Friday, October 30, 2015

Vegan Gluten-Free Sliced Almond Pumpkin Spice Carrot Cake

       I just adore a lovely slice of carrot cake!  But since it's pumpkin season, I decided why not do a mash-up of two delicious flavors in one amazing cake?  So today I bring you a dessert that ended up being very popular in my store…Sliced Almond Pumpkin Spice Carrot Cake!

You'll need: 

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ¼ cups coconut oil, melted 

2 cups sugar 

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tsp almond extract
1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2  tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

4 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp clove

1 tsp nutmeg


2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup golden raisins

       Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9” round pans by greasing and lining with 9” parchment paper.

       In a medium bowl, combine together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and extracts.
       In a separate bowl, mix together flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and Spices. Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and mix until fully combined.

Next, fold in the carrots and coconut, followed by sliced almonds and raisins.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for about 25–30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
       Once the cakes have finished baking, allow them to cool before assembling.

Cinnamon Crème Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp of Cinnamon

1 tbsp vanilla extract
coconut milk, as needed

       In a bowl using an electric mixer, whip the Shortening until smooth.  Add in one cup of powdered sugar and cream until the mixture is thick and crumbly.  Next, mix in the vanilla, Cinnamon, and a splash of coconut milk then whip until smooth.  Add in another cup of  powdered sugar followed by another splash of coconut if needed.  Repeat this step, using the last of the sugar.
              Assemble the two-layer cake by placing a generous amount of frosting on the bottom layer, then placing the second cake on top of it.  Use the rest of the frosting to cover the whole cake.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vegan Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cream Chocolate Candy

This weekend, on a whim, I decided I really wanted some kind of chocolate.  And peanut butter.  Better yet, a chocolate and peanut butter creation. But instead of my normal go-to cake, this time I decided to whip up a batch of candies.  If you’ve never made this type of dessert before, don’t worry, they're super simple and easy to make.  I'll show you how you can whip up this chocolaty goodness in no time flat...

You’ll need:

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 1/2  cups powdered sugar

2 cups vegan chocolate chips

Prepare a large cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper.

       In a large bowl with an electric mixer, whip the shortening and peanut butter until fluffy.  Beat in one cup of powdered sugar, then the second cup of powdered sugar.  Finally, mix in the last half cup and whip until smooth. 
       You can use either a double boiler or a microwave for this next step.  Melt the chocolate chips, stirring until they reach a smooth consistency.  Allow the chocolate to cool just enough that it won’t melt the peanut butter, but is still a pourable consistency.

        Next, use a spoon to scoop up a small amount of the peanut butter mixture, then carefully dip that into the chocolate.  Be sure to completely cover the peanut butter!  We want the chocolate all over that little baby. Place the peanut butter ball onto the covered cookie sheet. 

       Continue this process until you’ve used up all of the peanut butter mixture.  Put the cookie sheet into the fridge and allow to cool until the chocolate hardens.

       Now just serve and enjoy this delicious little treat!  

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hug A Fat Month!

I would first like to thank Chocolate-Covered Katie for coming up with this amazing celebration!

 I personally can’t believe how many people are afraid of fats. I personally believe our bodies need fat to be healthy and balanced. My personal favorite has to be AVOCADOS!!! I love them in any and every form. Grilled, stuffed, as guacamole, and even plain with a dash of salt.
 Be sure to share your favorite fat with Chocolate-Covered Katie and while you’re at it post it below as well.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Gluten-Free Ooey Gooey Bars

       To me, this is a classic treat! I was raised in a healthy household... and I mean extremely healthy!  But every once in a while, as a special treat, my mom would buy my sister and I an Ooey Gooey Bar from our local health Food Store.  Fast forward almost twenty years later, and I’m now manager of that health food store, so I decided to share this classic treat with the world.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I have since I was a young boy.

You’ll need…

1 cup Schar Gluten-Free Graham Crackers, crumbed

1/2 block Kerrygold butter, softened

2 14oz cans sweetened condensed milk

2 cups trail mix
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

       Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 13x9 pan and set aside.
Using a nut grinder or food processor, grind the graham crackers until they are fine crumbles.  Next, scrape the cream out of the vanilla cookies, then process those into crumbs as well.  Mix with the graham crackers.  Then, mix in the softened butter until you have a nice moist sandy texture that holds together.  Press down into the prepared pan, completely covering the bottom of the pan and going up about a 1/2" on the sides.

 Next, pour both cans of sweetened condensed milk evenly across the cookie crust.  Now, sprinkle the trail mix onto the milk.  (I used a trail mix of raisins, cranberries, pumpkins seeds, cashews, blueberries, and goji berries.)  Finally, sprinkle the chocolate chips uniformly across the top.

       Place the pan into the prepared oven and allow it to bake for 30 minutes.  Once the bars have finished baking, immediately run a knife along the edges of the bars to get the cookie crumbs and any goo off the pan while still warm.  This will make it easier to get the bars out of the pan after they have cooled.
       Place the bars in the fridge for about two hours before cutting and serving!  For an added touch, drizzle a bit of white chocolate across the top of the bars as you serve them.  So delicious!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Gluten-Free Tropical Lemo'Berry Cake

        There is one word that we bakers are always excited to hear: DIVINE!  I truly don’t know of better word that I would love to hear more for describing my desserts.  You might already guess where this is leading…yes, I had more than a few people describe this particular cake with that word.  I am excited to share with you a combination of lemon, mango, coconut, and berries!  Some might think it sounds like an odd combination, right?  Well, take it from what others are's actually a divine combination! ENJOY!             

You'll need:

1 cups sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp raspberry extract

1 tsp imitation butter extract

4 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk 

1/2  cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup shredded coconut  

       Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare two round 9” pans by greasing and covering the bottom of each with parchment paper cut to size.

        In a large measuring cup, rehydrate the dried mango and blueberries with a cup of buttermilk.  Set aside until needed.

       In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Then add in the extracts and continue whipping until fully creamed.  Next, add in the eggs one at a time, whipping well between each egg.

       In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Then stir into the creamed mixture a little at a time, alternating with the milk and fruit combination. 
      Fold in the frozen blueberries and coconut flakes.  Then pour the batter into prepared pans and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center and the tops are a light golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

 Lemon Vanilla Crème Frosting
1 cup of Kerrygold butter -Salted

1/2 cups palm shortening

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp lemon extract

       In a large bowl with an electric mixer, whip the butter and shortening until fluffy.  Whip in one cup of powdered sugar, then Add in a second cup of powdered sugar and extracts.  To finish, beat in the remaining cup of powdered sugar.  If you desire a thinner frosting, just mix in splash of cream.

       Spread the frosting over the bottom layer of cake for the filling, then place the second cake on top.  Finish frosting the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Almond Spice Cake

       It’s pumpkin season!!!  And I'll have you know that earlier this week, here in sunny Florida, we actually had one whole day in the middle of October with cooler temperatures!  It felt like fall was beginning!  I mean, it was like in the 70's so it was practically time to break out the scarves here.  All kidding aside, I still seized the opportunity to go into the kitchen, using the seasonal change as inspiration for my next recipe.  I hope you enjoy this new twist on an old autumn classic!

 You'll need:

1 cup Kerrygold salted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tsp butter flavor

4 eggs

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp clove

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

       Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease and place piece of round parchment paper on the bottom of two round 9” cake pans.
        In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Add in the sugars and extracts then continue whipping until fully creamed.

       Gradually add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.

       In a separate bowl, combine the flours, spices, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Then stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.

       Scoop the batter into prepared pans, Place in the oven to bake for  for  25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center and the tops are a light golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Pumpkin Spice Butter Cream Frosting

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup salted Kerrygold butter, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

       In a medium bowl, cream butter and pumpkin with an electric mixer.  Whip in two cups of powdered sugar and the spices.  Then, whip in the final cup of powdered sugar and continue blending until smooth and creamy.

       Now just frost the cake and sprinkle with sliced almonds and a drizzle of white chocolate sauce! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tasty Review - Simple Mills

So most of the time when I’m in the kitchen, I'm working on my own creations for my blog.  But recently, I’ve been asked to write up some product reviews and share my opinion on some of the different gluten-free and vegan products that are available.  Since I had this new idea for the blog brewing in the back of my mind, when I stumbled upon Simple Mills baking mixes, I figured it was the perfect time to post my first product review!

       So where to start?  How about discussing the, well, simplicity of Simple Mills!  I was actually shocked to see that their vanilla cake, for example, “simply” has only six ingredients.  Did I mention that it is also grain-free, soy-free, dairy-free, low in carbs, and yes, it’s even also paleo-friendly!!!  Whew… I’m not sure if you can tell but I was extremely excited to come across such a simple, clean line of baking mixes.  Now, as you can probably guess, as a baker I am NOT usually a fan of box mix anything.  To me, it seems almost like cheating, but I also understand that there are many people who lack the time or the confidence to just go into the kitchen and attempt to bake something from scratch. 

            I decided I would whip up two Simple Mills mixes, so I chose both their Vanilla and Chocolate Cake.  If you follow the directions on the package exactly, you'll need to add eggs, oil, water, and vanilla to complete the mix.  I chose instead to replace the oil and water with butter and milk, since none of my test group for this cake needed it to be vegan.

        *Baking tip: If you need to make this vegan and are looking for a good egg replacement, just try using 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree per egg.*

        Prep time is a breeze!  Just whip all the liquid ingredients together then slowly stir in the dry mix, and TADAAA…you have the batter ready to pour into an 8" or 9" round pan.  Then just place in the oven and bake for…?

            Okay, so this will be the first not-so-good thing I have to say regarding the mix.  If I would have followed the baking instructions on either cake mix, they would have been BURNT!!!  I warn you ahead of time...always bake for five minutes less than the recommended time on any package you might try using.  If it’s not finished at that point, you can always allow it to bake longer while keeping an eye on it.  But for these mixes especially, if I had allowed it to bake for the full 30-35 minutes, it would have been buh-bye delicious grain-free cake. 

       Even though I didn't accidently bake the cakes too long, they were both still on the dry end of the spectrum, in my opinion.  Next time, I would have to play around with the mix and add different ingredients to fix this problem I personally had with the cakes.

            Now on to the part where I let you know if it’s good or not, right?  The answer is, Yes!  So here’s my opinion, both the chocolate and vanilla cakes were quite delicious, in a healthy way.  And no, that is not me saying nicely that they were actually gross.  What I mean, is that you can truly taste the simplicity and purity of the ingredients.  They aren’t very sweet by any means, but that’s to be expected when you’re using a mix that has coconut sugar as the only sweetener.  This being the case, Simple Mills may not be the cake mix for everyone, especially if you’re trying to serve guests who are used to the good old standard Betty Crocker type cakes.

       But there is a way around this dilemma!  Now, since I knew that my own guests wouldn't be thrilled with being invited over, expecting a decadent dessert, then having an almost non-sweetened slice of cake handed to them, I decided to make a sweeter frosting to complement the plainness of the cake.  This created an amazing balance between the less sweet, slightly dry cake and the almost overly-sweet, creamy frosting!
      In a nutshell, I have to say I am a fan of Simple Mills mixes.

The Pros:

 -      Clean Ingredients

-      Friendly for most diets

-      Easy to make

-      Good variety of baking mix options, including cookies, pizza crust, muffins, and of course cakes.

The Cons:

-      The mixes aren’t for everyone.  Those who expect a cake with a standard level of sweetness would probably be disappointed.

-      A bit too dry.  For some, this may not be a con but in my opinion, a cake should be more moist than these are.

-      These are pricey! For one mix, I’ve seen the prices range from $7.99 to $9.99.  Since a mix only makes one 8" or 9" round cake, that’s pretty expensive. But for someone who is looking for a truly clean pre-mixed cake, that price is well worth it.
       In conclusion, Simple Mills is a brand that I approve.  Pricey, yes, but to me it’s worth it to spend a little extra and make sure that not only I, but the people I serve my baked goods to are eating clean food that is still delicious.  If you give one of their mixes a try, leave a comment  below and let me know what you think about Simple Mills!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Grain-Free Fudgy Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

      Last week at the health food store I manage, one of my employees had a birthday, and she was begging for a peanut butter and chocolate dessert.  That gave me a flavor profile to work with, and since I happened to know that she has celiac, I also knew I needed to create something that was gluten-free.  So off to the kitchen I went to whip up a delicious fudgy treat!  I hope you enjoy my newest brownie creation, which has a secret, healthy ingredient to make it super moist...avocado!!!

You’ll need…
2 cups mashed avocado

4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tsp butter extract
2 tbsp water

2 1/4 cup cacao powder

1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt
       Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8x11 pan and set aside until needed.

Peel avocados and mash until they equal two cups worth.  For me, it took four small Haas avocados.  In a medium bowl, whip the avocado, eggs, extracts, and water with an electric mixer until smooth.
       Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler until smooth then whip it in to the avocado mixture. Next, add in the cacao  slowly, mixing well between each cup.  Then stir in the sugar, baking soda and salt. 
       Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle dark chocolate chips across the top. bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
       After the brownies have baked, put them in the refrigerator to cool completely before adding the peanut butter topping.
Peanut Butter Fudgy Topping

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
       In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, cream the peanut butter until the consistency has thinned slightly.  Then add in the powdered sugar and whip until it is a crumbly mixture.  Next, Add in the heavy cream and keep whipping until completely smooth.

       Spread the topping across the cooled brownies, then drizzle with a bit of chocolate syrup.  Then serve and enjoy this grain-free treat!