Tag Archives: vegetarian

Lemon Scones with Genmaicha Green Tea

Lemon Scones with Genmaicha Green Tea Glaze

Years ago a dear friend in college introduced me to Japanese pearl jasmine tea, and we’d sit in her basement apartment drinking out of delicate cups that released an aroma I had never imagined could exist so closely available at my fingertips.  Over the next few years I started tasting and buying tea like some people buy wine.  I justified the expense because of how healthy this habit is: teas have been shown to provide and help in the absorption of antioxidants, as well as fight certain cancers, reduce blood pressure and help to regulate blood sugar.  And when you’ve been living with a chronic illness, healthy habits are what keep your worst symptoms in remission year after year.

I try, in humble thanks, to use my health in small ways to contribute to the healing of others.  So I jumped on this Online Bake Sale to Help Japan as soon as I got the tweet.  Driving back into NYC yesterday, on a miraculously empty highway, I looked down the Hudson River at the George Washington Bridge a few blocks from my apartment, and was so thankful.  As recent environmental and political events continue to show us, many of our current blessings can be taken away from us in mere minutes.

So my contribution to this online bake sale is inspired by those who have been displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat in Japan, and the tea that has, over the years, contributed to my health. Continue reading

Lavender Tea with Lemon Macarons – A Tea Party for a Cause

Lavender Tea with Lemon Macarons

The absolute best thing about my recent blogging endeavors – other than baking delicious things on a regular basis and then getting even more personal with them by photographing and writing about them – is online community sites like FoodBuzz that connect bakers and bloggers with fabulous causes and the companies that fund them.

This recipe was inspired by Kelly’s Tea Party for a Cause. “Electrolux and Kelly Ripa are proud to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund whose mission is to fund research to find a method of early detection and ultimately a cure for Ovarian Cancer. Electrolux has committed to donate $750,000 to this worthy cause.” (From Kelly Confidential website).

Ovarian cancer is a tricky one for us ladies.  The symptoms are mild and often mask as other non-cancer related issues.  There is no effective screening test.  And while science and early detection are improving the survival rate, this form of cancer is still a real and dangerous threat: “…ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women.  The National Cancer Institute estimates 21,850 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States in 2010 and about 13,580 women will die from the disease.”

I am a featured publisher on FoodBuzz, and for every Tea-Party recipe created by a featured publisher, FoodBuzz will donate $50 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund! Thank you, FoodBuzz! This recipe/post will also be eligible for FoodBuzz Top 9 Tea Party Takeover on Friday, March 25th, where 9 of the most delicious posts will be feature on the site.

Please go to Kelly Confidential, and take one minute to select your dresses and tea set for an online tea party! Every time you do so, Electolux will donate $1 to the cause.  This is a great thing to do with a little lady in your life!

Lavender Tea with Lemon Macarons

I’ve had a blast playing with recipes for this event, and when my fifth batch of French Macarons came together last night, I knew I wanted this to be my submission.  Laced with subtle lavender and tart lemon, these are the perfect little delicate treats to balance on dainty fingers and follow with a cup of tea. And they’re naturally gluten-free and dairy free (depending on the filling), so they’re a treat for those of us with food intolerance.

Now macarons are tricky.  This was my fifth and most successful try.  Check out my blog posts on A Cup of Macaron and French Macarons Take One for tips on what did not work and what improved dramatically.  What I’ll stress here is to let your egg-whites sit for at least 24 hours, covered with a paper towel, at room temperature.  This will help some of the water evaporate and the protein build.  Also, when whipping egg whites, start on low and increase the speed, and do not overwhip.  You want stiff peaks but a glossy batter.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dried lavender
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 drops yellow food coloring gel
  • Filling: I used a pre-made lemon curd from Ina Garten, but I suggest using her recipe if you have the extra time.  It’s spot on.  And I love her.

Directions

  • Pulse the almond flour and powdered sugar until blended, then sift twice to make sure all larger pieces of almond are separated out and the flour is blended well.
  • Add the lemon zest and lavender to the flour and set aside.
  • Pulse the white sugar in processor until very fine.
  • In the large bowl of a standing mixer or by hand, start whipping egg whites until foamy.
  • Add a pinch of cream of tartar, and whip until soft peaks form.
  • Reduce speed to low, and add the fine white sugar one tablespoon at a time.  When fully incorporated, increase speed to medium and then to high, and whip until stiff-peaked.  Timing varies on this, and this is where practice makes perfect.  Add your food coloring gel when almost completely done whipping.
  • Sift 1/3 of the flour into the egg and fold in completely.  Repeat until all the flour is incorporated.  You want to fold in until the batter is smooth, but still light.
  • Spoon into pastry bag fitted with a large tip (I use between 1/2 and 1 inch, depending on what I grab first).
  • Pipe 1 inch rounds onto parchment lined baking sheets, pulling the tip to the side so as to not leave a peak mark.  I use very thick sheets for this recipe.  Double up if needed.
  • Tap the pan somewhat assertively on the counter to remove any trapped air and help batter to settle.
  • Let sit for 1/2 – 2 hours, until a shell forms on the top and your finger pressed lightly doesn’t leave a mark.
  • Now, bakers are completely split on the right temperature for baking macarons.  Some bake slowly and cooly at 270-350 degrees.  I tried to keep my temperamental oven at around 300 for these, holding the door slightly ajar with a spoon.  This way I can keep them in longer to assure that the insides are cooked without browning them on top, which happened with a batch that was drier / baked higher.
  • Bake in fully preheated oven for 5 minutes, turn the pan, and bake for around 8 minutes more, or until the “feet” of the macaron are a bit sturdier than soft.
  • Cool on sheets for two minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.
  • Fill with prepared lemon curd and refrigerate to harden.
  • Serve at room temperature with tea.  Preferably wearing a skirt.  Or at least barefoot.

Please click here to be directed to Kelly's Tea Party for a Cause

Pink Swan Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcakes with Pink Swan Icing

My roommate is a big movie buff, so she throws a (small) Oscar bash every year, and stylishly serves up food to go along with each nominated Best Picture.  To throw my contributions in, I made Irish Cream Filled Carob Cupcakes (for the Fighter, set in Massachusetts, which is all I could come up with) and these light and fluffy coconut cupcakes that I frosted pink and sprinkled with dried coconut, to elegantly mock the hot pink mess of a birthday cake that almost dies an early death in Black Swan.

Yes, the Oscars were two weekends ago already.  But I’ve been busy.  And I just finished watching the Fashion Police Oscar episode, which put me back in the mood to post these.  And I shamefully admit that, thanks to my roommate, I now watch that show when it’s left it on the DVR for me.  It’s probably the worst of the shows that I’ve picked up (infrequently) from living with her.  But they DID pick Natalie Portman as the “Best Dressed” of the night, so I can justify the “love” part of “love-hating” the show.

Oh, for the antithesis of my love for Natalie Portman in this film / in her Oscar dress and this pink, girly cupcakes, check out Black Swan Pie at Bittersweet Blog.

Now, these are completely gluten-free.  And I also made them completely dairy-free because I had some Earth Balance sticks in the fridge and was making a coconut cream frosting, so figured why add dairy in the mix if I didn’t need to?

I love gluten-free baking because it is relatively easy to play with ingredients and get a tasty result – the absence of gluten makes doughs tougher.  Which, yes, is what you DON’T want as an end result in certain recipes but which does give you more structure when experimenting.  The only reason I didn’t go completely vegan is because of how important eggs are when baking gluten-free: you’re already using a large amount of starch in the flour blend, so replacing eggs with potato starch and water (essentially that is what egg-replacer is) results in a grainy pastry that crumbles easily.  Rather simply to remedy when making a treat with, let’s say, almond butter or some sort of fat to help, but not so easy with cupcakes.

You could, of course, substitute regular flour in this recipe for the gluten-free mix, sugar for the xylitol and milk and butter for the non-dairy components.

Oh, and I based this recipe off one from Garret of Vanilla Garlic.  I must say, the specific technique produced a fluffy and delightfully almost chewy cupcake.  Paired with a rich coconut frosting that I played with until it was right, these were a hit.

Ingredients: Cakes

  • 12 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread at room temperature
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used the high-protein mix)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup xantham gum, sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  • Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the coconut milk and vanilla in another
  • In a third, large bowl, cream the Earth Balance until fluffy, then add the sugar and xylitol and beat until smooth and fluffy
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions
  • Start with dry and end with dry.  That is, add 1/3 cup of the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.  Then add 1/2 of the coconut milk and repeat until all ingredients are blended
  • Fill into 18 cupcake tins
  • Bake for 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Cool completely before glazing

Ingredients: Coconut Glaze

  • 1 can of creme of coconut (different than coconut cream)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch

Directions

Now, I learned through this recipe that there is, indeed, a difference between coconut cream and cream of coconut.  I was thinking that I had bought coconut cream, which is essentially a thicker coconut milk, with a higher fat content.  When in fact I had bought cream of coconut, which is a gel-like liquid that’s been sweetened with sugar.  Not having time to go out and correct my mistake before guests came over, and recognizing that this was simply another dusty opportunity, I blended the ingredients together to produce a delightfully thick glaze.  Now, this is not a frosting I, as a person who has hypoglycemia, will eat because it is all sugar (as frostings tend to be).  But since the cakes were not particularly sweet, this was a perfect companion.  And the coconut flavor came out that much more so in the glaze and therefore brought it out in the cakes.  Success!

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes (Perfect Roasted Potatoes)

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes

Disclaimer:  I do not, actually, have a crush on my boyfriend’s friend, who we’ll call Ralph Macchio.  The real Ralph Macchio is on my mind because I want him to win the crap out of Dancing With the Stars next season – though I’ve never seen an episode.  But really.  The Karate Kid?! My Cousin Vinny?  Heck, he was even adorable on Ugly Betty!  Let’s go Macchio!

Anyway, the pseudo Ralph Macchio has excellent taste in colorful shirts.  And despite my incredible desire to be lazy on Sunday we enjoyed 90 minutes of YogaX together, where I melted into several Warrior series and cursed the phrase “Yoga Belly” before we went out in the rain for sake and sushi. Ralph can cook, and (possibly to appease my desire to have a partner in the kitchen) my boyfriend put us together a few weeks ago when he was visiting to make brunch for some friends.  And in single moment of delicious, crisp, buttery potato perfection, Ralph reminded me of the state of bliss potatoes reach when you’ve taken the time to par-boil them properly before roasting.

So I made them tonight to go along with Phat Tuesday dinner after a long day.  And my little sis wanted the recipe.  And so I reminded her that I have a blog for that purpose.  Then she remarked that my holiday header is gone… showing that she hasn’t actually been on this site since Christmas.

Family is awesome! Truly.  It was a delightful night of food and conversation, and sinfully crispy potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Yukon Gold or white potatoes per person
  • scarily delicious olive oil
  • freshly cracked sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • your combination of any of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, white pepper, dried lemon etc.

Directions

  • Peel and cut your potatoes into wedges about 1 – 1 1/2 inches big.  While doing so, place a large pot of water on to boil with a good amount of salt (I used about a tablespoon) and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • When the water is at a good boil, drop potatoes in and cook about 5 minutes, until a fork just pierces into them but they’re still very firm.  Immediately strain and allow all water to fall off.
  • Coat a medium baking dish (I used a classic Pyrex glass dish) with about 3 Tbsp Olive Oil (one that rocks your world) and toss potatoes in to coat.
  • Add freshly cracked salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.  If you’re not sure what to try, I recommend grabbing a premixed spice blend – they’re easily available now and usually mixed pretty classic-ly.
  • Roast in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Turn heat up to a broil and broil for 5-8 minutes until golden.

Eat the crap out of them.

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

It was a long weekend, full of way too much fun with good people and delicious food.  And at the end of an exhausting Sunday, where I had gotten drenched by the NYC rain too many times, sort-of enjoyed THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU and muscled my way through YogaX (the yoga version of P90X a visiting friend shames us by doing daily),  I wanted to “eat the crap out of some sushi”.

Enter Kamui Den.  The best thing about eating sushi there is that the sushi is not the best thing on the menu.  It is delicious – buttery soft with lots of ginger and mild wasabi on the site – but it’s the appetizers that win.  Lotus Root salad, picked vegetables, tempura so light you can see the texture of the vegetables before you bite into them.  And a simple cold asparagus salad that my boyfriend boldly proclaimed to be the best asparagus he’s ever had.

Thank god it’s a simple dish.  The boyfriend can’t cook to save his life (sadly I think that’s a completely true statement) but the visiting friend (Tim) is an extremely able man in the kitchen.  We agreed that the most likely way to replicate the dish is to flash boil the asparagus and then douse it in a cold water bath before drizzling on the simple sauce of lemon, oil, salt and pepper.  Tim also pointed out to salt the crap out of the water – literally, so that it tasted like the Arctic.  I knew it would help bring out the color of the asparagus, but didn’t know how much salt it takes to season vegetables in the boiling state.

This morning I hit the train to Connecticut and stopped by my brother’s place, where he left me some Brussels sprouts and asparagus in exchange for checking in on his cat (it’s sort of endearing that he knows leaving me his unused vegetables does really make it that much easier to get a favor out of me).  While my laziness enticed me to stick to my millet/lentil/get-my-tush-in-the-office plan, the desire to learn how to make this for someone I care about won over.

And it’s really simple.  Really.  As in, he can make it.

Maybe.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • salt (table salt for boiling and I used rock sea salt for flavoring)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice (fresh preferred)

Directions

Plain old asparagus, sorta green and full of potential

Trim the ends off of each spear and then cut in half, so that your pieces are about 3″ long.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with a lot of salt… I estimate that I used about 2 tablespoons.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice-water bath and make sure you have a colander ready.  When at a roiling boil, drop in asparagus and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, until the thickest spear is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork but the pieces still have a lot of firmness to them.

The vibrant green after boiling

Quickly drain and toss in the ice-water bath, swirling the asparagus to make sure they’re all submerged.

While the asparagus chills, whisk together 2 Tbsp very good virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the cold asparagus in and then drain as much of the oil off as possible.  Use excess oil for drizzling

Enjoy!

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

 

Tapioca and Buckwheat Gluten-and-Dairy Free Crepe Batter

 

Savory Breakfast Crepes

Yesterday I woke and immediately started daydreaming about Sunday breakfast.   With all the writing and social networking that goes with my job(s), sometimes I just get cranky for time IN the actual kitchen.

Crepes.  I don’t know why, but I started daydreaming about crepes.  Filled with eggs and goat cheese and something bright colored to remind me what spring looked like.  Luckily I was only a few blocks from Whole Foods, where a bunch of gorgeous little tomatoes from Mexico found their way into my basket, along with some fresh cilantro and small Mexican champagne mangoes.  The sun was out, the air was warm, I walked home with my jacket unbuttoned and my raggedy hair blowing in the wind.  New Yorkers had a bit more of a spring to their step, and I didn’t realize at the time how this quick break from the cold would make smiles turn up a bit more on most of the lovely people I’d encounter in my day.

Anyway, back in the kitchen.  I had decided on using a little buckwheat – which is common in some crepe recipes but used sparingly as it can be a bit bitter – and tapioca flour to pull along with the eggs and soymilk I was using for the crepe batter.  A tiny bit of butter and salt, and that’s it!  I utilized the whipping strength of a blender and the ease of a non-stick skillet to aid in making sure that the eggs would be beaten light and fluffy and the crepes easy to flip.  When the first one actually WORKED I called my boyfriend to the stove, giddy like a school-child out the first day of holiday.  We delighted in a few seconds of cheery contentment, flipping gluten-and-dairy-free crepes onto a waiting pan while eggs slow-cooked nearby.

This recipe is quite simple, and quick, and with a little practice I soon had a stack of warm crepes that I filled with sauteed eggs and served with a guacamole-type mix and the freshly sliced champagne mangoes.

It was a good, good, good day.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup soy or unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp melted butter or olive oil

Directions

Whip eggs and milk of choice in blender until creamy and a bit fluffy (if you don’t have a blender you can use a standing or hand mixer, or just whip the heck out of them with a whisk).  Add the flours 1/3 a cup at a time, whipping thoroughly with each addition.  Add the melted butter or oil and salt and whip quickly to incorporate.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Hold skillet away from heat and let cool for 5 seconds, then pour enough batter in the center of the skillet, swirling quickly to cover the entire surface, until the bottom of the skillet is just covered with batter.  Return to heat and cook for 15-20 seconds or until the sides of the crepe start to curl.  Flip gently and cook on the other side another 20 seconds.  Remove to plate.  Repeat until you get a pretty stack of crepes!

Before I started cooking the crepes I had a second skillet going on low heat with melted butter, slowly stirred eggs, fresh cilantro, soft goat cheese and the skins of these tomatoes:

I then reserved the insides of them and mashed them with avocado, more cilantro, a squirt of fresh lemon juice (in the absence of lime) and some sea salt and pepper.  And then adorned the dish with the fresh champagne mangoes.  They’re a little tarter, firmer and less fibrous than regular mangoes.

While the tomatoes weren’t quite what I wanted (beautiful in color but still lacking that perfect summer tomato sweetness), it was a gorgeous dish, paired with orange juice and locally roasted coffee.  The perfect start to one of the best Sundays I’ve had in a long while.

 

Creamy egg-filled crepes with champagne mangoes, avocado and Mexican tomatoes

Coriander Cinnamon Carob Candy

Coriander Cinnamon Carob Candy

Rustic.

That’s a word I’ve been throwing around my kitchen lately.  My ambitions with allergy-alternative baking are to make gorgeous treats just as delectable for those without sensitivities as those with, that are as appealing to the eyes as they are to the tastebuds.

But sometimes things just look…rustic.  They taste delicious but look a bit like the ugly duckling pre-swan-age.

This recipe is one such recipe.  I’m playing with molding carob powder with spices and fat into a hard candy that is satisfying and palatable for even the most sensitive stomachs.  Once again, this combination tastes delicious – with citrusy tangs of coriander and a cinnamon spice – but it took a while to get them to release easily from the molds.  Like the little engine, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… but for now I’ll enjoy my “rustic” treats.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter) or unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground decaffinated coffee
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup coconut creme
  • 1 cup carob powder

Directions

  • Lightly grease mini-cupcake tins and dust heavily with cinnamon
  • Place a small pot on low heat and melt ghee or butter
  • Add 2 Tbsp cinnamon, coffee and coriander, and whisk to combine
  • Let sit on low heat for about 5 minutes to infuse
  • Slowly whisk in coconut creme, doing so until thoroughly combined and the mixture is a light brown with all the butter absorbed
  • Add carob, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking thoroughly with each addition.  By the second addition, the ghee may separate from the creme and start to lump with the carob: don’t sweat this.  It should absorb back into the final mixture, which should be rather lumpy.  The mixture should not be smooth like chocolate, but almost look like a big pile of used coffee grounds.
  • Use a scant tablespoon to fill each mold, and pat the tops down flat.
  • Heavily dust with two coats of cinnamon.
  • Refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour, then let sit for about five minutes to soften a tad.  Use a very thin knife to work around the mold and slowly ease candies from pan.  Dust with cinnamon.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Sugar-Free Coffee Carob Candies

Coffee Carob Candies

For a few years at the height of my illness, I wasn’t able to eat most things that one would consider an indulgence – chocolate, sugar, alcohol.  While my stomach is stronger and I can moderate some of these things back into my diet, I have a dear friend who still is very limited in what her body can digest.

She hit a pretty big birthday recently, and when I visit her to celebrate I want to present her with something special, indulgent and… digestible.

Carob is a delightful alternative to chocolate – it contains no caffeine, as much vitamin B1 as is in strawberries, and is full of protein, fiber and trace minerals.  It’s gentle on the stomach and naturally sweet, so you don’t need to sweeten it as you do raw cocoa.

So I made a mental list of things my dearie can have and played with proportions.  The result?  A fudgey, chocolate-y treat with a huge blast of coffee and a spicy finish.  An easy, quick way to indulge in a sugar-free treat!

Ingredients:

  • I cup carob powder
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp ground decaf coffee
  • 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk plus more if necessary

Directions:

  • Lightly grease mini-cupcake tins or candy tins.
  • In a small pot, melt the ghee, then add coconut milk, whisking continually until warm.
  • Add coffee and cinnamon and whisk to absorb.
  • Slowly add carob, whisking continually, until all the carob powder is smooth.  It won’t have the same consistency as chocolate, being a little thicker, but should be soft and malleable.   If desired, blend with an immersion or standing blender.
  • Press into individual molds and refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour.
  • Loosen candies from pan with a thin knife.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Makes about 16 candies.

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 Lemon Crisp Pancake

Baked Blackberry and Lemon Crisp Pancake

Last week I posted a recipe on Baked Blackberry and Lemon Pancakes along with a little story about the adorable girls who inspired it.  I thought the pancakes were scrumptious – and considering I ate the entire batch myself over three days, I hope you can trust me on that.

But I wanted a richer lemon taste and an even easier process.  So today, at my father’s house in CT where I don’t quite have my baking arsenal on me, I took on this quest.  And I think I conquered.

The challenge: no alternative sugars, so in this case I did use white sugar – it’s all I had – but there’s still only a trivial amount.  Also, my dad doesn’t have a saucepan that can go from stove to oven, so I opted for a Pyrex baking dish.

I increased the amount of lemon dramatically and added the zest of the lemon itself.  18 minutes in a 400 degree oven and it was good to go – and a triumph!

From the first bite to the last, you get an undercurrent of tangy lemon and the sweetness of blackberries amidst a cornmeal-like pancake.  The drizzled lemon and sugar gives the top a sweet and crunchy crust.  A tiny drizzle of pure maple syrup and you’re good to go with a treat perfect for a Sunday family breakfast or a brunch with your lucky sweetheart.

Prepare:

  • Rinse and dry 1 1/5 cups of blackberries.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
  • Spray an 8 X 11.5 inch baking pan (I used Pyrex) with non-stick pray or melted butter

In a large bowl mix together:

  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pancake mix
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp sugar of choice

Whisk together in a small bowl:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (I used the juice of the zested lemon and then filled to complete)
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk – I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Mix in a very small bowl:

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp choice of sugar

Incorporate and bake:

  • Slowly pour the egg/milk mixture into the dry and stir with a spatula to incorporate.
  • Fold in blackberries.
  • Spread batter into pan evenly with spatula, making sure blackberries are dispersed evenly.
  • Bake for 5 minutes.  Then drizzle the lemon/sugar mixture on the top of the pancake and use a knife to swirl into the batter.
  • Bake for another 13 minutes or until the top of the pancake is slightly browned.

This recipe makes enough for 4 people as a main plate or 6 as an partner for eggs or omelets.

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