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.





 
 
Are you trying to eat healthier but really, really crave fudge?  This one uses healthy fats and honey.   It's also dairy-free and gluten-free for those who need to avoid those.  

Avocados are high in three amazing fats: both phytosterols and PFAs (polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols) are documented to be anti-inflammatory, and oleic acid, which helps our digestive tract absorb fat-soluble nutrients.  Coconut oil is healthy for many reasons, including being anti-inflammatory and having a high lauric acid  and medium-chain fatty acids content.  
But enough about that.

The big question is, doesn't avocado totally mess up the flavor here?

No.  I have a pretty discriminating set of tastebuds, and the only way I can detect the avocado is by a faint fruity flavor.  Because of that, some of my favorite variations of this fudge include fruit:  orange zest or oil, chopped dried cherries (and toasted almonds!), and the like.  This fudge is really only a slightly thicker version of my ChocolateTruffle Pie.

The recipe below includes both orange and pecans; if you don't want them, just omit the pecans and orange zest or orange oil.

You can also use this recipe to make truffles; cut into squares, then quickly roll each square into a ball; roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts to coat.

Orange-Pecan Fudge            makes about 3/4 of a pound 

1 ripe avocado, peel and pit removed
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. water
zest from half of an orange (about 1/2 Tbsp.), or 2 drops orange essential oil
3/4 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt (1/16 tsp.)
1/4 c. toasted chopped pecans

Line a 5 1/2 x 3 loaf pan (or 2-cup rectangular or square container) with foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray.   Set aside.
Put the water, zest (should be about 1 Tbsp), honey, coconut oil, cocoa, avocado, vanilla, and salt in a blender or food processor.  Run on high for 1-2 minutes, until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.  Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours until set.   

Store in the refrigerator or freezer.  If freezing this, let pieces thaw about 10 minutes before serving.  I don't know how long it will keep in the fridge because it gets eaten so quickly.   But the one piece that survived us for a week and a half was still good.  Any longer than a week, though, it'd be better preserved in the freezer.  Wrap tightly.

 
 
Have you ever started a recipe only to discover that it called for "pumpkin pie spice"?  And there was no such thing in your cupboard?  

You can make your own very easily.  Mix a big batch and fill a jar, or just use the ratios below to put directly in your recipe.  For instance, if your recipe calls for 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, use double the amounts below.  No need to stir them together first, either, just drop them in.  If you have cinnamon but not all three of the others, you can leave one of them out and still be fine.  (Just don't leave out the cinnamon!)


Pumpkin Pie Spice Makes 1 teaspoon. 

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Mix ingredients well. 

Bigger batch, for filling a spice jar:  
Makes 1/4 c (4 Tbsp or 12 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves


 
 
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.




 
 
No, it's not that Plum Pudding from past centuries, the kind that has more in common with bread pudding.  

This is what we modern folks call pudding- a thickened, creamy, sweetened mixture.

As you can see, I have an abundance of plums right now.  This used up a bunch of them!

Plum Pudding

about 1 1/2 lbs plums
1/2 cup milk or cream
one 3.4-oz package instant pudding- vanilla, lemon, or butterscotch flavor (the size that calls for 2 cups of milk)
optional: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ginger, and/or cardamom

Wash plums and remove the pits.  Put them in a blender or food processor, run on high until smooth.  If you don't have three cups of puree, add a few more plums until you do; blend again.  Pour into a medium-sized bowl.  Pour 1/2 cup milk or cream into the blender or food processor bowl, swish around so the milk gets most of the puree off the sides.  Pour this into the bowl with puree.  Add the pudding powder and whisk for two minutes. Taste to see if it's sweet enough for your taste; some plums are sweeter than others!  If not sweet enough, stir in 1 Tbsp sugar and taste again.  Repeat as needed.  :)
Let rest for a few minutes to set up.  

Makes about 4 cups.

Garnish with a bit of sour cream if you like.
 
 
Or Cherry Cheesecake Frosting. 

Yes, if you've noticed a common thread in the last few frosting recipes, I have a thing for cheesecake!

Once again, the basic recipe is the no-cook Ultra Gel frosting, though you can use cornstarch or flour if you're willing to cook the initial mixture.

The difference between this and the others I've tried is that the earlier ones all used pureed fruit or else jam as part of the ingredients.  This time I used concentrated fruit juice- in this case, a delicious cherry-pomegranate blend- the kind that comes frozen in 12-ounce cans.  This opens up all KINDS of possibilities!  Use lemonade concentrate- or orange passionfruit mango- or whatever else is in your grocer's freezer.

In the photo above, after spreading the frosting on the cake top, I mixed 1/4 cup of jam with about 1- 1 1/2 Tbsp. water, dribbled in parallel diagonal lines, then ran a butter knife lightly through it, alternating directions every other time, to create the chevron pattern.  Then I added the border.


To protect the frosting from drying out overnight, since this one was made ahead of time, I stuck mini marshmallows on the ends of toothpicks, poked them into the cake, then rested plastic wrap on top of the now-blunt toothpicks.  Works great.

Cherry Cloud Frosting

2 sticks butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 c. sugar
1/4- 1/2 c. Ultra Gel* (higher amount if yours is fluffy like powder snow, lesser if dense like baking soda is)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. (8 oz.) juice concentrate, thawed
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract


Beat the butter until smooth, then add everything else at once: sugar, starch, salt, juice concentrate, and extract.  Beat on low for one minute, until combined, then beat on high 5-6 minutes, until fluffy.

*to use cornstarch, use 1/4 cup.  To use flour, use 1/2 cup.  Either way, mix this with the sugar in a small saucepan, then gradually stir in juice concentrate.  Bring to a boil, stirring often; cook and stir until thick, about 4-5 minutes. Cover and cool to room temperature, then add all other ingredients and beat until fluffy.

To make the 'cheesecake' version, use only 1 stick of butter, and one 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened.

 
 
There's nothing like fresh fruit in the summer, warm off a tree, juice dripping down your chin.  
However, if you want a little variety with summer's luscious bounty, here's something simple yet delicious.  It's best with fruit from the farmers' market or your own trees, but supermarket fruit will do in a pinch, though you'll want to add about 5 minutes to the baking time and maybe add an extra tablespoon of brown sugar.

Baked Peaches with Fresh Raspberries
4 ripe peaches or nectarines
1-2 Tbsp. brown sugar (1 Tbsp. for very sweet, ripe peaches)- or use 1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sour cream, vanilla yogurt, or good-quality balsamic vinegar
a handful of fresh raspberries (about 1 1/2 ounces, or 1/4 cup)

Turn on oven to 400 degrees F.  Spend the next five minutes washing, drying, then halving and removing the pits from the peaches or nectarines.  Set the peach halves on a baking sheet, then sprinkle with brown sugar.  Pop them into the still-heating oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.  You want them to be warmed through, just starting to soften a little, and for the brown sugar to be melted.  Set the oven to broil, and put the peaches on the highest rack in the oven for ONE minute.   Remove from the oven.

Stir the sour cream or yogurt with just enough water to make it a drizzling consistency, or use the balsamic straight.  Drizzle over the top, then add raspberries.  Eat while warm, spooning the juices from the bottom of the baking dish over the topl