Shortcakes for spring! (and for breakfast. and dessert)

April already?! Wow. That went fast. And for being April, the strawberries are looking quite delicious — and surprisingly are so! I guess they’re technically in season somewhere. I do try to eat local, but shortcakes really call for strawberries and these looked especially delicious, so I’m not complaining…

I had a request for chocolate, so of course I was going to work that in — I’ve never made chocolate shortcakes before now but I highly recommend them.

Let’s see, life things lately…

Happy 16th birthday to this little nugget! She just gets more adorable every day.

Further progress on the SF series! This one is located at 2020 California Street.

More flowers! In this case, March showers seem to have brought April flowers…

But back to this hot mess. Dessert! It doesn’t photograph especially well but I promise it’s delicious.

I prefer my shortcakes on the not-so-sweet side, so that a) I can eat them with ice cream and not send myself into a sugar coma (even if it is unrefined sugar!) and b) they really highlight the berries. As such, these shortcakes are really more biscuit-y than cake-y, but that’s only if you eat them plain! Load them up with all of the other goodies and they have a perfect sweet-not too sweet balance. Especially the caramel two ways. Don’t skip that!

Highly recommended for dessert AND for breakfast: whole grains, no refined sugar & healthy fats, what’s not to like? Excellent with eggs & salad, of course I speak from experience. Happy shortcake-ing!

Chocolate Shortcakes with Strawberries, Coconut Cream, Maple Almond Caramel and Chocolate Caramel

Whole wheat, refined sugar free, dairy free/vegan option (replace butter with coconut oil & buttermilk w/ coconut buttermilk – see note). Lightly sweet shortcakes with fresh berries and coconut cream… plus caramel two ways because, why not? Shortcakes adapted from the cakes I made previously with peach filling, here. If you choose to go the coconut cream route, make sure you refrigerate the can overnight. A Wait are those Cookies original! Yield: 6 shortcakes + extra caramel (or maybe not, depending on how liberally it gets poured… no judgement here)

For the shortcakes:

  • 1 c + 1 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces (or coconut oil for dairy free – make sure it’s chilled & solid)*
  • 3/4 c buttermilk*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

*if you’re not concerned about being dairy free/vegan, go ahead and use regular buttermilk & butter. I used 1 c (canned) coconut milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice as I was out of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cacao powder, baking powder and soda, salt, and coconut sugar. Cut in the butter using your fingertips (my preferred method) or a pastry cutter, until things start looking like coarse cornmeal and the butter is distributed evenlyish. Make a well in the center (look! You get to play with your food!), pour in the buttermilk, then use a spoon or spatula to stir it all together, until just combined (do try not to over mix). Stir in chocolate chips. Divide the dough into six little balls, flatten slightly and place on the baking sheet. Bake for just about 13-15 minutes, until the tops are firm and lightly browned. Let cool slightly on a rack before serving.

While the cakes are baking, make the caramel sauce:

For the caramel sauce (two ways!)

  • 1/3 c coconut oil
  • 1/2 c unsalted, creamy almond butter
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla extract
  • scant 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over medium, heat coconut oil, almond butter, maple, and sea salt over medium until all are melted and incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, which is excellent for instant gratification. Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Pour half the warm caramel into a heat-safe jar, and stir the chocolate chips into the remaining half still in the saucepan. They should melt as you stir, but you can turn the heat back on if necessary to melt them completely. Store the chocolate caramel in a separate jar. Serve warm or cold.

For assembly! The best part.

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • copious amounts of strawberries

Open the refrigerated can of coconut milk, and scrape out the solid cream into a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until smooth, then beat in vanilla.

Serve shortcakes sliced in half (to maximize cake square footage), topped with coconut cream, strawberries, caramel drizzle, and extra ice cream. Because, ice cream! Obviously. Also makes excellent breakfast, sans ice cream (or not, you do you!) Store any leftover shortcakes covered on the counter overnight or in the fridge.

This tart is made of grapefruit. Therefore, BREAKFAST!

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It’s December! I doubt you need reminding, but there it is. Despite the slight annoyances of increased traffic, impacted post offices and whatnot, I do love this time of year, especially all the lighted buildings in the city and the excuse to have a giant tree in my living room.

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AND the baking. Because holidays = baking & eggnog, a well known fact. I haven’t gotten to the eggnog (give it time) but at least I’ve got the baking on lock.

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I’m on a citrus run over here (scurvy? pshhhh no) — I’ve had requests and I’ve been loving fresh citrus taste. This makes two in a row, and there’s at least one more coming, probably lemon next time — can’t stop won’t stop!

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I debated calling these bars vs a tart… but tarts are fun I can call it whatever I want! Besides, this slices into wedges which makes me want to call it a tart. Bars are square. Right?! Right. We’ll go with tart. ALSO hahahaha grapefruits are kind of tart. You see what I did there?!

…. Moving on, terrible pun notwithstanding.

This tart is spectacular (and easy!) – if you love grapefruit, these are for you. In the course of my recipe brainstorming, I discovered that caramel is a flavor affinity for grapefruit, which seemed rather counter-intuitive, but I decided I was going to try it anyway. Good thing too because the grapefruit – caramel combination of these bars is SO GOOD IT MUST BE WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS. Not shouting… just for emphasis! ha. But seriously — if you like grapefruit, get on these. They will brighten up your day and make your kitchen smell amazing! The tart has the consistency of lemon bars, with the crust adding a great textural counterpoint. And then there’s caramel… of course.

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Besides that, it’s paleo, gluten & grain free, refined sugar free and dairy free – enjoy with abandon! ‘Tis the season :)

Jessie would like to say hello:

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The latest… plus fun at the tree lot:

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Happy December!

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Side note, this tart is perfectly acceptable breakfast food. Because, grapefruit!

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Grapefruit Tart on a Coconut Cashew Crust with Coconut Caramel Sauce

A Wait are those Cookies original! Full of grapefruity flavor (if you love grapefruit, these are absolutely for you!) that is complemented by the coconut and cashew crust. Serve with vanilla ice cream of choice for maximum flavor happiness. Gluten & grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, paleo depending on your definition. Yield: 1 9″ dish; serves as many as your discretion dictates (that could be 2. Or 8!)

For the crust:

  • 1.5 c cashew flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 c unsalted cashew butter
  • 1.5 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the bars:

  • 4.5 eggs*
  • scant 2/3 c runny honey
  • zest of 1 grapefruit
  • 1/4 + 1/8 c fresh grapefruit juice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4.75 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

* to achieve half an egg: crack an egg into a small bowl and whisk it; then either measure or eyeball half and use that. or just use a whole one as long as it’s small, I doubt it would affect the consistency of the bars all that much…

For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 c coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the caramel (best made at least one day ahead):

Combine coconut milk, coconut sugar, and sea salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Leave uncovered and bring to a boil, then lower the temp and continue to let the sauce simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has reduced, thickened and will coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and stir in coconut oil and vanilla. The caramel will lighten in color and thicken slightly if you keep it overnight in the fridge (though it is still relatively runny caramel) — store in an airtight jar for up to two weeks if not using immediately.

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease a deep 9″ pie dish with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, stir together cashew flour, coconut, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in cashew butter, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla, and stir until combined and crumbly. Press the crust dough evenly into the prepared pan and up the sides, and poke with a fork a few times. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside when done.

While the crust is baking, make the filling! In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, grapefruit zest and juice, sea salt, coconut flour (sifted if lumpy) and vanilla until smooth. Pour into the parbaked crust, and bake for 30-35 minutes. The top should be mostly firm and the filling set, with just a small amount of wiggle (it’ll firm up as it cools). Let cool completely and eat immediately or chill in the fridge for later (I like it cold!) — serve with vanilla ice cream and caramel for maximum happiness. Store any leftovers in the fridge, though I challenge you to actually have any leftovers!

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Apples and Autumnal Dessert Shenanigans

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Good morning, invisible internet blog friends!

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I have apple-y, fall-y dessert for you today! And can someone explain to me how it’s almost November already? That snuck up on me… but whatever, I have baked apples (or at least I did, they’re all gone now, what a shocker) so it’s all good.

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Despite looking and sounding kind of complicated, these apples actually aren’t so bad, they just require some advance planning. But there’s no prolonged dough chilling involved, and the dumpling dough is very forgiving (all good things in my book).

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I’m keeping it short and sweet today — apples, fall, cooler weather, rain, and caramel sauce. All that’s needed on a lazy October weekend.

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In other news, I’m sitting with my legs wrapped in a blanket because it’s cool this morning and when I just went to get up, I got all tangled up and almost ate it. But I didn’t! I’m basically a mermaid…

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I don’t think desserts get more autumnal than this: apples stuffed with oats and walnuts, wrapped in pastry dough and baked in a caramel bath. Highly recommended both for dessert (with ice cream, obviously) and for breakfast, alongside eggs and something green. Happy Fall!

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Quinoa Flour Apple Dumplings with Caramel and Maple Glazed Walnuts

Gluten free, refined sugar free! Can be dairy free with a very easy swap (coconut oil for the butter in both the dough and the caramel); a delicious and quintessentially autumnal dessert. Despite looking tricky, these aren’t especially hard — they just take a little planning. Yield: 6 apple dumplings + sauce + walnuts; we found that 1/2 an apple was totally sufficient in one sitting but this could easily be 6 servings if that was all you were eating! Recipe adapted from The Kitchn, here!

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For the crust:

  • 3 c quinoa flour, toasted*
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • large pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4.5 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk

*toasting reduces the natural bitterness of quinoa — I do mine in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 3-5 minutes, until the flour is fragrant and the flour is just barely starting to go golden. Let cool before using.

For the filling:

  • 6 small baking apples (I used Gala and Jonagold)
  • cinnamon & coconut sugar to taste
  • heaping 1/8 c rolled oats
  • large pinch of fine sea salt
  • a handful of glazed walnuts (reserve the rest for topping)
  • 2 tbsp salted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Glazed walnuts:

  • 1 c raw walnut pieces
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • large pinch of fine sea salt

For the caramel sauce:

  • 6 tbsp salted butter
  • scant 2/3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1.5 tsp arrowroot starch

These have a lot of parts, but they’re not very complicated when you break it down! I made the walnuts several days ahead, which I recommend.

Heat a saute pan over medium until warm. Add maple (it should fizz when it hits the pan), walnuts, vanilla, and sea salt. Stir to combine and let cook, stirring frequently, until the maple has caramelized and the liquid is gone. The walnuts will feel soft until they cool, which is fine. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread them out to cool, breaking up any large chunks. Store in an airtight jar for several weeks (but, yeah right. Mine were gone in a day!)

To make the pastry: In a large bowl, stir together toasted quinoa flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, and sea salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, until the butter pieces resemble small peas. Add in maple, and vanilla. Add milk, 1/4 c at a time, stirring until the dough just comes together (I like using my hands for this, I find it easier than a spoon). Once most of the milk is added, the dough should form a largish shaggy ball. Turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it out to about 1/8″ thick. I found it easier to roll out two sections of dough separately, as my counters are slightly small. Cut a piece of parchment paper into a 6×6″ square, and use it to trace and cut 6 dough squares. Stack them on a plate with pieces of parchment paper in between, and let them chill in the fridge while you prep the apples for the filling.

Peel and core each apple. In a small bowl, mix together oats, cubed butter, cinnamon and a few glazed walnuts — this goodness should be chunky, which is fine since it’ll just be stuffed into the space where the apple core was.

Preheat the oven to 450, and lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish (or large cast iron skillet).

Retrieve the dough squares. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and coconut sugar on the bottom of each, put the apple in the center of the dough, stuff some of the filling in the cored space (I used a few walnuts per apple, and filled the rest with the oat/butter blend), and bring the corners of the dough up to meet over the top of the apple. Pinch the sides together to seal the seams. Repeat for all remaining apples, and if you’re an overachiever like me, make little leaves out of the excess dough for decoration.

Place the apples in the prepared baking dish or skillet, about 1″ apart. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust begins to brown. While the crust is baking, make the caramel: in a small saucepan, melt butter / add almond milk, sea salt, and vanilla over medium, until it comes to a simmer. Stir in maple and arrowroot, and let simmer for a few more minutes until thickened. Remove from heat.

Lower the heat to 350, and bake the apples for 30-40 more minutes**, until the apple is soft when poked with a fork and the dough is browned (quinoa flour is a little delicate, so if your dough cracks after baking, don’t worry! It’s still delicious). Remove from the oven once done, and pour caramel sauce over hot apples, and in and around them in the pan. Let cool for a few before eating — top with sauce and walnuts and ice cream for serving!

These keep well overnight in the fridge, and are delicious for breakfast (as well as for dessert, obiovusly, I can vouch for both). Store in the original pan, loosely covered with foil.

**I have some beef with the original apple dumpling method, which is to pour the caramel over after the initial par baking, and then continue baking for about a half an hour. That’s what I did, but I ran into some soggy dough and had to resort to some interesting pan switching techniques to continue baking them and THEN add the sauce back. SO. I would recommend the above method, which is how I would make them, when I make them again. That being said, they are delicious either way so you really can’t go wrong.

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Some desserts are actually breakfast in disguise

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It’s September, my favorite month ever! I love fall. So even though the days start getting shorter again and that’s kind of a bummer, I do love the lead up to fall…. and boots! and scarves! and apples! and pumpkin!

But… before we get there! It’s still arguably berry season, and I see no reason to end that prematurely unless I have to (which I don’t!). Which means… raspberries! Which pair oh so well with hazelnuts and dark chocolate. And then…

BREAD.

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Because, sometimes you just need some bread pudding. Besides that, I am spoiled to live near Acme Baking, which makes some of the best bread around: all the more reason to get on the bread pudding train. Furthermore, bread pudding is one of those glorious things that only gets better and better the longer it sits, which means breakfast this morning was FANTASTIC. Eggs & cholula + kale + bread pudding? Sign me up. Oh. And obviously caramel. Because bread pudding should ALWAYS have a sauce, no matter if you eat it with ice cream anyway (also recommended; talenti coconut gelato was a spot-on choice). Enter the five second blender caramel with heavy hazelnut overtones… and so full of good things it’s practically a health food. Don’t get me started ;)

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Apologies for the lack of pictures; bread pudding isn’t the most photogenic of all the desserts and also it pretty much got annihilated before I could get in there with a camera for some in situ shots of plated dessert… Sorry not sorry.

Happy September, enjoy the beautiful days of Indian summer!

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Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Bread Pudding with Hazelnut Caramel

This is neither gluten free, vegan, or paleo. Sorry not sorry! Sometimes, you just need some bread. It is, however, dairy free and refined sugar free. It is also extremely easy to throw together, using whatever you have on hand. Yield: one 9 by 9 pan. Like many things I’ve made lately, this does double duty as breakfast and is even better the next day, so the serving sizes are contingent on how hungry you happen to be… A Wait are those Cookies original!

Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf of (stale!*) bread, cubed (I used Acme Pain au Levain)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 c coconut milk (mine happened to be light; use whatever you like)
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 runneth-over shot of Fra Angelico
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • 1 c fresh raspberries (frozen is fine; thaw and drain first!)

Caramel:

  • 1/3 c roasted unsalted almond butter
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Fra Angelico
  • scant 1/4 tsp sea salt

* You can either cube it ahead of time and let it sit out, like I did, or slice and toast in the oven to stale it day of, if you’re short on time

You can make the caramel ahead of time, or while the pudding is baking (it comes together in about five seconds):

In a vitamix or a food processor, blend almond butter, maple, melted coconut oil, vanilla, Fra Anglico, and sea salt until smooth and incorporated. Adjust taste to suit your preferences!

Butter or use coconut oil to grease a 9 by 9 pan. Sprinkle coconut sugar over the inside of the pan if desired; this gives the bottom a little somethin’ extra…

Put the cubed bread into a large bowl. In a slightly smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, maple, Fra Angelica, vanilla, and sea salt. Pour this goodness over the bread cubes, using your hands to evenly distribute everything. Toss in hazelnuts, chocolate chips, and raspberries (reserve a few raspberries for topping if you’re feeling fancy). Let this sit for about a half hour so the bread can absorb the custard.

Preheat the oven to 350, and once the custard and bread have sat for a bit, bake for 30-40 minutes, until there is no visible liquid at the bottom when you separate it with a fork (you don’t want it dry though, so just look for pooling liquid). Mine was perfect at 40 minutes. Let cool completely, then refrigerate if you’re like me and like cold bread pudding! Or serve warm, it’s awesome either way. Store leftovers in the fridge and eat them for breakfast — highly recommended.

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Death by chocolate via skillet

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Hello!

This is a rather belated post / a compilation of a lot of things that have transpired out of my oven of late… I have no other excuse other than that I’ve just been lazy on the blogging front. And also it’s been HOT. So running the oven is the last thing I ever want to do when it’s a thousand degrees in the shade. Despite that, I’m sharing these brownies that require an oven because a) they’re amazing and you need them and b) I made lemon bars that got eaten so fast there was no picture to be had but they were AMAZING and if it cools down several degrees I’ll no doubt make them again soon and hopefully get in some pictures so you can see the deliciousness, in case you don’t believe the words (though you should).

Let’s see, what else has been shakin…

Occasionally I have fun with fans.

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I’ve been doing a lot of this, and it’s been glorious (btw; highly recommend this book; I couldn’t put it down).

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I got to see my favorite band ever ever ever in the beginning of June!! Caravan Palace is AMAZING.

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Summer means a glut of zucchini (at least in theory; I am [im]patiently waiting for the zucchini plant to really get going; at the moment am having to restrain myself from ripping the somewhat tiny zucchinis off the plant and eating them immediately. That being said, I did get to get out my spiralizer again after a long hiatus, and that was fun.

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But.

These brownies. Do you see that caramel sauce swirl going on down there?!

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Are pretty much death by chocolate in a skillet. In the best way. I took these brownies that are super dark, fudgy and dense and refined sugar free and dairy free and gluten free and DELICIOUS….

… and then I trashed them up with paleo caramel and coconut and more chocolate and they became a fairly evil dessert. I use evil in a complimentary way, of course.

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Topped with paleo gelato, they just about sent me over the edge (I was not eating these alone either, and I was not the only one accusing them of delicious death by chocolate). Good thing I was watching a movie on the floor so I didn’t really have to move very much after I finished them.

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But really. They’re amazing. Just pace yourself when eating, ha.

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Coconut Caramel Brownies

Gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free. Fudgy, dark brownies with a deep dark chocolate taste — these are not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer a cakier brownie. No way man; eat these if you love dark chocolate in all its forms. The coconut caramel and coconut flakes take them over the top. Serves: a lot. Yield: 1 8″ cast iron skillet or an 8″ square baking pan.

Use the recipe below for the brownies: Deep Dark Flourless Brownies 

  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 oz extra dark chocolate [mine was 77%]
  • 2 oz dark chocolate [mine was 63%]
  • 2 eggs
  • scant 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • a handful of extra dark chocolate chips

1 batch of paleo caramel (I used this one from Bakerita, here — it is DELICIOUS)

  • much easier to make this ahead of time and refrigerate until needed — I made it the day before. It will also thicken up in the fridge the longer it sits.

For toppings: flaked coconut, shredded coconut, melted chocolate if desired

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron with coconut oil or line an 8 by 8 pan with foil.

In a saucepan over med-low, melt coconut oil+extra dark chocolate+dark chocolate until smooth, stirring occasionally (you can also do this in the microwave, stirring at 30 sec intervals if you are feeling supremely lazy). In a biggish bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs, coconut sugar, and vanilla until pale and smooth, about 2 minutes. After that’s all good, beat in the coconut oil-chocolate goodness until incorporated. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, and sea salt; then slowly use the mixer to beat that into the rest of the mix. Don’t overmix, just make sure there aren’t any pockets of cocoa powder. The batter should be thick and smooth. Stir in the extra chocolate chips. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Drizzle about 1/3 to 1/2 of the cooled caramel onto the brownie batter, and use a knife to swirl it together. You’ll end up with streaks and pockets of caramel, which are delicious– don’t feel like you need to completely stir it into the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes in an 8″ skillet (it’s thicker, so test accordingly) or for just about 25 minutes in an 8 by 8 pan, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool completely before topping.

Once cool, drizzle remaining caramel sauce over the top and excessively top with all the coconut. Toast the flakes if you like, or toss them on un-toasted – I did half and half and both were delicious. Melted chocolate drizzle is also a nice touch!

Slice. Eat. Devour. Might I suggest eating them in delightful company, since good food is so much better that way?! Also because a chocolate coma is more fun when you’re in good company.

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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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Peat bogs and holey cakes

Ohhhh I know…

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It’s a CAKE!

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[There’s a hole in this cake…]

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But… I fixed it!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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

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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.

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Sometimes you just gotta go big

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You know those times.

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For when there’s a dinner party with besties+boys and you’re bringing dessert (because um obviously, why would I bring anything else?!) and really… dinner party desserts = epic. Because on a random week day cookies or a simple sheet cake are all well and good, but a layer cake? I wish. I mean, I could but a) unfortunately don’t have time for that and b) I would be a zillion pounds if I baked like this all the time.

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BUT. For a dinner party? Absolutely. Keep that in mind, all y’all who want my desserts… invite me to your next din din shenanigans! Ha. I totally break the silly rule allllll the time that says you’re not supposed to try out new recipes on guests (or I suppose hosts) but HELLO if I did that I would never make anything new, so too bad. Luckily enough not only was this not an unmitigated disaster, but it was freaking fantastic. Like maybe the best cake I’ve made and eaten in…. months. At least.

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E decided it was his favorite thing I’d ever made… mutti said it was the best cake I’d ever made… and I went home with one slice out of an entire two layer, 9″ cake. Hmm… I think I’m picking up on something here… this cake was DAMN good. I know I know, you’re not supposed to say your own food is good but I can’t help it because I want this all over again and it’s gone and what whyyyy?!

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I may have to make this again. Really really really soon. Someone have a dinner party!! Extra points if it’s themed and there’s a costume element… just mentioning…

Don’t wait till your next dinner party to make this. Do yourself a favor, and then have cake for breakfast. Because we all know that’s what you get to do when you’re an adult.

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Banana Caramel Cake with Salted Coconut Caramel and Caramel Buttercream

Besides that this is utterly DELICIOUS, it also happens to be refined sugar free! The caramel is paleo (though the cake isn’t), and the cake is made with whole wheat flour so you get a bit of good fiber and whole grains with your decadence. Cake and buttercream recipes are slightly adapted from the Kitchn, here, and the caramel comes from An Edible Mosaic, here! Makes one two layer, 9″ cake, enough buttercream to fill and top cake, and a generous amount of caramel because OF COURSE you want some left over for drizzle purposes later. I recommend making the caramel a day early, so you can just do cake+buttercream the day you’re eating all the goodness.

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Salted Coconut Caramel

Makes more than enough to drizzle over cake while frosting, plus more for drizzle purposes just prior to eating. AND has enough for leftovers later. Win win win. The yield is somewhere around 2.5 cups of caramel. You’ll use at least 1.5 generous cups for the cake+buttercream, and then at least another 1/2 cup for drizzle.

  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 c coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • scant 1 tsp fine sea salt

In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine coconut milk, maple, and coconut sugar. Let it boil, then turn it down so it’s just barely boiling, with the bubbles just breaking the surface. Whisking continuously, cook for 15-20 minutes, until the caramel has thickened slightly (though it will still be a runnier caramel, that’s fine), the liquid has reduced, and the color is darker. I cooked mine for a bit over 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, butter, and sea salt, and whisk until smooth. Let cool completely in the pan, then store in a sealed jar in the fridge [because we know I store everything in jars anyway].

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Banana Caramel Cake

  • 3/4 c grass-fed, unsalted butter, softened to room temp for an hour
  • 3/4 c coconut sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 c mashed, ripe bananas (about 4-5 bananas)
  • heaping 1 c of coconut caramel (recipe above)

Preheat the oven to 325, and grease two 9″ baking pans with coconut oil/butter.

in a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and coconut sugar (I used a hand mixer), until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until the batter becomes silky looking and slightly lighter in color.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Thoroughly mash bananas in a small bowl, then whisk them together with the almond milk and vanilla. Begin adding flour mixture and banana mix into the butter+eggs bowl, beating after each addition and alternating dry-wet-dry-wet-dry until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans. Pour a heaping 1/2 cup of caramel over each pan, and use a knife to swirl the liquid into the cake batter (it’s best if it isn’t completely incorporated, leave some caramelly pockets).

Bake for 45-50 minutes, when a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.

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Caramel Buttercream

  • 1/2 c grass fed, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c caramel sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 c powdered sugar

In a largeish bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together butter, caramel sauce, vanilla, and sea salt until mostly incorporated and smooth(don’t worry if at first it looks a little grainy, mine smoothed right out after I beat in the sugar). Pour in powdered sugar, and beat until a silky frosting forms.

Once cake is completely cool, flip the bottom layer carefully onto your cake plate of choice, frost the middle, then flip the other layer on top. Frost that, using as much buttercream as humanly possible. Be a little careful, as this frosting tends to slip a little bit (don’t make any radical maneuvers with your cake whilst transporting or anything). Top with more drizzled caramel (obvi), and some unsweetened shredded coconut+chopped pecans if that floats your boat (it very much floated mine and my dinner companions). It’s also especially awesome with good vanilla ice cream…

Store the cake in the fridge prior to serving, as well as any leftovers (ha, I dare you).

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Dowager Lady Grantham and Date Caramel

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Hmm. Monday things.

1. DOWNTON ABBEY. OMG. I’m. OBSESSED. Maggie Smith has hands down the best facial expressions. Ever. “That will be an easy caveat to accept, as I am never wrong”… the dowager Lady Grantham is now my role model for getting old. Machiavellian and meddlesome. Heaven help whoever is supposed to be “taking care” of me…

2. Working out is amazing. I was about ready to crawl out of my skin today but then Marilyn kicked my butt and I lifted lots of heavy things and now I feel much better! Time to go eat [cookies, preferably  a sensible post-workout snack].

3. I’m now Mat Pilates 1 certified! Wheeee! Watch this space for further developments.

4. I know this is a little delayed, but too bad because it’s funny anyway. This is what I looked like when I got to Disneyland:

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… annnnnnndddd 13 hours later. Winning.

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6. And yes. I bought myself a princess crown. You should be very jealous. Now I can wear it whilst cooking!!! Because… I’m a princess. Obvs.

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7. Date caramel. There are no words. It’s amazing, you’ll just have to go make it immediately. But before you go, admire the photo up at the top. That little blob? Yep. Amazing. Make it. Thank me later. Okay? Okay. Good. Bye bye, off to the kitchen you go.

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Raw, Vegan and Clean Date Caramel

Ever so slightly adapted from Food Doodles, here! I got about a cup, ish, of caramel, maybe a bit more. This stuff is amazing on pretty much anything you could dream up… like ice cream…whirled with frozen banana….on a spoon….in cookies…. whatever. I put some of mine on cookies (underwhelming cookies, so no recipe), and I’m hoarding/rationing the rest. No big deal.

The what:

  • 2 c pitted organic dates
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt

*dates+water+vanilla make the basic caramel. You can leave it like that, or add cinnamon, salt, maple, or whatever your heart desires to taste for something different.

The how:

Firstly. PIT THE DATES. Do not murder your food processor, pretty please… Mine made unhappy noises at first but I promise I got all the pits out of there. Once pitted, chuck them all into the bowl of the processor. Pulse until they form a ball. Add in the water and vanilla, and blend until smooth. This took me about five minutes, and I still have a few very small pieces of date left. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add in whatever spices you want, and pulse again to incorporate. I keep mine in a sealed jar in the fridge, and I’m sure it’ll keep for a good while, but good luck keeping it around longer than about three days…

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Not really relevant at all but awesome. Who doesn’t love Disneyland at night?

Merry Christmas, BEDFORD FALLSSSS!!!

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I just fed this to the ones I love, who are now comatose. I think I might need a nap.

Merry Christmas! Feed the ones you love.

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Pumpkin Sweet Roulade with Hazelnut Filling and Hazelnut Caramel Drizzle

This cake is freaking fantastic. Pumpkin cake rolled around a hazelnut licqueur-spiked whipped cream filling with shaved dark chocolate chunks, topped with a hazelnut spiked caramel. Um, hello, what isn’t there to love?! Pumpkin, cream, hazelnut, and chocolate: go celebrate Christmas and eat this with your loved ones!

The cake is gratefully borrowed from (and caramel inspired by!) Cate’s World Kitchen, here, but the rest is my brainchild! Serves… enough. Probably seven 1″ slices? Ish? Depending on how large of a dessert coma you’d like to go into.

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For the cake:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • scant 1/4 c brown sugar, loose (not packed)
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar

For the filling:

  • 1 c (ish) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp of powdered sugar
  • good glug of vanilla
  • a healthy glug of hazelnut liqueur (I used Fra Angelico)
  • several squares of dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 72% Belgian dark)

*I never measure for the filling, so just taste as you go until you have the right balance of flavors for you and your audience. My particular audience loves hazelnut, so I was veryyyy generous, hehe.

For the caramel:

  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 + 1/8 c heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • another healthy glug of hazelnut liqueur (I used Fra Angelico)

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For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan to stick the paper down, then lightly grease the paper as well. I always use unrefined coconut oil for this.

In a medium-sized bowl, whip egg yolks until they’re light and frothy, a few minutes. Add in brown sugar, and beat another minute more. Into a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Beat into the egg/sugar mix in three additions, until incorporated. Beat in pumpkin puree on low. In a separate, non reactive bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form (I like to use the bowl of my kitchenaide with my handheld mixer). Slowly drizzle in sugar, and beat until the eggs hold stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mix, until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan, and smooth it out so that it looks nice… Pop into the oven for 15ish minutes, until the cake springs back when poked.

Let cool on a wire rack in the pan for a few minutes, then remove from pan (by lifting up the parchment) and set back on the wire rack temporarily.

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Whip the cream in yet another bowl, until it just barely starts to hold shape. Pour in your several glugs of hazelnut goodness, as well as vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until the cream holds it’s shape (but isn’t butter… believe me, I’ve gone too far a few times). Fold in chopped dark chocolate.

Spread the filling on the top of the pumpkin roll, reserving a bit of cream for topping dollops. Start rolling (carefully!!) from the short end, removing the parchment as you go, until the roll is complete. Carefully transfer it to a plate. Cover and store in the fridge until served.

For the caramel, melt sugar over medium heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan until just barely melted (don’t stir it, just swirl the pan around frequently). Stir in butter until combined. Turn heat to low, and add cream a spoonful at a time until the caramel is the desired consistency. Remove from heat and add Fra Angelico. Pour (drizzling is for sissies) generously over cake slices, and garnish with extra whipped cream (it’s Christmas, after all). Eat the leftover caramel with spoon, obviously… I mean, why WOULDN’T you do that?!

Eat with loved ones. Be merry, be grateful, and spread love!

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