Hmmm…What’s in the Pantry?

And yes, if you just said that in a slightly howling, tortured Brad Pitt in Seven imitation, you and I are on the same page.

bradpitt7

Kind of how I was feeling the other night. Just instead of looking at a head in a box, I was staring longingly at my pantry shelves. In search of a sweet treat that was also comforting, due to a slightly upset stomach.

Needless to say not much was catching my eye.

Except the oats.

Did I want oatmeal? Nah, too hot.

Overnight oats? Not quick enough.

Oatmeal cookies? Hmmm, never done them before outside of the fall. After apple picking. And even then, not really oatmeal cookies, but an apple cookie with oats.

Could this idea satisfy my somersaulting stomach?

A deeper dive into my ingredients provided inspiration in the form of dried cranberries.

Nutritious, anti-oxidant filled, and comforting. All the boxes were checked.

Now to making this happen.

Obviously I was flying blind, and yet I didn’t want to research! I wanted to trust my gut. Go with my instincts. Play with abandon.

So I did. I began to happily throw things together with confidence and fun. And it was magical!

The result: A completely satisfying, cinnamon-y pillow of goodness with just the slightest chew. Everything I have ever wanted in an oatmeal cookie!

Give these a try! Your mouth will thank you!

 

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

(makes about 30 cookies)

1 Cup Teff Flour

2 Tblsp. Tapioca Starch

2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Sea Salt

2 Tsp. Cinnamon

2 ½ Cups Gluten Free Oats

1 Cup Dried Cranberries

1 ½ Cups Coconut Sugar

¾ Cup Earth Balance

2 Eggs

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease cookie sheet with Earth Balance.

In a large bowl, combine the Teff Flour, Tapioca Starch, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon.

Stir in Gluten Free Oats.

IMG_3298

Stir in the Cranberries.

IMG_3299

Set aside.

In a stand mixed fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the Coconut Sugar and Earth Balance together on high speed until light and fluffy.

Add the Eggs and Vanilla, stir on medium speed until just combined.

Add the dry mix to the sugar mixture, ½ at a time on medium speed until just combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop a rounded mound of cookie mixture on to greased cookie sheet.

IMG_3300

3-4 cookies to a row only, approx. 3 rows, depending on your tray size.

Freeze pan for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Cookies should still be quite soft but holding together.

Don’t let this concern you! Don’t overcook these or they will become hard.

Remove from tray immediately and place on rack to cool.

IMG_3301

 

EVERYONE’S BIRTHDAY SHOULD BE CELEBRATED WITH CAKE!

As anyone who knows me can testify to, I love cake. And I love birthdays!

I think that everyone deserves to celebrate on their day. Take the day off, sleep in, do whatever makes your heart sing and your soul giggle.

And this year for my partner’s birthday he wanted to do nothing but watch movies, snuggle in warm under a blanket and shut out the world for a day.

So that is what we did!

However, the once caveat I have to celebrating is that everyone also must have a treat on their day. Whatever they want, I will make it.

Well, CJ loves pistachio! And rainbow sprinkles! So I wanted to come up with something that was hugely celebratory of his years on this planet, as well as combined his favorites. And I wanted it to be different. Because he deserved something that said “I took time and thought to make this and celebrate you!” Well, he deserves a lot more than that, because he is basically the best man I have ever met in my life, as well as an all around amazing human being. He is kind in an unwavering, steadfast way. He is humble yet the best cheerleader around for those he loves. He cares with his heart and his mind. He is a talented actor who in my opinion needs more recognition and opportunities. And he is a man with true conviction when it comes to treating all people with respect.I mean come on….this dude deserves to be celebrated!

And he is the love of my life.

FullSizeRender

But you are not here to listen to me wax un-poetically about my love.

This day is about cake!

So… after lots of researching, I decided upon a pistachio cake with chocolate mousse filling and Ermine Frosting. Ermine Frosting is a roux frosting, utilizing flour and milk and sugar cooked down and thickened. This allowed me to make frosting for a cake without using powdered sugar, and only coconut sugar. Awesome!!

*(Just a note here, as this was my first time making a roux frosting, I was wary to change the components totally. Since I was using coconut sugar and cashew milk, instead of traditional sugar and milk, I decided to use real butter. I chose KerryGold for its lack of animal hormones and additives and great flavor. However, upon completion, I am totally confident that Earth Balance can be substituted and it is what I will be using in this recipe going forward for sure!)

Now, this cake does take time. And it has three separate components that each need their own timing and space. But, it is well worth it!

Don’t be scared. You got this! It only appears big and scary and complicated.

This cake was light and moist and crumbly. The mousse was decadent and silky. And oh, the frosting! Airy like whipped cream but buttery and slightly sweet! All of these parts meshed so well with each other.

And finally who can forget the show-stopping….RAINBOW SPRINKLES.

I love that I love a man who loves rainbow sprinkles and isn’t afraid to share that love with everyone who knows him. Because let’s be honest, you can’t help but smile at a cake covered in these little colorful nuggets! And happiness is always the name of the game on birthdays and any day that involves cake!

IMG_2935

 

SPRINKLE BOMB CAKE

Flour Blend:

1 1/3 Cup White Rice Flour

1 Cup Sorghum Flour

2/3 Cup Cornstarch

1/3 Cup Tapioca Starch

1 Tsp. Xanthan Gum

For the Pistachio Cake:

3 Cups Flour Blend

2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum

2 ½ Tsp. Baking Powder

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Salt

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

¾ Cup Earth Balance

4 Tsp. Pistachio Extract

½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs (room temp)

2 Egg Whites (room temp)

1 Cup Cashew Milk + 1 Tblsp. Lemon Juice – mixed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two round 9” pans (or a 9×13 sheet pan).

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the Rice Flour, Sorghum Flour, Corstarch, Tapioca Starch, Xanthan Gum, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt.

In a stand mixer, cream the Coconut Sugar, Earth Balance, and Pistachio & Vanilla Extracts together until light and fluffy.

Add the two Eggs, beat on medium speed until combined.

Add the two egg whites, beat on medium speed until combined.

Add the Milk+Lemon Juice combination.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing well.

Separate mix evenly into pans.

Bake for approximately 30 mins or until toothpick comes out clean and cake is bouncy to touch.

Cool completely before proceeding with next steps.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Filling

1 Cup (250g) Dark Chocolate

7 Tblsp. Earth Balance

4 Egg Yolks

4 Egg Whites

2/3 Cup + 1 Tblsp. Coconut Sugar

1 ½ Tblsp. Dark Rum

Combine the Chocolate, Earth Balance and 2/3 Cup Coconut Sugar, in a double boiler.

Over medium heat, stirring consistently, melt the chocolate mixture.

Remove from heat and place bowl in ice bath to cool.

While cooling, add Egg Whites to stand mixer. Beat until almost peaks.

Once Egg Whites are almost at soft peaks, add remaining Tblsp. of Coconut Sugar.

Beat to soft peaks.

Once Chocolate mixture is cool, add the Egg Yolks and the Rum. Mix to just combine.

IMG_2923

Gently fold in the Egg Whites to the Chocolate mixture.

Cover and put in fridge until ready to use.

Vanilla Ermine Frosting

½ Cup Flour Blend

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

dash of salt

1 ½ Cup Cashew Milk

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 Tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (can omit if you don’t have)

3 sticks (approx. 24 Tblsp.) Butter, room temperature

(I used KerryGold Butter for this, but you can also use Earth Balance for Dairy Free verison)

Rainbow Sprinkles

In a small saucepan, combine the flour, sugar and salt.

Whisk to combine.

Add the milk.

Whisk to combine.

Over medium heat, whisking constantly (or with a hand mixer), stir mixture until it thickens and whisk leaves behind a trail when lifter out of mixture. Approx. 10 mins.

Pour mixture into medium sized bowl and immediately place atop a bowl of ice to cool.

Cool to room temperature and then whisk in Vanilla.

Place the mixture in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

Mix on Medium speed until smooth.

With mixer still on, add butter a tablespoon piece at a time.

The mixture will seem to almost curdle. This is normal!

Once all butter has been added, turn the mixer to High for approximately 3 minutes, until light and fluffy and pale yellow.

If frosting appears too thin or runny, place in fridge for about 10 minutes before frosting cake.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Once the cakes are cool, top the first cake with mousse. Be careful not to get too close to edges or overfill, as you don’t want mousse leaking down the sides of your cake.

*You will probably have more mousse than you need for this. So grab a spoon!*

Place the other cake on top.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, so mousse sets and doesn’t run out of the cake when you are trying to frost it.

Once mousse has set, remove cake from fridge.

Frost cake with Vanilla Frosting.

Cover with Rainbow sprinkles.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until 30 minutes before you are ready to serve.

IMG_2942

FOR THE LOVE OF FROSTING…

Anyone who knows me knows I love cake. It is my choice above cookies, or pie, or ice cream, or brownies. And as I once stated quite poetically, “I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about frosting. It takes up a large portion of my brain!”

And lately I have been trying to figure out ways to up my frosting game with different flavors and different ingredients. As someone who is always trying to lower the amount of refined, processed sugars in both my lifestyle and my baking, trying to get rid of powdered sugar in frosting is proving difficult. Sure, I could make a meringue frosting but most recipes call for regular sugar and substituting coconut sugar has proven to be a challenge thus far. Others, when omitting the powdered sugar, utilize corn syrup, which also defeats the purpose for me.

And then I read an article about sweet potatoes. And how people were using it as a base for frosting due to its starchy and sweet nature. WHAT?!?

Now I don’t like sweet potatoes. I have never been a big fan of the sweet savort thing, and my brain always halts my mouth shouting “Whoa, that is not what a potato tastes like” whenever I attempt to eat one.

But baking with a sweet potato? This I could get behind. They are naturally sweet. Baking is usually sweet. Now all that was left to be answered was would the frosting actually have the proper consistency and what deliciousness should I try this atop?

Wanting to include some of the principles I had been learning from my friend Christine (www.paleoishperez.com ~ you should def check her out!) I decided to create a paleo-ish banana bread cake. And what goes great with banana’s, but chocolate! And this a one bowl cake and a super simple frosting, so that anyone can make this. I promise! Give it a try!

img_2532

Banana Bread Cake with Sweet Potato Chocolate Frosting

 For the Bread Cake:

makes 1 9×13 sheet cake, or two 8×8 round cakes

3 Cups Almond Flour (Or Nut Flour blend, like Pamela’s)

¾ Cup Tapioca Flour/Starch

¾ Cup Coconut Sugar

2 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tsp. Chinese 5 Spice

½ Tsp. Salt

¼ Cup Earth Balance, melted

2 Tbls. Lemon Juice + ½ Cup Cashew Milk (or any milk you prefer), combine

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

4-5 ripened Bananas, mashed

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 1 9×13 sheet pan with shortening, Earth Balance, butter, or any alternative you choose.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Create a hole in center of dry ingredients.

Dump the mashed bananas in the center. Do not mix.

Pour in the melted Earth Balance and the vanilla. Do not mix.

Pour the milk/lemon mixture over top.

Mix with a fork to evenly incorporate everything.

Pour into greased pan.

img_2388

Bake for 26-28 mins.

Remove from oven and cool in pan completely before frosting.

 

For the Frosting:

 2 Cups of Sweet Potatoes (about 6 potatoes depending on size), cubed and boiled in large pot until tender

img_2385

10oz. 70% dark chocolate

 

Puree the sweet potatoes in a food processor or with a potato masher

Place pureed sweet potatoes into a medium saucepan and heat on low heat.

Once heated through, add the chocolate in 1-inch pieces.

Mix until chocolate in thoroughly melted and incorporated.

Remove from heat and cool.

Frost Banana Cake and enjoy!

img_2394

 

THE BRAIN OF IT ALL…

Inspiration is a weird thing. It can happen in the most unlikely and strange circumstances. And often, it is totally personal. What is inspiring to one, is not necessarily inspiring to another.

I have been away from this blog for months now, due to an injury and a surgery. Since surgery I have managed to bake a little, but each time I tried to write a post my mental clarity became as murky as a bog. This was due to a lot of reasons: pain, medications, lack of proper sleep, stress. I felt I just didn’t have the proper story or angle yet to discuss here. I couldn’t come up with a through-line for my writing to the recipe. And it was frustrating.

You see I am pretty proud of my brain. That’s not to say I am ever the smartest or most educated person in the room. I am proud of how my brain takes in the world, how it processes information, how it assists me in talking intelligently, and how it allows me to feel deeply.

And this brain seemed to be failing me. I would sit and stare at the computer trying to form words into cohesive sentences, to no avail. I tried to write my thoughts out on paper, and yet there were no thoughts to be had, just doodles. And I am not a great doodler.

And then today, inspiration. Write what you know. And this I know. My brain has been in overdrive. Trying to crunch data, make sense out of what my body has been going through, regulate my stress levels, and still allow me to function on some level like myself. This has not been a easy job. But my brain has done it valiantly.

Strangely enough, this recipe came after I willed a trip to the apple farm, just weeks before I had my ACL surgery. I wasn’t walking that great, I was in pain, and I tired super easy. But determination kicked in, joy filled my soul and my brain so OK, let’s do this. So I went apple picking. It was a deliriously delicious sort of day. The kind with no shadows, only light. Where laughter mingled with the smell of the great outdoors. I came home from that trip and set to making both the applesauce and the donuts. How? I don’t know. But my brain does.

So today I am inspired by that glorious, mysterious grey matter that makes me, me. And by the experience that it helped me to tattoo in my memory for years to come.

So here are two recipes for you to enjoy!

fullsizerender-10

Homemade Applesauce

20-30 Apples; peeled, cored and diced (I used a mix of Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious for this batch, slightly sweet and tart)

Juice of 2 Lemons

1 Tblsp. Cinnamon

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

fullsizerender

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, place all the diced apples.

Combine the remaining ingredients and stir.

Stir every 5 minutes, until the apple juices start to release.

Place lid on saucepan, reduce heat to low and cook for 30-45 minutes, until apples are fork tender.

img_2310

Using a potato masher, mash apples to the sauce consistency you desire.

Baked Applesauce Donuts

Makes 22 donuts

 2 Cups Gluten-Free Flour

½ Tsp. Xanthan Gum

2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 ½ Tsp. Cinnamon

½ Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Nutmeg

1 Cup Coconut Sugar

6 Tblsp. Earth Balance, melted

2 Large Eggs, beaten

1 Cup Applesauce

½ Cup Cashew Milk (or any you prefer) + Juice of 1 Lemon, combine

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease donut pan with Earth Balance or GF Shortening (or your alternative).

img_2315

Combine all of the dry ingredients through Coconut Sugar in large mixing bowl.

Add the melted Earth Balance, beaten Eggs and Milk mixture.

Stir to combine.

Add the Applesauce and the vanilla extract, fold in, until just combined.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until donuts are springy to touch.

Run the straight edge of a knife along the outer rim of the donuts, to loosen from pan.

Let cool to touch in pan, before removing.

img_2316

 

Topping Options

Cinnamon Sugar:

Melt ½ Cup of Earth Balance and set aside. Combine ½ Cup Coconut Sugar, 2 Tsp. Cinnamon, and 1 Tsp. Lemon Zest. Brush the tops of the donuts with the warm melted Earth Balance and then tip the top in the Cinnamon mixture.

fullsizerender-4

5 Spice Glaze:

Combine 1 ½ Cup Confectioners Sugar, ¾ Tsp. Vanilla Extract, 1 Tsp. Cinnamon,       1 Tsp. Chinese 5 Spice, and 4 Tblsp. Cashew Milk (or your choice). Dunk the top of the donuts in to the mixture and set on racks to set. Repeat dunking once the glaze has set.

img_2317

COLLABORATION, INSPIRATION, & FRIENDSHIP

This past weekend my friend Christine came over for an afternoon of chatting, dreaming and creating. I first met Christine (who most people lovingly refer to simply as “Perez”) through my PIC CJ. CJ’s day job is as a CrossFit coach and personal trainer. His journey with Perez began as a fellow athlete, then as her coach and now additionally as a friend. Eventually they started to spend more time together outside of box, grabbing coffee at the coffeeshop I work at. And, so I got to spend more time with this delightful human.

Christine runs a blog called PaleoishPerez.com and if you don’t know about it, you should definitely get it and her on your radar. This lady is awesome. She is so kind, smart and fun and you just wanna chat chat chat the more you are around her. Her energy is instantly warm and welcoming, and isn’t that what we all want from someone who is our friend and a foodie?!?!

We talked all about our mutual wants to demystify cooking and baking. To make this fun and accessible for anyone who wants to do it. We discussed our like-minded thoughts about starting our own business’ that were community and collaborative based. We discussed our journeys to this point and certain experiences, which helped us to embrace this present so strongly. And we baked! Pretty much a perfect Sunday afternoon!

This little bar is a collaborative, creative, and kinda spur of the moment creation. I had some idea about where I was going with this, but no idea how it would all turn out. And like everything I bake, I will probably do some more experimentation and playing with the recipe. But I whole-heartedly believe that any endeavor embarked upon in the spirit of fun and collective enjoyment should be shared. And this bar is quite delightful as is, so perhaps no tweaking is really necessary!

Just a side note…if strawberry-rhubarb jam is not your jam…don’t worry! Sub in a jam you love! Blueberry, Fig, Apricot, and play around with the spice combos. Baking is fun and should be individually inspiring. So go wild! Create! Don’t be afraid to see what happens. You could surprise yourself!

fullsizerender

 

 STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COOKIE BAR

Approx. 12-18 servings

For the Cookie Layer:

1 Cup Earth Balance (or butter)

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 Tsp. Butterscotch Extract

2 Large Eggs

2 ½ Cups Gluten Free Flour (see earlier post)

2 ¾ Tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Salt

For the Jam Layer:

1 20oz Jar of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

For the Crumb Topping:

¼ Cup Gluten Free Flour

¾ Cup Nut Flour (almond, coconut, or a blend will work ~ if you don’t have or like nut flour simply use 1 total Cup of Gluten Free Flour)

½ Cup Earth Balance (or butter)

½ Cup Coconut Sugar

½ Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1Tsp. Almond Extract

1 ½ Tsp. Ground Ginger

For the Drizzle:

¼ Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tblsp. Cashew Milk (or any kind of milk)

¼ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

¾ Tsp Almond Extract

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9×13 pan with shortening or butter or Earth Balance.

To make the cookie layer, in a medium-size mixing bowl combine the Flour, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda, and Salt. Set aside.

Cream together the Earth Balance, Coconut Sugar, Vanilla extract, and Butterscotch extract in your stand mixer, a hand mixer or by hand.

Once combined and slightly fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Make sure to blend completely before adding the next egg.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Pour the mixture evenly into the pan.

Scoop the jam onto the mixture and gently cover the entire top.

img_2300

To make the crumb topping, in a medium-size mixing bowl combine all the ingredients. Using either a pastry cutter (see last week’s post), two knives or your hands to mix all the ingredients. The topping should be slightly wet and sandy once combined.

Crumble on top of the jam layer.

Bake for 30 mins.

Once removed, the bars will look undercooked and wobbly.

This is ok!

Allow the pan to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled to room temperature, put in fridge for at least an hour.

While the bars are in the fridge, make the drizzle by combining the Powdered Sugar, Milk, Vanilla extract and Almond extract. The result should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, add a little more Powdered Sugar. If too thick, add a touch more milk.

Once the bars are cool, drizzle the mixture on in any pattern your heart desires!

fullsizerender-1

Hummingbirds & Butterscotch, odd-couple perfection.

It is hot outside. The kind of unbearably hot day where the city and it’s inhabitants literally seem to be melting all around me.

Now usually record-breaking temps are no cause to turn on the oven, but I have bananas that are ripening at break-neck speed in our hothouse kitchen. And I cannot bear to throw away food. Unless it is moldy, and even then it makes me sad.

So, what to do?

Sure banana pancakes would be easy……but that bores me.

Perhaps continue to experiment with banana oat bread recipe…..but that bores me.

Then those little grey cells get to working and remember something called hummingbird cake. I am not entirely sure what it is, but I am sure that it contains bananas. I quickly set about discovering exactly what makes up hummingbird cake and where it originated.

This cake is indigenous to the island of Jamaica and was named after the island’s national bird (the hummingbird).  It is also referred to as the Doctor Bird cake (Doctor Bird is another name for the island’s national bird). The cake made it’s way to the South and became quite popular after a 1970s Southern Living recipe.

The cake is made with bananas, pineapples, spices, vanilla and pecans. And often accompanied by cream cheese frosting.

This got me thinking, as cream cheese frosting has never been a favorite of mine, what other flavor might compliment this delightful concoction of fresh flavors?

Coconut might be nice…..but sometimes coconut frosting with toasted coconut can overwhelm a cake. And I wanted the hummingbird to be the STAR!

As it would happen, as I was researching and developing on paper this recipe, I stared off in thought at my bookshelf. Now this is not an occurrence that is rare. Books are a huge part of my life and my apartment. But this day I happened to rest my wandering gaze on To Kill A Mockingbird. You may be thinking to yourself, oh Southern, got it. And I can see how that thinking makes sense, but my thinking is a little more train-of-thoughty, with a side of ramble.

So it went something like this…..To Kill A Mockingbird, oh great book. Loved reading that in school. I should read it again sometime. Hmm, what other books haven’t I read for a while? Ohhh, Deenie. Oh, Little Women. I should plan to read that around Christmas, all snuggled up with some cocoa.

Then, that one little thought linking food to story, created a detour to a time in 5th grade when our teacher was reading us Maniac Magee. To bring us more into the story she also bought us all butterscotch krimpets to eat while listening. Now, I can’t tell you anything about Maniac Magee except that the main character loved butterscotch krimpets, but I can attest to the quiet love affair I have had with butterscotch most of my life.

I find butterscotch to be overlooked by most, in favor of caramel. Each has their place in the ethos of my childhood and in my life in general, but on any given day butterscotch is king. On an ice cream sundae, I would always choose butterscotch. Hard candy choice at my grandmother’s house…right again! Butterscotch! Again and again it has delightfully insinuated itself into my heart and soul and palette.

So with this windy train of thought going, I set about creating some hummingbird whoopie pies with…..wait for it…….BUTTERSCOTCH FROSTING. Creamy and dreamy, complimentary of the buttery-ness of the bananas and vanilla in the cake. I also decided to add toasted coconut to the hummingbird for more flavory goodness. This of course is a preference which you can omit if not your thing!

HUMMINGBIRD WHOOPIE PIES w/ BUTTERSCOTCH FROSTING

For the Cakes:

2 1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Flour (found in first earlier post)

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 Tsp. Xanthan Gum

2 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg

3/4 Cup Earth Balance (I use the Soy Free variety)

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

2 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Powder (or gf vanilla extract)

2 Large Eggs

1 – 20 0z. Can of Crushed Pineapple in juice (juice drained)

4 Ripened Bananas, mashed

1 Cup Coconut

1/2 Cup Cashew Milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place shredded coconut on a cookie tray lined with foil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just browning.

IMG_2140

Remove and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream together the Earth Balance, Coconut Sugar and Vanilla, until fluffy.

Add the 2 eggs, one at a time. Mix just to combine.

Add the Cashew Milk, mix for a few seconds to combine.

Add the Pineapple, mashed Banana’s and toasted Coconut. Mix once again to just combine.

Add the dry ingredients (that were set aside), in 3rds, combining well after each addition.

Batter will be slightly sticky but creamy.

IMG_2142

Scoop the mixture into a whoopie pie pan that has been greased or buttered. Fill each section about 3/4 of the way. Do not overfill.

Bake for 10-12 mins, until springy to the touch.

Allow the cakes to cool on a rack before removing them from the pan.

FullSizeRender-1

For the Butterscotch Frosting

1 Cup Spectrum Shortening

1/2 Cup Earth Balance (the Soy-Free kind)

3 – 4 Cups Powdered Sugar

1 Tsp. GF Vanilla Extract

3 Tsp. Butterscotch Extract

2 Tblsp. Cashew Milk

Cream the Shortening and the Earth Balance together.

Add the Powdered Sugar, one cup at time.

Add the Vanilla and Butterscotch extracts.

If consistency is a little too sticky or stiff, add one tablespoon at a time of the milk.

Spread on cooled cakes.

ENJOY!

IMG_2145

For The Love of Chocolate

I have noticed a trend on my site thus far. CHOCOLATE! I love it. Morning, noon, night….doesn’t matter. I was contemplating not putting this recipe up today because here it is, one more chocolate recipe. But since I promise you that Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies, Blueberry Peach Cobbler Muffins, and Pumpkin Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Marshmallow Frosting are coming, I feel secure in giving you this delightful choco-centric treat.

These are super simple and quick to make! This recipe utilizes Teff Flour, which I think is underutilized in most gluten-free kitchens. This flour is great paired with anything chocolate, as it has a deep “roasty-ness” to it!

BROWNIES

1 Dark Chocolate Bar, chopped

1/4 Cup Cacao Powder

1/2 Cup Earth Balance

(I use the Soy Free one, but hey butter will work too!)

1 Cup of Coconut Sugar

(or regular White Sugar will work!, so don’t fret)

3 Large Eggs

1/3 Cup Teff Flour

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 square brownie pan.

Melt the Earth Balance, chopped chocolate and cacao on the stove in a small saucepan over low/med heat. Stir consistently and don’t let burn.

Let chocolate mixture cool to the touch.

 In a separate bowl, add sugar. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the sugar and stir with a spatula or spoon to dissolve the crystals.

Add an Egg, one at a time. Stir in between each addition.

Add Vanilla, stir.

Fold in Teff flour, just to combine.

Pour into pan and bake for about 20 mins.

 

IMG_1497

Happy Birthday Kid!

Growing up birthdays were an exciting time. And now as an adult, I keep that tradition alive and well! I love the simple idea that there is a day to celebrate each and every one of us. Celebrate the life that we are living, celebrate the place we have come from and where we are going.

Even once we had moved from Pittsburgh to Princeton, NJ, my family always celebrated birthdays back in Pittsburgh when we went to visit.  And no birthday was complete without a cake from Dave’s Bakery.

This cake is a part of my soul and childhood as much as my Legos and summer swimming lessons.  A classic old school ice box cake.  I always chose chocolate with vanilla icing, while others in family were partial to yellow cake with vanilla icing. No matter which flavor was your favorite, you were always treated to a big beautifully decorated cake.  And then the piece de resistance! The sugared nuts.  Yup, sugared nuts.  All around the sides of the outside of the cake.

Now as a small child, these nuts upset me.  I was not a nut fan and did not want my beautiful birthday cake ruined by these mutinous crunchies. But ohh man, the first time I tasted this cake, icing, nut combo pack, I was hooked.  It was genius to me! Soft, luscious middle with a slightly sweet crunch to round it out! Nothing could be better, and this was all I ever wanted to eat as my birthday cake from that time on.

When I first went gluten-free I my biggest lament was that I couldn’t have birthday cake anymore. Cj literally scoured all gluten free bakeries for me each year, trying in vain to find me a treat that could compete with my Dave’s Birthday cake.  Sadly no such treat existed, leading to us both being endlessly disappointed.

Then last year I decided that all I wanted to do on my birthday was re-create that cake. With CJ working all day and rain pouring down outside, I set out to have an amazing birthday.  I had all my ingredients in advance, or at least what I figured I would need.  I mixed and chopped and baked and flipped.  When those cakes came out of the oven, I was floored.  They were chocolatey smelling and springy to the touch.  Then came the roasting of the sugar nuts.  A waft of nostalgia filled the room. Ohh I could feel it, I was getting close.  Then the icing.  Oh what to do?! A traditional buttercream was too, well buttery. Yet a shortening based frosting was too, blah. But perhaps the combination of the two? Blasphemous to some, I was on a mission to recreate my childhood and nothing was going to stand in that way.

When the cake was finally cooled and frosted and decorated, I was atwitter with anticipation. Would it be at all close to my memories? Would I be disappointed? That first bite washed all need for sadness away! I had done it! A moist chocolate cake, with a sturdy vanilla frosting and ohhh those sugared nuts. Nothing had ever tasted so good.

That cake last year saved my birthday’s from being a thing of the past, and welcomed in a new tradition, which is every bit and bite as enjoyable!

So for my birthday, and for all of your birthday’s as well, I say “LET’S EAT CAKE!”

CHOCOLATE ICEBOX CAKE

1 1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour

1 cup Sorghum Flour

2/3 cup Cornstarch

1/3 cup Tapioca Starch

1 tsp. Xanthan Gum

(This should make about 3 cups of flour mix.  Use 2 1/2 Cups for this recipe.)

1 cup Earth Balance (I use the soy-free kind)

1 cup Water

3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (I use dark that is a blend of regular and Dutch process, as I think it yield a delightful yet light flavor)

2 cups of Sugar

2 Eggs

1 cup Almond Milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice (mix and set aside)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Approx 2 cups of chopped pecans (or any nut you prefer)

2 Tblsp. coconut sugar

       IMG_1557

Combine the chopped nuts and the coconut sugar with a teaspoon of canola oil. Place  chopped nuts on a cookie sheet and bake for about 7 mins at 400 degrees, or just until you start to smell the nutty oils. Remove from oven and let cool.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Grease and powder with cocoa powder, 2 8- or 9-inch pans.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add the water and cocoa powder. Bring to just about a boil. Pour over the sugar and mix, allowing the sugar to dissolve.

Yum...nothing better than melty chocolate goodness!

Yum…nothing better than melty chocolate goodness!

Add the eggs, milk/juice mixture, and vanilla. Mix to combine.  Scrape down the sides of your bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups of flour mix with xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry mix in 3rds to the wet mix, mixing at medium low speed after each incorporation. Scrape down the sides between additions.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans, and tap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for about 35 – 40 mins (depending on your oven), until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean.

IMG_1559

While the cakes are baking, make the Double Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup room temp Earth Balance (also I use the soy free but any will work)

1 cup GF Shortening

Approx. 4-6 cups of powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. vanilla bean powder

Cream the butter and the shortening until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until you have the desired consistency that you want. (I find that will frosting, everyone is a little different when it comes to what texture they like. So do you!)

Add the vanilla extract and powder. Mix. Set aside until cakes are fully cooled.

So good I want to eat with my finger...and I do!

So good I want to eat with my finger…and I do!

Here is how I put this beauty together:

You can either do it this way or experiment and find out what works for you, remember this is cake.  It is supposed to be fun!!

When the cakes are cooled, place one cake on a flat surface or cake stand (whatever you have!). Place 1/3 of icing in the middle and begin to ice the top, spreading out from the middle to the sides and down.  Place the second cake on top and repeat, adding a little more icing to get the sides fully covered. Use the leftover icing to decorate however you want!

I chose a sun/turtle for my birthday treat!

I chose a sun/turtle for my birthday treat!

Next comes the special nut layer.  I am sure a true and tested pastry chef knows how to do this immaculately, but alas I am not one. And I really do like to make a mess when I bake….so, I simply take small handfuls in a cupped hand and kinda slap them onto the side of the cake. Do this all the way around, adding as much nut mixture as you deem awesome.

Ohhhh, get happy!

Ohhhh, get happy!

Once this is done, you have yourself a delicious birthday cake. Or anytime cake, because really cake is just about one of the best things on earth. 🙂

A slice of my birthday cake, one of many :)

A slice of my birthday cake, one of many 🙂

HELLO WORLD!

Welcome to The Fancy Duckling!

So this is it! My first blog post….whew, I am nervous. Do I try to dazzle you with my wit and charm, do I list my qualifications to be speaking with you, or do I just dive in? Since I have always been a “road less traveled” kinda gal….let’s just jump!

I am an actress, writer and self-taught gluten free baker.  Four years ago when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I was bewildered and overwhelmed.  Sooo much information to sift through to just understand what gluten intolerance was, let alone what the hell gluten was.  But after a little freak out and paper bagging, I started hitting every gluten-free bakery in Manhattan.  I wanted to understand what the texture and tastes were. Then I started devouring every gluten free cookbook and online recipe I could find.  And then finally the experimenting began…..

And experimenting it was! So many flours, so many binders, so many combinations!  But I would not be intimidated. I love baking and the creative release that it brings to my life, and I was determined to figure this out.  Soon, I realized that I enjoyed this type of baking so much more than non gluten-free baking.  Why? To me, each recipe is a puzzle.  And since I fancy myself Nancy Drew crossed with Wonder Woman and Joan Jett, this is magical.

I hope that you enjoy each of these recipes and that they inspire you not just to make them, but tweak them and play around to make them you own.

To some baking is structured and bound by rules, but to me baking is simply fun and delicious!

eggsmileresize