Gluten Free Brownies.

I try to cut the sugar in half for everything sweet I bake. Not because I’m making a concerted effort to be healthy, but because I can’t handle (what seems like) the excessive amounts of sugar that things like cookies and cakes call for.

I went on an intense candida diet for a while where I cut all sugar, including fruit, for two weeks. After that I reintroduced fruit, but kept refined sugars out. Ever since then I have a much lower tolerance for sweet things which leads to awkward situations where I get served cornbread as an appetizer and it feels like I’m eating dessert before my dinner. I honestly wanted to save that cornbread and just have it after my meal with a bit of butter and honey, haha.

Anyway, I automatically cut the sugar in any given dessert recipe in half (excepting yeasted things because the yeast needs the sugar to actually work), which can create interesting results. In cookies it manifests as less spread, so you have to smoosh the dough before baking unless you enjoy oddly cake-like cookies. In brownies it manifests as a less fudge-y texture. So, if you’re a fan of cake brownies, no adjustments are needed.

I wanted to make brownies that were somewhere in between, so I tried various adjustments and I think I came up with something that is pretty awesome. I haven’t tried using liquid sweetener (like maple syrup) yet, but I’ll get back to you.20161112_112119

Gluten Free Fudge-y Brownines

  • Servings: 16 brownies
  • Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 ounces (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs) flour blend
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbs butter
2 ounces cocoa butter
3 Tbs cocoa powder
4 1/2 ounces (1/2 plus 1/8 cup) sucanat
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla

  1. Melt the butter, cocoa butter, chocolate chips and sucanat in a large pan over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  2. While everything is melting line an 8 inch square cake pan with foil. You can oil this if you like, but it works without oil as well.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  4. Whisk the egg and egg yolks into the chocolate mixture and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir with a spatula until everything is combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
  5. Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes, rotating pan halfway.
  7. Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before serving.

Notes

  • The cocoa butter is completely optional. If you’d rather not use it, just use 8 Tbs butter.
  • You can substitute coconut oil for the butter for a dairy-free brownie.
  • The longer you bake these, the more like cake they will be when they cool.
  • Save the egg whites! Stick them in a jar in your fridge and they’ll keep for an amazingly long amount of time. You can use them to make coconut macaroons, or angel food cake, or any number of things.

P.s. Every time I went to type brownies I would write brownines…I have no idea why.

Sweet Potato Pudding.

Well, here we are again. It’s Saturday. Oops.

Last night our little chicken died, we’re not sure what was wrong with her. She has always looked a little sickly, but I thought she had been looking better recently until she spent all day in the coop yesterday. Hubby opened the coop this morning and took care of her body. It’s a little sad, but life goes on.

On that note, today I’m sharing a recipe for a vegan pudding.

20161006_125006I love sweet potatoes and recently I’ve been buying them in bags (rather than loose) because Hamlette is really liking solid foods – she has 6 teeth already! I follow a paleo page on Facebook and they shared a recipe for sweet potato chocolate pudding I’d been wanting to try, but I couldn’t find it so I picked the first one I googled. I made that recipe but I didn’t like the texture at all so I tried mixing in some coconut milk. The coconut milk did the trick: the grainy mousse turned into a nice, smooth pudding.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hour passive 10 minutes active
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbs coconut oil
1 Tbs sweetener of choice
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-3/4 cup full fat coconut milk

  1. Bake the sweet potatoes for an hour at 350°F. Cool and peel the sweet potatoes.
  2. Blend everything but the coconut milk until smooth. At this point it will look a lot like a mousse.
  3. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a bowl and stir in the coconut milk until you reach a good consistency.
  4. Serve.

Notes

  • If making ahead, bring the pudding back to room temperature before eating: it firms up in the fridge and becomes less pudding-y
  • You could use melted cocoa butter instead of coconut oil for a richer flavor.

Chocolate Mousse.

IMG_0858I used to hate avocados. There. I said it. I feel like avocados are a strange food to dislike. Then again, my aunt doesn’t like chocolate, so I guess I’m not the only weirdo. Anyway, I don’t know what happened exactly, but after I had Hamling I loved avocados (and onions for some reason). I finally understood how my parents could just eat them with a spoon.

Now, after Hamlette, I cannot have enough avocado in my life. If there is something that has avocado in it or on it, I am far more likely to eat it than anything else put in front of me.

I also can’t get enough chocolate. Chocolate is the most amazing thing, it makes me happy to eat. Particularly truffles. AlterEco makes the best dark chocolate truffles I have ever had (from a store).

So here’s a recipe that is pretty much the best. But wait, avocados and chocolate? How could that possibly be good?

Oh, trust me, it is so good!IMG_0859

This also makes an excellent frosting or cake filling. This is the best paleo, vegan chocolate frosting you will ever make. On top of that, you pretty much can’t mess it up. It’s too easy to mess up. Which is great news for me because I fail at frosting on a regular basis.

Paleo, Vegan Chocolate Mousse

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
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2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Place avocados, cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Taste. If it isn’t sweet enough, add more syrup, or a spoonful of honey.

Store for up to 3 days in the fridge. If you make this ahead the vanilla will bloom as it sits in the fridge and it will be extra delicious.

No-Bake Vegan Mini “Cheesecake”

IMG_0726I’m generally not a fan of vegan things because, in my opinion, the vegan diet is unsustainable health wise. I think it’s an awesome reset diet, but not something that should be practiced long-term, and certainly not something you should be doing while pregnant. But that’s just my opinion. The reason I made these this Christmas is there are people in my family who have a hard time with dairy and eggs. I wanted to make a cheesecake, but I wanted everyone to be able to eat it. I had made a cashew-based “cheesecake” before with decent results, so I found a different recipe and modified it a bit.

These desserts are pretty amazing, because even vegan food can be amazing if you know what you’re doing. To top that off, they’re also really easy to make. All you need is a food processor and a little time.

Vegan Mini Cheesecake

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Time: 30 minutes active 4-24 hours passive
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Crust:
1 cup pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
1 cup soaked and dried almonds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
Filling:
1 1/2 cups “raw” cashew pieces
Juice of 1 medium-sized lemon
Generous 1/2 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Ganache:
Equal parts coconut cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

  1. Soak almonds in salt water overnight. Drain and dry in a 170 °F oven until crispy (about 8 hours).
  2. Pour boiling water over the cashew pieces and let soak for 1 hour.
  3. Process almonds and cinnamon in food processor until you have a very coarse meal and add the drained dates. Process until a loose dough forms. Add dates or almonds as needed to adjust the consistency. As a general rule, start with more almonds/less dates and add dates if the dough is too dry.
  4. Grease a muffin pan (and a half, there will be extra batter) or line with paper liners. The paper liners are easier to remove, but greasing works reasonably well, just make sure your muffin pans fit in your freezer.
  5. Pack about 1/2 tablespoon of the crust into the bottom of the muffin cups. A spoon works really well for this.
  6. Rinse the food processor bowl and add the drained cashew pieces. Process until they start to form a dough.
  7. Add the lemon juice and process until smooth. Repeat with each ingredient, one at a time. This helps the texture of the final product. If you add everything at once you have a greater chance that the cheesecakes will be mealy rather than smooth.
  8. Pour into muffin cups, leaving some room on top.
  9. In a small saucepan add the coconut cream and heat until barely hot. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Using a small spoon (I used a sugar spoon, or a baby food spoon works as well) portion the ganache onto the cakes. Swirl with a toothpick.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 4 hours in the freezer (8 in the fridge, overnight is even better). If you just greased your muffin tins (no paper liners) you need to freeze these for removal. To remove the frozen cakes, just slide a butter knife in the edge and pop them out. If some of the crust stays behind, scrape it out and re-squish it to the bottom of the cake.
  11. Enjoy!

I used what was left of my coconut cream from the can I bought for the ganache: the solid contents of the can were slightly more than what I needed for the filling. I just weighed it on my kitchen scale. If I remember correctly I had about 1.6 ounces of cream. That was the perfect amount for all of the cakes and a little extra for me to enjoy after I was finished making them.

For this recipe, do not mix the coconut cream with the water in the can. Only use the solid part. If you shake your can and it sounds like the entire thing is liquid, pop it in the fridge while the almonds are soaking/drying (at least overnight) and it will separate nicely.

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This recipe is adapted from here.

Soaked Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.

IMG_0690

Please pardon the baking tray in the background, we frosted the cake during the party so the meatball trays were still out.

When the wee one told me he wanted to have a train party for his birthday I got a crazy idea about making a 3-D train cake. So, I took to the interwebs to see if this was something I could do on my own and of course Pinterest was the place I found the answer. I found these instructions there and decided I’d give it a whirl.

When it came time to bake a test cake I realized my original plan to bake in a coffee can was foiled because the coffee can we had on hand was not actually metal, but cardboard. So I tried using a quart mason jar. That worked just fine, so I’ll include the directions with the recipe.

For the actual cake recipe I knew I’d need to make adjustments, but I’ve never done a sculpted (if you can call this sculpted) cake before so I wasn’t sure what kind of adjustments to make to the batter. I’d read to reduce the oil, but that was for regular cake batter, not gluten-free. Gluten-free cake is a whole other beast. So I talked with my sister-in-law and she suggested adding eggs. I combined the two adjustments for the practice cake and hoped for the best.

What I ended up with was a chocolate cake that was slightly more dense than usual making it very similar to a cake brownie. This cake was like a compromise between chocolate cake-dom and brownie-hood. It held together very well and it tasted great, so I ditched my back-up plan of buying a train shaped cake pan and decided to make the 3-D train for the party.

To bake a cake in a mason jar you’ll need to thoroughly oil the inside of the jar and cut out some parchment paper to line the bottom. Then oil the parchment for good measure. I filled the jar to the 1 cup line and set it in a water bath (a loaf pan works really well for this) and baked at the normal temperature. The water bath makes it take a bit longer, so start checking on the jar cake 5 minutes past the normal baking time.
To remove the cake from the jar, slice a little piece off of the bottom, taking it out with the knife. Shake the rest of the cake out.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake (for “sculpting”)

1/4 cup coconut oil
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces (2/3 cup )unsweetened cocoa powder
7 ounces (1 1/3 cups plus 1/4 cup) GF flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup) sucanat
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon whey or other acid
4 cups frosting

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, milk and whey/acid in a glass bowl. Mix well, cover and let sit on the counter overnight.
  2. In the morning, melt the chocolate in the oil and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt together. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F.
  3. Oil two loaf pans (and a mason jar) and line the bottoms with parchment, oiling the top of the parchment as well.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla. Whisk in sucanat until well combined (it won’t be smooth). Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients then add the flour/cocoa/milk mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the loaf pans, leaving enough to fill the mason jar to the 1 cup (or higher) line. Put the mason jar in a water bath. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-32 minutes, rotating pans halfway. Check the mason jar and add extra time as needed (about 10 minutes).
  6. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove the cakes from the pans, allowing them to cool completely on the rack before frosting or storing in an airtight container on the counter (DO NOT refrigerate).
  7. Frost the cake before serving.

You can make this cake dairy-free by using water kefir instead of milk. Or water with lemon/vinegar instead of whey. The acid you use doesn’t particularly matter because the chocolate masks the acidic flavor really well. No one will ever know.
The cupcakes in the picture are made with water kefir, and they turned out awesomely!

Coconut Macaroons.

I love a good macaroon, especially one with chocolate involved. I didn’t always love making them, though. I’ve never been a fan of whipping egg whites, so when my awesome sister-in-law told me you didn’t have to whip egg whites to make macaroons I was pretty stoked. I found a recipe online that I liked and I’ve been tinkering with it for a while. Here is the recipe I’ve settled on:

Coconut MacaroonsIMG_0682

8 egg whites
4-5 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the egg whites, maple syrup, butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of the coconut and mix. Add in coconut 1/2 cup at a time until the mixture begins to stick together. For macaroons that are less rich add in coconut until the mixture is more dry than wet. Fold in chocolate chips if using.
  3. Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons) plop the macaroons onto the parchment paper. They shouldn’t spread at all, so spacing is less important, just make sure they’re not touching.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops become golden brown, rotating sheet halfway through.
  5. Cool on the sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, nerd style!

Happy Easter, nerd style!

Happy Easter everyone! I hope it is a wonderful day for you and your family and friends.

In the meantime, enjoy this chocolate recipe from WellnessMama. I know we are 😉

Nourishing Hot Cocoa.

IMG_20150226_140205  We’ve been getting a lot of snow lately – not as much as an awesome friend of mine though – which means the little one has been asking to go sledding a lot. The perfect thing to warm up after sledding is hot cocoa, but I’m not a big fan of sugar especially if it’s in something our family consumes on a regular basis. I found a few recipes online for paleo hot chocolate and I tried them out, sometimes with a few tweaks. Here is my favorite:

For one cup of hot chocolate:
6 oz. milk (dairy, almond, coconut. I don’t recommend soy)
2 Tbs cocoa powder (less if using a smaller cup)
1/2 Tbs arrowroot powder (optional)
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
Stevia to taste

  1. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the milk into a saucepan.
  2. Mix the gelatin into the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk and set aside so the gelatin can dissolve while the milk is heating.
  3. Heat the milk over medium heat until it just begins to steam. Once there is a bit of steam rising from the milk add the cocoa powder and the arrowroot.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture for a minute or so.
  5. Pour over the gelatin mixture and add stevia to taste.

I must confess that I don’t measure the gelatin, I just pour it over the top of the milk until I think there’s enough. Be careful not to add too much, it will change the flavor of your drink.

I don’t usually sweeten mine at all. Instead, I toss in a few homemade marshmallows and let them melt a bit before stirring it up.

This is delicious. The arrowroot gives it a nice creamy texture so you can leave it out if you’re making this with half-and-half or cream (which I have done before – it’s amazing!). If you’re using a non-dairy milk option I’d recommend not leaving out the arrowroot. You might be able to substitute for some other kind of starch like potato, tapioca, or non-GMO corn, but I haven’t tried that myself, so I’m not sure how that would turn out.

The gelatin is for an extra pick-me-up and it gives the hot chocolate a very pleasant fullness, much like the starch but smoother. Gelatin is a wonderful healing nutrient (can I call it that?) that I’ve also taken to adding into my hot tea. It helps me keep my energy levels up and it’s great to supplement in the winter to give you a bit of a bug-fighting boost. I also ramp up our consumption of bone broth in the winter for the same reason.

Next week I’ll write about the marshmallow recipe I use. It’s so easy that I’ve decided to make it a winter tradition to make marshmallows the first time it snows.

I hope you all are keeping warm!