Avocado Pound Cake

I think I was in elementary school when I fell in love with avocados. I remember that my mom would sometimes place a handful of almonds and a few slices of avocado on my breakfast plate of toast and fruit. I guess she wanted to make sure I had enough monounsaturated fats in my diet? Whatever the reason, I’ve been hooked on the creamy green fruit since.

Avocados are an amazing addition to salads, sandwiches, and sushi rolls, but my most favorite way to eat avocado (at least up until this past Thursday afternoon) is in guacamole. Obviously homemade is the best, but Chipotle’s guac is pretty good too, especially when avocados are like five dollars apiece at the grocery store during the winter.

But on Thursday afternoon, I discovered that my new favorite way to eat avocado is in pound cake! I know that sounds totally weird and gross, but trust me when I say it’s not! It’s actually pretty spectacular. The cake is  moist and dense, but not overly sweet and buttery. And the cornmeal gives it an awesome texture. I am not a huge fan of pound cake, but I really, really like this one!

Next time I make this, I’ll probably replace some of the butter with even MORE avocado. And hopefully it won’t have those ugly tiger stripe burn marks on top from being baked in a cramped toaster oven!

Avocado Pound Cake

Source: adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup avocado, mashed (about 1 ripe avocado)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 – inch loaf pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add avocado and beat for another minute to incorporate, scraping down sides of bowl to ensure that ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

4. Add in eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after addition of each egg. Beat in vanilla extract.

5. Reduce mixer speed to low and add half of flour mixture, all of Greek yogurt, then rest of flour mixture. Beat until just combined.

6. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Check cake every 10 minutes after 30-minute mark. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then invert on wire rack to cool completely.

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Filed under Cakes/Cupcakes, Dessert

Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart

It’s nearly the end of May, and the weather is still so incredibly gray, cloudy, and drizzly. Who would believe that it’s almost summer? 

I guess the dreariness is infinitely better than the stifling heat and humidity I’d probably be enduring if I was still in Cleveland right now, but I am seriously in need of some brightness in my life! To compensate for the lack of sun, I decided to bake the most spring-y dessert that I could possibly think of.

This Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart fits the bill pretty perfectly. Strawberries just scream spring, and I can’t think of anything that is brighter than fresh lemons! 

I had high hopes for this dessert, so I really wanted to be able to write about how this tart was absolutely fabulous and that it exceeded all my expectations. And it did! Well, almost.

 The strawberry topping and lemon curd were outstanding, and the crust would have been too, except that the bottom was completely burned! I think baking the tart in the toaster oven had something to do with it…

I was a little disappointed that the tart wasn’t perfect, but my family still really enjoyed this dessert, and at least the sides of the crust were still delicious! 🙂

Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart

Source: tart adapted from Bon Appetit, crust from Baking Illustrated via Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

For the curd:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

For the crust:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the topping:

  • fresh strawberries, sliced lengthwise

Directions

1. To make the curd, whisk together eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Add butter and lemon peel. Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens to pudding consistency, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and press plastic onto surface of curd. Chill for at least 2 hours.

2. To make the crust, whisk together egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside. Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 1-second pulses. With the machine running, add egg mixture and process just until dough comes together, no more than 12 seconds. Turn dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan. Mold dough to sides of pan and remove excess off top. Set dough lined tart pan a large plate and freeze for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Set dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet, press a 12-inch square piece of foil into frozen shell and over the edge, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and carefully remove pie weights and foil. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5. Fill the cooled tart shell with lemon curd and spread evenly. Starting from outside and working towards the center, place sliced strawberries in concentric circles, slightly overlapping each other. Chill until ready to serve.

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Filed under Dessert, Tarts

Peanut Butter Chickpea Blondies

Eating a healthy diet at home has been such a challenge! I’ve been home for less than a week and I’ve eaten a bucket of peanut M&Ms and about 10 pounds of dark chocolate by myself! I wish I was kidding. At school, I rarely bought packaged snacks because I knew there was no way I could control myself around them, but there is an abundance of chips, cookies, and candy in our pantry, and I just can’t seem to stay away from it all!

At least most of my meals have been pretty healthy. My mom always stocks the fridge with a variety of fresh, organic produce and dairy that I never buy at school because I’m too cheap. I love it! The other day I had Greek yogurt topped with chopped mango and kiwi for breakfast. And for lunch, I made myself a humongous salad with kale, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, and a hard-boiled egg. Yum!

I’m trying to convince my meat-loving family members to eat more veggies too. I put some raw kale on the table for dinner the other day and my dad asked, “What IS that?” with a very skeptical look on his face. Then I made these chickpea blondies for dessert and my sister told me she wanted to throw up (she’s a little dramatic).

I know that most people would agree with her after hearing that these blondies are made with garbanzo beans, but honestly, these blondies are REALLY good!! Obviously they’re not super sweet and buttery like regular blondies, but they’re still quite fudgey and delicious. Plus, they’re vegan, so you can eat as much of the raw batter as you’d like, which I think is even BETTER than the baked blondies. It tastes like Snickerdoodle Dessert Hummus!!

I ate wayyy more than my share of these chickpea blondies, and even my sister ate a couple after I told her that there were chocolate chips in them. She proclaimed them “gross,” but at least she tried them, right? Baby steps! 🙂

Chickpea Blondies

Source: adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.
2. Place all ingredients (except chocolate chips and walnuts) in a food processor and process until completely smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Do not overbake.


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Filed under Bars/Squares, Dessert

Chocolate Pudding Cake

The most horrible, unimaginable thing happened yesterday. The oven STOPPED WORKING. As I was gathering the ingredients to make homemade granola bars, I set the oven to preheat. Over half an hour later, there was still no beep to signal that the oven was fully preheated, so I went to check on it and  found that it wasn’t warm at all! I reset the oven and tried to preheat it again, but the oven didn’t warm up in the slightest.

I almost panicked. How on earth was I going to bake without a working oven?? I had already measured out the raw oats and chopped up the nuts for granola bars. Also, I had promised my sister (who had a SERIOUS chocolate craving) that I would bake the most amazing chocolate pudding cake for dessert. Luckily, my mom reminded me that I could use our little toaster oven to toast the oats and nuts for the granola bars. And I was delighted to discover that the toaster oven was just large enough to fit an 8×8 inch pan for the cake.

So I mixed up the cake batter, poured hot coffee all over it, and waited for 25 agonizing minutes for it to finish baking. My sister and I dug in while the cake was still hot and almost died and went to chocolate lovers heaven. The warm pudding sauce is beyond words. It’s the perfect thing to make you forget about surviving the summer at home with a non-functional oven (at least for a moment!).

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Source: slightly adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients

For the pudding sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons alt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×8 inch baking dish.
2. To make the pudding sauce, stir the instant coffee into the boiling water. In a separate bowl, stir together sugars and cocoa powder.
3. To make the cake, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. In another large bowl, whisk together egg, melted butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped nuts.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the cocoa mixture on top of cake batter. Gently pour coffee over the cocoa mixture.
5. Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and just beginning to pull away from sides of pan. Place on wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Filed under Cakes/Cupcakes, Dessert

Coconut Graham Cracker Bread

I’m graduated!! Although Ahra and Deborah have both moved out, and the apartment is practically empty, it hasn’t really hit me that my college years are over. Maybe I’ll start to feel it when things finally calm down. I haven’t had a free moment between spending time with my family, saying bye to friends, and cleaning out the apartment.

I’m moving out of my apartment (and leaving Cleveland) tomorrow afternoon! I packed up the majority of my stuff to put in storage in Charlottesville or take home with me for the summer to Portland, but there were still some baking ingredients left in the cupboards that needed to be used up.

I found half a bag of shredded coconut lying around, and decided that I wanted to incorporate it into a quick bread to give to my bosses on my last day at work. I actually didn’t start liking coconut until recently. Desserts like German chocolate cake or macaroons didn’t use to sound appealing to me at all, but now I LOVE them!

I also had a box of graham crackers lying around, so I decided to use those in my quick breads too. I wasn’t sure how well it would go with the coconut, but along with some cinnamon and honey, it turned out to be a yummy combo of flavors! I love it when throwing a bunch of random ingredients together turns into something delish!

This is one of the only recipes that I have ever de-healthified and de-veganized. Normally, I try to make recipes healthier by reducing fat and sugar, and using whole grains, but I had to make do with the ingredients that I had. Plus, I wasn’t sure how much my bosses would appreciate getting “health food” as a gift! 🙂

Coconut Graham Cracker Bread

Source: adapted from Sweet and Natural

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and graham cracker crumbs until well combined. Add egg and honey, then mix thoroughly. Alternatively stir in dry ingredients and milk until just combined, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in the shredded coconut.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast

Homemade Granola

For the past two days, I’ve been covered from head to toe in dust! But I am finally finished organizing, packing, and cleaning, and ready to head down to Charlottesville, VA in just a few minutes! My dad and I are visiting Charlottesville for a couple of days to look at apartments and put all of my stuff in storage. So excited!

I wanted to bring along some granola to munch on during the eight-hour drive, so I tried THREE different recipes. Maple Nut Granola and Coconut Almond Granola both tasted fantastic, but I wanted a granola with more clusters. I actually don’t mind loose granola for sprinkling on yogurt or smoothies, but it’s not ideal ideal for snacking on in the car.

I’ve made granola countless times in the past, but I’ve yet to make a super crunchy, super clumpy batch. I’ve experimented with different types and amounts of sweeteners, oils, fruit purees, grains, and nuts, but I never ended up with exactly what I was looking for.

But after a granola-making marathon yesterday, I discovered the secret to clumpy granola – egg whites! The egg whites act as a binder and help the granola stick together beautifully. This granola had LOTS of clusters and awesome crunch! It’s SO addicting! I ate handful after handful after handful. Good thing I made a double batch or there wouldn’t be any left for the car ride! 🙂

Homemade Granola

Source: adapted from Wicked Good Dinner

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, and dried fruit. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, egg whites, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir, making sure all dry ingredients are well coated.

3. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly and press down firmly into a thin, single layer with a spatula.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes until granola is golden brown and crisp around the edges. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on baking sheet before breaking into clusters. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Filed under Breakfast

Maple Almond Butter Cookies

I feel like I always have a latest obsession, and this time, it’s nut butter. I’ve always liked it, but now I am seriously crazy about the stuff! I drizzle it on oatmeal, spread it on bread, blend it into smoothies, and I like to bake with it, too. But my most favorite way to enjoy nut butter is straight out of the jar with a spoon. 🙂

I grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches practically every day, but my favorite of all nut butters is almond butter. The first time I tried it, I was still in elementary school, but I clearly remember the freshly ground almond butter being so warm and nutty and delicious. Then proceeding to eat huge globs of it on my afternoon snack of apple slices. 🙂

It was love at first taste, and since then I’ve been eating it almost daily. I’ve even made my own almond butter (and peanut butter and sunflower seed butter) in my food processor. You would think that I’d be sick of it by now, but if anything, I love it even more! Whenever I’m at the grocery store, I make a beeline for the nut butter shelves (after the baking aisle though, of course!).

I don’t know what it is about nut butter, but I can’t seem to get enough of it! And I don’t think my obsession is going to wear off anytime soon. This is going to make me sound like a total dork, but my goal is to try every single nut/seed butter out there by the end of this year – walnut, pecan, cashew, hazelnut etc., etc., etc.

When I was at Whole Foods last weekend, I picked up a pack of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter to sample, and I absolutely loved it! I made sure to squeeze every last drop out of the packet. 🙂 The maple syrup and almond butter combo is a winner, and I had the PERFECT recipe to try it out in!

These maple almond butter cookies were really, REALLY good. Out of all the healthier cookie recipes that I’ve tried, these are definitely the best. I didn’t miss the lack of butter or sugar in the recipe at all! Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to eat cookies for breakfast! 🙂

Maple Almond Butter Cookies

Source: slightly adapted from Sweet and Natural

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine almond butter, maple syrup, oil, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in chopped almonds. Let sit for 5 minutes.

4. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly to about 1/3 of an inch. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.

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Filed under Cookies, Dessert