Tag Archives: dessert

Homemade Caramelized Honey Oat Bran Bars

oat bar with creamy seed butterIt’s almost like I just want to slide down the middle of this bar.  You know… imagine it.

Food can inspire strange behavior.  No food inspires even stranger, so let’s carry on now.

I find caramel made from honey to be a delightful little composition.  Especially if there is some form of sea salt added to it.  Perhaps a little oil.  Oh, lookey here, there’s both!  This recipe for a healthy and gluten-free granola bar has no refined sugar at all and is high in fiber (good for your arteries, yeah!).  A really nice natural energy boost by itself if you’re pragmatic, a healthy way to get that sweet fix after a meal if you’re a touch more hedonistic.  Like, a touch.

wrapped oat bars

Caramelized Honey Oat Bran Bar

-gluten, nut, soy, corn, egg-free.  Vegan with substitutions-

1/4 cup neutral oil

1/2 cup honey (or 1/3 cup agave nectar for vegan)

1/8 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla (optional but good)

1 1/8 cup gluten-free oat bran (available at health food stores or online here, also known as “son d’avoine”)

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Cook time: about 4-5 minutes

Serves about 10-12 easily (makes a plaque of bars)

honey caramel1. Heat oil, honey, salt and optional vanilla in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  If you have a thermometer, insert it and bring mixture to 135 degrees F (270 degrees C) or until it bubbles like shown at left and starts to turn a little darker in color.  Immediately remove from heat.

oat bars2. Add oats to pot and stir with spatula until coated.  Let sit, stirring every 2 minutes, for 10 minutes to cook the oats to make them more digestible.

silpat granola3. Spread on a silicon baking sheet (or an oiled baking sheet or parchment paper) to desired thickness.  With spatula, or a dull knife, outline the shape you want to cut.  Let cool then cut and wrap individually to be all precious.

Since you cooked your sugar to a “soft-crack” phase, meaning it will be a harder caramel, let it cool to solidify a bit so it’s not just a gooey mess.  I’ve been storing my bars in the fridge, as it’s warmer out now, but you can store them room temperature if you want to keep them more taffy-like with the heat.  Ah, that sounds nice, too.

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Vanilla Avocado Frosting

avocado gems<–I’m gonna make frosting out of you

There’s guacamole and then there’s things you put on cakes.  Let’s not have one be confused with the other.

avocado frosting cookiesIn working on recipes, and having a strong want for cream cheese frosting, I tried my luck hunting down mascarpone on a Sunday afternoon in Paris.  The sun might be unusually open for this gray city (sunshine today, sunshine today!!), but the grocery stores are very usually closed.  There is an open-air market near me that I got to right before closing, where I thought I could at the very least locate some mascarpone from the Italian trader.  All they had left was a very impressive terrine of mascarpone and gorgonzola left.  I might like odd flavors, but gorgonzola in my frosting was not what I am in the mood for today.

I bought an avocado instead.  Those are always good.

In making avocado tahini cookies, an idea crossed my mind to blend half of the avocado with water, whisk in in a bain mairie with starch to thicken it, and then play with it for perhaps another cookie recipe.  As I was whisking the guacamole-esque mixture, I noticed it thickening incredibly, and then a lightbulb went off: it looked like green butter.  I immediately emulsified in some oil to give it some volume and then started adding powdered sugar like you would a traditional frosting.

Looks like I got my cream frosting, after all.  This one is a really happy accident, as it is also dairy-free.  Thanks, gorgonzola.

avocado frostingVanilla Avocado Frosting

-Dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, gluten-free-

Ingredients: 1/4 cup water, 1/2 avocado, 2 tbs. potato starch, 3 tbs. neutral oil, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, a large pinch sea salt, 1/2 cup (+ any extra to taste) powdered sugar

Method: Blend water and avocado in blender until very smooth.  Pour into metal bowl, whisk in potato starch, and keep whisking over a pot of simmering water (bain mairie) until it starts thickens.  Whisk in oil one tbs. at a time to emulsify.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in vanilla and salt.  Bit by bit, whisk in powdered sugar to desired sweetness and consistency (the more sugar, the sweeter and the thicker).


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The easiest no-cook, egg-free chocolate mousse.

cake tops

Having an egg allergy is very common, and many nation-wide avoid simple pleasures like custard, and aioli, and even fried rice due to this aversion (The horror!).  Another common culprit is the creme entieremousse.  The whipped-up, airy, light-so-you-don’t-feel-like-you’re-actually-stuffing-your-face-with-half-a-candy-bar’s-worth-of-chocolate dessert… basically, it’s very good.

The majority of recipes for mousse have either mounted egg whites and/or whole eggs in them to provide the fluffy texture and creamy consistency, respectively.  You really only need two ingredients, however: cream and chocolate.  (It’s magic, I tell ya!)

Below I’ll provide the recipe for a basic Egg-less Chocolate Mousse*, and due to popular demand, a recipe for a mounted cake involving said mousse and a nut-free Macaron cake with a layer of vanilla jelly as well.  Oh, the joy!

mousse soloEgg-Free Dark Chocolate Mousse

20 cl heavy cream (the kind you can whip into whipped cream)
85 g good dark chocolate (over 65% cacao content advised)

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

1. Make sure your cream is measured and chilled in the fridge.  You want it very cold.
2. Melt the chocolate gently over a bain marie (a metal bowl with the chocolate in it over simmering water will do just fine) until just melted.  Remove from heat, and whisk a few times to make temperature homogenous.
3. Remove cream from fridge, and vigorously whisk in 1/3 of the cream into the chocolate.  Once homogenous, add another 1/3, and repeat one more time with the rest of the cream.  You want to have something that is uniform in color, and stop whisking immediately once this is obtained.
4. Put back into fridge, and let reach a cool temperature, about 50 degrees F (10 degrees C).
5. Remove from fridge, and using a clean whisk, whisk until it forms a mousse, about 1 minute.  Once you see it starting to hold up, go a little slowly, as it can cross over into “split butter land” pretty quickly.  So, if it looks like mousse, stop whisking, your job is done, and it tastes like a little portion of chocolate heaven.

–Grab a spoon and dig it!!–

yumcake<–Or, perhaps you want to know how to make this cake?

I’m sure you do!  And it’s gonna involve that mousse.

Mounted Nut-Free Macaron Cake with Dark Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Jelly Filling


1. Macaron Cake (for egg-free use the White Bean White Cake recipe in the Bubble Child cookbook or the Maple Banana Oat recipe here)

2. Dark Chocolate Mousse (see recipe above)

3. Vanilla Jelly (vegetarian, as we use no gelatine, but agar-agar instead!)

::: You’ll have to make that chocolate plus, as well as…:::

macaron cakeNut-Free Macaron Cake

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup rice flour

4 egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

+a pinch ground cardamom, powdered vanilla, and/or cinnamon if you’re feel like some fun flavors (optional)

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Bake time: ~12-15 minutes

Yields one baking sheet flat cake for mounting

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees C).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar, and (optional) ground spices.  In a large metal bowl (or using an electric mixer) mount your egg whites to stiff.  Add regular sugar, and finish them off to a stiff stip.

3. Add dry ingredients to egg whites, and using a spatula gently fold them until homogenous.  Keep folding until they just start to lose volume (which is the French term “macaroner”, which is where the word “macaron” comes from!)

4. Using spatula, spread out batter onto baking sheet with parchment paper gently, trying not to flatten too much.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until bottom of cake is slightly colored and cake is cooked through.  Remove from oven, remove paper with cake on it, and place on wire rack or somewhere other than a heated surface to cool down.

vanilla jelly and mousse comboVanilla Jelly

1 1/2 cups milk of choice

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean split lengthwise)

a pinch salt

2 tbs. honey

4 g agar agar (a vegetarian version of gelatine derived from seaweed)

3 tbs. cold/room temperature water

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 3 minutes

Yields about 2 cups jelly

1. Mix agar agar in the 3 tbs. water to dissolve in small bowl.  Set aside.

2. Heat milk with vanilla, honey, and salt until just about to boil.  Whisk, remove from heat, let infuse for 3 minutes.

3.  Whisk in agar agar into milk mixture and put back over heat.  Bring to a boil for 15 seconds, whisking the whole time.  Remove from heat, and pour into a large shallow bowl, cover the mixture with plastic wrap directly touching the jelly, and put in the fridge.


mounted cake-Mount your cake!-

1. Cut cake in two “hamburger style” (so you have two large rectangles instead of two long strips).

2. Before vanilla jelly has set firmly in the fridge (take it out of fridge and whisk if it starts to look too hard to work with already), spread it on top of one layer of the cake evenly and to desired thickness.  But this layer in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to firm up.

3. Remove layer from freezer, and add layer of chocolate mousse on top to desired level of thickness.  Repeat again in freezer to firm up for no more than 10 minutes, no less than 5.

4. Top with second layer of cake, and top with mousse.  decorate the top however you’d like, and cut into desired shape (like an oval shown here) or simply trim the edges to make into a beautiful square.

-Tip!- it’s easier to cut this cake when it is frozen, so if you want to put the whole thing in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes to get set a bit more then cut then store in the fridge, it looks prettier without over-chilling it.

*(Mousse recipe adapted from Cordon Bleu’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake recipe)

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éclairsRight before I moved to Paris, I remember speaking with a friend about how excited I was to learn real French pastry: “You know, like, éclairs and millefeuilles and those puff pastry bits… but I really want to know how to make éclairs.”  I now do.  And have perfected those little what makes an éclairbuggers into gluten-free form for you, yours, and all those who are either not able to eat gluten or fly to France for pastry.  (Take it to you, take it to you!)

Eclairs are made of:

1. “choux” pastry – which is made of liquid, either water or milk, wheat flour, egg, and butter

2. pastry cream – which is traditionally composed of milk, egg, wheat flour, cornstarch, and whatever flavoring it receives and

3. some sort of “fondant” glaze topping – generally made of glucose which is almost always derived from wheat for cost purposes

That being said, if you have an aversion to wheat, forget about éclairs no matter what country you live in.  What’s more, for those with lactose sensitivities, the cream filling ain’t exactly the easiest thing to hold down because of the high percentage of lactose that has not been cultured.

Do you have a stove?  Do you have an oven?  (Even if it is a tiny European toaster one like yours truly.)  You’re good to go to bring that éclair to you.  Gluten-free.

pretty eclairsHomemade Gluten-Free Eclairs

with a vanilla rice milk pastry cream filling

and caramel topping

Choux Pastry:
1 cup (250 ml) water
1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbs. (100 g) butter, cut into 1” cubes
1 tsp. (4 g) salt
1 tsp. (4 g) sugar
1 cup (130 g) rice flour
1/3 cup (40 g) arrowroot starch
4 eggs

Pastry Cream*:
2 cups (500 ml) rice milk
1 tsp. (a large pinch) vanilla
4 egg yolks (raw)
1 1/4 cup (125 g) sugar, divided
1/4 cup (30 g) arrowroot starch

Caramel topping:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Cooling time: 30 minutes-1 hour
Makes many many tiny éclairs (would feed about 8 if all you were having is éclairs)

à la nappe1. Prepare pastry cream: Whisk together egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk right away and quickly so that you do not accidentally cook your eggs with the sugar.  Whisk in starch until “blanched”, aka lighter in color and homogenous.  Bring milk, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of the sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan and remove from heat.  Immediately pour 1/4 of the mixture into the egg yolk mixture whisking as you go.  Then add the entirety of the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan (whisking) and put back over heat.  Cook over medium-high heat until boiling and keep whisking the whole time.  To check for doneness, the pastry cream should stick to the back of a metal spoon and should leave a line if you run your finger over it.  (“à la nappe”)
2. Cover pastry cream in a large metal bowl with plastic film touching the cream and pop in the fridge immediately to cool down.  (Putting the plastic film in direct contact with it will eliminate insulation and help it cool down more quickly.)
choux3. Prepare your choux pastry: Measure out all of your ingredients before you start cooking, and mix together rice flour, sugar, salt, and arrowroot starch in a medium bowl.  Heat water and butter together in a large enough saucepan until butter is melted and the concoction has boiled for about 15 seconds.  Remove from heat.  Quickly stir in the flour mixture, mixing well until homogenous.  Put the mixture back over medium heat and keep stirring it to dry it out for about 30-45 seconds.  You don’t want it to be sticky anymore.
4. Remove from heat and put in a large mixing bowl.  Add your eggs and stir in until homogenous one at a time.  Mixture should be like a very thick cake batter.  Spoon into a pastry sack with a 3/4” wide tip (or put in a plastic bag and cut out a tip that size).  Pipe out your éclairs into desired length (for minis do about 3”, for normal sized ones do about 5”) onto a baking eclairs are ready to fillsheet lined with parchment paper, not waxed paper.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, or until top is golden, it has poofed up, and the inside is cooked through (not egg-y anymore).  You might just have to test one by eating it when you are very sure they are done.  It just might have to be done.  Just saying.
5. Remove choux pastry from oven and let cool to the touch before filling with your pastry cream.  During this time, you can spoon the pastry cream (or other filling) into a pastry bag with a small metal tip and set up the ingredients to make your caramel!  If you do not have a pastry bag with a tip you might just want to cut the eclairs in half and spoon in the filling, because this requires a tip to do the filling method where you hardly see it.
pipe6. Eclairs are cool to touch? Now you want to prepare them: cut a small hole in the end of the eclair on both sides.  Pipe in your filling until the side starts to inflate and get full with pastry cream.  Repeat with the other side.  Turn it over.  It’s filled.  Repeat with all of the éclairs.
7. Make the caramel: Pour water then sugar into a saucepan and put over medium-high heat.  Stir once right when you add the sugar then do not touch it or you will mess up your caramel.  Let boil until you see the edges start to turn, you guessed it, caramel.  About 5 minutes, but stay close as this is easy to mess up.  Watch it change color and right when it all starts to look caramel-like remove from heat.  Leave it in the saucepan to stay warm, because if it cools it watch out!will harden.  Spoon the caramel on top of the éclairs in a thin line to make it look really pretty, let cool, and you’ve got something real special.

*If you don’t want to take the time to make pastry cream, you can fill it up with a dairy-free pre-made pudding, whipped cream (there are vegan options available out there), or your favorite allergy-safe ice cream.  Simply cut the éclair in half and fill it up!

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happy mother’s day: gluten-free LADYFINGERS

coffee and ladyfingersLuck and cookies are always better as ladies.

Experimentation with these classic cookies made me very happy today: not cookiesonly does rice flour work incredibly well as a substitute for wheat flour, but it actually tastes lighter, cleaner, and more delicate in these traditional treats.  They aren’t manfingers, after all.  High five, gluten free!

Gluten-Free Ladyfingers

4 eggs, separated into 4 whites and 4 yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tbs. sugar

1 cup rice flour
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8-11 minutes
Yields many many ladyfingers (about 2 dozen)


ingredients1.  Pre-heat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and prepare either a pastry bag with a 1/2″ tip or get out a large zip-lock bag to improvise as your pastry bag.  Measure out ingredients and separate eggs into yolks and whites before you start whisking a thing!

yolks2. Whisk your yolks until they are a bit frothy and mousse-like either by hand or in an electric mixer over medium speed.

yolks and sugar3. Add 1/2 of the sugar and whisk vigorously until it is “blanched” or white and stiff enough to not move around easily when tilted.  (about 4-5 minutes by hand or 1-2 minutes over medium-high speed in a mixer.)  Set aside.

whites4. Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.  (Same goes for electric mixer/by hand as above.)

bird beak5. Add the remaining 1/2 of the sugar and whisk vigorously until stiff peaks form, aka, the “bird beak” phase.  (get it?)

combination6. Immediately add about 1/3 cup egg whites into yolk mixture and whisk together.

yolk stream7. Gently pour the egg yolk mixture over the beaten whites (you don’t want to flatten your whites or your yolks, or you’ll have flat ladyfingers!)

homogenous almost8. Very gently stir together the yolks and whites with a spatula, making sure not to push down on the mixture to maintain the air and bubbles in your meringues!

then there was flour9. Lightly dust the mixture with all of the rice flour, and, once again, very cautiously incorporate the flour into the mixture with a spatula just until flour is combined and you no longer see any chunks of it.  (Do not overmix.)

pipe!10.  Scoop you mixture into either a pastry bag with a 1/2″ tip or a zip lock bag and cut a 1/2″ opening.  Pipe your ladyfingers to about 2 1/2″-3″.

cooked11. Bake for about 8-11 minutes, depending on the power of your oven, or until tops have turned golden and the bottoms are also cooked and the middle is cooked through, meaning, no liquid.  Remove delicately from the paper after cooling for a few minutes.  (It’s so weird how two of the cookies magically disappeared before I could get to the camera.  So weird.)

IMG_5961If you want to get fancy making a layered dessert, or don’t want to use a pastry bag, you can pour the batter onto a large parchment-paper lined baking sheet and cut out circles using the top of a cup or a cookie cutter.  Fill the middle with whipped cream, ice cream, strawberry preserves, melted chocolate and butter (yum), or whatever you’re craving.  Basil and strawberry wouldn’t be sad to hear about, either.

circlesHi there!

duoHappy Mother’s Day.


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