Thursday, January 28, 2016

Almond Chocolate Cakes

Featured Ingredient: Almond Flour

We decided to escape the Canadian winter chill and rent a place in Austin, Texas. The goal is to explore the countryside on bikes and test out the food scene, which promises to be tasty.

It was a long, long 2 1/2 day drive down from Ontario and unfortunately Tabi had to spend her birthday trapped in the car. So I thought I would ease her pain by bringing along some birthday chocolate cake.

Made by grinding up blanched almonds, almond flour infuses baked goods like these gluten-free individual cakes with high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and other vital nutrients like vitamin E. It’s now available at many grocers or grab some at

I’ve found that when baking with grain-free flours like almond, it’s best to separate the eggs and whip the whites to produce a lighter, cakelike end product. These are deliciously moist and exploding with chocolaty goodness. You can also make them in smaller, standard sized muffin cups. You would probably get 12 cakes, but will likely need to reduce the cooking time by a couple minutes. Raspberries are a stellar garnish option. I like to warm them for a moment in the microwave before serving. 

Almond Chocolate Cakes

1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1/2 cup brewed hot coffee
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large free range eggs, separated
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Soak pitted dates in 1 cup boiling water for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, stir cocoa powder into hot coffee and let cool. Place dates and soaking liquid and the cocoa mixture in a blender container and blend until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir date paste, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract into the cocoa-coffee mixture. Add the cocoa mixture to the almond mixture and stir gently until combined.

Using an electric mixer or whisk, whip the eggs whites until soft peaks form. Stir about one-quarter of the egg whites into the almond flour mixture and then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Divide batter among 8 large sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out mostly clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before unmolding and cooling further, preferably on a metal rack. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Cups

Featured Ingredient: Steel-Cut Oats

Oh man, it has been eons since I posted a recipe here. I know that I had a solid following of fellow muffin tin maniacs, so my apologies. Life and work just got in the way. But I’m going to try and post recipes a little more frequently going forward.

And what better way to re-launch Muffin Tin Mania than with these subzero oatmeal pumpkin cups. A recent study found that kickstarting a day with oats leads to prolonged feelings of fullness, which can quell any morning vending machine temptation, compared to eating the same number of calories from boxed cereal. And hearty steel-cuts oats are even more hunger-squashing (and tasty!) than a bowl of mushy rolled oats. But the problem with the steel-cut variety is their prolonged cooking time which can make them a no-option on harried weekday mornings. Well, prepare a big batch of pumpkin infused oats, freeze the bounty in a trusty muffin pan and boom….you have delicious oats that only require a quick thaw and heat.

I found that three frozen oat cups were enough to serve both Tabi and I, so 1 or 2 of them is likely what most people would find an adequate single serving depending on one’s morning appetite. I took the extra step of toasting the oats before simmering as this heightens their flavor. But it’s an optional step. Each bowl can be garnished as you like with items such as berries, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, or additional nuts.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Pucks

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk of choice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin puree
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, around 3 minutes.

In a large saucepan, combine the water and milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place oats in pan, return to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium low.  Simmer gently covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for 12 - 15 minutes, or until creamy and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, banana, maple syrup, walnuts, vanilla and spices. Let cool for several minutes. 

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized silicon or lightly greased metal muffin cups and place in freezer until frozen solid. If you have more mixture than you can fit in the muffin cups, either use what is leftover for your next breakfast or once the oat pumpkin cups are frozen freeze the remainder of the mixture.

Remove oatmeal cups from muffin pan and store in a zip-top bag until ready to use.

To thaw and warm, either place the desired number of oatmeal cups in a saucepan with a few splashes of water and heat over medium until warm and creamy. Or place in a microwave safe bowl with a bit of water, cover with paper towel and heat on HIGH for about 2 minutes.