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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

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I’ve been promising–at least on Instagram, to share the gluten-free version of my Winemakers Cake (see original recipe here). It’s all I’ve been making lately because it’s super easy and fast to prepare, looks nice when serving to guests, and I especially love that it’s gluten- and dairy-free since I avoid both most of the time. In fact, I like the gluten-free version so much that I’ve been favoring it over the original recipe on most occasions. The crumb seems a bit more delicate even though the gluten-free version doesn’t rise as much as the original recipe.

My local grocer keeps stocking Thomson grapes, too, which is the preferred grape for this cake, and it really feels like an “Indian Summer” dessert–lightly sweet, not too rich or heavy and using the fruit of the season.

If you haven’t already tried this recipe, please do. I know you will love it–especially how easy it is.

 

Ingredients

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup evaporated cane juice

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk or good-quality almond milk

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour*

1/2 cup almond flour

1 tbsp coconut flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp almond extract

10 oz (about 1-1/2 cups) small, purple grapes**

Confectioners sugar for garnish (optional)

*I like to use Bob’s Red Mill “1 to 1 All-Purpose Gluten-free flour.”

**Thomson or Thomcord grapes work the best because they’re small and jammy in flavor. I’m sure this cake would taste delicious with other varieties, but I would avoid using the more common green or red grapes.

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow in color, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, non-dairy milk, vanilla and almond extracts, and mix until blended.

In a medium-size bowl, mix the flours, baking powder and salt until thoroughly blended. Add the lemon zest, and toss to coat. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until blended. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquids.

Stir 1 cup of the grapes into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top using a spatula or back of a spoon.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes before sprinkling the remaining grapes over the top of the cake. Bake for an additional 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, and the cake has a nice light golden color.

Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the sides before releasing the removing the side of the springform pan. Serve at room temperature with a dusting of confectioners sugar. You can store the cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

 

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“Blondies”–along with really good shortbread and perfectly-cooked snickerdoodles, continue to top my list of favorite cookies. I’ve always loved “blondies” more than “brownies.” I can’t say what it is except that I like my chocolate in small doses and brownies just seem like too much of a good thing. I also like how blondies offer a subtle butterscotchy-maple flavor–something that hints of a more decadent dessert, such as sticky toffee pudding.

I’ve been tinkering around with this recipe for a few weeks, and I finally like where it is. First, these cookies can be made in about 30 minutes with less than 10 minutes of actual work time involved! Second, the top is a little crunchy while the inside is fairly gooey/chewy. They’re not super low sugar like many of my desserts, but they have substantially less sugar than many of their counterparts.

These blondies are also loaded with protein, and they’re gluten-, egg- and dairy-free to boot.

Ingredients

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp almond butter or other nut butter (I like to use half almond, half cashew)

1/4 cup non dairy milk, such as almond or coconut

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup gluten-free flour (I use 1/2 cup all-purpose plus some arrowroot and cassava flours)

Scant 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup raw pecans, finely chopped

1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (I like this brand)

1 tsp coconut oil

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Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix the almond butter, non dairy milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until well combined and smooth.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined.

Fold in the chopped pecans. Drop the very thick stiff batter into the pan. Using a spatula, press the batter down to even it out in the pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is be set. While the blondies are baking, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. When the blondies are out of the oven, drizzle the melted chocolate mixture over the pan. Let the blondies cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Makes 9 cookies approximately 2 inches by 2 inches.

Enjoy!

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I’m a little late posting this, so please forgive me!

Like the orange and beet salad I shared in my last post, this tart is another great dish for transitioning into autumn. Granted, depending on where you live, you may already be deep into autumn. But this dessert is so insanely simple to make and delicious to devour that I couldn’t wait until next summer to share it!

Here in northern California, we’re lucky enough to have access to fresh blueberries nearly year round, and our fig season is at least six months long. If you have access to fresh blueberries and figs where you live, give this tart a try. You can use black mission figs or the more spectacularly colored kadota figs (shown here).

It’s also one of those desserts that makes an al fresco dining experience that much better. And, of course, like many of my the recipes I share, it’s very low in added sugar, so you feel no guilt when you take a second slice after dinner. This dessert relies on the natural sweetness of fresh blueberries and figs.

Use your own tart crust recipe or my gluten-free version (here).

 

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend*

1 heaping tbsp cane sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter

2-3 tbsp ice water

8 oz marscarpone cheese

2 tbsp raw honey

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

7-8 smallish figs (black mission or kadota), sliced in half

1 cup fresh blueberries

*I like to use 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, such as Bob’s Red Mill, 1/2 cup arrowroot powder/flour and 1/4 cup almond flour. You can also sub a little buckwheat flour and alter the almond to arrowroot ratio.

 

Preparation

Heat oven to 375F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the gluten-free flour blend, 1 tbsp sugar and salt until blended. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or whatever technique you like, cut in the flour until it’s evenly incorporate. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of ice water and continue mixing, adding a little more water if necessary until there is no more dry flour on the bottom of the bowl, but the mixture should still seem quite dry.

Dump the contents into a 9-inch tart pan and press the crumbly mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, being careful not to work the dough too much (or it will get tough!). Chill in the fridge until the oven is ready.

Bake crust for about 15 minutes or until golden. Place on a rack to cool.

While the crust is cooling, whisk the mascarpone cheese with 1 tbsp of honey and the vanilla until you have a spreadable mixture.

When the crust has cooled enough to touch, carefully spread the mascarpone over the bottom of the crust in an even layer. Top with the fruit–either in a pattern or simply dropped in a haphazard fashion, and drizzle with 1 tbsp honey.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

 

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I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve been cooking and eating plenty. Aside from a two-week holiday to six East Coast cities and towns, I have spent countless hours in biblical history. What’s that, you say? Well, in reality, it’s likely just the result of the drought we’re experiencing throughout California, but we’ve been plagued with everything from mites on the chickens to fleas on the cats to ants invading our kitchen. And I’m not alone in this plague of pestilence. Even the restaurants in our local towns have been battling the ant problem. Ask for a cup of tea, and you’re likely to get it with a pinch of tiny ants. Every possible little pest is hungry and thirsty and running amuck since temperatures continue to run higher than normal and their normal food supplies are scarce–or so I’ve been told. Now I could launch into a larger discussion about global warming, but let’s save that for another time and get back to food.

The most amazing plums keep piling up on the produce stands in my area. They’re rich in color, incredibly juicy and sweet as can be. I don’t know many recipes that use plums, but plum crisp would beat them all anyway. I find that cooking plums with a little lemon zest and sugar really concentrates their flavor. I’ve made this crisp using plums and apples, but plums alone offers the most intense flavor.

 

Ingredients

7-8 plums and/or pluots, pitted and quartered

zest from a lemon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp cornstarch (optional)

1 tbsp coconut or cane sugar

3/4 cup porridge oats

1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup almond flour/meal

1/2 coconut or cane sugar

1 pinch of sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8 pieces

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375F.

In a medium-size bowl, mix the plum segments, lemon zest, and vanilla. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar and the cornstarch if using, and toss to coat evenly. Evenly divide and scoop the fruit mixture into four ramekins.

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In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together with a fork. Break down any lumps in the almond flour and stir until everything is thoroughly combined. Using a pastry cutter or two knives and two good hands, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Spoon out evenly over the fruit in the four ramekins.

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Place the ramekins in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the crumb topping turns golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbling. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes (or tongues will get burned!).

Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or coconut milk ice cream.

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Enjoy!

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I’m still sticking to the egg-free diet in solidarity with my daughter. It’s been two months, and I admit, it’s been easier than expected. I think the thing I miss most and have to hassle with most often is aioli. I rarely eat sandwiches, but when I do, some sort of aioli, is usually part of it–think pesto, cilantro or roasted red pepper aioli. I also eat French fries infrequently, but when I do, they’re usually sweet potato fries, and I only want to dip them in wasabi aioli.

I also miss all the baked goods I made regularly. I’ve learned it’s tough to give up eggs and be gluten-free or grain-free. All those grain-free treats I made using almond flour instead of regular wheat flour require eggs, and egg replacers only work some of the time.

But my determination to offer my daughter familiar things, has led me to try numerous egg-free recipes, some of which have been disastrous while others have been huge hits. For example, the egg-free pancakes I posted last now stand as her favorite pancakes, and it appears that the previous oatmeal and egg version she loved is all but forgotten. The egg-free waffles I’ve been experimenting with still aren’t ready to share, but I’m starting to wonder if part of the problem is my actual waffle iron, which has to be close to 20 years old.

These cookies definitely make the grade. They boast great flavor, texture and just the right amount of sweetness, and the inside of the cookies stay chewy while the outer edges get crispy–just how we like our cookies to be! I make mine with butter, but you could easily substitute coconut oil for the butter and make completely vegan cookies.

(Adapted from Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking.)

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Ingredients

1  cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-grain spelt flour

1/4 cup flaxmeal

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1/2 cup (scant) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (scant) brown sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

4- 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G (egg substitute)

6 Tbsp water

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips*

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

*I like to use the Enjoy Life Vegan Chocolate Chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper to fit.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla using an electric mixer.

Put the egg replacer in a small bowl and whisk in the water gradually until thoroughly blended. Add this mixture to the butter mixture and blend until thoroughly combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

 

Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just blended. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

 

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Using a tablespoon, drop the dough onto the baking sheet. (The dough can be quite sticky, so I usually use two spoons for this.)

 

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Bake 10 -12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Let cool for at least 5 minutes, then enjoy warm or at room temperature. You can store the cookies for several days in an airtight container.

Yields approximately 24 3-inch diameter cookies.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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Who doesn’t love carrot cake?! But let’s be honest… The average carrot cake recipe is loaded with sugar. In fact, most carrot cake recipes contain more sugar than nearly any other type of cake, including my personal favorites–red velvet and tres leches!

One day, I will manage to construct a carrot cake that tastes delicious, has great texture and isn’t loaded with sugar (and maybe uses whipped coconut cream for the frosting instead of cream cheese and sugar!). When that day comes, I will be sure to take lots of photos of the creation (i.e., notable accomplishment), and share the recipe. But until that day comes, these little bites will do a nice job of reminding you of carrot cake, and hopefully satisfy any cravings. They taste remarkably like  carrot cake and what’s more, these little bites contain only good stuff that fuels your body.

My kids love these bites, and they make a perfect afternoon snack for hungry tummies.

This recipe is slightly modified from from the wonderful One Sweet Mess. I tweaked a few measurements to my liking, and omitted the pineapple since the food sensitivity test I took last year informed me I don’t tolerate pineapple well.

 

Ingredients

2/3 cup grated carrot

1/3 cup oats

1/3 cup  coconut flakes

2 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

Pinch sea salt

1 tsp raw honey

4 Medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup fine coconut flakes

Note: I didn’t make the bites photographed here using raisins, but they work well, too, and can be substituted for the dates (1/2 cup).

 

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Preparation

In a food processor, pulse together the carrot, oats, flaxseed and spices. Add in the remaining ingredients (except for the 3/4 cup coconut flakes) and pulse until thoroughly combined.

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Using your fingers or a teaspoon, scoop out enough of the mixture to roll into an approximately 1-inch diameter ball. Roll the ball in the coconut flakes until coated. Finish the remaining mixture using the same process. Store the balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Serve cold. (I’m adding this comment post-publishing… These need to be served cold–straight from the frig. They are not nearly as good if they’re at room temperature, or worse–warm.) Keeps for 3-4 days in the frig.

 

Enjoy!

 

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I apologize that I haven’t posted anything in nearly two weeks… Sometimes life just gets in the way, as I’m sure you’ve experienced. I also go through periods of what I think of as “food homeostasis”–where I’m not trying many new dishes or experimenting with recipes, and I want, and hence cook, the same 5-7 dishes for a week or two. This typically occurs when I’m trying to stick to a restrictive diet (e.g., no gluten, Paleo, no sugar) or when I have loads of work to do and want the comfort and consistency of my standby meals.

But all that aside, over the past few weeks, cravings for butterscotch and caramel flavors keep sneaking into my head. Of course, there’s nothing healthy about butter and brown sugar, so I’ve been pushing the cravings down as best I can. But at some point, I determined that the cravings were a good excuse to make a healthier-than-normal version of British flapjacks.

During the years I spent living in London, flapjacks were one of my on-the-go treats. I suppose the high content of oats made me feel as though I wasn’t being too naughty, but really, it was just the terribly naughty butter and brown sugar combination that lured me.

So here is a somewhat healthier version of the traditional flapjack. It still relies on butter and brown sugar to make the butterscotch flavor, but this recipe doesn’t use a ton of sugar, and it contains nuts and ground flaxseed to boost it’s nutritional content.

 

Ingredients

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter*

1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)

1/4 cup coconut nectar

2 cups quick cooking gluten-free oats

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cardamon

1/3 cup ground flaxseed

*I haven’t yet tried making these with coconut oil, but plan to shortly. I don’t think a straight substitution would work; it would probably require slightly less than 1/2 cup.

 

Preparation

Heat the oven to 350F.

Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter on medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, stir in the brown sugar, coconut nectar, salt and vanilla. Stir until everything has melted and blended. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

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Spoon out into the baking dish, and spread evenly. Pat down with the back of a large, fairly flat spoon. (I use one of my large serving spoons.) Place in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting in quarters, then cut each quarter diagonally for the traditional triangle-shaped flapjack.

 

Enjoy!

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