Apple-Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam

If you were to ask me what my favorite vegetable is, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with an answer.  I’m a big fan of veggies and am not likely to turn many of them away.  But there is one vegetable (that doesn’t even really feel like a vegetable – it feels more like a fruit if you ask me) that probably generates a particular kind of excitement in me that others can’t match.

chopped rhubarb and apples 2 - edited

I’m talking about you, Rhubarb.

Mmmmm. . . rhubarb.

I suppose the reason that it excites me so is that it comes and goes so quickly.  It’s that whole limited supply, time-constrained marketing ploy that Mother Nature clearly figured out long before the fancy advertising executives did.

Plus, it’s delicious, so it has that going for it.

rhubarb cooking down - edited

Rhubarb fascinates me, actually.  It’s beautiful.  Really truly beautiful.  The tall stalks are lovely and when you chop them up, the layers of color inside create an ombre effect that is so visually stimulating.  I love how it’s so firm in its raw state, but cooks and bakes up softly with ease.

This year, I have decided I need to stock up and freeze some rhubarb so that I can enjoy it for months to come, but for right now, I made jam.  Instead of going the traditional route, combining rhubarb with strawberries (which also would have been great, I’m sure), I decided to combine my rhubarb with apples and whip up a satisfying spread that delivers just a touch of sweetness to whatever it graces.

view from top into jar 2 - edited

Enjoy.

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Apple-Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam jam in jar 3 - edited

Makes 1 – 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup apple, unpeeled, chopped (I used a Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup sugar or sugar alternative of your choice
  • ¼ tspn ground ginger
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

In a heavy bottomed pot, combine all ingredients over med-high heat.  Bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to low-medium, so that it simmers gently.  Cook, stirring frequently and skimming off any foam that may develop on the top.  Using the back of your spoon or a potato masher, break up the chunks of rhubarb and apple as they soften and break down.  The jam is ready when it has become thick and viscous enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat.  Pour into a glass jar and let sit, uncovered at room temperature until cool.  The jam will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Foodie Firsts: (Delicious) Homemade Stovetop Oatmeal

wooden spoons-001Foodie Firsts is a Move Eat Create weekly feature focusing on my adventures in the world of food.  Over the course of a few short years, I have transformed from a picky, fearful eater to a curious and open-minded foodie.  In a commitment to continue to expand my culinary experiences, I have started Foodie Firsts.  Each week I will commit to trying something new and sharing that experience with you.  My endeavors may include experimenting with cooking techniques I’ve never tried before, testing a single new ingredient, or drawing upon my creativity to combine foods in ways I never imagined.  Whatever it is, I will eat (or maybe drink) it and share it all with you.  You can decide for yourself whether you, too, would like to try.  Let’s be bold and eat good food!

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I am fully prepared for you all to think I’m a bit odd to have never had a proper bowl of stove top oatmeal until now.  Odd or not, it’s true.  Oatmeal was never on my radar even at all until the last year or so when I tested out some instant oatmeal with varying results.  Some were edible, others were atrocious.  Either way, I wasn’t jumping up and down clamoring for more.

apricot walnut honey with spoon - edited

On two or three occasions in the last year, though, I did try ordering oatmeal at restaurants.  These experiences were better and opened my mind up to the idea that oatmeal may not be such a bad thing.  Okay, let me back up, I mostly ordered it when it was called porridge.  Because calling it porridge appealed to the total anglophile in me.

Anyway, there was hope on the horizon for this warm cereal-like concoction to actually be worth trying.  But I still wasn’t ready to invest in making it at home.  A couple of things stood in my way.  First: granola.  A formidable foe for oatmeal, because I LOVE granola.  I could (and often do) eat granola every damn day.  Second, I was totally intimidated.

Given the facts that instant oatmeal was generally awful, restaurant oatmeal was (at best) kind of nice, and I had never seen anyone actually make oatmeal on the stove top before, it seemed like it must be really, really difficult.  I imagined it being super-finicky, needing to keep the heat level just perfect, the amount of liquid measured with ultra-precision, and timing it just magically to prevent mush.  (Sort of like the breakfast version of risotto, which is actually kind of funny because I love making risotto and have never found it difficult at all.)  I just couldn’t figure out how it would be worth it to go through all of that for a bowl of oatmeal when there was granola-a-plenty in my pantry.

cinnamon raisin with pistachios - edited

Then came my gluten-free dietary change.  Now, many gluten-sensitive people can’t eat oats, either, but I don’t seem to be one of them.  As long as I buy gluten-free oats, I seem to be okay and I didn’t react to them when my blood was tested, either.  With many of my go-to food options out the window, I need to learn some new tricks.  This is what prompted me to take on homemade stove top oatmeal.

AND I AM SO GLAD I DID.

Sorry for all that yelling.  I just am really excited about this.

Homemade stove top oatmeal is AMAZING!

Frankly, I don’t really understand why no one has told me about this before.  Are there huge numbers of us out there who don’t realize how delicious and easy this meal is??  Or, do those that know keep it a secret so they never have to worry about having to share??  I’m just so shocked it took me until 32 years of age to discover this one.

NEAR FLOWERS - edited

I have Project Grown-Up to thank for providing me the basic instructional information on how to make this oatmeal.  I used this post here as a guide and proceeded to make oatmeal three times in four days because it was so good – each and every time.  It may come as no surprise to you that I absolutely love how versatile it is.  The flavor combinations are virtually limitless and allow me to suit my every whim.  It’s also quick, totally easy to make, and provides such a warm, comforting, healthful way to start my day (or end it, as I did eat this for dinner one night).

So far, my oatmeal expeditions have led to the following bowls of goodness (all prepared with soy or rice milk):

  • Pumpkin Pie Flavored Oatmeal with Figs & Hazelnuts
  • Apricot, Walnut, Honey Oatmeal
  • Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Sprinkled with Pistachios

They have been amazing and I just want to eat oatmeal all the time. All.  The. Time.

As dull as this topic may have seemed before starting it, this might be my favorite Foodie Firsts yet.  Plus, there are so many avenues with which to take this.  I keep seeing recipes for baked oatmeal.  I can only imagine how delicious that will be!

Notes & Final Thoughts:

Serving Suggestions:  While you can certainly go with just a bowl of old fashioned oats or just a bowl of steel cut oats, I have found I like a Bob's Oatsblend of the two.  I use about 2 or 2 ½ parts old fashioned to 1 part steel cut, but I find the little bit of texture variation between the two is quite nice.  Play with contrast in other ways, too.  Top your warm oatmeal with some slices of cool apple.  Cook in some dried fruit to soften it up, but don’t add your nuts until after the oatmeal is done cooking, providing a nice crunch in each bite. Finally, make sure you salt your oatmeal.  This is CRUCIAL to flavor.  CRUCIAL, I say!

Lessons Learned:  This challenge totally taught me to be willing to put aside my pre-conceived notions about common foods.  I THOUGHT I knew what oatmeal was (bland, mushy, sticky) and I was TOTALLY wrong.  It’s good to be humbled sometimes in this way and be willing to allow myself to be wrong in order to discover something wonderful.

Foodie Firsts: Homemade Bagels

wooden spoons-001Foodie Firsts is a Move Eat Create weekly feature focusing on my adventures in the world of food.  Over the course of a few short years, I have transformed from a picky, fearful eater to a curious and open-minded foodie.  In a commitment to continue to expand my culinary experiences, I have started Foodie Firsts.  Each week I will commit to trying something new and sharing that experience with you.  My endeavors may include experimenting with cooking techniques I’ve never tried before, testing a single new ingredient, or drawing upon my creativity to combine foods in ways I never imagined.  Whatever it is, I will eat (or maybe drink) it and share it all with you.  You can decide for yourself whether you, too, would like to try.  Let’s be bold and eat good food!

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You all may not be aware of this, but for about the last 18 months or so, my fair city has been in the throes of a bagel crisis.  You see, we Portlanders generally like our goods locally sourced, carefully tended to, and not mass produced whenever possible.  Our city is a bit of a haven for small business owners and even when they begin to spread their wings and fly off into other areas (ahem . . . Stumptown Coffee is NOT FROM Brooklyn), we still hold them dear to our hearts.

When it came to bagels, one local business had the city wrapped around its little flour-dusted finger – Kettleman’s.  Kettleman’s Bagels had been around for several years, had established five locations throughout the city, and served up some very tasty bagels.  Though a few other local bagel makers existed, it was Kettleman’s that had a large, devoted following and graced the breakfasts (and lunches) of many citizens on any given day.

plain bagels on plate 3 - edited

Then, completely out of the blue, a bomb dropped.

Kettleman’s had been sold.

To the Einstein Bagel Company.  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Not only had Kettleman’s been sold, but to be sold to a large, national chain ready to serve up mediocore (not locally sourced) coffee alongside mass produced (not made carefully with hipster love) bagels was devastating.

Portlanders revolted.  The Willamette Week paper set out to try to find a suitable local replacement.  New bakers and chefs jumped in and tried to fill the bagel void.

We’re still recovering.  We’re trying to find our way through as a bagel-loving community, one day at a time.

I have eaten other locally made bagels since.  Some have been good.  Some have not.

flour - edited

Last week, by the way, Einstein’s announced it was closing THREE of its shops in the Portland market, just a year after trying to take over the city (I should tell you they also bought out all the Noah’s Bagels outlets locally, too, turning the city into a little Einstein’s monopoly). Hah.  Take that, Einstein Brothers.

Sorry.  Sometimes, I get a little vengeful.

Because of all this, I decided to reclaim my own bagel destiny and make my very own bagels – in my very own kitchen.  This was an intimidating process for me, because bagels are the type of food that I imagine are always best purchased from a bagel shop, fresh from the oven, wrapped in a little waxy sheet of paper or brown paper bagel bag.  There’s something about the experience of that process that adds to the eating experience.

Making bagels was a totally foreign concept to me and I spent quite a good deal of time looking up various methods and recipes on the Internet.  Most were straightforward and pretty similar to one another, so I plunged forward.

I made two batches and 4 different flavors.  The first batch was made following this technique found over at the Happy Herbivore Website.  I made four large bagels from this recipe and left them all plain – just wanting to experience the bagel in its purest state.

The second batch was made following this technique found at The Veggie Converter.  This batch made up about 10 smaller bagels.  I mixed this group up and made a few each of cinnamon-raisin, garlic-sesame seed, and salted bagels.

mixed bagels plated 6 - edited

Both batches were made by boiling the bagels briefly before baking and both batches were very, very good.  I used white whole flour in all of my bagels, which I know makes them a bit denser than if I had opted for all-purpose flour, but I don’t mind that and appreciate the slight health benefits from making that switch.

I must say, the process was very simple.  Mixing the dough was a breeze (I have a stand mixer now thanks to a generous gift from Mr. Move Eat Create’s family), the boiling part was kind of fun, topping them was a cinch, and the baking requires little attention other than popping them in and out of the oven.

I do have a couple of specific thoughts about the methods I tried.  First, both methods for creating the dough holes (rolling the dough out into long strips and then closing them together to create circles versus making balls and then sticking my fingers through the center to work a hole into the ball) worked well.  Even though it was slightly more work, I think I preferred rolling the dough out into long strips, because it just created a smoother, more attractive bagel surface.  Second, even though both recipes called for small amounts of sugar, I think I would decrease it even more.  Unless I’m making a sweet bagel (i.e. cinnamon raisin), I just don’t think it’s necessary.

Overall, I highly recommend giving homemade bagels a try.  They are, quite frankly, one of the less fussy things I’ve made in a while and they tasted really, truly good.  I enjoyed their texture, ability to re-heat, and the freedom I had to make up as many flavors as I wanted.  I will most definitely make homemade bagels again.

Though, I do still miss you, Kettleman’s.

Notes & Final Thoughts:

Serving Suggestions:  Get creative with your toppings and flavors.  Now that I know I can make them, my brain is wild with the possibilities!plain bagels - edited  Things I want to try include poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, onion, blueberry, and jalapeno.

Lessons Learned:  I faced down some apprehension with this week’s topic.  For whatever reason, bread making is an intimidating process for me, especially bread making that specifically involves kneading of any sort.  Add to that the very specific experience of bagel eating that I have in my mind and I felt like I was trying to pull off something that was impossible to re-create.  In reality, though, I learned that some images are just that – images.  They may be wonderful, but they are not the only thing that is wonderful.   Re-fashioning my notions of what a good bagel experience could be was achievable and being able to create something so enjoyable with my own hands and means was totally gratifying.

Recipe: Spelt Blueberry Scones (An Offering of Comfort)

I could write a typical narrative here – an introduction to this recipe or a recap of the process of making them.

But I don’t really have it in me right now.

Three on plate - edited

This week has been difficult.  For many, many people it has been devastating.

I have read dozens of thoughts across the web on the week’s events and I have appreciated each and every one of them.

But right now, I just need some:  Comfort.  Calm.  Serenity.

Three up close - edited

Scones do that for me.  Preparing them is soothing (the cutting of the butter or butter-like ingredients into the mixture; the folding in of berries) and eating them is even better.  A well made scone is one of my absolute most favorite things in the world.

So I present these scones to you today in a gesture of goodwill, because sometimes the simplest things can provide the comfort that we need most.  May they nourish your body and spirit.

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Spelt Blueberry Scones

Adapted Just A Tad From Alisa Cooks (and Babycakes)

Makes 8-12 scones

 

Ingredients:  Two on plate further away 2 - edited

  • 2 cups spelt flour + more for rolling the blueberries in
  • 1 tblspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn sea salt
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut oil (can sub canola oil or similar)
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tblspn vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ¾ cup frozen blueberries
  • Cinnamon for dusting (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment (or spray lightly with cooking spray).
  2. Prepare your blueberries by placing them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of additional flour.  Roll around until blueberries are lightly coated with the flour.  This will help keep them from ‘bleeding’ into the scones as they bake.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt.  When combined, add in the oil, agave and vanilla extract.  Stir together until just combined.
  4. Pour your hot water into the batter and stir again until batter is moistened.  Dump in the blueberries that have been rolled lightly in flour and fold them into the batter gently.
  5. To create similar-sized scones, use a measuring cup (I used a ¼ cup size) to scoop up batter and drop onto your prepared baking sheet.  If they are very tall, press down just slightly to even out.
  6. If you want the addition of an ever so slight cinnamon flavor (which is delicious), sprinkle cinnamon lightly over the top of each scone.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden and slightly firm to touch.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to let cool completely.  These can be stored at room temperature for 2-4 days (if they last that long!).

Recipe: Carrot-Raisin Cupcakes (or Muffins, If You Like)

Do you ever get a craving you can’t shake?  I don’t mean a craving that last for a few hours, but I mean for days on end.

Usually, my cravings come and go.  I’ll want something for an afternoon and by the next morning, my mind (and belly) have moved on to something else.  I’m fairly fickle that way.  I want all sorts of things all the time and it can change from one minute to the next.  But, every so often, I get stuck on something and can’t let go of it.

Four on a plate - Close Up 2 - edited

Such was the case with carrot cake.  I’m not even sure what triggered this desire, but once it set in it wouldn’t be put off.  The first day, I simply wanted carrot cake.  It sounded good and it was on my mind. The second day, I REALLY wanted carrot cake.  I was disappointed I hadn’t had some the day before and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  By the third, fourth, and fifth days, I was consumed with an unquenchable desire to shove carrot cake in my face.  It kept running through my mind.  My stomach churned at the thought.  I fought hard to shake the impulse to schlep out to some mysterious all night bakery that didn’t exist and find a slice in the middle of the night.  It’s true.  Please try not to judge me.

Clearly, something had to be done.

So, baking happened.

raw 2 - edited

Instead of making a traditional cake, I decided to make cupcakes.  I appreciate cupcakes for their self-contained, individually portioned ease and neatness.  When there is a whole cake in front me, it’s too easy to just keep moving my knife to the right when I cut a slice, resulting in a portion that would feed a small family of four.  With a cupcake, though, knife creep is not an issue.

These are some of my favorite cupcakes I’ve made in long while.  Truly tasty and sweetened largely with the banana, raisins, spices, and carrot, with a small amount of brown sugar for richness.  You can eat them with the glaze, like I did, or leave it off and call them muffins.  Regardless of which way you go, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Carrot-Raisin Cupcakes Four on a plate 3 - edited

Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

Makes 12 cupcakes

 

Ingredients:

For cupcakes

  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tspns baking powder
  • ½ tspn baking soda
  • ½ tspn cinnamon
  • ¼ tspn ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tspn finely ground sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tblspn coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrot (about 2 large carrots)

For glaze

  • 1 – 1 ½ cup vegan powdered sugar
  • 1 – 1 ½ tblspn unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Place raisins in a bowl of hot water and let soak while you prepare other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and salt.
  4. Once whisked, add your liquid ingredients: almond milk, coconut oil, mashed banana, and vanilla extract.  Stir well to combine all ingredients.
  5. Drain raisins.  Add them, along with the grated carrot, to the bowl. Gently fold them into the batter so that they are well distributed.
  6. In ¼ cup batches, scoop batter into muffin tins.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool 5 minutes in tins, then remove and place on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath.
  7. To prepare the glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon almond milk, and the vanilla extract in a medium bowl.  Beat together well.  Add in additional powdered sugar and milk if needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Note that the glaze will thicken after sitting for a few minutes.
  8. When the cupcakes are nearly cool, drizzle glaze over the top.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe: Apricot Muffins (Not, I Repeat NOT Grape Leaves)

I was going to present to you photos and writings about beautiful grape leaves.  Bright, flavorful grape leaves that had been lovingly stuffed, rolled, and cooked over low heat in a slow cooker for several hours before being presented and served as part of a delicious Mediterranean dinner.

Instead you’re getting muffins.

Apricot Muffin trio 5

You shouldn’t be disappointed because these are really good muffins.  I, however, am slightly disappointed because I was really excited about grape leaves.

But I suppose sometimes we all fall prey to kitchen disasters and my grape leaves were a casualty.  I started making them on a day that had been a bit rough for me.  I was feeling frustrated and cranky and worn out.  It happens.

Anyway, I was looking forward to the meditative act of cooking and set to it.  In my funky state, however, I got so caught up in rinsing, patting dry, and de-stemming each individual grape leaf that I didn’t pay proper attention to the filling mixture that was cooking away on the stove-top.  Needless to say when I checked on it, it was too late.  Burnt rice is nobody’s friend.

Thanks to Trader Joe’s being about a minute away from my apartment, I managed to still serve a full dinner by adding on some pre-made TJ’s appetizers to the rest of the food that I was making (my fattoosh salad, homemade paprika-spiced hummus, and pita bread), but my cooking pride took a hit nonetheless.

Apricot Muffin with jam

The next day, I needed to redeem myself, so muffins happened.  This muffin recipe is adapted from a cookbook that I borrowed from my local library.  Loads of tasty looking things live in this cookbook, by the way, and I was certainly pleased about how these turned out.  I am a huge fan of the texture of these muffins, as well as the minimal sugar content.  If you like them sweeter, you can certainly add additional agave or a bit of sugar (I would recommend turbinado or light brown sugar), but I also found that spreading a bit of apricot preserves on them before eating finished them off nicely.

Enjoy them for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  Or, as the cookbook originally suggested, with a cup of tea.  Just please make sure you are feeling quite proper and sophisticated if you enjoy them with tea.  Tea tastes best that way.

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Apricot Muffins

Adapted from The Karma Chow Cookbook

Makes 12 muffins

 

Ingredients: Apricot Muffin with knife 3

1 ½ cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1 ½ tspn baking powder

1 tspn baking soda

½ tspn salt (kosher or sea salt)

1 ½ tspn ground cinnamon

½ tspn ground nutmeg

3 tblspns coconut oil, melted

3 tblspns unsweetened apple sauce

½ cup apricot preserves, jam, or spread (sweetened or unsweetened, per your preference    – I used sweetened because it’s what I had on hand)

¼ cup agave nectar (if you used unsweetened preserves, you may want to add a bit more)

½ cup milk of your choice (I used non-dairy milk – Pacific 7-Grain)

2 tspns vanilla extract

2 tblspns egg replacer + 6 tblspns water, mixed (or 2 eggs if you prefer)

½ cup dried apricots, chopped into bits

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your muffin tins (you will need 12 muffin cups) with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine melted coconut oil, applesauce, apricot spread, agave nectar, milk, vanilla, and egg replacer or eggs.  Whisk together until ingredients are incorporated.  (Tip: melt, measure and add in your coconut oil last to prevent it from hardening while you prepare the other ingredients) 
  4. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients.  Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir together to combine all ingredients.  Stir until smooth.  Then, pour in chopped apricots and stir together just a few more times to distribute apricot chunks.
  5. Distribute your batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups (approximately ¼ cup of batter per muffin).  Bake 16-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.
  6. Place muffin tins on a wire rack to begin to cool for 3-5 minutes.  Then, remove muffins and let cool completely on a wire rack.

These muffins can be enjoyed just as they are, drizzled with agave or honey, or topped with additional fruit preserves (I tried them all the ways!).

 

 

Recipe: Cherry Almond Chocolate Snacking Cakes

Sometimes only chocolate will do.  I actually don’t bake chocolate items all that often, but some days . . . it absolutely must be done.  Last weekend was such a case.

I wanted chocolate cake.  But I didn’t want a giant, frosted chocolate cake.  I wanted something smaller, something that I could pull apart with my hands as I ate it.  Perhaps a bit denser then a layer cake, but still soft and spongy.

I also wanted add-ins.  I was imagining some sort of treat baked into the chocolate batter, something that would compliment the chocolate flavor without taking it over.  I was inspired!  But I needed a basic recipe to start with.

Enter one of my most trusted food blogs.  Smitten Kitchen has yet to lead me astray.  Everything I have made from this fantastic site has been tasty and satisfying.  So when I was able to find this recipe for Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes (originally from David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris), I knew I had my starting point.

I made several adaptations to the recipe in order to create the kind of cakes I particularly wanted and they came out wonderfully.  I love the texture of these snacking cakes, as well as the versatility.  They feel appropriate for just about any time of day – perfect for a sweet treat at breakfast, a snack throughout the day, or a light post-dinner dessert.

Adding the dried cherries really did add something special to the flavor of these, I think.  I used a moderate amount so they didn’t overwhelm the other components, leaving chocolate as the stand out ingredient.  The flavor, though, that the cherries contributed was lovely.  The combination of the almond oil and almond extract also imparted a deeper flavor to the cakes, though if you’re not a fan of almond flavor, you could easily substitute a different oil and omit the extract. I’m actually curious how orange extract would be in these, in place of the almond.  I may have to test that out soon!

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Cherry Almond Chocolate Snacking Cakes

Makes 12 cakes

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (baking squares or chips will work)
  • ¼ cup almond oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat Greek)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 3 tblspns egg replacer, combined with 9 tblspns water (or 3 large eggs if you prefer)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn almond extract
  • 100 grams whole wheat pastry flour
  • 100 grams spelt flour
  • 1 ½ tspns baking powder
  • ½ tspn course salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg replacer with water (or eggs) until just combined.  Add applesauce, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and almond extract.  Stir until well combined.
  4. Chop the dried cherries into small pieces.
  5. Melt your chocolate with the almond oil.  You can do this in a heatproof bowl over lightly boiling water on the stove, or in the microwave (as I did).  Combine the chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat for 20 more seconds.  Stir again.  Repeat until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the oil.
  6. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Pour in the yogurt mixture and stir together until just combined.  Then, pour in the melted chocolate and continue to stir until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.  Finally, fold in the chopped dried cherries so that they are distributed throughout the batter.
  7. Spoon batter into muffin cups (about ¼ cup batter in each cup).  Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Let stand for 5 minutes in the tins, then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

*Notes:

– You could certainly use other flours in these.  I particularly liked the combination of the whole wheat pastry flour, which I think contributed to a lighter texture, with the spelt flour, which complimented to the nutty undertones of flavor.

– Add toppings if you like.  A dusting of powdered sugar, a glaze, or a ganache would be lovely.  I just wasn’t in the mood!