Fresh pineapple is probably my favorite fruit. I always think raspberries are, but then I have fresh pineapple and raspberries just can’t even compete. Plus fresh-cut pineapple smells amazing and doesn’t leave any annoying seeds in your teeth. The one and only time I was in Hawaii (for a grand total of 36 hours), I managed to consume pineapple at every meal and what a delicious 36 hours it was. Apart from my mild obsession with pineapple I was fairly certain I was going to love this recipe since I also like spicy things and really like the combination of sweet/spicy/salty. I found this recipe ages ago and I have wanted to try for forever, but only got around to it recently. I should have made it sooner. Sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, this super easy recipe had just about every flavor profile you could imagine.
Word to the wise, do not scoff at the 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I did at first, and was quite tempted to add more to my chocolate, but that would have been at huge mistake. The heat is subtle at first and it grows. Wait until you are popping your third or fourth piece of pineapple and you will see what I mean.
I think an easy variation on this recipe would be substituting chipotle and smoked sea salt (Maldon also makes a smoked version of its sea salt). I think the smoky, spiciness would be amazing with the pineapple and chocolate.
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 24 chunks
2 (3.5-ounce) bars dark chocolate
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
flaky sea salt (like Maldon)
Thread a short skewer (4 or 6 inches) through each pineapple chunk and arrange on a large, parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Working over a double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring constantly, until just melted; stir in cayenne. Working with one skewer at a time, pat pineapple dry with a paper towel, and then dip in chocolate, covering about halfway. Transfer to baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and repeat with remaining pineapple and chocolate. Chill until set, about 45 minutes.
This is by far the easiest gluten-free dessert I’ve ever made! Almost easier than opening a prepackaged mix. You only need two dishes to make this; a mixing bowl and a baking pan and you are ready to go. Start to finish, your cake will be ready in under 45 minutes!
I tried to cut down on the sugar since 1 cup seemed like a lot. I started adding it 1/4 cup at a time. I’m not sure if it was the cocoa powder or the gluten-free flour, but found that I definitely needed the whole cup. This cake is extremely rich and chocolatey. I ended up freezing about three-quarters of the loaf (I made mine in a loaf pan, not a cake pan). The slice I’ve defrosted since was just as good as the freshly baked. I think making this recipe into cupcakes, might make freezing a bit easier.
So I guess now that Thanksgiving has come and gone here in the States, I guess that means the holiday season is officially upon. I must admit I am a bit of Grinch. Mainly because I think christmas has just gotten far too out of hand. There is only one thing that I absolutely adore about the holiday season and that’s the obscene amount of baking that I can do. It’s the one time of the year that mass quantities of baking are socially acceptable.
I’ve already started thinking of fun and new recipes I can start testing out on my friends and family. It’s great having a willing and able built-in test audience, especially since I’m not too keen on sweets. I light of my mini dessert obsession this recipe seemed like the perfect combination of experiment and great taste. I really wanted to try out my new mini bundt pan (how fun is the word ‘bundt’?). I’m not sure if it was me, the recipe, the oven or the pan, but it was rough going when things came out of the oven. Luckily, after a bit of coaxing, everyone got their act together and cooperated in the end. The salted caramel flavor made this chocolate cake even richer. Add in the frosting and it was one of the sweetest and richest desserts I have ever come across. I decided to sprinkle on a bit of flakey sea salt to enhance the caramel flavor and cut the sweetness just a bit.
1 cups International Delight Salted Caramel Mocha Flavor
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons International Delight Salted Caramel Mocha Flavor
For the Frosting
Mix powdered sugar with International Delight. Beat with electric mixer on low. If the mixture is too thick for frosting, add in more International Delight. If it is too thin, add in more powdered sugar.
For the Cake
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Grease mini bundt pan or baking pan of choice.
In a large bowl, place the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, sour cream, eggs, vanilla and International Delight, and mix to combine well. The batter will be thickly pourable.
Fill the wells of the pan. about halfway full with batter. Shake from side to side to distribute the batter in an even layer. Place in the center of the preheated oven, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. The cake should be a little spongy, not dense.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Place one mini cake on a piece of parchment paper, bottom side down. Drizzle a generous amount of frosting on top of the cake.
There’s a man with a van who hangs out around the closest big intersection to my house. He sells things out of the back of his van. Primarily berries and cherries, but sometimes there are avocados and mangoes or pumpkins and pineapples; it kind of just depends on the season. I live about 40 minutes away from one of California’s biggest strawberry growing regions, so we pretty much get them year round. They are just starting to come into their main season at the moment. The berry man has become my go to source for strawberries and other various items, because 1. he’s cheap, 2. he has a hand painted sign that says ‘Picked Fresh Today’ and 3. they are always delicious, which makes me believe the sign and love the price even more. I drove by the berry man the other day and got the genius idea of buying a full flat of strawberries, which turned out to be able SIX pounds, which is sort of a lot. I felt pretty proud of myself getting 6 pounds of strawberries for just over $2 a pound, especially considering how expensive they are in the grocery store, but as soon as I got home, I realized I had to figure out what to do with six pounds of strawberries…
My first strawberry endeavor was this delicious muffin recipe. It’s perfect for a sweet breakfast treat and also makes a pretty satisfying dessert. Quite frankly, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with Nutella. The fresh strawberries only make the Nutella even more enjoyable. My favorite part of these muffins is the little Nutella line that runs through the center. It basically ensures you get a bit of Nutella in every bite!
Does anybody remember the great peanut butter price rising scare of 2011? Well, when I heard about the cataclysmic events that were going to be caused by peanut butter prices skyrocketing, I did what any sane person would do; Ran to Costco and bought the biggest jar of peanut butter I could find and since this is Costco, it obviously came in a 2-pack. Fast forward to this week and as I was looking for a large can of tomatoes in the bottom of my kitchen pantry, I stumbled upon, not one, but two unopened Costco-sized jars of peanut butter. Fortunately, processed peanut butter could survive the apocalypse, so it was still good. It was upon seeing these two jars that I realized that my visions of becoming rich via the illicit peanut butter black market I had hoped would emerge as a result of worldwide peanut butter prices rising, that I should probably set about actually using some of the peanut butter I have been hoarding.
Enter these cookies! These are the easiest cookies in the world to make! There’s no baking, there’s peanut butter, there’s chocolate, there’s oatmeal, what’s not to love?
I cut the original recipes suggested sugar in half and they were still plenty sweet. I think 2 cups would be way too much. My only word of advice is to use the fridge or freezer to help them set. Maybe it was because it was unseasonably hot the day I made these (around 80F/26C, in February… Gross.), but they would not harden. I stuck the cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes and they were perfect.
3 cups oatmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats)
Waxed or parchament paper
In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper on a cookie sheet, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened. Throw the cookie sheet in the fridge to help speed up the process.
This cake is so easy to make. I was surprised it turned out so light. It really has a great texture, which is different than most other flourless cakes I’ve made. The cake is chocolatey without being overwhelmingly so. My pears sank a bit, but that did really matter to me. If you are more of a perfectionist when it comes to your desserts, make sure to whip the egg whites well to prevent sinking. I let mine sit a bit and had to re-whip them.
If you need a quick, last minute dessert for a Christmas or Hanukkah dinner, you probably have most of these ingredients on hand already. The cake would be just as good with or without the pears, so don’t worry about them if you don’t have them.You could definitely substitute almonds for the hazelnuts or apples or even canned pears for the fresh pears depending on what you have on hand. I would definitely use this recipe again with and without the pears for a simple and fast flourless cake. I only added powdered/confectioners sugar and freshly whipped cream for serving and it was perfect.
85g butter/roughly 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp extra for tin
85g golden caster sugar/roughly 2/3 cup, plus extra for tin
85g gluten-free dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tbsp brandy
3 eggs, separated
85g hazelnuts, toasted and ground in a food processor
4 very ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
icing sugar , for dusting
Cut a circle of baking parchment to fit the base of a 25cm loose-bottomed tin. Melt 1 tbsp butter and brush the inside of the tin, then line the base with the parchment and brush again with more butter. Spoon in 2 tbsp caster sugar, swirl it around to coat the base and sides, then tip out any excess.
Heat oven to 350F/180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water, remove from the heat, stir in the brandy and leave to cool. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick; fold into the chocolate with the hazelnuts.
In a separate bowl, with a clean whisk, beat the whites until they reach a soft peak (try not to whisk them too stiffly or you’ll have trouble folding them in). Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mix, then carefully fold in the rest of them in 2 additions. Spoon into the prepared tin. Level, then arrange the pears over the mixture, cut-side down. Bake for 40 mins until the pears are soft and the cake is cooked all the way through. Leave to cool in the tin slightly before releasing it, then place on a rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and serve with crème fraîche.
I totally meant to get around to posting much earlier today, but there was a glorious christmas party last night, and then there was the Patriots game this afternoon, and then some friends’ emergency wedding issues (why are so many of my friends getting married at the same time…?), and then I had to cook dinner, and then my favorite dictator died. If you know me well, you know that after the Dodgers, Tom Brady and the Patriots take priority over most things, but after organized, professional sports, I have a very large soft spot for dictators (part of my Master’s thesis dealt with propaganda, so I am slightly obsessed with countries that have a proclivity for dictatorial situations, or countries that bring about things like this). Today was just an emotional roller coaster.
I spent a couple days this week planning out next week’s xmas din. I’m really not into christmas at all, but I am always a fan of any excuse to make a fancy dinner. It’s just the 3 of us and the pups at home this year and I am quite happy about that. I’ve decided to cook a few new dishes this time around, so it shall be interesting for everyone.
I also need to finish my shopping. For some reason everyone I know is the world’s most difficult person to shop for. Dear friends and family, please just make an Amazon wishlist! It will make any gift giving occasion more enjoyable for all involved parties.
I love Mexican hot chocolate. It was always one of my favorite things growing up. If you didn’t grow up in Southern California or another area with a large Mexican influence, you might not know what Mexican hot chocolate is, in which case, I’ll share. Mexican hot chocolate is very sweet, sugary chocolate with cinnamon, a bit of vanilla and sometimes some almonds or chili. In these parts, you can buy Mexican hot chocolate in just about any grocery story already mixed up, which makes everything a lot easier.
I saw a box of Abuelita at Costco earlier this ‘winter’ (winter is a very loose term in California) and got pretty excited. I bought it. I might have slightly overshot on this purchase. As much as I love Mexican hot chocolate, it’s not something you can have more than one mug of at a time or even every day; it’s way too rich. I realized I had to come up with other ways to use it all up.
Ps. Chocolate rice pudding is really hard to photograph/make look appetizing. Please forgive the picture.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Rice Pudding (from meals.com)
Heat milk and Abuelita chocolate in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until Abuelita chocolate is dissolved and milk reaches a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add rice. Cook, stirring frequently, for 60 to 80 minutes or until rice is tender and sauce is thickened.