Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cashew Ice Cream

In my life, I have a few friends who have special dietary needs because of celiac disease, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance or a combination of these.

This inspires me.

Ok.... that didn't sound right. The fact that they have these issues doesn't inspire me. It's the challenge to feed them that inspires me! I don't want them to miss out just because they have dietary restrictions, you know?

There are so many resources out there these days - websites, blogs, books... and, of course, you learn how to adapt your favourite recipes by trial and error.

Determined to create a yummy dessert that could be enjoyed not only by my friend with celiac disease and a dairy intolerance but by all who were to attend a gathering, I turned once again to Elana's Pantry for inspiration.  And, let me tell you, I found a gem!

Monday, May 9, 2011

From A Kid's Perspective - Eyebrows

I was in the bathroom plucking my eyebrows which, let's face it, a good many of us are wont to do.

Enter: Eva, my six year old daughter.

"Ooooh, Mommy!", she says, with a deep look of concern on her face and obvious worry in her voice (she can be quite compassionate). "Do you have a sliver in your face?!"

"No, sweetheart." I say suppressing a little giggle.

"Then why are you using the thing that takes out slivers?"

"These are tweezers and I'm just plucking my eyebrows."

"What's plucking?"

So I explain (still plucking). "Well, basically, it's when you pull out little hairs."

"You PULL them OUT?!!"

I stop. I look at her beautiful, shocked little face and I think, Should I tell her? Should I tell her that chances are, with the generous eyebrow genes bestowed upon her by both her father and her mother, she, too, may very well choose to 'pluck' someday? Should I tell her that not only is she likely to pluck, but as a woman it is very probable that she will voluntarily partake in various tedious, inconvenient, uncomfortable and down-right painful grooming practices all in the name of beauty?

No. This is not a conversation I want to have right now.

So I smile a big warm smile and teasingly pinch the tweezers at her and say, "Do you want me to pluck one of your hairs?".

"No!" she says, laughing.

Then, with the previous conversation flitting out of her innocent mind, she bounds joyfully and freely out of the bathroom as, truly, only a six year old can.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Pops

I wanted to make cake pops. If you don't know what I'm talking about here's the breakdown: Cake pops are candy or chocolate coated balls (or shapes - hearts, footballs, etc) of cake on a stick. Creative, fun, tasty. If you'd like to do further research on the subject you can learn more here.

Now, my problem with cake pops is that the ones I had tasted were way too sweet and when I looked into making them I found out why. First you bake a cake. Then you crumble it up and mix it with icing or jam so that the cake holds the desired shape. I was determined to find a way to omit the "icing glue" so that I could cut down on sugar in my pops.

Then we were invited to a birthday party and what was served? Cake pops! My friend, Kristi, was apparently thinking along the same lines as me because she did exactly what I wanted to; she figured out how to omit the "icing glue" with a little help from gluten-free genius Elana over at

So, for my daughter's sixth birthday she had cake pops! Cake pops that weren't too sweet and also happened to be gluten-free.

Here's what I did.

I baked a batch of Elana's Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes as a cake with a couple of modifications. (original recipe here)

Flourless Chocolate Cake
  • 2 squares unsweetened bakers chocolate (chopped) and semi-sweet chocolate chips to make 1 ½ cups total chocolate
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  1. Place chocolate and almonds in a food processor.
  2. Grind until the consistency of coarse sand.
  3. Pulse in eggs, grapeseed oil and agave.
  4. Then pulse in vanilla and salt.
  5. Pour batter into a parchment lined 8x8 cake pan and bake at 350° for 20 t0 30 minutes (I can't remember exactly how long it took - just test it with a toothpick to see if it's done. It should be a nice dark colour but watch that the edges don't burn! haha).
  6. Cool completely.

Making the cake pops:

(original recipe and directions here. I chose not to use the suggested cake because I didn't have almond flour, fyi)

You will need:

  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or bitter-sweet bakers chocolate (or whatever)
  • lollipop sticks (I got mine at the Bulk Barn)
  • sprinkles, candies (optional)
  1. Once cooled, crumble cake into a big bowl, making sure there are no large pieces.
  2. Form into 1½ inch(ish) balls and transfer to a parchment lined plate.
  3. Place plate of cake balls in freezer for 1-2 hours until very solid.

When cake balls are frozen well:
  1. Melt the 1½ cups chocolate in a small pot on the stove.
  2. Remove one ball at a time from freezer.
  3. Dip about ½ inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into melted chocolate.
  4. Insert the lollipop stick straight into the bottom of the ball, pushing about ⅓ of an inch deep.
  5. Holding stick with the ball attached, dip entirely into melted chocolate until covered.
  6. Make sure chocolate coating meets at base of lollipop stick; this helps secure the ball to the stick.
  7. Tap and twirl any excess chocolate coating off the cake pop so it is evenly coated.
  8. Apply sprinkles (if desired, which I didn't).
  9. Place stick of cake pop into styrofoam block in the fridge.
  10. Complete with remaining balls and allow to set completely.
You should end up with about 15 to 17 cake pops.

Once my cake pops were set I wanted to add some white chocolate embellishments so I melted some white chocolate chips and proceeded to pipe it onto the cake pops to make them look like "chocolate roses". Unfortunately, the white chocolate chips I purchased were horrible and didn't melt well so I only managed to do a few (poorly!) before giving up. (I'll get good quality or bakers white chocolate next time!)

All in all, it was a success! My daughter was so excited about her cake pop "flowers" and, with my husband's help, decorated the styrofoam cake pop holder with grass and a nice scene of bunnies and a fawn.

And finally, the proverbial cherry on top was the fact that my friend Sarah (who has to be on a celiac diet) kept asking me, "Are you SURE these are gluten free? Cause they don't taste like it.".

She had two :)