Cake for breakfast? Sign me up.

IMG_0613

Hello! December is progressing at a ridiculously fast clip, as it always seems to….

fullsizeoutput_1f51

I’ve been enjoying all the holiday things – spent yesterday at the Dickens Fair to see friends and fave human do some performing; and happened to come upon these hilarious dead rat gingerbread (clearly I need some new cookie cutters…)

IMG_0610

C and I loved this cake! I riffed on my last ricotta cake to see if I could get it to be more like a cheesecake – this one is definitely that. It reminds me most of cornbread crossed with cheesecake, which sounds weird but I swear it’s amazing. It’s light but dense at the same time, but in a way that isn’t heavy. As per usual it’s not very sweet – the chopped apples in the batter bring just the right amount of sweetness.

fullsizeoutput_1f33

Aside from the extra bowl required to beat the egg whites (which I find super fun – it’s my favorite bit of kitchen alchemy), the cake comes together super quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Arguably could be made in the morning for brunch, but it also keeps excellently in the fridge overnight and is almost better cold, in my opinion, making it a great candidate to be made the night before.

fullsizeoutput_1f46

fullsizeoutput_1f3d

It goes superbly with ice cream for dessert, but is equally amazing sliced in simple wedges for breakfast. Of course we at it alongside eggs & kale – it would be really perfect to feed a holiday morning crowd!

fullsizeoutput_1f59

fullsizeoutput_1f35

I am so very tempted to make this again, and soon – it’s definitely a favorite of mine. Luckily, I’m out of ricotta at the moment, so I’ll settle for brunch with a friend. Happy holidays!! Hug your loved ones and bake them things, I promise they’ll be happy!

fullsizeoutput_1f4c

Ricotta Polenta Cake with Apples and Pomegranate

I LOVE this cake. Only lightly sweet, it’s somewhere closer to being a cornbread crossed with a cheesecake. The apples bring just the right amount of natural sweetness – it’s perfect for breakfast. Yield: 1 9″ cake. Adapted from my last ricotta cake, here.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 2 meyer lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c almond flour
3/4 c fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1.25 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 granny smith apple, diced
1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
a sprinkle of coconut sugar
thinly sliced apples & pomegranate arils for garnish
a bit of chopped crystalized ginger, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with two strips of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily.

Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches, then fold in chopped apples. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with sliced apples and almonds, if using. Sprinkle with a bit of coconut sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean (mine was done closer to 50 min). Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

fullsizeoutput_1f45

fullsizeoutput_1f5c

All things boats, crisps & hikes

IMG_0281

November already!?

fullsizeoutput_1e33

The extra hour this weekend was pretty swell though, I must say. Fave human and I got in a great 6 mile hike this morning before we ate – crisp makes a great post-hike addition to eggs!

fullsizeoutput_1e31

A few photos of life lately – we took a sunset sail this weekend too, which was awesome. The sky was just spectacular; there is no filter on these photos!

fullsizeoutput_1e01.jpeg

fullsizeoutput_1e3c

fullsizeoutput_1e3a

fullsizeoutput_1df3

IMG_0221

As usual, I was my weird self… not sure what’s going on here but it just looks typical… was I summoning the water?!

fullsizeoutput_1e12

fullsizeoutput_1e0a

This is the reigning favorite crisp recipe around here – it keeps its structural integrity overnight even when sitting on super juicy fruit, which is a must. It’s chunky in the best way, like a good granola – and it’s perfect for breakfast! Fruit, nuts, oats, yogurt and butter – what more do you need?

Disregard awkward three fingered claw…

fullsizeoutput_1e39

fullsizeoutput_1e23

IMG_0256

I had frozen some late season peaches awhile back and wanted to use them before they sat too long in the freezer. It goes against my love of seasonal baking, but waste not, want not! Turns out pomegranate and peach go quite well together anyway, and the rosemary keeps it from feeling too overly summer-y of a dessert. It comes together in a snap too, so what’s not to love.

fullsizeoutput_1e2b

I love love love adding rosemary to desserts. It brings just the right amount of savory to whatever dessert it is – and we know I like things on the very much less sweet side. C and I both loved this one – it was disappearing with mildly alarming rapidity, so we’ll see if it makes it though the end of the weekend, ha!

fullsizeoutput_1e28

Rosemary Walnut Crisp with Peaches, Blackberries & Pomegranate

An extremely easily adaptable crisp – use whatever fruit needs to be consumed! I had frozen some late season peaches and wanted to use them before they sat too long – they went excellently with blackberries and pomegranate seeds. This minimally sweet crisp is basically breakfast – fruit, nuts, oats and yogurt! Nearly all of its sweetness comes from the fruit, so make sure whatever you’re using is perfectly ripe. Yet another riff on the crisp I’ve made a million zillion times, here. Yield: 1 8×8, 2qt crisp, serves several.

3 c peaches, sliced*
2 c blackberries*
1/3 c pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp c maple syrup
¼ cup water (I used 1/8 c port & 1/8 c water)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons arrowroot starch

*I just approximate; I use however many it takes to fill my 2 quart, 8×8 baking dish
*I baked straight from frozen; fresh would also be fine

For the crisp:

1 cup old-fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats for a gluten-free crisp)
½ cup firmly packed almond meal
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/8 c coconut sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350.
Toss peaches, blackberries, and pomegranate seeds into your baking dish of choice (my dish is 8×8, 2 qt capacity; 9″ square or 9″ deep pie dish would also be fine). In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the maple, water/port, lemon juice and lemon zest until combined. Add the arrowroot, and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the fruit and toss to combine. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the filling is baking, make the crisp. In a mixing bowl, stir together the oats, almond meal, chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, coconut sugar, salt, and rosemary. Mix in the vanilla, melted butter and the yogurt. Stir until everything is mixed thoroughly.

Once the filling has baked for 20 minutes, stir it and and redistribute evenly in the dish. Plop spoonfuls of the crisp topping evenly over the filling – no need to pack it down. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden.
Let the crisp rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, obviously! Keep leftovers, covered, in the fridge for about five days (yeah right. It would take some kind of major feat to make it last that long)

fullsizeoutput_1e35

Walking in a mint-ery wonderland

IMG_2111

Happy holidays!

fullsizeoutput_10e5

As much as certain elements of this time of year drive me bananas (having to throw elbows in the grocery store to retrieve the last piece of whatever, extra lines everywhere, no parking, where do all these extra people come from?!), I do undeniably love the run-up to the holidays.

Everything looks festive, even traffic light reflections in wet pavement. And of course I love the excuse to have a tiny conifer in my living room.

fullsizeoutput_10d5

Let’s not overlook holiday baking! Heaven forbid.

fullsizeoutput_10ae

Fun fact! This is actually a giant panna cotta tart. It didn’t really occur to me while I was making it – I was just thinking, la la la cream tart la la but then I got curious and did some googling. I had forgotten that cream stabilized with gelatin is technically panna cotta… so, there ya go! Panna cotta tart, if that’s even a thing.

This one is even grain and gluten free! I suppose you could make this with coconut milk to make it dairy free, but I haven’t tried that yet (next time!) – partially because I have a massive weakness for cream.

fullsizeoutput_10e6

Heavy cream reminds me of being a kid and pouring a bit over my cereal – my grandmother used to do this, and after my dad told me that, I always lurked around waiting for leftover cream to appear the fridge. As I recall, my favorite combination was a giant bowl of honey nut cheerios with about 3/4 milk and 1/4 cream.

fullsizeoutput_10e3

Now I’ve leveled up and adult-ed my cream: it gets baked into cream biscuits, set into a panna cotta tart, or poured into my coffee (omg heaven).

fullsizeoutput_10c5

I love this dessert though: it looks like a mini winter wonderland! Walking in a mint-er wonderland? Ha. And it’s delicious. It actually took a minute to grow on me, but then I couldn’t get enough. Minty, chocolatey & slightly tart from the yogurt-cream panna cotta, it’s a perfect holiday dessert when something light is called for. I couldn’t resist the pomegranate, both for flavor and texture, but also for color. They are always so pretty!

fullsizeoutput_10dd

fullsizeoutput_10d9

Happy holidays! Share this with loved ones, since it’s so much better enjoyed in good company :)

fullsizeoutput_10e9

fullsizeoutput_10b2

Mint Cream Tart on a Dark Chocolate Coconut Crust

Grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free! A perfect wintery dessert, especially since it even *looks* festive. You can even make the whole thing the night before, since gelatin-based things like to hang out in the fridge for awhile. Lightly minty, slightly tart from the yogurt, balanced nicely by dark chocolate. Who doesn’t love mint and chocolate?! This is really a giant panna cotta in a crust, if we want to get technical. Mint cream adapted from Martha Stewart, here; the rest is my brainchild. Yield: 1 9″ tart, serves… two ;) Kidding! 2-8, realistically.

For the crust:

1.75 c almond flour
1/3 c unsweetened cacao powder
1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
3.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a 9″, deep pie plate with coconut oil. Alternatively, you could use a tart ring with a removable bottom – I needed to transport mine so opted for just keeping it in a less fussy dish.

In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, cacao powder, coconut, sea salt, and baking soda. Add in vanilla, maple, and melted coconut oil and stir until completely combined. The dough will look crumbly, but you’ll be able to press it together with your fingers.

Press the crust into the plate and up the sides with a spoon or your fingers, creating a smooth edge (or not, your call!). Poke the bottom with a fork a few times, and bake for 17 minutes.

For the filling:

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup maple sugar*
6 stems peppermint or spearmint, plus more for garnish
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 c dark chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (one envelope)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup whole milk greek yogurt, plain
pomegranate arils

*I use maple sugar here because it’s lighter in color than coconut or maple syrup, and I wanted to preserve the lightness of the cream filling. But any granulated sweetener would be fine, just keep in mind the filling color may darken.

Make the filling: Bring cream, sugar, mint, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In a double boiler or in the microwave, heat the 1/3c dark chocolate until completely melted. I am lazy and use the microwave method: 30 second intervals, and stir in between until everything is melty. If you’re using a double boiler, stir continuously until the chocolate is melted.

With a pastry brush (or a spoon, totally fine – this is what I used), coat the bottom the crust with an even layer of melted chocolate. Refrigerate (or leave on the counter in your freezing apartment) until chocolate sets, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl. Let stand until softened. Remove mint from cream mixture, and bring cream mixture to a simmer. Whisk in softened gelatin until it dissolves. Remove from heat, and stir in the yogurt. Pour filling into the prepared crust (if there’s leftover, pour it into a ramekin or two & save for later!) Carefully transfer to the refrigerator. Chill, uncovered, until set, at least 4 hours (or overnight). Garnish with mint stems, pomegranates, and sliced almonds if you’re feeling fancy. Slice and serve!

Chocolate dipped mint leaves are easy too: wash and pat dry nice-looking mint leaves, and dip in melted chocolate. Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet, and freeze until needed.

Keep leftovers covered in the fridge for a day or two.

fullsizeoutput_10df

fullsizeoutput_10dc

Let’s get seasonal!

fullsizeoutput_108e

Tis the season! As always, it feels like it’s sneaking up on me.

fullsizeoutput_108f

But I do love the excuse to get very seasonal with my baking – the colors of winter fruit are so pretty!

fullsizeoutput_1071

Pomegranate arils always look like piles of rubies to me – the light shines through them so beautifully, like it does through stained glass windows.

fullsizeoutput_1073

This cake is the best excuse of cake for breakfast I’ve made recently – lightly sweet, lemony and delicious. It’s gluten free and refined sugar free, too!

fullsizeoutput_1069

Incidentally, it’s also high in protein from the almond flour and the ricotta – added bonus, if that’s your thing. We enjoyed it two ways: it’s perfect for dessert with a bit of vanilla ice cream, and excellent for breakfast alongside eggs & kale (see exhibit a).

fullsizeoutput_1092

fullsizeoutput_106c

This cake also includes beaten egg whites – this is one of my favorite examples of baking alchemy: I love watching the egg whites go from straight liquid to soft, foamy whirls. I never get tired of it!

fullsizeoutput_1067

fullsizeoutput_105e

On that note, I’ll keep it short and sweet today. I do hope you’re enjoying the holiday season with loved ones! Might I suggest feeding them cake? Everyone wins!

fullsizeoutput_1094

fullsizeoutput_1078

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Pomegranate Arils

Lightly sweet, perfectly lemony-almondy – dense but not overwhelming. Gluten free and refined sugar free. Not dairy free, but I’m thinking that either non-dairy butter or coconut oil would work for a sub, and I know they make non-dairy ricotta from almond milk. So! We have options. This version does away with the glutens but obviously contains dairy. Serve wedges with a bit of ice cream for dessert, or alongside breakfast. Yield: 1 8″ or 9″ cake, depending on the pan you use (see recipe). Recipe adapted from Foolproof Living, here.

fullsizeoutput_107b

Let’s make cake!

7 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 4 lemons
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c (5 oz) almond flour
1 c (4 1/2 ounces) fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
pomegranate arils – I used one full pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily (see photo for reference).

fullsizeoutput_1055

Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with almonds, if using. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

fullsizeoutput_107a