Cake for a birthday!

IMG_0676

Birthdays call for cake and candles!! Besides, I haven’t made a layer cake in forever.

IMG_0669

IMG_0690

I’ve also discovered that you can make frosting out of sweet potatoes and dark chocolate – day MADE! It’s literally incredible. You’d never know there were sweet potatoes in there unless I told you – it has the same texture and satisfaction factor as its sugar-laden cousins! Win win win.

IMG_0680

As any of you know who interact with me regularly, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate make up their own food groups in my personal food pyramid, so this is a dream come true. Besides that, I’ve fallen out of love with buttercream – it’s just SO sweet. No can do.

IMG_0687

But birthdays mean cake, and I happened to be baking this one for a nearest and dearest who (like me) thinks sugar is pretty much the devil… sooooo…. a healthified cake! Whole grains, healthier fats, greek yogurt (another food group), extra dark chocolate, and sweet potatoes.

IMG_0665

It’s basically a health food. Oh, and there’s coffee. So it’s not just a health food, but a balanced breakfast ;)

IMG_0692

In fact, we may or may not have eaten it as part of a balanced breakfast… eggs + kale + corn + chocolate cake with coffee: pretty much the most perfect breakfast I’ve ever eaten.

IMG_0675

Aaannndddd if you serve it with ice cream, you’ve got a calcium serving… hahah I kid, this isn’t health food, but it IS delicious cake that isn’t full of garbage!

IMG_0679

Let’s see, what else is new. OH! It’s not 100+ anymore so I was able to enjoy the baking of this at a normal hour (6 am is a normal hour for baking, right?! … Don’t look at me like that) – and not feel like I’ve been slapped in the face by the heat every time I go out. This is much better!

IMG_0672

IMG_0693

More progress on the SF series:

IMG_0662

And more cake. Because birthdays and loved ones need cake!

IMG_0677

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Mocha Frosting, Toffee, Raspberries and Coconut Coffee Drizzle

Birthday cake! For those in your life who love the chocolate – coffee – toffee – caramel situation. Chocolate-y, coffee-y but not too sweet – a healthier indulgence! The cake itself is refined sugar free and whole grain, and the frosting is dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free, and made of sweet potatoes! But you’d never know ;) Yield: one 6″ cake, 2 layers (double the entire recipe to fit two 9″ cake pans); sorry for some of the awkward measurements. Cake adapted from Epicurious, here; the frosting was inspired by the many versions of sweet potato frosting floating around the interwebs.

For the cake:

  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c whole grain spelt flour
  • 1/4 c + 1/8 c cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 c dark maple syrup (grade B is good)
  • 1/2 c full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Lightly grease two 6″ cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, sift together whole wheat and spelt flour, cacao powder, baking soda and powder and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together maple, greek yogurt, egg, avo oil, and vanilla until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into dry, and use a whisk to beat until the batter is fully combined, smooth and thick, about 1 minute (your dominant bicep will thank you). Distribute batter evenly into both cake pans, and bake for 23-25 minutes (30-35 for 9″) – the tops should spring back when lightly touched and a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 7-10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks (remove parchment paper) and cool completely before frosting.

IMG_0663

For the frosting:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 10 oz extra dark chocolate (I like 70% and above but you do you; chips are fine)
  • 1.5-2 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Bake the sweet potato (either in the oven for 45 – 1 hour @425 or in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes), slice open and let cool for about ten minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin (save for a snack later!!), drop the beautiful orange insides into the food processor, and pulse until smooth. Add in chopped dark chocolate and pulse until combined and smooth – the heat from the sweet potato should melt the chocolate (if it doesn’t, you can take the whole big mess out of the food processor, put it in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 15 seconds; then stick it back in the processor). Process until smooth, then add ground coffee, vanilla, and sea salt and pulse a few times to combine.

Store at room temp for an hour or so if you’re not using immediately, but refrigerate after that – microwave it for 10-20 seconds to get it back to spreadable consistency, as it’ll solidify in the fridge.

For the drizzle:

  • ~1/3 c full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool completely and store in an airtight jar in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble:

  • toffee shards
  • raspberries
  • unsweetened shredded coconut

I opted for a naked cake look this time – there is frosting between the layers, on top and just a bit on the sides, but you do you! The frosting recipe should make enough to cover a full 6″ cake. Decorate with toffee and raspberries to you heart’s content! The coconut coffee drizzle is separate – pour over each slice after serving.

Keeps well covered on the counter overnight; excellent for breakfast the next morning. It’s really whole wheat and sweet potatoes and coffee so that’s all part of a balanced breakfast…

If storing longer than overnight, I’d probably stick it in the fridge, but I like cold cake. The counter is probably fine too, provided it gets eaten within a couple of days!

IMG_0678

I think you need some cashew blondie barz in your life

IMG_2394

Barz. I’m all about the barz lately… they’re like cookies only faster and more bing bang boom. Which is great when I’m out of the house for 12 hours and get home and a) am starving and have to wrangle dinner and b) need something sweet besides chocolate.

And actually.

IMG_2395

I think these might be some of my best barz ever. They taste like graham crackers, kind of!!! And I do have a nostalgic fondness for graham crackers, which is undoubtedly why I find these so spectacular. Except that when I go to eat actual graham crackers, they are NOT as good as they used to be (cardboard, anyone?). Ugh. Processed food is gnarly… which means I don’t really eat graham crackers anymore (sad!) BUT WAIT! I can eat these bars instead and not only are they better tasting with WAY better ingredients, they are also fatter and chunkier than graham crackers and require a fork so I get more bang for my buck. Win win win.

IMG_2398

Not only do these barz have that great graham cracker taste, but they develop an excellent crust and this great dense, cakey texture. Too many superlatives. Just make these and eat them, promise you won’t be sorry.

IMG_2396

Also, Mother’s Day!! Happy happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful, strong mama. I love you to the moon and back!!

IMG_2401

Cashew Blondies

I call these cashew blondies, but really they are much more graham-crackery than they are cashewy. Definitely in a widlly good way. These can be gluten free if you want to sub out the whole wheat flour — I do tolerate wheat and I have enough restrictions right now, so I went the whole wheat route. They are, however, vegan and dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free, and full of healthy fats. Recipe yields 9-12 bars, depending on how largeish you cut them (I recommend large, these are too good to share), in an 8 by 8 pan. A Wait are those Cookies original!

IMG_2397

  • 1.5 c cashew meal*
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c cashew butter (creamy, unsalted)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed  + 6 tbsp water; let sit till gelled, about 5 mintues)
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 runneth-over tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 c avocado oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

*I make my own in a food processor. This one was roughly 1 c dry roasted, lightly salted cashews + 1/4 c raw cashews; check the saltiness of your particular batch and adjust recipe salt accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with avocado oil.

This is as easy as it gets. Make flax eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together cashew meal, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Toss in cashew butter, flax eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, avo oil and applesauce, and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter (it will be thick) into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top is firm (unless you really really like goopy cookie dough consistency, in which case take it out at 30. I did… bu then reheated the oven and stuck it back in for 10. Too goopytastic for my taste that night). Let cool completely in the pan, and store covered with foil in the fridge.

IMG_2399

Peat bogs and holey cakes

Ohhhh I know…

IMG_6911

It’s a CAKE!

IMG_6897

[There’s a hole in this cake…]

IMG_6900

IMG_6906

But… I fixed it!

IMG_6912

There is now a hole in this cake and alcohol as well. Because… why not?? Also because… Happy Belated, Vacuum Vati! He has this penchant for drinking scotch out of these special glasses (and I can tell what he’s had because it’s either scotch or graham crackers with milk. That’s random, you say…. but actually there is a method to his madness. The wide mouthed glasses let the scotch breathe properly and also are the appropriate width for graham cracker dippage). Actually it’s really fun to just tell him I know exactly what he’s been drinking and have him be slightly baffled as to how I know. Muahhaha. Exemplary powers of observation, that’s what that is. And mildly hilarious to watch him drink scotch and carefully put a coaster over the top of the aforementioned wide mouth glass to discourage escaping peat-boggishness. Because my mom rightfully dislikes the peat bog smell that emanates from certain bottles of superior scotch. He has a special peat-bog-discouraging coaster. It’s hilarious and I love it.

IMG_6904

And actually I essayed a teeny sip of scotch today and it was DISGUSTING. I coughed for days. It burns all the way down. BUT. Then you put it in chocolate cake. With coconut sugar. And chocolate. And five spice. And CARAMEL and ohmygod is it actually delicious. I mean really, how is cake NOT delicious. But this one is especially good.

IMG_6899

Many happy returns, Vacuum Vati! So pleased you like your peat-bog-chocoalte-caramel decadence. Because everyone deserves a little indulgence on their birthday!

Also ps: I was in Texas visiting fam for the last several weeks and I will put up some pictures eventually probably if they’ll ever load. So cake first, vacay second. I’m sure you’re just sitting on the edge of your chair waiting with bated breath…

IMG_6905

Chocolate Scotch Cake with Whiskey Caramel Glaze

Recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil, here! Recipe yields a normal sized bundt cake. Refined sugar free (though it IS sweet, as per VV’s request), whole wheat, and healthy fats from the avocado oil. So it’s good for you! Uh. No. But indulge accordingly, because that’s what birthdays are for! Don’t worry–it’s not overly scotch-y, either. I like it quite a bit and I don’t even like scotch. It’s like chocolate cake that is deeper and richer than your average fair.

IMG_6894

Let’s get our cake on:

  • 1.5 c coconut sugar
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 1 c lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c avocado oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 1/4 (or closer to 1/3… I went heavy handed) c good quality Scotch whiskey [preferably one that smells less like a peat bog]
  • 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips

For the caramel:

  • 1 c coconut sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp Scotch whiskey

IMG_6910

Get yo’ cake on:

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease the living daylights out of a bundt pan. Standard bundt size is fine {I use coconut oil for greasing}. Combine 1 tbsp flour+1 tbsp cocoa powder, and flour the inside of the pan, tapping out all the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, sifted cocoa, baking powder+soda, salt, and five spice until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, avocado oil, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and use an electric mixer to beat until just combined. Add water and scotch, and continue mixing until just barely incorporated (don’t over mix, puhhleeez). Stir in the chocolate chips, and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the fat part of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack in the pan until cool enough to handle, then flip out and cool completely (the cake, not you. I know the cake is fabby but don’t flip out. You can eat it… soon!!).

While the cake is baking, make the caramel! In a high-sided sauce pan over medium-high heat, add sugar and cream of tartar. Pour water around the edges and bring to a boil, then cover and let sit for 2 minutes (the steam melts the sugar evenly). Uncover, and boil for a few minutes more, until frothy. It should NOT smell burnt, just delicious. Remove from heat, whisk in cream and butter until the lumps are gone (carefully, it can splatter). Return to heat and whisk a few minutes more until smooth. Remove from heat again, and cool in a heat proof container until ready to use, preferably an hour or two to let it thicken.

Pour about half the glaze over the cooled cake once you’re ready to serve! Then slice away and drizzle mooooore caramel over the individual slices because why not?? Because caramel, that’s why. Eat immediately. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for longer cake preservation… if you’re crazy enough to have leftovers.

IMG_6902

Polarizing little green nuggets

IMG_6190

BRUSSELS!

Yeah, I know. This is exactly what you want to see on a Sunday afternoon. But too bad.

These might be one of the most polarizing foods ever. Love them? Hate them? You probably fall into one of these camps—I doubt there are many who are ambivalent towards the little green nuggets…

IMG_6192

I love them. Obviously. It’s my blog… why would I post about something I hated? Weird. Anyway.. I digress. I *used* to hate brussel sprouts… probably because the first time I ate them I believe they were boiled, and I STILL think that’s a nasty way of preparing them. Ewww. Soggy brussels. Ain’t nobody go time for that.

So I don’t do that. I roast them! And then toss them in things that make them even more delicious. I’m not really sure when I discovered I liked them though, which is odd. I have a wildly specific food memory (like, maybe too specific. Surely that brain space could be used for something slightly more productive than remembering exactly what I ate at any given time/place/vacation/noteworthy event?! Whatever. At least the grey matter is occupied and amusing itself, right?). So anyway. My Saturday morning was spent roasting brussels and doing yoga (what a shocking combination if you know me, NOT), and then this morning after doing (you’ll never guess) MORE YOGA (!!) I ate more of them. And it’s raining!! Win, win, win.

IMG_6197

And also this morning I made some grain free banana bread, which is incidentally delicious but also half of it stuck to the pan so oops I had to eat a bunch of it because now it’s crumbs and hello, crumbs are designed to be eaten. Maybe I’ll make a habit of not fully greasing my pans from now on just to create crumbs, muahhaa. No not really. But kind of amusing to contemplate…

Anyway. Happy Sunday! Here are some brussels to distract you from whatever you need to be distracted from.

IMG_6187

Stoneground Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This might seem like kind of a weird combo to start off with, but stick with me, I promise they’re delicious. I used two bags of Trader Joe’s organic brussels, each about 14 oz I think. Recipe serves 3, with a bit left over. Gluten free, vegan.

  • 2 bags of brussel sprouts, halved/quartered and with yuck ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 2 tsp stoneground mustard

IMG_6185

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep brussel sprouts by trimming off the yuck end, and halving or quartering them depending on how big they are. Some of the outer leaves can be a little tough and usually come off as you trim them, which is fine. Toss sprouts with avocado oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl until all are evenly coated. Distribute the sprouts onto a rimmed cookie sheet, flipping them so that they are cut-side down. Roast for 15 minutes, then take the tray out and flip them over to the other side. They should be nicely browned and starting to caramelize! Roast them for another 13-15 minutes, then take them out to cool slightly.

While the sprouts are roasting, whisk together olive oil, maple, and mustard in a smallish bowl. Transfer the sprouts to a larger bowl, and drizzle the dressing over all of them, tossing to combine and evenly coat them. Serve hot! Yum yum yum.

These are good. Promise. Even if you hate brussel sprouts, you should at least give them a try… they’re good for you! And delicious (I know I know, to each his or her own..)

IMG_6191

Mondays are better with brownies, obviously

IMG_5849

Hiya!

Happy Monday! Because I knoooow these are going to make your Monday that. much. better.

They’re BROWNIES.

IMG_5856

Of COURSE they’ll make your otherwise slightly blah Monday better. Especially when I tell you that they are a) full of health bennies just for you and b) defs allergy friendly. And… as I said…

They’re BROWNIES!

IMG_5847

When have brownies in your inbox *not* made your Monday better? Right. I rest my case.

Have I ever shared my weird brownie proclivities on here? I’m not sure that I have so just in case you were dying to know…

IMG_5859

I’m weird. I like (no. Maybe love) brownies, but… I NEVER eat them. Nor do I ever make them. For some reason, I am never satisfied with the brownies that my kitchen produces. Why? Not crackly enough on the crust. Not chewy enough on the edges or fudgy chewy in the center. Whatever the reason, I am never quite sold on my own brownies, so they kind of get relegated to the bottom of the recipe pile. Which means that I only really eat brownies once a year… at camp.

Guys. These brownies are like CRACK. They are so ridiculously amazing, I can’t stop at one which means that I usually eat them all week long, multiple times a day (it’s a good thing the camp is at 8000 feet elevation…). I have a problem. But also. Those are, strangely enough, made from a mix!! I’m mildly ashamed to admit it (given that EVERYTHING on this blog is from scratch, and I never use mixes when I cook), but there it is. Favorite brownies come from a mix and are made in gigantic sheet pans in the temperamental Two Sentinels ovens that don’t heat evenly. But they’re fantastic. And they’re full of love, which is probably why I adore them so much.

IMG_5845

However. I broke my once-a-year brownie trend for these, mostly because they looked so tasty in the photos and they’re good for me. Ish. Obvs still a treat but whateverrrrrr, happy belated to me and vaccuum vati!

I’m not paleo. I like beans. But I also like a good cooking challenge and I have quite a few paleo friends, so here you go. Paleo brownies in yo’ inbox.

Happy Monday! Sorry I’m not sorry y’all want brownies now, heeheehee!

IMG_5840
Jackson Pollock-style brownies are WAY more fun…

Sweet Potato Brownies

Not quite cakey, not quite fudgy (which is good since a brownie somewhere between is my favorite), totally good for you and easy to whip together. High in Vitamin A/Beta Carotene, good fats, antioxidants, fiber, gluten free and refined sugar free. Recipe adapted from Eat Drink Paleo, here! Makes 9 large or 12 small squares.

  • 1 sweet potato (I used orange), grated in the larger holes on a box grater
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c pure avocado oil*
  • 1/2 c maple syrup**
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5-2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2-3 biggish squares of dark chocolate, melted (I used 75%), for topping
  • dairy or nondairy ice cream thing to make sundaes (you know you want to)

*I use avocado oil or coconut for anything above 300 or 325—-they have a higher smoke point. Mine is organic.
**I always use 100% pure organic grade B maple syrup.

IMG_5844

Preheat the oven to 365, and line a 9 by 9″ pan with parchment paper for easy removal.

Get a bicep workout by grating the sweet potato. Toss grated bits into a medium sized bowl, then add in eggs, vanilla, avo oil, and maple. Stir in baking powder and soda, then cocoa powder (try to smash out any major lumps, but it doesn’t have to be perfect). Lastly… stir in coconut flour (avoid using too much, it will make the brownies dry and gritty)—start with 1 tbsp and work from there. I ended up using the full 2 tbsp, but I think I could have reduced it to 1.5. The batter should be thickish. Spread it into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes. I took mine out at 25—a tester came out clean and the top was still a bit soft when pressed.

Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then lift the parchment out onto a cooling rack to let them cool completely.

Once cool, “frost” with melted dark chocolate and shredded coconut. It’s a really excellent idea to make these into sundaes… juuust sayin’!

Store them in the fridge in the foil covered pan if you have any left over!

IMG_5860