Tag Archives: Honey

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Coconut Cream Frosting (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Good day, everyone! I hope that this blog finds you well. I am truly appreciating the weather today, such a bright and sunny day, which is a welcome relief from all of the wind and rain we had this past week. The apples I have been purchasing at the local farm have been outstanding, so much so that I have not baked with apples yet this season because SensitiveHusband and I keep eating them before there is any chance of making a muffin or sauce. The carrots, however, I managed to snag for a cake (more on that in a moment). carrot cake cupcakes

Speaking of cake, have you ever eaten “too many slices of suboptimal, day-old cake,” which then inspired you to figure out how best to slice a cake so as not to expose the remains to the air and get dried out? No? To tell you the truth, I hadn’t thought much of it either. Yet this issue has been pondered for well over a century. In 1906 Sir Francis Galton, a British mathematician, discussed the scientific principles of cutting a cake in a letter written to the journal Nature. Galton, who was a first cousin to Charles Darwin, notes that instead of cutting a cake into wedges, you should cut the cake down the middle and remove a thin slice, then push the cake back together, which seals the cake back up. Galton goes a step further and suggests wrapping a rubber band around the outside of the cake to guarantee that no air dries out the baked good. He, who discovered regression to the mean, perhaps only ate cakes with fondant frosting – because I fear the effects of a rubber band wrapped around a luscious buttercream.

Need to see this to believe it? There is an excellent video demonstration by Alex Bellos – check it out here. And see if it convinces you that a wedge slice may not be the only option for parsing out dessert.

Since I continue to think of cake, I will share with you a recipe I made recently for my SIL’s (sister-in-law) birthday. This carrot cake was inspired by a fabulous recipe found in Elana’s Pantry. I chose to sweeten the cake with honey and I used grapeseed oil for the fat. I also crushed the walnuts and baked them into cupcakes. My notes are included in the recipe below. And then I topped them off with a maple coconut cream frosting! I again was inspired by Elana’s Pantry, although I sweetened the frosting with maple syrup, which paired so nicely with the flavors.

Still not sure how you want to slice a cake? No worries, just bake cupcakes!!

CARROT CAKE – INGREDIENTS
3 cups blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
5 eggs
½ cup honey (or agave nectar)
¼ cup grapeseed oil
3 cups carrots, grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped

PREPARATION
In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, honey (or agave nectar) and oil
Stir carrots, raisins and walnuts into wet ingredients
Stir wet ingredients into dry
Place batter into 24 cupcake tins with liners (or 2 well greased, round 9-Inch cake pans)
Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes for cupcakes (35 minutes for cakes)
Cool to room temperature and spread with frosting

MAPLE COCONUT CREAM FROSTING – INGREDIENTS
1 cup coconut milk (in a can)
1 cup maple syrup
pinch sea salt
5 teaspoons arrowroot powder
3-5 tablespoons water
1¼ cup coconut oil

PREPARATION
In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, maple syrup and salt, simmer for 10 minutes
In a small bowl, combine arrowroot and water to form a smooth paste
Pour arrowroot mixture into saucepan
Whisk vigorously to combine, then bring to a boil, briefly, until shiny
Remove pot from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil with a hand blender (or mixer)
Allow pot to cool for 10 minutes
Place pot in refrigerator for 45-120 minutes, until frosting solidifies
Remove from refrigerator and blend again with a hand blender (or mixer), until fluffy
Spread over cake or cupcakes

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Step 1 for Sugar Free Pies – Graham Cracker Crust

Two PiesGood day! I hope that this blog post finds you doing well. I have been trying some new recipes over the past few weeks and trying to keep up with all of the CSA produce that I receive each week. The weather this summer seems to be conducive to leafy green vegetables, which always make my day. Now that the temperature is heating up, corn, tomatoes, and beans are plentiful.

I have also been working on a baking project – how to make pies without refined sugars. The fillings can be challenging because it can be tricky to get the correct consistency. And I have not been able to use any graham cracker crust recipes because virtually all call for crumbled store-bought graham crackers – and I have not been able to find a brand without sugar. So I had to take a more proactive approach in order to bake a sugar-free crust.

SensitiveHusband recently purchased a lovely cookbook for me called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese. The author has made dozens of popular foods and calculated how much it costs to create them homemade, and then compared the cost of similar store-bought items. Based on the difficulty of the homemade preparation and the cost, the author then recommends either making the item or buying it. Fortunately she includes a recipe for honey graham crackers. According to her calculations, homemade graham crackers cost approximately $0.18 per ounce, Honey Maid Cinnamon Grahams are $0.23 per ounce, and Annie’s organic graham crackers are $0.53 per ounce.

I adapted the recipe to remove the refined sugars by replacing with coconut palm sugar, and figured out how to roll into two crusts rather than shape into crackers (although you could still use this recipe for crackers). This recipe yields the lightest and tastiest graham cracker crust – the best I have ever sampled. SensitiveHusband agreed that this crust is terrific.

Step 1 for baking pies is having a great crust, and the recipe delivers. This is definitely more labor-intensive than purchasing a box of graham crackers, but the taste of the homemade version is worth it.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup honey

Preparation:
1. Stir together the flours, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
2. In another bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and honey until fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and stir well. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, knead once or twice, then flatten into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
3. Cut the dough into two portions. On a floured surface, roll one portion of the dough into a circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a pie plate and remove any dough that hangs over the sides. Prick the dough with a fork in a number of places throughout the dough. Repeat this process with the other portion of remaining dough.
4. Bake the two crusts in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees F for about 12 minutes or until very lightly browned. Make sure the crusts are completely cooled before moving onto creating your pie fillings.

I Dig Fresh Fig Dessert Bars

I dig figs. As a kid, I enjoyed snacking on Fig Newtons, which had a nice combination of crunchy filling and smooth cake. Or were the outer crusts actually cookies? It was always hard to tell.

About one year ago, while at my friend’s parents’ house, I sampled a fresh fig just picked from their fig tree. At first I was a little apprehensive because I did not know how to eat it. However they showed me how to break off the stem, peel the fruit and eat the center. The fruit was so good – sweet, juicy and fragrant. So I tried another and another…and when I went home that evening, I had a bundle of figs under my arm to enjoy over the next few days.

Not only are figs delicious, but they are nutritious too! According to Nutrition-and-you.com, figs are low in calories and high in soluble fiber. They are also good sources of vitamins A, E, and K; and minerals such as calcium and iron. So what’s not to love about this fabulous fruit?

This past summer, whenever I saw fresh figs on sale at the grocery store, I purchased them. The figs usually come six to a package and I would eat them two at a time. I never dreamed that I would ever have enough figs in my possession to use them in a recipe – since I just enjoy eating them as is. Well last week, I had a lovely visit with my friend’s parents…and they gave me about 80 figs to take home! For the past few days SensitiveHusband and I have been enjoying an ongoing fig feast!

And guess what other wonderfulness was bestowed on me? They gave me a small fig tree, grown from a piece of their own. It is now adorning my deck and has a few figs ripening on it. We will bring it in for the winter and intend to plant it in the springtime. I hope to experiment with fig recipes in the years to come. That is, if I don’t eat them all as I pick them!

Below is my first ever fresh fig recipe…the result is a fabulous dessert bar mixed with oats and walnuts. I started with a recipe from Simple Daily Recipes that used fresh figs (rather than dried) as the main ingredient. I substituted the cane sugar with honey and reduced the overall amount of sweetener used. I also played with the amount of water in the filling and added some chopped walnuts to the top for an extra flavor boost and crunch. These bars are so delicious; thanks to Tony and Sylvia for their hospitality and for sharing their figs and tree with me!

Ingredients:

Filling
*3 cups fresh figs, chopped and without stems (may be peeled or unpeeled)
*3/4 cup water
*1/2 cup honey
*pinch of salt
*2 tablespoons lemon peel, finely grated
*2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
*1 tablespoon water
*2 tablespoons lemon juice
*1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Crust
*1 cup butter
*1/2 cup honey
*2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
*pinch of salt
*3 cups oats
*1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Preparation:
Heat Oven to 350ºF.

For Filling: Combine figs, water, honey, salt and lemon peel in saucepan and simmer 1 hour or until dark and thickened, stirring occasionally. Combine flour and water and stir into fig mixture. Cook 5 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and walnuts.

For Crust: Mix butter with honey until light and fluffy. Combine flour, salt, and oats into creamed mixture. Divide mixture in half and place half into the bottom of a well-greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Spread the fig filling evenly over bottom layer. Sprinkle remaining half of crust mixture on top, along with the remaining walnuts, and press with fork.

Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cut into squares while still warm. Cool completely before removing from pan.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

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.

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This recipe for honey-roasted sweet potatoes meets all of my official criteria for being a great dinner component: (1) the potatoes are really tasty with a soft texture and a hint of sweetness; (2) they are easy to prepare, especially if you can find someone else to do the peeling; (3) they travel well and can easily be reheated, so they are nice to bring to a group dinner; and (4) they are a comfortable accompaniment to a weeknight or weekend meal. The recipe below is inspired by Ellie Krieger’s Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes – I used a little less salt and just a pinch of extra honey than the original instructions.

Just in case you were wondering, sweet potatoes are a Native American plant that are packed with calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Although sweet potatoes are harvested in August through October, they are available in supermarkets throughout the year. Sweet potatoes are often confused with yams, but yams are large, starchy roots grown in Africa and Asia. Yams are rarely available in American supermarkets yet it is acceptable to use the term when referring to sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain an enzyme that converts many of its starches into sugars as the potato matures. The sweetness continues to increase during storage and when cooked. Thanks to Food Reference for these facts!

And back to the recipe – for Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

Ingredients
2 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
–Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
–Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces and place in 9×13 baking dish.
–In a small bowl stir together oil, honey and lemon juice.
–Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat.
–Sprinkle with salt, and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender.

Have a great day, enjoy your sweet potatoes, and see you at the CTVegFest next weekend!

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Simple Living with Diane Balch.

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Continuing the Celebration with Chocolate Chip Cookie 2.0

This week I have been celebrating my blog’s one year anniversary. It has been fun to think about all of the new foods I have tried and shared, and my favorite recipes that I have revised. One year ago I posted my first recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It was a wonderful recipe that substituted the refined sugars with natural sweeteners. Since then I have made that recipe dozens of times because I like to have a steady supply of dessert in the house. There is something quite nice about kicking back at the end of the day with a homemade cookie.

At first I was only concerned with getting the refined sugars out of the cookies. Over the past year I have tinkered with the ingredients – how could I add nutrients? Reduce saturated fats? Reduce gluten? Make them fluffier? Well, I think I have managed to update last year’s version – I removed one stick of butter and added applesauce, used some oat flour to reduce the overall gluten amount, let the butter soften naturally for a lighter texture, used my own homemade vanilla extract for added flavor, and added some more chocolate chips (I really tested the last point thoroughly). I hope you enjoy this recipe. Have a nice day!

Mix Dry and Set Aside: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup oat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt

Mix Until Creamy: 1 stick softened butter, 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 cup agave nectar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add to Creamy Mixture: 2 eggs

Then Add to Creamy Mixture: the dry mix (noted above)

Then Stir In: 1 bag grain-sweetened chocolate chips plus a “few extra” (I like Sunspire brand)

Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-11 minutes.

Enjoy!

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

Honey-Sweetened Pumpkin Pie

I am a big fan of pumpkin. It is a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals – plus it tastes great in cookies, breads and pie. My FIL created this pie, which starts with a basic recipe and switches the refined sugar with honey, does not use molasses (also made from cane sugar), and unsweetened evaporated milk (as opposed to condensed milk which has a lot of added sugar). This pie is tasty with a light a fluffy filling. Pair it with a glass of milk for a most satisfying dessert.

Ingredients:
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can unsweetened evaporated milk

Directions:
–Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
–Combine honey, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and honey-spice mixtures. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
–Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

I am sharing this recipe with Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Pumpkin Raisin Nut Bread with Honey and Maple Syrup

Another great addition to your holiday meal, or any meal for that matter, is pumpkin bread. I prepared a loaf for our thanksgiving meal (click here for other menu ideas) and it turned out to be a great alternative to a yeast-filled bread. Plus it has a moist texture and the addition of raisins and nuts is a real treat! I found this recipe about a year ago in the Joy of Cooking book, and made a few revisions: I used whole wheat flour instead of the all-purpose variety, substituted shortening with canola oil, substituted the white cane sugar with honey, and substituted the brown cane sugar with maple syrup. You would never know that there is no sugar or butter in this delicious bread! I will warn you that this recipe uses three different bowls, but do not let that discourage you; it still is relatively easy to prepare. And now for the instructions…

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together:
  1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  1 teaspoon salt
  1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1 teaspoon ground ginger
  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine in a small bowl:
  1/3 cup water or milk
  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat in a large bowl:
  1/3 cup canola oil
  2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup maple syrup
Beat in one at a time:
  2 large eggs
Add and beat on low speed just until blended:
  1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin puree
Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in:
  1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  1/3 cup raisins or chopped dates
Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

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

Honey-Sweetened Avocado Bread

Hello, everyone! I hope that you enjoyed a peace-filled thanksgiving holiday. I was fortunate to be able to celebrate with my family including a lovely visit with my grandmother. Speaking of my grandmother, a few weeks ago while again visiting her, I read her local newspaper. The food section included a reader recipe exchange involving avocados. Up to this point, my experience with the fruit had been slicing it for a topping to a salad. However there was a recipe that caught my eye – Avocado Quick Bread, by MaryEllen Fabricatore and Pam Wobrock. I was intrigued by the idea of mashing the fruit, full of healthy fats, fiber and vitamins, into a loaf of bread. And I had read that California avocados grow year-round, so I was excited to purchase some avocados right away and try the recipe. I substituted the refined sugar with honey and added whole wheat flour into the mix. And yes, the batter was green when I blended the ingredients together! However, after it baked it turned a golden brown color. This bread is very moist and has a nice texture similar to pumpkin bread. I hope you enjoy this tasty treat.

Ingredients:
1 cup honey
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed avocado (about 3 avocados)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preparation:
–Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
–Beat together honey, butter, eggs, vanilla and avocado until well blended.
–In another bowl stir flours, cinnamon, allspice, salt and baking soda.
–Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk and mix well. Stir in the raisins and walnuts.
–Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
–Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I am sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

FIL’s Absolutely Delicious and Sugar-Free, Deep-Dish Apple Pie

My father-in-law, also affectionately known as FIL, is a wonderful apple pie baker. I became aware of his talent many years ago. My family was invited to a dinner at the home of my future MIL and FIL. I remember a delicious feast and lingering at the table for awhile. Then Future FIL presented us with a gorgeous, picture-perfect pie whose taste matched its looks.

So last year when I found out I had food sensitivities, I began to wonder if I would ever be able to sample this scrumptious pie again. Well, of course I would, because FIL made sure that the pie crusts were without yeast and sugar, and substituted the sugar in the filling with honey. The revised pie tastes just as sweet and I appreciate the fact that FIL altered his recipe so I can enjoy it too! I am thankful that sugar free apple pie will be at our thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps you will also include it in your celebration.

FIL’s Sugar-Free, Deep-Dish Apple Pie
Ingredients:
8 apples (such as 4 Empire and 4 Ida Red)
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell, thawed (such as Oronoque)
1 frozen pie crust, thawed (such as Pillsbury)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter

Preparation:
Peel and core the apples, then cut into bite-size pieces. Mix flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and honey in a bowl. Mix in apples until well coated. Pour the apple mixture into the pie shell. Chop 2 tablespoons of butter into about 6 pieces and place evenly on top of the apple mixture. Place the pie crust on top and seal around the edges using a fork. Make 4 or 5 slices in the pie crust with a knife to allow the steam to escape while cooking. Sprinkle some additional cinnamon on top. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into 4 or 5 slices and place evenly on top of the pie crust. Use aluminum foil to cover the bottom and the edges of the pie. Bake at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes. During the last 15 minutes, remove aluminum foil from the edges of the pie. You will know that the pie is cooked when you see juicy bubbling. Serve to adoring family members, friends and fans.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Beauty and Bedlam, This Chick Cooks, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.