Monday, February 11, 2013

Have your cake and eat it too....


Today Rosie had a play and celebration for her class at school. I marched into the reception with a Tupperware of delicious chocolate cupcakes creatively decorated for the theme of the day.  One of the other mother's who is gluten sensitive saw them and said, "Oh are those gluten free...I bet they're better than the regular cake!" Competing with the huge, attractively frosted sheet cake is a tall order. But, I've learned one on a special diet CAN have their cake and eat it too. BTW thank you to that mom for making me feel great!

Chloe Coscarelli proved you can make a vegan cake and trounce the competition.  By winning Cupcake Wars, a show that pits 4 cupcake baker against each other each episode for a chance to cater a big name even, she proved someone on a special diet can have their cake and eat it too. Check out her blog for more information.

Coscarelli's first book (second one coming soon), Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way,  provides delicious options for everything from appetizers to desserts, simple family dinners to elegant entertaining.  The attractive photos highlight the freshness and variety one can garner from food that is free of meat, dairy and eggs. The fact that the very picky judges of Cupcakes Wars put her at the top of the heap is proof of this. Her book includes sections like Small Bites, for party fare (or just to treat yourself) including Avocado-Shitake Sushi and Black Bean Baby Cakes with Pineapple Salsa. Her whimsical entrees include items like, Orange You Glad I Made Crispy Tofu, with a stir fry sauce utilizing the healthy sweetener, agave nectar, instead of often sugar laden bottled orange sauce.  Chloe's desserts shine through (her upcoming second book is ALL desserts), with selections like dairy and egg free Chocolate Creme Brulee---a seemingly impossible feat.  So with Chloe's help you TOO can have your cake and eat it too on special diets.

Purim is a major junk food holiday. We exchange gift baskets which are meant to be food used for the large celebratory meal, or Purim Seudah, celebrating the miracle that happened to the Jewish people in the time of Queen Esther.  But,it has devolved, more often than not, into a junk food free for all. Children can be found eyes glazed over clutching sacks of candy and chips, sitting in a corner eating mindlessly.  I like to put care into my gifts of food and choose items my family would actually eat.  One can emphasize healthier options and give away healthier sweets and treats.

This bar cookie strikes me very much as the type of dessert I would make to give to someone as a gift. I have subbed all-purpose gluten free flour blend (I like Jules Gluten Free) for the all purpose flour in the recipe as it is written.

Sea Salt Toffee Bars
Chloe's Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
p.p. 233-4

Shortbread Crust:
1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum
1/2 cup chilled vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance buttery sticks)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegan margarine
4 tsp. soy, almond or rice milk

1 cup semisweet non-dairy chocolate chips
Fleur de Sel (coarse sea salt) for sprinkling

To make  crust:
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment paper long enough to overhang edges.

In a food processor, pulse flour, margarine, powdered sugar, and cinnamon until crumbly. Press into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are golden. Remove from oven, let cool, and then chill in refrigerator.

To make Caramel: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat brown sugar, margarine, and non-dairy milk, stirring frequently. Once mixture comes together, increase heat to medium high for 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to boil and the bubbles move into the center of the caramel. Remove form heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

To assemble the bars:  Pour the Caramel over the chilled Shortbread Crust. let cool, and return the pan to the refrigerator to chill.

Melt the chocolate chips over a double or int he microwave (high for 2 minutes, stir until smooth). Evenly spread the melted chocolate over the caramel layer. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and return to the refrigerator. Once the chocolate has solidified, lift the cookie from the pan with the foil and remove the foil. With a sharp knife, cut the cookie into 2-inch squares. 

 This Ketchup recipe is ALOT healthier than the bottled variety. Package it in a small mason jar with a festive ribbon or label.  The less processed variety of agave nectar (darker) is considered the best.

Sweet Tomato Ketchup
Chloe's Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
p. 253

1 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup blue agave nectar
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

In a medium sauce pot, combine tomato puree, agave, garlic, 2 Tablespoons vinegar, salt, cinnamon, onion powder, and cayenne, and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 30 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Whisk in remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar. Let cool and chill in the refrigerator.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful cupcake, Ic an totally believe it's better tastign than regular ones.

    As for ketchup, I can't stand or even smell bottled one, great recipe.