Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies

  Well folks, I back from a lengthy hiatus due to this precious little gem that joined our family on April 16th:

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Little Ben totally lights up my life and is such a bundle of joy.  Our family praises God for such a precious gift and we are all totally in love.   But, as much as I’d like to think you came to drool over the baby, I’m guessing you’re here for the food.  So let’s talk cookies!

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   Now and again I have a craving for a really good cookie.   You know the kind I’m talking about…chewy, moist and loaded with chocolate.  The problem is that most of the cookies I’ve tried that use gluten free flour have been sort of lackluster, dry and grainy.  Little did I know that the secret to a delicious gluten free cookie was not to use flour at all!  Instead, a base of almond meal creates a chewy and totally satisfying morsel of goodness.  I’ve made these cookies twice and my kids loved them.  The second time I made them, we shared them with friends and got equally rave reviews.   And a giant bonus is that they contain no dairy ingredients and are sweetened only lightly with honey.  It’s one of those rare healthy-ish foods that doesn’t taste healthy.  It’s also a flexible recipe and you can adjust the add-ins to your tastes.  These are definite winners in my book!

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Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies (makes 2 dozen)

Ingredients:

3 cups almond flour, sifted

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup dried cherries

1/4 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup cocoa powder

2 Tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the chocolate chips and cherries.  In a separate bowl, stir honey, coconut oil and vanilla together (you may need to microwave for just a few seconds in order to get them to liquefy).  Add the egg and whisk until combined.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  Scoop the cookies into tablespoon size balls and place on a cookie sheet.  Gently flatten them with your hand.  Bake for 15 minutes and cool for at least 5 minutes before enjoying.  

 

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Cheesecake Dip, Two Ways

  With Easter just two short weeks away, the Easter brunch/dinner menu planning frenzy is sure to begin for many of us.  I think of Easter as sort of the official launch into spring cooking.  We put the heavy casseroles and hearty stews behind us and welcome in a lighter, more colorful fare.  You may be thinking to yourself that I’ve lost my mind if I’m calling cheesecake dip “light,” but I served it with fresh strawberries, which totally cancels out the calories in the dip, right?  Either way you look at it, I think this would make the perfect addition to your Easter brunch or could even serve as a light dessert for dinner.   I added toasted coconut and coconut extract to mine, but because I knew that many of my readers aren’t huge coconut fans, I threw in a chocolate chip version as well.  This recipe is incredibly flexible so don’t be bound by the ingredients on the page.  In my book, you could almost add whatever you want to cheesecake and it would be delicious.   I paired mine with strawberries, but you could change up the fruits to your liking or serve it with graham crackers.   See, I told you….very flexible, so it can fit into any menu.  Happy Easter menu planning!

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Cheesecake Dip, Two Ways

Ingredients:

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup gluten free powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided (for chocolate chip version)

1/2 cup toasted coconut, divided (for toasted coconut version)

1/4 tsp coconut flavor extract (for toasted coconut version)

Directions:

In an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  If making the chocolate chip version, carefully stir in all but 2 Tbsp of the chocolate chips.  Place in a small serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.  If making the toasted coconut version, stir in the coconut extract and all but 2 Tbsp of the toasted coconut.  Put in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining coconut.   Enjoy with fruit or graham crackers. 

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Fallen Chocolate Cake

We don’t eat too many desserts at our house, but every once in awhile, a special occasion calls for a sweet treat.  We were at my parent’s lake house this weekend and I got put on dessert duty for our Father’s Day meal.  Most of my extended family eats gluten free so when I found this recipe on Heather Christo’s website, I knew I had to try it.  Not only is it gluten free, but it also has absolutely no flour!  I was a little skeptical the first time I tried it, but it is truly amazing.   It is not dense like a traditional flourless chocolate cake, but it still has an intense rich chocolate flavor.  It has a wonderful texture and most people that have tried it can hardly believe there is no flour in the recipe.

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This cake batter comes together pretty quickly and has three basic components.  The first is a mixture of chocolate, butter and oil that is melted over a double boiler.  The second is a mixture of egg yolks, cocoa powder, coconut, salt and vanilla that is then stirred into the chocolate mixture.   Lastly, a mixture of egg whites and sugar are beaten until they reach stiff peaks.  They should look something like this.

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The egg whites are then gently folded into the chocolate, egg yolk mixture.Image

The cake bakes at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes and can either be served warm or at room temperature.   Both ways are equally delicious.  We ate it over the weekend with fresh whipped cream and homemade strawberry ice cream and everyone raved about it.  Who needs flour anyways?

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Fallen Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter

12 oz dark chocolate pieces (I used 72% dark chocolate)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

6 eggs

2 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (note: if you had a strong aversion to coconut, you could actually leave this out, but the you can hardly taste the coconut and it gives the cake a bit more body)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10″ springform pan and coat with 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Melt the chocolate, butter and vegetable oil over a double boiler until almost melted and then remove from the heat.  Allow everything to finish melting, stirring until smooth.

While the chocolate cools slightly, separate the 6 eggs into two separate bowls.   Mix the cocoa, vanilla, coconut and salt in with the yolks and then stir it into the chocolate mixture.

Whip the 6 egg whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl until they have formed stiff peaks and then gently fold them in three batches into the chocolate, egg yolk mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes and then remove it from the pan.  The cake can be served warm or at room temperature with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.