Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Three more days until Christmas! Joy is officially in the air. I can even smell it. It’s a combination of pine, bonfire, cold air, cloves and fresh baked sugar cookies. Christmas has a distinctive scent that can’t be bottled into a candle. I did try to replicate it in this cake though.

Fruit cake is the butt of every holiday joke. Typically weighing almost ten pounds, filled with every fruit and nut imaginable and said to last forever, they are loathed by most. This cake is my attempt to change that. How can dried fruits and chocolate in a cake not be delicious? I was inspired by watching Nigella Lawson bake her famous Christmas Cake. She makes the holiday magical and it’s easy to fall under her cooking spell. The tiny, twinkle lights covering her kitchen will entrance you. Nigella calls her cake a trifecta of aromas, with fruits, cinnamon and cloves. Fruit cake is edible Christmas.

The tart cherry juice in this recipe intensifies each dried fruit. You can substitute apple, orange or pineapple juice if cherry isn’t your favorite. Coconut flour can be crumbly so be extra careful when removing the finished cake from the pan.

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake
Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Makes 1 9” cake.

1 cup tart cherry juice for soaking fruit – I used Cheribundi brand.
1 cup currants
½ cup dried blueberries
½ cup dates – about 10 dates – chopped
½ cup dried peaches – chopped
½ cup dried apricots – chopped
2 ½ tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ cup coconut flour, sifted
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
4 tbsp cacao powder or good quality cocoa powder
1 cup mashed banana – overly-ripe
5 eggs
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil – melted

►Combine cherry juice, currants, blueberries, dates, peaches, apricots, lemon zest and ginger in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Then remove from heat and cover until all juice is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

►Grease a springform cake pan with coconut oil and line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper too. Set aside.
►Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
►In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and cacao powder. Set aside.
►In a separate mixing bowl, whisk eggs and banana with a hand mixer. Add in maple syrup and melted coconut oil.
►Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix well. Add in all fruit and stir until well combined.
►Bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.
►Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Christmas Chocolate Fruit Cake

Pumpkin Pie – Grain-free & Dairy Free

Grain-free & Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie

Last week on the Splendid Table, the editor of Bon Appétit, Adam Rapoport, boldly stated, “No one likes pumpkin pie.” Excuse me? I want to know who this guy is hanging around with. I know plenty of people who don’t consider Thanksgiving complete without a slice of pumpkin pie. It’s even my husband’s favorite dessert.

Pumpkin Pie is also the only dessert that can count as a complete meal, containing protein, fat, carbs and little sugar. It’s typically the healthiest dessert option on the Thanksgiving buffet.

The history of pumpkin pie dates back to 1796 colonial America, where the first recipe was recorded in a cookbook by Amelia Simmons. Two recipes are included, one for a pudding and one with a crust. The ingredients have not changed much in over 200 years.  It calls for pumpkin, cream, eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg and ginger and then backed for 45 minutes. Some recipes stand the test of time.

The day after Thanksgiving marks the end of pumpkin recipes for me. Until next year.

Grain-free & Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie

Grain-free & Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie

Grain-free & Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie

Grain-free & Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie

Makes 8 servings

Crust

½ cup tapioca fl
½ cup coconut flour – sifted
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
4 tbsp butter – melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs – whisked
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup crushed pecans

Filling:

1 13.5 oz can pumpkin
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
⅛ tsp salt
2 eggs

►Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
►Butter a springform pan and line the bottom with parchment. Butter the parchment too.
►To make the crust, mix together both flours, baking soda and salt. Then add in the melted butter, vanilla, eggs, syrup and pecans. Mix well. You can omit the pecans if you like to make it nut-free.
►Spread the crust evenly into the bottom of the pan. Use the palms of your hands to press it down and smooth it out.
►Bake for 12 minutes and then allow to cool 10 minutes before pouring in the filling.

►Bring oven to 425 degrees F.
►For the filling, whisk together all ingredients. Pour into prepared crust.
►Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-45 minutes.
►Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center and it will come out clean. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving. Keep all leftovers refrigerated.
►Top will coconut whipped cream or cranberry sauce for a festive addition.

Grain-free & Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie
Reference:

Halloween and Pumpkins in Colonial America, http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Autumn09/pumpkins.cfm

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

 

As pumpkin season comes to a close, I’m squeezing in all those recipes I ambitiously jotted down just as the leaves began to change. The leaves have found their way to the pavement and I’m soon calling it quits on fall flavors. Christmas decorations began creeping in weeks ago so Thanksgiving is the absolute cut-off.

At my Granny’s house, there is a tradition of dessert assortment that puts any extravagant cruise ship buffet to shame. Two tables covered in desserts. It’s not Thanksgiving without 14 pies – fruit, chess and creme topped with meringue, 3 cheese cakes, pralines and bread pudding with two sweet sauces. No wonder I had an eating disorder. It’s impossible to say no to all that sugar. Sugar is my worst best friend. If it’s in front of me, it taunts me, calling my name, causing a battle between my best intentions and desires. And sometimes you just have to eat the sugar. I find when I allow myself to give into the temptations I’m much happier and my body relaxes.Pumpkin Creme Brulee

So every year I indulge in the sugar. And I wanted to create a dessert that falls into my dietary guidelines. This creme brûlée is actually healthy, filled with eggs, coconut milk and pumpkin. You have a good mix of protein, carbs and fat. If you can bear to omit the maple syrup, this would be a great breakfast too. But that would be sinful on Thanksgiving.

Remember to save room for sugar.

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Makes 4 servings.

4 egg yolks
½ cup pumpkin – canned or fresh
½ cup full fat canned coconut milk
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla
¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp orange zest
⅛ tsp salt
1 tbsp maple sugar – I use Coombs Family Farms brand

►Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
►Beat egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together well.
►Pour into 4 ramekins, evenly distributing.
►Place ramekins in a baking dish deep enough to meet the lip of the ramekins. Fill the dish halfway with warm water.
►Bake for 25 minutes, until just set in the middle but still jiggling a bit.
►Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
►Before serving, remove from fridge and let sit for 10 minutes. Then sprinkle maple sugar on top of each. Caramelize with a kitchen torch or under a broiler. Serve and dig in! I ate mine in .5 seconds.

This would be fabulous as a pie filling too!