Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Easiest Flourless Chocolate Cake

This cake is fabulous.  I made it recently for Passover but it's a great dessert anytime of the year.  The best part is that you can have it done in less than an hour!  It's so quick and simple.  When I made this cake, I was making macarons on the same day.  I needed something substantial but not time consuming.  This cake was exactly what I needed.  It feeds a crowd and it is so decadent - definitely a chocolate lovers dessert.  It's really rich and creamy, so I recommend serving it with a fruit to lighten it up a little.  Strawberries are great but raspberries or oranges would work well too.  I am a huge fan of oranges and chocolate.  If you choose oranges, add a tablespoon of Cointreau to the batter and it is heaven.  Also, using good quality chocolate is a must.  I love Ghirardelli and Scharffen Berger.  Both of my kids love chocolate so they really enjoyed this dessert.  Please give it a try - you'll love how easy it is and how few ingredients are required.  This would make an excellent Mother's Day dessert too!  Enjoy!  J'aime le chocolat!

La Recette:

4 ounces good quality bitter sweet chocolate
4 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate - you can use all bitter sweet if you need dairy free
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature - Earth Balance vegan sticks can be substituted for butter for a dairy free option.  *It's a lot of butter but you'll divide the cake by twelve or more.  
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting
Your choice of fruit

1 - 9 inch cake pan
1 - medium sauce pan
1 - medium bowl
1 - medium sized heat proof bowl to put on top of the saucepan
1 - wooden spoon
1 - whisk
1 - mesh strainer
1 - sifter

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and butter a 9 inch cake pan.
-Chop the chocolate into medium sized pieces.  
-Cut the butter into medium sized cubes.
-Place the chocolate and butter into the heat proof bowl.  Bring a medium saucepan 1/4 full of water to boil.  Place the heat proof bowl on top (creating a double broiler) and turn off the heat.  Make sure the bowl is not touching the water.    
-Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.
-In another medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, and sugar together until well combined.
-Once the chocolate and butter are completely melted remove the bowl from on top of the sauce pan.  Let it sit on the counter for 3-5 minutes.
-Whisk the egg mixture into the chocolate.  Mixing well for 1-2 minutes.  
-Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and mix until just combined.
-Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes.  You'll see a thin crust form on the top.  
-Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 15 minutes.
-Invert on a serving platter and right before serving, using a mesh strainer, sprinkle with powdered sugar

*For this recipe, I served the cake with stewed strawberries.  I basically hulled a pint of strawberries, cut them into quarters and sautéed with two tablespoons of sugar on low heat for about 10 minutes.  Put it into the refrigerator and chill for a least an hour.  Feel free to choose your favorite fruit to substitute.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

This salad is so delicious!  It's bright and vibrant and it's perfect for spring and summer.  The flavor combinations work really well together - a little salty, a little sweet.  It just really hits the spot!  I also realized that it's swimsuit season soon and I have to rein in my winter eating habits.  This salad is low calorie and very healthy.  If you're not too familiar with Quinoa, here is a little extra info: pronounced - keen-wah, it originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru.  It is a species of goosefoot that is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.  It's high in protein, lacks gluten and is very hearty.  It's actually considered a complete protein and is very high in calcium.  For my family it takes the place of couscous and, in my opinion, it's tastier and healthier.  This is a great side or it can be served on it's own as a light lunch.  It also works really well in a wrap or tortilla.  We recently went to a Philadelphia Union soccer game and we went early to hang out and picnic outside the stadium.  I brought this salad and it traveled so well.   Mason loves the little pearlini Mozzarella cheese and pine nuts but they can easily be removed and replaced for a nut free, dairy free option.  Try this for your next picnic, lunch or dinner.  It's so flavorful and I think you'll love it!  Enjoy!

La Recette:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed 
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup golden beets, cubed (about 3 medium sized beets) red beets work too
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup pearlini mozzarella balls, feta or goat cheese could be another option
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for sautéing 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 medium saucepan
2 medium sized bowls, for an ice bath and mixing
1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 cup measuring cups
Medium sized strainer
1 tablespoon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons
Slotted spoon and mixing spoon

-Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Trim and wash the beets.  Wrap them in aluminum foil and place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Roast for and 1 hour and fifteen minutes.  Cool to room temperature and remove the skins.  They should just peel right off using your fingers.  Then cube them and combine them into the salad.  If you use red beets, put them into the salad last and you might want to use gloves while peeling them because they can stain your hands a little.
-In the meantime, bring a medium sized saucepan halfway full of water to boil.  Once you have a rolling boil, put the sugar snap peas in for about 3 minutes.  Have an ice bath ready (a medium sized bowl full of ice water).  Scoop the sugar snap peas out with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice bath for about 10 minutes.  I cook the sugar snaps just to take the raw edge off and the water bath is used to shock the vegetables so that they stop cooking but maintain their vibrant green color.   I still want them to have a crunch.
-Discard the water in the saucepan.  Place the finely chopped onion in the saucepan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes.  I do this to take raw edge off as well.  
-While the onion is cooking place the corn into the stainer and rinse well.  Put the corn into the pot with the onion and turn off the heat.  
-Next, drain the sugar snap peas, cut them in half and put the onion and corn into the sugar snap bowl and set aside.
-Wipeout the saucepan if necessary.  You are going to use this saucepan to cook the quinoa.  
-Put the cup of quinoa into the strainer and rinse well.  Sometimes quinoa can taste a little bitter if it isn't rinsed.
-Pour 2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth into the saucepan and then add the quinoa.  Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until most of the broth is gone (about 10 minutes).  Cover the pot and turn the heat off.  Let it steam for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, fluff it up with a fork and let it cool to slightly warm.
-In the meantime, combine the cherries, arugula, pearlini Mozzarella, and pine nuts into the bowl with the sugar snap peas.  If you need to toast the pine nuts, 350 degrees for about  5 minutes on sheet pan works well.
-Once the quinoa a cooled slightly combine it with the other ingredients and mix well.
-Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
-Last, mix in the beets and make sure everything is well combined.  
-Serve immediately or it can be refrigerated and served at a later time.
-Serves 4-6 

Udi's Gluten Free tortillas (the best!), sweet potato chips by Food Should Taste Good and a side salad.

My favorite brand of stocks and broths.  Organic and gluten free.

Quinoa should look like this when it's done cooking…light and fluffy.

Happy Spring!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dark Chocolate Cups with Fresh Fruit

We celebrated Gabrielle's 3rd birthday last week and I needed a snack to bring into her classroom for a mini party with her school friends.  There are a few kids in Gabby's class with severe nut allergies, and as you know, I like to make food that everyone can eat together regardless of food allergies.   I thought of these cups and I knew that they would be perfect!  I bought the Enjoy Life mini dark chocolate   chips, which are free of the most common allergies, and melted them over a double broiler.  Next, I blew up balloons to an 1/8 or a 1/4 full, washed them off and dipped them into the chocolate.  I placed the chocolate balloons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes or so, take them out, pop the balloon and you have a cute little chocolate cup.  If you don't have a dairy allergy, you can put a small dollop of whipped cream on top (see my kitchen tips on homemade whipped cream).  These are so great.  Tasty and healthy - I love them and the best part is that everyone can eat them and celebrate together!  

La Recette:

Bag of ballons (at least 10)
2 baking sheets
Parchment paper
1 - 10 oz. bag semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
Fresh fruit of your choice

-Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl that will sit on top of the sauce pan.
-Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
-Fill a medium sauce pan 1/3 full of water and bring it to a boil.
-Put the bowl with the chocolate on top of the saucepan and turn the heat off.
-Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.
-While the chocolate is melting, blow up the balloons to an 1/8 or 1/4 full.  Rinse them off and dry completely.
-Dip them into the chocolate (you can play with the size) and gently place the balloons on the baking sheet.
-Put them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
-After 30 minutes, gently pop the balloon and slowly peel the popped balloon out of the chocolate shell.  I recommend keeping the chocolate in the freezer until you want to use them.
-Cut up your fruit of choice and fill the cup about 3/4 full.

*makes 10-12 cups
*one baking sheet holds about 6 balloons

FYI…these are super delicious

Happy Birthday Gabby girl!

Gabby's friends Devin and Isabella

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