Double Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

Its one of those intensely craving kind of nights…. You know the kind, when the things you want, you REALLY want?  When you want things just so.  And finding whatever it is that will hit the spot just feels so so good.

Tonight was one of those nights.  And these cookies are perfect for times such as these.  Oh, and, they’re free of grains, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar.

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Double Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies (adapted from this recipe)

2 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/4 cup coconut palm syrup (honey also works)
1 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together almond meal, cacao, salt, and soda.  Set aside.

Cream coconut oil, palm syrup, and vanilla in a stand mixer until smooth.

Combine wet and dry.  Fold in chocolate chunks.  Scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet by tablespoons.  Sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Bake for 7-10 minutes.

Enjoy ❤

 

 

 

Grain-free & Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

grain-free & vegan chocolate chip cookies

grain-free & vegan chocolate chip cookies

I love eggs.  So much.  There was a time when I had 6 quirky little chickens roaming around my backyard… Every single morning I was so grateful for the rich yellow-orange yolk of those fresh eggs.  I spoiled my chickens with delicious kitchen scraps and they spoiled me with fresh-as-fresh-can-be, nourishing eggs.

Eggs are a gluten-free baker’s best friend, in my mind.  They add so much to a cake or muffin, I wouldn’t want to leave them out.  But, as with many other common allergens, there are folks who can’t eat these beauties…or who choose not to.

Just as many people think that being “gluten-free” means a baked good is somehow doomed to be less-delicious, lots of people have the same bias against vegan treats.  But its not true!  There is no need to settle for less than amazing sweet treats, whatever your dietary needs or choices.

This recipe is a crowd-pleaser.  The gluten-free folks, the grain-free friends, the paleo crowd, and even the vegans can all come together and enjoy a plate of these.  And the recipe is so simple.  Simple and pure, with only real, whole foods ingredients.

Enjoy.  And share!

Grain-free & Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups almond meal or flour (grind your own, its easy!)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut palm syrup (or honey, if you prefer)
chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.  Using a mixer, beat coconut oil, extract, and sweetener until fluffy and well-combined.  Add dry mixture and stir to combine.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop or spoon rounded tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.  If the dough is too sticky, chill it for a few minutes and try again.  Be sure to leave a couple inches between cookies, as they will spread.

For best results, chill the cookies on the sheet pan for 20-30 minutes (you can skip this step if you want, but the cookies will spread more).  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cookies will continue to firm up as they cool.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen, depending on size

 

Sunday Mornings & Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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There’s something magical about Sunday mornings…

Most of the time, I pop out of bed and get moving;  I love to start the day with exercise.  But there’s something about Sundays that makes me wanna bake.  Taking the time to bake a fresh batch of deliciousness before getting swept into the busyness of the day is one of those little luxuries that I cherish about Sundays.

I’ve been kinda sick…. and it has forced me to slow my (usual super-speed) pace.  I noticed this morning how clearing my calendar and relaxing into the calm of an unplanned day really creates space, and what a gift that is!  So, on this sunny Sunday morning, I took full advantage of this time and space…. and a bunch of browning bananas on the counter….and baked a batch of date-sweetened, gluten-and-dairy-free chocolate chip banana muffins.  

Happy Sunday.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup arrowroot
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
4 1/2 oz date paste
3 Tbs melted coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk the dry ingredients together, breaking up any lumps, and set aside.
2. In a high powered blender, combine the eggs, bananas, date paste, oil, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Blend until smooth and creamy.
3. Combine wet with dry and mix until incorporated.  If using, fold in chocolate chips.
4. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins

Moon Market: Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, but this is even more true around the holidays.  For one thing, there are a lot of birthdays in my family this time of year.  I also get invited to a lot of potlucks and holiday parties.  And, I tend to bake and make many of the holiday gifts that I give.  On top of all of that, this past Friday, I brought my goods to a local craft market, the Moon Market.

The Moon Market is a recurring small scale market that spotlights small local and artisan businesses.  This particular event had a variety of interesting vendors, selling everything from body products and salves to hand made journals, herbal sodas and vintage clothing.  And I was right there, along with the rest, selling Dark Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies.

whoopie pies

My friend and fellow chef, Jen Dobbins, and I spent many nights in the kitchen perfecting this sweet holiday treat: pepperminty cashew cream sandwiched between soft thick chocolate cookies with the texture of cake.

We put out samples of our creation for everyone to try and made many new friends in the process.  I found myself saying, over and over, all night: yes, they are gluten-free.  Yes, they are dairy-free.  No, I never use cane sugar.  And yes, they are moist.  And yes, they are organic.  Dates.  I sweetened them with dates.  Whole dates.

Its so satisfying to see eyes light up and smiles widen with enjoyment.  Keep it up folks.  Its why I do what I do.

moon maket me & jen

 

 

What do you bake for a masterful cake-maker’s birthday?

Simple: a towering 6 layer grain-free chocolate cake with freshly whipped cream spilling out of the layers, slathered in rich dark chocolate sea salt frosting and sprinkled with shaved chocolate.

That’s what you’d do, right? I thought so.

My bestie, partner-in-crime, and fellow caker (a cake-baker, for those who haven’t read my previous posts about Sarah and my adventures) just celebrated a birthday.  And to commemorate her special day and to let her know just how much I love and adore her…. I baked her this cake.

Well, really, its kind of 3 cakes in one.  Or at least 3 layers, each one split, measured, marked at the mid-point with toothpicks, and tenderly sawed in half with a very large knife.  I put one layer on a cake round, slathered it with whipped cream, added another layer, slathered that with whipped cream, added another layer……. (you get where this is going….)

Once the tower was assembled, I began spreading the dark chocolate sea salt frosting over the top and sides, spinning the cake on a rotating stand as I went.  I occasionally dipped my offset spatula in hot water to make the surface of the frosting smooth and soft…. all this in preparation for the ultimate garnish.

I used a large 8 inch chef knife to shave tendrils of dark chocolate, being careful not to break or slice the bar as I scraped.  The goal is to make large curls, though having some broken fragments adds interesting texture.  Holding the cake in one hand, I gingerly sprinkled the shavings on the sides and over the top of the chocolate cake tower.

For Sarah’s big day, a bunch of us friends joined her for dinner at a delicious local restaurant.  After the meal, we headed back to her house where the cake was secretly waiting, perched atop a shiny cake stand and adorned with candles.

 

Happiest Birthday to you, Sarah.  I adore you.

Grain-Free Chocolate Cake

1 1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cacao
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
15 eggs
1 1/2 cup liquid oil (I use tea seed, but you could also use almond or whatever other liquid oil you like)
3 cups maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbs vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line 3 nine inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
2. Sift together the coconut flour, cacao, salt, and soda.  Set aside.
3. Add eggs, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer (a hand mixer will work, just use a large bowl). Beat the wet ingredients until combined, then add the dry mixture.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until well incorporated and no lumps remain.  The batter is quite liquidy.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake until the center bounces back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Frosting

8 oz dark chocolate (70% or higher), finely chopped
3/4 cup creme fraiche (sour cream also works)
1/4 tsp sea salt

1. Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.
2. Remove from heat and stir in creme fraiche and salt.
3. Allow to cool at room temperature until desired consistency is achieved.
Note: Sometimes I mix in some whipped cream to lighten the frosting.

It’s Pie Time!

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freshly baked pie in a cast iron pan

It’s pie time!  But then again, when is it not pie time?  I mean, really?  One of the most lovable things about pie is how versatile it is… Sweet pies filled with the season’s best fruit, creamy custards, or fluffy meringue.  Savory pot pies, quiches, and meat pies.  The variations are endless.  And to me, pie is comfort food.  Pie is love.  Pie is the perfect indulgence, all wrapped up and baked in a flaky delicious crust.

Who doesn’t love a good pie crust?  Everyone and their grandmother claims to have “the best” pie crust recipe, that magic formula for tender, flaky, buttery magic.  I’m here to tell you that there is no single answer…. but there certainly are some tricks.  I’ve made a multitude of pie crusts in my day and whether you are making a vegan crust, a whole wheat crust, or (my fav) a gluten-free crust, there are some basic tips and tricks to keep in mind.

In fact, I recently did an interview (yes, another one!) with An Organic Conversation, a radio show focused on current food and agricultural topics, as well as issues of sustainability and healthy living.  Last time I had the pleasure of being on their show, we talked about alternative baking (Flour, Sugar, Fat: Holisitc Baking Alternatives).  This time, we spent the whole interview talking about PIE!  The show, “The Life of Pie: Baking a Slice of Joy,” airs this Saturday 11/3/12 at 10 am on 960 AM in San Francisco, or you can catch it on iTunes Tuesday 11/6/12.  For more details, visit An Organic Conversation online.

During the interview, we talked about the importance of using ice cold ingredients: freezing diced cubes of butter and icing liquids will yield a better crust.  The goal is to keep the fat as cold (and solid) as possible so that it gets coated in flour and melts in the oven, leaving behind little pockets which make an incredibly flaky crust.

I also shared my favorite gluten-free pie crust secret: using egg to bind.  No more crumbly crust that won’t hold up to slicing and serving!  Adding an egg to the crust lends a rich flavor and holds the crust together perfectly.  For a vegan alternative, try using a mixture of psyllium and flax seeds, ground and mixed with some hot water to make a gelatinous goo that’s sure to hold your crust together.

From egg washes to blind-baking to stories of my most experimental pie creations, the interview is full of useful and entertaining tidbits, all about pie. Check it out!  And while you’re at it, give this delicious holiday recipe a go….  Its my all-time favorite pie: Sweet Potato Pie with Whipped Cream.

Happy pie-making!

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pie
Recipe by Kasey Caletti

Pie Crust

6 Tablespoons salted butter
1 Tablespoon iced water, more as needed
1 Tablespoon palm sugar, finely ground
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
3 Tablespoons tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons orange juice

Pie Filling
2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup palm sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon arrowroot
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, plus 1 egg white for glaze
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice
Topping
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prick the sweet potatoes a few times with a fork and place on a sheet pan. Roast for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from skins, mash, and set aside. Reduce heat in oven to 350 F.
2. Cut butter into small pieces and place in the freezer to chill. Ice 3 Tablespoons of water. Butter a 9 inch pie dish and dust with brown rice flour.
3. Finely grind 1 Tablespoon of palm sugar in a spice grinder. Whisk together the ground palm sugar, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Using 2 knives or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the pieces are pea-sized or smaller. Alternatively, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor.
4. Combine the egg with the orange juice, and use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the dry mixture. If dough will not stick together when pinched, add 1 Tablespoon of iced water and try again. Continue adding iced water, 1 tsp at a time, until dough holds together when pinched. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball.
5. Transfer dough onto parchment and, using a second sheet of parchment on top, form into a 1 inch thick disk.
5. Using a rolling pin, carefully roll out dough until it is 1 inch larger than the edges of the inverted pie dish. If the edges are crumbly, simply push them back together using your fingers.
6. Peel off the top layer of parchment and invert over the pie dish. Push the dough into the corners and shape with your fingers. Fold any excess edges over and crimp with your fingers or a fork.
7. Blind bake the pie crust for 10 minutes at 350 F.
8. To make pie filling, combine the remaining pie filling ingredients with 1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potato in a food processor. Puree until smooth.
4. Brush the edges of the pie crust with the egg white using a pastry brush. Pour filling into the pie crust and bake at 350 F for 50 minutes, or until the filling is set.
5. Whip cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla until soft peaks form. Serve on top or alongside the pie.

Yield: one 9 inch pie

Pumpkin Season Has Arrived!

Pumpkin

Pumpkin (Photo credit: Lady_Fox)

Strolling through the farmers’ market, its clear that the seasons are shifting.  Right next to baskets of heirloom tomatoes and bunches of basil lean oblong butternut squash and squat persimmons.  Its a lot like the best of both worlds.  But as the temperature drops and the rains begin, I’m ready to fire up the oven and start playing with my favorite fall ingredient: pumpkin.

This past weekend, a fellow chef and friend, Maggie (of Pachamama Cookery), threw a fall-themed party.  It was a wholesome gathering of friends, all centered around the seasons’ best: carving Jack O Lanterns  bobbing for apples, and of course a pumpkin-themed cooking contest.  I am fortunate to have a pretty amazing and talented group of foodie friends, so the entries were varied and delicious.  There was a gluten-free butternut and pumpkin lasagna (made by Slam, the mastermind chef behind Apothocurious), dairy-free pumpkin ice cream made by our host Maggie, pumpkin and black bean pupusas, pumpkin bread…. So much good stuff! 

The best part about pumpkin, for me, is how versatile an ingredient it is.  It sits the line between sweet and savory, able to go either direction with the gentlest of nudges.  It is moist and hearty, lending itself perfectly to gluten-free baking.  I love to pair it with cinnamon and nutmeg, for a classic fall combination, but it also shines with savory herbs such as sage.  Pumpkin stars in curries, pies, fritters, pancakes, salads, gratin, and so much more…

The categories for the contest were Savory, Sweet, and Most Creative Use of Pumpkin.  I mulled it over for days, going back and forth about which angle to take: do I go for the classic and make a gluten-free pumpkin pie?  Do I make a salad with french lentils, crumbled cheese, cumin and smokey paprika?  Or how about gratin, layered with cashew cheese and fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs?  Or custard?  Or gluten-free pumpkin bread pudding?  In the end, I decided on pizza. That’s right: pumpkin pizza.  More specifically a gluten-free pizza with a pumpkin, sage, and white wine sauce topped with Italian sausage, wild arugula, goat cheese, and shaved Parmesan.

I made a vegan and gluten-free crust, using psyllium husk and flax seeds to bind.  I tossed some minced sage into the dough, rolled it out, and crisped it in a hot oven.  Meanwhile, I made a pumpkin, white wine, and sage sauce.  I browned some Italian sausage in a skillet, then used the fat to saute some diced white onion.  I threw in some minced sage, garlic, and a pinch of salt, then deglazed with white wine.  I let that cook until the wine had reduced by half, then added some chicken stock and pureed roasted pumpkin.  Another pinch of salt, then I let the sauce simmer until it thickened.  At the end, I gave the sauce a good drizzle of olive oil and another pinch of salt.

I slathered the crust with the pumpkin sauce, sprinkled on the crumbled sausage, then dolloped soft goat cheese on top.  I baked the pizza for about 15 minutes, then made a tangled nest of wild arugula on top.  Lastly, I used a vegetable peeler to shave long slices of Parmesan cheese as a finishing touch.  In the end, my goal was to represent a balanced yet contrasting palate of flavors and textures: sweet and moist pumpkin, crunchy herbed crust, peppery and fresh arugula, savory and spicy sausage, creamy goat cheese, and a punch of Parmesan to boot!

The nerve-racking part was that I couldn’t taste my creation before I presented it…. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is definitely an element of surrender involved in cooking and especially in baking.  Sometimes, you just put it in the oven and let go, hoping (and trusting) that it all works out.

Well, needless to say it did.  There were a few skeptics when I walked in with a pumpkin pizza… but in the end, the pizza was happily devoured by my friends.  I returned home that night with an empty pan and a prize!

The take-away lesson: sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration, a few good ingredients, and the willingness to go out on a limb.  The pizza crust recipe is included below.  As for the rest of it, I didn’t work from a recipe, so there isn’t one included….but I have complete confidence that you can come up with something incredible on your own.   Make something delicious and tell me about it in the comments!

Gluten-Free Vegan (and yeast-free) Herbed Pizza Crust

1 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 Tbs whole psyllium husks
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
3/4 cup sorghum or millet flour (I used sorghum)
1/2 cup arrowroot
1 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp palm sugar (or unrefined cane sugar, if you prefer)
3/4 tsp sea salt
fresh or dried herbs, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flax seeds, psyllium husks, boiling water, and olive oil. Let sit for 5 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, baking powder, palm sugar, and salt.  If you like, toss in some fresh or dried herbs.

4. Once the flax mixture has rested, whisk for 30 seconds. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until a dough forms. Add more water 1 tsp at a time if necessary. Shape dough into a ball and lay on a piece of parchment paper. Cover with another piece of parchment and roll into a thin crust, about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Remove from oven, add toppings and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Yield: one 10 inch crust

Crust recipe inspired by “The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part One” by Brittany Angell and Iris Higgins

Priorities. And marshmallows.

Periodically, I check in with my calendar and make sure that my schedule reflects my priorities.  How am I spending my time? Who am I spending it with?  What portion of my day is dedicated to pleasure?  Self care? Working toward my goals?  Someone once said to me, “how you spend your days is how you live your life”.  I really took that to heart, in a profound way.

I live in the urban jungle, but I make it a priority to escape to the woods, the rivers, the beaches, and the mountains as much as possible.  Sometimes, its as simple as a dog walk  by the bay or a trail run in the woods.  As often as possible, I plan camping and backpacking trips where I can sleep under the stars.

Camping is one of my favorite pastimes.  Fresh air, simplicity, gorgeous scenery, good friends, sleeping under the stars, waking up with the sun, that first cup of tea… and epic campsite cooking.  You didn’t pin me for one of those canned soup kind of campers, did you?

My friends are so trusting and flexible; they always let me plan the meals and seem to enjoy my eagerness about it.  This  year, for my dear friend Kelly’s birthday trip, we feasted on grain-free biscuits, veggie omelets with curried eggs,  garlic and chili crusted pork chops with sweet peppers, farmers market salads with fresh herbs…. and bacon, lots of bacon.  And, I decided to veer from my usual birthday caking adventures and make…birthday s’mores.

And these were no ordinary s’mores (of course).  Nothing but the absolute best, most delicious, completely over-the-top and unique s’mores would do for Ms. Kelly Lou.  The final product: grain and dairy-free bacon almond biscuits with Coracao chocolate chunks, slathered with raspberry jam, topped with melted homemade marshmallows roasted on rosemary skewers over an open fire.  Wow.

Here’s how it all began…

I’ve been a bit obsessed with gelatin these days.  Its an incredible and health-supportive ingredient that I’ve just recently rekindled a love affair with.  A good source of protein and supportive of joint health (amongst other qualities), gelatin from good sources is a real addition to a natural foods pantry.  It makes great jam and… marshmallows.

If you’re like me, you haven’t eaten one of those puffy white blobs from the plastic bag at the liquor store in a while.  Or maybe you have, but you wished there had been another option.  Well I’m here to tell you that there is!  You can make your own marshmallows at home, easily, and they taste soooooooo good.  You will never go back.  Promise.

In preparation for the marshmallows, I lined an 8×8 pan with parchment paper (in both directions, leaving some overlap hanging over the edges to use later as a handle) and greased it with coconut oil.  I toasted some shredded coconut on the stovetop and sprinkled it along the bottom of the pan.  This step is optional: you can also dust the pan with cocao, chai spices, chopped nuts…anything your heart desires.  This will be the topping for your mallows.  Alternatively, if you like to keep it plain and simple, you can skip this step.  Set the pan aside for later.

Next, I dissolved the gelatin in water in the bowl of my stand mixer.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, just dissolve the gelatin in a medium-sized bowl.

Set that aside and add maple syrup, more water, vanilla extract, and sea salt to a saucepan.  I used fleur de sel, because I love the flavor.  You can use any salt that you like and I encourage you to play around (I bet smoked salt would be incredible).

Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 220 F.  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, some meat thermometers measure temperatures that high.  When you’ve reached 220F (known as the “soft ball” stage to candy-makers), remove the pan from heat.

Turn your stand mixer on to low speed and gradually add the hot syrup.  Then increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks have formed, about 10 minutes.  To test if you have achieved stiff peaks, stop the mixer and tilt the whish back.  If the marshmallow cream stands up on its own, it is done (its okay if the peaks flop over at the top).

Pour this creamy goodness into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Marshmallows will continue to firm up as they cool.  I like to refrigerate mine for at least 30 minutes so they aren’t sticky…. but if you can’t wait and don’t mind a sticky mallow, jump right in!

These marshmallows are great eaten on their own, made into s’mores, chopped up and tossed into a batch of homemade rocky road ice cream, or (my favorite) wrapped in bacon.  How will you eat them?  Leave a comment and let me know…

At the end of the camping trip, sun-kissed and smiling, I knew that once again I had succeeded in matching my life to my priorities: celebrating my loved ones, feasting, and spending rejuvenating time outdoors.

Enjoy the marshmallows!

Alternative Marshmallows

1 Tbs coconut oil, for greasing pan
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (optional)
3 Tbs high-quality beef gelatin
1 cup filtered water, divided
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

1. Grease an 8×8 (for thick marshmallows) or larger (for thinner marshmallows) pan with coconut oil and line with parchment paper in both directions, leaving some overhang to use when removing finished marshmallows. Sprinkle the shredded coconut (if using) evenly on the bottom.  Set aside.

2. Add the gelatin and 1/2 cup of water to the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to soften.

3. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of water into a saucepan along with the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Using a candy thermometer to check the temperature, boil the mixture until it reaches 240 F, about 7-8 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from heat.

4. With the stand mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot mixture into the bowl, combining it with the softened gelatin. Turn the mixer to high and beat the mixture until it becomes thick and forms peaks, about 10 minutes.

5. Turn off the mixer and transfer the thickened mixture to the prepared pan.  If desired, smooth the top with greased hands or parchment paper.

6. For the best texture, chill overnight before cutting.  Marshmallows can be served after 30 minutes at room temperature, but they will be stickier.

Yield: 8 x 8 pan

Adapted from a recipe on The Urban Poser blog 

Jamming: Blueberry Apricot Thyme

I bake a lot of cakes.  Mostly with my partner-in-crime and favorite baking buddy, Sarah.  And in talking about baking cakes, somewhere along the way, “cake baking” got shortened to “caking”.  It happened, accidentally, and it stuck.

As I’ve been testing new recipes for a class I’m writing on Canning and Preserving for work (yes, I get to test recipes at “work”…), I’ve come to lovingly refer to the process as “jamming”.

As the months have passed and seasons shifted, I’ve been jamming with all different types of produce: kumquats, kiwis, pears, blood oranges… then on to strawberries, rhubarb, cherries, peaches and finally… blueberries and apricots.  Spices and fresh herbs have speckled the mixtures, from cinnamon and clove to vanilla beans to sage and now thyme.  I’ve played with all kinds of thickeners, from agar to arrowroot, chia seeds to gelatin.

My most recent concoction is blueberry apricot thyme jam made with real, honest to goodness, pure, health-supportive gelatin.  I won’t go into the health benefits of eating gelatin in this post, but you can find out more from the Weston A Price Foundation (this article in particular).  And you can purchase top quality gelatin here.

This recipe is incredibly easy and adaptable: try peaches with sage, or strawberries with tarragon….  If you come up with a version of your own, let me know! 

Blueberry Apricot Thyme Gelatin Jam
1 tsp gelatin
1/2 cup water, divided
1/2 lbs blueberries
1/4 lbs apricots, pitted and diced
1 tsp thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup honey
3/4 Tbs lemon juice, to taste

1. Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 cup of the water. Set aside.
2. Add remaining ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, mashing the fruit as it cooks, about 5 minutes.
3. When it reaches a boil, add the dissolved gelatin and mix well. Remove from heat.
4. Pour jam into a clean glass pint jar and allow to cool. Place in fridge overnight to solidify.

Yield: 1 pint

Recipe by Kasey Caletti

Bone Marrow Pudding (also known as my new favorite thing)

I know how it sounds…. and I was skeptical, too, at first.  But, I’m pretty adventurous in the kitchen (hence the name of this blog…) so I decided to give this recipe a whirl.  And I’m so glad that I did.

As some of you know, I write curriculum and develop recipes for the Bauman College Natural Chef Program.  I’ve been working on updating for our Health-Supportive Desserts class and developing truly therapeutic dessert recipes (tough job, I know).  I came across this recipe on the Nourished Kitchen blog, though the original recipe is by a blogger known as Mommypotamus.  I’ve made a few small tweaks and included the recipe below.

I won’t repeat all of the amazing health benefits of bone marrow (check out this Weston A Price Foundation article for more info), but I will tell you that this pudding tastes like a sweet, creamy bite of heaven.  And after eating it, I felt incredibly energized and satisfied.

It all started with a trip to The Local Butcher Shop, one of my favorite places.  The folks who run this shop are incredibly knowledgeable and source whole animals from within 150 miles of the shop.  Its a top quality, pasture-raised, snout-to-tail kinda place…my kinda place indeed.  When I walked in asking for marrow bones, the butcher literally went in the back and cut one for me.  I bought a large femur bone from a cow, about 2 lbs.  The butcher sliced the bone open, lengthwise, exposing the marrow and giving me easy access to the goodness.

Back in the kitchen, I preheated the oven to 450 F and placed the bones in a large glass baking dish (to catch the fat).  I roasted the bones for about 15 minutes, until browned and fragrant.  Then I scooped the marrow into a bowl and let it cool slightly.  I skimmed off the excess oil and saved it for another use.

In my blender, I added coconut milk, pasture-raised eggs, homemade vanilla extract, a little bit of local honey, and a pinch of sea salt.  When this was nice and smooth, I added the marrow (about 1/4 cup) and blended the whole thing to a creamy consistency.  At this point, I couldn’t help myself, I had to try it.  I was so curious!  And, since I know the farmer that raised the chickens, I wasn’t afraid of eating raw eggs.  The flavor was incredible!

I divided the custard between 6 small ramekins and baked it in a bain marie (water bath) in a 350 F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until set in the center.

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If you like, sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top for garnish.  Or add fresh fruit.  Either way, its going to be delicious.  Give it a try… and let me know what you think!

Sweet Vanilla Bone Marrow Custard

2 lbs beef marrow bones, ideally sliced lengthwise
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
cinnamon, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. If bones are sliced lengthwise, lay them flat in a glass baking dish. If not, place the bones vertically and remove upper oven rack. Roast bones for 15 minutes, or until browned and fragrant.

2. Meanwhile, heat about 1 1/2 quarts water to approximately 160 F.

3. Add egg, coconut milk, vanilla, honey and salt to a blender. Blend until smooth.

4. When the bones have finished roasting, turn oven down to 350 F. Carefully remove the marrow, with a spoon or butter knife, depending on how the bones are cut. Transfer the marrow to a small dish and skim off the excess oil. There should be about 1/4 cup of marrow.

5. Add the marrow to the blender and process until smooth and creamy. Divide evenly between 6 small ramekins and place in the roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the hot water until it reaches about half way up the sides.

6. Bake until custards are set in center and no longer giggle when tapped, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cinnamon to garnish.

Servings: 6

Original recipe by Mommypotamus on NourishedKitchen.com