Tag Archives: chocolate

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catching up over chocolate-ginger granola with buckwheat

Hello again.  Given my record of inconsistent posting, it no longer even makes sense to apologize for/explain being away so long; I’m going to assume the privilege of an old friend and pick up where we left off.

We are in Tampa!  We have been living here for two and a half months now, and the change has been really good. In fact, aside from discovering new depths of incompetence in a certain government contracting company that shall remain nameless, and missing a few very dear friends, it has been a great experience.  We are roosting in a sun-filled apartment within walking distance of the bay.  A quick glimpse from our windows would easily fool you into thinking we live in a tropical jungle. windowview Every chance we get we stroll down to the water to watch sting rays, manta rays, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, and dozens of fish whose names we don’t know.  Yep, in case you have been wondering, runners of Tampa, we are that annoying couple walking really slowly, hanging over the balustrade, soaking it all in, while you are pounding the pavement.  Give us time.  We may eventually become jaded to 70 plus degree November days, and seeing the sun glint diamonds off of the waters of the bay. . .but I hope not! doublestingray We spent a disappointing month shopping the local grocery stores to find them filled with really expensive produce that is often already going bad on the shelves, or, alternately, completely under-ripe and flavorless.  I’m not just talking one store, I’m talking every store (yes, I’m talking about you Whole Foods, Publix, Winn-Dixie, and Fresh Market).  We were throwing away a shameful amount of food because it was spoiling before we could use it. In the last two weeks I finally made it a priority to seek out some alternatives; the results were surprising!  There is a farm hidden away on a cul-de-sac in south Tampa where you can get fresh eggs, raw milk, fresh from the hive honey, and so much more, on the honor system.  I want to do a full post on this place soon, but if you are in the Tampa area and want to see for yourself, it is South Tampa Farm at 6101 s. 2nd st. Tampa, Florida 33611. there is a produce wholesale shop that welcomes retail customers (Sanwa Farmer’s Market) and a pretty cute veggie stand just down the road on Swann.

My mom came for a visit and took us to the 5th annual veg-fest, after which we went to a nearby power plant to see the manatees that collect in the heated waters at its base. famvegfest I had a whirlwind day at Disney with one of my very best friends and her kids, and I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it more than any of the littles!  I have no shame in being an adult disney lover. . .the magic is real.  Thank you J.S. for sharing the nugs with me; it was wonderful being Aunt Brandy again for a day!

And, finally, I made a recipe I would love to share with you today.  Based on the fantastic Sarah Britton’s Chunky Chocolate Buckwheat Granola, this version is lighter on oil, and has a kick of heat courtesy of my spicy friend, ginger . parfait2

Chocolate-ginger granola with buckwheat

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat (I found this in the bulk bins at whole foods)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flakes
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 5 dates, pitted and soaked in 1/4 cup milk of choice or water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • In a blender combine dates and their soaking milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, ginger, and cocoa powder.  Combine until mostly smooth; thin with extra milk of choice if needed (warm before adding).
  • Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, mixing to evenly distribute.
  • Pour chocolate mixture over dry ingredients and fold until evenly coated.
  • Press evenly onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in oven
  • Cook for 30 minutes, check and turn/stir as needed if outer edges begin to burn.  As sarah b. says, tasting the hazelnuts is the best way to tell when this granola is ready.
  • Cool completely before storing in air tight container.

 

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Gluten-free Roasted Banana and Chocolate Chunk Banana Nut Bread via One is Hungry

Gluten-free Roasted Banana and Chocolate Chunk Banana Nut Bread

There is a whimsical, joking fear among the female community of growing up to be “the crazy cat lady”.  I have a different, if equally whimsical and joking concern:  I think I’m becoming the “crazy banana bread lady”!  I mean, I love this stuff.  Jeeze Louise Pete, there are already two recipes for banana bread on O.i.H., here and here.  Where many people see a boring loaf laden with identity crisis (is bread, is it cake?), I see continual inspiration and an unexplainable comfort.  Strangely enough, I don’t remember ever having banana nut bread or even acknowledging its existence until after my marriage.  Jason’s grandmother graciously and rather optimistically gave me her church cookbook as a wedding gift; I did not cook at the time.  On leafing through the contents of that unassuming little book, I came upon a recipe for a basic pecans and crisco kind of banana nut bread.  One baking day later and I was hooked, not so much on that specific recipe, though I used it for years, but on the basic goodness of the idea.  So when I opened my Google reader one morning recently, and the words “Roasted Banana” appeared before my eyes, this recipe was immediately a foregone conclusion.  I don’t even know what the article in my reader was about; I walked away with my head in an aromatic cloud of sweet scheming, and the entry was buried in the ever-coming tide of new news.

If you were to say to me, “Okay, but I’m not a crazy banana bread lady, and I don’t need a dozen loaves of the stuff; which should I make?”, I would definitely say this one.  It is dark, moody, spicy, sweet; imagine bluesy jazz, molasses, winter-blackened woody hollows, log fires in libraries. . .okay, I’ll stop.  I’m telling you, I’m in serious danger of inventing the banana bread sommelier!  Without further ado I give you. . .

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preandpostroast

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caramelized

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Gluten-free Roasted Banana and Chocolate Chunk Banana Nut Bread

makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

1 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup tapioca or potato starch

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

5-6 ripe bananas, roasted

4 eggs

1/4 cup buttermilk or yogurt

1/2 cup coconut or olive oil

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 tsp vanilla

3.5-4 oz (1 bar) 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 cup toasted walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper and line 2 bread pans.  Cut bananas in halves or rounds and arrange on pan.  Roast for 20-30 minutes until bananas have caramelized or you can no longer wait.  Remove parchment with bananas and place walnuts on pan; return to oven and toast nuts for roughly 10 min.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together flours, starch, b. powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon until very well combined.  In a food processor, large blender, or mixer combine roasted bananas (and any juices), eggs, oil, syrup, sugar, and vanilla and blend thoroughly.  Add dry ingredients and process for 30-45 seconds, or until completely combined. (As this recipe contains no gluten, you really can’t overmix!)

Returning batter to large bowl, fold in chocolate, and walnuts, and divide batter evenly between two bread pans.  Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before lifting loaves from pans to cooling rack.

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Brown Butter Cookies, Q, and a Merry Christmas to You!

Feliz Navidad, mes amis!  I know, I know, I’m mixing my languages, but those two phrases are each so lovely, they should be together once in awhile.  Jason and I are back in Georgia for the Christmas holiday, spending quiet, happy time with family.  My dad gave us an astoundingly tasty welcome with some homemade bbq.

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Say hello to Frank’s Smokin’ Hot Butt!  After 17 hours of smoking and baking, we gorged ourselves on this porky pulled goodness.

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Add homemade sauce, green beans, “cracked taters” and coleslaw, and it was a very nearly perfect meal.  And while I’m not allowed to share the secret recipe for that beautiful butt, I can slip you a little sugary Yuletide cheer.  What would you say to a gluten-free brown butter, chocolate-chip oat cookie?  If you are smart, you are saying, “Yes, please!”.

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This recipe is an update of last Christmas’s gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie

Gluten-free Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 c. gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats

½ c. brown rice flour

2 c. tapioca starch

1 c. amaranth flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

2 ½ sticks butter, browned and cooled slightly

1 ¼ c. brown sugar

1 c. + 2 Tbs. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

9 – 12 oz. chocolate (I use 70% or higher), chips, chunks or chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

In a large bowl whisk together flours, starch, oats, baking soda and powder, salt and sugars.In a separate bowl, mix browned and cooled butter, vanilla, and eggs.

Stir wet and dry ingredients together until fully mixed. Finally, add the chocolate and stir until evenly distributed.  Allow dough to rest in refrigerator  at least one hour, or up to three days, then bake .

Bake cookies in oven for 8-15 minutes, depending on desired doneness. Note: cookies may appear lighter in color than wheat flour cookies when done.

Aside from eating and cooking, I’ve spent just a bit of time finishing up my last sewing project.  This is an unflattering photo of my badly ironed new shirt (I’m blaming my mother’s iron, which I am pretty sure predates the last ice age).

newshirt

It is an ivory silk/cotton blend that feels amazing!  I love this fabric so much, this is the second time I’ve used it.  Anyway, enough about my boring-to-you shirt.  I really just wanted to take a few minutes  before Tuesday to say Merry Christmas, and may God bless you as this year comes to a close.

Merry Christmas

 

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Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Marbled Banana Nut Bread

Howdy.  I just realized that it is very nearly my one year birthday!  Well, my blog birthday.  In honor of that, I’ve made myself a cake. . .bread.  Okay, actually I’m having tea with a friend tomorrow and I wanted something moist and crumbly to take along, and that is why I baked.  But I think this is good enough to count for both occasions!  A rich, fragrant, nut-filled banana bread marbled with chocolate and spiced with cinnamon.  Yum!  If you’ve been with me for a while now you may be saying, “wait a minute, don’t you already have a banana nut bread recipe?”.  Why yes, yes I do, right here. But this one, if not a completely different animal, has enough differences to be a welcome addition, for me if no one else!  This one is not only gluten-free, but dairy free as well (and with the migraines I’ve been having lately, I’m trying to be extra careful!). My next foray will be to add chunks of ginger, perhaps briefly poached in vanilla, to this recipe.

For this version I did sorghum flour, tapioca starch, brown sugar, maple syrup, and walnuts; you will understand when you see the ingredient options below.  A quick note on that:  I hope the varied ingredient options I often offer aren’t confusing.  I am attempting to a) make it possible for people, despite their geographic location, to find some version that uses ingredients available to them, and  b) show you that cooking/baking isn’t a program set in stone.  There are ratios of ingredients that absolutely matter, but if there is one thing my daddy taught me (besides the basics of making a killer steak) it was to be fearless about making recipes my own.  Do my substitution experiments always work. . .no.  But sometimes I stumble upon something my mouth finds truly outstanding, something I would never have found if I had stayed inside the recipe box.  So, happy experimenting (or direction following); if you make changes or just make the original, send a note and share the goodness!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Marbled Banana Nut Bread

makes 1 loaf

1 c. or about three ripe bananas, mashed

2 large eggs, beaten to light foam

1/4 c. olive or coconut oil

1/4 c. brown, cane, or coconut sugar

6 Tbs. maple syrup (agave, brown rice, honey, or golden syrup will work)

1 c. sorghum or brown rice flour

1/2 c. tapioca or potato starch

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup toasted pecan or walnut pieces

2 0z. chocolate, 62-80% cacao

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a loaf pan with parchment.  In bain-marie or metal bowl over pot of barely simmering water, melt chocolate until only small pieces remain solid.  Remove bowl from heat, and stir chocolate until smooth.  Set aside.

Mix beaten eggs, banana mash, and oil.  Add sugar and syrup, and combine.  Mix in flour, starch, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Scoop 1/3 cup of batter  and add to melted chocolate.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  In batter bowl add toasted nuts and fold to incorporate.  Scrape chocolate mix into batter bowl and fold til evenly streaked but NOT combined.  Pour into lined pan and place in oven.  Check at 45 minutes with toothpick or cake tester (or, if you are a confident bread maker, do the thump test).  If not done, tent with foil to prevent over-browning.

Remove from oven and cool, on rack in pan, for 15 minutes.  Lift from pan and finish cooling on rack.  Savor.

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Semper Fi: Marine Corps Birthday Cake or My Yearly Nervous Breakdown, Part 2

The day has arrived.  That day, every year, when my sanity slips and I seriously contemplate hurling heavy things over the edge of my balcony with wild abandon.  That’s right,  this is the day I frost the Marine Corps birthday cake.  I explained exactly why this is so daunting in yesterday’s post.    As is the case every year, something went a tiny bet askew, namely one batch of the cakes.  I didn’t get the oven rack back in just right, so my last batch of cakes baked up a little bit crooked.  Sigh.  Oh well, I view frosting as a architectural element in this process; it fills in structure where needed.  This cream cheese frosting could not be easier to make.  My one word of advise is that, when the instructions say beat until smooth, listen to them.  Lastly, once you have beaten that buttery, cream cheesy goodness into submission, use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to break it up and deflate the air bubbles that have developed in the mixing.  For the rest of the process, I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves.

Okay, did I say that year one was the homeliest, most well meant cake ever?  I think this one is definitely in the running for that title.  Can we all just agree that cake decorating is not my forte, and that it is good  to be real and share failures as well as triumphs?  Thanks, glad you all agree!

Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Ingredients

Makes about 10 cups.

40 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

40 tablespoons (5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

5+ cups confectioners’ sugar (adjust for sweetness)

5 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.