Two Weeks: Brownies are obviously called for.

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The advent calendar of baked goods continues! TWO MORE WEEKS. Actually, less than two weeks. Let’s get to days, shall we? 13. And that includes weekends.

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Also, the to-do list is finally getting smaller, which might account for the two types of baked things that emerged this weekend.

And eggs! Always eggs. These were especially pretty though, so… here they are.

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I exercised my math skills and made 3/4 of a brownie recipe this weekend, because a) I’m just cool like that and b) I was using my favorite skillet and I decided that a 1/2 batch doesn’t appropriately fill up the skillet and c) more brownies is ALWAYS the answer. This isn’t a new recipe, but these are probably just my favorite brownies, pretty much ever. Big claim, I know… but I think if I had to pick one brownie recipe for the rest of forever, there is a really good chance it would be these.

And they disappeared in short order (though I did have help…)

This is the recipe I love so much — I suggest just making a double batch (I list the 1/2 batch measurements here) because they’re just THAT good. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, full of healthy fats and… nearly three kinds of chocolate. WINNING.

That elusive last piece…

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And then in the midst of presentation preparations (PowerPoint for DAYS), I needed a study break so I made a small batch of chocolate chip cookies… because, cookies. I wasn’t even really craving cookies, but just to stand up and look at something that was NOT a computer or a powerpoint slide…. and then I ended up with cookies. Solid choice.

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The cookie recipe is from Living Healthy With Chocolate, here! I didn’t alter it aside from using 1/4 c date sugar instead of coconut and added ~1 tbsp maple syrup.

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They’re delicious! And they’re vegan which was important because I was feeling the need to eat a few bites of the dough…

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It’s the homestretch! Let’s see if we can’t squeeze in at least one more baked thing between now and June 3. Ready… GO.

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Sometimes caramel is the only thing that will do

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Three weeks. But who’s counting?! Not me, obviously…

Two weeks till I graduate, three weeks from today till I’m done done done! I feel like my posts of late are kind of like some version of a baked goods advent calendar until I’m done with my Master’s degree. Is that a thing?! Well whatever, I just made it a thing.

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I’m taking study breaks with baked goods! This week’s offering could  not be more different than the last post — that one was fruity and light, this one is shut-the-front-door dense, caramel-y, gooey, rich, and decadent (in the best way, of course). All while being paleo (it’s sweetened with maple so not strict paleo), vegan, free of the glutens, and full of healthy fats and real food! Because, well, because. Because real food is good for you! And it tastes better anyway, right? Right.

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Might I point out this also makes a great side dish for breakfast… alongside eggs and salad and leftover caponata. Don’t question. Just do it!

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Highly recommend to consume this in front of Monty Python and the Holy Grail with excellent company for full brain-rejuvenation effect and happy taste buds.

And that is officially all I got on the anecdote front. Brain is in maxed out mode, I think it’s time for bed. Yes, I know it’s 8:45 on a Friday night. Nope, I’m not sorry at all.

Happy Weekend!

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Vegan Salted Caramel Skillet Blondies

Vegan, paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free. Dense, fudgey, gooey, and delicious. Yield: 1 8″ cast iron skillet, which feeds however many you decide (1? 2? a dinner party? you do you). Lightly adapted from With Salt and Wit, here!

For the caramel:

  • 1/3 c almond butter
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted

For the blondies:

  • 1.5 c almond meal (or flour, also fine)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • heaping 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chippies

Preheat the oven to 350, and bust out your trusty little 8″ cast iron skillet! No need to grease it, such is the wonder of cast iron and the use of caramel under the blondie batter…

Mix the flax and water in a small bowl and let sit until gelled, about 5 minutes.

In a large liquid measuring cup (one of those pyrex ones works nicely) or other tall thing, vigorously whisk the almond butter, maple and coconut oil for the caramel until combined. You can do this in a blender if your almond butter is particularly thick — mine was runny enough to make a bicep workout feasible (and I decided I was too lazy to wash the blender later). Pour the caramel into the skillet and set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine almond meal, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add in flax egg, melted coconut oil, applesauce, maple, and vanilla. Stir until combined (shouldn’t take too long). Toss in chippies and give it one last good stir. Pour the batter into the caramel — you may have to smooth it out a little, and it will cause the caramel to creep up the sides. All good!! The caramel forms a nice crust for the gooey blondies, which turn out almost like cookie dough. Don’t worry too much about it spreading out perfectly, I promise it will be delicious.

Bake until the top is firm and the caramel is crackly on the edges. I checked mine at 20 minutes, then let it go for another 5 minutes since the blondie wasn’t as firm as I wanted. Final bake time was probably closer to 30 minutes. It helps to bang the skillet on the stove a bit to get the batter and caramel to settle. Once done to your liking, remove from oven and let sit for a few before annihilating.

Absolutely delicious with paleo gelato, or whatever floats your boat! Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Sincere apologies for the strange coloration on the photo below; I have no idea what happened and sadly grad school nonsense takes priority over having a proper photo shoot for the last remaining piece of blondie. Le sigh. Three weeks!

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Lousy weeks = Angel Food Cake (Science. Obviously)

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Sooo…. Hi! It’s been awhile.

You can thank grad school for that (and for being a royal pain in my butt). My stomach was being a real winner today too, rude. On the bright side, one of the things it seems to tolerate with a minimum of fuss is this cake! Probably because angel food is basically egg whites and air and fluff, in the best possible combination. I’ve always loved angel food — I asked for it for a birthday cake at some point when I was a kid, and I’ve always thought it was delicious.

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It’s fun to make, too! Egg whites are my favorite piece of kitchen chemistry. I love watching them go from foamy… to glossy… to peaks! I never get tired of it. And besides, even though I am the one who hardly ever uses a mixer unless I really have to, angel food gives me the chance to get out my beautiful red kitchenaide stand mixer! Wheeeeee! It looked so happy to see me. And don’t tell me inanimate objects don’t have feelings… KITCHEN APPLIANCES totally do. They feel neglected and sad when you just leave them to languish in the pantry… which is also why I love my pegboard so much. It means that my pots and pans and whatnot can hang out and watch the action from their corner (and egg me on. It’s like “use me!!! I am so great for making eggs!!! … constant ruckus from the peanut gallery).

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But actually.

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I will stop anthropomorphizing my appliances for the time being in order to get back to the cake. But admit it… if you love to cook and bake, your favorite pans and appliances become your friends. Don’t try to deny it, I know you. You know where they stick, how they heat, if they affect the consistency of whatever you’re baking… they’re like friends!

But also, in other news…

Mother Nature puts on some pretty amazing shows:

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Day 4 of the Drawing Challenge! Favorite Place… this one was easy :)

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And E and I had a fun date night at the British pub Fox and Goose, in the historic R district of Sacto. Fun fun!

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But. Back to the regularly scheduled programming…

THIS CAKE! IS AMAZING!

Yep. still obsessed with this app.
Yep. still obsessed with this app.

And is gluten free, refined sugar free, and beyond delicious. When I made this, I actually ended up with a much denser consistency than angel food usually has (I have reason to suspect my oven; firstly, it is wee. It’s like half the size of a normal oven, so consequently all of my sheet pans are quarter sized. I feel like a Barbie. But also I do believe it runs hot and heats unevenly. Further research is required; until then it’s an interesting challenge) — but I don’t care, because it is AMAZING! It’s almost… custardy. But also kind of fluffy?! If you can possibly have custard and fluff at the same time, this is it. Mine got a tad overdone on the top half, and I actually pulled it out far sooner than it was supposed to go (hence the suspicion  that my oven runs hot), since it was done and browning quickly. It didn’t rise as much as they normally do, but it has that custardy wonderfulness so E and I definitely don’t care. Add to that, it’s tummy friendly and lower in sugar than most angel food cakes, so it just wins all around.

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That all being said, I highly recommend making it on a Friday afternoon when your week has been rather wretched and you just need some cake. Not that I speak from experience or anything. Nope. Not me..

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Grain Free Maple Angel Food Cake

Made of arrowroot starch, this cake is tummy friendly for IBS, gluten-free, grain free, and paleo. It’s also refined sugar free and lower in sugar than most angel food cakes, which is a bonus in my book for sure. Recipe from Deliciously Organic, here! I didn’t change a thing, as it was perfect as is. Yield: 1 cake (standard angel food pan).

  • 12 egg whites (I used 1 carton = to 10 whites + 2 whites from whole eggs for convenience)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.25 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c maple sugar, divided
  • 1 c arrowroot starch
  • whatever toppings float your boat for serving — I made a simple raspberry compote and topped it with a little shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350, and get out your *un-greased* angel food tube pan. You might want to put a cookie sheet down below the cake pan in the oven to account for any leakage — my tube pan tends to leak just a bit out of the bottom. Adjust the rack for the cake to be in the middle of the oven.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice on medium high until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla, and continue beating on medium high until soft peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes.

With the mixer running on medium, slowly add 1/2 c of the maple sugar, a spoonful at a time. Sift the remaining maple sugar and arrowroot starch into a small bowl, and, with the mixer still running, slowly add this to the mixer bowl. Once it’s all added, whip on medium high until completely incorporated (you may need to scrape the sides of the mixer bowl, I did). Pour the batter into your tube pan, and bake for 35-45 minutes*, until the top is golden brown and the cake is puffed.

*Normal ovens are probably done at a minimum of 40 minutes. Mine was excessively brown at 35, and done, though not as puffy as it could be.

Remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert over the neck of a wine bottle to cool completely — about 1 to 1.5 hours. Cooling it upside-down helps maximize loft! Once the cake is completely cooled, run a knife around the inside of the pans to loosen the sides, and pull the cake + the removable bottom out of the pan. Run a knife along the bottom between the pan and the cake to loosen it fully, then lift off to the serving plate. Decorate at will!

Angel food cake keeps well at room temp for a day or two if it’s not too hot or humid where you are. I’m keeping mine in the fridge and it’s totally fine — cover it with an inverted bowl and it will stay good for several days in the fridge.

Enjoy your perfect bits of cake fluff!

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