butter into the food processor and mix it in completely.
  4. Move the crumbs over to a 10x3 inch springform pan that has a removable bottom. Firmly press the crumbs onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Make sure to leave ½ inch of space at the top of the pan, and set this aside.
  5. Now for your filling! In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat your cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, buttermilk, cooled chocolate mixture (from step 1) and red food coloring. Use medium to high speed until everything is completely combined.
  6. Add the 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks to your mixture and use low speed to beat until they are combined.
  7. Pour your mixture into the crumb-crust pan you set aside, and place the springform pan into a shallow baking pan on your oven rack.
  8. Set your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and bake for 1 hour or until 2 inches of the outside edge appears set when you gently shake it.
  9. Take the springform pan away from the baking pan and cool your cheesecake for 15 minutes on a wire rack. 
  10. Using a metal spatula, loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan and let it cool for 30 additional minutes. Remove the sides of the pan, let it cool for one more hour, chill it for at least 4 hours, and voila! 

If you’d like, use the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate leaves and your fresh fruit to garnish your cake. 

Vegan Chocolate Mousse
This is a fairly simple recipe that requires only six ingredients and a total of 15 minutes to make. It’s a quick and easy recipe that will surely save you from a bind if you’re scrambling to make an impressive dessert. Plus, it’s vegan!
  • ¾ cup chia seeds
  • ½ cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ cups of nut milk
  • ⅓ cup real maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon flakey sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Prep time: 15 minutes total
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the milk, maple syrup, chia seeds, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Cover and place in your fridge for two hours.
  2. Move this mix over into a blender and blend on high until your mixture is creamy. You may want to scrape down the sides while you blend to mix everything in.
  3. Taste the mixture and add more maple until your mousse is sweetened to your liking.
  4. Chill, serve and voila!
  5. If you’d like to add a little flair to this dessert, use the optional ingredients to make a coconut cream as follows:
  6. Tip the coconut water out of your coconut cream, and place the cream into a mixing bowl along with your vanilla and maple syrup. 
  7. With an electric mixer, whip the cream until everything is combined.
  8. Garnish your mousse with the coconut cream and dried roses or cacao nibs to make it look Instagram pretty.

Vegan Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
Vegan cheesecake? That doesn’t sound right, but this recipe will make a cheesecake so delicious, you won’t even notice the difference. Plus it’s quite easy to make – just dedicate 20 minutes to making your mixture and let the freezer complete the job for you.
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup almond meal

Optional Blueberry Puree Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 2 ½ tbsp melted coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 340g extra-firm, drained silken tofu

Prep Time: 20 min
Chill: 5 hours
  1. Mix your almond meal with cinnamon and add syrup and coconut oil. Mix well and firmly press into a mold to create your crust.
  2. Blend the rest of your ingredients (minus the puree ingredients) until the mixture is creamy.
  3. Place your filling onto the crust.
  4. Place the cheesecake in the freezer for 5 hours, and you are set!
  5. For the puree, simply blend the blueberries, syrup and lemon juice for a few seconds. Then blend it into your tofu filling, and set a portion of it aside to use later as a sauce.

Heart-Shaped Anything!
If all else fails, you can always just go back to your favorite go-to recipe for cookies, brownies, cake or anything sweet and use a heart-shaped mold or cookie cutter to make it Valentine’s Day-themed.

The important part is that you have fun with whichever project you decide to take on. The whole purpose of making a home-cooked dessert is to avoid the stress of crowded places and enjoy this special day in a more intimate setting. Cooking together is a simple yet fun date idea for all couples, new and old. So go ahead and indulge in a scrumptious treat, and end your Valentine’s Day on a light and sweet note.