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Archive for the ‘desserts’ Category

the great do[ugh]nut debate

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 6, 2015

mint chocolate paleo doughnuts​I recently got into a spirited debate (at the gym, of all places) about the proper spelling of everyone’s favorite circular, fried treat with a hole in the middle. I steadfastly stood in the “doughnut” corner versus two “donut” supporters. Listen, people: It’s doughnut. “Donut” is part of a brand name; it should follow “Dunkin” or any other company/product that has legally filed its name to include the misspelling, but that’s it. Are you one of those people who calls tissues Kleenex? Stop giving these companies free marketing! (And if you’re spelling it that way because you’re too lazy to type it the correct way… just… go. Please.)

The great doughnut debate of 2014 reminded me that I had not made doughnuts in a really long time, so I took to Pinterest to find myself a healthy[ish] alternative to Dunkin’ Donuts (note the proper spelling in this instance), and found these paleo mint chocolate doughnuts from the Healthy Maven. (Sorry if you’re sick of paleo. I’ll make the next post something bad for you.)

The doughnuts were pretty minty, and the frosting was pretty pretty with the green tint come from a bit of matcha mixed into the coconut cream. I opted to top mine with crumbles of Mrs. Thinsters brownie thins for a little added pizzazz. (If you really want to unhealthify [speaking of poor grammar] this treat, Thin Mints would also be a delicious topping.)

(​​Slightly adapted)

Makes 6 doughnuts

For doughnuts
♦1 c. almond meal
♦2 tbs. coconut flour
♦1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
♦1/4 tsp. baking soda
♦1/2 tsp. baking powder
♦1/4 tsp. sea salt
♦1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce (*I did not have applesauce in my house, so I made my own from one apple — peeled, chopped into bits, tbs. of lemon juice and boiled til it was soft enough to pulverize with my immersion blender. Yes, everything must be a project.)
♦2 eggs
♦3 tbs. honey
♦1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
♦1/2 tsp. peppermint extract​
♦Toppings if desired

Combine almond meal, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.Add applesauce, eggs and extracts. Stir well.

Grease a doughnut pan with coconut oil, and divide batter evenly. (You could also roll into balls if you don’t have a pan.) Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow doughnuts to cool 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Carefully transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

For frosting
♦1 can full-fat coconut milk (left in fridge for at least 1 hour), do NOT shake
♦1/2 tsp matcha powder (mostly for color — not taste; you may also use spirulina powder)
♦1 tbs. honey

While doughnuts are cooling, open coconut milk. (Do not shake the can before opening.) Scrape the cream from the top and place in mixing bowl. Beat on high for several minutes until the cream stiffens and can hold peaks. Add in matcha or spirulina powder and honey, then beat for one more minute. It does not look like a lot, but it will go a long way. Carefully spread frosting on doughnuts.

Total time? 10 minutes prep, 15 bake, 10 minutes decorate
Cost? $6.99 almond meal, $8.99 coconut flour, $6.99 matcha powder, $1.99 canned coconut milk, ? applesauce (or the cost of the time I won’t get back from having to whip up homemade applesauce to make doughnuts… Not bitter.)
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out 10. These were good — like, way better than I expected. I immediately fell in love with the frosting. It was only coconut cream with a little bit of matcha, but I could have eaten it with a spoon if I hadn’t globbed all of it onto the doughnuts. (A little goes a long way, but not enough to have a frosting snack.) The doughnuts stayed fresh for at least four days (I had to fend off a few suitors to make them last that long), and the flavor was good. Obviously, they’re not going to taste like fried balls of doughy goodness, but they’re definitely a viable alternative, especially if consumption of any traditional doughnut leaves you with guilt pangs for hours… days… weeks… Do not mock; this is why I stopped going to Dunkin’ Donuts. Well, that, and the misspelling.

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paleo mocha chocolate chip cookies

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 10, 2014

paleo mocha chocolate chip cookiesFor the last few years, I’ve been participating in a cookie exchange with the same group of girls — past and present soccer teammates who have become good friends. And while I love catching up with them, I have to admit, it’s become a biz (yeah, that’s short for biznatch) coming up with a new recipe each year to top the previous year’s cookie.

This year, I went with the cookies I made for my fantasy football draft a few years back. In searching for an idea, though, I realized I don’t have all that many cookie recipes on here, so here’s a new one — paleo mocha chocolate chip cookies.

Now, they’re gluten free and made with natural ingredients, but they are still cookies. Please don’t think you can eat 100 and be chiseled. (Challenge accepted!)

From Paleo Spirit
♦2 1/3 c. almond meal/flour
♦1/2 c. cocoa powder
♦1/2 tsp. sea salt.
♦1/2 tsp. baking soda
♦2 tsp. instant espresso powder
♦1 tbs. vanilla extract
♦1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
♦1/2 c. coconut nectar
♦3/4 dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Add in chocolate chips. Form dough into 1/2-inch balls and place on parchment paper. Press each ball down to form a disc. (They do not flatten on their own.) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Total time? 20 minutes prep and bake.
Cost? $9.98 almond meal, $7.99 coconut oil, $2.99 chocolate chips, $7.49 coconut nectar
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out 10. Whenever something is labeled #paleo or “clean” or whatever, people assume it won’t be as tasty as the “real” thing. (Funny to put that in quotation marks when it actually means real, but is referring to what everyone has come to accept as real… which is fake. How meta.) These are legitimately good. I brought them to a tailgate, and no one could tell they were “caveman cookies.” This recipe is very simple and the mix goes a long way, but the ingredients are on the pricier side. If you aren’t on a strict paleo diet, it may not be worth the investment; but if you are or you don’t care about budget, see what you think.

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tbt: Mike’s Pastry

Posted by culinaryneophyte on November 13, 2014

mikes pastry cannoliDoing the Throwback Thursday thing to my visit to Mike’s Pastry in Boston.

I never go anywhere, so I pretend my business trips are vacations and hit every local famous food place I can in between work obligations. Obviously, I got some chowdah (I learned during my Fenway tour that “r” is a foreign concept there) and a lobstah roll, which was my favorite meal of the week, but a friend insisted I get a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry in the North End — a place known for its Italian food. Italian food and sweets are not my go-to food picks, but man, this lived up to the hype. And the flavor selection was impressive, I brought home a string-wrapped pastry box for my dad, complete with Oreo, peanut butter and pistachio. I tried to work in a “Godfather” reference when I dropped them off, but failed. I think he appreciated it anyway.

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jam on

Posted by culinaryneophyte on August 4, 2013

When people ask for my help moving, I typically carry odds and ends and leave the heavy lifting to the big dogs. But yesterday, one of my brothers bailed on helping my dad and stepmother move (and the other left for work with a decent amount to go), so I had no choice but to lift things up and put them down. (Please tell me you get that reference.) By the time I got home, it was that awkward too-late-for-lunch/too-early-for-dinner time, and I was too famished to wait more than five minutes for something small to cook, so I whipped up a sweet snack inspired by a post I saw on Instagram: cinnamon protein rice cake with strawberry jam and chia seeds.

cinnamon protein rice cake

enough for two rice cakes
♦2 brown rice cakes
3 tbs. plain Greek yogurt
2 tbs. whey protein
♦1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbs. cinnamon (or to taste)
Jam/jelly (any flavor, organic if clean)
♦chia seeds

Mix yogurt, protein, vanilla and cinnamon together. Slather on rice cakes. Top with a dollop of jam and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

Calories? About 120 calories per rice cake
Total time? 3 minutes
Cost? $1.29 rice cakes, $2.99 jam, $1 Greek yogurt
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. These rice cakes helped kill my hunger and give me a little boost after a strenuous morning. The health benefits of chia seeds are plenty, but in this case, the fact that they absorb 10 times their weight in water helped keep me full until dinner time arrived. I am usually a little iffy on yogurt-based things, but this protein “sauce” was delicious. The only point deducted came from how messy this was. This is the first time I’ve topped rice cakes with anything outside of my usual sunflower seed butter or the occasional avocado and cayenne pepper, so I’m excited to experiment some more.

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are you ready for some baseball?!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 31, 2013

It’s pretty rare to find someone [at least in my generation] who doesn’t get the reference, “You’re killing me, Smalls.” And if they do give you a quizzical look, well then they probably deserve the Scotty Smalls comparison. The Great Bambi?!

smore cookies

Anyway. My point is “The Sandlot” may not have won Best Picture in 1993, but from my comedy-loving, film-novice standpoint, it’s a classic. Bunch of ragtag kids playing America’s game, trash talking crosstown rivals, talking to specter Babe Ruth and taming James Earl Jones’ scary dog. Who doesn’t get chills hearing, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die”? And what prepubescent boy didn’t dream of having cajones big enough to pull a Squints and kiss the hot lifeguard at the pool?

I’ll bet you knew about s’mores before you saw Sandlot, but it’s hard to put one together without recounting the treehouse scene in which Squints lays out the “s’more stuff” and demonstrates proper construction techniques. When it came time for me to choose a dessert to make for my fantasy baseball draft last weekend, I thought s’more cookies was an apropos (albeit, slightly contrived) offering. When the boys made the connection, I heard, “It’s nice to have a woman’s touch in this league.” They probably would have said that even if I brought some box mix cookies, but hey, whatever.

Happy MLB 2013, everyone!

Slightly adapted from Lindsey’s Kitchen
Makes about 40 cookies
♦2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 c. mini chocolate chips
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
2 bars of milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. In mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg, egg white and vanilla. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs. Drop tablespoons of dough on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, and remove from oven. Press one small square of chocolate and a few marshmallows into each cookie. Bake for 3 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer for wire rack to cool completely (or steal a bite of a hot, melty, delicious cookie).

Calories? 76 calories per serving (based on approx. 40 cookies made).
Total time?
 30 minutes prep and bake.
Cost? $2.69 mini chocolate chips, $3 chocolate bars, $1 marshmallows, $2.50 graham crackers
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out 10. These cookies were soft and delicious, packed with a little bit of s’more stuff in each bite. They were most delicious fresh out of the oven, which can be easily recreated by a few seconds in the microwave. My fellow fantasy baseball managers obliterated the plate of these before the sixth round, so I take it they were a success. I’m not a big sweets girl, but I absolutely loved these. I’d eat them — dare I say? — FOR. EV. ER. FOR. EV. ERRRRR.

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reverse Samoa

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 16, 2013

“Clean eating”  and “Paleo” are all over the place these days, and I’m kind of intrigued. Generally speaking, the Paleo diet focuses on eating like a caveman — things that were around 10,000 years ago, like meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, healthful oils, etc. I still need to do some research, but from what I can tell, the biggest difference is that clean eaters can have grains and Paleo followers should not.

I’m in the middle of the Insanity workout, playing soccer four days a week and trying to reduce (ideally eliminate, but one step at a time) the bad-for-you things I occasionally put in my body. And we’re still in the thick of Girl Scout cookie season, so that’s not always an easy task, especially when you have a weakness for the delicious, caramely, coconuty Samoas. Fortunately, Elana’s Pantry posted a Paleo Samoa recipe that caught my eye, and I decided to try out my first caveman confection.

paleo samoas

A few notes: I don’t think budget is an excuse for eating poorly; if you plan it right, you can buy a week’s worth of healthy foods for the same amount as two meals at Wendy’s. That being said, clean eating is expensive. More than likely, you will have to hit a more specialized supermarket like Wegmans, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to find what you’re looking for, and you’re going to pay significantly more. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons.

Also, I botched two steps in this recipe, so these cookies are like, the Samoa’s cousin — a reverse Samoa if you will. (I stupidly dipped the tops of the cookies in the chocolate instead of the bases, and then I put the toasted coconut in the chocolate instead of the caramel.) There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but nothing too challenging. They are coated with dark chocolate and drizzled with a vegan caramel. The end result is a tasty organic cookie that serves as a healthier bit of indulgence at the end of your meal (or in the middle of the day when you’re craving something sweet…which happened to me three times today — eek!).

Paleo Samoas – Makes about 30 cookies
Cookies
♦2 c. almond meal

♦1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
♦1/2 tsp. baking soda
♦1/4 c. honey
♦1 tbs. vanilla extract
♦1 egg
♦3 tbs. coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor (recommended — I admittedly used my Kitchen Aid mixer), combine almond meal, coconut and baking soda. Pulse in honey, vanilla, egg and melted coconut oil until dough forms. Put the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm. Roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out cookies. You may also cut out holes in the middle for a more authentic-looking Samoa. Bake on parchment paper for 6-8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before dipping.

Topping
♦1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 c. dark chocolate chunks
1 c. coconut sugar
1/4 c. coconut nectar
1/2 c. coconut milk

In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate. Meanwhile, toast coconut in toaster oven until just browned. In a separate saucepan, combine sugar, nectar and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Once cookies are cooled, dip the base of each cookie in the chocolate mixture and place on parchment paper to set. Remove caramel from heat and mix in toasted coconut. Drizzle a small amount of caramel over each cookie. If desired, top with additional chocolate and/or toasted coconut. Allow to set in the fridge.

Calories? About 95 calories per cookie.
Total time?
 8 minutes baking, 10 minutes for caramel, 10 minutes prep.
Cost? $8.57 almond meal, $8.49 coconut oil, $2.50 dark chocolate chunks, $7.49 coconut nectar, $1.99 coconut milk, $5.49 shredded coconut
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out 10. These cookies have certainly opened my eyes to how great a “clean” dessert can taste. They’re not necessarily low-calorie, but I felt less guilty about dessert knowing that all the ingredients are organic. As I mentioned, I didn’t follow the directions exactly and these don’t look much like Samoas (nor are they very pretty in general), but they sure were tasty. I docked points only because I felt they were a little light on coconut. It’s best to keep these in the fridge (and I prefer to eat them on the colder side). One other thing worth mentioning is that the caramel is very sticky and you may end up with a little in your teeth after the cookie is gone. Small price to pay, though, amIright?

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