Tag Archives: dessert

If baking is an addiction, then call me a junkie

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I’ve been on a huge baking kick lately. Cakes and muffins and granola bars are being churned out of my kitchen pretty much on a daily basis and I can’t seem to put down my mixing bowls and spatulas for longer than 24 hours before I’m picking them up again to create something new. Mi mama and papa are definitely enjoying all my tasty concoctions and it seems their only complaint is not knowing which baked good to choose from amongst the huge surplus… well that and the fact that I’m so busy baking that I’ve sometimes forgotten to prepare anything for dinner. Let’s just say they’ve had a few “gourmet” meals provided by the lovely Marie Callendar. And there may have been a certain chef by the name of Boyardee helping me out once or twice. Hey don’t blame me. I can’t help what those two end up feeding themselves when left to their own devices.

Unfortunately, though, this past weekend I finally hit the creativity wall and I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything to either bake or prepare. Definitely not a good thing for my ego. I am the TeenyLittleSuperChef after all and genius ideas tend to pop into my brain as often and abundant as lame jokes pop out of mi mama’s mouth. I started to freak out a little bit. Now normally when I’ve felt as though I’ve lost my chefing mojo I take some to time to relax and either practice a little yoga or go for a walk down to the dog park, but this particular day I wanted to bake and I wanted to bake right then and there, without waiting for the inspiration to hit me. So instead, I turned to mis padres and asked them for their suggestions. And from what I gathered, mi mama loves strawberries. Mi papa loves chocolate. Obviously, I love mi papa more them both equally, so I decided to come up with a delicious treat that would encompass both of these items. And the outcome was a snack cake that mi papa exclaimed to be “the best baked good I’ve ever come up with!”

Looks like my baking mojo is back! Thank goodness, now I am able to kick back and smell the flowers once again. Speaking of which, check out the muy bonita tulips I planted last fall that have finally begun to bloom.

Gardening is just another little side hobby of mine… TeenyLittleSuperGreenThumb 😉

Gluten-free is the new black

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As promised, I’m back today to share with you the incredibly delicious cupcakes I baked for the birthday party I attended last night. I’ll spare you the details of the party, mostly out of respect for some of the attendees (i.e. mi mama). Let’s just say, some of us woke up with a sense of confusion and wonderment as to why a moustache had been drawn on their face with a Sharpie and their right hand was lying in a bowl of warm water. Thank goodness for rubber sheets…

Anyway, on to the cupcake recipe. I had been requested by the birthday girl to bake some gluten-free goodies since a number of the guests attending the party had either Celiac disease or some amount of gluten sensitivity. While we’re on the subject, I’d like to take a minute or two to talk about gluten, what exactly it is, and what this idea of gluten-sensitivity and/or intolerance actually is. By definition, gluten is the protein composite found in certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye. And while it may seem that by simply cutting out foods such as bread or baked goods containing these particular grains may eliminate gluten-consumption, gluten can actually be found in certain sauces like soy, cold cuts, salad dressings, alcoholic beverages, and even in the binders of some brands of multi-vitamin or nutritional supplements. People who have true gluten-intolerance suffer from a serious and possibly fatal condition called Celiac Disease. When a person with this disease consumes foods containing gluten, the lining of his/her stomach becomes damaged and prevents it from absorbing parts of food needed to stay healthy. Over time and if left untreated, this can lead to severe malnourishment, weight loss, and in the most extreme instances, death. The good news is, only around 1% of Americans actually suffer from this disease, and it can be treated properly by simply following a well-balanced and gluten-free diet.

Now the concept of gluten-sensitivity, on the other hand, is one that’s a little less unclear and harder to diagnose. This condition exists among people who test negative to Celiac Disease when given a blood test and don’t appear to have any damage in their intestines, yet still experience symptoms  common to Celiac such as stomach bloating and discomfort, chronic fatigue and severe headaches after consuming gluten. This condition has been reported in nearly 10% of the population and most have found that by simply following a diet similar to that prescribed for those with Celiac Disease, they are able to overcome the majority of their gastrointestinal issues.

One of the main misconceptions I think people have when it comes to following a gluten-free diet is that it is in someway more healthy and that the person will immediately lose a great deal of weight once they begin the diet. Unfortunately, this is not often the case and can actually cause a person to suffer from deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, fiber, etc because they are avoiding breads, cereals and grains that are fortified and not replacing them with gluten-free foods containing these nutrients. Or they may over-compensate by eating only processed foods labeled “gluten-free.” This phrase doesn’t necessarily mean “fat-free” or “sugar-free” and can still contain ingredients that have no nutritional value and a high amount of calories. Therefore, extreme care must be taken when adopting a gluten-free diet so as to make sure to still get all the proper vitamins and nutrients. Gotta read your nutrition labels, people.

Whew, that was more information than I initially meant to spout out. Sorry to bore you if this type of thing does not interest you in the slightest. Mi mama’s eyes always glaze over whenever I try to share some nutritional knowledge with her. She’d rather just eat and not give it (or anything else) another thought… shocking.

Hmm, now where was I? Oh yes, my cupcake recipe. Because these are gluten-free, they contain some ingredients you’re probably not totally familiar with or do not buy on a regular basis. I assure you, though, that all these items can be purchased at any of your local grocery stores. So don’t be afraid when you see the words “xanthan gum” listed in the recipe.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup millet or fava bean flour

2 tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

2 large eggs

1/2 cup light coconut milk

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup applesauce

2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cups.

2) Whisk all dry ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.

3) Add wet ingredients and combine with a hand mixer on low for 1 minute until mixed evenly.

4) Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

5) Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

*If you want to make chocolate muffins, add in 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder with the dry ingredients. Follow same directions as stated above.

Vanilla Icing Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tbsp softened butter or non-hydrogenated margarine

2-3 tbsp skim milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1) Mix all icing ingredients in a large bowl with hand mixer until thoroughly combined. If too thin, add more sugar. If too thick, add more milk.

2) Divide evenly among cupcakes and top with colored sprinkles (optional).

*If you want to make chocolate icing, add in 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Follow the same directions.

Seriously, these were a huge hit at the birthday party and not even a crumb was leftover to take home to mi papa… or so he thinks. I snuck one into my sombrero when no one was looking and plan on surprising him with it after dinner tonight. I just hope the imprint in the frosting from my head doesn’t turn him off from eating it…

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must  be going. I bragged to a few people at the party that I was an expert pumpkin carver and I think they may have just brought over a few for me to carve.

Aye Chihuahua, that’s a lot of pumpkins!!!!

Teeny food from a Teeny dude

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So as I mentioned in my previous post, I made quite an abundance of little finger foods for mi abuela’s surprise birthday party this past weekend. One cannot subsist on doughnuts alone, you know (although mi papa might try if given the opportunity). In addition to the almighty cake-doughnuts, I also made a plethora of appetizers and little mini dessert bites. Some of which I would like to now share the recipe for so that you all may enjoy them as well at your next afternoon tea party– which, by the way, I will be more than happy to plan for you if you name the right number of carrots price.

First up, my Ricotta and Pistachio Stuffed Dates. So easy to make and only 4 ingredients required.

Ricotta and Pistachio Stuffed Dates

12 Medjool Dates, cut in half and pit removed

6 oz Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese

48 shelled Pistachios

Bottle of Honey

Directions:

1) Spread 1 tsp of Ricotta cheese inside each date half.

2) Top each half with 2 pistachios.

3) Drizzle the top with a small amount of honey.

4) Enjoy!

Now on to my Carrot Cake Balls. These are not quite sweet enough to be considered a dessert, but also not savory enough to be an appetizer. Therefore they’ll just remain in a category of their own– Awesome!

Mini Carrot Cake Balls

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes

1/2 cup shredded carrots, packed

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, softened in microwave for 30 seconds

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a large bowl.

3) Add in the coconut, nuts, soaked raisins and shredded carrots.

4) In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, softened coconut oil and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir until combined.

5) Shape about 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball using your hands. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes on a cooling rack until serving.

6) Devour!

And last but not least, my insanely decadent and yet still quite healthy, Mini Lemon Cheesecake Bites. Pure heaven…

Mini Lemon Cheesecake Bites

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pecans

1 tbsp safflower or canola oil

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar

4 tbsp maple syrup, divided

1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided

1 tsp vanilla extract, divided

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 pinches of salt

8 oz. container Neuchâtel cream cheese

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Place the nuts, oil, oats, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla, almond extract and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until well combined. This should take about 20-25 pulses.

3) Lightly coat a mini muffin or cupcake pan with cooking spray. Place about 1 tbsp of nut mixture into each cup. Press the crust into pan with damp hands. Bake 7-8 minutes and allow to cool on rack.

4) Meanwhile, clean out food processor and add the cream cheese, 2 tbsp of maple syrup, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp lemon juice, the flour, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Blend until the mixture is creamy.

5) Pour the mixture evenly into cooled nut crusts– about 1 tbsp each. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cheesecakes look somewhat browned.

6) Allow to cool on wire rack before transferring to refrigerator to cool at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

7) Top each cake bite with a small strawberry sliver and serve. Mmmmmm!!!!

So there you have it. Three absolutely yummy and healthy finger food recipes to make for your next afternoon get-together or soiree.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be off to the gym again. A few leftover stuffed dates somehow managed to make it onto the floor and into my mouth and now I’m feeling a wee bit bloated. Gotta get out the old ab wheel.

Remember to stretch!