Cakes/Cupcakes

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake – Lowfat, Gluten and Dairy Free

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake

I’ve been working with a new concept lately – “just enough”.

Go with me on this for a little bit.

I’ve never been a “just enough” person. I’m a workaholic who’s only just started admitting that maybe I’m “type A” when I consistently didn’t get the shocked expressions I’d expected after telling someone I’d been accused of being as such. I’m the kind of person who will think nothing of working 7-day weeks. I’m an adult who has dealt with active and repressed Lyme Disease cyclically for almost 20 years, and constantly feel I need to gain strengths to balance out my weakness so that I can be worthy of whatever or whomever is investing in me.

But here’s the thing. That way isn’t working.

Last week I left my job as a private chef, at a position I’ve had for only ten months. It was for a very wealthy, good family, of whom I have no drama to report. But it was too much work. I’d work 40 to 60 hour weeks, without having cut down on writing work and while still going to help my family business out now and then.

As the months passed things started slipping while I tried to sustain the ability to work at my job: I started taking interviews and not having the energy to finish the stories; I dated a man for about 6 months and I can count on both fingers how often we went “out” for anything other than a lazy meal; everything started hurting, so I started medicating to work. Not as badly as I have in the past, but a Percoset or two a day, and two or three muscle relaxers, and maybe some ibuprofen. Even drugged, it was important to me to not let the family I worked for know, and to be as good as my job as I could be. Possibly more than I even needed to be. I was tired, and depleted, and feeling horribly lethargic any time I didn’t have to be “on”.

I gave my notice in the beginning of January.

I came to New York City to be an actor on the stage. And while I’ve had relative success I couldn’t cut being an artist and independently making a living, physically or spiritually. Sometimes I feel like a quitter “retiring” to transfer my energy to writing a few years back. But it was a choice made to devote a little bit more to my health.

And now I’m taking one step further.

“Just enough”.

In January, I’d made a list of all I accomplished in 2012 – a testament to myself of how hard I’d worked and what I’d done, what I’d succeeded at. I’d made good money, good connections and produced a lot of good work. I’d traveled without concern for a budget or an agenda. I’d taken care of my dog and apartment and bought my family presents and helped out my lil sis when she needed some help and paid for my medical expenses. But was I any happier than I had been the year before? Any healthier?

During some healthy meditating with my life coach (yes), I realized that that is a list of misguided accomplishments.

I hadn’t gone to the park for no reason. I hadn’t kept my body healthy by doing the luxurious things it needs like acupuncture, yoga, meditation, saunas, massages. I had missed friends’ shows and family members’ weddings. I had been hurting my own body – the only one I get – by doing instead of being.

And in that way, I wasn’t being me.

So, now, the philosophy is “just enough”.

  • I will work just enough to make a decent living.
  • I will work just enough so that at the end of every year I’ll look back and will have completed one big project very well, in a way I’m proud of.
  • I will work just enough so that I have time to do the things that make my body feel better.
  • I will work just enough so that the next time I meet someone special, I’ll just be with him, and do more with him.
  • I’ll do just enough so that going to the park for no reason is just a part of what I do.

Just enough sounds like so, so much

Rosemary-Lemon-Angel-Food-Cake---TheDustyBaker1

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake

This cake came about during my last week of work, when I was training my replacement and starting to accept the transition that was coming. It’s incredibly light and decadent – I love the magic that is angel food cake batter rising high in the pan.

The key to angel food cake is making sure that your whites are beaten to peaks strong enough to hold the amount of sugar and flour you’re adding, without it crystallizing on top (mine did a little in this version, but it was still divine). I made a batch “normally” with white cake flour for work, then remade it at home for myself with the gluten-free equivalent. Both versions are so good. Light, airy, and almost completely fat free as egg whites do the heavy lifting and no other fat is added. It’s naturally dairy free, and an excellent dessert to top of a big meal (I served this after brisket).

I love adding savory herbs to sweets – check out my Rosemary Mint Linzer Cookies and Rosewater Lavender Shortbread – and this combo won over the boss-fam. At home, I found out it was even better a day or two later, when the sticky lemon glaze had absorbed its way fully into the cake.

Rosemary-Lemon-Angel-Food-Cake---TheDustyBaker3

Ingredients

  • 12 oz egg whites, at room temperature (1 1/2 cups, about 10 whites from large eggs)
  • 12 oz white sugar (around 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced to around 4 Tbsp, separated for cake and glaze
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz high-starch gluten-free flour: I used 1.2 oz (around 3 Tbsp) millet flour, 1.3 oz (around 3 Tbsp) brown rice flour and 1.5 oz (around 5 Tbsp) arrowroot starch
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbsp very finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a small bowl, mix cream of tartar and salt. Have 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp vanilla extract nearby.

Whisk together the flours and xanthan gum in a medium bowl, then sift together.

Using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or a metal bowl and hand mixer, beat egg whites on medium/high speed until foamy, around 1 minute. Add cream of tartar / salt mixture and beat until very foamy and opaque, around 30 seconds.

With the mixer on high speed, very slowly add all the sugar in a slow stream (this is most easily done with a standing mixer while you slowly shake the sugar on). Add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and vanilla, and beat until the mixture forms a glossy, stiff meringue, forming a rounded but firm tip when you lift the beater. In a standing mixer this should take only about 3 minutes when the sugar has all been added, by hand it may take a bit longer.

Beat in the rosemary, quickly.

Sift 1/2 the flour mixture over the meringue and fold in with as few strokes as possible with a spatula, until almost all incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and fold until completely turned in.

Pour into un-greased angel food cake pan and bake for 30-50 minutes (yes, it will vary that greatly depending on how much your cake rises, exact oven temp etc), until slightly brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least one hour before removing from pan.

Meanwhile, whisk together 3 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until completely smooth. Whisk in lemon zest. Cover and set aside until ready to glaze.

To serve, invert cake onto a plate, drizzle with glaze, slice with a serrated knife and enjoy.

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Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake – Gluten-Free for Milk Bar Mondays!

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

I interview chefs weekly for Serious Eats, a national website that covers restaurants, bars, recipes and events. Lately the subject of diminishing pastry chefs and departments has come up a bit, most prominently with Lauren Resler, a pastry chef I adore who turns out layered, whimsical desserts for her restaurants, Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Cocina here in NYC (if you haven’t been – go!).

I’ve questioned many a pastry chef as to who they think the next “it” chef of their generation would be; a Michael Laiskonis, Johnny Iuzzini or Alex Stupak on the rise. Many of the chefs I’ve asked say something simple needs to be done: someone needs to focus on reinventing classics with a deeply personal twist, something old but incredibly new as well.

As I adapted Christina Tosi’s Chocolate Malt Layer Cake into a version us gluten-free eaters can enjoy, I realized that Tosi may just be that chef. Granted I’ve never eaten one of her desserts, as they’re all loaded with gluten and dairy. But as the Milk Bar Mondays ladies and I have baked our way through her cookbook, I see that she’s doing exactly what we want someone to be doing: elevating classics into something so over the top that, like pastry chef Stephen Collucci said when trying her Cereal Milk Ice Cream, “it’s so good it’s stupid”.

This cake is so good it’s stupid.

Continue reading

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Bread – Baked with Love

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bread

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bread

* Note: This post is sponsored by King Arthur Flour and Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs for their “Baking with Love” Pinterest contest! Details on this below!

——————

I feel fortunate to get to do so much of what I love. And this week am even more amply blessed.

I don’t bring this up much anymore because I consider myself somewhat “retired”, but I got my degree in stage acting, and for all of my twenties it was my main focus in regards to work. Looking at my resume you could even say I was rather successful at it. But my body couldn’t keep up with the crazy schedules and multiple jobs it took to stay afloat, and writing seemed a healthier career choice. While I don’t regret a minute I spent pursuing or taking the stage or my decision to focus elsewhere… I do really miss going from one creative project to another sometimes, and the sense of teamwork and community that goes into a production.

So I was honored when asked to perform again as Bird in Thin Air in the last year of the Universal Theatre Festival in Provincetown on the end of Cape Cod.

As Bird in 2006 at StageWorks/Hudson and then warming up last weekend in Provincetown.

As Bird in 2006 at StageWorks/Hudson and then warming up last weekend in Provincetown.

Bird and I go way back: I did the premiere of the piece at StageWorks up in Hudson, New York at the delightful age of 25 (along with four other parts). It’s a 16-minute solo short piece about a tightrope walker who’s trying to gather the courage to walk the wire after having lost her partner/husband only days before. There’s no way I could fully explain how much this piece has meant over the course of these 6 years as I’ve performed it in 5 productions: it’s the kind of piece that an actor rarely gets to call their own, and Bird grows with every year and every hundreds of experiences I go through as a person. By the end of those 16 minutes I’ve gone through a delicious range of emotions and am spent, sometimes to the point of near vomiting.

I could say it’s nerve-wracking to be on a small platform alone without an actor to share the performance with. But the older I get the less I worry about a memorable performance or “wowing” anyone. I care more about connecting with the words, the character, the writer, my director and the joy that is many eyes upon me as I step onto that platform alone and just talk. I’m completely unable to see the audience in front of me because of the blast of the spotlight a foot away. But I can sense them, and hear their reaction to points of humor or sarcasm or… at the end… my complete terror and anguish. And I could never describe my gratitude at the sighs, applause, “bravos” and – once – “hurrah” that comes when that spotlight goes down.

There’s really nothing like it. I love those opportunities. And I am so thankful that now and then I get to live them.

I spent this past weekend far from my kitchen at work, my kitchen at home, my dog and (for the most part) a computer. I stretched, I slept, I worked with my much-loved director, I dissected pages of text and made sure my body could keep up with the story while on stage looking out, blinded by light.

Clockwise from top left: sign at the beach, tech rehearsal, the view from my room, the empty streets after the last show closed, the farewell season banner, bouys in the cold.

Clockwise from top left: sign at the beach, tech rehearsal, the view from my room, the empty streets after the last show closed, the farewell season banner, bouys in the cold.

Pinterest Contest – Baking with Love

This post is a little late, because while I had planned to pen it over the weekend on my luxuriously quiet days before the shows, I came down with an upper respiratory infection and had to put all focus on muscling through the performances and my drive home. So this is a little late, but still full of love.

Screen shot 2013-01-23 at 1.38.08 PMI don’t normally do sponsored posts. But I actually like and use both of these products, so when asked to do a post with King Arthur Flour and Pete and Gerry’s eggs, I said “yes” with confidence. I love Pete and Gerry’s eggs because they’re free-range, organic, from somewhat nearby and rather affordable. Though I don’t often use flour blends King Arthur is my go-to gluten-full flour. And when it comes to using a blend, I love that there’s does not include xanthan gum – which is a plus in my book.

So we’re all coming together for a contest on Pinterest where pinners can pin their loving baked treats up until February 14th and win up to $250 in King Arthur products! Click here or on the image above to learn more (and click HERE to join me on Pinterest!).

Chocolate-Cherry-Bread1

Now I had intended to do something pink and heart-full and sweet for this contest, and I may do another by the due date, but performing and cold and what-not had me doing something simple and rich and warming. There’s something I adore about a quick-bread recipe. The fact that it’s two bowls and no electronics. The fact that a basic ratio is endlessly adaptable. The fact that it can be a loaf or a muffin. I love quick-breads. And this one tastes even better on day two, and day three.

And now, to quote Meg Ryan (who looked way more adorable with her cold in You’ve Got Mail than I do right now), “my head is getting fuzzy”. Back to the couch.

Lots of love,

– Jacqueline

Chocolate-Cherry-Bread2

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup / 8oz King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, beaten
  • 8oz milk (I used unsweetened almond), warmed
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a loaf or muffin pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, gum, powder, soda, sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly. Add milk and butter and whisk thoroughly to combine.

Whisk dry ingredients into wet. Fold in cherries and chocolate chips.

Pour into greased pans and bake 40 minutes for a loaf or 18-22 minutes for muffins.

Birthday Layer Cake for Milk Bar Mondays!

Happy Birthday Tuesday!

This is Tuesday:

Technically, today is Monday.

But today is all about a pup named Tuesday, a 10th birthday, and a Milk Bar Monday Birthday Layer Cake.

This gluten-free adaptation from Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar Cookbook is incredibly rich and buttery, shocking sweet and incredibly festive. She strove to encapsulate the joy of funfetti box cake (the Confetti Cookies from the same family were possibly my favorite of the bunch that the Milk Bar Mondays ladies have baked up). This one doesn’t quite take the prize in my mind, but as I sit here noshing on a slice with a scoop of dairy-free honey ice cream (look for it in my feature in next month’s Easy Eats magazine), I still can’t help but shake my head in “oh my dog” mode.

A layer of incredibly dense, buttery cake flecked with sprinkles
(not hard to find gluten-free).

A wash of milk and vanilla (almond milk, in this case).

A layer of frosting that truly tastes like you got it out of a tub, only a million times better.

A sprinkle of Birthday Cake Crumb.
The whole “crumb” aspect of Tosi’s work is quite genius.

Then two more layers of that combo. Continue reading

Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Cake – Happy Birthday Mom!

Layers of Meyer Lemon Cake (gluten free) with strawberry rhubarb compote and (dairy free) liquid cheesecake!

59 Reason Why I Love My Mom

  1. She is the only person who reads almost every single thing I write.
  2. She’s seen every show that’s been important to me.
  3. She can really shake it on a dance floor.
  4. Her generosity knows no limits.
  5. She has an infectious smile.
  6. She is constantly learning, evolving, growing, and never giving up.
  7. She has spent years figuring out how to cook for me, with so much success.
  8. 60 miles in Boston.
  9. 60 miles in Philly.
  10. 60 miles in Atlanta.
  11. 60 miles in Twin Cities.
  12. A convertible and pink boas for all those other 60 miles.
  13. She flew to Tampa to surprise me after my 60 miles there.
  14. She knows my limits and helps me not to cross them.
  15. She’s a boobslinger, with pride.
  16. She can rock a red hat.
  17. She gave me my big sister.
  18. She gave me my little brother.
  19. She gave me my little sister.
  20. I see my entire life whenever I decorate my Christmas tree.
  21. She’s a great show-partner… and a brave one.
  22. She’s seen me partially clad onstage (twice) and commended me for both performances.
  23. She always sends a card, just when I need it, for no reason other than she knows I need it.
  24. She truly loves my pets and helps me best care for them.
  25. She’s by far my favorite person to shop for clothes with.
  26. Some of my most beloved things were gifts from her.
  27. She knows how to laugh at herself.
  28. Sometimes she says the funniest things! And then laughs at herself…
  29. She’s always there for her friends, 200%
  30. She can talk to anyone, and with genuine interest and respect.
  31. She’s just plain beautiful, outside and in.
  32. Dozens of now-adults still call her “mom”.
  33. She’s stepped in to sew, drive, cook, clean, pack, move, promote, organize…. she’s Everywoman.
  34. She made those awkward teen years exponentially less awkward.
  35. Even though we sometimes view the world very differently, she always listens to what I have to say and never responds with judgment or disappointment.
  36. She’s got healing hugs.
  37. She is endlessly curious about the world around her.
  38. She puts people above all else, especially when you need her to.
  39. She knows when to coddle, and when to let go.
  40. She cries with me when the world is too big for both of us.
  41. She is a great gift-buyer (not just for me!)
  42. She sings with her whole heart.
  43. She worships with her whole heart.
  44. She’s an incredible travel companion.
  45. She sees her fears and lets those who love her help her overcome them.
  46. She’s flown and driven countless miles, just to be there when you want her.
  47. She gives without expectation.
  48. She receives with humility.
  49. Her biscotti will always be better than mine.
  50. A heart full of love.
  51. She still comes to doctors appointments with me when I’m too sick to go alone.
  52. She’s a jitterbugginging queen!
  53. The woman can rock a karaoke night.
  54. You never leave her house without leftovers… no matter how old you are.
  55. She takes care of her parents with no complaint.
  56. People remember her for her joy, her laugh, her twinkling eyes, her friendship.
  57. She naturally inspires loyalty and love.
  58. She steps up, every single time.
  59. She’s a true, true friend, as well as an incredible mother.

I wish her much, much love and happiness in this, her 59th year.

Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Cake

Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Cake

Adapted from my Apple Pie Layer Cake adaptation for Milk Bar Mondays

I pondered several recipes for her celebratory cake, then found rhubarb at the market.  Strawberry rhubarb is one of our favorite pies.  I took it as a sign.

Components (in the order I made them):

  • Pie Crumb, 1/2 for frosting and 1/2 in layer cake (recipe follows)
  • Strawberry Rhubarb compote (recipe follows)
  • Rhubarb Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
  • Gluten-Free Meyer Lemon Cake (recipe follows)
  • Liquid Cheesecake (I reduced the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup from 3/4 cup and prefer it slightly less sweet, the rest of the recipe is the same)
  • Pie Crumb frosting

Assemblage:

Place a 6″ cake ring on a plate on top of a piece of parchment.  Prepare a piece of acetate 6″ high, fitted to the ring.

Use the ring to cut out two circles of Meyer Lemon Cake.

Use the scraps of the cake to fill in the bottom of the ring, pressing down with the back of your hand to form an even layer.  Use a pastry brush to wash with some Rhubarb Simple Syrup.  Spread 1/2 of the Liquid Cheesecake evenly on top.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the remaining pie crumb, and tap down to secure.  Top with 1/2 of the Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.  Gently top with one of the cake circles.

Fit the acetate ring gently in, coming just below the cake layer.

Repeat with more simple syrup and remaining pie crumb, Liquid Cheesecake and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

Top with second cake circle, frost with Pie Crumb frosting and sprinkle with remaining Pie Crumb.

Freeze overnight, and remove to fridge to defrost at least 6 hours before removing cake rings and serving.

Pie Crumb:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 arrowroot starch
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp organic white sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
  • 1-2Tbsp water if needed

Preheat oven to 350°.  Fit a half-sheet with Silpat or parchment.

In the bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment, paddle all dry ingredients on low until fully combined.  Add butter in a slow stream and paddle until crumbs form.  If too dry, add water slowly until the batter starts to pull into crumbs, but before it pulls into a dough ball.  Bake for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until slightly firm.  Cool completely before using.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote and Rhubarb Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • About 6 short stalks rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1lb strawberries

Method:

Heat water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat, whisking sugar to dissolve, and bring up to a low boil.

Meanwhile, trim ends of rhubarb and, if desired, peel of thick outer layer.  Quarter thick stalks length-wise if needed to make a uniform thickness, then dice into small pieces, about 1/2 inch.

Toss rhubarb in simple syrup and cook on low heat until soft, about ten minutes.  Strain, reserving simple syrup in a heat-safe bowl or Pyrex measuring cup.

Chop strawberries into 1/2 inch dice, and stir into rhubarb.  Stir until the rhubarb breaks down and forms a sort of coating around the strawberries.  Put aside to cool completely.

Gluten Free Meyer Lemon Cake

  • 3 oz arrowroot starch
  • 3 oz white rice flour
  • 2 oz quinoa flour
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 8oz organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract/oil
  • zest of one Meyer lemon
  • juice of one Meyer lemon

Method:

Heat oven to 350°.  Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper (I put a dab of cooking spray underneath to hold it in place, but don’t grease the top).

Measure out dry ingredients in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly.  Whisk in the lemon zest.

In a small pot over low heat, whisk the eggs and sugar.  Keep whisking while the eggs slowly warm, being careful not to let them curdle.  Once just above room temperature, transfer to bowl of standing mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium/high speed until doubled in size and incredibly fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Fold in the dry ingredients, turning the bowl and gently incorporating together.  Add the butter and lemon juice and fold until completely incorporated and smooth.

Pour onto sheet pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the center.  Cool completely before cutting and filling.

Mocha Nib Torte – Gluten-Free Boxed Cake Makeover!

So dark and dreamy... I'm in love.

I cannot tell a lie: this feels like cheating.

A cake from a box? Moi?  How dare I post a recipe using a cake from a box!

But hear me out:

1. Wednesday I film a 10-episode series on gluten-free recipes for EHow: Food.  Basically after I got the gig the producer and I checked recipes off they need shot.  Upon hearing that I have to shoot all 10 in one day, I chose a few quick ones (boxed cake, pancake, pumpkin cookies) to balance out ones that take a tad longer (cupcakes, biscotti).  So of course I had to test a few ideas out, pimping out the recipe as much as I could without actually adding time to what is supposed to be a simple, time-saving procedure.

2. One of my upstairs private chef-friends had recently mentioned that he sometimes uses a boxed cake mix and elaborates on it (layering with chocolate mouse and dark chocolate shavings, adding Meyer lemon zest and juice to a white cake etc.) when scrunched for time.  He’s an amazing cook and makes mad money at his gig.  If he can, why not I? (Also, if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow… I ask that too).

3.  I’ve been gluten free off and on for almost 20 years.  At some points, I was extremely strictly gluten free (now I only eat gluten as a treat every few months with a really good piece of bread or an icy beer at a ball game).  I was on this diet long before gluten-free boxed cake mixes ever existed.  I never had the luxury of a quick cake… I actually just went without cake completely for a long while.  So now and then it feels awesome to live it up… yes, with a boxed cake.

Thus ends my defense for why I’m posting a recipe featuring a boxed cake mix that uses… gasp!… instant pudding mix, amongst other things.

Here’s why this cake is so stellar:

  • The pudding mix I used is gluten and dairy free.  It adds extra chocolate fudginess without actually adding the weight of chocolate.
  • Using raw cocoa nibs ads crunch and an extra boost of awesomeness.
  • Coffee gives it a punch and deepens the flavor panel.
  • Baked in a tart pan or in individual cake pans it makes an elegant presentation.
  • Because it’s so rich and dark, it pairs incredibly well with fresh fruit and cream.

I ate far too much of it (curse my roommate for going on vacation!).  I made one 11-inch tart: one of the neighbors instantly ate a quarter of it.  I gave him the rest after shooting this piece.  Because along with the tart I made two individual 4″ cakes, one which I immediately ate.  The other I stuck in the freezer so I couldn’t nibble off of every time I went in the kitchen.  It’s really, REALLY delicious.

Enough with the explanations, Dusty.  Here’s the recipe.

Horribly, addictively moist and mocha-y.

Mocha Nib Torte

I used a “Decadent Chocolate Cake Mix” from Gluten-Free Pantry.  It’s mostly white rice flour and potato starch, so not the healthiest.  Because of the rich chocolate and coffee flavors, you can be liberal with whichever cake mix you use.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box gluten-free chocolate cake mix, such as the Gluten-Free Pantry or King Arthur Flour
  • 1 packet of chocolate pudding dry mix (some are dairy free; check labels for gluten and dairy ingredients)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao nibs (or ground walnuts, if you don’t have access to cacao).
  • Raspberries or strawberries, whipped cream and powdered sugar, as desired
  • Eggs, oil, butter, etc., as your box cake requires
  • cocoa powder, for dusting pan

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease an 11″ tart pan and dust with cocoa powder.
  • Make cake according to box instructions, with substitutions as necessary.  For example, I used unsweetened almond milk instead of buttermilk/yogurt.  If desired, use coconut oil instead of butter to make dairy free etc.
  • Add the chocolate pudding and cinnamon to the cake mix, and the vanilla and instant coffee into your wet ingredients (if using some sort of milk, add then to completely dilute).
  • When batter is mixed, fold in 1 Tbsp cacao nibs.  Pour into pan, then sprinkle with remaining cacao nibs.
  • Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before serving.  This cake tastes even better on day 2.
  • To serve, sprinkle serving plates with sifted powdered sugar.  Garnish with a few strawberries, some cacao nibs, and a dallop of whipped cream if desired.

Milk Bar Mondays – Apple Pie Layer Cake (gluten-free, dairy-optional)

The cake layered and frozen, ready for birthday love

It’s a Milk Bar Monday, folks, and I couldn’t be more tickled pink than to have it coincide with my Lil Sis’s birthday.  A whopping 26 years old (cough), Lil Sis is one of my favorite people on the planet, and a very dear friend.  She massages my weary, arthritis-laden body when I’m sore (awesome having a massage therapist in the family), gave me my first lessons in pasta making in preparation for my upcoming Easy Eats magazine feature, Mitra runs up to her full of love, and she’s instrumental in helping me cope through those big, life-changing moments we all love to fear so much.  Lil Sis claims to be moving to Virginia or North Carolina or something like that in May.  I choose to remain in a state of denial.

Me and Lil Sis, circa 2011

On top of being a truly loving, creative person, Lil Sis has somewhat recently started a gluten-free diet.  I had this CRAZY layer cake to make for this round of Milk Bar Mondays, where a small group of incredible lady bloggers bake out of Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook.  I’m the alternative baker of the bunch, and was immediately sold on the awesomeness of the swap when my Carrot Cake Truffles were quickly hailed as one of the best things I have ever made.

Because the cake had to freeze and defrost before being plopped in the car to Connecticut and stripped of its acetate mold before being presented, I don’t have great pics of the final product, or us enjoying it.  Head to the other ladies in the swap for some stunning photos of their creations, all which look too amazing for words:

Host Nicole at Sweet Peony has the whole recipe too!

Cassie at Bake Your Day
Erin at Big Fat Baker
Krissy at Krissy’s Creations
Audra at The Baker Chick

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Happy Birthday Lil Sis!

Now, this cake is a little insane.  A brown butter cake layered with Liquid Cheesecake, Apple Pie filling, Pie Crumb and Apple Cider Soak, then topped with Pie Crumb frosting.  Tosi might be a bit insane, but she’s a genius. There were layers of “wow” going through my family as we all tasted, it being proclaimed an incredible combination of coffee cake and apple pie.  It is extremely sweet.  If I ever make it again I’ll cut some of the sugar from the apple pie filling and cheesecake, because it’ll still be plenty sweet with a little omission. But it is ridiculously, amazingly, scarily delicious.  Don’t be afraid of the many steps – it comes together brilliantly.  Just plan ahead a bit (I made most of the components in one day then made the cake and built and freezed it a second), and it makes a stunning presentation.

Happy Birthday Lil Sis.  I love you up to heaven, down to earth.

– Jacqueline

Apple Pie Layer Cake – Gluten Free, Dairy Optional

My version is gluten free, and while I used butter in the cake itself it can be made dairy free as well by substituting the brown butter with melted Earth Balance.  Adapting Tosi’s recipe to be gluten free didn’t work, as there was far too much fat and gluten-free flours can be heavier than all-purpose wheat.  So I made my basic vanilla cake with brown butter instead, and got the same taste results with a better texture.  The key to this cake is making sure that the oven is hot, the ingredients are all at room-temperature or warm, and that you whip the eggs to at least twice their size before folding in the rest of the ingredients.  This way you get an incredibly spongey cake that’s full of flavor and doesn’t risk sinking when you take it out of the oven.

Special Equipment:

  • Quarter sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • 6-inch cake ring
  • Acetate strips (2 strips 3″ tall and 20″ long)

Components:

  • 1 recipe Brown Butter Cake (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake (click on title for link to recipe under Carrot Cake Truffles)
  • 1 recipe Pie Crumb (recipe below), divided equally in two
  • 1 recipe Apple Cider Soak (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Apple Pie Filling (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Pie Crumb Frosting (recipe below)

Building the Cake:

  • Use the cake round to gently cut 2 circles of cake from the pan.
  • Place cake ring on a piece of parchment on a sheet pan.  Insert one of the strips of acetate securely into the ring.
  • Pile the scraps of cake cut around the circles into the bottom of the cake ring and use your hands or the bottom of a glass to press into a flat layer.
  • Wash the cake layer with a healthy dose of the Apple Cider Soak, about 1/2 of the recipe.  Use a spoon to evenly spread 1/2 of the Liquid Cheesecake on the layer.  Spread 1/3 of the pie crumbs, pressing them into place.  Spread 1/2 of the apple pie filling as equally as possible over the crumbs (for a firm cake, don’t use the more liquidy part of the filling).
  • Gently insert the 2nd ring of acetate, overlapping about 1/4 of an inch to make an almost 6-inch ring.
  • Gently place one of the rounds of cake in the ring, and repeat with equal amounts of filling.
  • Top with second round of cake, and frost completely with Pie Crumb frosting.  Sprinkle with remaining pie crumbs.

Brown Butter Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8oz (1 stick) unsalted butter  or Earth Balance
  • 8 oz white sugar
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3oz white rice flour
  • 3 oz tapioca flour
  • 2 oz millet flour
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a quarter-sheet pan with parchment paper and do not grease the edges.
  • If using butter, makes it all deliciously brown and nutty by microwaving it in a heat-proof bowl (Pyrex is great) closed with a heat-safe plate for 6 minutes.  You’ll hear the butter bubble and pop, and it should be dark and golden when you (carefully) remove the plate.  If it’s melted but still yellow, nuke it for another minute or so. If using Earth Balance, simply melt it over the microwave or on the stove until thoroughly melted.  Either way, allow the melted fat to cool while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
  • Weight our your dry ingredients into a medium bowl.  Prep a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk the eggs and sugar until the sugar is completely melted and the mixture is slightly above body temperature (do not let the egg cook, you’re just warming them so that they whip up more easily).  Immediately pour into standing mixer and begin whipping on medium/high-speed until the mixture more than doubles in size and becomes light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  • Remove from mixer, and fold in flour mixture.
  • Fold in melted butter.
  • Immediately pour into pan and bake for 30-38 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool completely before building the cake.

Apple Cider Soak:

Whisk together 1/4 cup apple cider, 1 tsp tightly packed light brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved.

Apple Pie Filling:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or Earth Balance
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar (this could be cut to 1/3 in my opinion)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  • Fill a bowl with cold water and add lemon juice to it.  Peel the apples, then half and quarter them.  Remove the core, then cut each piece lengthwise into thirds and crosswise into fourths, so that you have 12 small pieces from each apple quarter. Move them to the lemon water to keep them fresh while you cut.
  • When all the apples are ready to go, strain them and toss them into a small pot with the rest of the ingredients.  Put on medium heat and bring up to a boil.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the apple are soft but not getting mushy.
  • Pour into a container and refrigerate until completely cold. (Can be kept in fridge for a week, but do not freeze)

Pie Crumb:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter or Earth Balance, melted
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp water

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a half-sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat.
  • Combine flours, gum, sugar and salt in bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment and paddle on low-speed until well mixed.  Add the butter and water and paddle on low-speed until mixture starts to come into crumbles.
  • Pour onto baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, checking them occasionally to break them up.  The crumbles should be golden brown but not hard – they’ll seem to crumble when you press on them, but as they cool they’ll harden a bit.
  • Let the crumbs cool completely before using for the cake (you’ll use half the recipe for the frosting and the other half for the layered cake).

Pie Crumb Frosting:

This makes enough for 2 cakes but Tosi says it’s really hard to make a single serving, so make double and use the rest for snacking or cake-truffle-ing!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe Pie Crumb
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used hazelnut milk to bring out the nuttiness in the brown butter cake.  Unsweetened almond milk or your milk of choice will work well too)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I found the frosting to be a bit salty, so I’d suggest cutting down to 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 Tbsp Earth Balance or unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free confectioners sugar

Directions:

  • Combine crumbs, milk and salt in a blender and blend for about 3 minutes on medium/high-speed until it’s smooth and homogenous.  Scrape under the blade halfway through to make sure the entire recipe mixes completely.
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, begin paddling the Earth Balance / butter and confectioners sugar until fluffy and pale, about 2-3 minutes on medium/high-speed.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  • On low-speed, paddle in the milk mixture.  After a minute, bring up to high-speed and whip for another 2 minutes. If mixture is not fully uniform, very pale and fluffy, scrape the bowl again and paddle for another minute.
  • Use immediately, or store in fridge for up to one week in an airtight container.

Double Dark Chocolate Cake Truffles for my Valentines (gluten and dairy free!)

For my Valentines... love Jacqueline

Shy confessions, Bloggereaders,

  1. I can be accidentally romantic.
  2. I haven’t been single on Valentines day in over 10 years (Big Sis said, “cry me a river”).
  3. I am reluctantly thankful for cake pops.

Valentines Day is not a huge marker in my book.  For the majority of those 10+ years Ruark and I went in and out with celebrating depending, honestly, if we felt like it or not.  We had started dating when we were so young, and found plenty of moments to show each other how we felt.  And in general I’m not a big fan of commercially-fueled tokens.  Two years ago the man I was with was away for work and had his friend stop by with a huge bouquet at the theatre I was working at.  Last year new boyfriend and I had no plans until mid-morning, when he called where I was out of town working and sweetly said, “I’m thinking it’s Valentines Day and you’re my Valentine, so we should be together tonight”.   I trained it back to NYC.

So this year, being single, I’ve been more contemplative about the love in my life in general.  Not at all mournful, just reflective.  I have so much love, so many people I’m surrounded by who have full, generous hearts, that I feel more in love than ever.

Oh, the 3rd point up there?  A few months ago I had to develop a gluten-free recipe for Valentine Cake Pops for Easy Eats.  Two weeks ago I made 75 chocolate chip and lemon zest cake pops in the shape of Winnie the Pooh honey pots for a baby shower.  They were cute, but not as adorable as I’d wanted them to be for the mom-to-be.  And they took me eight hours! Lastly, for the first Milk Bar Mondays swap last week I made Carrot Cake Truffles, which are essentially cake balls (and one of my favorite super-sweet recipes).

In the beginning of this road with cake pops, I was often cursing, whining, or whinging.  But the result of all the frustration?

Moments of joy this morning as I deftly baked, blended, dipped, flipped and formed these truffles.  I had some cake I’d been experimenting with (a new flour blend), some leftover liquid cheesecake, some bags of chocolate and lots of fun things to toss truffles in.  I found myself smiling in the silence of my kitchen, thinking about those I’d be wrapping and gifting these for.  They look so cute all ribboned up.  And, they were actually pretty easy.  I enjoyed making them.

While made of cake, these truffles taste a bit more ganache-y because of how dark, rich and buttery they are.   I tossed them in ground walnuts, dark cocoa powder, raw cacao nibs, and some candy hearts I had leftover from the Easy Eats recipe.  It was a very romantic morning in my kitchen.  I was in love with the natural light pouring through my windows and my ancient camera that was snapping away.

I hope you have a lovely Valentines Day, Bloggerreaders.  But more than that, I wish you much peace, love and sweet, sweet life… always.

– Jacqueline

Freshly rolled truffles

Double Dark Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 30 truffles

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter-flavored Earth Balance
  • 10 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free flour (my blend was 1/3 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup tapioca starch plus 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ground raw walnuts (optional)

For the Truffles:

  • About 4-6 Tbsp liquid cheesecake or prepared frosting of choice
  • 6oz dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • Ground nuts, candies, cocoa powder, crushed cookies or cacao nibs for coating

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Grease an 8×8″ cake pan (I prefer glass)
  • In a small pot on medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in cocoa until smooth.  Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly while you continue.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat eggs on high until creamy, about 45 seconds.  Add the sugars and beat until thoroughly incorporated with no traces of sugar, 2-3 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly stream in butter/chocolate mixture.  Beat until incorporated.
  • Slowly add flour and salt.  Mix on low until incorporated.  Stir in walnuts.
  • Pour into pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out relatively clean.
  • Immediately turn out onto a baking sheet and break up into pieces.  Allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, return to standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Paddle on medium/low until completely broken up.  Add liquid cheesecake or frosting 1 Tbsp at a time, until the cake comes together and you can easily roll a piece into a firm ball without it falling apart.
  • Roll batter in quarter-sized balls, placing on cookie sheets lined with wax paper.  My batch made 30.
  • Place all toppings in bowls (shallower and wider the better).  Melt chocolate in the microwave, first for 1 minute, then stirring to melt completely, then for another 30 seconds if the chocolate isn’t smooth enough (it should be fluid but only warm to the touch).
  • Quickly use your fingers to lightly coat each ball in chocolate, then toss into topping bowls, up to three in each bowl.  Shake / lightly toss the truffles to coat completely, then return to wax paper-lined trays.  Repeat with remaining truffles until done.
  • Refrigerate at least 10 minutes before packaging.
  • Share with those you love.  Or freeze them and slowly eat them by yourself, one by one…

I heart you Bloggerreaders

Meyer Lemon Coconut Cake (gluten free) ON ASK CHEF DENNIS!

image

Good morning friends!

I’m just about the start prepping for my gluten-free pasta photo shoot for Easy Eats magazine! Woot Woot! It’s such a fun day!

Made even MORE fun by my guest post on Ask Chef Dennis today. Chef D and I participate in the monthly Burwell General Store recipe swap and since meeting he’s been one of my favorite Bloggers to swap ideas and thoughts with.

For his post I made a cake that I think is truly special – light Meyer Lemon with a coconut frosting and lots of zest. And it’s made in teeny tiny pans for two! Perfect for Valentines Day.

So head over to Ask Chef Dennis and meet one of my favorite Bloggers to snag this recipe!

Oh, and I’m at my grandparents for this shoot who have no internet – posting from my phone! Isn’t technology RAD?!

Happy friday,
Jacqueline

Carrot Cake Pops and A Buddy Birthday Blog

Happy Birthday to Ruark!

By the time this post goes live, I will be in the middle of no where in Vermont, most likely freezing and huddled over a campfire, stirring something warm and sweet.  My phone and computer will literally be held captive by my father in Connecticut.  And most likely I will have spent the weekend breathing deeply, doing yoga on boulders, racing ATVs through the trails, and watching my city pup scamper amongst the trees.

Meanwhile, back in New York City, my dear friend Ruark will be turning 31 years old.

I’ve known Ruark for 12 years now: for over 8 of those years we were an item.  In a stroke of divine blessing, we have remained incredibly close since breaking up 2 years ago when I chose to move to Cincinnati for a year to work, a split we both desired.  Because of the distance, we were able to comfort each other through the breakup, through my living in a new city, through our apartment being a tad emptier without me.  He visited me once out there, and every time I flew home (8 times I believe), I saw him.  His father lives in Cincinnati, and it was comforting to have this friend and father-figure so close by.

Ruark's 30th bday, 2010

We were tight with each other’s families:  I learned how to make scones from his father, pie crust from his Auntie, and his mother’s gingerbread is one of the best things I have ever tasted.  They gave me my Kitchenaid and countless beautiful platters and pie plates and tablecloths and things our 20-something selves couldn’t afford.  Ruark is an incredible cook, spotless in his technique, and between the two of us we ate very well and threw some incredible parties.  He makes one of the best meat sauces I have ever tasted.  We both still marvel at how much we love duck.

On top of that, Ruark and I have seen each other through so many ups and downs, one taking care of the other as needed.  To the point now that we still support each other in new relationships, in new work endeavors, and will drop any doubt or judgment when one of us says to the other “I just really need you to be my friend on this right now”.

Talk about lucky.

Whenever I come to Ruark with a revelation – in this case how I don’t really know how to relax anymore – he’ll usually point out, “Jax, you’ve always been this way.  Remember when…”.

When I first set eyes on him, my first few days in college, I knew our relationship would be something special.  But I never thought that over a decade later I could know someone so well, or love a friend so much.

Happy Birthday, Ruark.  You’re something beyond special.

– “Jabadine”

Carrot Cake Balls

This recipe is adapted from Best of the Best from New England Cookbook.  Eaters were a huge fan of the flavor, but the cake completely crumbled when I eased it from the pans.  Hence why one half was salvaged and given to my Poppa for his birthday and the other smushed into cake balls for Ruark’s.  Because of the crumbliness it worked well, but the high amount of oil wasn’t a huge yay factor for me.  I had thought white chocolate would be a better match (I can’t eat it so I don’t really know), but my roommate and Ruark both confirmed that dark would be the best way to go, grounding the sweetness in the cake itself.  I’m putting the recipe up as I think it’s a great one for experienced bakers to look at and adapt.  I hope if you make it you’ll come back with tips for me!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 whole eggs and 1 egg white, beaten well
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 recipe cream cheese frosting
  • dark and white chocolate for dipping, decorations as desired

Method:

Preheat oven to 325° and grease 2 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix vegetable oil and sugar and beat well on high, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and beat to combine.

Sift all dry ingredients, and add to the wet mixture.

Fold in the raisins and carrots.

Pour into pans and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool completely, then mix with 1 cup vegan cream cheese frosting.  Leave in fridge overnight to chill.

When ready to assemble, roll into 1-inch balls and place on wax paper lined baking sheets.  Freeze for one hour to firm.

Melt chocolate slowly over a double boiler and quickly roll all cake balls in chocolate, setting back on sheets to firm.

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