Tag Archives: fruit

Sweetheart Chocolate Fudge Cake with Raspberry Sauce

I know it’s practically sacrilegious to admit to using boxed cake mixes when one claims to call oneself a baker.  But I’ve been doing the gluten-dairy-sugar free thing pretty much since I was twelve – about 18 years ago already!  And for the majority of those years, that meant going without.  Without bread, frosty desserts, birthday cake, or holiday celebrations in school.  As an adult, still, I’m usually surprised with a cake on my birthday by well-meaning relatives that not only can I not eat, but I must slice and serve to guests, with custard-y filling dripping down my fingers while they exclaim that “this is the best cake!”

So when I get to make my Nana’s birthday cake on the Sunday morning before Valentine’s Day amongst much work to do, a boxed cake mix seems like an exciting prospect.  Especially as my pantry full of flours and specialty equipment is back in my apartment in NYC.

At the store yesterday I grabbed two mixes – one from Gluten-Free Dreams and one I have never tried from King Arthur Flours.   Upon pouring them out of their plastic prisons I immediately noticed that the King Arthur had a smoother texture to it that was less grainy than the GF Dreams.  This would prove itself again when they were mixed and in the final baked products – the King Arthur was fudgey and soft with no trace of gluten-free graininess to it.  The six of us agreed it was the taste-test winner (I’ve tried a few other brands, and this is my favorite out of them all).

I used canned pumpkin and unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the moisture for the cakes rather than oil and eggs, making them lower in fat and vegan, while tasting just as rich and chocolatey.  Because they’re seemed to not be a matching set of cake pans in the house, I used an 8″ and a 9″, as well as a miniature heart mold that I knew was crammed in a cabinet here somewhere (I’m stealing it).

Now these cakes are so delicious that they don’t need frosting.  I simply pureed three containers of raspberries to make a sauce and it was the perfect accompaniment to the dark and fudgey cake.  But to glue them together and add some color I made a basic buttercream frosting with butter (bye-bye vegan and dairy-free) and a bit of almond milk.  This is only needed if you make two layers.

Speaking of layers – my Portuguese/Italian heritage of always making too much food reared its dark-haired head again, in my making a double layer cake for 7 people!  We had two-thirds of the cake left over.  So if you’re feeding 8-10 people of a healthy appetite, one layer is sufficient for a dense and classy cake.

To simplify, I’m going to give you the recipe just for the King Arthur mix.  If you were to choose the Gluten-Free Dreams, you’d simply reduce the milk by 1/4 of a cup.

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes of King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Chocolate Cake mix
  • 2 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 3 1/2 cups unsweetened milk – I used vanilla almond, but soy or cow would work just as well
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, softened
  • red food coloring, if desired

Directions: Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease cake pans of choice – I used one 9″ and one 8″ cake pan, plus the little heart molds
  • In a very large bowl: two packages of cake mix, 1 tsp baking powder, 4 tsp vanilla extract, 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
  • With a hand mixer, start to mix on low.  These mixes will easily fly into the air, so consider yourself warned!
  • When the pumpkin is incorporated, make a well in the center of the batter and pour in 2 and 1/2 cups milk (the rest is for the frosting).  Start mixing on low until incorporated, then mix in medium until nice and smooth.
  • Pour into cake pans and bake for approximately 25 minutes, testing after 20, and bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • Leave in pans for 15 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks.  Cool completely before frosting.

Directions: Frosting and puree

  • In a food processor, process raspberries until smooth.  Set aside.
  • Clean and remount processor.
  • Whip butter into confectioner’s sugar until incorporated.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Slowly pour in almond milk, stopping when frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  • If desired, add about 5 drops of red food coloring until a delightful pink.
  • Put a dab of frosting between the layers, and a bit more on top to decorate as desired.  Serve with raspberry puree.

The Final Product

Happy Birthday Nana!

My sister and I dubbed this the Whoville Birthday Valentine Whobilation Cake.  Yes, it looks like something a Who would serve to their guests in a Dr. Seuss world. I do not deny this.  Nor am I too proud to share this with you.  But I did come home and sign up for a cupcake class next month so I can learn how to frost better.  And I think cake classes may be in my future in general.

Baked Blackberry and Lemon Pancake

Ginger Ann

This recipe is inspired by my very dear friend Amie, an amazing mom to two very young daughters that I love to death and sometimes get to have dance parties with, decked out in tutus and tiaras, in their living room.  One of Amie’s many impressive breakfast creations is a baked apple pancake.  While I’ve never tasted it myself (gluten and dairy), it looks amazing, and the girls gobble it up.

Lucy Jane

By the way, I dare you to tell me that these aren’t two of the most precious children you’ve ever seen.  And, come on, Ginger Ann and Lucy Jane?!?!  They slay me.  Though I hope Amie won’t for my putting a picture up with Ginger’s face covered in food.  And I think about two minutes after the picture of Lucy I couldn’t save her beautiful sweater from the hot chocolate I ordered her.  But Ginger looks awesome in those Yoko Ono sunglasses, no?  I digress.

Anyway, Amie gave me her basic process for this pancake, and I locked it away to make for myself when the time was right.  This morning, the time was right.

I decided to use Bob’s Red Mill Pancake Mix as the basis for the pancake so I can make these at my parents’ or boyfriend’s homes – which are the places I usually make such decadent things for breakfast.  And while baked apple pancakes are divine, I wanted to work into the recipes the berries that are actually delightfully sweet right now (thank you, product of Mexico) with the tartness of organic lemon juice and the sweetness of xylitol.

A note on xylitol. I try to use sweeteners as little as possible when I bake which, I know, is blasphemous in most kitchens.  When I do, I usually try to keep it to maple syrup, which has all the glorious nutrients of the trees it came from.  But because I wanted to blend some sweetness in without the caramel flavor of maple syrup, I used xylitol.  My doctor recommends this as a sweetener and, yes, I do always listen to what he says because he’s the genius that got me healthy again.

What is xylitol? It’s a natural sweetener that has 30% less calories, 75% less carbohydrates and causes relatively little change in insulin levels, so it’s safer for those with diabeties and hypoglycemia.  It’s also great for teeth (in some toothpaste) and aids digestion.  And it’s just as sweet as white sugar, with only a slightly larger grain, so it’s easy to use in baking.  It can be found, affordably, at most natural health markets.

Now, to the recipe!

If you think this is not the best picture, I agree. Leave a comment encouraging my photographer boyfriend to step in more - or I'm afraid more of these are coming

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups rinsed blackberries
  • 3 Tbsp xylitol (or sweetener of choice), separated
  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Pancake Mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy, cow, rice etc.)
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp starch (I used tapioca, but you could use corn or potato)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with a rack in the middle.
  • Toss blackberries with 2 Tbsp sweetener or sugar in a bowl and let sit.
  • Combine the pancake flour, eggs, baking powder, milk and 2 Tbsp lemon juice in a separate bowl.  Whisk thoroughly to combine, incorporating as much air as possible.
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter in saucepan on medium heat.  When melted, be sure to make sure all surfaces of the pan are coated.
  • Quickly toss the blackberries in the butter, and spread out evenly in pan.
  • Pour on the pancake batter, smoothing over until the blackberries are completely covered, and put pan (without a lid) into preheated oven.
  • Meanwhile, in a (very) small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp xylitol (or sweetener of choice) and 1 tsp starch.  Blend thoroughly with a fork.
  • When the pancake has been baking for about 5 minutes, make a few slices in the top, pour on the lemon mixture, and return to oven.
  • Continue baking for another 15 minutes or until slightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before running a metal spatula around the sides of the pan.

The Dusty Baker’s Notes:

Now, I used a 3.5 quart stainless-steel Cuisinart saute pan that could go easily from the stove to the oven.  Other amazing options would be a cast iron skillet (yay!) or a Pyrex dish.  If using Pyrex, simply melt the butter and pour it into coat.

To present the pancake, I recommend NOT flipping it to expose the blackberry top.  There are a lot of delicious berries in this recipe, but because of the thickness of the berries, it’s not gonna be the most beautiful thing you’ve seen from that angle.  Rather, I’d cut slices and present with the browned top exposed.  You could also sprinkle the top with your sugar of choice after adding the lemon drizzle for a prettier finish.

This pancake was deliciously sweet to me – not too much that it tasted like a dessert, but enough that I actually didn’t use syrup with it.  The sweet blackberries in a light and neutral pancake compliment each other well, along with the tang of lemon.  To pump it up a notch, I’d using the zest of an entire lemon in the pancake batter (this was a step I had completely forgotten I wanted to include that I’ll definitely try when I make this again this weekend).

Devouring the Delicious Monster

Monstera Deliciosa - The Delicious Monster Fruit!

Hello, meet Monstera Deliciosa, a delicious food of the fruit variety that is easy to prepare and delectable to eat!

I was shocked at meeting this fruit at my favorite local healthy-foods store, Integral Yoga Natural Foods.  Tucked away by mangoes and strawberries was this very phallic, scaly, alien-like fruit that completely weirded me out… so of course I had to try it!  Ends up Monstera Deliciosa is incredibly delicious.  I just wanted to get that out of the way… in case you really don’t trust the name… and are doubting purchasing this radical food.

About Monstera Deliciosa:

Alternate names: Ceriman, Swiss Cheese Plant (or just Cheese Plant), Fruit Salad Plant, Monster fruit, Monsterio Delicio, Monstereo, Mexican Breadfruit, Monstera, split-leaf philodendron, Locust and Wild Honey, Windowleaf and Delicious Monster.

Origin: Mexico and Central America

Interesting Facts: This plant is most common as a leafy decorative plant and grows naturally in moist, warm climates, suffering with any frost.  The fruit doesn’t usually grow indoors, but rather in the wild where the plant will hide from the sun in order to find the shade of a tree on which to plant itself and grow upwards towards the light.  The fruit is actually an ‘unripened flower spike’ (source one) that takes at least a year to mature fully before harvesting.

Health Benefits / Warnings: Don’t be afraid by the following: because of its high content of oxalic acid, the unripened fruit can be toxic, causing itching, swelling and asphyxiation.  But if you’ve bought the fruit rather than hacked it off a tree yourself, you’re good.  The mature fruit contains a small amount of oxalic acid, which is common in a few other fruits and may cause a slight itchiness in the mouth and tongue if you’re sensitive to certain allergens.  I am very sensitive to certain allergens and found myself surprisingly fine with this fruit!  Health wise, Monstera Deliciosa has a good amount of vitamin C and is a natural energy booster due to the rush of natural sugar and water content.

Observations: The first observation my roommate and I made was that the flesh smells amazing! Like a really strong Jolly Rancher or an entire fruit salad concentrated into a small kernel.  The fruit itself is soft and a bit slimy, but that only makes it more delicious as it melts in your mouth.  The taste is a combination of pineapple and banana, a surprising delight of both sweet and a tad tart in one bite.

How do you serve and eat Delicious Monster? I was happy just to eat it alone with a spoon, but throwing it over icecream, yogurt or cereal would be an appropriate plan, as would sticking it in a smoothie or baking it into a crepe.

How Do You Prepare Delicious Monster?

  1. Place the fruit in a paper bag or upright in a glass, stem side on top.  Let it ripen naturally – which takes 2-4 days depending on the age of the fruit and the humidity.
  2. When the scales have started to peel off, gently remove remaining scales with your fingers, revealing the soft white flesh underneath.  Warning: this may remind you of skinning an iguana or a nightmare you had as a child after watching an alien movie.  Keep in mind, the fruit coming to you is named Delicious Monster for a reason!
  3. Using a thin knife, remove the now delicate and somewhat slimy scales from the hard and inedible core.
  4. Mix into a smoothie, sprinkle on yogurt or cereal, or eat raw for an unbelievably delicious treat!

Step One: Place the whole fruit upright in a glass or in a paper bag to ripen, stem side up

Step Two: Fruit is allowed to ripen naturally and the scales fall off

Step Three: Peel away the green scales to reveal the white flesh underneath

Step Four: Cut the flesh away from the core

Interesting links / sources: University of Connecticut, Tropical Fruit Photo Archive

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