Blood oranges: Mother Nature’s ombre playground

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It’s blood orange season! They are just absolutely gorgeous, I never get tired of that beautiful color.

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They remind me of stained glass… appropriate, considering architecture and food are two of my fave things (really?! I’m sure you had NO idea). Case in point: old and new! A favorite juxtaposition.

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I love how they’re variegated in color too – you never quite know what you’re getting. Dark red? Ombre? Everything is fair game when mother nature gets involved.

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It’s sunny and beautiful today!! I’ve been enjoying the rain but I must say I’m not minding the sun either… AND it’s ski season! Tahoe-bound this week to get back on my K2 babies — it’s been way too long. Actually I’m currently sitting OUTSIDE to write this, what?! Weird. But awesome. Hooray for wifi that extends into the back yard!

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But back to food. This tart is perfect winter dessert — I’m also pretty sure I’ve said that about the last five citrus desserts I’ve made but that’s because it’s TRUE! Citrus + winter = made for each other. The brightness of the citrus perks up even the greyest of days, even for someone like me who *likes* the grey! (I like sun too, don’t get me wrong)

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Highly recommended, easy and delicious. This can also be made in stages and left overnight in the fridge before serving, so it’s a user-friendly experience all around. Lightly sweet, lightly tart, orangey & chocolatey.

Happy weekend!

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Blood Orange Curd Tart on a Chocolate Coconut Crust with Candied Ginger

Blood orange curd is like lemon, only it’s orange! Brilliant, no? Ha. Lightly sweet, somewhat tart (though less so than it’s lemony cousin), complemented by a chocolate coconut crust and candied ginger… for breakfast and dessert! Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 9″ pie dish; serving sizes are up to your discretion. A Wait are Those Cookies original – the curd is riffed off of my usual go-to, and the crust is an easy favorite I’ve modified many times for different tarts.

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For the curd (make at least one day ahead so it can chill overnight in the fridge)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c blood orange juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest from 3 blood oranges
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine eggs, coconut oil, honey, sea salt, blood orange juice, lemon juice and orange zest. Whisk to combine and continue to cook, whisking constantly for about 10-15 minutes – it should be just on the edge of a low boil. The curd should thicken and your whisk will make tracks – it will still be runny but will firm up a bit in the fridge. Strain curd through a metal strainer into a glass container and let cool completely before storing in the fridge (overnight is preferable, but at least 4 hours if pressed for time).

For the crust:

  • 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1/2 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

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.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease a pie plate with coconut oil. 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 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.

For garnish:

  • 2 small blood oranges, sliced thinly
  • candied ginger
  • shredded coconut

Assembly:

Once the crust is cool, pour the curd into the crust and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the curd is just set when you jiggle the pan. Let cool completely and chill for an hour or two before topping.

Top the cooled tart with sliced oranges & candied ginger + shredded coconut if that’s your jam (melted chocolate wouldn’t come amiss either, I’m sure)… Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers – I usually just cover the original pie dish with foil but an airtight container works just fine too.

Happy eating!

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Galette for breakfast: guaranteed to improve your election day experience

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Galette and pears and hazelnuts and dark chocolate and November!

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I love fall because it means pears are EVERYWHERE and I love pears so this just feels like a win-win situation. Besides that, throw in some dark chocolate hazelnut filling and put all that goodness in a cardamom crust? Sign me up. And then eat it for dessert with ice cream and then for breakfast with (what else) eggs and kale and sourdough toast? Yeeessssss please thanks.

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Let’s see, what else… today is election day! Did you vote?! I voted absentee ages ago and didn’t get a sticker… they should send stickers with the ballots!

And the time changed, woohooo for not having to get up in the dark anymore! I miss the extra daylight hours but I’d rather not go to work when it’s still dark out… Jessie and I enjoyed our extra hour of snuggles:

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Pretty skies lately!

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Annnnnd I’ve been drawing again, shocker I know. I just read a study that says making art reduces cortisol levels! Which is awesome and I think I subconsciously knew that because drawing always gets me into the flow state, pretty much without fail.

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But anyway, back to galette!

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This sounds complicated but totally isn’t. The crust is forgiving and easy to work with, and the filling comes together in a snap. Also, unlike the last time I made galette and crammed a truckload of blueberries into it, this one is far more structurally sound since pears are a little easier to wrangle than blueberries.

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Give yourself a break from watching those election returns and gaze on this instead. I guarantee it’ll lower your cortisol levels ;) 

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Pear Galette with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Filling and Cardamom Crust

Grain free, gluten free, paleo and refined sugar free. Yay! There is butter, though a sub for coconut oil might definitely be possible (if you try it, tell me how it goes!). Yield: 1 galette, serving sizes are up to your discretion ;) A Wait are those Cookies original!

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For the crust:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c tapioca starch
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp salted butter, chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor or high-power blender (I used a Vitamix), pulse almond flour, tapioca starch, cardamom, salt, and butter, and pulse to combine until it looks like coarse meal. Add in egg, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract and pulse just until combined. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

For the dark chocolate hazelnut filling*:

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts, skins mostly removed (reserve a few for topping purposes if you want!)
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1.5-2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

* measurements are approximate! Adjust as necessary to suit your tastebuds :)

Blend hazelnuts in a vitamix or high power blender / food processor until a nut butter consistency forms (it’s okay for it to be on the chunkier side; mine wasn’t completely smooth). Add cacao powder, sea salt, maple, and vanilla and pulse until combined. This can be made up to a week ahead — just store it in an airtight jar in the fridge!

For the galette:

  • 1 crust
  • most or all of the hazelnut spread
  • 2 pears, thinly sliced (I used d’Anjou; Bosc would also be good) — you can peel them if you want, I chose not to
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • extra hazelnuts for topping, if desired!

Preheat the oven to 375.

Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, keeping the circle to about 1/4″ thickness. Peel off the top piece of parchment, and slide the rolled out dough on its parchment onto a baking sheet. If you’re feeling extra artistic or motivated, cut some extra dough off the edge of the circle and cut leaf shapes out of it because… I’m an overachiever and it’s FALL! YAY! Anyway… moving on.

Spread the hazelnut paste carefully over the dough circle, leaving about a 2″ border from the edge — I found that the back of a spoon worked nicely for this (Try not to move it around too much, just press it into place so that the bottom dough stays intact). Spread the sliced pears in a fan shape if you’re feeling fancy, or just toss them all in there (I’m definitely not going to judge!). Begin folding up the sides, creasing them together as you go – if the dough is cracking, that’s okay (you can crimp the cracks back together; remember: galettes are forgiving and rustic!); you can use the bottom piece of parchment to help fold up the sides. Stick the leaves on the edges if you went that route. Brush the pears with the melted butter, and top with 1 tbsp of coconut sugar. Brush the dough with the beaten egg (I like a pastry brush for this), and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of coconut sugar.

Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine was perfectly done at 35, so check accordingly), until the dough is firm to the touch and golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then slide the whole piece of parchment paper and galette onto a cooling rack to cool completely (or serve immediately!). Eat with some kind of vanilla ice cream thing (dairy or not) because… you should!

Leftovers keep covered at room temp for about… 1 day. Because it will be gone by then anyway so you won’t even have to worry. Promise!

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Two Weeks: Brownies are obviously called for.

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The advent calendar of baked goods continues! TWO MORE WEEKS. Actually, less than two weeks. Let’s get to days, shall we? 13. And that includes weekends.

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Also, the to-do list is finally getting smaller, which might account for the two types of baked things that emerged this weekend.

And eggs! Always eggs. These were especially pretty though, so… here they are.

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I exercised my math skills and made 3/4 of a brownie recipe this weekend, because a) I’m just cool like that and b) I was using my favorite skillet and I decided that a 1/2 batch doesn’t appropriately fill up the skillet and c) more brownies is ALWAYS the answer. This isn’t a new recipe, but these are probably just my favorite brownies, pretty much ever. Big claim, I know… but I think if I had to pick one brownie recipe for the rest of forever, there is a really good chance it would be these.

And they disappeared in short order (though I did have help…)

This is the recipe I love so much — I suggest just making a double batch (I list the 1/2 batch measurements here) because they’re just THAT good. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, full of healthy fats and… nearly three kinds of chocolate. WINNING.

That elusive last piece…

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And then in the midst of presentation preparations (PowerPoint for DAYS), I needed a study break so I made a small batch of chocolate chip cookies… because, cookies. I wasn’t even really craving cookies, but just to stand up and look at something that was NOT a computer or a powerpoint slide…. and then I ended up with cookies. Solid choice.

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The cookie recipe is from Living Healthy With Chocolate, here! I didn’t alter it aside from using 1/4 c date sugar instead of coconut and added ~1 tbsp maple syrup.

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They’re delicious! And they’re vegan which was important because I was feeling the need to eat a few bites of the dough…

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It’s the homestretch! Let’s see if we can’t squeeze in at least one more baked thing between now and June 3. Ready… GO.

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Wait. Free time?! I’m unfamiliar with this concept.

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Looklooklook I actually had time to make something!!! Actually, I had time to make TWO somethings, because well.. the oven was already on. So obviously. I also had a super productive weekend that also included time to work out and time to sit on my butt and read. Generally speaking, I consider this a highly successful weekend. Jessie thinks so too.

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And… I made bars!

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It felt so good to bake. I swear, it’s probably been about a month and that is WAY too long. These were a product of that fun game “let’s see what’s in the fridge and what I can make with it, depending on my mood and a billion other factors, but actually depending on what food is actually present”. It’s fun, kind of like a treasure hunt in the pantry.

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And (shockingly, not), I ended up with barz! I know, I know. But they’re just so delicious and fast and easy and satisfying. So, bars. Cookies were slightly too high maintenance for this particular weekend (though I did make a tiny batch of 10 cookies, just to be thorough).

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These are great for the indecisively minded, which I tend towards when I’m baking…. usually I want five things and can’t decide which of the five to bake. Sooo…. I decided to get creative and make both, at the same time. Problem mega solved. Now I have barz AND blondies AND brownies without having a gigantic pile of baked goods staring me in the face. Winning, winning.

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Also, succulents are awesome!

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Swirled Chocolate Tahini Barz

Half blondie, half brownie, for when you really can’t decide or you’re so braindead from biostats that you just decide that deciding isn’t worth the effort. Enter the hybrid bar. The best of both worlds with a minimum of effort.

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Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free and vegan! Spread the love. A Wait are those Cookies original.

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 1 c quinoa flour, toasted*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 c tahini (mine is unsalted)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup + 1 tbsp, divided
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c avocado oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce + heaping 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce, divided
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

*In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, stir the flour occasionally until it’s fragrant, about 5 minutes. Toasting reduces the otherwise slightly bitter nature of quinoa and quinoa flour.

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

Make flax eggs, and set aside to gel.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, quinoa flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in tahini, flax eggs, 1/2 c maple, avo oil, and 1/4 c applesauce. Stir until just combined — try to avoid overmixing. Take half of the batter and plop it into half of the prepared pan. Add the cocoa powder, 1 tbsp maple, and 1/8 c applesauce to the remaining batter, and stir to combine. Drop this chocolatey goodness into the other, empty, half of the prepared pan, and using a knife, swirl the middle bits together (or go crazy and do the whole thing, I’m not going to stop you!). Pop this goodness into the oven for just about 35 minutes, when the top should be mostly firm and a tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan, then cover and store any leftovers in the fridge.

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Cookies up the yin yang

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So guess what?

… No really. Guess!

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I got into graduate school for a masters in public health, wheeee! Which means I will be starting UC Davis in the summer session of 2015… UCD are you ready for this? I’m pretty rad and very sassy and generally crunchy. And after 18 months of that, I will go on to be rad but also have initials after my name, which makes me kind of a big deal. Ha. Kidding! Actually I’m really excited… and Davis has a legit co-op that I can spend hours in if not properly supervised.

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But enough of that. I went to LA last weekend and hung out with a bunch of super awesome relatives who also happen to follow very similar food philosophies that I do, so I ate extremely well (lots of nitrate-free bacon, plantain pancakes and pure maple syrup. And bacon. Did I mention bacon? Also beets. Mmmm beets), and swiped a few recipes because natch, that’s what I do. And this is one of them! I like calling them YinYang cookies! Light side, dark side… call them whatever you want but by all means make them because they’re fabulous and grain free/refined sugar free! Everyone just wins all around.

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Also, I just feel the need to leave you with this little gem. Obviously I got started early on my yoga squat… sassily, of course. Because no lady squats without a hat on. Obviously.

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Yin Yang Cookies

Almond butter dough and chocolate dough swirled together for chewy-edged, doughy-centered cookies. Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free and paleo. The recipe is only tweaked slightly from the awesome book Make Ahead Paleoby Tammy Credicott.

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  • 1 c almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/3 c arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c roasted, unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate (I used 75%), roughly chopped into smallish pieces
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot, baking soda, and sea salt. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk (or use a hand mixer; I whisked and they came out fine) maple, coconut sugar, egg, almond butter, vanilla, and coconut oil until the coconut sugar has mostly dissolved. Stir the dry into wet, until combined, and toss in chocolate chips. Divide the dough in half, and put half in another bowl so you can stir in cocoa powder and water. Roll chocolate dough into a 1″ ball and smoosh it together with a 1″ ball of almond dough, then roll it between your palms to swirl it together. Flatten them slightly before you put it on the baking sheet, since they won’t spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes (I took them out at 10 minutes), when the top is smooth and starting to crack slightly. Leave on the cookie sheet until cool, since they are a little soft. Store in an airtight container for a few days if you don’t eat them immediately (good luck).

IMG_1966Also, apparently can’t sit in a car for a long period like a normal person…

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And then I ate a lot of brunch

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I have this feeling 2015 is going to be RAD.

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Because it is. Because 15 is a nicely odd number, and also… It just is. Rad!!!

Also, a ton of brunch was consumed in this house in the last 24 hours. And because New Years = brunch (along with cabbage+bacon, cornbread and black eyed peas for good luck, natch… to be consumed in several hours), I thought I would do sharezies with my fave waffle recipe and the uuuuhhmaaazing brownies E and I made and ate to celebrate.

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I had a fab New Years! E and I did exactly what we wanted to, which was a lot of nothing. And eating. Like tortilla pizzas and brownies and ice cream! And we fell asleep at 10:30, sorry we’re not sorry. AND made brownies. Which were spectacular. And were devoured under a massive pile of Strauss ice cream because it is essentially the best thing ever and also I can’t buy it because if I do, I go through the pint like a beast.

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SO anyway. I don’t make resolutions for the new year, but I hereby declare that this one is going to be sparkly and glittery and fabulous and rad. All at the same time. Happy 2015!

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Let’s ring in the New Year properly, shall we? Recipes for New Year’s healthified indulgences:

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Whole Wheat Waffles

Lightly sweet waffles made completely with whole wheat flour and barely any oil for a healthier take on a typical brunch staple (because HELLO who doesn’t love waffles?!). These are perfect with an apple blueberry compote, or some other kind of fruit. I prefer them with almond butter or salted butter and fruit compote and pure maple syrup, but I think these could easily go a savory route with some egg and cheese? Probs. Maybe that will be dinner later this week…
Recipe adapted from Eating Well, here. Yield is about 6 or 7 in my round waffle maker. Whole grain and vegetarian.

  •  2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 c lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg yolk, avo oil, and vanilla. Stir wet into dry until just incorporated. In a grease-free mixing bowl (I always use stainless for this), beat the three egg whites until stiff and glossy. Whisk 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the batter, then fold in the rest using a rubber spatula. Ladle the appropriate amount of batter into your waffle iron, according to the mandates of your specific waffle iron god, and cook accordingly. These come out of mine perfectly at 6 minutes. Store them temporarily in a warming drawer in a single layer on a cooling rack to prevent them from getting soggy if you’re not eating them immediately.

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 Deep, Dark, Flourless Brownies

Grain free, flour free, refined sugar free, and FULL OF CHOCOLATE. Basically, these are all you need. I like my brownies just this side of fudgy, with a crackly top and a salty bite. I also prefer mine dark and full of chocolate, instead of overly sweet. So… if dark chocolate is your thing… you need these. Immediately.
Recipe adapted from Running With Spoons, here!

  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 oz extra dark chocolate [mine was 77%]
  • 2 oz dark chocolate [mine was 63%]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar, NOT packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • a handful of extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line an 8 by 8 pan with foil, leaving extra hanging over two sides of the pan for easy removal.

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, and bake for just about 25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean [mine was perfect at 25]. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then use the foil to lift them out to a cooling rack to cool completely. Or serve them warm with ice cream and eat immediately, for a happy gastronomical moment {I highly recommend this}. Store leftovers (WHAT leftovers?!) covered in foil at room temp.

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My cakes are a little bit nuts, just like me!

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Happy Holidays!!

And Happy Birthday, Elliott!!! Yayyyyy for boyfriend birthday because excessive CAKE! I had super fun making this huge shenanigan of a cake and surprising him with it. Birthdays are an excuse for excess (like I needed an excuse but shhhhhh), so thank you for making an appearance on this charming blue sphere! Not only do I get to make you cake, but I also get to be in your life!! And that is absolutely the best part :)

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I loooove this time of year. With extra o’s I love it so much. [Side note. I do NOT like grocery shopping this time of year. And as anyone who knows me will attest, I happily can spend forever wandering around the store usually… but not this time of year. No way. I don’t like throwing elbows to get to the last can of pumpkin, thank you].

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Also I LOVE that it is insanely pouring over here in California. We need it like I need almond butter. AND it’s snowing in the mountains and we know what that means! I get to get out my K2 babies again for the first time in far too long. Ahhh. Skiing.

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But first….

Christmas!!!

And lights! And cookies! And family! Raaaaiiiinnnn. Tinsel (or not. Jessie would eat it), cozy fires, blankets, human snuggles, cat snuggles, ginger things, an excess of tea, giving, sharing, loving.

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AND! Elliott’s birthday :) Oh heyyyy, December baby! The birthday boy requested a turtle theme for his dessert… so of course I obliged and then some. Because I really don’t do things by halves. Rich chocolate bourbon cake (mostly chocolatey, with just a touch of bourbon to give it depth) with caramel buttercream topped with salted coconut caramel drizzle+candied pecans. If that isn’t a fitting birthday treat, I don’t know what is… OH and obviously we ate it with Strauss vanilla ice cream because HELLO cake+ice cream = match made in heaven annnnnd really why not?!

Happy Birthday, E! I love you :)

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Chocolate Bourbon cake with Caramel Buttercream, Caramel Drizzle and Candied Pecans

This cake is really just a wonderful confluence of tastes and textures. It’s not hard to put together, despite having multiple parts… I candied the pecans the day before I baked the cake and made the caramel, and then I made buttercream and assembled it all the next day (Due to travel constraints). Everything turned out perfectly! Everything is refined sugar free (uses maple and coconut sugar), and the cake is whole wheat. And butter is just good for your soul. Store it covered in the fridge after it’s frosted, and eat it with good quality vanilla ice cream. Obviously. You’re already eating cake, why not add a little ice cream?! Life is short.

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Chocolate Bourbon Cake

I adapted mine from the one I made for my dad’s birthday, since that one was so good with whiskey. This one is chocolatey and dense, with bourbon adding a depth of flavor. Original is here.

  • 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 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 bourbon
  • 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease the living daylights out of two standard 9″ cake pans {I use coconut oil for greasing}. Combine 1 tbsp flour+1 tbsp cocoa powder, and flour the inside of the pans, 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 bourbon, 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 30-35 minutes, until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack in the pans 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!!).

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Salted Coconut Caramel Drizzle

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 1/2 of a generous cup for the buttercream, and then at least another 1/2 cup for drizzle. Originally from this cake, here!

  • 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 runny 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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Caramel Buttercream

Yields enough to frost the top and and between layers of a 9″, two layer cake with a little leftover. If you decide you want to frost the sides, make a double batch of buttercream. Be aware that this cake tends to pull up into the frosting, so a crumb coat would definitely be necessary if you’re into neat-looking cakes (I do not fall into this category. I want my cakes rustic, messy and delicious. And kind of nuts, just like me). Originally from my Banana Caramel Cake, here.

  • 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. The texture is a little different than standard buttercream, with the addition of the caramel,  but it is silky and delicious. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes before frosting if you want it a little firmer.

Candied Pecans

  • 1.5 c raw pecans
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar

In a saucepan, toast pecans over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add butter, swirling pecans and butter chunk around until everything is nice and foamy and melty. Toss in coconut sugar, and keep stirring so nothing burns for about 4-5 more minutes. The sugar should start to get sticky, like it’s turning into caramel. Remove from heat and put the pecans into a heat proof container to cool completely before storage or use.

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Assembly!

Pop the first cake layer on a plate of choice. Smear buttercream goodness all over the top, drizzle with some caramel and maybe a few candied pecans, then top all that with the next layer and more buttercream+caramel+pecans. I opted for a naked cake this time since I like the way the layers look, but feel free to frost the sides if that’s your jam (though you’ll need to make extra buttercream). I topped mine excessively with extra caramel drizzle and candied pecans because BIRTHDAY! Store covered in the fridge and eat within a few days for best cakeness (can dry out if not eaten expediently, but it’s so good I doubt that will be a problem).

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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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The usual nonsense

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More of that light side/dark side dessertyness.

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I actually made these last weekend but have been too busy/lazy/my novel is too good lately to actually get around to posting them. But they happened to be a big hit with the fam so I thought I would be nice and share them. These went well together—the super dense fudgy almond butter brownies played nicely with the lighter caramel bars—those aren’t super sweet, so it made a nice contrast.

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I’m feeling a little brain dead today so pardon the lack of text and written nonsense, I’ll just leave you with the photos and that drool that just hit your keyboard…

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Almond Butter Brownies

Super fudgy, tall brownies with a chewy crust. These are honey sweetened, and you could definitely taste the honey in my batch. I liked it, as a change from the typical brownies that I make, but if you’re not a fan of honey flavor in baked goods, I would sub maple or another liquid sweetener. Recipe only slightly adapted from Smells Like Brownies, here! Makes one 8 by 8 square pan (I had to use round since the square pan I have was currently in use, but I think there’s something weird about round brownies…). Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free!

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  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c raw, runny honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c organic almond butter (mine was unsalted)
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease pan of choice with coconut oil.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, beat together eggs, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in almond butter. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry into wet, mixing until just combined and adding in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake 25-30 minutes. The center should be slightly puffed, and a toothpick should come out mostly clean (a teeny bit of fudgy is okay, but excessively under baked is ew). Let cool completely before slicing, and store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Salted Caramel Coconut Bars

This one is slightly adapted from Quiche-a-week (love that blog!) here! Chewy, thick salty-caramel-chocolate-spelt-coconut things. Vegan, refined sugar free! They’re made with spelt flour, which can be easier to digest than wheat, even if you aren’t wheat intolerant (though this is *not* gluten free). Yield: 9-12 bars, in an 8 by 8 pan.

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For the caramel:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • a hefty pinch (1/4+ tsp) sea salt

For the barz:

  • 1.75 c spelt flour
  • 1/4 c almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter (preferably the separating kind)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water (2 flax eggs)
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips
  • up to 1/4 unsweetened almond milk

Make the caramel first so it has a little time to cool! In a saucepan, melt coconut oil, coconut sugar, and maple until it starts to fizz and thicken. When it starts bubbling, add the almond milk. Let it bubble for just a bit, then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 3 ish minutes. Stir only occasionally, but mostly just let it sit. Once it’s thickened a little (almond milk won’t thicken too crazy much), turn off the heat, stir in the sea salt, and let it cool.

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For the barz….

Preheat the oven to 325 and grease an 8 by 8 pan with coconut oil. Make your flax eggs and then set them aside to gel.

In a largeish bowl, whisk together spelt flour, almond flour, sea salt, baking soda, and shredded coconut. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add in flax eggs, then stir the wet into the dry until just combined. You’ll need more moisture in the dough since spelt flour can be dry—I added about a 1/4 c of almond milk a tablespoon at a time until the dough was the right consistency. Fold in the chocolate chippies. Spread half the batter into your prepared pan (using your hands is encouraged), then pour half the caramel over the first layer. Add more chocolate chips to this middle layer because… just because. Spread the other layer of dough over the caramel (it’ll get messy but it’s dessert so who cares?), then pour the other half of the caramel over the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack, then slice and eat/store!

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“Adult” decisions and more cookies.

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You know what’s fun about being an “adult” [I use this term loosely..] and spending all day at the beach and it being summer+hot?

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Ice cream becomes a perfectly acceptable dinner.

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Trust me. Try it. Go to the beach first though, that makes all the difference.

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Barring that, once your kitchen isn’t a thousand degrees, make cookies! I mean really though… why on earth would I ever want to turn my oven on when it’s already stupid hot at 9 am. Good thing I put on dirtyish clothes to go to Jazzercise this morning because um HELLO SWEATING. So baking is clearly not an option today because I did enough sweating this morning and I really don’t feel the need to subject myself to inferno blasts from the open oven. No thanks. I mean, I suppose I could make some dashboard cookies but I don’t really relish the idea of walking outside and dealing with my oven hot car.

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Also ps. Being an adult is totally relative. I might look like one on the outside… but ha. Don’t be fooled. Sprinkles are the bomb. I will never ever in eleventh billion lifetimes grow out of rainbow sprinks. Or jumping for silly photos. I like to have competitions with myself to see how airborne I can get.

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I also apparently eat everything out of jars.

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But anyway. Enough whining about how hot it is and how I’m really a five year old inside my adultish skin suit. Let’s talk cookies, mmk?

These little guys come together ridiculously fast, which is how cookies should be in my book. They’re super fudgy and chocolatey, with just a little hint of banana flavor. I actually made them awhile ago, but I want them again. NOW. It is really unfortunate that there are no bananas to be had around here… how did THAT happen??

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Grain Free Chocolate Banana Cookies

These are straight up delicious. Fudgy and only a little banana-y, and lightish on account of the coconut flour. Don’t skimp on good dark chocolate for the chippies, that makes all the difference. Paleo, gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free! Recipe only slightly adapted from Home to Heather, here! Yield: 10 good sized cookies.

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  • 1/3 c coconut flour (sifted if it’s super lumpy)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 c raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, mash banana, then toss in eggs, honey, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously to combine. Pour wet into dry, add in chocolate chips, and stir until just combined. Drop batter by roundish balls onto the prepared cookie sheet, flattening them slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes (mine were perfect at 13). Let  cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Store any leftovers (ha) in the fridge.

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