Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Black Bean Brownies with Goat Cheese Topping - Gluten-free!

Yes, you read right.

Black Bean Brownies with Goat Cheese.

Would you believe me if I told you they are unbelievably tasty? If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy, you are gonna. love. me.

My husband recently had some testing done for gluten intolerance and the results came back positive. We've suspected he's had one for a long time; it was just a matter of proving it. Of course, for someone that bakes predominately with wheat flour, I realized I needed to find some recipes that are gluten-free so my husband can enjoy a tasty treat every now and again.

I'm awesome like that.

I went to Whole Foods the other day and noticed a chocolate cake recipe using black beans hanging out in the canned beans section. A co-worker of mine sent me a very similar recipe not too long before that for brownies, but at the time, I put it in the 'Will Try Someday' section of my ever growing recipe folder. When I saw this recipe again, I felt the beans were calling me, either that or I'm losing my mind. Let's say it was the beans.

I'm kind of glad they did. It's a nice change up from traditional brownies, although I will never give those up.

But I wouldn't pass on these either.


1 19-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
cup melted butter
¼ cup cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup finely chopped coconut
a pinch of ancho chili powder
cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Goat Cheese Topping
½ cup (4 ounces) goat cheese
1 egg
1½ tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Place the black beans, sugar, eggs, melted butter, cocoa, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the beans are completely pureed. If you don't have a food processor because a previous recipe broke it, you can also use a blender.

Remove the blade or transfer into a bowl and gently stir in the chocolate chips, coconut, chili powder, and walnuts if using.

Transfer brownie mixture to the prepared pan. Drop goat cheese mixture onto brownie mixture and swirl using a skewer.

Bake the brownies for 28-30 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes

If you've ever moved away from home, you know how tough it is. Aside from missing the obvious, one thing you miss terribly is the food.

Oh, the food.

I can’t tell you how often I crave food from home. When I was pregnant with both my kids, my cravings were almost animalistic for my Mom's homemade macaroni and cheese, pizza from our local tavern, iced tea that is brewed and packaged right in town, and the biggest craving by far was for Butterscotch Krimpets by Tastykake

Ah, Tastykake. You delightful baked good manufacturer.

Tastykakes are mainly available in the Philadelphia area, Southern New Jersey, Northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as random parts along the east coast - mainly touristy areas.

Last year while my family and I were vacationing in Florida, we found a shelf of them and I literally jumped up and down I was that excited! I may have even wet myself, but I can’t confirm as I did knock my daughter’s water cup out of her hand. I ended up walking out of the store with 6 boxes and very wet shorts.

Of course, I was craving them today and naturally, I wanted them now. I knew I had a copycat recipe for a Tastykake, but I couldn’t remember which one.

Then I found it. Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes.

I jumped up and down I was so excited! I think I may have wet myself, but I can’t confirm, because I knocked my daughter’s juice cup out of her hand.

She really needs to step back when she sees Mom going for the high kick.


4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups peanut butter
1½ cups of GOOD chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet choco chips)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine wet ingredients; eggs, milk, vanilla and butter. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients; flour, sugar, and baking powder.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients until well blended.

Pour mixture onto a well greased jelly roll pan (use at least a 10x15 size if possible) and bake for 15 -20 minutes.

While cake is still hot, spread peanut butter carefully over cake evenly.

Freeze for about an hour to solidify. Once frozen, use a circlular shaped cutter, glass, or cup to cut cakes. I used a child's cup as it yielded a perfect Kandy Kake size.

*NOTE You can certainly skip the cutting into circles step. To finish cake off, melt chocolate in micorwave for about 30 seconds and mix until smooth. Pour chocolate directly on top of CHILLED peanut butter. Return to fridge to harden and cut into slices/bars.

Moving on with the cut out cake....

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, dip rounds, and let cakes cool on parchment paper.

Keep chilled for best results and the all important 'snap' factor upon biting into the cake!

Yields: About 18 cakes.

Happy Baking!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brown Sugar Pound Cake/Piloncillo Bread

Don't you love when a bad situation has a happy ending? Let me tell you about my baking blunder.

A few posts back, I spoke of my friend, Daniela, who hails from Mexico. She has introduced me to some knock-your-socks-off Mexican recipes, like Calabaza en Tacha and Tres Leches Cake. Problem is, when she makes treats as such, it's usually from ingredients her parents brought from home and I can't get locally. Boo.

Daniela brought her kiddies over the other day for a playdate and thoughtfully brought along 2 bags of piloncillo granulado. Piloncillo is basically Mexico's version of brown sugar, but it's very hard in texture with a much stronger molasses flavor than the brown sugar used in the US or Canada. It's also most often sold in cone or block form. This stuff is so versatile and so good!

My intention was to make the pound cake and crush the piloncillo pellets into the batter so as it bakes, it will leave each bite with a lovely punch of flavor.

When I realized it was too tedious to cut all these pellets into pieces (and waaaay too hard to crush with my bare hands), I pulled out the food processor, thinking I was smart and saving some time. Uh….no. Those little buggers actually broke the blade off! *Sigh*.

Not to be defeated, I decided to melt the pellets down to a syrup like they do when making Tacha and just add it to the batter for an all over unique flavor.


It was amazing! I made a sauce with the last bit of syrup that was left in the pan. It was OVER THE TOP delicious! It's a bit like Sticky Toffee Pudding, but without the use of dates.

I love happy accidents.

My food processor does not.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Martha Stewart

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups brown sugar, packed
5 large eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup of piloncillo syrup (You can substitute 1 cup dark brown sugar and 3 teaspoons molasses to get a comparable flavor of the piloncillo)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour two 8x4 loaf pans. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time until well combined. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture and blend well. Fold in piloncillo syrup.

Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for about an hour. Cool 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Serve with fresh fruit and whipped cream or for a richer treat, drizzle with piloncillo toffee sauce.

To make piloncillo toffee sauce, boil the remainder of piloncillo to a paste.

Mix 1 cup paste, 1 cup heavy cream and 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk until fully incorporated and thick.

Happy Baking!

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Boston Cream Cupcakes


1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup whole milk or buttermilk

2 cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
⅓ cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold & cut into 2 pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ganache Frosting:
½ cup semisweet chocolate, chopped

cup heavy cream

*I strongly recommend making custard filling first as it needs to rest and completely cool before assembly. 

Custard Instructions:

In a saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, milk and cream until smooth. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat. Whisk continuously.

Once mixture is at a simmer and begins to thicken, remove from heat but continue whisking until very thick. Whisk in butter and a vanilla until butter is melted and custard is smooth.

Spoon custard into a small bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap on surface of custard to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate for several hours or until custard is completely chilled. Custard will keep for up to 2 days.


Line a 12 cup muffin tin with foil liners. You can use paper, but I find the foil reinforces the cupcake as a whole once the custard is added and for frosting purposes.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl using a mixer, cream sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla together until smooth. Alternately mix in flour mixture and milk in three additions. Beat until smooth.

Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Mine took about 18 minutes, so begin to watch after 17 minutes. Cool in pan for a few minutes and transfer onto rack to cool completely.


In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Microwave uncovered on high for 30 seconds or until cream is hot and chocolate is almost melted. Stir until smooth. Let chocolate mixture sit for 5 minutes or until slightly cooled but spreadable.

To fill cupcakes:

Take a large piping tip and poke a hole in the center of the cupcake. Fill a bag with custard and squeeze filling until it slightly starts to ooze out. Be gentle with this step or you can run the risk of blowing out the cupcake.

To Frost:

Dip cupcake upside down in ganache and completely cover top of cake. Swirl as you bring it out to avoid spillage down the side of the wrapper.

Yields: 12 cupcakes

Happy Baking!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

German Chocolate Popcorn

I do a lot of volunteer work at my daughter's school. In a few weeks, the parent council board is throwing an end-of-the-school-year BBQ - a perfect time and way to sell up any purchased food items that have accumulated over the last few months.

As we went through the items we have to sell, we noticed one box of popcorn out six had just expired. We weren't sure if they were okay to sell, so we opened a few bags; some were stale, some could fine. Since we couldn't expect parents or kiddies to buy a possibly passable bag, I got to take them home and get creative. YAY!

14 bags of popcorn from the box were good to go. The others I fed to the birds, mainly to annoy the neighbor behind me who HATES when I feed the 'wildlife' and is not afraid to tell me so. Ppphhttt to you.

What can I make with 14 bags of popcorn besides eat it? I hit the internet and found this gem. Oh, and it's a delicious gem.

It's sweet. It's chocolatey. It's gooey. It's heaven. It's like the BEST popcorn you will ever eat! This is a lock-your-doors-close-the-blinds-and-hide-from-your-husband-and-children kind of snack.

Feel free to indulge.

I so did.

Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups

5 cups popcorn - if popping yourself via microwave or stovetop method, be SURE to take out any unpopped kernels.
2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
12 tablespoon (¾ cups) butter, cubed
4 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
4 oz (½ cup) semi-sweet chocolate
1 package Girl Scout Samoa Cookies, Keebler Coconut Dreams, or if you live in Canada, No Name Caramel Chocolate Cookies

Preheat your oven to 200° Place popcorn in large bowl; set aside. Chop cookies into bite-sized pieces and set those aside as well.

Line counter a few sheets of wax paper so you can spread you popcorn onto it when mixing the caramel. You don't have to do this, but it makes it easier.

To make the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Whisk ingredients to together and bring to a boil.

Boil without stirring for approximately 5 minutes until candy thermometer reads 250°.  If you don't have a candy thermometer, 5 minutes is just about the right amount of time.

Remove from heat and immediately whisk in your baking soda and vanilla. Caramel will get lighter and bubble.

Pour caramel over popcorn and stir until it's all coated.

Pour popcorn onto waxed paper and sprinkle toasted coconut on top of popcorn evenly. Leave your wax paper out, you will need it again!   

In a large roasting pan or baking sheet bake your popcorn in oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Spread popcorn onto the wax paper and sprinkle chopped cookies evenly over top.

Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring each time.
Drizzle melted chocolate on top of cookies and popcorn.  Let the chocolate set and break apart.

Store in airtight container for 3-4 days.

Happy Baking!

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Carrot Zucchini Banana Bread

The sun FINALLY came out and it is absolutely GLORIOUS! I guess Mother Nature got the message I was a force to be reckoned with.

Funny thing about me. First sign of great weather and I suddenly have this need to eat healthy. It's weird really. I'm pulling out the whole wheat flour, using recipes that call for fruits and/or vegetables, substituting butter for applesauce. Okay, perhaps I'm going a bit far there, but you get the idea.

This is one on my most favorite feel good recipes. My daughter loves it and I don't ever feel guilty about giving it to her anytime of day.

Or eating half the loaf myself. Oops.


2½ cups whole wheat flour (You can also use all white flour or half white and half whole wheat!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup ground flax seeds
½ cup oatmeal
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed

OPTIONAL: ½ cup raisins or ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 325º F. Grease two 8-inch loaf pans with non stick cooking spray. You can also use a 9x5 loaf pan, but you'll get a larger and denser bread. I opted to use the 9x5 loaf this time to show you what you'll get.

Sift flour(s), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, flax seeds, oatmeal, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.

Mix eggs, bananas, applesauce, brown sugar, vanilla until until well combined.

Add flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Stir in zucchini and carrots until just combined. (Mix in raisins and walnuts/pecans if using).

Divide batter into prepared pan(s). I like to sprinkle oatmeal on top just before baking for visual effect once loaf is baked. It just looks healthier too.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour for the 8-inch pans and 1 hour 20 minutes for the 9-inch loaf pan. Cool bread in pans for 10 minutes, then remove, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: Two 8-inch loaves or One 9-inch loaf.

Happy Baking!

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