This gluten-free cake is high in fiber, but you'd never know it when eating it.  It just tastes like a moist coconut cake.  It also has a delicious cream cheese frosting that you can sweeten using agave or honey, and a lemon-cream cheese filling between the layers.  This makes a small cake, 6" round if two layers, or a single 8" layer:  a much better size for most people!

Coconut Cake:

4 large eggs
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
1/2 c. agave nectar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 c. coconut flour
1 tsp. baking soda (this is too much, I can taste it and the cake overbrowned)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 c. shredded coconut, either sweetened or unsweetened
Cream Cheese Agave Frosting (recipe below)
1 1/2 Tbsp. orange or lemon marmalade
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease sides and line bottom of a 6" round pan* with a circle of parchment paper.  Set aside.

Whisk eggs until light in color and a little foamy, about 2 minutes.  Add the coconut oil, agave, vanilla, and coconut extract; mix well.  Add coconut flour, then put the baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum on top of the coconut flour, and mix all together.  The batter will be very thin at first, but will thicken within minutes as the coconut flour begins absorbing liquid.  Stir in the 1/2 c. shredded coconut.

Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake until center no longer jiggles and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Run a knife around the outside edge of the cake to loosen it.  Cool cake, in the pan, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan/s and cool completely.

When cool, split the 6" cake into two layers.  Frost the first half with lemon-cream cheese filling.  Place the other layer on top of the filling, then frost the entire cake.   Pat coconut onto the sides of the cake, then sprinkle it all over the top.
  
*If you don't have a 6" round, you may use either one 8" round (reduce baking time to about  30- 35 minutes), a 9x5 loaf pan (about the same baking time), 12-15 cupcakes (about 30-35 min. of baking), or four 4" round pans (reduce baking time to  18-20 minutes each).

Cream Cheese Agave Frosting:  use the recipe for Fluffy Honey-Cheesecake Frosting, except substitute agave for the honey.

To make the lemon-cream cheese filling (or orange-cream cheese filling), take  3/4 cup of the Cream Cheese Agave Frosting and put it in a small bowl.  Add 1 1/2 Tbsp. marmalade and stir.  
 
 
A friend recently shared this delicious recipe with me.  Since I wanted to make cupcakes for a friend who can only handle sweeteners like honey and agave, it was time to tweak the recipe.  You can find the original, sugar-sweetened, recipe here, if you want to compare it to my version. As cupcakes, they needed more moisture than the original, plus a couple things needed adjusted to allow for honey.  And I discovered that the amount of water your quinoa was cooked in makes a huge difference in whether they're dry, moist, or collapse when baking.   (Not to worry, the problem should be solved now!)   Quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain.

I tried really hard to find a way to use just the blender to make the batter, and not need both it and a bowl, but the batter puffs up so much once the leavening is added, that it just didn't work out that way .  Oh well.

Everyone who has tried these loves them.

Moist Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

1/2 c. uncooked quinoa*
1 1/4 c. water 
1/3 c. any kind of milk (dairy, almond or coconut are fine)
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. melted coconut oil or other liquid vegetable oil
2/3 c. honey
a few drops of orange essential oil, or the washed peel of one clementine, optional
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2  tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Cook the quinoa, covered, in the 1 1/4 cups water:  either combine in the microwave or stovetop.  To microwave,  put them in a microwave-safe bowl, cover, then cook for 5 minutes at full power, then 5 minutes at 50% power.  For stovetop:  combine in a pan that has a tight-fitting lid.  (If the lid isn't, use 1 1/2 cups water to compensate for what will evaporate.)  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for 20 minutes, until water is all absorbed.
*or use 2 cups cooked quinoa and omit the water.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put liners in 18-24 cupcake tins, depending on how high you want the cupcakes.

Combine in a blender the cooked quinoa, milk, eggs, vanilla, oil, honey, and orange oil/peel if using it.  Blend until smooth.   Mix the cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.   Pour the quinoa mixture over the top, and stir until well-combined.  Spoon into cupcake liners, or use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop instead to portion out the batter.

For an easy, sweet topping, sprinkle each cupcake before baking with a few semisweet chocolate chips and chopped pecans or other nut.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top of a cupcake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.

Frost with your favorite frosting if you like, or  try any of these.   The cupcakes above are frosted with whipped coconut cream with melted chocolate beaten in:  use 1 cup of chilled coconut cream and 1 cup melted semisweet chocolate.  Whip the cream until it starts to hold soft peaks, then add in the chocolate plus a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt.  Beat until fluffy and smooth.





 
 
See the bottom of this post for photos on making the heart-swirl pattern.

A friend of mine has to avoid dairy, wheat, and oats- and we were going to be together at a potluck lunch on Thursday.  The pumpkin cheesecake last week (for a different group) was such a hit I decided to adapt it so she could enjoy it too.  But with a bit of chocolate.  Like pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies.

I wanted it to be relatively inexpensive- no quart of coconut yogurt! -that stuff's pricey. Coconut milk and coconut cream, sure.  I have that on hand.  
No recipes using those appeared to be online anywhere, though I found the chocolate-version crust here.  There were some cashew-puree based ones- but not only did I not have time to soak nuts, but wanted this to be a recipe even the nut-allergic could use. So I started with my tried-and-true 'normal' recipe, and adapted. And I was willing to buy one 6-oz cup of coconut yogurt to put in the (optional) topping. 
You won't taste the apple cider vinegar, but it adds both the tartness and savoriness you'd get from cream cheese. If you have 2 (14-oz) cans coconut milk and a 19-oz can of coconut cream, that will be exactly enough for the filling, the topping, and the ganache.

If you want to use honey in the filling instead of sugar, use just 1 cup honey plus 1 Tbsp.  Since this also adds about 1/4 cup of water, add about a tablespoon additional pumpkin powder OR a tablespoon oat or coconut flour so the cheesecake won't be too soft.

Gluten free, dairy free Pumpkin Cheesecake
Crust:
1 c. fine-shred coconut, toasted
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 ½ Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ Tbsp. cocoa powder 

Stir together and press firmly onto the bottom of a 9” springform pan.  Set aside.  
For a fall-spice crust instead of chocolate, omit cocoa powder, and instead use                 ½ tsp. cinnamon + ¼ tsp. cloves + ½ tsp. ginger

Filling:
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4  tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. (slightly heaped 1/3 c.) pumpkin powder
2 (14-oz) cans coconut milk
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 c. coconut cream

Mix all together, in order.  Don’t overmix or whip air into it, or it may crack while baking.  Bake at 350 F for  75-90 minutes in a water bath, until center jiggles like Jello and internal temperature is 145-150 F.  Cool in oven or on counter, then chill, covered, in fridge 4 hours or more.

Rum-flavor Topping:
1 cup coconut cream, well chilled
½ cup coconut yogurt
½ cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. rum extract

Whip cream until just beginning to thicken; add all else and whip.  Spread over chilled cheesecake.

Chocolate Ganache drizzle:
¼ c. (1 ½ oz) dairy-free chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. coconut cream or coconut milk

Heat gently to melt chocolate chips; whisk until smooth.  Drizzle on cheesecake.
 
 
This seasonal New York-style cheesecake is not exactly "lite", just light.  Not leaden.  But it is a little lower fat because I substituted one cup of cottage cheese in place of the original one cup of heavy cream.  :)  This gives it a higher protein content and reduces the fat.
This is an amazing pumpkin cheesecake, with just the right amount of tartness, sweetness, and spice.  I adapted it from an America's Test Kitchen recipe.  The whipped cream topping is optional but perfect.

The recipe- which is below- calls for a 9-inch springform pan.  I don't own one, but I do have a 9-inch round cake pan.  I use it instead by cutting out a circle of parchment paper and lining the bottom with it, spraying the inside edges with cooking spray, and going ahead with the baking.  When it's done, run a knife around the inside edge to help it pull away, cool and chill completely, and invert the pan over a plate.  Tap hard.  If it's being really stubborn, run hot water over the bottom of the pan (held at an angle so the plate doesn't fill with water) and try again.  
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Crust
1 sleeve (about 5 ounces) graham crackers- whack it a few times to break into chunks
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put the cracker pieces in a blender or food processor; run until finely ground.  Put the butter in a 2-cup microwave-safe container and melt it, about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Dump in the crumbs, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix well, then sprinkle over the bottom of a 9" springform pan.  Press down evenly using the bottom of a glass or something else flat.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until it starts smelling delicious.  Remove and let cool while you make the filling.

Filling
2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or your own- or, better yet, use pumpkin powder)*
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or use 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice in place of these four spices)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cottage cheese
5 large eggs room temperature

Pour the pumpkin puree on a triple layer of paper towels, spread evenly, then top with another triple layer. Press firmly to absorb the extra moisture.  The Test Kitchen said that when they didn't do this, the cheesecake was always wet.   OR- best idea ever!- use your pumpkin powder, using only half the water you normally would.  That means you'd use 6 Tbsp. pumpkin powder-- barely over 1/3 cup-- plus enough warm water to equal one cup.  (Ta-da!  aren't you extra-glad now that you made some?!)

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for a water bath later.  Put the pumpkin in a blender or food processor, and add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, cottage cheese, and eggs.  Blend until smooth. Pour over crust. Put this pan in a roasting pan or on a jelly roll pan if that's all you have.  Put it in the oven, then pour water in that larger pan, enough to come about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the center wobbles like Jello instead of like water; a thermometer poked into the center should register 145-150 degrees F.  Run a knife around the inside edge of the cheesecake, then put the cheesecake pan on a wire rack to cool.  When cool, chill for at least 4 hours to let it firm up.  (I didn't have that much time; mine cooled on the counter for 30 minutes, then went in the fridge for 3 hours.  It was a little soft in the center, but sliced OK.  The leftovers sliced much more nicely the next day.)

Brown Sugar and Rum (flavor) Cream Topping
1 cup whipping cream, very cold
1/2 cup sour cream or 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. rum flavor*

Whip the cream until it barely starts to thicken.  Add sour cream or cream cheese (I used cream cheese since I was out of sour cream), brown sugar, salt, and rum flavor. Beat about a minute, until thick; spread on top of cooled cheesecake.

*I have a whole bunch of Stephen's Gourmet Rum Sauce mix packets; each packet makes 2 cups of sauce; I used half of one dry mix in place of part of my sugar.  But I don't know if the company still makes the mix; I got them for ten cents apiece on a clearance deal. So you can use rum flavor.  Or use 2 tsp. rum if you happen to like it.  Or, if you live nearby, call me and you can have a packet.  :)
I also cooked a bit of the sauce and used that to drizzle a design on the top of the cheesecake.  Mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top would be great instead, as would some sugared pecans or hazelnuts.  Mmm.
 
 
This is seriously amazing frosting, one you'll want to take your time eating, to capture every nuance of the flavor.

Why is it so good?  

Well, look at the name.  White chocolate.  Butter.  Cream.  Need I say more?  
Yeah, it wouldn't be smart to eat it every day.  But- boy, is it delicious!  Even better, it's really easy.

I found this in a magazine when my now-16-year-old was a newborn.  Really newborn; a magazine at my hospital bedside.  There were several intriguing recipes in there; I wrote them on a slip of paper, then tucked them in my recipe binder once at home.  The paper is still there, and three of those recipes are now favorites of mine:  Lattice Pineapple Pie, Orange-Coconut Muffins, and this frosting.  

It's one to savor.  You can also refrigerate or freeze this and shape it into truffles. Roll in chopped almonds, powdered sugar, sprinkles, or fine cookie crumbs, or dip in melted white or milk chocolate.  

My favorite white chocolate for this recipe is Guittard white chocolate chips.  To me, the Nestle white chips have a overly-cooked-and-sweet flavor, so I avoid those.   Chips are cheaper than baking squares, and the good ones have a great dairy-and-vanilla taste.  And I almost always use evaporated milk in this recipe; since it's a pantry item, I always have some on hand, unlike fresh cream.

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (about 2 cups frosting)

1 cup (6 oz.) white chocolate, melted and cooled-  or 6-(1 oz) squares white chocolate
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk, or regular milk if you must (not as rich- but passable)
1 cup cold butter, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat together the white chocolate and cream.  When smooth, with the mixer running, beat in 1 cube of butter at a time.  Add powdered sugar; beat about 2 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.

If you have essential oils, one drop of orange oil would add subtle dimension.




 
 
My nephew just had a birthday, and having spent the day before at the Museum of Ancient Life, wanted-- what else?-- a dinosaur fossil cake.  His cake photo is at the end of the slide show below.  The version above was made of brownies.  Cookies and Cream Brownies. Mmm.

The fossil is made of melted white chocolate chips: melt a cup of them in the microwave (1 minute, stir) or over a double boiler, then put in a zip-top freezer-safe bag with a small corner snipped off (start with 1/8" hole and see if it it's big enough), or use a pastry bag and a #3 or #5 tip.  Trace onto waxed paper with an outline below, let it set up, then transfer to your dessert.  Good surfaces include chocolate frosting, unfrosted brownies or chocolate cake, a frosted cake coated with graham cracker or cookie crumbs, or anything else that resembles rock or dirt.

You can make all kinds of designs this way- when I turned my kids loose, they made  a pony (complete with chocolate jimmies on the mane and tale), a butterfly, a banana (covered in yellow sugar crystals), and a set of exploding fireworks.

At any rate, here's the recipe for the brownies, which were very moist and fudgy, with a crunchy, sweet topping:

Cookies and Cream Brownies
1 batch of your favorite brownie batter to fit a 9x13 pan (I used a Duncan Hines mix)
1 cup of vanilla pudding 
8 oz. chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

Mix the brownie batter according to its directions; bake as usual.  When done, spread with the pudding, then sprinkle with the crushed cookies.  Press the crumbs down lightly to make them stay.  Best the first day; they get a little gooey by the second day.

If you're adding a 'fossil', wait until the brownies are completely cool.
 
 
Saw this on the web and my daughter wanted it for her birthday cake...

It's really simple- one frosting tip (2110), one color, and the roses are nothing more than spirals.

The frosting I used was Strawberry Cheesecake Frosting and is naturally colored: use the recipe for Blueberry Cheesecake Frosting except double the batch and substitute 12 oz. strawberries, pureed, for the two cups of blueberries.  It tastes divine!
 
 
So St. Patrick's Day is this weekend, and this is green, right?

(Can I just mention that I have a hard time liking a holiday whose only purpose I've seen is to have an excuse to pinch people?!  So I read more about it this year, and concluded that the symbol should be a THREE leaf clover.  Look it up.  But I digress.)

OK, no, that's not really why I made the cake.  My son's birthday was coming up, he loves Minecraft, and begged for a Creeper cake.  Fortunately he only wanted its face and didn't really care if each pixel was a different color than the next. so he got this simplified version.  But he wanted it green.  Inside too.  But white cake.....

Here's what I used:
one 8x8 square cake pan
one white cake mix plus ingredients to make it
2 cups of homemade frosting (1 stick of butter, 1 lb. powdered sugar, see below)
one 6-oz box lime gelatin
3 Tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips
one milk chocolate Hershey's bar (regular size.  Or use 3 Tbsp. milk chocolate chips.)

Grease and flour your pan really well, then bake the cake until done.  Meanwhile, bring one cup of water to a boil, add the gelatin, and stir to dissolve.  Don't add the other cup of water the box calls for.  You'll have about 1 1/3 cups of gelatin liquid.  Set it aside.
When the cake is done, let it cool in the pan 10 minutes, then invert it onto a cooling rack.  While the cake is still warm, carefully spoon about 1/2 cup of the gelatin mixture on it, spreading it so it soaks in evenly.  

Once the cake is completely cooled, make the frosting:  Beat 1 stick of softened butter until it's smooth, then add about a pound of powered sugar and 1/4 cup of the gelatin mixture (warm it slightly if it's too solid to pour).  Beat until smooth.  If it's too thick, add a little more gelatin mixture; if too thin, add more powdered sugar.  (If you notice the dark specks in my frosting, they're caused by experimenting with a half avocado in the frosting.  It never did end up as smooth as I wanted, but it gave an interesting earthy appearance.)

Frost the top and sides of the cake, then pipe a border around the top.  Leave NO GAPS in the border.  Pour the remaining gelatin onto the top; the border serves as a dam to keep it there.  The ideal pouring temperature is slightly warm to slightly cool- you don't want it so warm it melts the frosting, nor so cool it forms lumps all over the top.

When the gelatin has just started thinking about setting up (slightly thicker than egg whites), pull out a ruler and a chef's knife.  Score the gelatin, pressing down into the frosting below,  in an 8x8 grid pattern, which is one square to one inch.  Make your chocolate facial features by following the instructions in the slide show.


 
 
Are you craving a moist, flavorful cupcake?  Maybe you'd like gourmet cupcakes to serve your sweetie on Valentine's Day?
The 'extras' added here- coconut extract, shredded coconut, lime juice and zest- make these cupcakes Coconut-Lime.  Feel free to substitute whatever other flavors you like.  Any flavor cake mix will work.  You could make a pretty pink-speckled frosting for Valentine's Day by using one mashed strawberry in the frosting.  Since it's contributing liquid, omit the lime juice.


Cupcakes:
1/2 cup white cake mix
1/4 cup water
a little coconut extract (about 1/16th tsp)- or other flavor, optional

Put a paper cupcake liner in each of two custard cups or microwaveable mugs.  Beat the mix, water, and coconut extract together until smooth.  Divide between the two liners. Microwave each one for about 35-45 seconds or until there's just a small wet-looking spot in the center.  Let cool.

A very simple filling is a spoonful of vanilla Greek yogurt.  Poke a hole in the cupcake with a spoon, lift the torn part up, and drop about a tablespoon of  Greek yogurt.  Jam is a good filling, as is pie filling or frosting. Just use less of these because they're so sweet.

Frosting:
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. sour cream (or Greek yogurt, cream cheese, or butter, depending on the flavor you want)
dash of salt
a little vanilla (1/16th tsp)
about 2 tsp. lime juice (or lemon if that's all you have.  I used lemon juice and added a drop or two of lime essential oil.)
powdered sugar (about 1 cup)

Beat together the butter, sour cream, and salt.  Stir in the vanilla and lime juice.  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  If it's not thick enough yet, add more powdered sugar until it is.

Spread on the cooled cupcakes, then top with some toasted coconut and finely grated lime zest.

If you want chocolate frosting, simply add 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder to it.
 
 
This weekend I participated in a moms' retreat- our own little 'Education Week'end, you might say. (See here for one of the addresses we heard.)
We each brought food for either the dinner or brunch the next day.  Most of the ladies there try to eat very healthfully, and some of them have dietary issues like gluten intolerance, so I made a gluten-free, dairy-free (CF= 'casein free'- the protein in milk) cake. 

I actually used a cake mix- Pamela's Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix- which uses evaporated cane juice for the sugar, and organic grains.  That way everyone could eat happy.  Everybody- regular wheat-eaters included thought the cake was absolutely delicious.

By the way, this brand of cake mix makes two 8" or 9" layers.  Not all of the GF cakes mixes do.  Some, like Betty Crocker, only make one 8" layer.  So take that into consideration if you're pricing them.

GF CF German Chocolate Cake

Bake and cool one chocolate cake, using a two-layer sized gluten-free mix, or from scratch.  One good recipe is at Living Without.(This recipe calls for 1 c. coffee, to intensify the flavor- if you don't prefer to use coffee, use hot water instead and 1 Tbsp. molasses.  Reduce sugar by 1 Tbsp.)

Lower-fat, Dairy-free Coconut-Pecan Frosting (also egg-free) 
3 Tbsp. potato starch or tapioca starch, OR 5 Tbsp. rice flour
3/4  evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
1 c. coconut or rice milk
¼ c. coconut oil
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
½ c. pecans, toasted and chopped fine
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut, toasted

Stir together starch and sugar, then gradually mix in milk.  Add coconut oil and salt, then heat and stir over medium-high.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbling.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans, and coconut, reserving 1 Tbsp each nuts and coconut for garnish.  Chill first if spreading on a tall cake, frost immediately if spreading on a sheet cake.