Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Favorite Granola

Spending long and hectic days at the bakery often means that I don't provide myself with anything fresh or sufficient to eat. I walk to the car in mid-afternoon, legs aching from the day, and I smile, thinking of the possibility of a few minutes of peace when I get home over some mind-numbing television and my usual bowl fruit and yogurt topped with my absolutely delicious, homemade granola.

This granola is packed with plenty of flavor, crunch, and the added health benefits from flaxseed and a bit of coconut oil. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)


2 tablespoons Earth Balance coconut spread (or butter or your favorite alternative)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup light agave nectar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 sweetened flake coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 cups GF rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Melt coconut spread in a large bowl. Add vanilla, agave, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well, making sure all of the oats are covered in the sugary-mixture.

Spread granola in an even layer onto a standard baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake 10 minutes more. Allow to cool before removing from baking sheet.

You can eat this granola on it's own, topped with milk as cereal, or, like I do, in a wonderful parfait. My personal favorite: blueberry goat's milk yogurt, bananas, berries, a drizzle of agave, and, of course, this crunchy granola.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Newest Guilty Pleasure: Caramel Cashew Cookies

Although I definitely consider myself passionate about food, there is a very short list of foods that I think about in a longing, needing, "gotta-have-it-right-now" sort of way. The majority of these food are ones that I am no longer allowed to eat: baklava, fry cakes, tex-mex egg rolls from Cheesecake Factory (I know, I know; don't judge me!) Add to this short list: caramel cashew cookies. And yes, they are flourless, meaning that they are naturally gluten-free!

Right before Christmas, a good friend of mine made a batch of flourless peanut butter cookies. They were chewy, moist, delicious. I was intrigued. When I was home over Christmas shopping at my beloved Wegman's, I found a jar of cashew butter which I just knew would be fantastic. I decided to tweak a recipe for peanut butter cookies and add a bit of caramel. These salty-sweet, super simple to make cookies are one's I'll be making often . . . but not too often-I'm incapable of eating just one!

Flourless Caramel Cashew Cookies
Yield: About 18 cookies

3/4 cup cashew butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cashews

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a large baking sheet.

With an electric mixer, cream together cashew butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, salt, and baking soda, and mix just until incorporated. Stir in cashews.

Roll dough into walnut-sized pieces and place at least one inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Push down on dough gently with the back of a spoon or the palm of your hand.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before removing from the baking sheet.

Caramel Sauce

10 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream 
2 tablespoons butter
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Place caramels, brown sugar, heavy cream, and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir constantly until the mixture is completely combined and begins to simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Use a small spoon to drizzle caramel over the top of each cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with a bit of sea salt, if desired.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How to Make Marshmallow Fondant

Photos by the very talented, Michael Friberg

Fondant is a nice way to adorn the outside of your cake. The fanciest-looking wedding cakes are wrapped in the sugary, edible, Play-Doh-like confection. But dont be intimidated! It's easier to work with than you think.

Store-bought fondant can be both expensive and difficult to work with. In order to save yourself the aggravation, you can easily make this fondant with just a few basic ingredients.

Now, I personally don't love fondant (it's a textural thing), but I do love the way it looks on the outside of the cakes I decorate. The flavor of this fondant is better than store-bought fondant, but if you just want it for the looks, you can remove it easily to expose the frosting underneath.

*Note: If you don't want messy hands or a messy countertop, this may not be the recipe for you!

Marshmallow Fondant
Yield: about 2 lbs

One 1 lb bag of mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons water
2 lbs powdered sugar (sift out any big lumps)
Vegetable shortening, to grease the bowl and your hands
Corn starch, for rolling out

Frost your cake (as smoothly as possible!) with a medium-thickness layer of frosting. Refrigerate about an hour. This will make it easier to position the fondant onto your cake.

Grease a large glass bowl with a layer of vegetable shortening

Pour all of the marshmallows and the water into the bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between each, until the marshmallows are completely melted.

Remove the bowl from the microwave (this is the step to add some food coloring, if desired) and dump in half of the powdered sugar. Mix in as much as you can with a rubber spatula.

Grease your hands with vegetable shortening and add the rest of the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it is all incorporated. If the fondant is too stiff, you can add another tablespoon of water or a little shortening.

Sprinkle a clean, dry surface with cornstarch. Place the fondant onto the surface and sprinkle the top with more cornstarch. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and lay carefully over the top of a cake. Trim any excess fondant from the bottom of the cake.

Dazzle everyone with your professional-grade decorating abilities!

If you don't use all of the fondant right away, wrap it tightly with a few layers of saran wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Allow it to sit out for a few hours or microwave briefly before using again.

About Me

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Salt Lake City, Utah
As a pastry chef by trade and by hobby, being diagnosed with Celiac Disease has not been easy. But through some experimental baking and a whole lot of faith, I'm living a full(er) life.