Archive for Dessert

Pumpkin Pudding Revisited and @TravelingRD

    Last year I wrote about our family tradition of Pumpkin Pudding as a childhood staple when Rita, Jorge, and Teresa were growing up. My children did not like carrots and would not eat other yellow veggies so I created this pumpkin pudding for them to get their vitamin A. It was made from canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, unflavored gelatin, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It became quite popular with many family members.

    For years my younger brother, Jon, received his very own batch of Pumpkin Pudding at Thanksgiving. The recipe was published in The vonRosenberg Family of  Texas Cookbook as I mentioned last year in my Pumpkin Pudding post.  

    Teresa, our dietician, has shared the family recipe for Pumpkin Pudding many times. About 15 years ago she prepared it for pre-school children as a way of introducing pumpkin as a new food. Several years ago it was published as part of a gluten-free article that she wrote. Even now it is on the Dairy MAX website recipe section as Jack-o-lantern Pudding. More recently it has appeared in her guest post at Robinsbite, Kids Food Memories–The Proof is in the Pudding

     Teresa, Being ever mindful of her mission to promote good nutrition, especially in children, has substituted the cup of undiluted evaporated milk with low-fat milk; my taste buds prefer the richer mixture made with evaporated milk 😉

    Teresa’a  nutrition related blog is The Dairy Report.  And you can follow her on Twitter @TravelingRD.

    Even more recently I experimented with a new version inspired by Ricki’s various chia based puddings that she creates over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. This one happened during a clear-out-the-refrigerator frenzy in preparation for Thanksgiving and it was yummy!

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
4 tablespoons whole (or ground) chia seed
1 cup canned (or fresh) pumpkin puree (about 1/2 can)
1 cup coconut milk
Cinnamon to taste
Vanilla
Stevia to taste

Whisk or beat ingredients together until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until set. This is a great for breakfast or as a nourishing snack.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Dark Chocolate No-Guilt Fudge

    The recipe for Chocolatey Fudge from Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs was intimidating. It sounded easy and yes, so yummy, but could it really be that easy? 

    I read and re-read the recipe and thought about my blender. Sometimes my wimpy old blender and I don’t get along but I am reluctant to learn a new machine along with a new recipe. Rita has a food processor stored here in my cupboard and next time I will definitely use it. You need a machine with ‘muscle’ for this recipe. The blender whined and groaned and started sending out smoke signals before we called truce. So this first batch has little bits of beans that are visible although not enough to stop any of my dedicated testers. And if you truly love deep, dark chocolate this will give you a chocolate fix without the sugar hangover. It looks like fudge, it tastes like fudge, and it IS fudge.

   You need to read Ricki’s version before you decide which way you would rather make it. She crumbles the unsweetened chocolate and adds it at the end. This version has it all melted in and fudgy smooth all the way through – almost the same ingredients but a different technique.

This Fudge Is Really Good!

This Fudge Is Really Good!

1 ounce (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, soft at room temperature

1-3/4 cups (420 ml) cooked, drained and rinsed black beans (canned beans work best)
1/4 cup (60 ml) natural smooth almond butter, room temperature or slightly warmer
1/2 cup (60 g) cocoa powder
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup, agave nectar or vegetable glycerin
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to taste
pinch fine sea salt

    Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside.

    Place chocolate in a small microwavable bowl and spoon the coconut oil over it. Heat this in the microwave for one minute. Test the chocolate with a thin knife. The coconut oil should be hot and the chocolate just soft and melted but still holding its shape. This might take several iterations of heating and testing. Do – not – overheat!

    Add all of the remaining ingredients to the processor and pour the coconut oil/chocolate mixture on top and blend until very smooth. Use a spatula to help push down and incorporate all of the ingredients if necessary. The mixture will be thick. If the almond butter is the least bit chilly the coconut oil and chocolate can suddenly harden and seize.

    Transfer fudge mixture to the loaf pan and press down to compress it and push out any air bubbles. I sprinkled a packet of Truvia over the top to give it a ‘sugary’ finish but the loaf just dissolved the crystals and it disappeared overnight.

    Allow the fudge to set up in the refrigerator for an hour, then cover the top with more plastic and refrigerate until very firm, 2 hours or up to overnight. Slice into squares. Because it contains no sugar to act as a preservative it needs to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Microwave Baked Apples

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient for September is apples.  There are so many varieties of apples in the market right now. Choose your favorite or one of the weekly specials.  Usually I go for Golden Delicious but the Pink Lady variety is relatively new and entirely wonderful.  Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Kim at Affairs of Living.  Be sure to check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge for September site for lots of other healthy recipe submissions by other bloggers.

    This is a naturally gluten-free treat that Don and I have enjoyed over the years. It began as apple pie with crust, canned pie-sliced apples, and lots of sugar, raisins, and cinnamon. The recipe morphed into baked apples after we received a set of individual ceramic baking dishes and decided that as a regular dessert it was better not to have all of that crust.
    After a while those convenient water-packed pie–sliced apples were no longer available so we alternated between baked apples from scratch or baked apples from pie filling enhanced with raisins and more cinnamon. The high-fructose-corn-syrup in pie filing always tasted like glue to me so I only ate baked apples when we used fresh apples.
    We began to experiment with the current recipe about ten years ago – while we were still living in the country. It was there that we settled on this mix of fresh, partially peeled apples, no-cal sweetener (I really was sneaky about the switchover), plenty of cinnamon, good vanilla to enhance the fruit flavor, and raisins. I always liked raisins. But no one I’ve ever known likes them as much as Don. His motto is ‘too many raisins is not enough’ – there is a song that goes something like that but it is not really about raisins.
    When we started using the microwave to cook in we switched from the ceramic bowls to inexpensive microwave-safe glass bowls so we prepare, bake, and serve all in the same easy-clean dishes.

Individual Baked Apple Desserts
1 apple per serving
1-2 tablespoons seedless raisins per serving
1 packet Truvia per serving (this is equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar)
Cinnamon to taste
About 6 drops of vanilla per serving

    Start with freshly washed and dried apples. Quarter, seed, and peel or not peel to your preference. I like a little more peeling and Don likes less. Cut each quarter into small bites and place a cut up apple in each microwavable serving dish.

A Quick and Easy Preparation

A Quick and Easy Preparation

    Add the raisins – here Don likes more and I like less. Then sprinkle the Truvia crystals over the fruit. Shake some cinnamon on top of the crystals and add the drops of vanilla. Stir to distribute then raisins and seasoning. Add some more cinnamon – almost always.
    Place the desserts in the microwave and set the timer for two minutes. Stir and cook for another minute. The apples will have started releasing juice and getting tender. The cinnamon, sweetener, vanilla, and apple juice are blending into a delectable coating for the apples and raisins. Microwave the mixture for one more minute. Remove the desserts to a rack and cover until somewhat cool. Right out of the microwave it will burn your tongue and that is not fun.

Baked and Ready to Serve

Baked and Ready to Serve

    This dessert is really good plain. The tart bites of apple with the sweet bits of raisin do not need embellishment. Top with a handful of chopped walnuts and you have breakfast.
    A tiny bit of fresh sweet cream, whipped cream, ice cream, full fat coconut milk, or a non-dairy frozen dessert makes an acceptable topping. One of those frozen-synthetic-low-fat-imitation-whipped-toppings is an insult to a good apple but if that is what rocks the boat for someone you love then you keep a tub of it in the freezer for them.
    Apples are in season and it is time to enjoy them!

Gretchen (Mom)

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Italian Orange and Almond Cake

    Sometimes it’s just destiny – a recipe appears on your radar from several directions in a very short time. It was a very unusual recipe. Simple ingredients, all of them already in the house, a very traditional recipe it seems, there was no flour in it, never had been, and first, you boil oranges – intriguing! It immediately went on the make-it-soon list.
    Fresh fruit is about to overwhelm me. When a season hits here, it hits hard enough to overwhelm. You can’t just pass up those bargains at the grocery – blueberries for 88 cents a carton? Between the strawberries, blueberries, and figs I was already making and freezing fruit puree so why not oranges? Except that I would use those oranges to bake this cake.
    Just to make sure I wasn’t heading up a blind alley I did an internet search on the ingredients and came up with several variations on the same basic recipe. Here is the way it worked out and even as I write about it my taste testers are confirming that it is a winner.
    One very curious note though. Does anyone remember a couple of years ago when Starbuck’s introduced their gluten-free orange cupcake nationwide? And then within months it disappeared never to be mentioned again? This cake tastes something like that, cake with a definite orange tang, only WAY better.

Italian Orange and Almond Cake
Ingredients:
2 oranges (about 12 ounces – oranges vary greatly in size)
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar (I used Lakanto, sugarless & no-cal, no-carb)
3 cups ground almonds (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp baking powder

Oil, spray and/or parchment to keep things from sticking

Prepare the oranges:
   This process takes several hours so I ended up doing it two days before putting together the cake. Wash the oranges really well. Place them in a pot and add enough water to cover them (but they will then float). Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a gentle simmer, put a lid on the pot, and set the timer for two hours. One of my oranges split but the other one did not.
   After two hours drain the water off the oranges and set the pot with the oranges aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle cut the peeling off across the top and bottom. Cut the oranges into about eight sections and remove any seeds. Also remove the white string down the center. The oranges are really mushy. Toss all of the orange pieces into the jar of your blender. Process briefly on ‘puree’ – it becomes smooth very quickly. The puree is now complete so either begin the cake or store the puree, covered, in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Prepare the cake:
   Set the eggs (and puree) on the counter to lose the refrigerator chill. If the almond meal has been frozen to keep it fresh (a really good idea) then set it out as well – it is horribly clumpy when frozen but un-clumps very nicely when defrosted. Choose your sweetener. You need the equivalent sweetness of one cup of sugar.
   Measure the almond meal into a prep bowl, whisk in the baking powder, and set aside. Separate the eggs and place the yolks in the larger bowl where you will mix the batter while the whites go into a smaller bowl.
   Prepare your pan(s). This recipe fits an 8” or 9” springform pan. I used the batter to fill a variety of smaller pans and silicone cupcake forms. Even with non-stick pans and oil spray some cake parts stuck. Next time I will also use parchment paper. The cupcake forms actually did the best. However, wait until the cake(s) have completely cooled before trying to pull them out. This is not a quick, in-a-hurry recipe. Set your oven to 350*F.
   Beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until the yolks turn a slightly lighter shade of yellow. I added 6 drops of liquid stevia just to be sure that by using the no-cal stuff the cake would still come across sweet enough. Add the orange puree and continue beating. Add in the almond meal mixture and beat until completely incorporated. You may need a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
   Rinse off the beaters and use the mixer to whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the whites to the almond batter and combine gently but completely – no stray bits of egg white!
   I used a large (50 ml) ice cream scoop to measure batter into the cupcake forms. A ripple-edged tart pan received about 1 1/2 inches of batter. And a 5 inch springform pan held the remainder.
The cupcakes and tart pan were both done in 30 minutes. The spring form pan held a thicker layer of batter so it baked for 45 minutes total. The cakes should be toasty brown on top.
   This cake is very moist and tasty. It does not require embellishment. However, these were several nice serving suggestions from various sources.
1) Sprinkle with powdered sugar
2) Brush with honey or syrup and garnish with toasted, sliced almonds
3) Top with plain whipped cream and garnish with dark chocolate shavings
4) Add poppy seeds to the batter; then serve with sour cream

Only a Few Cupcakes Remain

Only a Few Cupcakes Remain

    You would think that with Don being such an avid fan of Italian food that I would have come across this recipe long ago. Now I’m wondering how it would translate for my egg-allergic friends.

    When I stopped by The Caring Place and shared some of the cupcakes we had a discussion about how much the Lakanto costs. It certainly is a superior no-cal sweetener for baking but it works out to somewhere around $20 a pound including shipping charges.  And although it is a staple at our house I rationalize the expense by using it sparingly throughout the year. Treats are treats and not our daily bread. Instead I feed my notorious sweet tooth with a variety of densely nutritious carbohydrate foods to keep it under control.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Sweet Potato Pie ‘Cheesecake’

    After the inglorious wrestling match last week with the almond ‘feta cheese’, and BTW, the result was pretty tasty – it was just the blistered thumbs that haunted me. The ‘cheese’ did have a very strong almond flavor that seemed to diminish after a couple of days. But it was tangy and tasty enough that I bought more almonds. While putting them away I noticed that the previous almonds were smaller, dark, and dry looking. This new purchase is light-colored and fatter.  The ‘cheese’ is definitely worth another try. 

   Dreams of a rich nut-based pumpkin pie have been swirling in my head. In the meantime I had raw cashews and sweet potatoes on hand. Well, why not? I soaked the cashews for a good long time and loved the fact that they come without skins! Also I have an adorable 5-inch springform pan that was in need of a good recipe. It worked out very well. But as you can tell from the ingredients that although everything is on the ‘healthy, good for you list’, this is a pretty rich dessert. I plan to try it again using eight small individual-serving-size ceramic ramekins. I picture those topped with a spoonful of chopped nuts that are glazed with a tiny bit of agave and cinnamon. 

   When using sweet potatoes as a baking ingredient a soft smooth puree works best for these recipes. I achieve this by boiling a few whole, well-scrubbed sweet potatoes until a knife slides in easily. I pour off the water (sometimes saving this orange colored liquid in a jar for other uses) and leave the potatoes to cool in the pot with the lid on. That way they steam in the residual heat. When they are cool they go through a ricer, sometimes called a food press, the kind used for making your own baby food. And sometimes they wait in the refrigerator overnight before being pureed. 

   The ingredients that are noted ‘slightly warm’ were passed briefly through the microwave. You want them to blend and almost melt together. 

Sweet Potato Pie ‘Cheesecake’ Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 24 hours (1 1/3 cups expanded)
2 Tbsp agave syrup
1 tsp pure Mexican vanilla
2 Tbsp coconut oil, slightly warm
2/3 cup sweet potato puree, slightly warm
16 drops liquid stevia sweetener
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot starch 

Grease your baking pan/ramkins with coconut oil. The ‘batter’ is prepared in a blender. 

Drain the water from the cashews. If they have been refrigerated then warm them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Dump them into the blender jar. Add the agave syrup and the vanilla. Start the blender and begin to break down the cashews, pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed. 

When the nuts are in very small pieces then add the warm coconut oil, sweet potato puree, stevia, and sea salt. Dial up the blender speed and begin to puree the mixture; again pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed. 

Finally add the allspice and tapioca starch to the blender jar and finish pureeing for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth, thick, and fluffy. Pour and scrape the mixture into your baking pan. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon. 

A 5-inch Springform Pan

A 5-inch Springform Pan

 

Turn the oven temperature to 350*F (180C) and place the pan in the oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes. The air in the batter will expand and the mixture will rise somewhat during baking similar to a standard cheesecake. The dessert will be cooked when a very thin knife slips easily in and comes out clean. If there is wet, uncooked mixture on the knife then put it back for about 10 more minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave it in the oven to cool for an hour. Remove from the oven. When the pan is no longer warm you may place it in the refrigerator to chill. 

It Really Looks Like a 'Cheesecake'!!

It Really Looks Like a 'Cheesecake'!!

 

It unmolded neatly onto a plate just like you would expect from a cheesecake. How sweet is that? 

Mom

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Coconut Milk Panna Cotta

Those Neglected Bananas
   Those four-week-old over-ripe bananas finally were rescued. I love bananas but Don does not. Consequently it took me awhile to get around to preparing a recipe that could not go into the freezer to be used up gradually.

Those Poor Neglected Bananas

Those Poor Neglected Bananas

   I had been dreaming about trying something like this but now it was time to buckle up and go for it. Unflavored gelatin, a can of coconut milk, Mexican vanilla, stevia, and those four bananas went through the blender. The creamy result was poured in a mold and put in the refrigerator to set up. The liquid tasted a bit astringent – bananas and coconut milk each have a bit of that quality. By the time we returned from the fitness center it had set up and was ready to unmold. The astringent quality had mellowed.
   By the next morning (Panna Cotta for breakfast is like having ice cream for breakfast – decadent but still healthy enough) the astringency had mellowed even more. But then I thought I noticed the bananas in the panna cotta were causing it to darken and change color as if the bananas were continuing to ripen even more!
   Never-the-less it is still retains a good flavor – but I’m thinking along these lines:
1) Plan ahead – if it is made with bananas then you really need at least six or more people on hand to share it with.
2) Or, make it with apples – sautéed with a bit of coconut oil, sweetener, and cinnamon so that there is about 1 1/3 (a bit more or less) cups of apple to pulse in the blender. I’m going to try it this coming weekend when we have another cold front coming through (the kitchen will be a warm, cinnamon-scented refuge). My beloved husband loves apples so I can depend on him help me evaluate an apple version.

Banana Coconut Panna Cotta

Banana Coconut Panna Cotta

Ingredients:
4 very ripe bananas, peeled (or about 1 1/3 cups prepared fruit of your choice)
2 packets gelatin (I have agar but haven’t played with it yet to make it totally vegan)
1/4 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Do this first:
Assemble and plug in the blender. Place the prepared fruit into the container. If you plan to use a mold you need one that will hold 3 cups of liquid and give it a very thin coat of Pam or coconut oil to help the panna cotta to unmold. You will still need to dip the mold in hot water for it to release neatly onto your serving plate.

Prepare the gelatin mixture:
Add the water to a small stainless steel saucepan. Sprinkle on the gelatin and add in the vanilla. Allow the gelatin to absorb the liquids and swell up. Then place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on very low. Slowly melt the gelatin. Pick up the pan occasionally and tilt to move the grainy bits around so they will melt more evenly. When all of the mixture is nearly melted use a metal spoon to gently pull any remaining unmelted grains out from the edges into the center of the pan (this IS tedious but essential). The gelatin must be completely melted before it will blend with the remaining ingredients. Unmelted gelatin will not congeal and the panna cotta will not ‘set’.

When the gelatin is entirely melted then quickly pour in the entire can of coconut milk, set down the can and stir the mixture to distribute the gelatin throughout the coconut milk. Scrap any remaining milk and solids from the can into the pan. Turn off the heat but leave it set for a few minutes.

Turn on the blender and pulse gently to puree the fruit. It doesn’t take but a few moments. Too much will oxidize the fruit, turn it brown, and degrade the flavor. Pour the warm mixture from the pan into the blender jar with the fruit. There should be about 3 cups of liquid altogether. Blend the mixture for about 30 seconds before pouring into a bowl or prepared mold. Chill for several hours until it is completely set.

Mom

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Pumpkin Pudding

   My nutrition professor often emphasized that very small children should eat simple nourishing foods and that they do not have the capacity for concentrated sweets and high calorie fatty foods simply because their total daily calorie needs are so small. The concentrated foods displace the necessary foods that children need for optimal growth and health. When Rita was small and as her siblings joined us those were the tenants of meal planning that I followed for our family.
   We moved quite often when they were young due to the nature of employment and shelf stable foods became important. During this time I created a simple nourishing pudding recipe from canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, plain gelatin, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It became quite popular with many family members and it was included in the family recipe book that was published in 1993.
   Every year during this holiday season it has been a tradition to make a batch of pumpkin pudding for my younger brother. He has a family of his own now so I make a double batch that is enough for them to share. So in preparation for my sibling reunion this past weekend I made pudding for Jon. Here is the recipe in all its gluten-free glory.        

Pumpkin Pudding

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon (1 packet) plain gelatin *

1 15-16 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar *
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated milk *

Fair warning: Gelatin is tricky so go slowly and follow these steps in the order written.

1. Put the water in the bottom of a 1-quart saucepan. Sprinkle the dry gelatin granules over the water and try to distribute so that there are no dry patches remaining. Give it 2-3 minutes to ‘soften’.
2. Turn the heat on low to medium-low and gently melt the mixture until it looks like clear glue. Stay with it here – gelatin plus too much heat rapidly deteriorates.
3. Stir the pumpkin puree into the gelatin mixing it thoroughly and keeping the heat low. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon and keep stirring. (Don’t forget the cinnamon – if you add it with the milk it will lump and not mix properly 😉 ).
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the evaporated milk stirring to mix well.
5. Pour into a serving bowl. Chill until firm and cover after it sets up (it sweats and drips onto the pudding if you cover it first).

* Knox is the brand of gelatin and I much prefer Carnation evaporated milk (my personal taste). It tastes wonderful made with coconut milk as well (the full fat version, not lite) For the sugar you need to consider your audience. Small taste buds may not care yet for brown sugar whereas adults like the dark brown. The middle-of-the- road light brown sugar is a good choice when you are not sure. We have also made sugar-free on occasions with various substitutes.

Mom

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