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The Best Damn Chocolate Cake (vegan)

March 16, 2017 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hello. My name is Abby. And I like chocolate. Wait, correction. I love chocolate. Hang on, final correction. I AM FREAKING OBSESSED WITH CHOCOLATE AND WILL MARRY IT IF GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY. There we go!

Chocolate has gotten me through a lot in my life, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

We’ve been eating a version of this cake in my family for years. The original recipe is from “Great Good Desserts Naturally” by Fran Costigan, a book that’s been sitting on our cookbook shelf for as long as I can remember.

The best part of this cake is that everyone can eat it. No, really, everyone. Which is why I decided to make it for the birthday of my dear friend Sophie.

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Guys, I’d like to introduce you to Sophie, a true soul sister of mine. We met through yoga last year and, after getting dinner together one night, became instant best friends. We share so much and I feel so grateful to have her in my life.

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Now, Sophie is a vegan…who also can’t eat gluten. Oh, I can see the reactions on your faces now. “What could she possibly eat? Grass? Air? Dirt?”

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Contrary to what may be depicted in this incredibly amusing meme, gluten-free vegans can actually eat quite a lot. Rice. Beans. Quinoa. All veggies and fruits. Potatoes and sweet potatoes. Nuts. Avocados. Dark chocolate. There’s plenty if you explore your options!

But when it comes to dessert, baking without dairy, eggs or flour can be a bit tricky. I’ve made plenty of vegan or gluten-free treats in my time, but rarely have I succeeded at simultaneously accomplishing both. But when Sophie’s 18th birthday came around on February 22nd, I knew I had to find a way to make a delicious dessert that fit the bill.

And this cake did the trick!

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By substituting wheat flour with gluten-free baking mix or gluten-free oat flour, you can make this delectable vegan chocolate cake for your Celiac or gluten-intolerant friends. And guess what? It still tastes incredible: moist, fudgy and so chocolaty you might go into cacao-induced shock.

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While the cake itself is beyond yummy, I think my favorite part of this dessert is the frosting. It’s like eating the lovechild of chocolate pudding and ganache. AMAZING.

And did the vegan enjoy her birthday cake? I think she did!

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The Best Damn Chocolate Cake (vegan)

Do you have vegan friends? Do any of them have a birthday coming up? No need to fear, this vegan chocolate cake is here! Moist, unbelievably chocolaty and quite easy to prepare, this beauty is sure to impress your herbivorous and omnivorous friends alike. Feel free to double the recipe and increase the number of layers!

Adapted from Fran Costigan’s “The Chocolate Cake to Live For” 

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 2 hr
Yield ~12 servings

FOR THE FROSTING:

1 1/2 cups of cocoa powder (please use the best stuff you can get your hands on!)

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1 cup of boiling water

1 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 1/2 cup of water

FOR THE CAKE:

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour + 1 cup of all-purpose flour, or sub gluten-free all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup of maple syrup

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk or almond milk

1 cup of water

2 teaspoons of vinegar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Splash of almond extract

Directions

FOR THE FROSTING:

In a high-speed blender, blend the cocoa powder, sugar and salt until well-combined. With the blender running on medium-low speed, pour in the boiling water. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides, then add the maple syrup and vanilla. Blend to incorporate.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch or arrowroot with the water until dissolved. Set aside.

Pour the chocolate sauce into a small saucepan. Heat over medium until the mixture comes to a boil. Once bubbling, slowly pour in the cornstarch/arrowroot, whisking constantly to prevent clumps from forming. Continue boiling for another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat. Keep whisking until thickened. Pour into a heat-proof container or boil and let cool in the fridge for at least two hours.

FOR THE CAKE:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9-inch circular pans with parchment paper and grease well. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder and sugar). Add the wet ingredients (vegetable oil, maple syrup, milk, water, vinegar and extracts). Whisk to combine.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two circular pans. Tap gently to spread the batter out.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out just barely clean, about 25 minutes. Be mindful: it could be closer to 20 if your oven runs hot, or closer to 30 if your oven runs cool.

Once the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool in their pans for half an hour, then transfer to cooling racks and let come to room temperature before frosting.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Take a piece of wax paper and lay it on top of a cutting board. Gently place one of the cakes on top of it. Using an inverted spatula, take a generous dollop of frosting and spread it all around the cake. Once sufficiently frosted, place the other cake directly on top of the first one. Use the rest of the frosting to cover the cake completely in chocolaty goodness. Eat what you don’t use.

Put the cake in the fridge for an hour before slicing and serving.


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Here’s to another year of tasty treats for my favorite vegan! <3


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The Best Damn Chocolate Cake (vegan)

March 4, 2017 Print this page

Do you have vegan friends? Do any of them have a birthday coming up? No need to fear, this vegan chocolate cake is here! Moist, unbelievably chocolaty and quite easy to prepare, this beauty is sure to impress your herbivorous and omnivorous friends alike. Feel free to double the recipe and increase the number of layers!

Adapted from Fran Costigan’s “The Chocolate Cake to Live For” 

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 2 hr
Yield ~12 servings

FOR THE FROSTING:

1 1/2 cups of cocoa powder (please use the best stuff you can get your hands on!)

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1 cup of boiling water

1 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 1/2 cup of water

FOR THE CAKE:

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour + 1 cup of all-purpose flour, or sub gluten-free all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup of maple syrup

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk or almond milk

1 cup of water

2 teaspoons of vinegar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Splash of almond extract

Directions

FOR THE FROSTING:

In a high-speed blender, blend the cocoa powder, sugar and salt until well-combined. With the blender running on medium-low speed, pour in the boiling water. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides, then add the maple syrup and vanilla. Blend to incorporate.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch or arrowroot with the water until dissolved. Set aside.

Pour the chocolate sauce into a small saucepan. Heat over medium until the mixture comes to a boil. Once bubbling, slowly pour in the cornstarch/arrowroot, whisking constantly to prevent clumps from forming. Continue boiling for another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat. Keep whisking until thickened. Pour into a heat-proof container or boil and let cool in the fridge for at least two hours.

FOR THE CAKE:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9-inch circular pans with parchment paper and grease well. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder and sugar). Add the wet ingredients (vegetable oil, maple syrup, milk, water, vinegar and extracts). Whisk to combine.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two circular pans. Tap gently to spread the batter out.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out just barely clean, about 25 minutes. Be mindful: it could be closer to 20 if your oven runs hot, or closer to 30 if your oven runs cool.

Once the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool in their pans for half an hour, then transfer to cooling racks and let come to room temperature before frosting.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Take a piece of wax paper and lay it on top of a cutting board. Gently place one of the cakes on top of it. Using an inverted spatula, take a generous dollop of frosting and spread it all around the cake. Once sufficiently frosted, place the other cake directly on top of the first one. Use the rest of the frosting to cover the cake completely in chocolaty goodness. Eat what you don’t use.

Put the cake in the fridge for an hour before slicing and serving.


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Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

August 17, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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So, I think I can say I have really and officially made it. Eleven days from today, I will begin my freshman year of college. I said high school to myself for a second, then proceeded to chuckle because thank goodness I’m not going back there. Shudder.

All of this change is coming. I can feel it in my bones. New people, new city, new classes, new professors, new yoga studio, new room, new eating habits, new study habits…what isn’t going to be new?! Yes, I’m a little nervous, but I’m way more excited than nervous. I’ve been waiting for this time for four years, and boy, I have never been so ready to spread my wings and leave.

One thing I’m really going to miss? My kitchen! Cooking (and baking!) have been my anchor throughout those four crazy years, and it feels a little weird that I’ll be leaving my anchor behind this year.

Well, get ready for a new Yes to Yummy mini series, entitled, “Small Kitchen, Big Dreams.” And by small kitchen, I mean my mini fridge and microwave. Y’all ready for some MUG CAKES?!?!?!?! How about some OATMEAL JARS?!?!?!?! DORM ROOM HACKS?!?!?!?! HELL YEAH!!! #COLLEGE!!!!!

Sorry. That was a little weird and extreme. I’ll show you a cupcake picture to get things back on track.

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These were so good. My taste-testers agreed. According to my yoga teacher Emily, she took a bite of this cupcake in the car, expecting to save the rest for later. Needless to say the cupcake didn’t make it out of the parking garage.

There are oodles of lovely flavors and textures going on here. Chewy, crunchy, sweet, smooth, cinnamon-y…this cupcake is a perfect package for awesome. And you know what?! You can eat it for breakfast, too. Maybe leave off the frosting, maybe not. Choice is up to you.

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Wanna make ’em? Well, you should!

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

Ingredients

Prep Time 35 min
Cooking Time 25 min
Total Time 1 hr
Yield 12-15 cupcakes (or muffins)

4 eggs

3/4 cup of vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted

1 cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

Pinch of ground nutmeg

4 large carrots, grated

1 cup of pecans, chopped

1/2 cup – 1 cup of raisins (depending on how much you like raisins!)

Coconut frosting, doubled if you like a generous dollop of frosting

Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with parchment liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat well to thoroughly combine.

In a small bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, excluding the carrots, pecans and raisins. Stir to combine and then, 1/2 cup of a time, incorporate into the wet ingredients with a spatula.

Once all of the dry ingredients are added, pour in the carrots, pecans and raisins. Fold gently with a spatula combine and stop just when well-mixed. Don’t overdo!

Using an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, distribute the batter between the prepared muffin tins, stopping about 2/3 of the way up. (If you run out of space, no worries — just prepare another muffin pan or wait until your first batch is done.)

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes depending on how hot or cold your oven runs.

Once fully cooked, let cool in the muffin tin for half an hour, then transfer to a cooking rack to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare the coconut frosting, if desired. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost them and decorate with toasted coconut flakes.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days — but best when eaten right away!


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All right folks, guess it’s a “see you later” for now? I can’t wait to update you on all of the yummy foods I’ll eat in New York. Keep your fingers crossed that I’ll make friends and not accidentally wind up on a train bound for Hoboken!


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Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

August 17, 2016 Print this page

Is it a breakfast food? Is it a dessert food? That decision is up to you. Sweet and earthy, these cupcakes are perfect for any time of year. Feel free to leave off the frosting for a tasty muffin.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 35 min
Cooking Time 25 min
Total Time 1 hr
Yield 12-15 cupcakes (or muffins)

4 eggs

3/4 cup of vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted

1 cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

Pinch of ground nutmeg

4 large carrots, grated

1 cup of pecans, chopped

1/2 cup – 1 cup of raisins (depending on how much you like raisins!)

Coconut frosting, doubled if you like a generous dollop of frosting

Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with parchment liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat well to thoroughly combine.

In a small bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, excluding the carrots, pecans and raisins. Stir to combine and then, 1/2 cup of a time, incorporate into the wet ingredients with a spatula.

Once all of the dry ingredients are added, pour in the carrots, pecans and raisins. Fold gently with a spatula combine and stop just when well-mixed. Don’t overdo!

Using an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, distribute the batter between the prepared muffin tins, stopping about 2/3 of the way up. (If you run out of space, no worries — just prepare another muffin pan or wait until your first batch is done.)

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes depending on how hot or cold your oven runs.

Once fully cooked, let cool in the muffin tin for half an hour, then transfer to a cooking rack to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare the coconut frosting, if desired. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost them and decorate with toasted coconut flakes.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days — but best when eaten right away!


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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

August 2, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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All of those colors can only mean one thing: summer is here! Huzzah!

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Look, I love summer. Don’t get me wrong. I love that it’s light out so late and the farmer’s markets are teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables. I love being able to practice yoga whenever I want and having the time to catch up on all of the pleasure reading I’ve missed over the course of high school. I love singing and playing my ukulele in the grass and listening to Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan in my room. But holy crap I want summer to be over.

As you know from my relentless complaining, senior year kinda sorta really sucked. Nothing really horrendous happened, but so many bad little things piling up one on top of another totally tanked my year. Sometimes, there’s bad energy that settles and you have to wait for it to pass. Life is a balancing act: you have periods of where lots of good things happen, periods where lots of icky things happen. It all evens out in the end, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in a moment of suckitude. And this year was one big moment of suckitude.

I was really ready to go at the end of my junior year, and unfortunately, senior year wound up being sloppy seconds. I made a bunch of mistakes and lost several of my closest friends, which stunk. I know people come and go, for life is an ebb and flow, but it felt like so many people were going this year. I felt disconnected, and the aha moment where everything clicked again never came. I like spending more time alone than with others, but there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. And the latter feels yuck.

I don’t usually get embarrassed about things — hell, I came to school dressed as a giant tomato once — but for some reason, I feel ashamed about this year. I felt the claws of my old anxiety sinking back in as the embarrassment swirled in limitless circles in my head. I feel foolish, and I know I’ve been particularly unkind to myself recently, something I’ve struggled with for years. I want to shake it all away but it stays as I meditate and play my favorite songs by The 1975. I hate it. I thought I had moved on from this!

That’s the thing with anxiety. It’s two steps forward, four steps back. Sometimes it eats you. Sometimes you make sure it gets served. But when you’re in it, it makes you feel insecure, regretful, misunderstood. It pushes people away for you. It makes you think everyone hates you. But still, you soldier on and smile when you can, because you know you are better than your anxiety, and one day, the switch will flip and your thoughts will become rational again. It’s a practice.

I just want to be college Abby already. The Abby who, wearing a leather jacket with a yoga mat slung over her shoulder, runs into someone she knew from high school on the subway and grins because she’s a city girl now. The Abby who goes to concerts on Monday nights in Williamsburg. The Abby who carries a thoughtful little journal in which she writes existential haikus in Washington Square Park. I know that Abby is coming soon — 26 days, to be exact — but it all just seems so far away. And it’s frustrating.

You know what the best way to channel your frustrations is? Gnocchi!

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I find the process of making gnocchi so therapeutic. It might seem tedious to some people, but to me, there’s nothing more relaxing than rolling out potato dumplings.

My dad and I attempted to make gnocchi for the first time when I was in fifth grade. Let’s just say our foray was not exactly successful. All I can remember is that the process was messy and confusing, and when we dropped our “dumplings” in boiling water, they disintegrated. Whoops. My mother, queen of cleaning, vowed that we would never make gnocchi again on account of such a disaster.

Years later, I tried again on my own, and this time, my gnocchi worked. (My mom actually liked them, to her surprise!) Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been refining my gnocchi technique, learning how to put together the tastiest plate possible with a variety of colors and textures.

Most Italian chefs take a simple approach when it comes to serving gnocchi, usually serving the dish with pesto or a very simple cheese or tomato sauce. While there’s something to be said about showcasing the gnocchi pretty much on its own, I like serving these soft, chewy dumplings with lots of vegetables for some varied flavor and texture. I don’t like dishes that are all soft; rather, I like my meals to be crunchy and smooth and everything in between.

By pairing the gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and basil, you not only get a ton of veggies in your dinner, but also the joy of having a party of flavor in your mouth. While I loved this combo, I look forward to making gnocchi later this summer with eggplant, peppers, and other tasty produce.

Gnocchi might seem intimidating, but don’t be scared! The first time you make it, I highly suggest setting aside an afternoon to conquer your project. You’ll feel much better with extra time on your hands.

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


Here’s to potatoes, vegetables, and letting go to move forward. See you soon, loves. <3

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