Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Chocolate Torte


Valentine's Day is over but I wanted to share with you an awesome recipe for Valentine's Day or any day of the year that you want to woo and impress your loved one!  This is a delicious, rich and decadent flourless chocolate cake that your gluten-free friends and family will love!  It is simple to make and one of the best tasting desserts I have ever tried!  This recipe comes from my favorite cousin Julia who has given me a number of truly fantastic is one more!

7-9 oz. 50% cocoa semi-sweet chocolate bars (I used 70% cocoa organic dark chocolate candy bars)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar, divided in half
4 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt chocolate and butter on low heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar and 4 egg yolks, mixing well into melted chocolate.  Lightly beat egg whites and add in 1/2 cup sugar.  Beat on medium to high until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate and stir well until all combined.  Pour batter into a 8x8 greased pan or round cake pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  It is important to remember that this cake will not rise like a normal cake so don't worry when you remove it from the oven and it seems rather flat!
The Chocolate Torte Without Sauce

If you want to top your torte with raspberry sauce here is the recipe, if you can call something so easy a recipe!  Just take a small container of fresh raspberries and sweeten slightly with sugar or sweetener of choice.  Heat in a saucepan until a sauce is formed and spoon the sauce onto the cooled torte.  Voila!  A lovely and delicious dessert that will impress even the most critical guests!  Enjoy!

Fraulein's Favorite Pumpkin Doggy Biscuits

Does your dog have a sweet tooth?  Mine does.

Yes, Fraulein likes anything sweet and especially loves the flavor of pumpkin with cinnamon.  I hate giving her unhealthy snacks and have to admit that occasionally my dog (Fraulein) has the pleasure of licking a beater when I'm baking pumpkin or ginger bread.  I know, my bad!  Thankfully those days are over!  I found a recipe today that I couldn't follow exactly because it called for different types of gluten-free flour that I don't have, so I tweaked it using what I could find and the doggy biscuits are now in the oven, leaving my house filled with the scent of pumpkin bread reminiscent of  the holidays.  It's heavenly!

Here is my own recipe for Pumpkin Doggy Biscuits:
1 cup oat flour (I make my own by simply grinding whole oats in a coffee grinder for about 15 seconds)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour or any flour of your choice
1/4 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
1 cup pure pumpkin puree  (not the pie filling!)
1 egg or egg equivalent
1 tbsp. organic virgin olive oil or heart healthy oil of choice (coconut might be good...I might try it next time!)
2 tbsp. ground organic flax seed
dash of cinnamon and/or pumpkin pie spice (optional but great if your dog has a sweet tooth!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl combine the flours and ground flax seed.  Add in your optional spices if desired.  Add in the pumpkin puree, applesauce, egg and oil.  Mix until combined.  This is one treat you can allow your dogs to really enjoy!  Let your pet lick the beaters and the mixing bowl clean, after all it's made specially for them!

Now for the messy part!  Just try to channel your inner child for this task!  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly with your hand until you get a thickness of about 1/8 inch.  It's easier if you keep your hand just damp with warm water and have some patience!  Score into squares, or use cookie cutters for shapes, but do not remove the shapes.  This is just to score the shape to make it easier to break apart after baking.  Now, bake for 1- 1 1/2 hours, until the biscuit has the desired crunchiness.  For an older dog you may not want it to be so crunchy, depending on their teeth and oral health.

Remove from the oven and transfer the parchment paper to a cooling rack.  Cool completely before you try to break the pieces apart.  For best results, store in the refrigerator for up to a week or store in the freezer and remove portions as needed.
Not too pretty, but tasty and ready to eat.  I even had one!

These will make great treats, training snacks or meal supplements for your dog.  You may want to play with ingredients based on your dog's special needs and this base recipe allows a lot of room for creativity!  I hope you'll let me know if you try the recipe and what changes you have made for your own dogs!

Fraulein happily does a taste test!

Fraulein loves her pumpkin "cookies" and comes running when I offer one!  I hope your dog (s) love this recipe too!  I'd love to hear from you what kind of treats you make for your own pets!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Delicious German Chocolate Cake

My wonderful husband just turned 50!  Happy Birthday Gunnar!

When I asked my husband what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday I really already knew...duh, a german chocolate cake.  What else for a guy born and raised in Germany?  So his answer was no surprise for me.  Now usually I just pick up a cake mix from the store, add a bit of this and that to add flavor and moistness, then top it off with some store-bought frosting from a can.  That just didn't seem good enough for a 50th birthday cake so I scoured the internet for recipes and found, I think, a true winner.  I must admit, baking the cake from scratch was labor intense but SO worth it!  It was moist, delicious and rich...divinely decadent!  My hubby loved it and we've been enjoying it all week, though my waistline is starting to complain!

melting the chocolate was fun!

I couldn't help but try it!  Yum!

Here is the recipe, which I tweaked only slightly by adding an egg, using dark brown sugar and substituting light sour cream for the full fat variety.

Ingredients for cake:
2 1/4 cups all- purpose flour  (I used cake flour)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
5 large eggs
4 oz. sweet baking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup milk
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour two 9" cake pans.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, butter, sour cream, eggs, chocolate, milk and vanilla.  Beat with mixer on low speed until well blended.  Increase mixer to high speed and beat for another 2-3 minutes.  Spoon batter into prepared pans.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.  Remove to racks to cool completely.

Ingredients for frosting:
3/4 cup evaporated milk (1 small can)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 oz. flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan over medium heat bring evaporated milk, brown sugar and butter to a full boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in coconut and pecans.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.  DO NOT attempt to frost the cake until both the cake and frosting are COMPLETELY will not frost well as you can see from the picture of my completed cake. I was too anxious!  It may not have looked pretty but it sure tasted heavenly.

Gunnar enjoyed his 50th birthday cake!  I hope you will try the recipe and let me know how your family like it!

Quick And Easy Fix For A Headache!

Today my husband is home ill with a migraine headache.  Over the years my poor migraine-prone hubby has tried everything for his headaches from aspirin to Imitrex and other prescription drugs.  Narcotic pain pills only cause rebound headache and Ibuprofen and Tylenol only help a little.  But we have a secret weapon in our arsenal!  This secret weapon is an inexpensive natural product that has a myriad of uses but is especially helpful for headaches.  Our secret weapon is...drum roll please...Lavender Essential Oil.  Yes, something that simple!

 I simply dampen a washcloth and sprinkle on it just a bit of the lavender essential oil, then I roll it up and place it on my suffering spouse's forehead.  The Lavender Essential Oil really helps to knock out his tough headaches!  Lavender is wonderfully relaxing and just a few drops on the cloth make the whole bedroom smell like a Lavender garden.  My husband is able to sleep for a few hours and almost always wakes refreshed and headache free.  I hope you'll try Lavender Essential Oil the next time you have a headache.  If using the damp washcloth is impractical for you just rub a few drops of oil into your temples and dab a bit under your nose.

Wonderful Lavender
Other uses for Lavender are: anxiety/stress, wound and skin care.  For anxiety and stress you may want to rub a bit of the essential oil into your temples or simply take a few deep inhalations from the bottle.  A cup of Lavender tea will also settle those nerves!  For wounds simply apply a drop or two of Lavender essential oil to help heal and ward off infection.  Lavender is also known to help the skin and fight wrinkles so adding about 30-50 drops into your face lotion will help to fight aging and keep your skin glowing.  You may even notice less breakouts, if you are prone to them.  Experiment with the essential oil of Lavender and you will discover an array of uses and delights!  If you need to purchase Lavender essential oil just click on one of the links to Mountain Rose Herbs on my blog...they will hook you up and I can personally vouch for the quality of their products.

Let me know how Lavender helps you!  I'd love to hear from you!