Cake · Chocolate · Dessert · Valentine's Day

Day 3- The best flour-less chocolate cake you will ever make

If you say Flour-less or Gluten-Free to me, I am probably going to roll my eyes at you give a hard PASS.

This rich, dense, creamy, decadent flourless chocolate cake will change your mind forever when it comes to Gluten-Free baking. It is also my most coveted recipe I make.

Although I feel the term “cake” is perhaps not the best description, the cake is more like a baked ganache containing sugar and eggs. The key to this recipe is to use a high quality dark chocolate such as Valrhona.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients


1 lb 8oz Chocolate
1 lb Butter
1 lb Granulated Sugar
2 Cups Pineapple Juice
8 Egg Yolks
1 Vanilla Bean or 1 TB Vanilla Extract

1. Grease a 9 or 10inch round cake pan with pan spray and cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, bring he pineapple juice to a boil and reduce to down to 3/4 Cup.
3. In a large bowl, combine half the sugar and egg yolks and whisk together until thick and pale.
4. Over a double boiler, melt together the remaining sugar, butter and chocolate. Once melted, add the reduced pineapple juice and mix until combined.
5. Using a ladle and whisking the egg mixture continuously, ladle the hot melted chocolate into the egg mixture one ladle at a time. Once half the chocolate has been ladled in, pour the rest in and continue to stir until completely incorporated.
6. Add the batter to the prepared cake pan and place the cake pan in a larger pan with high walls. Add water to the base pan, just enough so it comes up about half way on the sides of round cake pan.
7. Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes to an hour. The cake will have a slight jiggle still in the center of it. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool, in the waterbath.
8. Carefully turn the cake over onto a cake stand or plate and garnish before serving.
Garnish Ideas:
Fresh Fruit: Raspberries, Blackberries, Pomegranate Seeds, Cheeries
Chocolate Ganache
Whipped Cream

 

-K

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Candy · Chocolate · Dessert · Valentine's Day

Day 2- Swoon Worthy Oreo Truffles for Valentine’s Day

Two Words… Oreo Truffles.

Nothing could be easier than these three ingredient Oreo Truffles. I warn you, they are incredibly addictive.

Simply take 1 package of regular or mint flavored Oreos and place all the Oreos in a food processor. Pulse the cookies until finally ground. Remove about 2 tsp of crushed cookies and set it aside for garnish. Add 1 8oz package of plain cream cheese to the ground cookies and continue to pulse until the Oreos and the cream cheese are smooth (it should start to look like a thick paste).

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Scoop balls of dough on a parchment lined sheet pan and gently, with your hands, roll them into smooth balls. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm them up. Once firm, dip the cookie dough into melted dark chocolate and set back onto the parchment to harden.

I like to sprinkle a little bit of the reserved crushed cookies on top of each truffle before the chocolate hardens.

Make a double batch and freeze them for later!

-K

Bars and Brownies · Dessert · Valentine's Day

5 Days of easy, swoon inducing treats for the baking challenged that are perfect for your Valentine- Day 1

A couple of weeks ago I made Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats and promptly ate the entire pan within 2 days because they were SOOOOOOOO good.

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Now the problem with making Rice Krispy Treats is not how good they are and not how quickly you will eat them, it’s that there is always leftover Rice Krispy Cereal and I have no idea what to do with it. Honestly, I did what any intelligent person would do, I made more Rice Krispy Treats!!!

This time around I started thinking about ways I could jazz them up and add a little something special to them. A lot of ideas flowed through my head… are you getting the idea that you are going to see a lot of funky Rice Krispy Treat ideas from me in the future? You are not wrong…

I started to get inspired by the colors and desserts most popular around Valentine’s Day and immediately it hit me- Cocoa Nib Raspberry Rice Krispy Treats!

I had a half a bag of freeze-dried raspberries leftover from a baking experiment gone wrong and had just purchased a new bag of Cocoa Nibs.

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I used the standard Rice Krispy Treats Recipe Found on the box of the cereal and simply added 1/2 Cup Freeze Dried Raspberries and 1/4 Cup Cocoa Nibs to the sticky batter and mixed them in when I added the rice cereal to the hot marshmallow.

For a thicker treat, I buttered a 13×5 baking dish with butter and lined the bottom with wax paper before pouring in the batter. Using a buttered off-set spatula I gently pressed the treats down into the dish to create a nice smooth top.

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Holy Moses these are incredible! The classic Rice Krispy Treat is still my favorite but the addition of the crunchy chocolatey cocoa nibs and tart raspberries really help balance out the sweetness of these treats.

Happy Baking!
-K

Dinner · Pasta · Sweet Potato

Two easy Recipes for Dinner Tonight Highlighting a Common Side Dish- The Sweet Potato

Like most of America, I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes. Recently I have been looking for new ways to make some of my favorite foods. Sweet potatoes are one of those items I love to eat but I am getting a little bored with the just roasting them. I have also been working on ways to make sweet potatoes a main entrée item, rather than just a side.

My first thought was pasta! I have been making a lot of homemade pasta lately, especially ravioli. I tend to buy ravioli to simply have as a back up meal in my freezer for a quick and easy last-minute lunch or dinner. Making it though is incredibly easy and very cost efficient.

For my Sweet Potato ravioli filling I first started by roasting the sweet potatoes whole in the oven for about 45 minutes until they were fork tender. I prefer roasting them rather than boiling them as roasting helps to remove some of the excess moisture in the sweet potatoes.

In a food processor, with the sweet potatoes, I added whole cloves of roasted garlic, fresh thyme, a small shallot and salt and pepper. The acidity of the shallot helps to cut and balance out the sweetness from the sweet potatoes and roasted garlic. If you do not have a shallot you could use a small red onion or add a little apple cider vinegar.

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Once everything was pureed and smooth, I added sour cream and heavy cream. The sour cream and heavy cream helps lighten the filling and balance out the flavors.

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Sweet Potato Ravioli

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 lb Sweet Potatoes

4-5 Cloves Roasted Garlic

3 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

1 Small Shallot, sliced

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

1/4 Cup Heavy Cream

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Recipe Fresh Pasta

Directions

To roast the sweet potatoes, clean and remove any excess dirt from the potatoes. With a fork, prick the potatoes a few times, and place on a sweet pan. Bake in a 425 oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Once done, set aside to cool. Once cool, remove the skins and place sweet potatoes in a large food process with the rest of the ingredients except for the sour cream and heavy cream. Puree filling until smooth. Add in the heavy cream and sour cream and puree until combined. Use mixture immediately or refrigerate in an air tight container until ready to use.

To make the ravioli Roll out pasta according to instruction. Using a 1oz scoop, scoop mixture directly onto the dough. Using your fingers for spacing, space the added dough out two fingers worth apart. Using your finger, dip it in water and add a thin layer around the filling. Top the filling with an additional piece of pasta and gently press the pasta down around the filling. The water will hep seal the two sheets of pasta together. Using a cookie cutter or a ravioli cutter, cut out the ravioli and place on a floured sheet tray. Keep refrigerated until ready to cook. If freezing the ravioli’s, let them air dry until completely dry and place carefully into a freezer safe plastic bag. Freeze up to 2 months.


Next up is a classic dish with a twist. Traditional Italian gnoochi made with sweet potatoes rather than regular potatoes and its also made gluten-free.

Now, I am gal that is very much Pro-Gluten. I am also fortunate enough not to suffer from any allergens associate with Gluten but I do have a close friend that does. So, I wanted to make something that would not only taste amazing but also be something that if you are Gluten-Free you could also appreciate.

Gnoochi is elegant and exceptionally easy to make. It’s one of those dishes if I see it on a menu, I am absolutely ordering it. It is also, incredibly easy to make.

 

Like our ravioli filling, I roasted the sweet potatoes first in the oven to remove any excess moisture in them. Once tender and cooked, I cooked them an additional 20 minutes to almost dry them out. If the sweet potatoes are to moisture, the dough in the end is tough to put together.

Once the potatoes are cooled, using a ricer or a potato masher, I mashed the potatoes until smooth. Making the potatoes smooth before adding in the flours prevents lumps from forming.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients


3/4 lb Sweet Potatoes (about two small sweet potatoes)
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Potato Starch
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1 Egg Yolk

Directions

Rice the sweet potatoes into a bowl with the sour cream, brown rice flour, potato starch, salt, pepper and egg yolk. Gently mix everything together until a ball of dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Dust your work surface with a little rice flour or potato starch. Cut your dough in half and using the pads of your fingers, gently rough your dough out into a log. Roll the dough out until it’s about the diameter of a nickel.

Using a bench scraper, cut 1 inch pieces of dough (it’s ok if they are not perfect!). Using a gnocchi board and your thumb, you want to press the ball of dough down and along the board, so that each pieces of dough molds to the grooves.

Bring a pot of salted water to a roaring boil and gently add the gnocchi. Give them a gentle stir and let cos for 3-4 minutes. Once the gnocchi starts to float to the top, they are done!


Gnoochi with Brown Butter Lemon Sage Sauce

 

 

Cake · Cupcakes

The Interwebs will brighten up your day with its cat meme’s and crush your soul with its truths

The internet I remember what life was like without you. Seriously, I remember life before cell phones, the internet and before EVERYTHING became automated. Now, before I go any further I understand the irony of my thoughts here. I am sitting here writing and complaining about the internet while I am using the internet as an expression of my voice. I get it, but hear me out.

The internet has ruined my life a few times. Perhaps not ruined, but we will say has impacted it substantially. The first time was when I was 16. Yes, the internet was still pretty new and it had its limits. It took me 10 minutes to boot up my dial-up AOL and I lived my life at night on Instant Messenger talking to my boyfriend. He was my first boyfriend, actually the boyfriend I still compare all boyfriends too. We were in love and he broke my heart by suddenly breaking up with me two weeks before my Grandfather passed away. In his defense he didn’t know my Grandfather was going to die, no one did. Still, huge moment in my life here people.

That summer is a blur of sadness and tears and the first time I ever experienced anxiety and depression in my life. Although with everything that was going on, I remember my mom sitting me down one day and said ” I want to ask you a few things and I want you to be honest with me.” We will keep this PG-13 and won’t mention specifically what mom asked me, however her inquiries stemmed from an online post she found where an individual had outlined all the sordid details of my first relationship with a boy. This is also when I learned my mother was a PI and could find ANYTHING. I think we now all call if by its proper name: Stalking. She is pretty much the Yoda of stalking. Anyways, blogging wasn’t even a thing back then but I consider this to be the first instance of blogging in my life.

The second time the internet reared its ugly head in my life negatively was last year when I very easily deduced from photos and flirty posts that my then POS boyfriend was cheating on me. Oh silly internet, you did it again…

My issue with the internet is you can’t hide anything from it. It’s a place that keeps track of everything. Your always just a click away from someone or something you are trying to avoid and it never keeps secrets. You can always find the truth, especially when you are not looking for it.

That leads us to two days ago. After a long morning teaching and then an afternoon at Target buying about 80 things I didn’t know I needed, I was laying on my couch snuggling with my cat and waiting for a movie to start. I ran out of lives on candy crush ( Hi, I am a candy crush addict) and I popped onto good old Facebook to see what super important world topics I had missed for the day. Well, I suppose I missed one.

Somehow I missed when a good friend of mine seems to have gone and got himself married. We are not talking he up and eloped with some chick he met last week at a bar. No. We are talking full on church wedding with 300+ people and a hell of a lot of planning that went into it.

Now you must be thinking “What is her problem? Why is she not happy for him?” In truth, I am very happy for him because I love him and consider him to be one of my oldest friends. He lives in a different country and we don’t speak often but when we do, it’s like no time has lapsed and we pick right up where we left off. I should however mention that about 3 years ago he decided that we should “hook up.” Yes, he is an adult and said this to me. Romantic right? Now, he is an attractive guy, but I think of him as a brother.  We have been a confidant for one another over the years and unfortunately, I know far too much about him and several women and their sexual escapades then I ever thought I would know.

So, obviously when he declares his love for me I can’t take him seriously. I am not his type and he is a player. He is very wealthy and he dates wealthy beautiful girls that all look the same; they are all tall, stupidly skinny, effortaly beautiful and everything I am not. Which I am ok with. I however, am probably the only female in his life that has said no to him, hence I feel this has sparked his continued obsession with him thinking we are soul mates.

As I said, this has been going on for at least 3 years and during that whole time not once did he mention when I asked him if he was seeing anyone seriously. When I asked him about the many vacations and all the pretty ladies he went on them with, he was very casual about their presence in his life.

So, with all of that said someone please for the love of god explain to me how I did not know he not only got engaged but that two months ago HE GOT MARRIED.

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I felt like now was a good time to share one of my favorite cat memes.

Yup, internet you strike for the third time today. I am obviously incredibly hurt and was under the impression that our friendship was much more than what it truly is. I am also furious that he has lied to me for the last, oh at least 2 if not more, years. Never mind that a year ago he flew for the night from NYC to Boston just to take me to dinner and tried to get me to sleep over and when I said no, went in for a kiss as I got in my cab to go home. My cat-like reflexes were able to dodge his face in enough time though 🙂

So, now I am faced with a dilemma- What do I do the next time he calls me?

To be honest with you, I am so heartbroken in finding this out this way I don’t know if we can continue calling one another friend. Well, I don’t know what he thinks of me on his end, but on my end, can I really call him a friend? It breaks my heart because I am not a person that has a lot of friends in life. The ones I do have though, I cherish and value.

Are you depressed yet? I sure as hell am.

Feeling sad and frustrated I have decided the situation calls for cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes to be specific, because lemon is bright and tart, it makes you think of warm summer days and the smell of the zest just makes me happy.

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There is not much that does not pair well with lemon, which makes it an easy canvas to work with. Blackberries however are one of my favorite flavor combinations and Blackberry Buttercream is really easy to make.

Simply for color and aesthetic I cut some ground cherries in half and garnished the cupcakes with them. Ground cherries have a really unique flavor and are small, so they work great as an add-on or garnish to desserts and also savory dishes.

The one place in the world I feel the most comfortable in is the kitchen. Baking soothes me and gives me something to focus on when I am feeling chaotic. Today has really made me really stop and think about the relationships in my life. I think everyone needs to find something that they can channel their energy into positively and allow themselves to pause and think constructively. Perhaps that’s baking, it certainly is for me.

-K

 

Bars and Brownies · Dessert

Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Browned butter provides a uniquely rich, deep and nutty flavor to baked goods. Although I am not one to mess with a classic, don’t fix what is not broken as they say, browned butter makes everything better.

Browned butter is easy to make, but time consuming. The key is to cook it slowly, if you rush it, it will easily burn. You simply add butter to a saucepan and melt the better slowly on low. As the fat solids in the milk form and sink to the bottom of the pan, they begin to toast and brown. The butter will start to turn brown and give off a rich nutty scent. The longer you cook the butter, the richer and browner it will get.

Rice Krispy Treats are a perfect quick, easy treat to make to use up leftover marshmallows. With it’s slight nutty flavor, I thought browned butter would be a great addition to a classic recipe and I wow was I right. I also added a healthy pinch of cinnamon to give it a little earthliness and balance out the sweetness from the marshmallows. I recommend cutting them and wrapping each square individually in wax paper. The wax paper helps prevent exposure to the air and also they won’t stick together.

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Enjoy!
-K


Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats



6 Cups Rice Krispy Treats
5 TB Melted Browned Butter
10 oz Marshmallows
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Cinnamon
[/recipe-ingredients]

Directions

Using 1 Tablespoon of softened butter, coat the sides and bottom of a 8 x 8 inch square cake pan. Cover the bottom with a piece of wax paper and coat with more butter. In a large saucepan add the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter and cook until golden brown. Add the marshmallows to the pan and stir continuously until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and vanilla. Add the dry rice krispy treats to the melted marshmallow and mix until completely coated with hot marshmallow. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and with a greased off-set spatula, highly press the mixture into the pan. Continue to pat the mixture down until its evenly dispersed in the pan. Let cool 1 hour before cutting.

City Adventures

The Art of the Dumpling

When I say “Dumplings” the first thing that probably comes to mind, as it does for most, is Peking Ravioli. You know, the ones you buy from the terribly inauthentic Chinese food place down the road that delivers until 2am and offers french fries as one of their top three appetizers items.

Dumplings are so much more than this. Yes, Asian cuisine has a plethora of dumplings and they are all incredibly delicious and perhaps, are my favorite kind of dumpling. However, the term “Dumpling” can be used universally throughout multiple cultures to describe an item of food. Today however, we are gonna focus on the Asian kind.

Chinatown intimidates the hell out of me. Although smaller than most Chinatown’s in other cities, it’s a section of town that is only a few blocks wide and deep and it’s crammed with restaurants, there seem to be 400 people on the sidewalks at all times and there is always a traffic jam somewhere. The restaurants are  similar in a lot of ways; most of them offer beautiful visuals of the meals they serve on their windows and walls. There also seems to be one bakery for every three savory restaurants. All offering beautifully packaged treats that look nothing like anything I have ever had. Even with the visuals posted in most restaurants,I admit that on my own, I would not have a clue of what to order or where to go.

Enter my friend Alan! Alan paid me a surprise visit this week for lunch, which meant lunch at the amazing Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown. If you are ever in Chinatown and looking for a quick, hot amazing meal, Gourmet Dumpling House is my recommendation.

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Alan is the reason I am obsessed with Asian style dumplings. About three years ago he took me to Chinatown for my first authentic Chinatown meal and my first dumpling experience. Which, included the holy grail of dumplings: Soup Dumplings! Yes, it also always includes my non-dumpling obsession: Scallion Pancakes.

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Soup dumplings are magical little pouches of steamed dough filled with spiced meat (normally pork) and savory broth. After biting into my first one and having my savory broth spill out everywhere, I was quickly taught the right way to eat soup dumplings:

  1. Pick dumpling up at the seam of the dough with your chopsticks and place it in your spoon.
  2. Lifting the dumpling up slightly, bite a hole in the side of the dumpling, letting the broth spill out into your spoon.
  3. Stuff remaining dumpling into your mouth and then drink remaining broth.
  4. Repeat!

Coincidentally this weekend I am teaching a class on Dumplings! My class will be focused more on dumplings from around the world (think empanadas and gnoochi). To get ready for the class I went ahead and made all the recipes at home to see how they would turn out. I will be doing a recap of those recipes next week since they all came out pretty good. Often when I teach, I find some of the recipes to be lacking flavor or balance of ingredients so if I can recipe test them before class, I can make any adjustments I need to make sure they come out perfect. I am still getting used to teaching savory classes, so the more practice I get with the recipes, the better.

Sticking with our Asian theme and after a few changes, I wanted to share this recipe for Pork and Shitake Shumai. It’s a play on a recipe we are doing in class. For a healthier version you could use ground turkey or chicken, although pork is very classic.

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If you have never made dumplings before, this one of the easiest recipes you could make. Buying wonton wrappers not only saves you time from making a dough, they are also light and chewy in texture and do not easily wrap while assembling them. You will need to buy a Bamboo Steamer to cook these properly. Sur La Table offers a mini steamer and a regular size steamer which is great depending on how much space you have in your kitchen!

Good Luck and Happy Eating!

-K