Simple Chocolate Cake (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF)

These were supposed to be doughnuts but I forgot I never bought that donut pan that's been on my to do list forever.  It's actually a mini donut pan.  

No matter!  I really just needed something chocolate and have been watching a pile of plantains slowly over ripen on my counter so it seemed like everything would work out, doughnut pan or no.  I'll be doubling the recipe and using it for a layer cake in the future. 

These are mostly about chocolate and I've noticed it's important for me to keep my insulin from spiking too much so the honey is low.  When I go sweets crazy (holiday season, ahem!) I notice my inflammation levels are higher.  Keeping the sugar low but adding things like chocolate or cinnamon, ingredients that I already associate with dessert helps make what I'm eating taste sweeter.  That said, increase to 1 third or half cup if you need that sugar.   Also, substitute carob powder for chocolate powder to keep it AIP. 

Makes one 8 inch cake.

Simple Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup dark chocolate powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup cassava flour

3/4 cup coconut butter

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 green plantain, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon gelatin

2 tablespoons boiling water

Heat oven to 350.  Grease one 8 inch cake tin and set aside. 

In a bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cassava flour.  Set aside.

In a food processor, fitted with S blade, process coconut oil, coconut butter, plantain, honey and apple cider vinegar until very smooth, about 4 minutes.  

In a small bowl, whisk gelatin and boiling water.  Add to food processor and run 2 minutes.  Add dry ingredients, process 3 minutes.  

Pour batter into prepared cake tin and bake 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.    

Brownies! Yummy, Vegan Brownies!

I had some bananas that were just begging to be mashed up, stirred into batter and baked. They were almost over ripe - spotted to the point of being about completely brown and incredibly sweet.  Conveniently, I was also having a craving for brownies but really wanted to stick to something on the healthier side.  

So I came up with these:  gluten free, low sugar, vegan, dark chocolate, fudge style brownies. They don't have that crackly top normal brownies do but, hey, nobody's perfect.  They taste damn good.  

Vegan, Gluten free Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 super ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup almond meal

sea salt, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 8 x 8" pan with foil or parchment paper, lightly oil.  Set aside.

Melt chocolate and stir in coconut oil.  Stir in mashed banana and sugar.  Add vanilla and almond meal.  Stir until all is well combined.  (Since there's no gluten, you can stir as much as you like.)  Pour into prepared pan, spread evenly.  Lightly sprinkle with seas salt, if desired. Bake 20 minutes or until set in center. Cool before cutting.  

Chocolate Cherry Sea Salt Cookies

These chewy little things have a lot of great things going for them:  chocolate, sea salt, olive oil and dried cherries.  Yum!

Makes about 16 cookies.

Chocolate Cherry Sea Salt Cookies

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon course salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup olive oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup dried cherries

pinches of maldon sea salt, for finishing

Whisk together cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in olive oil and eggs.  When combined, fold in cherries.  Wrap and chill in fridge at least 3 hours.  

Once chilled, heat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into balls.  Sprinkle a bit of maldon sea salt on a plate and lightly touch the balls to the salt to pick it up.  Arrange on lined baking sheet with room for spreading during baking.  Bake immediatly, for about 10 minutes.  Let cool.  


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I really needed something sweet the other night and had a couple bananas lying around on the counter looking bored and starting to spot.  Perfect.  Spotted bananas are the always the beginning to something good, aren't they?  In this case it's banana bread, I made mini loves but you could so muffins or an 8 inch loaf.  Up to you.  These are not very sweet, if you like a sweeter quick bread add more agave or when serving, drizzle with more.  (Drizzling with more is better!)

Makes 1 loaf or 8 mini loaves or 12 muffins.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread

2 very ripe bananas, peeled

1/4 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup agave

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease baking pan and set aside.  

In a bowl, mash banana with peanut butter.  Stir in olive oil, agave, egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  In another bowl, whisk baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa powder until evenly combined.  I sifted my cocoa powder in to avoid lumps.  Fold all flour mixture into banana batter.  Stop folding once all combined.  (lumps are ok but no streaks of flour.  If batter is over mixed once flour is added, the bread will be tough.)

Spoon into prepared pan and bake, 15 to 17 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Cool on rack.  

Chocolate Covered S'mores


S'mores!  These are a nice idea for an edible gift.  Who doesn't love receiving home made candy?  

Tempering chocolate is easy and necessary for achieving professional quality chocolate treats at home.  Tempering chocolate is when chocolate is melted to one temperature and then brought down to a specific temperature range.  Tempering chocolate will leave you with chocolate covered candies that are glossy and maintain firmness at room temperature.  Untempered chocolate must be stored in the fridge or it will melt and will be messy when handled.  To temper chocolate you will need a metal bowl you can set over a pot of hot water and a thermometer. 

Makes 24 squares.

Chocolate Covered S'mores

12 graham crackers, halved into squares

24 marshmallows, halved lengthwise

1 lb dark chocolate discs or small pieces

.75 oz tempered dark chocolate, like Hersheys, Mast or Dove

Stretch 2 marshmallow halves over each graham cracker.  Use a chefs torch to toast marshmallows to a toasty brown.  Repeat with all graham crackers.  Set aside on a piece of parchment paper or silpat.  

Any chocolate you purchase will already be tempered when it leaves the factory.  However, once it is melted for coating other items, like graham crackers, it will have lost its tempered properties.  To regain the correct tempered property:  

In a double boiler with barely simmering hot water, stir the 1 lb of chocolate with a wooden spoon.  Heat the chocolate to 120-125 F.  It helps to begin with small uniform pieces of chocolate. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and cool the melted chocolate to 86F.  Adding the .75 oz of tempered chocolate will help lower the temperature.  (This is also called seeding.)

Raise the temperature of the chocolate by setting the bowl back over the hot water for brief intervals of 10 to 15 seconds.  Keep an eye on the temperature.  Heat to a maximum of 90F. (Milk and white chocolate would be to a maximum of 88F.)

The chocolate is now tempered and can be used for dipping and coating but must remain at 86 to 90F.  Continue passing it over the hot water to maintain this range of temperature.  

Dip toasted marshmallow graham one by one into chocolate until all are done.  Let set on parchment paper.  Store in air tight container. 

**Chocolate tempering instructions and notes are from the Components Design NW Inc which I found to be the clearest instructions and wanted to share.  

Chocolate Cherry Pancakes


I love brunch.  Any meal that allows for food that is clearly dessert to pass as a legitimate meal is ok with me!  This is one of those foods.  

If you find yourself out of buttermilk: add one tablespoon of white vinegar to one cup of milk and let it sit for ten minutes. 

Makes 7 large pancakes.  Enough for 2-4 people, depending on pancake appetite.   

Chocolate Cherry Pancakes 

1 cup cake flour (all purpose is fine, too) 

3 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add egg, buttermilk and coconut oil and mix until just combined.  Fold in cherries.  

Heat a skillet to medium heat and once hot.  Pour small ladlefuls of batter onto the skillet to form pancakes.  Cook about one minute on each side.  The edges will bubble when its ready to be flipped.  Cook in batches if needed.  

Serve hot with maple syrup, agave syrup, chocolate syrup or whipped cream for an indulgent breakfast or brunch.  



Chocolate Hazelnut Spread aka Nutella


I don't know about you but I can't be trusted around Nutella.  I took a trip to Paris a few years ago and I think the 6 or so pounds I gained on that trip is due to the fact that I was helpless to resist the street side windows of creperies and their Nutella and banana crepes.

 Nutella + Banana is possibly my favorite food combination.  

This recipe makes about 4 cups, so plan accordingly.   (Most of this batch is going to friends and co workers.)

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

10 oz hazelnuts, blanched + skinless

1/4 cup sugar

1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 stick butter

1 cup cream

pinches of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast about 30 minutes until medium brown.  Turn pan once during roasting for evenness.  Remove from oven and let cool.  

Combine sugar and roasted hazelnuts in the smaller bowl of a food processor and process with the multi purpose blade for 12 minutes of so.  Mixture will have to consistency of melted, oily, creamy peanut butter.  

Meanwhile, set a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and melt chocolate.  Add butter, stirring to melt and combine with chocolate.  Stir in cream.  Stir in hazelnut/sugar mixture and salt.  While warm, pour into clean jars.  

Will keep at room temperature of 4 days or in the fridge for a month.  

Chocolate Truffles


Truffles!  I don't really know what to say about these but they are easy to make and a nice looking gift.  Keep these little things in the fridge.  Roll them either in cocoa powder, crushed nuts, chopped dried cranberries, sprinkles, coconut or anything else.  

Chocolate Truffles

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons grand marnier

6 oz german sweet chocolate  

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

cocoa powder (or whatever you've chosen to roll the truffles in)

In a pan, boil cream until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.  Add grand marnier and chocolate.  Lower the heat and melt chocolate.  Add butter, stir until melted and mixture is smooth.  Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.  

Scoop out with a spoon, shape and roll in toppings.