You can also call it “Satsumaimo Pie” if you want to sound cultured or something.
So I had my appendix out on Monday and that kinda ruined my week off. There’s only so much time you can spend on the couch high on Percocet and creeping through the bowels of Netflix before you start getting a little stir crazy. Then you try to get up and remember why that was not a good idea. I seriously look like I got gutted like a trout. Moving on.
I was and still am, however, determined to make it to Thanksgiving tonight since it’s the first year I’ve lives where my family does in…a long time. My aunt asked me to bring a dessert, so yesterday I made this pie. Nothing crazy but I thought the Japanese sweet potatoes (aka Birthday Cake potatoes) would be a fun twist on my favorite pie ever and something a little more creative than plain old pumpkin pie).
After I was done, I slept for 4 1/2 hours. Clearly still feeling amazing. Then I ate some pie. Felt better. Went back to sleep. It was a good day.
*If you can’t find Japanese sweet potatoes, regular orange ones are fine.
*For 100% dairy free, full-fat coconut milk can sub for the cream.
Look, you put pumpkin in anything and it takes it to a whole new level. I love pumpkin season. Unnaturally so. Some people move to the islands to find eternal summer…I’m still searching for that spot on Earth that will give me Eternal Fall. Open to suggestions.
Funny story…I’m a lot like most people in that when I get a general recipe template for a cake/bread/muffin/whatever I kinda run with it. Why mess with what works? Uh…well maybe when you’re so out of touch with what’s actually in the pantry before you start a mega batch of cupcakes for a family gathering that starts in 2 hours. Like, when everything is mixed up and the last thing you need to add is 1/2 cup of coconut flour and…you only have 1/4 cup but it’s not like you can just add almond meal instead because the fat-to-egg-ratio is already WAY off. Oh geez. Solution? Add some random stuff until the batter LOOKS normal. Then bake. And pray.
And wouldntcha know it…every last one was gone within the hour. Cue the happy dance.
Anyone get the Animorphs reference? Please? Am I seriously that uncool?
With Fall in full swing, I need warm, gooey, cinnamon-y things in my life. Pumpkin obviously came first but I gotta show some love to other Fall flavors, too, ya know? And thanks to my friend Brittany–who ALWAYS asks me to make her cinnamon rolls and I promise to do it and then never do–I made cinnamon roll…cupcakes. Same thing. Except you can put an obnoxious amount of frosting on a cupcake. Then spoon more frosting into your face-hole right out of the bowl. Alone. At 2 am.
Ross told me these were the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. He says that a lot, but I’ll pretend like they really are. At the very least this is MY favorite frosting EVER…I mean brown butter? And BOURBON? ZOMG. I could get drunk off these cupcakes. Again.
Does it still retain “cupcake” status if you eat it for breakfast?
So if you follow me on Facebook at all you know I’m about knee-deep in a 21-Day Sugar Detox right now. It’s my third one ever and definitely easier by now. This summer…and a cross-country move…and my first semester of pre-med…and these…and these…kinda left me with a donut around my middle. Plus sugar just isn’t very good for you. Even though it knows just how to make me feel so good. Sugar’s a jerk.
I ended up with these kind of by accident. I was playing around with muffin recipes (again) because they’re just the easiest thing to toss in a baggie for breakfast when I have a morning lecture…and then I got these, which despite having ZERO sugar (natural or otherwise), taste just like carrot cake. Seriously, I think these will give my best carrot cake recipe a run for its money. Or maybe it’s just that I’m at that point where I haven’t had any sugar in a week and EVERYTHING tastes sweet. I dunno. I still can’t get enough of ‘em, though.
If you’ve actually been following me since the very beginning, you might remember these. It’s pretty much the one recipe that has remained popular the whole time, and for good reason.
Over the last year and a half I have made only miniscule changes to the recipe…I started using 2 big avocados (like fist-size?…I have big hands, I guess) rather than worrying too much about getting an exact amount, though I should note you want about a cup of puree. But a little more won’t kill you. Avocados are a superfood, remember? Also, I found that halving the baking soda and using GF baking powder alongside it has given all of my baked goods a great texture. This is because the baking soda is a basic agent that reacts with other stuff in the batter to get all bubbly and the baking powder has an acid (cream of tartar) already in it. Chemistry is fun! Just read your labels and make sure you get a GF and aluminum free baking powder…personally, I’m a fan of Featherweight Baking Powder.
So, yeah. Avocados and chocolate are still like, secret besties. If I’m gonna stuff my face with chocolate it might as well be sorta kinda good for me, right? These are super fudgey and, trust me, do NOT taste like avocado. Avocado is nature’s butter–it keeps these brownies so moist, even days later. But I mean, if they last for DAYS…I’m sorry. You’re not normal. Nothing this good should survive the night
I should be studying chem right now but I got really excited about this cake. Like…poop my pants excited. Ew. But for real, you guys, this is my proudest moment in the two and a half years of taking pictures of the stuff I make and sharing them with the interwebs. There’s a little elbow grease involved, but it’s so worth it.
After these became a reality last week, I knew I could take it a step further…and clearly since no one will shut up about Twinkies going away and then coming back and going away and coming back…again…the choice was clear. PS did you know Twinkies don’t actually last forever? Nope. They have a shelf life of 24 days. Fun fact. Thanks, Wikipedia!
OK, so this recipe is actually just a spruced up vanilla cake. It’s the frosting that makes it special, since there is a special something about the fluffy white stuff inside our favorite snack cakes. And as you know, frosting is kind of a Paleo black hole…it’s tough to pull off without pounds of powdered sugar…so I had to do a little digging. There’s a ton of easy non-Paleo recipes for Twinkie Cake, and again all they are are yellow cakes with a marshmallow-y vanilla whipped frosting. Marshmallows, you say? Yep, I made those once. And, so, my friends, I figured I’d make them again, toss a stick of butter into the mix, and hope for the best.
And yes, it WAS the best.
*for the cake*
1 c Coconut Flour
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Gluten Free Baking Powder
2 t Salt
4 Egg Whites
1 c Cashew Butter
1 c Honey
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 t Almond Extract
*for the frosting*
1 c Honey
4 T Gelatin (unflavored, organic)
1 c Water
1 c Pastured Butter (coconut oil would also work but will be a little more coconut-y in flavor)
2 t Vanilla
*for the cake*
Combine all your dry ingredients.
Beat the eggs and egg whites with the cashew butter, honey and flavor extracts.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine.
Beat with an electric mixer on HIGH for 2 minutes (this step is key to a good, fluffy texture).
Grease and line 2, 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper (this makes removal SO much easier)
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until the cakes are lightly browned and pass the toothpick test.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a cooling rack, discarding the parchment.
Frost and fill with Twinkie frosting.
*for the frosting*
First off, if you don’t have a stand mixer, get one. If that’s not an option, get a partner who is willing to hold an electric mixer while you pour the boiling honey into the gelatin.
Place the gelatin in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/2 c water on top and whisk to combine, then set aside.
Pour the honey and remaining 1/2 c water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn or boil over.
Turn on your mixer to medium-high in the bowl with the gelatin.
SLOWLY pour a steady stream of hot honey, making sure the stream of liquid hits the side of the bowl first so it doesn’t curdle the gelatin.
Have patience…keep pouring until all everything is combined. Then leave the mixer on for 15 minutes. Yep. 15 whole minutes. I covered my mixer with a towel so it wouldn’t splatter.
Add the vanilla and butter and keep whipping everything until it’s well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
Frost your cake and enjoy!
If you’d like a photo tutorial of the marshmallow-making process, go here.
Between moving back close to extended family and old friends and being back in school, this summer has turned into Social Event Overload. Which is a good thing for boring people like me because I now have a chance to do something with my weekends other than watch Game of Thrones marathons and stuff my facehole with bags of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks. (Toss ‘em in a mug with some almond butter and put it in the microwave for 25 seconds and they’re even better…in case you were wondering). Oh, no…now my weekends are all booked with BBQ’s and coffee dates and potlucks and impromptu drinking parties. I never realized how lonely my so-called “adult life” had been until I got here and realized that, oh yeah…summer is *supposed* to be all about this kind of stuff.
But I’m also reveling in the fact that I now have a billion new excuses to cook for people. And by that I mean bake for people. You can’t have a BBQ without cookies! These in particular were my contribution to a family picnic at my folks’ place last weekend. A few of my cousins and now my aunt have done the Whole30 and have begun to dabble in all this Paleo biz, so I wanted to make sure I brought a plethora of Paleo goodies. The sweet tooth in our family is a force to be reckoned with.
These cookies are perfect for the summer since they’re really not too rich or too heavy…they actually remind me of little peanut butter and banana sandwiches. But you know, with almond butter. Feel free to fill them with any nut butter, too…I think next time I’ll use Cacao Bliss and make little reverse-Oreo dealies. Any excuse to devour that stuff by the spoonful is welcome. Or you can choose to use no filling at all…they’re great on their own, too. Not to name any names, but the first half batch kinda…disappeared…before I could frost ‘em. Oops.
I’ve done it, I’ve really done it! In three years of Paleo eating, I have never really found a good, plain, vanilla cake recipe I was nuts about. As a baker this posed a lot of problems since simple recipes like that aren’t just nice to have on hand to serve to a crowd, but they make a wonderful and straightforward base for other, fancier recipes. I mean, don’t all of our mothers have a go-to scratch-made yellow cake recipe? My mom’s happens to come from the one and only Duncan Hines.
Well, now I have one, too. I’m a little shocked it took me this long to figure it out…but then again a lot of my baking adventures have been a little outrageous at times. I blame Pinterest for that ssince, I mean, how can you look away from the flood of Cafe Mocha, Pink Lemonade, Red Velvet, Maple Bacon, Pina Colada, and Quadruple Fudge Peanut Butter Caramel Marshmallow Unicorn Poop flavored cupcakes and be all like, “Yeah…let’s go have some VANILLA!”
I was never a vanilla cake person. I need adventure and variety in my life. I think if I ever had to throw something together, I opted for good old chocolate cake with a fluffy vanilla buttercream…and then threw in some chocolate chips, marshmallows, or whatever was in reach. So, I guess I just took a total 180. Weird. Sorry. But for whatever reason I wanted some plain old vanilla cupcakes. I must be growing up or something.
I’m not sure what exactly clicked with this cake to actually give it a light, fluffy texture without being *too moist*, chalky, or gritty. I’ve messed around with all of these ingredients at one point or another in various combinations and proportions over the last couple of years but this was the first one I was 100% satisfied with. I will say that cashew butter seems to be the magic bullet for flavor…it has a very natural “cake batter” kind of taste and made the cake taste like…cake. As far as texture, I took a gamble and replaced one egg with 2 egg whites and left it in the stand mixer for a solid 2 minutes on high to get it to fluff up (I’ve tried whipping the whites beforehand and folding them in but I’ve had mixed results with coconut flour based stuff)…and by golly it was perfect.
Also got some great feedback from my classmates at our weekly BBQ and that helped to reassure myself that they were, in fact, edible. No one died! Yay! When non-Paleo people can actually stomach my food I consider it a success. I have a feeling my house is going to be the scene of a summer-long episode of Cupcake Wars…you know, if Cupcake Wars only featured one person talking to herself and yelling at inanimate objects all day. Let’s see what else I can come up with now that I have a vanilla cake that doesn’t taste like a sponge.
OK, now for the best part…the frosting. OH, this frosting. It’s not my recipe but it may be the only one I use for the rest of my life. I find that a lot of Paleo or Primal frostings…uh…kinda suck a lot of the time. While I love coconut oil and palm shortening in baking…they give kind’ve an oil-slick quality to frosting, and frankly I’ve given up on trying to get something that tastes like the fluffy, grocery-store sugary crap I used to covet in favor of simpler stuff like nut butters, coconut manna, and melted chocolate. Good enough for government work. Until now.
I saw this recipe over at Cookies and Cups and was astonished I’d never heard of such a thing. TWO ingredient chocolate buttercream. Like, real buttercream. And it’s Paleo as long as you use ghee instead of straight up butter! Go check it out. Right now. And start frosting things.
But you know what’s nice about vanilla cake? You can put whatever the hell you want on it. So if you’re feeling lazy, try some almond butter and honey. Split them and fill with whipped cream and strawberries. Use this icing I made the other day. I dunno…surprise me
Oh, East Coast summer…I didn’t miss you at all. I can’t walk outside without my hair taking off in every direction and being covered in a sheen of sweat. There’s no “feminine glow”…just nasty sweat. Ew. And what makes it worse is that I go to school with a pretty well put-together group…and not only did I never really learn to dress myself properly, but I walk and/or bike to class and here they all are, dressed up like they’re going to the yacht club and in walks the Swamp Thing. Yup, real attractive.
OK, let’s talk about these little squares of heaven. Something about chocolate, nuts, and carmelized bananas is just so…right.
I originally called these “brownies” because that’s exactly what they reminded me of…rich, gooey (not cake-y! Cake-like brownies are an abomination!!) little squares backed with bananas and nuts…except they clearly aren’t chocolate. Well…they do have chocolate chips. Is that enough? I really don’t know where I’m going with this.
Oh, and obviously there is no butter in them, either. But if you’ve never used cashew butter, I insist you do…you know how cashews are damned addictive because they just…melt in your mouth and taste so…buttery? OK, well I guess mashing them up into a paste just enhances all of their awesomeness by like, a zillion. Just…just do it.
One note on these…coconut manna (also known as coconut butter or coconut cream concentrate) is the key to the texture. It’s smooth (not as grainy as many nut butters) and has a hint of coconut flavor that pairs sooooo well with the bananas. However, even I have a hard time finding the stuff at times, so in a pinch any nut butter will do. Do NOT use coconut oil. For the frosting, in a pinch, just try plain old almond butter with a drizzle of honey. It’s like a very naughty PB&B
Chocolate and ginger were made to be together. Fact.
So moving is going…well, it’s *going*, I guess. We’re in the new house and living in a sea of boxes and paper while I sit in class all day re-learning 9 years of math over the next week. By the time I get home it’s generally my habit to sit and stare at the wall for like half an hour and then shove some food down my pie hole, do homework till I get tired, then fall asleep watching The Tudors. I’ve been disgustingly un-productive this week. Then Ross got in yesterday. Then I was all like, “Let’s make cookies!!”
Actually, we were going to be social last night but we both had a horrible day. I won’t bore you with the deets but let’s just say it was obvious that the only thing to be done was to cry for a little while, then make cookies, drink wine, and fall asleep in front of the TV. On a Friday night. We are SO OLD.
Ross was a happy boy.
The basic cookie recipe is my favorite chocolate chip recipe…then I added the ginger chips. So original. But this cookie recipe is perfect. I think it’s the whole Paleo World’s favorite. Bill and Haley are just so gosh darn smart! But it’s incredibly versatile…you can play with all kinds of fillings or toppings or whatever you want, so when I found the ginger chips (didn’t even know there WAS such a wonderful thing!) there was no question. If you don’t have ginger chips, just get some candied ginger and chop it up real small. Easy!
While you’re waiting for these babies to come out of the oven, go ahead and eat the extra chocolate chips and ginger chunks out of a bowl with a spoon like a total fatty. I won’t judge