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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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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