Crispy Edged Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_2452.JPG
IMG_2451.JPG

I look for three things in a chocolate chip cookie: a caramelized sugar flavor, crispy edges and a soft center. I found my other cookie recipe to be a bit too thick and chewy so I changed a few things up for that perfect balance of crisp, buttery edge and chewy middle. 

Adapted from cooks illustrated.  

Makes about 32 cookies.  

Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1 cup unsalted butter, halfway melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar 

1 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon course kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

With a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla, eggs, salt and baking soda, mix 2 minutes more. Add flour and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Form into tablespoon sized balls and chill in fridge 20 minutes. 

While dough is chilling, heat oven to 375 degrees and oil cookie sheets. 

Arrange dough balls on cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. (They will spread a bit during baking.) Bake 8 minutes, remove from oven. Cool 8 minutes on their sheets and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  

 

Clementine Cake (DF)

clemcake1.jpg

I made this on Friday and Cameron and I happily snacked on it all weekend. It's an excellent snacking cake. I had a bag of super seedy clementine that I decide to turn into a cake. Serious cake cravings were happening over here. 

This cake is rich, moist, not too sweet and full of refreshing citrusy bites of clementine through out. It's one of those that are good anytime of day - a slice for breakfast, a slice as a snack or after dinner as dessert. When isn't a good time for cake? 

So good and similar to an olive oil cake. I used a combination of olive oil and coconut oil - its a flexible recipe. Just use what you like or have. Just keep in mind that different oils will lend different flavors to your cake. I'd recommend grape seed for mild flavor, olive oil for a moderate flavor or coconut for a heavy flavor. 

For the clementines, discard the peels and chop into small pieces. Pick out any seeds. That's it. We're adding pith and flesh to the batter. 

serves 8.

Clementine Cake

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon course kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup oil (coconut, grape seed, olive oil, or any combination)

1 1/4 cup coconut milk (I used boxed coconut milk beverage but any milk is ok)

3 eggs

4 clementines, peeled, chopped, seeds removed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9" round cake pan. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk oil, milk, eggs and clementines. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Do not over mix, just stir until it comes together and there are no steaks of dry flour or lumps. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set in the middle. A cake tester should come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan before serving. 

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo, GF, DF)

almondchocchip1.jpg
almondchocchip2.jpg
almondchocchip3.jpg

Happy 2018!! Let's start things off right with these grain free cookies. I've been hiding a bag of chocolate chips on myself for the last month or so until I felt like whipping these up. I have a hiding spot in one of the difficult to reach cupboards that I never go into and that is away from all the other food. I use this to hide things from myself like crackers specifically for a get together, nutella or chocolate chips. I would have eaten these chocolate chips if I had not hidden them, same for said crackers. Maybe not the same for the nutella. 

Back to the cookies! These are a super yummy chocolate chip cookie made with almond flour and sweetened with maple syrup. I'm really pleased with this recipe: grain free, paleo, dairy free, refined sugar free, easy to make and soft. I like a soft cc cookie, don't you? 

A note on ingredients: Use almond flour, not almond meal. I use Nutiva coconut and red palm shortening. The coffee grounds should be very fine, like espresso. I had courser drip sized grounds here so I buzzed them in the grinder for a few seconds until they were fine. They can be considered optional but really give these cookies a warm, toasty flavor. I also used an electric hand mixer for all of the mixing, besides folding in the chocolate chips. You can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. 

makes 24 cookies. 

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups almond flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon course kosher salt

dash cinnamon

1 tablespoon very finely ground coffee

2/3 cup coconut & red palm shortening, room temperature

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and coffee to evenly combine. Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat shortening and maple syrup together until it no longer looks curdled, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, mix 2 minutes more. Mixture will look weird and slightly curdled or separated. This is ok. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. 

The batter will seem much different than your usual cookie dough - lighter, wetter and stickier. This is ok. 

Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. In the meantime, heat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with a silicone baking mat or lightly oiled parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and drop tablespoon sized spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared trays. Give them some room as they will spread when baking. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit on pan before removing. 

Cookies are best warm out of the oven or stored in the fridge in an airtight container. 

Cranberry Bundt Cake (Paleo, GF, DF)

paleo cranberry 0.jpg

I made a conventional version of this cranberry bundt cake for Thanksgiving and it was so good I knew I wanted to make a healthier, grain free version. This cake is very balanced - a slightly sweet crumb with a bite of fresh cranberry here and there. If this was made in a loaf pan, I'd call it a cranberry bread. 

This can be glazed or dusted with powdered sugar and served as dessert or slice a piece off and smear it with coconut butter for breakfast. Or snack on it as is. Would doesn't need more snacking cake in their life? (We all do.) Either way, its a great festive, paleo cake to make for the holiday. 

Serves 10. 

Paleo Cranberry Bundt Cake

1.5 cups almond flour

1.5 cups coconut flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup agave

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

2 cups unsweetened applesauce

6 eggs, at room temperature

zest and juice of 1 orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 oz fresh cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 or 14 cup sized bundt pan and set aside. 

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk agave, oil, applesauce, eggs, set, juice and vanilla until very smooth. This can be done with a mixer or by hand. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient and stir until well combined. Make sure the dry ingredients are very well hydrated. Stir in fresh cranberries.

Transfer batter to bundt pan - since this is not a very pourable batter I spoon it into the bundt pan and the smooth the surface with a spatula or spoon. Make sure its even so the cake isn't lopsided. Bake until deep golden brown on top and set in center - about 1 hour and 30 minutes. I like to start checking every 15 minutes after the 1 hour mark. Remove from oven and cool in pan. Invert onto plate and serve. 

Pear Crumble Pie Bars (Vegan, GF, DF)

pear01.jpg
pear03.jpg
pear02.jpg

I made a conventional version of these a couple years ago and really wanted to make a gluten free vegan version. After following the AIP and now a gluten free vegan diet, it's so weird to look back at my old recipes and see ingredients like all purpose flour and butter. Did I really used to cook with that stuff? It's so funny how much your outlook can change in a short period of time. I guess I've really changed how I eat and cook. 

Feel free to change up the fruit on these. Personally, I love pear desserts but pears usually never make it into baked goods around here because they're so good on their own. If they had been ripe when I bought them, they definitely would not have made it into bar form. Apples or peaches would be great stand ins. If you do change anything - please leave a comment and let me know how it goes!

These are really easy to make. I use a fork for all the mashing and mixing and then switch to my hands. Easy stuff. 

I've made this with both Trader Joe's gluten free baking flour and Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 baking flour. Either one will do or your own preferred gf flour. 

Makes one 8 x 8 inch pan. 

Pear Pie Bars

1 very ripe banana, well mashed

1/2 cup unsweetened non dairy milk (I used boxed coconut milk beverage)

1/2 cup coconut oil, in liquid state

1/3 cup maple syrup

juice and zest of one lemon

3 cups gluten free flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

2 pears, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

Heat oven to 375 degrees, Paper or grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine mashed banana, milk, oil, syrup, lemon zest and juice. Stir until well combined. In another bowl, whisk flour with baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir or work with hands until flour is hydrated. Evenly press 2/3 of dough into prepared pan. 

In another bowl, toss pear slices in cornstarch, nutmeg and ginger powder. Arrange pear slices in an even layer on top of pressed crust. Sprinkle little pinched off pieces of remainign dough over pear layer but don't completely cover the pear. You want it to look crumbly. Dust your hands in flour and lightly press down on surface. 

Bake 40 minute. Top should be golden brown. Let cool. 

Cranberry Coconut Healthy Cookies (Vegan, GF, DF)

crancookie04.jpg
crancookie01.jpg
crancookie03.jpg

As you can probably tell from my posts, I don't eat many sweets or sugar anymore. I try to limit my sugar intake to only fruit which means not a lot of baked sweets happening around here. I prefer to 'save' my sugar indulgences for things like coconut ice cream or a piece of vegan layer cake. Treating it as a rare, special occasion thing has helped changed my sweet tooth to a healthy tooth. You'll notice most of my dessert recipes are sugar free, use natural sugars like maple syrup or are sweetened with a fruit. 

These cookies are made without sugar and sweetened only with a banana and the dried cranberries. 

Cranberry Coconut Healthy Cookies

1 mashed ripe banana

1/2 cup quick GF oats

2 tablespoons dried cranberries 

2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

1 tablespoon chopped pecans

dash cinnamon and nutmeg

pinch salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking tray with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients. Use a tablespoon to portion 8 cookies onto prepared baking tray. Cookies will not flatten or expand during baking so flatten them into round cookie shapes. Bake 15 minutes. Remove. Cool. 

Lemon Poppyseed Bread (Paleo, GF, DF)

I love that we can call this 'bread'. Bread sounds so much healthier than snacking cake, which is what this really is. I tried to keep things simple - no weird flours or anything. Just the usual paleo ingredients. 

There is no added sugar - just the sweetness of the banana. I like to use super ripe bananas that are soft and heavily spotted. They are nice and sweet. For me, it's a sensible amount of sugar but feel free to add 2 - 3 tablespoons of honey, agave or maple syrup if you're looking for that sweet fix. 

Makes one thin loaf. 

Paleo Lemon Poppyseed Bread

1 super ripe banana

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of two lemons

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

2 teaspoons poppyseeds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

pinch nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or paper a loaf pan. Set aside. 

In a medium sized bowl, very thoroughly mash the banana. Add eggs, vanilla, zest and oil. In a small bowl, whisk coconut flour, arrow root powder, poppy seeds, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Be sure flour is hydrated. Transfer to prepared loaf pan. Smooth top and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan. 

Strawberry Banana Mini Muffins (Paleo, GF, DF)

Many things are better when they are mini and a muffin is one of those things. I love popping these sweet little things into my mouth, crushing them with one bite and refreshing with a sip of coconut milk. I pretend I am a little muffin eating monster. Small pleasures, right?

Here's a tip - if you have super ripe, black spotted bananas that you either don't want to eat and don't feel like cooking, do not throw them away! Peel, chop and put them in the freezer. Then you can use them for smoothies or for these muffins. I actually made these with thawed, previously frozen bananas and didn't add any honey because they bananas were so sweet!

Makes 12 mini muffins. 

Paleo Strawberry Mini Banana Muffins

2 super ripe bananas, peeled

1 egg

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

1/3 cup chopped frozen (thawed) or fresh strawberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with oil, paper or both. Set aside. 

In a bowl, mash the hell out of the bananas. Add egg, honey and vanilla. Mix very well. Add coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and coconut oil. Stir until evenly combined and flours are hydrated. Fold in strawberries. Fill muffin cups. Batter will be level with the top of the cup. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool. 

Molasses Cookies (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF)

Who doesn't love a molasses cookie in December?  To me, they are the perfect christmas cookie.  I worked on a recipe over the weekend that whether you're aip, paleo or not you will enjoy.  These are very well balanced cookies - not too sweet, soft and chewy with a hint of spice.  Perfect for leaving out for santa or dipping in a cool glass of coconut milk.  

Makes 16 cookies. 

AIP Molasses Cookies

1.5 cups cassava flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup palm/coconut shortening

1/8 cup coconut sugar - optional

1 gelatin egg (1 tablespoon gelatin bloomed in 1 tablespoon water, whisked with 1 tablespoon boiling water)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  Add molasses, shortening and gelatin egg.  Use an electric hand or stand mixer until it looks like cookie dough - it takes a couple minutes.  Use a tablespoon to portion, form balls and roll lightly in coconut sugar if you like.  

Use either cookie shaping techniques:

1. For smooth, flat cookies - Place dough ball on prepared cookie sheet, press with bottom of mason jar to flatten.  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  These cookies will be smooth, flat discs.

2. Or for rustic, crinkled cookies - Place dough ball on prepared cookie sheet, bake 15 minutes, remove from oven and flatten cookies.  Let cool.  

Simple Chocolate Cake (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF)

These were supposed to be doughnuts but I forgot I never bought that donut pan that's been on my to do list forever.  It's actually a mini donut pan.  

No matter!  I really just needed something chocolate and have been watching a pile of plantains slowly over ripen on my counter so it seemed like everything would work out, doughnut pan or no.  I'll be doubling the recipe and using it for a layer cake in the future. 

These are mostly about chocolate and I've noticed it's important for me to keep my insulin from spiking too much so the honey is low.  When I go sweets crazy (holiday season, ahem!) I notice my inflammation levels are higher.  Keeping the sugar low but adding things like chocolate or cinnamon, ingredients that I already associate with dessert helps make what I'm eating taste sweeter.  That said, increase to 1 third or half cup if you need that sugar.   Also, substitute carob powder for chocolate powder to keep it AIP. 

Makes one 8 inch cake.

Simple Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup dark chocolate powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup cassava flour

3/4 cup coconut butter

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 green plantain, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon gelatin

2 tablespoons boiling water

Heat oven to 350.  Grease one 8 inch cake tin and set aside. 

In a bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cassava flour.  Set aside.

In a food processor, fitted with S blade, process coconut oil, coconut butter, plantain, honey and apple cider vinegar until very smooth, about 4 minutes.  

In a small bowl, whisk gelatin and boiling water.  Add to food processor and run 2 minutes.  Add dry ingredients, process 3 minutes.  

Pour batter into prepared cake tin and bake 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.    

Apple Breakfast Cake (Paleo, GF, DF)

This is one of those things that you can eat for breakfast or dessert.  Don't you love those?  It's the beauty of a quick bread.  I was really worried about this one but it turned out so great.  So much like a normal treat.  The crumb is sweet, moist and holds together - which is no easy feat with Paleo baking.  

Weekends and weekends of rain had passed and I was dying to go apple picking.  Finally, this past weekend it was a beautiful fall day so we got in the car and headed to Wrightmans Farm in Morristown, New Jersey.  It's a very nice farm with snacks, hayrides, a farm store and u pick apples.  My favorite part of the day was wandering the apple orchard, getting lost in the corn maze and oogling all the pumpkins and gourds on display.  We have so many apples. Er, had so many - their numbers are dwindling but luckily I have enough left to make another one of these breakfast breads.     

If you don't have applesauce but have apples - peel, core and chop two, place them in a pot with about 1/3 cup water.  Cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 10 minutes.  Use a stick blender to puree.   

When arranging apple slices in the pan, go for one layer.  Thicker slices (1/4") are good.  Double layers won't stick together and when you invert the pan one side will most likely stick to the pan and one with the cake.  Just a tip. 

Apple Breakfast Cake

1 large apple, cored and sliced

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons coconut oil + plus extra for the pan

1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Generously run a loaf pan with coconut oil - really don't be shy. Arrange apple slices on bottom of pan - aim for a single layer.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour,  baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  

Warm honey and coconut oil and whisk together.  Whisk in apple sauce and egg.  Combine well with dry ingredients.  Carefully, pour over apple slices in loaf pan.  Smooth and level top of batter.  Bake 55 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan 5 minutes.  Invert onto plate and cool.  

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Popsicles (Vegan, AIP, GF, DF)

Is it too early for pumpkin spice?  We're in that difficult time of year: ready for Fall but it's still warm out.  So, I made myself a bunch of popsicles that taste like Fall.  

On a slightly different note, I have a really bad coconut ice cream addiction.  It used to be a frozen yogurt kind of problem but then I switched to a dairy free life.  Then, it was almond milk ice cream but then I went nut free....do you see where I'm going with this?  I really have a thing for frozen treats and, no matter what, I find a way to get them.  

In attempt to ween myself off my daily dose of ice cream and it's added sugars, I made these. Still sweet, creamy and frozen but slightly better for me. 

Anyone have any tips for storing popsicles in the freezer?  I've been putting them individually in zip top snack bags once frozen. 

Makes 10.

Pumpkin Spice Popsicles

1 14oz tin coconut milk

1 14oz tin pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

4 tablespoons maple syrup

Whisk together all ingredients and pour into popsicle molds.  Arrange sticks and freeze, about 4 hours.  

AIP Banana Bread (GF, DF, Paleo)

This is new territory for me.  I tried making an aip zucchini bread last week with cassava flour that was a crispy crust on the outside but pudding on the inside.  Ew.  It really put me off baking for a few days.  

Today I couldn't take it anymore.  I had to have banana bread.  The flavor and smell is 100% classic banana bread but you will notice the texture is very tender and cake-y.  It's still delicious, easy to make and AIP friendly.  

AIP Banana Bread

3/4 cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

2 super ripe bananas

1/2 ripe avocado

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoon gelatin powder

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon room temperature

2 tablespoon warm water

1/4 cup coconut oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Oil and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and clove.  Set aside.

In another bowl, Mash banana and avocado until smooth.  Stir in maple syrup.

Make the gelatin egg: Whisk gelatin, vinegar and room temperature water.  Let gelatin absorb water.  Whisk in boiling water.  Give it 2 minutes to set up.  

Whisk coconut oil with gelatin egg.  Stir into wet ingredients.  Combine wet and dry ingredients until coconut flour is hydrated.  Pour into prepared pan.  Smooth surface and bake 1 hour.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan 15 minutes.  

Chocolate Fudge Pops (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF)

Fudgsicles!  Low sugar and the perfect individual serving size.  We're having a heat wave here in Brooklyn but staying cool with these popsicles.  Because they are free of chemicals, they are a bit hard right out for the freezer.  I place mine in a glass and let it soften for 5 minutes before eating.

The avocado is optional - it adds a subtle flavor and creaminess.  I didn't try it but add in like finely chopped fruit, dark chocolate chips or ginger would be great.  

Chocolate Fudge Popsicles

1 14oz tin coconut milk

1/3 cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted

pinch salt

dash cinnamon

Puree all ingredients on a blender until smooth.  Pour into molds, insert sticks. Freeze until set, about 4 hours.  Run molds under warm water to release pops.  

 

Strawberry + Cream Popsicles (dairy free + AIP/Paleo)

This year, Cam, a couple friends and I decided to start Summer Sundays.  It's pretty much a sunday funday type of thing where we make sure to do something fun and summery like going on a kayaking adventure, visiting stone barns or the coney island boardwalk, or hosting an outdoor tie dye cookout party. (As one does...)  

For our first Summer Sunday, we went strawberry picking!  It was great. I love wandering around a sunny field, breathing the fresh air, surrounded by rows and rows of crops, picking and eating perfectly ripe fruit right off the plant.  We went to Terhune Orchards in Princeton, New Jersey.  It's a beautiful farm with upick crops including strawberries, blueberries, flowers, asparagus and blackberries.  There is also a winery with daily tastings, a farm store, animals, covered picnic tables and a play area for kids.  

We picked a bunch of strawberries.  I don't think I'll be able to go back to grocery store strawberries after all these sweet little things.  They're so aromatic and flavorful - I just can't get over it.  These are what all strawberries should taste like!  I saved half for eating and set aside the other half for recipes.  

These strawberry popsicles are the perfect summer treat and fit right into my current AIP / Paleo diet. Yay!  I love treats.  I'm a better person when I have treats.  Give these a try if you're looking for something dairy free, gluten free, paleo and vegan.  These are the popsicle molds I use.

Strawberry + Cream Popsicles

1 lb fresh ripe strawberries, stems removed

1 14oz tin coconut milk (full fat is best)

3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave (optional - it you want them sweet)

Blend strawberries, coconut milk and sweetener until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds, insert sticks and freeze, about four hours.  

Brownies! Yummy, Vegan Brownies!

I had some bananas that were just begging to be mashed up, stirred into batter and baked. They were almost over ripe - spotted to the point of being about completely brown and incredibly sweet.  Conveniently, I was also having a craving for brownies but really wanted to stick to something on the healthier side.  

So I came up with these:  gluten free, low sugar, vegan, dark chocolate, fudge style brownies. They don't have that crackly top normal brownies do but, hey, nobody's perfect.  They taste damn good.  

Vegan, Gluten free Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 super ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup almond meal

sea salt, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 8 x 8" pan with foil or parchment paper, lightly oil.  Set aside.

Melt chocolate and stir in coconut oil.  Stir in mashed banana and sugar.  Add vanilla and almond meal.  Stir until all is well combined.  (Since there's no gluten, you can stir as much as you like.)  Pour into prepared pan, spread evenly.  Lightly sprinkle with seas salt, if desired. Bake 20 minutes or until set in center. Cool before cutting.  

Pistachio Olive Oil Layer Cake

I just thought this one sounded good.  It's pretty, with a speckled hint of green in the crumb.  This would also be great as a bundt cake.  If you don't like the herbal taste of olive oil substitute it with butter.  

Also, please excuse the crazy job I did frosting this one.  I really did a number on it. 

Makes 1 eight inch 3 layer cake. 

Pistachio Olive Oil Layer Cake

3 cups cake flour

1 cup pistachio flour/meal

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup olive oil

zest of one lemon or lime

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

for the frosting

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature

4 oz butter, room temperature

dash of vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted to avoid lumps

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prep three eight inch round cake pans by placing a round sheet of parchment paper in each and lightly greasing sides and paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, pistachio meal baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat olive oil and sugar until light.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla.   Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/3 of the butter milk, repeat two more times, mixing until everything is just combined.  

Evenly distribute batter between prepared cake pans.  Bake until cakes are set - a toothpick inserted into the cakes center will remove clean - about 20 minutes.  

Transfer to rack to cool completely.  While cake is cooling, prepare frosting.  Beat softener butter and cream cheese together until smooth, add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth, lump free and ribbony.  

When cakes are cool, they may be frosted and layered.  Trim tops of cakes flat, if domed, for even layering.  Place first cake, cut side down on plate or cardboard cake round.  Frost top only, not sides for a naked cake look.  A piping bag with a large tip maybe used to neatly apply frosting around the perimeter.  Place next layer, cut side down on top of frosted layer.  Frost, repeat with remaining layer.  Dust with additional pistachio meal if you like.  

Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies

My grandma is full of good ideas, especially when it comes to food.  At our thanksgiving dinner she mentioned that there just aren't enough cookie recipes posted on the blog.  She's right - so much soup but almost never cookies.  This is mostly because I post what I eat at home and I just can't have entire batches of just made sweets waiting for me to eat every last one of them but sometimes, I need a treat!  Maybe it's the festive holiday spirit in the air?  

So, Grandma, if you're reading this, this cookie recipe is here at your brilliant suggestion.  

Lemon Poppy seed Shortbread Cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Combine butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar on medium low speed until pale and light, about 4 minutes. Add flour, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and poppy seeds.  Mix just until dough holds together when squeezed.  Scrape sides of bowl, as needed.  Form into a 1" thick disc, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 2 hours.  

Roll dough out onto lightly floured surface, to 1/4" thickness.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.  Place on un-greased cookie sheets.  Re-roll scrapes and cut until all of dough is used. Decorative stamps or dots maybe applied as you like.  (I like a few simple pokes with the tip of a chopstick across the cookie top.)  Place in fridge to chill 10 minutes and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Bake about 30 minutes, until almost golden brown at edges.  Cool of rack. 

Pear Crumble Bars

What the hell are these things called?  Is crumble bar right?  Or is it pie bar or crumb bar?  I really don't know.  I'm saying, with some uncertainty, crumble bars.  They are made with a sweet tart dough layered with fruit and more of the dough crumbled on top.  Don't make them!  Seriously, I feel the same way I feel about french fries as I do crumble bars: I wish I'd never had them so I wouldn't have to be plagued by cravings for their unhealthy deliciousness.  Curse you french fries and crumble bars, curse you. 

On a different note, feel free to use apples instead of pears, if you like. 

Makes one 8" x 8" pan of bars.

Pear Crumble Bars

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 oz cold butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten

2 pears, cored, sliced

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line an 8" x 8" baking pan with a square of parchment paper on the bottom.  Set aside.

Whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Add butter cubes, working with a pastry cutter or your hands or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until mixture resembles a course sand.  Add beaten egg.  Work until dough comes together.  

Press 2/3 of dough into bottom of pan.  Try to keep it even.  Toss pear slices with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and ginger.  Top crust with fruit.  Spread it into an at least somewhat even layer.  Crumble remaining dough on top of fruit.  Lightly press down into fruit.  Bake about 50 minutes until top is golden brown.  Cool before cutting.  

Them ask someone to hide them so you don't eat them all. 

Zucchini Spice Bread

Hmmm... what to do with all your extra zucchini?  If you have a garden, you know what I mean.  I don't have one, but my mother does and on a visit this last weekend she arrived with about 8 pounds of tomatoes and 3 giant zucchinis.  Awesome.  The tomatoes you'll see in sauce and soup form soon.  Cameron isn't crazy about zucchini squash but doesn't everyone like zucchini bread?  I know I do.  

Other things you can do with your zucchini?  Shred it, bag it, freeze it.  Make noodles out of it, sneak long thin slices into lasagna, grill it and sprinkle it with vinegar, make a gratin, make a pizza, ratatouille....  Not that any of these suggestions matter because you're just going to make it into this bread, aren't you?  

This quick bread is well spiced, mild on the zucchini flavor with a moist crumb.  It's not too sweet.

Makes 1 loaf. 

Zucchini Bread

3 cups grated zucchini  + 1 tablespoon sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons grape seed oil

1/2 cup buttermilk

zest of 1 lemon

Toss grated zucchini with the tablespoon sugar.  Place it in a strainer set over a bowl.  You will be amazed how much water this gets out.  Leave it there while you do everything else.  

Heat oven to 375.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil.  Set aside.  

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  In another bowl, whisk oil, butter milk and lemon zest.  Press out any extra water from zucchini.  Combine zucchini and buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients until flour is hydrated.  Do not over mix.  Smooth into loaf pan.  Bake 55-60 minutes.  (When cake is done, it will feel firm and springy and an inserted toothpick will come out clean.)  Let cool.