Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Miss me yesterday? Normally I post on Wednesdays and join a bunch of blog parties… but I decided to switch things up. Typically, today I would be be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. But… the challenge ingredients didn’t work well with our current dietary habits so I decided to skip out this month. You should stop by and check out the challenge though, there are, as usual, some delicious and fantastic recipes posted!

Today, I’d like to wish my wonderful, loving, best friend and boyfriend Bryan a very Happy Birthday!

Bryan — Thank you for being so wonderful! … and eating all my failed attempts at baking your favourite cake. Love you immensely!

To celebrate his birthday I’ll be making yet another attempt at making his absolute all-time favourite cake (His mom’s recipe). The pictures come from my last, and most successful, attempt at making the cake so far. My brother and I served the cake at a birthday lunch we hosted for Nana back in August. The cake went over really well despite the fudgy texture.

Nana, her sisters, and my brother Matt getting ready to enjoy their chocolate cake! (For Nana’s birthday gift, Matt and I hosted a lunch for these lovely ladies. They all loved it and had a wonderful afternoon!)

The recipe may look simple enough. But you see, I’m a terrible baker. It never seems to come out right.

At first, I tried to make the recipe, but changing some of the directions (I tried to melt/boil ingredients on the stove-top instead of in the microwave). I tried to fiddle with the ingredients (using only lard instead of adding some butter and vice versa). Less sugar maybe? Usually I get the cake right. It should be fluffy (not fudgy, which is what happened last time). The frosting is generally the tough part. It frequently comes out soupy (it should be thick). What I’ve learned… mother knows best when it comes to her own recipe! Stick to it.

What makes this cake so amazing? It’s chocolately (cake and frosting). It’s fluffy. It’s oh so sweet. And when Bryan’s mom makes it, it’s one of my absolute favourite desserts. But most important, this cake reminds me of Bryan’s wonderful and welcoming family and my trips to New Mexico.

Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar  – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup lard (Crisco)  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 milk added to 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice)  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 eggs  – approximate cost $0.50

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 6 tablespoons milk  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 pound or 454 grams icing sugar  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup chopped pecans  – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the cake batter.
    1. Stir together sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Bring butter (or margarine), lard, cocoa, and water to a boil. (NOTE: Bryan’s mom melts the ingredients in the microwave. She also notes that she uses margarine and butter-flavoured Crisco sticks. I melt the ingredients in a pot on the stove. I have used butter and a generic brand of lard)
    3. Stir butter mixture well.
    4. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture.
    5. Mix well using an electric mixer.
    6. Slowly add (while continuing to mix):
    7. Buttermilk (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that you can use milk added to one-half tablespoon of lemon juice as a substitute — I use this recommendation)
    8. Vanilla
    9. Eggs (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that she uses one-half cup of egg beaters)
    10. Bake in 11×13 oblong pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Prepare the frosting.
    1. Bring butter or margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil in the microwave. (NOTE: For whatever reason, this direction is a must! I’ve tried melting these ingredients in a pot on the stove many times. Each attempt was unsuccessful, resulting in a liquidy frosting that never stuck to the cake. Use the microwave and the frosting will turn out thick every time.
    2. Mix well with electric mixer.
    3. Add icing sugar, vanilla and chopped pecans.
    4. Mix well with electric mixer.
  4. Pour icing over HOT cake.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 15 servings (approximate cost: $0.52 per serving).

Raw Apple Pie in Cupcake Tins

I’ve been making a lot of raw apple desserts lately, so when Chef Renee said we were going to make a raw apple pie I was excited to learn a few things about how I could improve the desserts I was already preparing. And the answer was obvious… play with the ingredients! I was using walnuts exclusively for many of the desserts, including the raw apple crisp and the raw apple cobbler. I hadn’t thought of including dried coconut flakes, pecans, or any other type of nuts.

Raw apple pie

Renee’s apple pie was fantastic! Although when I made this again myself I left the dates out of the filling to tone down the sweetness of the dessert. Just a personal preference.

B and I both enjoyed this pie. For his, I heated the apple mixture before serving and prepared my own at room temperature. Because you don’t put the crust and the filling together until you are just about to serve the pie,  it is easy to cater to various preferences.

Raw Apple Pie in Cupcake Tins

Recipe by RAW food chef Renee Shaidle

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts – approximate cost $2.25
  • 1 cup pecans – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut (optional) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 cup raisins – approximate cost $1.00
  • 10 medjool or honey dates – approximate cost $2.75

Crust

Filling

  • 6 apples – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 lemon, juiced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup raisins – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 medjool dates, pitted  – approximate cost $0.80
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.05
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup – approximate cost $0.75

Filling

Method

  1. Soak the raisins and dates in warm water for at least 20 minutes, this will make them more sticky. This step is optional. You will likely need to use more raisins and dates if you do not have time to soak them first.
  2. Prepare the crust
    1. Blend the walnuts, pecans, dried coconut, cinnamon and sea salt in a food processor until coarsely ground.
    2. Add raisins and dates until mixture begins to stick together.
    3. Reserve half of the crumble (to sprinkle on top of pie).
    4. Press the remaining half of the crust mixture into muffin tins lined with plastic wrap (Or a 9” pie pan)

      crust

  3. Prepare the filling
    1. Peel, core, and thinly slice 2 apples.
    2. Coat sliced apples with 2 tablespoons lemon juice (this will keep them from turning brown) and set aside.
    3. Peel, slice, and core 4 apples and blend in the food processor with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
    4. Add dates, cinnamon, and maple syrup and continue to process until smooth.
    5. Remove mixture from processor and combine with the sliced apples.
  4. Putting it together
    1. Pour the apple mixture into the prepared muffin cups or pie plate.
    2. Top with remaining crumble.

Crust

Note: Raw apple pies will keep in fridge for approximately 5 days. However, you might want to keep the crust and filling separate until you are about ready to serve the dessert.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.08 per serving).

Raw apple pie

The Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Pumpkin pie is one of my favourites. It rivals my grandmother’s apple pie and nana’s lemon-meringue pie. I think I generally enjoy these pies because they’re not very sweet.Because Thanksgiving is a special occasion, it requires that I prepare a dessert. This is an infrequent task on my part. I usually don’t want sweets and am reluctant to make a pastry. It never seems to turn out quite right. I’m sure I’d get better with practice, or if I followed the directions a bit more closely. Or, I can opt for a recipe, such as the one I found on Oh She Glows, which omits the pastry altogether and uses a pecan-based crust.

I liked this pie and crust recipe because it was flexible. It allowed me to substitute ingredients I had on hand instead of buying something I would use just this once (e.g. honey instead of brown rice syrup). On top of that, it’s very easy to put together because both the crust and the filling are prepared in the food processor.

B and I enjoyed the pie so much that we ended up eating it for breakfast the next day.

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Adapted from Oh She Glows (Note: The original recipe is vegan. This recipe is not.)

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 cup oats – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups raw pecans – approximate cost $4.00
  • 2 tablespoon sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 tablespoon ground flax – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 cup honey – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75

For the filling

  • 1 large can of puréed pure pumpkin – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup – approximate cost $0.75
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.75

Method

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the crust.
    1. Place the oats in the food processor and process until they become a powder/flour.
    2. Add the pecans, sugar, flax, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and process until the pecans are chopped into fine pieces.
    3. Add the honey and the coconut oil. Process until the entire mixture is sticky and begins to form a ball.
    4. Divide mixture into two and press firmly into two 10 inch pie baking pans.
    5. Bake crust for about 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the filling.
    1. Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, coconut cream, coconut oil, maple syrup, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Putting it together.
    1. Divide the filling into half and pour the mixture over the prepared crusts.
    2. Bake for 30-45 minutes (the top should start to brown slightly).

The original recipe suggests refrigerating the pie for at least 3 hours. We enjoyed the pie fresh out of the oven topped with whipped cream and it was fantastic. It was also great when served cold the next day.

Makes 2 pies, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $1.16 per slice).

Raw Apple Crumble

I’ll be participating in a bake sale tomorrow, with the proceeds being donated to a local charity. You might have noticed from the nature of my posts, I don’t often bake sweets. Honestly, because I rarely follow a recipe step-by-step the result usually isn’t quite right. At first, I thought it might be nice to prepare some finger foods such as dumplings or other such appetizers. Being that I would have to prepare this on a weeknight, I ruled out that option as too time consuming.

Then, I looked to the Raw Cooking Workshop that I attended at the beginning of the month. I sifted through the recipe book that Renee prepared for us, but nothing was quite what I was looking for. As my mind drifted and I began looking forward to a weekend shopping trip at the market, I found my inspiration: it’s apple season! I will make something with apples. What can I make with apples? Apple pie, apple sauce, apple crumble, baked apples, candied apples… the options seemed endless. However, I still liked the idea of making a raw dish.

Apple crumble seemed like the least intensive item to prepare on a weeknight. I searched the Internet for “raw apple crumble” and found two recipes that seemed appropriate: Raw Apple Crisp from Raw Food Passion and RAW Vegan Apple Crisp from A Taste of Raw. I ended up taking suggestions from both recipes and came up with the following recipe for apple crumble.

Raw Apple Crumble

Adapted from Raw Food Passion and A Taste of Raw

apple crumble

Ingredients

Crumble

  • 2 cups raw nuts (any combination, 1 used ½ cup walnuts, 1 cup almonds, ½ cup cashews, could also include pecans, sunflower seeds, etc.) – approximate cost $4.00
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut flakes – approximate cost $1.00
  • 8 (about a ½ cup) medjool dates, soaked and pitted – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 tablespoons of agave nectar – approximate cost $0.25

Filling

  • 4-6 apples (I used Macintosh), cored and thinly sliced – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 lemon, squeezed/juiced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons of agave nectar – approximate cost $0.25

apple crumble

Method

Preparing to make this dish

  1. Soak the medjool dates and raisins for 2-3 hours or until softened.
  2. Core and slice apples into thin pieces. (This can be done with a paring knife and a lot of patience, or much more quickly using a food processor).

Prepare the filling

  1. In a large mixing bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice and agave nectar, then set aside.
  2. Let the mixture marinate on the counter for 1-2 hours.
  3. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins to the apple mixture and mix well.

Prepare the crumble

  1. Place nuts and coconut in a food processor (or blender) and process until coarsely ground.
  2. Add dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together.

Assembling the dish

  1. Press the crumble into 8″ square glass baking dish to make an even and solid crust.
  2. Drizzle the crust with 2 tablespoons of agave nectar.
  3. Pour the apple filling mixture over the crumble and arrange into a mostly even layer.

Enjoy immediately or chill and save later. Serve at room temperature or warm it slightly in an oven turned to its lowest temperature with the door propped open.

Makes 9 servings (approximate cost: $1.29 per serving).

apple crumble

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