Flourless Chocolate Cake

Alright folks, this cake has a back story. I'm happy to say we've kissed and made up since our last encounter. 

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The first time I ever made a flourless chocolate cake was a few years ago for our church's  40th anniversary dinner. I wanted to be sure the church chef and pastor both had something delicious to eat (needed to be gluten free). So I did it, and it was great. Fast forward to last Easter...we were making an Easter cake for a dear friend at church and I had signed us up for a dessert at the potluck. Well Chef Ben was talking about the basket weave cake design and how perfect they are for Easter and insisted that he would make the basket weave cake for our friend. I said, well ok then, if you want to. We have a lot going on and I'm not committing to that, I'm already making the potluck dessert. Now, let's talk about this dessert. I decided I wanted to make that flourless chocolate cake again, since it had been so long. Are any of you seeing what's wrong with this picture?? I committed to baking a cake and Chef Ben committed to decorating one. NOT SMART!

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So there we are, up early on a Sunday morning before church. I get all my ingredients out and I'm trying to hurry. Simultaneously, Chef Ben is about 10 feet away getting his tools ready for the basket weave cake. I pour my batter in the cake rings and immediately go "uh oh". I forgot an ingredient. Immediate frustration set in. Meanwhile Chef Ben is huffing and puffing about how much easier the basket weave was the last time he did it (in culinary school). 

So now we're both highly flustered and running out of time and in need of help from eachother. So what do we do? We slap ourselves in the forehead and think 'what are we doing?" I'm baking and he was decorating and it was all wrong! So we switched places, Chef Ben fixed my batter, I cranked out a basket weave and flowers and were on our happy way to church saying 'never again'. 

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Fast forward another year and some change and we were preparing for a Memorial day BBQ. I asked my friend what I could bring and he asked if I could just bring a small gluten free dessert for our dear friend who's birthday was the next day. Absolutley! We can do that. So I thought to myself...do I insist Chef Ben makes it, or do I make peace with the flourless cake recipe? 

Now, let me tell you, I approached the cake in an entirely different way. I refused to be stressed about time, I played music I could sing and dance along to, and I enlisted a lil' helper to keep it fun! This made all the difference in the world. By the way, I also discover in the staging phase of this recipe that all of my baking and decorating tools had been packed away except 2- 8" cake pans and a #2 piping tip (no coupler, no bag). So this cake was made with butterknives, a fork, a hand whisk (no mixer), some wax paper and cooking spray. Voila! Delicious flourless chocolate birthday cake! Redemption is mine! 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cake Ingredients (for x2 8" cake layers)

  • 1 cup of chocolate chips or chunks (Callebaut is our recommended chocolate)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (we use sticks of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks*Can use regular unsalted butter if non-dairy is not a requirement for you.
  • 1 1/2 sups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (while Chef Ben now makes his own vanilla extract, we prefer Nielsen Massey's Madagascar Vanilla for off the shelf vanilla - but any pure vanilla extract will work)
  • 6 Large eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder  (Dutch process or dark cocoa preferably. We use Cacao Berry Extra Brut)

Preheat oven to 350 (convection) or 375 bake

Line your cake pan with cooking spray, then wax or parchment paper (I press into the edges and use a small knife to cut so I'm left with a perfect circle liner at the bottom of the pan), then spray again. 

Melt chocolate and butter together, double boiler style or in the microwave. Stir together.

Add sugar, salt, vanilla and stir until combined.

 If you don't have a thermometer, our cake should be done when there's a thin crust on top and it doesn't jiggle.

If you don't have a thermometer, our cake should be done when there's a thin crust on top and it doesn't jiggle.

Add the eggs and stir until smooth.

Add the cocoa powder and stir until combined (be sure there are no clumps of cocoa).

Pour into your cake pans and bake until a thin crust forms on the top or a quick read thermometer reads about 210 degrees. I baked two pans on 350 convention for about 30 minutes. 

 

 

Ganache Ingredients

  • 2 cups of  chocolate chips or chunks (Callebaut is our recommended chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (we use sticks of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks*Can use regular unsalted butter if non-dairy is not a requirement for you.
  • 1 cup heavy cream (if you only have milk, use milk)
  • 2 tbs Vanilla Extract (while Chef Ben now makes his own vanilla extract, we prefer Nielsen Massey's Madagascar Vanilla for off the shelf vanilla - but any pure vanilla extract will work)

Melt the butter and milk together in microwave or on stove. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. If you need to heat some more to melt all of chocolate, do so a little at a time. 

Stir in vanilla 

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Once your cakes are done, cut around the edges so they don't stick and remove from pan to cool. 

Once cake is cooled, you can fill with fresh fruit and ganache or if you have a frosting made that you would like to fill with, that works to. If you cut the recipe in half, you can just place the single layer on a plate and pour with ganache and top with fruit! 

*If you are going to fill the cake with ganache, be sure you set 1/3 of the ganache in the fridge to cool and become spreadable. 

**When you pour the ganache over the top, be sure it's very warm and runny so it will pour evenly and not clump. Refrigerate and serve! 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed

Zesty, mildly sweet, and oh so delicious! Perfect for spring and summer...and fall and winter! Who says you can't enjoy lemon year round?

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You may have seen us posting about our arrival of Young Living Essential Oils (YLEO) and how excited we've been to cook and bake with them! The first recipe...Lemon Poppy Seed using Lemon Vitality! This was a fun endeavor because Chef Ben and I made the same recipe side by side. His was made with 2% cow's milk, butter, AP flour and granulated cane sugar; while mine was made with coconut milk, vegan butter, gluten free flour and monk fruit sugar! Let me tell you...he tried both and said the 'ingredient free' version was as good as the traditional. All I know is that I had a bite, and then somehow both of my loaves were gone. I don't know where they went??? ::shrugg:: little ol' me couldn't have eaten all that by myself (but even if I had eaten both loaves...they weren't THAT big)...I made a half batch.

Before you read the recipe, remember that you can substitute equal amounts of standard ingredients for any of the specialty ingredients if you don't have the same dietary needs. The recipe is written with sugar, milk, butter and flour substitutes. *We purchased our ingredients at Wegmans.   

Lemon Poppy Seed 

(loaves or muffins)

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Monk fruit sugar (Lakanto's monk fruit sweetener is amazing! 
  • 1 cup Gluten free flour ( for this one we used Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1)
  • 1/3 cup Poppy seed
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Coconut Milk (we use So Delicious)
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy butter - melted (Earth Balance is always our recommendation)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs Lemon Juice
  • 3 drops Lemon Vitality Essential Oil   
  • 1 tsp FRESH lemon zest
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 2 tbs powdered sugar (optional to sprinkle on top after cooled)

Combine Dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds and lemon zest. Stir together and set aside.

 x4 mini loaf pans/x1 standard loaf pan/ x12 muffins

x4 mini loaf pans/x1 standard loaf pan/ x12 muffins

Combine liquids: milk, vanilla and Lemon Vitality and set aside.

Combine butter and sugar in mixing bowl and cream together. 

Add egg and mix until incorporated

Alternate adding dry ingredients and liquids, mixing on low in between, just until incorporated. 

Fill loaf or muffin pan and bake on 350 for approx. 25-30 minutes. 

Allow to cool and Enjoy!

*You can sprinkle with powder sugar if you'd like to add a little extra sweetness!

Chocolate Beets and Spinach Cake

If I didn't know any better, I'd say there was some sort of trickery involved, but I assure you, there is not. Just Chef Ben's culinary love magic at play. We host a church group in our home every Monday and they got to be our guinea pigs...along with our finicky children. It was a win! We had one skeptic who doesn't eat anything 'colorful' and she stared at it trying to wrap her head around this perfectly normal looking piece of chocolate delight that we had just described with an ingredients list. Spinach? Beets? Apple Cider Vinegar? Pea Milk?! What in the world is pea milk?! I will admit, the pea milk was a last minute ingredient switch, and it made for hilarious conversation, as we began to call it 'Chocolate Pea Cake'.

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Sidebar: Chef Ben and I ran to the store for beets and full fat coconut milk for the recipe and remembered I needed more (normal) coconut milk for smoothies. Just above the milk I buy, I saw Ripple's Pea Milk and asked Chef if he had ever heard of it. He hadn't, so we thought hmmmm, this is too weird not to try! I have to say, I wouldn't drink it on it's own (but I don't drink coconut, almond or cow's milk on it's own either), but it has the perfect creaminess to it for smoothies! Amazing. 8g of protein per serving as well! Anyway, we got the beets and beat it...leaving behind the full fat coconut milk for the recipe...resulting in using the pea milk...which was just an added bonus because it's healthier than the type of coconut milk he was going to use!

Back to it...The cake was delicious! It had that slightly different quality that most GF items have (if I'm being perfectly honest), but it was wonderful! All three of our kids loved it, and so did our friends...even the skeptic! Well, (if I'm being perfectly honest) she didn't 'LOVE' it. but she said said it was much better than she expected and couldn't believe it was loaded with spinach and beets. It wouldn't be her first choice but this is also a woman who "hasn't eaten a vegetable since she was 18 months old"...so I'm going to chalk this up as a win! 

So here's how you make this undercover nutrient loaded

Chocolate Beets and Spinach Cake

*As always, feel free to switch out non-dairy/gluten free flours, butters and liquids for standard baking flour, milk, and butter

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups Gluten free flour ( for this one we used Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1)
  • 1 cup baking cocoa (Dutch process or dark cocoa preferably. We use Cacao Berry Extra Brut)
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pea milk (we used Ripple Pea Milk , you could also use vanilla soy, vanilla coconut milk etc...)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy butter - melted (Earth Balance is always our recommendation)
  • 1 cup beet puree (you can buy a can of beets and puree yourself)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 handfuls baby spinach- pureed (we recommend adding to your beets puree for puree process)
  • 4 eggs - beat
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks *optional (we use Callebaut Dark Chocolate Semi-Sweet Chips)

Combine Dry ingredients

Combine wet ingredients

Stir (or mix on low/medium) Dry and wet ingredients together until incorporated. Add beaten eggs and fold in (or mix on low) until incorporated. 

Spray 11x14 cake pan (metal or glass) with non-stick spray and pour batter in evenly

Sprinkle with chocolate chips and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Cool and enjoy!

Banana Bread (Ridiculously Good)

 

Ohhhh, I may have eaten a whole loaf. In my defense, Chef Ben made two small loaves...so it wasn't that big.

In preparing for yet another snow day home with three kids today, my loving hubby asked me if there was anything I wanted him to make for me...meaning, something specifically gluten free/dairy free that would be extra enjoyable. I thought about it and had an overwhelming craving for either banana bread or pumpkin bread. I don't discriminate, I love all breads. Sweet breads, savory breads, seeded breads...banana, pumpkin, lemon and poppy seed. I can go on and on. I LOVE BREAD. But having to abandon gluten has left me with a frequent longing for all things bread-y. Today, it was specifically for that slightly sweet, spongy-textured, warm, fruit-or-veggie-infused-kinda-bread. So he obliged...cause he kinda loves me <3 

I don't know how he does it. But it was amazing...every slice. Baked to perfection. He has this way of creating flavors that are elusive. You can never quite pin point the flavors you experience, or the balance between them....you just know they're so very enjoyable and you want more. 

I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did. Yeah, our kids love it too. And those almost bad bananas were transformed into something wonderful instead of meeting a tragically wasteful fate in the garbage. 

 

 
 

Ridiculously Good Banana Bread (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Ingredients

  • 4oz - or 1 stick Softened Non-Dairy Butter (we use sticks of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks*Can use regular unsalted butter if non-dairy is not a requirement for you.
  • 7 oz Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 4 Mashed Bananas (use very ripe bananas. You know, the ones your kids won't eat because they're 'almost bad'. We also find that organic bananas are creamier and better tasting)
  • 7 1/2 oz Gluten Free flour (while Chef Ben uses his own blend, it's base, and our recommendation for ready to use flour would be Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour, available most local grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (while Chef Ben now makes his own vanilla extract, we prefer Nielsen Massey's Madagascar Vanilla for off the shelf vanilla - but any pure vanilla extract will work)
  • 2 tbs confectioner's sugar (set aside to dust final product)

Directions

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes on medium.

Add eggs one at a time while mixing on medium.

Add bananas and mix 20-30 seconds on medium.

Add dry ingredients slowly while mixing on medium/low until incorporated.

Add vanilla and mix only until the vanilla is combined into batter. 

Pour batter into loaf pan(s)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean from center)

Once completely cooled, use a strainer or sifter to dust top of loaf.

ENJOY!

 

Gluten and Dairy Free Cookies - Oh My!

Well, as promised, below is the recipe for Gluten Free / Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. This was Chef Ben's first go at the cookie so we were not sure how they would bake, feel or taste. I am pleased to say, they're a keeper!

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Now, I haven't had a cookie since we were still in Thailand. Had I of know it would be the last time I ate a traditional chocolate chip cookie, I would have savored it a little more. For many, 3 or 4 weeks without a particular cookie isn't a big deal...but a lot of you know that I started my work days with Chef Ben's House Cookies. Every morning as I set things up for the day, I had my cookie before I opened the shop. It's just what I did. So I haven't been able to do that now that I have to steer clear of gluten as well as dairy (and believe me, there's still been house cookies floating around our house, even though the shop is closed. It's not like the goodies went away as well). Oh the joy in my taste buds as these medallions of satisfaction came hot out of the oven looking just like the cookies I've grown so fond of! Great news...they are absolutely delicious too! 

 

Chef Ben's House Cookie (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Ingredients

  • 340 grams Gluten Free flour (while Chef Ben uses his own blend, it's base, and our recommendation for ready to use flour would be Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour, available most local grocery stores)
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 8oz Non-Dairy Butter (we use sticks of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks) *Can use regular unsalted butter if non-dairy is not a requirement for you.
  • 160 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 160 grams Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (while Chef Ben now makes his own vanilla extract, we prefer Nielsen Massey's Madagascar Vanilla for off the shelf vanilla - but any pure vanilla extract will work)
  • 1 1/2 cups of non-dairy chocolate chips or chunks...2 cups if you like them extra chocolaty. Note: We recommend using bittersweet chocolate, but you can also use semi-sweet if you like your cookies extra sweet. (Callebaut is our recommended chocolate, but Guittard is a great non-dairy option that will be available at most stores)

Directions

*Note: It's going to seem like a long process because of the rest times, but it's worth it. Cookie dough freezes incredibly well, so you only have to make the dough once in a while!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for convection) 

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt - set aside

Using stand mixer with paddle attachment, add both sugars and mix on low speed until incorporated (15-20 seconds)

Slice each stick of refrigerated butter into 8 pieces (total of 16) and add all butter to sugar mixture. Mix on medium speed until creamed and incorporated (approximately 1 minute). *Note: You should not be able to see and butter or sugar chunks once properly creamed

Add 1 egg, mix only until incorporated and then add second egg, mixing only until incorporated and then add the vanilla and mix for 5 seconds. 

Turn mixer down to low speed and add approximately 1/3 of flour mixture only until incorporated. Add another 1/3 of flour mixture until incorporated, and add final 1/3 of flour mixture until incorporated. *There will no longer be visible signs of flour once incorporated.

Stop mixer. Add chocolate chips and mix on low for 5-10 seconds. 

Remove dough and scrape bowl onto plastic wrap. Wrap securely (2-3 wraps) to ensure it's well wrapped and protected from air. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

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Once refrigerated, use ice cream scooper to dish cookie dough onto parchment paper. Average ice cream scooper will yield approximately 20 cookies (2.5 oz each). Fold parchment over dished dough, wrap in plastic and place in freezer for a minimum of 2 hours. *We recommend making a lot of dough so you can keep ready to bake cookies in your freezer for months at a time.

You will know your cookies are ready to bake when they are firm to the touch. *Note: If you bake your cookies before they are firm, they will spread more when baking and you will end up with a thinner, crispier cookie)

Line cookie sheet with parchment and place cookie dough evenly on sheet with 3 inches between each cookie. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate tray 180 degrees and bake an additional 6-7 minutes. 

Remove sheet pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes. 

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Using a spatula, move cookies to a wire cooling rack to complete cooling process. 

Note: You may enjoy warm gooey cookies which will make your cookies ready to eat after the initial cooling time. We recommend allowing the cookie to cool completely in order to fully enjoy the texture of Chef Ben's House Cookie. 

ENJOY!