Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary - Mendon MASS
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Get Your Chocolate Fix with Two Decadent Vegan Dessert Recipes

Love is in the air—and on the farm—for Valentine’s Day! In honor of this sweet holiday, integrative health coach Susie Belanger is sharing two of her favorite cruelty-free dessert recipes, as well as tips on how you can celebrate another, lesser-known holiday this week.

Do you wish you could eat a kind diet free of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and other animal products? Or are you a seasoned vegan looking for a new recipe for a special Valentine’s Day dessert to share with your sweetie? Either way, you are in luck! Here are two decadent recipes just in time for the 14th.

Before we start baking, did you know that it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week? Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate with kindness towards humans and animals alike:

  • Give a homeless person a fiver (not just the loose change in your pocket).
  • Let someone out into your lane, even if there is mad traffic.
  • Smile at a stranger. Hopefully she or he will pass that smile on to the next passersby.
  • Donate to Maple Farm Sanctuary in your loved one’s name by making a one-time gift or sponsoring an animal. Your kindness will help support animals in need of love and care all year round. 
  • Skip meat and dairy for the day. There is simply no easier way to help animals and prevent suffering than by choosing vegan foods over meat, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Show the love to your furry companions. Take the pup in your life on an extra long walk, or give your kitty some extra chin scratches.
  • Love yourself. Random acts of kindness can and should also be directed at YOU. The more you love yourself, the more you will have the capacity love to other beings.

Now, on to the recipes!

Let’s start with these incredibly easy cupcakes....

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes With Chocolate Walnut Topping


  • 1 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour, sifted (I used a mesh colander)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee (I use Mount Hagen Organic Freeze Dried Instant Coffee)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (I avoid Dutch processed cocoa because it is treated with alkali)
  • 1/2 cup raw brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (almond, hemp, and organic soy are all good options)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 5.3 ounce 70% dark chocolate bar
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large 6 cup large muffin pan with vegan butter (I love Miyokos Creamery European Style Cultured Vegan Butter) and a pinch of flour.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa, coffee, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl, mix maple syrup, vinegar, non-dairy milk, olive oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until there are no lumps.
  5. Fill cups 3/4 full with mixture.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.
  7. Let cool to room temperature.
  8. Spread the topping on top of cupcakes.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
  1. Break chocolate into pieces and heat in a double boiler on low until just melted.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in non-dairy milk, chopped walnuts, and salt.

Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts and Raspberry Coulis

This cake recipe is “next-level” but it’s worth the extra time and effort. It’s filled with healthful ingredients like carrots, nuts, coconut, cocoa, and dark chocolate. (No one will taste the carrots, which are the secret to its moist, dense texture.) Credit goes to my super fabulous Swiss-German friend who made it for a party I attended and I was blown away! If you read German, follow the original recipe here.

Here’s how it’s done:



  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup of agave (or sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 a cup coffee (I dissolved two packets of Mount Hagen Organic instant in half a cup of hot water)
  • 1/4 cup chopped up 70% dark chocolate
  • 1-2 carrots, grated


  • 1 cup melted 70% dark chocolate (about one and one half 5.3 ounce of 150g bars)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted in a pan on the stove in 2 tablespoons granulated sugar to caramelize

Raspberry Coulis

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon powdered confectionery sugar

Nota bene: Organic ingredients are always best. Also, don't have hazelnuts? Use almonds, walnuts or whatever nuts you have - or omit. As with all recipes, feel free to change it up. Use strawberries instead of raspberries. Use organic soy milk, oat, or hemp milk instead of almond. There are no rules.


  1. First, mix all dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cocoa powder, coconut flakes and ground hazelnuts - well.
  2. Slowly add wet ingredients- coffee, agave, vanilla extract, coconut oil and almond milk - and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add grated carrot.
  4. Put the mixture into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 60 minutes. The baking time can vary depending on the oven, with me it took 60 minutes.
  6. The coffee or the almond milk can be replaced by other fluids, juice or tea, depending on your preference.
  7. Once the cake is done and cooling, make the icing: first toast the hazelnuts lightly in a dry pan and then remove the outer coating once cool enough to handle. Don't worry if you don't remove all of the outer coatings. Do your best. Loosely chop nuts and set aside.
  8. Add granulated sugar to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add back the hazelnuts to caramelize. Once coated and sticky like peanut brittle, spread on parchment paper in a single layer and cool.
  9. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Stir.
  10. Add 1 tablespoon almond milk, stir, and pour chocolate icing over your cake.
  11. Top with caramelized hazelnuts.
  12. Blend raspberries with powdered sugar in a food processor (mini Cuisinart is great for this step) then strain to remove seeds. Spread raspberry coulis on plate in any design you like and add a few raspberries. Voilà

Susie Belanger is a Plant-Based Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the Founder of Belavie Health & Beauty Homemade. Cooking is her jam and creating plant-based versions of traditional meat-based dishes is her specialty. She offers healthy vegan recipes and do-it-yourself skin care recipes on her blog:


MFS Rescued Sheep Tara Anna Featured on the Dodo!

MFS was thrilled to find out that one of our most steadfast supporters, 12-year-old Elias, was recently featured in a video created by The Dodo! The video highlights Elias’ special bond with rescued sheep Tara Anna, who he sponsored for many years.

MFS rescued Tara Anna in summer 2005 after we received a call from the local police department about a sheep who had been badly abused and was found hiding in some bushes. It turned out that a group of women had tied a rope around the sheep’s neck and dragged her around their yard by a riding lawn mower. While the poor sheep struggled to get free, other women beat her with sticks and a baseball bat. When the police arrived and cut her free, the women said they were planning on using her as a piñata to stab to death and then have for dinner.

When we approached sheep, who we named Tara Anna, she wasn't shy or skittish—she was petrified. We finally got her to MFS and put her in a comfortable stall next to the majestic, calming llamas, before giving her veterinary care.

Over the years, Tara Anna gradually recovered from her trauma and healed. She bonded with other sheep at the sanctuary as well as goats, pigs, and llamas, and she even came to trust people again. Volunteers were very careful around her and never picked up a broom or stick when she was near, as we never wanted her to feel scared again.

Tara Anna passed away from natural causes associated with old age in summer 2017. We are so happy that we were able to give her a loving home where should could recover from her trauma and know peace and comfort for many years. We are also so thankful to young Elias for all that he has done to help Tara Anna as well as other farm animals around the world through his compassionate advocay efforts!

Make a difference for rescued animals like Tara Anna by sponsoring your own animal friend at MFS just like Elias. Also sign up for our e-newsletter, the Non-Dairy Digest, to stay up-to-date on MFS news and animal rescues.

Behind the Scenes: A Volunteer Spotlight

Who knows Maple Farm Sanctuary’s animal residents best? The kind and compassionate people who volunteer their time to give these furry, woolly, and feathery friends the best lives possible!

We have volunteers who spend time in the barn, volunteers who manage our email newsletter, volunteers who lead weekend tours  — you name the task that promotes compassion towards farmed animals and we’re fortunate enough to have amazing people who come from far and wide to cover it.

Recently we asked our volunteers to tell us about their special bonds with the animals of MFS. Read on to get to know the faces behind MFS (and stay tuned for Part 2 in January 2018):

Barn Volunteer Sharron and Chivo

“I was intimidated by Chivo when we first met, mostly because of his size, and those horns! He surprised me once by butting me gently in the back and I realized he just wanted attention, like my dog, or my kids when they were little. The similarities didn’t end there. Experience taught me to Chivo-proof the barn while I’m working. He’s been known to nudge open the gate and trot over to eat the chicken feed, or climb into a stall behind a volunteer and refuse to leave without payment (a grape or apple slice). I fell for it once, but never again. Chivo, I love you, but I am so on to you!”

Barn Volunteer Megan and Lovey

“Lovey is missing the top part of her beak, so she has trouble pecking for food. It's heart wrenching to watch her try to eat! So I've learned Cheri's special way of feeding her small pieces of grapes by dangling them. If I'm not feeding her fast enough, she jumps up to reach my hand — just like a cat or dog! At Maple Farm Sanctuary, I've discovered what amazing personalities birds have! Look at her on her cute little tip toes!

Barn Volunteer Meghan and Piggy Smalls

“This pig is such a love, he comes when I call for him, he returns the affection that I give, and on occasion, he'll follow me around the back paddock.”

Tour Guide Assistant Ryan and Olaf

“I have volunteered at Maple Farm Sanctuary for many years but it wasn't until September that I got to meet and hang out with baby goats, Olaf and his sister Sage. This was only made possible by mama goat Wynvisa and the tireless work of Jim & Cheri. They have created a place of peace in a world of chaos and I and all of these very lucky animals thank them for it. Oh, and go vegan!”

Barn Volunteer Chrissy and Gail

“Maple Farm Sanctuary holds such a special place in my heart! Cheri, Jim, and the animals are like family. I love volunteering every week and it has been such a positive influence on my life. Gail is a retired dairy cow that is over 20 years old and she’s one of my favorites."

Barn Volunteer and Tour Guide Jessica and Gwendolyn

“I call Gwendolyn my best turkey girlfriend. She’s goofy and talkative and brave. I’ve worked for about three months to make her a lap turkey and finally succeeded. That was an incredibly happy day for me.”

Tour Guide Assistant Sue and Pumpkin

"I never knew I would have such love for farm animals. I've always been a cat/dog person. I realize now I just never made a connection outside of house pets. I think I'm in trouble now!!"

Are you interested in joining this compassionate group of animal lovers? Whether you’re available for a weekly barn cleaning shift or you have professional skills that you could donate to the cause, find out how to get involved with Maple Farm Sanctuary today.


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