Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chocolate Cake Two Ways

What do you prefer? Sheet cake or cupcakes? Both are moist and delicious in their own special way. Both are delectably gluten-free and made with some of the best ingredients I can gather. Both will leave you oooing and ahhhhing and wanting more. You can eat them, dear gluten-free friend, and these recipes are just for you!
My wonderful mom is the mastermind behind the following chocolate sheet cake recipe. She and I go back and forth with sharing ideas with recipes and this one she has made again and again without fail. I caught on and have been making a version of this cake of my own. She has even made this recipe into other versions of pumpkin and banana cakes. I guess you now know where I get my creativity and determination at making good gluten-free baked goods. I truly believe there is something healing in making gluten-free baked goods for the gluten-free soul. It reminds you that you CAN eat something yummy and have not LOST it all when it comes to treats and desserts.

If you are new to the gluten-free baking world. My only advice is to "NOT GIVE UP!" It is not an easy transition. In fact it kind be somewhat traumatic. Or in the least it is a reminder of your health issues and what you have lost. I know. I've been there. But I have also been here where I am now, 9 years later. It gets easier. I promise. A good place to start is experimenting. If you find one or two good recipes that you and your family like then stick with those and don't try to go overboard. Keep it simple. This cake recipe is one of those recipes for me. It is a go-to, learn-it-well, and make-again-and-again recipe.  Thanks Mom for the recipe and well, for life :)

Mom's Chocolate Cake Recipe
1 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour blend (Mom uses NAMASTE perfect flour blend, but I have also used 1/2 cup of each rice flour, sorghum flour, and a tapioca or potato starch flour too.) Mixing your own flour omits the xanthan gum, and to be honest it is one of preference. If you dislike the "gummy-ness" of some gluten-free baked goods, then I would advise to mix your own GF flour blend without. But the Namaste flour mix is a good one for this cake because it is quite simple (and can be found at Costco!)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder (I use HAIN brand so there is no corn product in it)
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of baking soda

1 cup of baking oil (warmed coconut oil or grapeseed or light olive oil)
1 3/4 unsweetened applesauce (homemade or store bought both work)
1 TB of pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup of pure maple syrup
4 room temperature fresh eggs

In a large large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, then add the rest of the wet ingredients and slowly add the mixed dry ingredients until all is mixed well with no lumps. Then pour cake batter into a well coconut-oil greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Make sure the cake is done by testing the middles of the cake with a toothpick. Let cool for a few hours before frosting.
Second way to make cake is by cupcakes of course! A fun and cute way to get everyone a slice without using a knife. This recipe was a conversion of a regular gluten recipe that turned out wonderfully and recently had the honor of making them for a baby shower.

This recipe would be easier to convert the real eggs for chia-seed gel "eggs" instead. The above sheet cake recipe is pretty dependent on the eggs for a good cake. But cupcakes are a little easier to switch to a vegan cake version. So I would suggest that if you are looking for a vegan chocolate cake recipe to so with cupcakes first few times around before you get better with baking without eggs and gluten.
This recipe is a little more complicated with a few different mixing bowls, but that is the nature of GF baking sometimes... like a science lab, except you can lick the spoon :)

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup of cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup of GF flour blend (Namaste blend works here too) But I like to mix 3/4 cup of rice flour, 3/4 cup of sweet sorghum flour and 1/4-1/3 cup of tapioca (or potato) starch flour.
1 ts. of baking soda
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt

2 cups of coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup of melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips with 1/4 cup of coconut cream from the can
1 cup of coconut milk beverage mixed with 1 TB of apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup of melted coconut oil
2 TB of pure vanilla
4 fresh eggs (or grind chia seeds and mix 4 TB ground chia seeds with 1 cup of water and let sit for a few minutes to make a gel)

So first, you will mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, set aside. Then put the chocolate chips and coconut cream in a small saucepan and melt until a chocolate sauce has formed. Then in a separate mixing bowl, let the coconut milk beverage and apple cider vinegar mix together and make a buttermilk mixture. Lastly, if you are attempting a vegan cupcake, then mix the finely ground chia seeds with water and let that sit as well for a few minutes to make a chia-gel. Then you are ready to pour in all together. First mix the sugar and the rest of the wet ingredients together... then add the flour mixture slowly. You should end up with a frothy and creamy cake batter to pour into cupcake papers. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 way full. This recipe makes 18 cupcakes and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes. Cool for at least an hour before frosting. 

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup of pure local honey
1/2 cup of cocoa powder

You can also sub the shortening for grass-fed butter or your favorite vegan butter. You can easily double or half this recipe if needed. I have made this recipe a few times with vegan butter and it works fine, but if you use the shortening then you have a version that is more stiff and easier to use for transporting cakes if need be. I used this frosting recipe on both of the above cake recipes. Perfect every time. ENJOY!

Much love to you and may you find hope in the kitchen. xo

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Homemade Rustic Marshmallows

One thing that I have LOVED over the last year is Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin. It is pure protein, and this brand makes it GMO free and is naturally gluten-free as well. It is a perfect supplement ingredient to help with healing from any digestive ailment, especially leaky gut symptoms, and also it is a ton of fun to have in the kitchen with children because what kid doesn't love jello or gummies. You can google the benefits yourself, but a link to get you started on learning more about gelatin is here by Wellness Momma.  You can also look up dozens of recipes and uses on Pinterest. I pin new ones all the time!

I have made gummies for my kids probably once a week over the last year. You can google or pinterest search hundreds of recipes. My favorites have been morphed into a simple one of my own. I use 3 TB of gelatin for every cup of fruit juice. I usually sweeten with maple syrup and use an organic all fruit juice. I split the juice in half and mix half of it with the gelatin and the other half in a saucepan on the stove with maple syrup until boiling. Mix the boiling juice with the gelatin juice and mix and whisk well to get all the lumps out and then pour into molds or pyrex pan while warm. I use a quart pyrex measuring cup to usually do this with less mess and dishes. Then refrigerate until hard or until all eaten :) My kids devour these. Our favorite juices are apple, cherry and cranberry.

But the newest way that I have been enjoying gelatin has been through homemade marshmallows. So yummy and brings back all kinds of childhood nostalgia of hot cocoa and marshmallows. Or really just eating marshmallows from the bag. I had a thing for the fluffy white stuff. This version is SO much better though. Made from wholesome ingredients and no corn yuck or high fructose corn syrup. It is a healthy way to have a treat and even had some nutrients to your life.
First time I made these I followed this homemade recipe by the Urban Poser.  But since then have kinda found a way that I like making them on my own. It's so easy you just need to try it out. I do not have a candy thermometer. I need to get one of those. But I still made these in the mean time. Here is my recipe that I have been playing with...

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe
3/4 cup of pure honey
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of pure water
sprinkle of sea salt
splash of vanilla

1/2 cup of pure water
2 1/2 TB of unsweetened gelatin

I used the above amounts but did first try to follow the Urban Poser's detailed instructions. I would suggest you do the same and then once you get your marshmallow groove on then you can kinda swing it however you like. It's pretty simple once you try it a few times. You'll be an addict like me in no time.

Some of my notes:
First I put the honey, maple syrup, 1/2 cup of water and splash of vanilla and salt in a sauce pan and start cooking. This process is long and can take around 15 minutes on medium heat. You do this until the mix is somewhat foamy and if you want more precise temperatures and instructions check out the recipe above. While doing this I have the gelatin blossoming with the other 1/2 cup of water. Then mixed the gelatin mixture into the BURNING hot honey water mixture (it is amber brown color) and slowly use a hand held mixer and mix on slow until even more foamy, then raise the speed when it gets thicker to medium and then HIGH. You will start to notice the color changing to white-ish and thickening up. You may want to lick at this point. It is super yummy marshmallow fluff. Then when the marshmallow is stiff you pour the mixture into a pre-oiled and I use tapioca flour dusted pan with parchment as well. I used tapioca flour instead of arrowroot starch. Then you have to let it sit alone for at least 4 hours and it stiffens right up. Then use a non-teeth knife and cut squares of marshmallow, using tapioca flour to help dust and keep less sticky. I stored my marshmallows in a quart ball jar on the counter for up to a week without problems. But really we eat them all in a few days, who am I kidding, haha ;)

I make my favorite homemade hot cocoa , (or make a dry mix to make an easy hot cocoa) and top with a handful of these amazing marshmallows. It makes a picture perfect delicacy every time!

I mentioned in my last post about adding these homemade marshmallows to the plate of a chocolate fondue dipping plate. These are amazing dipped in some chocolate sauce and a fun addition because friends will think these odd looking cubes may be bread, or maybe cheese, but no it's a fluffy marshmallow surprise. These treats are amazing in just about every way.

I hope you try this out VERY soon if you are in a cold and snowy climate like me. It is one of the best ways to stay happy this winter :) That and staying warm and cozy with your loved ones.

Much love to you xoxo

Monday, January 26, 2015

Coconut Applesauce Shortbread Cookies

Hello lovely gluten-free foodie friends. It has been a long while.
A, LONG. while :)

Last summer when I took a hiatus, I moved from our home with two small kids to a temporary {more rural} location for 8 weeks, then finally to our new home in new part of town. It was a long summer and fall and we are still trying to make sense and the craziness and get settled in 2015. I gave myself the space to put a halt to blogging and creating new recipes and just live in the moment and the convenience of the present. And for those friends that I was living with over the summer, they know I can't stay away from the oven for long. They found me baking goodies late into the night as my kids finally went to sleep.

I can't stay away. Not from gluten-free baking. Not from you.

No matter how hard I sometimes want to or need to. I can't stop baking and enjoying the attempt at new recipes and ideas in the kitchen. So I will start again. I have been making a few new recipes that I love over the past year that haven't made it to the blog yet. So that is where I will start. I hope this year will bring many new creative ventures in the kitchen and a continual pursuit of health and healing in the home. Thanks for following along and giving me another reason to put my recipes and thoughts to pen, I mean blog :)

This cookie recipe was born over the holidays when trying to make a simple cookie to serve with Against All Grain's Pumpkin Pudding Recipe. I LOVE this pumpkin pudding recipe because it is so simple and can be eaten as a treat while still sticking to a very simple and healing diet. A friend of mine posted it on facebook around December and I pulled up the link and was like whoa, I have all those ingredients already to go! Yum.

But when I was going to bring this pudding dish to a party I felt like it needed something more with it to look more than just a bowl of orangy pumpkiny poo. I wanted it to be served with a some-thing special dipping treat. So to avoid nuts, and grains, I made a simple shortbread cookie that only required a few ingredients as well. Another way I added these cookies to a holiday treat was a chocolate fondue. I made my chocolate sauce or an easy chocolate dip made from 1 can full fat coconut milk and 1 bag of Enjoy Life chocolate chips both melted together to create a creamy chocolate ganache dip. I made the chocolate dip and centered it in a bowl on a large serving platter then added these cookies, homemade marshmellows (recipe soon!), fresh fruit (clementines, strawberries, bananas, ect) and you have a pretty easy platter of simple deliciousness. These cookies are so simple with simple ingredients that I am sure you could find dozens of ways to enjoy them.

Coconut Applesauce Shortbread Cookie Recipe
{gluten, grain, dairy, egg, refined sugar, soy and nut-free}
1 cup of organic coconut flour
1 cup of soft or melted organic coconut oil
1/3 cup of homemade or unsweetened applesauce
1 TB to 1/4 cup of sweetener of choice: pure honey or maple syrup
1 ts. of ground ginger
pinch to sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If your coconut oil is not soft, then melt it in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Pour the flour and ginger and salt in a pour, add the wet ingredients and then stir quickly by hand with a spatula while wet and sticky. Let batter sit for 5 minutes to let the dough get tough. It should be a soft but pliable consistency. If it is still too sticky then add a dash of flour until it more stiff and pliable. If it is too stiff then add a spoonful of applesauce or sweetener to make it more pliable. Use your hands to press and roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll out a 1/4 inch thick piece or dough. It is best to use small cookie cutters. No bigger than 2-3 inches in diameter. This will help the final cookie product to not be so easily broken. Coconut flour is very fiberous and it easily broken when baked and dried out. So it really works best to make a small half dollar or smaller sized cookie. 

This recipe will make 3-4 dozen small cookies. Place on baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Watch closely. They bake very fast you can bake a little lighter or longer depending on your preference. I a happen to like them a bit crispy and browned so I bake closer to the 12 minute mark. 

I hope you try these lovely simple treats out and the AAG Pumpkin Pudding as well. A perfect treat even if you are trying to cleanse and heal your body this new year.

Lots of love to you!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gluten Free Carrot Cake without nuts and dairy

I'm a bit behind with this recipe. I've been wanting to post it for 3 weeks now. But better late then never, right?! It was my birthday a few weeks ago, then my daughter's first birthday last week, and all in the in between it's been busy busy. So I guess this time of year should just be known for being busy and life being very full. Hearts are happy and full so there is no ounce of complaining here. I am especially celebrating life this year. Thankful for life in all it's ups and downs and all that it has to offer with tears and joys and all. Life is grand!
Especially where carrot cake is involved. I never knew I loved this cake so much until this year. It is so moist and glorious. Plus with a hearty dose of carrots you might as well skip the veggies and eat your cake ;) Well, maybe just for your birthday :) It is a delicate and tender cake with a pinch of spice and a tangy sweet topping of maple cream frosting. I can actually say that I could not imagine a better birthday cake. So will I be making this again next year? Or will I imagine something greater for next year's 30th?
This birthday cake was very memorable for me. Not sure why I was feeling all nostalgic? Does this happen when you turn 29? I think about the last decade and where it has taken me and where I have travelled on so many adventures. This is the last year of a decade. And ending to the book. Turning the last page. But like all endings, there is a new beginning as well. I am looking forward to 30, and maybe 29 is my year to get ready. I will be totally ready in 335 days from now when I turn 30, I just know it ;)
I hope you are able to celebrate life for all it's gifts. I hope you find people to eat cake with and remember that life is about 2nd chances and finding the good. That is why I love birthdays so much. You are able to reflect on the year's past and all that you encountered and experienced. You are able to say with confidence that you would never do that again or that you can't wait to go to the next level. And it's a chance to plan, pine and wish upon a new year before you with a clean path and new chances to see the good and gifts in life. Please, if you haven't yet, celebrate, truly celebrate in your own way your day of birth. 
For me that last few years my celebration has involved creating a new cake and the excitement of having a  really good excuse to make something wonderful and share it with those I love. If I had a weekly birthday to celebrate I am sure I would loose the wonder. But with only coming once a year, it gives me time to ponder and really get excited and enjoy.
I have made this recipe a few times, once without any dairy and once with some grass-fed butter and organic cream cheese. Both ways turn out great and the dairy-free is just as wonderful and you'll never feel like you are missing some main ingredient. I did also make this recipe without walnuts or pecans, but you could easily add nuts if you desire or some raw sunflower seeds if you really want a crunch to your cake as well.

Carrot Cake Recipe
{gluten, dairy, nut, soy and refined sugar-free}

1 cup of soft organic coconut oil
1 cup of powdered coconut palm sugar
4 farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
2 ts. of pure vanilla extract
3 cups of freshly shredded carrots
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce or coconut yogurt
1/2 cup of fresh ground oat flour
1/2 cup of fresh ground buckwheat flour
3/4 cup of tapioca flour
3/4 cup of white rice flour
(or 2 1/2 cups of your favorite GF flour blend)
1 ts. of ground cinnamon
1/2 ts. of ground ginger
1/4 ts. of ground nutmeg
1/4 ts. of ground allspice
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt

First, grind up your coconut palm sugar in a high powered blender to get a powdered sugar to cream with your coconut oil. Cream the oil and sugar together until soft and creamy. You can sub using grass fed butter for the coconut oil, which I actually did once and adds a rich butter flavor to the cake.  
Once you cream the oil and sugar, add the eggs and whisk all together until thick and creamy batter emerges. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Lastly grind GF oats and buckwheat groats in your grinder/blender to get the best GF oat and buckwheat flour. Add in the flours and dry ingredients. Make sure all the dry in mixed in well and then pour batter into oiled cake pan. I used 2 9 inch cake pans for this recipe, but you could use a bundt pan or a 9 x 13 cake pan as well. Bake cake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. If you choose to use 2 9 inch round pan then check cakes around 30 minutes and should be done around then or 35 minutes.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 ounce dairy-free cream cheese (Daiya brand)
1/2 cup of softened Earth Balance butter spread (soy-free)
1/4-1/3 cup of pure maple syrup

Put all of the above ingredients in a bowl and whisk well with a hand whisk or a electric mixer. It is easier if you let the vegan butter and cream cheese sit out on the counter for 30 minutes beforehand for a easier time mixing. I think it yields a better whipped topping too.  

You can use dairy in this recipe and in place of coconut oil use room temperature grass-fed butter or regular yogurt in the cake recipe. And for the frosting use a regular organic cream cheese with grass fed butter instead. I have tried it both ways and both ways it tastes great!

Spread the frosting over the cake and top with shredded carrots for color and fun.
Time to share and celebrate! This cake is so moist and rich. I love everything about it! I hope you try this recipe out and enjoy! Much love and light to you this year and may you find joy in the gifts of life.