Chocolate Pistachio Health Cake

Yesterday was my beloved’s 29th birthday… and being the healthy guy he is I kinda assumed he didn’t want a birthday cake.  He had put up with my cake box experimentation for dad’s birthday and I thought that was enough.  But on a walk the night before his birthday he revealed that there were TWO desserts he had been craving if he could have anything on his birthday… chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and… that Eat n’Park pistachio pudding, er fluff, er whatever it is! He asked me if I could make a healthy version of either of those.

I have nothing against Jello specifically and although I, myself, am not a pistachio fluff type of person, can appreciate that it’s a familiar yum to him. I do not, however, have any idea how to make a healthy version of it that would taste remotely similar.  It’s likely the fake pistachio taste that he loves… which I don’t know how to replicate. So I decided to try a healthy cake version and maybe give it a pistachio spin and try to kill 2 birds… without actually killing any birds, if you catch my drift.

The base of my cake recipe was from my dear friend Meredith who we interviewed last week on Gluten Free-way. Her recipe is actually a Carrot Spice Cake recipe. We had made it before and Nick had raved about how cake like it tasted for having so little flour and so many eggs!

carrot-spice-cake

So in order to turn this cake from carrot spice to chocolate, I simply swapped in 3-4 cups of zucchini for the carrots and 3/4 cup cocoa for the spices.  It baked up basically the same and had a nice light feel to it from the eggs.

The special ingredients behind the pistachio creme was mascarpone cheese. The idea for the filling came from the idea of the pistachio fluffy stuff and although it wasn’t as strong flavored… it was in the right direction. It was predominantly mascarpone, stevia and pistachios. Then the ganache is the simplest thing and it’s so good… and it truly brought the whole thing together so he got his chocolate frosted cake with pistachio crumbles on top.

Everyone wanted in on this yummy and mostly healthy masterpiece.  Unlike most heavy desserts I make… there was none left for friends.  We are finishing up the last piece tonight (the very next day). Thank you to Meredith for her creative and healthy recipes that I can play around with! Sorry we didn’t save you a piece…

0222171917

Stay delicious,

Lauren

 

Advertisements

Passions and …Other Things

I love to bake and experiment. When people ask me for things, I get excited to go home and produce! Some options I produce are more trial run, but it’s a great leaning experience anyway.

This week I got an order for decorated shaped cookies. I almost said no.

Regardless of my great passion for baking and creating… I am still learning to be detailed in decorative creativity. I have mentioned this before in my posts on my cake journey. I want to get better at it! I am going to be taking a cake decorating class in the near future and hope to be able to do some stretch projects on my own.  But alas…

I almost said no.  I asked my good friend if she would be able to help me decorate and she was just unavailable in the time frame.  So, after discussing with the customer that all she needed was a simple pink frosted cross-shaped cookie for her daughter’s first communion, I decided to take on the task.

wp-image-537849315jpg.jpg

My shout-out today will be to Cake It Easy Cakes in Bellevue, PA. I had met the owner, Tamra, in her shop late last year when I discovered her good variety of cookie cutter shapes.  She was so helpful and even stayed open a bit later to work with my schedule, while helping me find what I needed.  Above is the beautiful iridescent pink glitter she pointed me to in order to add some fun to the cookies (and if anyone has a pink glitter baked need in the near future… I can accommodate).

wp-image-393868892jpg.jpg

As can be expected, I did a few rounds of cookies and a few rounds of frosting to make sure the end product was great.  Sugar cookie dough is pretty straight forward, but the balance seems to be in the temperature of the dough and making sure it doesn’t spread while baking… changing the originally intended shape. Think sacred cross turned melted snowman. Not great.

wp-image-555533335jpg.jpg

Also, the icing can’t be as runny as I used to do for Christmas cookies as a kid… or it would be a quick mess. But it also can’t be so stiff that you can’t spread it on the cookie well. Baking is a science, but baking shaped/decorated cookies is a science of itself.

wp-image-450120611jpg.jpg

Overall, I am writing today, post delivery and post communion event and it has been confirmed that these were good for her event needs.

I almost said no… but I’m so glad I did not. Don’t you all run and contact me today about how many dozen cross and bunny shaped cookies you want to pre-order for Easter. But… stay tuned and I’ll see if I can’t work out some really beautiful ones by then and I’ll let you know if they are up for order. As always… thanks for pushing me to grow and helping me have a lot of fun while doing it.

And CONGRATS, little lady, on your first communion!
Stay delicious,

Lauren

Paleolithic Apple Cake

With the dawn of a new year and all the resolutions coming and going (by January 15), I was resolve not to start anything on January 1st, but rather to start moving in the right direction to make lasting changes for this year.  One thing I started moving toward was eating in a more “paleo” way.  I don’t even necessarily mean this in a definitive paleo diet sense, because there are some paleo rules I prefer to ignore.  But in the rules I can stand behind, like cutting out as much processed foods as I can, I am paleo-bound.

So first thing was to get out my two favorite paleo cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo and Practical Paleo, as well as to pull up my friend’s blog that provides AIP (Auto Immune Paleo) recipes, Fed and Fulfilled. The first “new year’s” paleo recipe I have now tried is the Paleo Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake, from Fed and Fulfilled’s (my friend) Joanna Smith.

PLEASE Check out her blog post with the details HERE. Her end product and photos are fantastic.

As you know, from the few times I tell you the recipes I’m baking, I do not always exactly follow the recipe… either to my delight or demise. This case is no different.  I started baking it for a good friend who is also mostly paleo and who recently had beautiful twins! She also happens to know Joanna, which led me to think this would be a nice serendipitous end to our meal. See Nick and I holding her beautiful twins below.

img_20170114_204834_057

The long and short of the tale of this cake is…  I did not plan enough time to finish the cake, and it never made it to this lovely family’s home. However, I was half way through the recipe and decided to stick it all in the fridge and finish it for our small group the following morning.

The deviations I ended up making are as follows:

  • All the applesauce was homemade (for lack of having anything but apples in the house)
  • The pumpkin in the pumpkin caramel sauce was replaced by applesauce
  • I did not make the caramel sauce ahead of time so I am entirely sure it didn’t resemble Joanna’s version because it still looked like applesauce when I was making the cake
  • The batter dried out more than I’d hoped because it sat in the fridge over night
  • I had the whole thing in the oven before I realized I had forgotten the apple cider vinegar
  • The layer of apples and the cake batter were more mixed than they should have been since I had to incorporate the apple cider vinegar by disassembling an already warm cake batter.

BUT… alas, all of my mistakes and substitutions produced the above lovely cake that our small group enjoyed. In true paleo fashion there was only raw honey as sweetener and seemed appropriate for a morning “coffee cake.” I concluded that if my mistake was this good… Joanna’s creation must be fantastic and I can’t wait to try it again and hopefully let the originally intended audience try it as well.

I will let you know what other paleo things I successfully or unsuccessfully try over the new year.  And as a reminder, if paleo is a lifestyle you subscribe to, you can always reach out and request Baked True North’s goodies to be made paleo… and in most cases I can make that happen. I will be doing more experiments to make that happen this year!

Stay Delicious,

Lauren

Time Off and Cakes

Hi friends! I took a bit of time off in December from my usual blogs to get some things in order and really focus on my business… but I’m back! Consistency is key and so you’ll be hearing from me a lot more if you want to.

December marked a first of a kind for Baked True North as I did my first 3 cakes for various Christmas events.  I am convinced that I am good at cookies.  I know I am good at doughnuts.  Now I am pretty sure I am going to be good at cakes.  But I have to turn my weakness of attention to detail around in the decorating area.

Here is the first cake I made for Revelation Health‘s Christmas party:

1207162245a

I took my Spiced Red Wine Yum-Bread and turned it into a chocolate red wine cake with red wine frosting.

I also did 2 cakes for Redeemer North Borough‘s Christmas Eve service.

1224161114b

The first was a chocolate cake with peanut butter cream frosting and the second was a white cake with buttercream frosting, dyed red and green between each layer. I have to say… my white cake with buttercream was awesome.  I begrudgingly make “desserts” that do not contain chocolate. I think I get this disdain from my dad who is known to get the chocolate syrup out and smother cakes, ice creams, pies, and anything trying to pass as a dessert that doesn’t already contain chocolate.  Don’t even get him started on carrot “cake!”

With all that said, I actually PREFERRED the white cake because it was so good. But the peanut butter cream frosting was a hit and that cake disappeared immediately.

Another recent adventure was the first week in January we spent in Arizona with Nick’s mom. Arizona in winter … meets vacationing while everyone else goes back to work … equals AMAZING. And of course I took the opportunity to bake for my mother-in-law.  I made her a batch of my signature chocolate chip cookies and as a special request for her birthday I made my first full cheesecake!

I wanted to make something elaborate like salted caramel chocolate chip cheesecake or red velvet cheesecake (ya know, something with CHOCOLATE), but seeing as it was my first ever… I decided to honor the cheesecake and go original. I think I know how to make it better next time, but it was GOOD, if you ask me.  No added chocolate either.

And we just overall had a great time in the desert, goofing off, finding cactus species and I ended the week as a red headed trail runner…

LAST, but certainly not least tomorrow (Wednesday, January 11th), Baked True North will have cookies on the shelves of Good L’Oven Cookies new shop! It’s their grand opening and the shop is gorgeous! So check it out… and support your favorite local gluten-free baker (psst, that’s me).

Stay Delicious,

Lauren

Oktoberfest at Baked True North

I am reading this great book right now called “Bread and Wine” by Shauna Niequist. My fiend Kim lent it to me and I have been TEARING through it.  Nick is thoroughly surprised as I usually do not read through book suggestions this quickly… or through any books at all! I have this wonderful habit of reading a book 1/2 to 3/4 through and then starting another book and forgetting about it.  I actually did this twice consecutively this summer leading up to this book.  But it won’t happen this time as I can hardly put it down and will definitely have it finished within the 2 week mark.

Shauna’s simple and honest chapters have drawn me in and I have connected with them.  They seem to be teaching me a few things.  One, to experiment more with food and test and grow my boundaries. Two, she has rekindled my love for entertaining and instilled in me a desire to throw fantastically normal get-togethers at our house.  What I mean by normal… is just, the reminder that things don’t have to be perfect, they will never go how you planned, but people, love, and community are the important parts to make central to the event.

I got to practice this “let go and host” mentality for an Oktoberfest event for our small group.  I was only asked to provide dessert and open my doors and everyone else would bring the rest.  I invited a few last minute guests as well to test my welcoming spirit and 2 out 3 invites came and made the party so much better!

The recipe I chose for Oktoberfest challenged me as a baker to make something pretty, not just good tasting.  Most of the things I make are not difficult or detailed in presentation and I am not a detailed person so I do not often try complicated recipes. “The Best German Chocolate Cake in All the Land” was the base for my cake. I made a few adjustments based on need and preference, but just about followed this recipe from Yammie’s Noshery.

0928161925

This picture describes the massive, messy, chocolaty German cake we had.

The alterations I made to the recipe (linked above) was as follows:

  • Cake:
    • Midnight Cocoa (high in protein) instead of dark cocoa
    • Canned coconut milk instead of cow’s milk
    • 2 cups sugar + 1/2 cup Stevia instead of 3 cups sugar
    • All-purpose gluten-free flour instead of rice flour
  • German frosting:
    • Unsweetened shredded coconut instead of sweetened
    • Pecans only for the top layer, not throughout
  • Milk Chocolate Frosting:
    • 4 cups powdered sugar instead of 5 cups
    • Leftover evaporated milk instead of cow’s milk

So, a few of those things I changed out of necessity and might not have otherwise… like the pecans.  I didn’t have any and by the time Nick got home with them the cake was done, so I sprinkled them on top. I do try to replace some sugar with Stevia when I can, and there is SOOO much sugar in this recipe that you will NOT notice a difference in taste. I also almost never put as much powdered sugar into frosting recipes as they call for, just on general principle that I am appalled at how much sugar it takes to make frosting!

Although I am not adding it to the Baked True North menu, it has inspired a few new recipes that I will be experimenting with and you may see those on the menu in the next month (German chocolate cookies…?)!

Overall I had a blast making this recipe and everyone loved how rich it was, even though they couldn’t eat more than a small piece.

HAPPY OKTOBERFEST!!!!!!!!!!!!

092716201609271620370927162127