Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake

My birthday was a couple weeks ago, and I made myself a cake.

Back in the day, when I wanted to make something truly decadent, I used to look up recipes on the Godiva chocolate website (they have a great gourmet recipe selection). Birthday desserts, boyfriend desserts- Godiva had me covered for all of 'em. So, I decided to take on the challenge of adapting a truly decadent chocolate cake recipe.

Also influencing my inspiration- around this time for the past 4 years was Lawnparties at my eating club in Princeton. This involved an enormous brunch with just about every type of gourmet cake / tart imaginable... and thus resulted in a total deterioration of my diet, for at least a couple days. Obviously I had to make a substitute for that experience, too.

So, I present, the best cake EVER, and of course, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free.
I also submitted this recipe for the Daily Dietribe's Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challege (awesome).

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a round (~9 inch?) springform pan.

LAYER 1: Dense Chocolate Cake

¾ c ghee/coconut oil mix
1 c coconut sugar
¼ c light agave          ---> heat on stove until melted and well-mixed; whisk together/stir continuously. Let cool slightly.

2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla    ---> after wet ingredients cool slightly, whisk in eggs and vanilla

2/3 c flour combination: oat, all-purpose GF, brown rice, millet, tapioca
¼ tsp guar gum
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ c cocoa powder    ---> combine dry ingredients in a bowl, then add them to the wet ingredients. Mix well. 
Pour batter into springform pan, and bake ~30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool in springform pan.

LAYER 2: Raspberry Layer

2 c rapsberries
1 tsp powdered chia seeds
½ truvia packet
Stevia dusting       ---> combine all ingredients. I used about half frozen raspberries and half fresh raspberries.

LAYER 3: Chocolate Truffle Ganache Layer

1 c canned coconut milk (the more thick/fatty, the better)
10 oz Sunspire chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla                           ---> heat coconut milk until hot. Pour over chocolate chips, add vanilla, stir until all chips are melted/smooth consistency is obtained. Let cool slightly.


After cake layer has cooled, (leaving it in spring form pan) spread a thin layer of truffle layer on top (so that raspberry layer won't make cake soggy). Next, spread on raspberry layer. Finally, top with truffle/ganache layer. Place in fridge to chill.

Before serving, remove sides of spring form pan.
Keep chilled before/after serving, or top layer will "sweat."

Hope you enjoy this delicious treat! Everyone's response to it was "I love how buttery the cake tastes!" And I said, "well, there's no butter in it!" Oh, the magic of quality ACD baking! :)


In other news, I just went to my 1st Princeton Reunion! I'm proud to report that ate and drank (aka, didn't drink) well all weekend. Hooray for good life choices!!

Saturday fireworks show-- Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!!

View of the 5th reunion dancefloor from the Grass Knoll, c. 1am Friday Night.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Meet the Pizzelle

Pizzelle sandwich!
Meet the Pizzelle- traditional Italian waffle cookies. They can be crisp or chewy, sweet or savory, and are typically made with flour, eggs, sugar, and butter/oil.

Carob pizelle ice cream roll.

Dessert pizzelle with strawberry purree and shipped kream.
I had never heard of pizzelle before- and then I found a pizelle maked at a yardsale for 5 dollars! I couldn't resist. These will now be a staple of my regular repertoire, because they made a thin wafer perfect for sandwiches OR dessert toppings. They're just as easy to make as waffles, but provide a lower-carb alternative, since they're thinner and smaller. I did a little research, and whipped up the following all-purpose recipe:


1 egg
1 tbs extra light olive oil
1 tbs millet flour
1 tbs garbanzo bean flour
1 tbs all-purpose gluten free flour
2 tbs brown rice flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
10 drops liquid stevia
1 tbs almond milk
1 tbs ghee

Mix all ingredients together. Consistency should be thicker than waffle batter, but thinner than cookie dough. Place a heaping teaspoon of batter onto each pizzelle circle on hot pizzelle maker, close lid, and bake for ~5-10 seconds for soft, flexible pizelle, or ~30-45 seconds for crispy pizelle. I like soft better for ice cream sandwiches, but crispy better for sandwiches or dessert toppings.


see above, but substitute 1-2 tsp flour for 1-2 tsp carob powder
(Yes, it's my first Carob Month carob recipe!)

What I used them for--
Sandwiches with rice cheese, pizza sauce, and spinach
Dessert with strawberry purree, soyatoo whipped cream, and raspberries
Ice cream sandwiches, taco-style (with carob pizzelle and mint carob chip Rice Dream)

Awesome, a whole new food item!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Carob Month

The new Sweet and Savory Challenge is up at Diet Dessert and Dogs, and this month the magic ingredient is Carob.

My recipes will be following soon, but for now I would just like to present my thoughts and feelings on this special ingredient, and share my favorite Carob-based products.

Carob trees in Albufeira, Portugal.
Carob is most commonly found in powdered form, and is frequently touted as a healthy cocoa- alternative. Free of chocolate's caffeine and theobromine, carob certainly does present healthful benefits that chocolate lacks. Carob contains three times more calcium, three times LESS calories, and seventeen times less fat!

Carob is a bean, which grows in pods on a tree or shrub. These trees grow wild in the Mediterranean, which, in my most- exciting world travels, I encountered wild in the Algarve of Portugal. When I was there, it was mid-March, and the beans weren't quite ripe on the trees. Even though I couldn't try any fresh, I was determined to sample some local carob cuisine. I had heard that little carob cakes were common to the area, and asked every single bakery that I encountered if they carried any.

There was one problem though-- I didn't speak Portuguese, and the bakers didn't speak Spanish, or English. And the word for "carob" in Portuguese is... nothing like "carob" in English. But of course I couldn't remember what it was. With a combination of Spanglish and hand gestures, "Es como chocolate... a powder, like chocolate... se crece en los arobles aqui... grows in bean pods...???" No use.

Another feature of Portugal: restaurant "advertisers" linger in populated areas outside of their joints to lure in customers. To nab the most tourists, most of these gems of salesmen seemed to be multilingual. After a bad experience being lured into a restaurant that served the grossest fish ever plus charged a euro for each slice of bread eaten plus a euro for each tiny packet of butter/cream/cheese/anchovy condiments used or opened, I figured the restauranteers owed me one.

So, we chatted one up, and then slipped in "HEY what's the Portuguese word for Carob?" --"Carob, what's Carob?" ... and, the usual half-coherent description ensued- but at least this time it could be in all English. After asking at least three other people, our restaurant guy finally found an old bearded man who got it-- and gave us the magic word.  ALFARROBAS!

Alfarrobas!? No wonder I didn't associate that with "carob!" Not only did said bearded an give us the word, but he also supplied directions to the only bakery in town that he claimed carried them. So, off we went, on a 20 minute walk uphill to the magic bakery!!

And there it was. And, full of little carob-fig treats that were... well, really pretty anticlimactic, overly sweet, and not too wonderful. But, I had fulfilled my Portuguese carob fantasy. (#WINNING :) )

SO: The moral of this story  (or long-winded tangent)  is that I will be whipping up some much-yummier Portuguese confections, using the wonderful carob. Be prepared, it's going to be GREAT. As in, I already translated purely authentic Portuguese recipes, which I will be posting complete with vocab lists.

But that is all to come.

In the meantime, I would like to share my top three Carob picks for store bought items. For anyone who can't eat chocolate, these will truly be a lifesaver to hold over your cravings. This is a count-down, so BE SURE to scroll all the way down to #1-- it's probably one of the awesomest products I've eaten ever, and truly a rare find.

#3: Sunspire Vegan Carob Chips

Upsides: Readily available, vegan, and look just like chocolate chips-- thus great for a baking substitute. Also come in un-vegan form (labeled "unsweetened carob chips), which are less sweet, but much more creamy, with a better texture.

Downsides: They really don't melt, and thus are... in reality not so great for baking substitutes. Not as good as the real deal (chocolate chips) but certainly better than nothing at all. When you eat mouthful after mounthful of these straight (have I ever done that? never... --hey, I was stressed out in a dorm room with nothing but Carob to ease the pain!) they taste rather rubbery-- or, it feels like your mouth is kind of coated in tar. Okay what am I talking about, no one in their right mind should do that anyway.

The verdict is that the consistency in baking and excessive eating is not great, but the overall look, feel, and taste is satisfactory.

---> * * * / 5 rating


#2: Rice Dream Mint Carob Chip Ice Cream

This is Carob at its best. A subtly sweet flavor, and soft, melty consistency makes this chips (or chunks, rather)-- dare I say it? Even better than chocolate chips in ice cream. I find that chocolate chips often freeze too hard in ice cream, and thus become little rocks that are barely tastable and a pain to chew. (Funfact: when I was little I called chips in ice cream "Poes" and always spit them out.) But carob poes? Pretty darn good.

What is lacking in this product lies in the ice cream department. Rice dream just never has tasted all that great to me, and although the mint flavor is a step up from the vanilla (which has nothing else to hide it's slight off-flavor), it still just has something... funny about it. Come on, Rice Dream, step it up and bake your stuff taste betterrrrr! Because you know the season of ice cream craving is only just beginning.....

Overall rating?
---> *** / 5


And the Grand Winner!
#1: Goldie's Carob Bars

This is by far the best Carob treat I have ever tasted in my life. Subtly sweet, creamy in the mouth, this is equivalent to a gourmet chocolate bar. I have sampled the Rice Crunch flavor (just like a Crunch Bar, only not sickeningly sweet!) and Plain (also delicious, but slightly less exciting), and after checking their website, nearly jumped out of my seat when I learned they also come in Mint, Orange Zest, and Hazelnut Praline! Oh my goodness, I must get my hands on these.

The only problem: these are elusive, too! I have encountered them in only one location: Whole Earth Center in Princeton, NJ. The company website? Equally archaic, with no sales information, and just a link to "Contact Us." These bars are for sale on Amazon, but for $36.42 for a box of 12 bars, they're no steal.

When I visit Princeton, (17 hours, 15 minutes 'til Reunions!) I purchase two treats for my ride home:
        1. Rice Cream Mint Chocolate Frozen Pie
        2. A Goldie's Carob Bar.
And I eat them in that order on the way home... all of them. And it is AWESOME!! (bi-winning.)

Overall Rating?
---> ****** / 5 stars. Yes, they're just that great.

Also: please, please, let me know if you find these bars elsewhere! Particularly... in the Northern VA area! <3


In summary: Carob is great.

Let's face it, though-- when you need a chocolate fix, you just need the real deal. Without that caffeine and theobromine, that serotonin boost is just lacking with carob. The taste is different, the caffeine-high is lacking, but replacing chocolate with carob can benefit your body, and, even taste-wise, is a respectable substitute. (Remember: seventeen times less fat!!)

Sunspire's website sums it up best:

" Carob is a tree-grown fruit with its own natural sugars that impart subtle sweetness and a mellow taste. According to renowned vegetarian chef, Mollie Katzen, carob has its own flavor characteristics. Referring to it as alternative to chocolate sets up an unrealistic taste expectation instead of enjoying carob for the uniquely sweet treat that it is. "
But, enjoying Carob for Carob itself, in all its Carob-y glory? Spectacular.

More information on Carob and health? Check out !

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rainbow Truffles

Orange creme heart.

Purple raspberry.

Truffles galore!

Coconut creme eggs.
Pink strawberry delight-- my favorite!
 Naturally flavored, naturally colored, and even featuring tempered chocolate! What is tempered chocolate, and why temper?

Short answer: tempering chocolate allows it to retain its crispness, darkness, and shine. But! it's a tricky process (which I really only half-attempted here! but, it kind of worked!)

Long answer: Tempering is a process that uses temperature to control the crystal structure that develops within a material-- whether it's steel, or chocolate. In the case of chocolate, tempering allows the chef to ensure that only one type of crystals form. Naturally, chocolate can form six different types of crystals-- meaning that the structured array of its molecules can for in six regular patterns. Which of these patterns, or crystal structures, forms is determined by temperature. The most desirable crystal structure for the chocolate chef is most stable when forming around 89 degrees F.

So-- to temper chocolate, when using melted chips? First, melt chips to around 104 F to melt ALL crystal structures that may have previously been present. Next, let chocolate cool slightly and "seed" the mixture with some un-melted chocolate of the same type. The seeding causes the melted chocolate to adopt the crystal structure of the newly added chips-- provided that it doesn't melt again! To prevent the destruction of the desired crystals, do not heat the seeded chocolate over ~89 degrees. (Tricky tricky.)

I semi-did this for my recipe, and it semi-worked! I DID achieve nice, dark, glossy chocolate with a snap- thus, I consider my chocolate tempered. However, as I was making a fair amount of truffles, I had to re-heat my chocolate halfway through, and at that point it got too warm and un-tempered itself. This was evident by the lighter color and softer-shell of my egg-shaped truffles. Additionally, both varieties "sweated" when I stored them in the fridge- an undesirable effect that I'm not sure how to prevent.

Either way, tempered, untempered, chocolate is delicious. I was especially excited about these creations, because they feature natural foods as colorants! Just wait, colored frosting is next.... eventually ;)


Filling Base:

1 c soaked cashews
2 tsp almond milk
1/2 tsp chia seeds, powdered
1 tsp lemon juice
8 drops liquid stevia

Use the following combinations to make the base into different flavors and colors:

1/2 tsp lemon juice
5 drops stevia

Green Banana:
1/4 large banana
1/8 c baby spinach
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp arrowroot powder

Purple Blackberry:
10 blackberries
5 drops chocolate raspberry stevia
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Coconut Creme:
1 tsp coconut oil
tiny dash salt
1 tsp almond milk
2 tbs coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp agave

Pink Strawberry:
2 large strawberries
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp agave
1 crack spoon stevia

2.5 tbs cooked sweet potato (~1 inch slice)
1 tsp agave
~7 drops {/ 1/8 tsp) orange extract / or use grated orange peel

To get nicely shaped truffles (like the heart pictured above) freeze fillings in shaped ice-cube trays, or equivalent. I used silicone ice trays that made it easy to remove frozen shapes without having to grease or line them.

EDIT: to get even better, 100% PERFECT shapes (not pictured, yet), chill shaped ice-cube tray (silicone, or greased with coconut oil). Then, generously coat insides of the shaped well with chocolate mixture. Next, scoop filling in, and top with an even coat of chocolate to seal it off. Refreeze. Then, when removed, shapes will be perfectly molded!

Chocolate shell:
1 bag Sunspire Grain-Sweetend Chocolate Chips--> use a double-boiler (or two nested pots) to JUST melt (aka, not over-heat) chips; add:
1/4 c coconut sugar
1 crack spoon stevia
3 tbs coconut oil
seed with ~1/4 c more chocolate chips, stir until smooth; do not over-heat chips, if you want to maintain "tempered" consistency!

Dip frozen filling-shapes into the chocolate, or use a spoon to help coat all sides. Place on waxed paper to set. To make egg shapes, roll semi-frozen filling between fingers to an oval shape, then roll in melted chocolate.

Check out Foodista for more Homemade chocolate truffles!

Homemade Chocolate Truffles on FoodistaHomemade Chocolate Truffles