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Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Whipped-cream Frosting… “Happy Birthday” cake!!!

We just celebrated two birthdays in the last 3 weeks in my family – my husband and my son. I made the same gluten-free cake for both of them. It’s a tradition in my family – chocolate cake with chocolate, whipped-cream frosting! We have it at every birthday celebration…sooo good! I would have included a picture of the cake, but it was eaten too fast – that’s how good it is.

I must admit, though, it’s the frosting that really makes this cake so delicious and I have to give credit to my mother for that one. She made chocolate, whipped-cream frosting since before I was born (and I’m not telling how long ago that is!!). In my family growing up, we could request whatever kind of cake we wanted for our birthday. Only my father and oldest sister (#1) would request something different for their birthday – my father loved Boston Creme Pie and my sister liked Apricot Pie. The rest of us (#2 sister, #3 brother, #4 brother, mom and myself, #5) would have cake covered in Chocolate, Whipped-Cream Frosting – any cake. It could be sponge cake, Angel food cake or chocolate cake. In the end, chocolate cake was the best choice – every year!

This recipe makes a LOT of cake. What I’ve done is make 2 – 9 inch round cakes and use the extra batter for cupcakes. If the cupcakes survive long enough, they are frozen for a quick treat some other day! They taste great warmed in the microwave, then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top – no frosting required.

I’d love to hear some of your family birthday traditions – please share!! Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

(**This recipe makes 3 – 9 inch round cakes or 30 cupcakes or 2 – 9 inch cakes and 12 cupcakes.)

1-1/3 cup strong, brewed hot coffee

1¼ cup cocoa powder

2 sticks butter

2¼ cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3¼ cups Pamela’s Gluten-free Baking and Pancake Mix + 1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cake pans and dust with gluten-free flour or use paper liners for cupcakes. In a medium bowl, whisk together hot coffee and cocoa powder until very smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and mix until well blended. Add half of Pamela’s mix to the butter mixture and blend well. Add half of the coffee/cocoa mixture and beat until well combined. Add the remaining Pamela’s mix and coffee/cocoa mixture and blend completely until smooth. Spoon batter into prepared pans and fill to half full. Bake cake pans for 40 minutes or cupcakes for 20 minutes. It is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake pans for 20 minutes then turn cake onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Whipped-Cream Frosting

1 pint heavy or whipping cream, chilled

Hershey’s syrup

Chill a large mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove bowl from the freezer and add the cream. Beat cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add ¼ cup Hershey’s syrup and continue to mix until well blended. Add more Hershey’s syrup until desired chocolate flavor has been reached. Frosting will not get darker, just have more chocolate flavor. This recipe makes enough for a two layer cake with frosting in the middle and covering the outer surfaces completely. Refrigerate cake after frosting.

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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Desserts

 

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Lemon Cheesecake…simple, light and creamy!

My family has always liked cheesecake, but it usually only gets made for special occasions. Years ago, my husband would make it and he would experiment with different flavors for Thanksgiving and Christmas – pumpkin, chocolate, almond, citrus, marble,… It was a time-consuming process making the crust, cooking it, letting it cool, blending all the cheeses together, greasing the spring-form pan,… Even though it was so delicious, it was very dense, rich and full of calories.

I recently found this recipe online at Easy Eats Blog, so I’m re-blogging it here. It was fabulous! My son endorsed this as his ALL-TIME favorite cheesecake – light, creamy, not too sweet, smooth texture, and gluten-free! My husband loved it too and didn’t miss the crust at all. I know I’ll be making it again and more often than just at the holidays. I really like that it has agave nectar instead of sugar and not too much ricotta cheese. Sometimes a cheesecake can have a grainy texture with too much ricotta in the recipe.

I used a large, round, deep stoneware dish to bake it in and after chilling, it cut very easily and was set perfectly. Next time, I may try adding lemon or orange zest for a deeper citrus flavor. I also want to try adding cocoa powder or almond liquor. Mmmm, the possibilities…!!! Enjoy!

Gluten-free Lemon Cheesecake

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
¾ cup light agave nectar
2 large eggs
5 teaspoons brown rice flour
5 teaspoons corn starch
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (whole fat)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a round, deep baking dish or pie plate. Combine cream cheese and ricotta in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Add agave syrup and blend well until creamy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time and blend well after each. Add rice flour, corn starch and extracts and mix very well. Add melted, cooled butter and yogurt and beat until completely blended together. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven for 1 ½ hours to cool gradually. Remove from the oven and chill for 4 or more hours. Top with fresh fruit or whipped cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Desserts

 

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Italian Tiramisu…Schär Ladyfingers work great!

Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts! With a hot, frothy cappuccino alongside, it is the perfect ending to any meal. We recently went to some friends’ home for dinner and this is what we brought for dessert. My husband is usually the one who makes it, because it started out being my “birthday cake” a few years ago. Now, the tradition has stuck – it’s his culinary “baby”! And he does an excellent job, too – so creamy, luscious and light. Even though it has cream cheese and heavy cream, it still tastes light. The ladyfinger cookies soak up the coffee and become soft, the coffee liqueur adds a wonderful full flavor and the chocolate powder on top is just right.

Once our kitchen became gluten-free, though, this dessert could no longer make an appearance. I think the ladyfinger cookies would be hard to duplicate from scratch, although I never really tried…

But, then I found the Schär company (see my earlier post about their sandwich rolls)! These ladyfinger cookies can be bought online through Amazon.com or directly from Schär’s website. They worked great! I challenge anyone to tell me this tastes different than a regular wheat recipe! We adapted this from the Family Circle magazine recipe – “Coffee-Scented Tiramisu”.

Buon Appetito!!

Italian Tiramisu

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup coffee liqueur

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups heavy cream

2 pkgs.(5 oz. each) Schär Gluten-Free Ladyfinger cookies

1 cup strong brewed coffee

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat cream cheese, sugar, coffee liqueur and vanilla in a medium bowl until light and creamy. Whip heavy cream to firm peaks. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until well blended. Arrange one package of ladyfingers in an 8 x 8 inch dish, one layer only. Drizzle the ladyfingers with half the brewed coffee. Top with half the cream cheese mixture, spreading smoothly. Sprinkle with half the cocoa powder. Arrange the remaining ladyfinger cookies over the cocoa, one layer of cookies only. Drizzle with the remaining coffee. Top with the remaining cream cheese mixture, spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cocoa powder on top. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Makes about 8 servings.

 
 

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Avocado Lime Pie…really creamy!

Why would anyone put an avocado in a pie? Well, the first time I saw something similar to this was on the Food Network show “Chopped” a couple years ago. I decided to try it this week and see if I could make something gluten-free and delicious. I think it worked, but the true test is if someone else likes it too (my husband does, but he likes almost everything)! It has the consistency of pudding, with a mild lime flavor and not too sweet. I can’t taste the avocado myself, but I think it adds a wonderful creaminess to the pie. The walnut crust has a nice crunchy texture and I think pecans or almonds would work just as well.

It really has to be chilled well, so it’s firm enough to cut. The flecks you see are from the walnuts leftover in the food processor. I used the food processor for the crust first, then without cleaning it, added the filling ingredients and processed them. This saves me time and makes for less dish duty. Always a bonus in my kitchen!

Serve with fresh whipped cream – yum!

Avocado Lime Pie

Crust:

2½ cups shelled walnut pieces

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Filling:

1 ripe avocado, pitted and skinned

1 container (7 oz.) 2% plain Greek yogurt (or 1 cup sour cream)

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie plate. For the crust, place the walnuts in a food processor and grind until crumbly. Add in the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Process until well blended. Press firmly into the greased pie plate. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Let cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Again using the food processor, add the filling ingredients and blend very well. Pour the batter on top of the walnut crust in the pie plate. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center is set. Let cool, then chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Desserts

 

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Apple Crumble…add sweetness to your winter!

I went to visit a good friend today. We had a very nice time, chatting about life and things we have in common. She cooked lunch for the two of us and it was delicious! For dessert, she made an Apple Crisp — she said she’s been craving one for over a week now! (Me, too!) It was so sweet and juicy, with that little bit of crunch on top. It was the perfect way to end the meal.

This reminded me of a recipe I have for Gluten-free Apple Crumble. In the middle of winter when everything is either white or dirty brown (especially in Maine), it’s hard to remember the other seasons and their bounty of ripe, colorful fruit. I’m grateful to be able to get fresh apples that still taste good at this time of the year!

Here’s to winter wherever you are, add a little apple sweetness to your table.

Enjoy!

Apple Crumble (Gluten-free)

Crumb crust/topping:

1½ cups gluten-free rolled oats

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup Pamelas’s Gluten-free Baking and Pancake Mix

1 stick butter, softened

Filling:

4 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons Pamela’s Gluten-free Baking & Pancake Mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking dish. For the crust — in a large bowl combine oats, brown sugar and ½ cup Pamela’s mix; stir to combine. Cut butter into oats mixture and blend well. For the filling — in a large bowl combine fruit, spices, sugar and Pamela’s mix; toss with a spoon to coat well. Pour fruit mixture into the greased dish. Spoon oats mixture on top of fruit and spread evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Desserts

 

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Blueberry Cake to end 2011…

Gluten-free Blueberry Cake

Wow, this year flew past. I can’t believe we’re in to another new year already – I guess that happens as you get older. Well, the holidays were very nice this year. We spent Christmas weekend at home, with friends on the “Eve” and just the three of us for Christmas day. Somehow, the week after Christmas seemed to disappear – I had no time to write a post for this blog, although I did do a good amount of cooking. With my college son at home, it seems like I’m either cooking a meal, cleaning up after one, putting dishes in the dishwasher or taking them out. Also, I’ve been going to the grocery store at least three times a week! My son is a weight-lifter and can really empty the refrigerator and cupboards quickly… It’s so good to have him home!!!

To end the year, we were invited to our friends/neighbors for a family version of  “Chopped“. If you’ve never seen the American version on the Food Network, here’s a short summary:  four chefs have to prepare an appetizer in 20 minutes using mystery ingredients from a basket, one chef is “chopped” after the first round; then, three chefs prepare a main course in 30 minutes with a new set of mystery ingredients, another chef is “chopped” in the second round; finally, two chefs prepare dessert in 30 minutes with still another set of mystery ingredients and one chef is chosen as the winner.

Our friends modified this a little, having two teams and only preparing the main course, but it was still a lot of fun. My husband and I were allowed to be the judges – YUMMY! I was also the only one who brought the dessert for this meal – so I guess you could say that I won the dessert round – by default – but I’ll take it!

My dessert was gluten-free Blueberry Cake, made with fresh blueberries. It’s one of our favorites, especially in the summer when the local blueberries are ripe, but the store-bought ones work just as well. It’s very light and not too sweet, even with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!

Blueberry Cake

 4 tablespoons butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

2 cups Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking & Pancake Mix

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add beaten egg and blend in. Add Pamela’s mix, milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and light. Gently fold berries into batter with a spatula, do not beat in. Bake for 45-50 minutes. After cake cools completely, sift powdered sugar on top. Makes 8-10 servings.

** Options:  Can use fresh raspberries, blackberries or cut strawberries in place of blueberries.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Desserts

 

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Apple Cinnamon Puffs…adventures in apple picking!

Ok, I admit it, I procrastinated a little too long this year. I’ve been going to the same apple orchard since my son was very little (he’s in college now). It’s a small orchard run by an old-timer nestled in the mountains of Western Maine alongside a beautiful river. My favorite apple variety is Macoun and the old-timer told me long ago that the Macoun was a late apple. So, I waited until the end of October this year to go apple picking. I planned it on a day when I could have lunch with a friend that lives about half way there. I was excited to hand pick each one and take that first crisp, juicy bite! As I’m driving up to the barn where they sell cider, honey, maple syrup and, of course, apples, it feels a little deserted. No one was in the barn or the orchard. The only greeter was the old-timer’s friendly German Shepherd! It didn’t really bother me, because I know many small farm stands work off the honor system. They leave their fruit or vegetables out and you weigh them and leave money in a box nearby. Except in this case, there were no apples out. So, I took an apple-picking tool off the wall and walked into the orchard. I was very surprised to see that every tree was bare. Ok, not every tree, but I don’t like Red or Golden Delicious, so they don’t count to me. I walked through the rows of trees and not one of them had an apple, not even on the highest branches! I had missed the season! I had read in the local newspapers it was a good year for apple crops, so I truly expected to find plenty still on the trees.

I was disappointed, but not daunted. I was determined to find apples that day. I drove toward another orchard in a neighboring town, but a sign on the side of the road said they only had “drops”. “Drops” are those apples that fall on the ground under the tree. Many orchards use these to make cider because they are usually over-ripe and softer than apples still on the tree. No “drops” for me – I wanted crispy, crunchy, juicy apples right off the tree! So, I kept driving.

There are many orchards in the western part of Maine and I know roughly where a few of them are located. I headed toward one I had passed by a couple years ago when exploring the back roads – PieTree Orchard in Sweden, Maine. (http://www.pietreeorchard.com/) When I drove into their parking area, again, it was deserted. They were closed during the week, because the picking season was over. Luckily, they had apples out and available to buy using the honor system. Finally, I was able to buy a bag of organic Macoun apples. Success at last!

I hope you enjoy this gluten-free recipe. Use your favorite apples, and hopefully you didn’t have to drive to three towns all over the county to get them!

Apple Cinnamon Puffs 

5 large red apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

½ cup sugar

1¾ cup Pamela’s Wheat-free/Gluten-free Baking & Pancake Mix

4 tablespoons butter, melted

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar with ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Place sliced apples in a medium bowl, add sugar and stir to combine. Pour the apple mixture into the greased baking dish and spread evenly. In a large bowl, combine Pamela’s mix, melted butter and milk. Stir well to make a soft dough. Drop the dough by spoonful on top of apple slices and spread evenly over apples. Combine the 2 tablepoons sugar and cinnamon in a small dish and sprinkle on top of the dough. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Makes about 6 servings.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Desserts

 

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