Tag Archives: dessert

Free! One-Bowl Chocolate Agave Peanut Butter Cups!

Good day, everyone! I am delighted by the weather we are having in the Northeast this week – temperatures are in the high 70s with low humidity and sunshine peeking through puffy, white clouds. The nights are cool, allowing us to abandon the air conditioners and listen to the birds and bugs outside our windows. The dress code is long-sleeved t-shirts and shorts – this is late summer at its finest. And our farm share is rewarding us with all sorts of fruits and vegetables…which I’ll talk about later because today I must share with you a recipe that MaryAnn discovered – for chocolate peanut butter cups that are free! They are free from gluten, yeast, dairy and refined sugars – and absolutely decadent!

MaryAnn found the original recipe for Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge and made a batch that we tried. They were so melt-in-your-mouth good that I decided to make them soon after for a picnic. I made a few minor changes. First of all, I doubled the recipe. These treats are too good to just make a small batch. Plus you can freeze them and pull them out whenever you get a craving for that fabulous combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I used agave nectar instead of honey, but as I have noted below you can use either interchangeably. And lastly, the directions mention either using a food processor or bowl and whisk to mix the ingredients together – I just stirred them for great results – why bother pulling out the appliances if you don’t need to? This is a fabulous concoction using only five ingredients, no baking or cooking is necessary, and the results are fantastic!

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut oil (slightly melted, but not hot)
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup natural peanut butter, softened
1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:
Prepare muffin pans with 24 muffin liners.

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and nicely combined. (It will be very liquidy.)

Pour the liquid fudge into the prepared muffin liners dividing evenly between them (about two tablespoons of mixture in each).

Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or in the freezer for 10 minutes) until hardened.

Remove the muffin liners from the pans and enjoy! Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free…and am happy to be featured too!

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Naturally Sweetened Nut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are tasty, especially ones that combine a satisfying crunch with chewiness. You may ask, “how can that be done?” Well, my friends, you can have a chewy cookie with a satisfying crunch if you add toasted oats and nuts to a cookie batter. I was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe for Nutty Butter Cookies. I decided to reduce the amount of butter used, so I substituted with some unsweetened applesauce. I also substituted the refined sugar with a combination of maple syrup and honey. For my nut butter, I selected peanut, although I think almond butter would work really well too. Fortunately this recipe does not call for much nut butter, since the prices of nut butters have increased substantially during the first half of this year. I hope that you enjoy this recipe! And if you have not yet done so, please visit my home page to vote for your favorite dessert flavor. Are you a chocoholic? Or do you prefer plain vanilla? Perhaps a refreshing mint or zesty lemon? Just click the button for your choice and click “vote” – and then you will see the results so far. Thanks for participating! Enjoy your day, and your cookies.

Ingredients
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
1/2 cup nut butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Melt 1/2 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Spread oat mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet; let cool.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Beat together remaining 1/2 stick butter, applesauce, maple syrup and honey with a mixer on medium-high speed until fully combined. Add egg and beat until combined. Add nut butter, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

Add oat mixture and chopped nuts, and beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined.

Place cookies, about a teaspoonful each, 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

I am sharing my recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cooking and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

He Can Enjoy His Flourless Chocolate Cake and I Can Eat it Too!

This past week we enjoyed celebrating SensitiveHusband’s birthday. We had a wonderful time going out to dinner with family, taking a day off from work, giving gifts, and making a special birthday cake. My husband enjoys cakes that ooze with gooey, fudgy, chocolatey goodness – and I decided that creating a flourless chocolate cake would meet all of his favorite criteria (plus, I would really like it too). I started with a recipe that was originally developed by Gourment Magazine in November 1997 and revised by the Baking Bites blog last year. I liked this recipe because it only required six ingredients that already resided in my pantry and a double boiler was not needed. It looked like it would be relatively simple to remove the cane sugar. In fact, this cake was relatively easy to create. Top with fresh whipped cream and fruit, or just eat plain. It is delicious cold, at room temperature, and warmed, and it also freezes well. SensitiveHusband noted, “it was rich, delicious and decadent – it was a wonderful birthday cake.” Goal accomplished – he had his birthday cake and I enjoyed it too!

Ingredients:

4-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (Endangered Species has a brand that is gluten and cane sugar free)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.

In a small saucepan, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until very smooth.
Pour warm chocolate mixture into a medium mixing bowl with agave nectar. Whisk to combine. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next, then mix in vanilla extract. Add cocoa powder into the bowl and whisk until well-combined.

Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Allow cake to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a serving platter. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8-10.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen Free Cuisine, Simple Living with Diane Balch and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Thank you, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, for featuring my recipe!

Breaking News: Dessert Poll Results, Bite Taken out of Cookie Price Index, Favorite Flavor Survey

Happy June everyone! Or perhaps not so happy after yesterday’s unexpected jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor. Analysts were disappointed to see that only 69,000 jobs were created nationwide in the month of May and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%. This information shows that the nation’s economy continues to recover ever so slowly from the recession that ended more than two years ago.

However, there is a glimmer of hope, particularly for economists who also like to bake cookies. I just calculated the 2012 Q2 SensitiveEconomist Cookie Price Index, which shows a drop of 17% from the previous quarter. Thanks to decreases in the prices for organic whole wheat flour, agave nectar, and grain sweetened chocolate chips, the price to bake a batch of my chocolate chip cookies declined from $13.37 to $11.40. The only ingredient that saw an increase in price (of 4%) was the local honey.

This price index result is running contrary to the latest U.S. consumer price food index, which saw a 0.2% increase in March. However, if we take a deeper look at the components of the U.S. index, there are similarities. The U.S. index saw prices for fruits and vegetables, cereals, nonalcoholic beverages, meats and eggs, and other miscellaneous items all increase – yet those foods (except for the eggs) are not included in the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies. The U.S. food index component that saw a decrease was dairy – which is included in my recipe as butter. The U.S. index does not track the prices of many organic or natural ingredients like agave nectar – so that is why the indices diverge.

Speaking of cookies…thanks to everyone who participated in my dessert poll, either at the CTVegFest or online. I tallied the 54 responses and have declared that Ice Cream is the favored dessert of the respondents, garnering 25% of the votes. This was followed by Cookies with 19%, Brownies with 15%, and Pie with 13%. For all of you ice cream lovers, there are two good recipes on this blog: one that requires an ice cream maker (Peach Ice Cream) and one that does not (Banana Chocolate “Ice Cream”). These are great to try as summer gets into full swing.

Now it is time for a new survey question: what is your favorite dessert flavor? Please participate by visiting my blog’s home page, clicking on your favorite dessert flavor, and clicking “vote.” Is chocolate really the king of dessert flavors? Or will strawberry, mint, or another fine flavor win in the end? I look forward to seeing what emerges from the data.

Happiness is Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

Happy birthday indeed! I enjoyed a wonderful weekend with visits, calls and cards from my family and friends. I also was treated to a delicious dinner out with my grandmother, MIL, FIL and SensitiveHusband. After the meal we drove back to our house for dessert…that SensitiveHusband baked! Not only was the cake delicious, it was free of cane sugar, yeast, and all of my other “sensitive” ingredients. I think cake tastes even better when someone else bakes it, don’t you agree?

SensitiveHusband perused my recipes and decided on the Chocolate Agave Cake with the Honey Peanut Butter Frosting. What a delicious combination! The cake was extremely light and moist and the frosting was fluffy. Good thing I have a bit left…I look forward to having another piece.

What is your favorite dessert? There is one week left to take the poll on my home page. Simply click your favorite dessert and then click “vote.”

Chocolate Agave Cake
Ingredients:
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one nine-inch round pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the agave nectar, egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Honey Peanut Butter Cream Frosting
Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/8 cup peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/3 cup honey

Preparation:

Cream butter and peanut butter. Add the water, salt, and vanilla and cream again. Slowly add the honey and beat until creamy.

Please note: refrigerate the butter creams if either becomes too runny to use for frosting. A few minutes in the cool temperature will correct the consistency.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday and Simple Living.

Chocolate Dipped Bananas are Delicious Yet Gluten, Dairy & Cane Sugar Free

This past weekend SensitiveHusband and I enjoyed a lovely evening with some family friends. I have known these wonderful people all of my life and I feel privileged to be able to continue this extended family connection.

Each couple contributed something to the meal, and I was fortunate enough to be asked to bring a dessert. What a great experience to bake one of my favorites as well as try something new! As for the favorite, I made a chocolate agave cake and I doubled the recipe to make a layer cake with a cherry jam filling. I topped the cake with homemade whipped cream. I will definitely make this again!

My new creation involved chocolate dipped bananas. You can probably guess the two main ingredients! I had fun topping this dessert with all sorts of tasty treats as seen in the photograph above.

Chocolate Dipped Bananas (Gluten, Cane Sugar and Dairy Free)

Ingredients
2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2 inch disks
1 bar (3 oz) dark chocolate (The dark chocolate with raspberries Endangered Species brand is gluten, dairy and cane sugar free)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Assorted toppings (such as peanuts, granola, coconut, or cinnamon)

Preparation
Melt the chocolate on low heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Dip the bananas into the melted chocolate so that about half of the banana is covered. Place bananas on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Top the bananans creatively. The close-up photo shows one dusted with cinnamon. Freeze for at least half an hour. Once frozen, you can transfer the bananas to another bowl or zip lock bag. Allow bananas to defrost for a few minutes before enjoying.

P.S. If you have not already done so, please answer the poll on the web site just to the left of this post. It just takes two clicks of your time. The results are very close and I hope to get a large enough sample to declare a winning dessert. Thanks for your participation!

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Cybele Pascal Allergen Free Cuisine, Food Trip Friday and Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

Celebrating One Year without Refined Sugars with Chocolate Mousse

One year ago today, I wrote my first post as SensitiveEconomist. What a fun year this has been – with almost 90 posts, more than 10,000 web views and hundreds of comments. Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts, insights and recipes. It’s quite rewarding to be part of a community that is interested in making foods healthier, removing “sensitive” ingredients, and talking about food in the economy.

In honor of this special day, I am sharing with you one of my favorite celebratory foods – chocolate mousse! When I see this dessert on the menu of a nice restaurant, I tend to order it. It’s a shame that I can’t order it out anymore because it is loaded with refined sugar…but that is not the case with the recipe below! I altered it from the original recipe for Eggless Chocolate Mousse that is adapted from “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook,” by Mireille Guiliano.

This is one delicious dessert that is sure to please. Make it for a special occasion…or just because it’s Thursday!

In the words of Lucy Van Pelt of “Peanuts” fame: “All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Well said, Lucy!

In a small, heavy saucepan, heat 1/4 cup whipping cream to a boil; do not scorch. Meanwhile, chop 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (70 to 80 percent); place in a large bowl (This Endangered Species dark chocolate bar is sweetened with beet sugar). Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Let melt 2 minutes; stir until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Cool until mixture is warm to the touch. Whip 3/4 cup chilled whipping cream until stiff peaks form; be careful not to over whip. Gently fold half the whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Mousse will be a bit soft. Spoon into 2 serving dishes; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve garnished with shelled, toasted pistachios or cinnamon and more whipped cream.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Vanilla Pudding Squares with Whipped Cream and Pistachios

My colleague, Steve, has made pistachio squares for office functions over the past number of years. Last week, in preparation for my company’s dessert potluck, I asked him if he would share the recipe so I could see if I could make it without refined sugar. When he showed me the recipe, I started to get excited, because I could easily make the crust, cream cheese and whipped cream layers. As for the pudding…how could I make it without cane sugar? I was puzzled. I found a recipe for vanilla pudding and decided to give it a go.

My first batch looked like sweet milk…it never solidified. Hmm…I was stumped. So I tried again, this time using a bit more cornstarch and stirring the warm mixture on the stove for much longer. Within one hour in the fridge I had pudding! Instead of making pistachio-flavored pudding I stuck to the basics and created the vanilla version although I added chopped pistachios in the second layer and on the top. I enjoyed the result – it was nice and sweet with pudding and whipped cream and a nice crust. Thanks, Steve, for the original recipe that inspired this version!

Here are a few cooking notes: Make the vanilla pudding (third layer) first. While it is chilling, bake the crust (first layer) and allow to cool. Next, make the whipped cream (for the second and fourth layers) and then chop the pistachios (for the second layer and topping). Once all of these pieces are made and cooled, assemble the layers and voila – vanilla squares with pistachios!

First Layer (Crust):
Mix 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 cup melted butter. Press the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to fully cool before layering.

Second Layer:
Blend 8 ounces of cream cheese with 2/3 cup agave nectar, 1 cup homemade whipped cream (see fourth layer for instructions) and 1/3 cup chopped pistachios.

Third Layer (Homemade Vanilla Pudding):
In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 cups milk until bubbles form at edges. In a bowl, 1/3 cup agave nectar, 4 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour into hot milk, a little at a time, whisking to dissolve. Continue to cook and stir until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon butter. Chill completely (about one hour); add as the third layer.

Fourth Layer (Homemade Whipped Cream):
Blend 1 pint whipping cream, 1/4 cup agave nectar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a mixer on a high speed until stiff peaks form. Use 1 cup to blend in the second layer, and the rest as the fourth layer.

Sprinkle with you favorite toppings, such as chopped pistachios and chocolate. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.