According to legend, chocolate was outlawed (!!) at Wellesley College at some point to the gals got together and started making fudge in secret. Maybe that’s part of the reason I feel so guilty when I shove my own weight of the Good Stuff in my facehole. I dunno. But somehow the Wellesley Fudge Cake–a chocolate cake frosted with a slab of the most ridiculously decadent fudge around–became a thing. I’m not complaining, and neither is my husband, since this was his thirty third birthday cake.
Months ago, we were at my parents’ house and for my dad’s birthday my mom found a gluten free baker and ordered a simple chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I don’t know what kind of black magic this lady was using but the frosting was out of this world. I mean, the cake part was great, too, but the frosting was…I don’t even know. The best way I could remember it was like a thin fudge–little crinkles on top and everything. With this as my inspiration for a certain spouse’s birthday, I set about looking for a good recipe and came across this one. (Gotta love Pinterest) The pictures alone had me hooked.
So, yeah, it really is *that* good. Holy crapola you guys. Just…OMG. For the cake part I just bought a box mix and it came out very well if I may say so myself (as a side note, I know there’s a thousand ways to “doctor” a cake mix but for chocolate I just go with butter in place of oil and cream/half and half instead of water…gets you a nice, dense, fudgey cake and, well, it’s good enough for government work).
The frosting was really the star of the show and I didn’t have to alter it a single bit, other than to add sprinkles (because it’s not a birthday cake without sprinkles!!!) and candles.
Nothing in my little rambler here in Charlottesville is less than 60 years old. This is why everything that comes out of my ’50s-era gas oven without being either a) totally uncooked, or b) not totally scorched is a gift. So, Universe, I must once again bow to you in thanks.
Gluten free baking has come leaps and bounds from where it was even a couple of years ago. What once would have been a pile of dry, crumbly, flavorless pieces of cardboard can now be just as good (I think, even better) than their glutinous counterparts that cause me and so many others a great deal of (totally awkward and socially crippling) pain.
The one key is to know your flour blend. I’ve been using Namaste Foods ever since my mom got me a 5 pound bag from Costco “just to try out.” It claims cup-for-cup usage, but I honestly don’t believe any blend is truly the perfect substitute…you have to be willing to experiment a bit and totally put the manufacturer’s own recipes to work. I adapted this recipe from a chocolate chip cookie recipe on the Namaste Foods site while planning a dinner party for my husband’s learning group (everyone gets smarter with cookies, right?). I made a few subs (wanted a dairy-free version and used palm sugar to take advantage of its awesome, rich flavor) and voila! They came out beautifully. I got 30 cookies from this recipe (the original claimed 5 dozen…umyeahnoway) and with 7 people…well, you do the math
If you do want to sub out another GF flour blend, while I can’t verify the ratios, Namaste AP blend is just sweet brown rice flour (the majority of the mix), tapioca starch, arrowroot flour, sorghum flour, and xanthan gum. I’d say anything with a similar ingredient mix would work well, so just have a quick check and make sure you aren’t using a bean-flour blend (i.e. Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour, which I also love to death but is mostly garbanzo).
Gah!! Those are a lot of my favorite things in the same headline.
Sometimes the rigors of moving to a new town, starting a new job, and adjusting to a new life as the devoted and supportive wife of a business student requires a little sweetness. And, I mean, the coming of Fall and all of the accompanying baked goods will only make it better. But let’s talk about my giant cookie.
Did it really need to be one big-ass cookie? Was a skillet entirely necessary? Eh. Take it or leave it, but something about a piping hot chocolate chip cookie, dripping with PB and J, hot from the oven in rustic cookware brought an appropriate level of decadence to my holiday weekend.
*Inspired by this recipe (although I used local grass fed butter…natch)
Clearly, Pinterest wasn’t a thing in the early 90’s, but my mom was a huge clipper of recipes from magazines, newspapers, boxes, etc. Even now, there’s still an enormous pile of clippings in the living room at their house I *love* sifting through every time I come over.
A few months back, I came across a page out of Food and Wine magazine for a marbled pound cake–this was actually one of the first things I baked all by myself and I was kind of obsessed. Cake for breakfast, people.
Clearly I needed to make this happen again. I mean, if it’s finally warm enough to have coffee on the patio in the morning, I really need something sweet to dunk.
Soooo if you could just stop whatever it is you’re doing right this minute and get your oven ready for a little Valentine’s love, that’d be great.
I had a snow day yesterday (and another one today, in fact) thanks to Snowmageddon. Seriously, I grew up just an hour west of here and we have *never* had a winter like this. I mean, sure, every couple of years we’d get a big snowstorm…but it was A snowstorm…not A BAZILLION snow storms. We’d get single digit temperatures…but not single digit temperatures for days on end. Whatever. Anyway. Snow day.
I had a few comments on my avocado brownies expressing some…concern…that they didn’t come out as good as they should have. I’ve been blogging long enough to realize that this is just going to happen from time to time, and I do take a genuine interest in failed attempts at my recipes, or just things people don’t like about them that I can address with stuff I make down the road. As far as the brownies are concerned, some folks didn’t like the texture (which many others claim to love, so not sure what to do there), thought they weren’t sweet enough (to which I say just add more honey or use pre-sweetened baking chocolate), or…and I guess this was just one but it stuck with me…that the taste of eggs came through a little too much. So, that was a noodle scratcher. Thankfully I had a whole day to waste…and it only took a couple of tries to get a brownie that is not only egg-free, but that is probably the most dense, fudgey, rich chocolaty thing I’ve ever made. Score.
As far as substitutions go, I use sunflower seed butter when I want that “peanutty” flavor, but any kind of nut butter will do. For a more neutral flavor, I love cashew butter…it’s great for a smooth, almost yellow cake-like taste. For a nut and seed free option, coconut manna is great–I’ve used it in past brownie recipes and it provides a subtle coconut flavor that gives a little extra sweetness without any more sugar. Also, if you don’t have/don’t want to use avocados, one ripe banana will do the job.
**This is a re-post from last winter…I probably made a dozen batches of these as gifts and, well…for myself. I made a few tweaks since it went up last year and it’s already making an appearance for this holiday season so I’m sharing again!**
As I was a-stalking the interwebz last year I found this recipe. Couldn’t not do it. Just couldn’t. I love eggnog. I love chocolate. I LOVE that it’s required on pain of death to keep my house full of baked goods during the whole month of December.
So, um…eggnog isn’t Paleo! Oh, wait…I HIGHLY recommend this Paleo eggnog recipe from Health-Bent. (I like maple syrup instead of sugar for this one). It’s totally bonkers, you guys. Even if you’re too lazy to bake it into anything, just do it because eggnog is awesome. I also found some great organic nog at Safeway that’s Primal-friendly (it’s got heavy cream in it), so all hope isn’t lost if you don’t feel like making your own, either. If you’re like a certain husband of mine (*cough*) who doesn’t like eggnog for some godawful reason…just…just get out. Now.
You can also call it “Satsumaimo Pie” if you want to sound cultured or something.
So I had my appendix out on Monday and that kinda ruined my week off. There’s only so much time you can spend on the couch high on Percocet and creeping through the bowels of Netflix before you start getting a little stir crazy. Then you try to get up and remember why that was not a good idea. I seriously look like I got gutted like a trout. Moving on.
I was and still am, however, determined to make it to Thanksgiving tonight since it’s the first year I’ve lives where my family does in…a long time. My aunt asked me to bring a dessert, so yesterday I made this pie. Nothing crazy but I thought the Japanese sweet potatoes (aka Birthday Cake potatoes) would be a fun twist on my favorite pie ever and something a little more creative than plain old pumpkin pie).
After I was done, I slept for 4 1/2 hours. Clearly still feeling amazing. Then I ate some pie. Felt better. Went back to sleep. It was a good day.
*If you can’t find Japanese sweet potatoes, regular orange ones are fine.
*For 100% dairy free, full-fat coconut milk can sub for the cream.
Look, you put pumpkin in anything and it takes it to a whole new level. I love pumpkin season. Unnaturally so. Some people move to the islands to find eternal summer…I’m still searching for that spot on Earth that will give me Eternal Fall. Open to suggestions.
Funny story…I’m a lot like most people in that when I get a general recipe template for a cake/bread/muffin/whatever I kinda run with it. Why mess with what works? Uh…well maybe when you’re so out of touch with what’s actually in the pantry before you start a mega batch of cupcakes for a family gathering that starts in 2 hours. Like, when everything is mixed up and the last thing you need to add is 1/2 cup of coconut flour and…you only have 1/4 cup but it’s not like you can just add almond meal instead because the fat-to-egg-ratio is already WAY off. Oh geez. Solution? Add some random stuff until the batter LOOKS normal. Then bake. And pray.
And wouldntcha know it…every last one was gone within the hour. Cue the happy dance.
Anyone get the Animorphs reference? Please? Am I seriously that uncool?
With Fall in full swing, I need warm, gooey, cinnamon-y things in my life. Pumpkin obviously came first but I gotta show some love to other Fall flavors, too, ya know? And thanks to my friend Brittany–who ALWAYS asks me to make her cinnamon rolls and I promise to do it and then never do–I made cinnamon roll…cupcakes. Same thing. Except you can put an obnoxious amount of frosting on a cupcake. Then spoon more frosting into your face-hole right out of the bowl. Alone. At 2 am.
Ross told me these were the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. He says that a lot, but I’ll pretend like they really are. At the very least this is MY favorite frosting EVER…I mean brown butter? And BOURBON? ZOMG. I could get drunk off these cupcakes. Again.