Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Simply Sweet Recipe Reviews

     I'm tired. As in, can't get off my butt right now and do a single thing exhausted. This is, in part, because of my long day working at the restaurant, and in part because I haven't been getting much sleep lately. Just a few hours a night if I'm lucky, and the self-induced sleep deprivation is catching up with me.
     I am beat.
     That said, I haven't been doing much in the kitchen these days. But occasionally, I bake. And because I've been so ridiculously tired, I am incredibly grateful for the plethora of gluten- and dairy-free recipes available to me in the blogosphere. Like many of you (or so I imagine), I have a steadily growing list of bookmarked recipes in my Web browser, and over the past months of fatigue and pre-moving stress, this list has certainly come in handy.
     For example, the night of my dad's 56th birthday, my mom bought a Wegmans Ultimate Chocolate Cake, which for those of you who aren't familiar with Weggermans, is to-die-for delicious. Moist and chocolatey, I used to eat this cake more often than I'd like to admit when they first started selling it. But all that gluten, wheat, and dairynot to mention the laundry list of additives and other strange, hard-to-pronounce ingredients—simply put, makes me sick.
     And of course, my family adores it. It's become a staple at birthday gatherings since my mom has gone back to work full-time and doesn't have as much time or energy to bake at home. So I knew that it was either watch everyone else indulge and enjoy while I stood by salivating and cursing my food-allergic insides, or suck it up and make a little side dessert that would satisfy both mine and my brother's sweet tooth (he's gluten-free, too).
     Well, thanks be to Chelsey over at The Crazy Kitchen. I had marked her Bad Ass Black Bean Cake recipe months ago, but it wasn't until this celebratory night in August that I had a reason to buckle down and bake it.
     So, I did. I followed her recipe exactly, with the exception of the pecans. I don't like nuts in cake, so those got the boot. I decided to use chocolate chips instead. Also, I substituted Earth Balance vegan buttery spread for the butter, and I used 100% dark chocolate cacao powder.
     And the verdict is?
     Delicious! Seriously, this cake is one of the most pleasantly surprising recipes I've ever tried. Of course, the batter is a little funny looking until you get the beans fully blended. But once it's smooth and creamy, it's also one of the best-tasting GF batters I've sampled to date!
     Out of the oven, this cake is moist, smooth, and light enough to not be too rich or fattening. Oddly enough, I kept commenting to my brother about how much the texture reminded me of cheesecake. Overall, quite a delectable treat.
     However, I do not recommend the Mocha Cream Avocado Icing recipe listed along with the cake. This was my first time experimenting with avocados in frosting, and it really just did not work with its pudding-like consistency and mildly unpleasant aftertaste. I know there must be a way to make avocado icing taste good, but this one just doesn't cut it for me. Any thoughts? Because I like the idea of staying away from all that confectionary sugar, and mocha cream frosting sounds like the perfect topping.
     Regardless, even without any frosting, I liked this cake so much and it was so easy to make that I baked it again tonight! Mmm, mmm good.

     I tend to be a bit lazy when it comes to my food pics, but I put in a little extra special effort this time with the strawberry garnish (which makes for a refreshing pairing in your mouth, as well!).
     And this post wouldn't be complete without a brief mention of those Rainy Day Chocolate Chip Cookies over at Hope for Healing. I wrote about these a while ago for May's Adopt a GF Blogger carnival, and I've made them several times since. It wasn't until last week, however, that I tried using sunflower seed butter instead of cashew butter (as per Stephanie's suggestion) in this super simple, five-ingredient recipe (five when you include the gluten-free vanilla extract, which I like to add for a little extra flavoring).
     I don't know what it is about those sunflower seeds, but when buttered down and blended with a little sucanat and some chocolate chips, they make an unbelievably tasty treat!
     Last night, I baked these same Sunbutter Chocolate Chip Cookies, as I'm now calling them, to bring into work this morning. I really didn't know what to expect, considering the gluten- and dairy-friendly palettes of my coworkers, but to my utter delight, the cookies were a hands-down hit! I had to endure a decent amount of food-allergy-related teasing, but as a whole, these cookies held their own. One girl kept saying how delicious they are. Another of my coworkers actually told me they're the best cookies he's ever tasted.
     I can't tell you how happy this made me! I used to love baking for people prior to the wheat- and dairy-intolerance diagnosis, and it's been a long road getting to a place where those same people actually enjoy my culinary concoctions now that I'm baking sans flour, dairy, and refined sugar.
     So here's to the GF and DF blogging community and all these lovely little recipes being passed around! I have no idea when I'll get around to making everything on my list, but as for the ones I've tried so far... Yum!


  1. I need cookies NOW! That cake looks amazing!

  2. I'm really tempted to make Stephanie's cookies. I've made avocado chocolate pudding, and while I liked it (and my boyfriend gagged), I didn't like it enough to make it again. I'm currently working on a cake for a friend's wedding cake buffet, and since I'll be making the gluten-free cake there, I really want people to like it! After a few attempts at refined sugar free cakes, I gave up and decided if I want everyone to say, "Wow gluten free and dairy free is just as good as regular cake," it was going to have to have regular sugar in it. So while it IS gluten and dairy free, it's got tons of sugar and confectioner's sugar in it. Needless to say, testing all this cake has got my sugar cravings going like crazy. On the other hand, it is honestly one of the best cakes I've ever tried (and definitely the best I've ever made myself), gluten or no gluten.

  3. Both your recipes look and sound fabulous. I made a bean-based brownie a couple of years ago and really liked it. I'm also a fan of avocado and chocolate--but in the right proportions (ie, you don't taste the avocado). It also helps if the avocado is NOT super-ripe. Here's a recipe for decadent chocolate pate I posted a couple of years ago--it uses maple syrup, though, so I'm not sure you can have it (and I can't right now, either--boo). :)

  4. Skylark: No joke, that cake is already gone (it wasn't just me eating it, of course). SO good!

    Iris: You should definitely try those cookies! They are so ridiculously easy to make (albeit mildly expensive, thanks to the semi-exotic nut butter). Alas, I love them. And that cake you're describing sounds delicious...

    Ricki: Thanks for stopping by! Who would've thought beans and chocolate go so well together, right? And thanks for the recipe. I just bookmarked it, hoping to try it soon!

  5. The cake looks very decadent. Rich looking in texture. Thanks for the recipe to try and the thoughts of chocolate first thing in the morning.

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  7. Your review inspired me to make those cookies. I didn't love the sunbutter ones, but with peanut butter they were awesome!

  8. Oh good! Cashew butter is another one worth trying... ;-)

  9. Hello,
    I came across your blog looking for SunButter recipes. As a SunButter blogger, I love that you baked SunButter cookies. As a workin' girl, I love that you treat your colleagues! If you're interested, our online recipe box is here for other SunButter creations:
    Take care.

  10. Elizabeth, I'm so glad you stopped by! This was my first time baking with (or even trying) SunButter, and those cookies are so simple and delicious that I will definitely check out your online recipes. Thanks!

  11. I made Stephanie's cookies with peanut butter and they were amazing!



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