Rustic chocolate layer cake

Every year I make a birthday cake for my dad. And every year, it’s the same recipe base: chocolate espresso cake with dark chocolate ganache. This year I attempted, as always, to make the ganache frosting smooth. This year, as always, I failed to do so.

Luckily, rustic-looking things are a trend, especially around this time of year, and we also had some rosemary and raw hazelnuts on hand. I may not be the best cake decorator, but I’m not the worst!

Warning: this is a super rich cake and it’s not very sweet. Choose chocolate at your own discretion and do not feel pressured to eat the rosemary.

Ingredients

for the cake

  • 1 ⅛ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream

for the ganache

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (I used 88% cacao)
  • 8 ounces heavy cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set it aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer* beat the cooled butter and the sugar together for 2-3 minutes or until it’s light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides after each addition.

Alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the sour cream, starting with dry and ending with dry. After the last addition, scrape the sides and finish mixing by hand.

Pour the batter into two six inch pans, greased and lined with parchment paper.

Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer placed in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool completely, then chill in the fridge before decorating.

In the meantime, heat the heavy cream to a boil, and chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and place it in a heatsafe bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate, and cover the bowl with a plate to keep the heat in. After around 10 minutes, take the plate off and mix the ganache. Let it sit at room temperature until it’s cool but spreadable.

Level the tops of both the cakes, spread ganache between the layers**, then coat the outside of the cake with more ganache. You should have used about ⅔ of the ganache at this point.

Pop the cake in the fridge to set, then add more ganache and create a bark-like pattern by running your spatula from bottom to top and top to bottom, creating vertical lines.

I topped the cake with a sprig of rosemary, some hazelnuts and chocolate shavings. Keep the cake refrigerated until 30 minutes before serving.

* you can also use a hand mixer

** I just used two layers, but you can cut each cake into two layers to make a total of four

Cookie dough espresso truffles

Oh heck yeah. 

The CDC recently told us not to eat cookie dough but… I feel like you’ll be fine with this one anyways. These cookie dough espresso truffles are perfect for a gift or a holiday party, or even just to eat for breakfast when you’ve slept in too long. Which I know from personal experience.

Note: these can also be vegan if you use margarine, dark chocolate and a nondairy milk!

Ingredients

for the edible cookie dough

  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • scant ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • ⅓ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

for the coating

  • 4 ounces baking chocolate, melted (I used 65% cacao)

Instructions

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Next, add the espresso powder, whole milk, almond flour and chocolate chips. Mix thoroughly and let the dough sit in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into small balls, then let them freeze for another ten minutes. In the meantime, melt the baking chocolate and line a plate with parchment paper.

Dip the chilled dough in the melted chocolate — work quickly, and immediately place the truffles in the freezer to set up. They’ll keep in the fridge for around a week.

Espresso chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are iconic. They’re most people’s favorite cookie, and they’re undeniably delicious. But I’m irreverent of tradition, and if it ain’t broke, you can probably make it even better somehow, especially if coffee is involved.

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At the start of testing, the two main things I wanted to do with these cookies were (1) diversify the flavor profile and (2) make a cookie that wasn’t too sweet. Adding espresso was the best way to fit both of those criteria, but halfway through my first test I realized I was low on chocolate chips. I went in my pantry to see if there was a good substitute, and I decided to chop up some 100% cacao baking chocolate and toss it into the dough.

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The first test went well, but I had some things I wanted to change. The cookies were chewier and crispier on the edges than I wanted, and I still wanted more depth of flavor. For the second (and successful) batch, I browned the butter and added some cinnamon. I also changed the brown to granulated sugar ratio from 3:1 to 1:1, which gave the cookies a cakey texture in the middle. They were perfect. They are perfect. These cookies are the pinnacle of cookie.

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It’s been a while since I’ve done an all out unhealthy recipe complete with all purpose flour, cane sugar and butter. But traditional baking is something I really do enjoy, and felt like I wanted to do more. If you don’t want to look at these ~terrifying~ real cookies, then close the window. If you wanna have fun, make them.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup browned butter
  • 1 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tablespoons espresso powder
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces 100% cacao chocolate, chopped*
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips**

Instructions

Brown the butter in a small saucepan, then transfer to a heatproof bowl and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you’re short on time, you could put it in the freezer for 10 minutes instead.

Once the butter is cool and thickened, mix with both sugars until combined, then mix in the eggs one at a time.

Add the vanilla, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon and espresso powder, and mix until incorporated.

Gently fold in the flour and chocolate, then chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375º F.

Scoop the cookies and bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the middles are still soft.***

Let cool completely before serving.

 

*I used Ghirardelli 100%

**I used Equal Exchange semisweet baking chips

***using my scoop, this recipe makes 14-15 cookies—they’re pretty big 

 

Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Truffles

Valentine’s Day is almost here once again, and like every year, your inboxes and insta feeds are being bombarded with V-day recipes. Today is no different. What IS different is that I have a paleo and vegan recipe for y’all, and it’s not only delicious but pretty healthy as well!

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This is the first Valentine’s I’ve been single for a couple years, so I decided to really engage in self love this month. That’s pretty much meant eating food that nourishes my body and soul, getting some extra sleep and finally using a face mask I’ve had for a while. But the sooner we get to the 14th, the more than actually just means eating chocolate. And trust me, I really enjoyed eating this chocolate.

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These truffles are the perfect Valentine’s gift for your friends, family or bae, especially if those people have food intolerances you need to work around. Plus, homemade gifts always score some extra points. Hope y’all have an awesome week!

love ya,

Cam

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded or dessicated coconut
  • ½ cup cacao butter, liquid
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup freeze dried raspberries, crushed
  • 2.5 ounces dark chocolate, melted (I use Eating Evolved)
  • 2 more tablespoons freeze dried raspberries, for topping

Instructions

In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients but the chocolate and put in the freezer until you can form balls out of the mixture.

Once chilled, roll the coconut mixture into balls about 1” in diameter. Put the truffles back in the fridge or freezer until completely set. In the meantime, melt down your chocolate.

Once your truffles are set, roll each in the chocolate and sprinkle with more freeze dried raspberries. Move quickly, because the chocolate will start to set as soon as it touches the cold truffle.

Let set completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Banana Muffins

Bananas are a huge part of my diet. Fruit pickings are slim in the dorms, and the most reliably high quality sweet things happen to be bananas. So my roommate and I often bring bananas back to the room. And then sometimes forget about them.

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I threw together this recipe while at home over break, but it’s also a perfect way to use up all those old bananas I forget I have.

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Since school started in September, I’ve had a hard time eating mindfully and making sure to eat until I’m only 80% full–yummy treats like this help me slow down and savor my food. Especially since they’re not actually too unhealthy either.

Here’s to never wasting a banana again!

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Ingredients

  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut or almond butter
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder*
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips**

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas (I used my hands) until they are a smooth pulp. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until combined, then add the coconut sugar and coconut oil and whisk again.

Add the vanilla and peanut butter, and mix thoroughly.

Whisk in the salt and baking powder, then fold in the cocoa, almond flour and chocolate chips.

Line a cupcake tray with paper liners and scoop about ¼ cup of batter into each. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely before serving.

*baking powder does come in cornstarch free versions. If you’re not strictly grain free, don’t worry about it.

** I prefer a vegan chocolate, such as Equal Exchange, for these

COLLAGEN CHAI Hot Cocoa

Y’all!

There is NO BETTER way to start off your new year than to drink some rich, creamy hot cocoa. A few days before January, Iowa City (where I live with my dad) got hit by a cold front and a lot of snow. So of course, armed with my new tripod (!!!!!) I decided to go with the flow and make some hot cocoa.

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But this isn’t any ordinary hot cocoa. It’s got chai and collagen in it as well, making it the perfect morning drink. Or afternoon drink. And if you’re pretty tolerant to caffeine, a nighttime drink as well. Honestly, it’s perfect any time of the day.

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Also, here I am making good on my resolution to create some videos! This is the first video with my new tripod and is totally awesome minus the fact that my voice can be kind of annoying. If my voice doesn’t make you want to jump off a cliff like a lemming, check out my entire channel and hit subscribe!

Happy New Year y’all, I cannot WAIT for the rest of 2018!

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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tea bag chai
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • ¼ cup powdered coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides
  • optional: cinnamon

Instructions

In a small saucepan, set the almond milk and the tea bag to boil. Once boiled, reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, sift together the cacao, coconut sugar and arrowroot starch. Then whisk in the collagen, and if desired, ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Add the cacao mixture to the almond milk and turn off the heat, then whisk until the hot cocoa is formed–it’s going to be very thick and creamy.

While it’s still hot, transfer the hot cocoa to a mug and top with cinnamon.

Hazelnut Cacao Bites

Confession: I am addicted to Nutella.

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I don’t really know how it happened, but once I started baking with it and eating it, I literally couldn’t stop. Like, eating multiple spoonfuls a day couldn’t stop. Because sugar makes me feel so disgusting, though, I felt like I had to think of a way to get my fix without actual Nutella.

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I originally tried to make my own Nutella in a food processor with coconut sugar, but it didn’t really get smooth and liquid enough. As I struggled with that, I realized I would rather have something easier to grab and go, and I didn’t really need a chocolate hazelnut butter as much as I needed the solid equivalent of (healthy) Nutella.

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So the bites: they’re pretty damn good, I’d say. They’re sugar free, paleo and actually pretty healthy, because raw cacao powder and cacao nibs are full of antioxidants, and hazelnuts got those healthy fats you need.

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*insert typical, chirpy update on college*

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole hazelnuts, raw
  • 6 – 8 small dates, soaked
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs, divided

Instructions

Add the hazelnuts into a food processor and pulse on high until the mixture is somewhere between flour and butter; it should be a clumpy hazelnut paste.

Add in the dates and coconut oil, and blend again for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cacao powder and half the nibs and pulse 2-3 times.

Press the cacao mixture into a lined or greased pan; I didn’t use the whole thing, because I like them more thick and square, and I tend to think they hold up better that way. Then, take the other half of the cacao nibs and press them into the top.

Freeze for an hour, then slice and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Guys… I’m so glad I finally got this recipe down and photographed because I have been eating so many cookies. You don’t even want to know how many cookies. I think half my calories for two days in a row…were cookies. That’s a lot. Of. Cookies.

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Aside from that, the testing for this recipe wasn’t much fun at all. What I wanted was something that actually looked, felt and tasted like a regular chocolate chip cookie, and I had trouble getting there.

Well, more accurate is that I failed in getting there.

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These cookies aren’t the exact perfect imitation I had hoped for, but they still happened to turn out very well. There are lots of explanations I can give for the differences; coconut flour always has a very subtle coconut flavor. Coconut oil and butter really are not the same thing. Coconut sugar gives baked goods a smoky, caramel flavor that regular sugar just doesn’t.

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Regardless, they turned out well; not perfect, of course, but they were the closest I could get to what I wanted: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and subtly sweet. They’re not regular chocolate chip cookies, but I’d say they’re pretty damn close.

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup coconut flour*
  • 2.5 ounces paleo chocolate (I used Eating Evolved)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil and the coconut sugar. Add the egg, and whisk again until combined. Then add the vanilla, baking soda and salt.

Fold in the coconut flour gently, then add in the chocolate; I chopped one bar of Eating Evolved up into small chocolate chunks.

Place 2” balls of dough on the cookie sheet at least 1” apart and press them down until they’re flat–they won’t flatten out in the oven on their own.

Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until the cookies are brown on the edges but still soft on the inside.

*Note: this measurement depends on the consistency of your coconut flour. Using Bob’s Red Mill brand, I needed 3/4 cup, but used 2 extra tablespoons using King Arthur.

Paleo Chocolate Banana Cake

Bananas are a weird fruit for sure. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t either love bananas or hate them. Some people eat them green, some people let them get brown and mushy and some–like my brother–only eat them at a very certain point in the ripening process. Because of this, I often find our house occupied by one or more overripe bananas that no one feels like eating. At that point, I could do one of three things. I could throw them away (wasteful), freeze them for smoothies (better) or make them into a healthy yet decadent dessert (best)!

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Fact: I had one, grossly overripe banana in my house.

Fact: I was craving chocolate, like I usually am.

Because the only sugar-free chocolate I can get my hands on is extremely expensive (see here) I decided to go for chocolate throughout instead of in chips and chunks. And then it sort of turned into a cake.

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Bananas and chocolate, though they’re probably not the first pairing you’d think of, actually work really well together. The bitter chocolate flavor and the sweetness of the ripe banana balance each other out and make this cake crazy good. I topped mine with a layer of coconut yogurt and some berries, but it would be just as good plain or served with banana slices. I’m busy on an orchestra tour in the Baltics, but I hope you all are having a fun and lazy summer!

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized soft banana
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a medium sized bowl, mash the banana with a fork until it’s a smooth pulp. Next, whisk in the coconut oil, sugar, eggs and coconut milk and stir until combined.

Add the vanilla and baking soda and mix again.

Switch to a spatula to mix and add the coconut flour and the cocoa, taking care not to overmix the batter. A little lumpy is okay.

Line a small square or round pan with parchment and pour the batter in, making sure to smooth the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Let cool completely before decorating or serving.

P.S. This video offers an alternate decorating method AND a recipe for coconut caramel!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

There’s something to be said for going back to basics once in a while. Life can get complicated, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in little details. Making food that’s not only delicious but easy and quick can help alleviate stress and make everyone’s day a little bit better.

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My life has been super crazy recently; though robotics build season just finished up, pit orchestra for Les Mis is still going strong and school hasn’t slowed down at all. Having a go-to way to feed my friends makes everything easier, especially when it can be baked in 20 minutes. I’m looking forward to pretty spring recipes as much as the next girl, but right now I just need to chill out and pacify my piers with something universal and comforting.

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Keep calm and bake cookie bars, I guess.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ⅓ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and two sugars until smooth.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, then stir in the vanilla, baking soda and salt.

Gently fold in the flour and chocolate chips, mixing until just combined.

Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with aluminum foil and press the dough flat, making sure every part of the pan has an even layer of dough.

Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until the top is golden brown but the inside is still soft.

Cool completely before slicing and serving.