Coconut Cake

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Personal photo time, I celebrated my golden birthday over the long weekend with my family and my beau. My mom asked me to make the coconut cake I made for her birthday a couple of months ago and I agreed. It’s a seriously simple recipe and it’s filled with all kinds of coconut goodness (I kind of love coconut if you haven’t gathered already and it’s so good for you). This cake isn’t your ordinary layered, rich, and overly sweet treat. Instead, it’s balanced, light, and perfect for warmer weather. I hope you enjoy!

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Coconut Cake 

Ingredients: 

  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp coconut extract or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Frosting: 

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a 8 x 8 inch square cake dish with a nonstick spray.
  • In a bowl whisk together eggs, coconut milk (shake the can before you open), sugar, oil, coconut extract, and shredded coconut.
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. The top of the cake will also have a nice golden color once it’s finished.
  • For the frosting whip the cream in a stand mixer until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until the peaks form.
  • Once the cake has cooled completely add the whipped cream frosting and serve with some fresh berries.
  • Make sure to keep this cake in the fridge so the whipped cream doesn’t melt.

 

Up next I have the tastiest and possibly the healthiest cookie recipe that I cannot wait to share. Stay tuned!

 

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

 

 

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Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!! So these are not exactly chocolate chip cookies, but I prefer the chunk over the chip any day and once you try these chewy chocolate chunk cookies, that literally melt in your mouth, I think you might agree.

Some of my friends know that I gave up chocolate for a year, starting this past  July. I guess you could say I was addicted to the stuff and I could not go a day with out having some form of chocolate. It became unhealthy and I did not feel so great – for a while I thought I even developed an allergy to chocolate, which I’m glad to say I didn’t. I also stopped consuming caffeine at the same time, and well chocolate does have caffeine. There were of course some moments when I was tempted to eat chocolate, so I would just turn to some carob chip cookies to satisfy my cravings and it worked, but it wasn’t the same. Now almost 10 months later I feel a lot better and eliminating caffeine from my diet was one of the best things I have done for myself. Now I do allow myself one cup of green tea every morning (Traditional Medicinals Organic Lemongrass Green Tea is my favorite) it does have some amazing health benefits and it even promotes weight loss. Even though I gave up chocolate I still wanted to share my version of a chocolate chip cookie on my blog, which resulted in me eating some chocolate when I made these – I mean I had to make sure they tasted good enough to share and they definitely did!

I wanted to create a semi guilt free chocolate chip cookie that would be the perfect after meal treat when you just need a little bit of chocolate (you know what I’m talking about). There is no butter in this recipe or traditional cane sugar, I kind of went cocoNUTS with this one and used coconut oil to replace butter and coconut sugar to replace table sugar. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about coconut sugar lately and I just had to try it in a recipe to see if it really lived up to all the hype. Coconut sugar is still sugar, but I’ve read that it does have a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar and does contain several nutrients including: Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Potassium, and antioxidants. Of course I’m still a skeptic, so even though this recipe has a healthier sugar alternative don’t go and eat the whole batch yourself, have a couple and share the rest with your friends and family – they will be grateful that you did. On a side note, I will be sharing a another cookie recipe soon that has zero table sugar in it and it’s one of my favorites, but since today is a national holiday celebrating chocolate chip cookies I thought we could all indulge a little. Here is the coconut sugar that I found at my health food store:

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chopped or (1) 3.5 oz bar chopped (I used my favorite brand: Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate with 70% Cacao Content).

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Using a mixer, beat coconut oil and sugar until fluffy.
  • Beat in egg and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Slowly add in 1/3 of your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and slowly mix. Then add another third of the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining third until the dough is combined.
  • Lastly, stir in your chocolate chunks.
  • Once everything is well combined cover your cookie dough with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least an hour (this is a must if you want thick chewy cookies, if you bake right away your cookies will be flat and thin – trust me).
  • After an hour pull your dough out of the fridge and start to form small dough balls in the palm of your hand (I was able to get 16 cookies out of this recipe). Now don’t worry if your dough seems dry and it’s falling apart like crazy. You haven’t done anything wrong, take a handful of your crumbly dough and form balls out of them, the heat from your hands will help bring the dough back together, I promise. Once you have placed your cookie dough on the cookie sheet press down and flatten them out just a bit.
  • Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Remember your cookies will continue to bake even after you take them out of the oven so do not leave them in the oven any longer than they need to be.

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet before transferring to a plate or your mouth – hey it’s your kitchen do what you want.

Here are some pictures of my baking process. I hope you all enjoy and again Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!!

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On the left is a picture of the coconut oil and coconut sugar blended. The coconut sugar gives these cookies a warm brown color, which reminds me of ginger snaps. On the right is the dough minus the best part, the chocolate chunks.

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I love Green & Black’s Chocolate, but it can be pricey. I have found Trader Joe’s to have awesome organic dark chocolate bars (that they keep by the registers in my store) to be just as good and way more affordable.

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Dough all ready to chill out for an hour.

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Is your mouth watering yet!? Now go and bake these yummy cookies you will not be disappointed!

 

Banana Chia Seed Pudding

Banana Chia Seed Pudding

 

 

Going to school in New York City, and living there a year after college, I fell in love with all the amazing eateries and bakeries the city had to offer. There was of course one particular bakery that I frequented often and it was all because of their famous Banana Pudding. Yes, I’m talking about Magnolia Bakery. Everyone raves about their cupcakes, but I always went straight for that creamy Banana Pudding. I think there may have been a few times where I justified to myself that one order of Banana Pudding was a well balanced meal. I mean I had to make some frugal choices while living in an expensive city and giving up Banana Pudding for an actual meal was not always an option I preferred.

Fast forward three years later, I no longer live in The Big Apple, but I still crave and long for Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery. Luckily I had purchased the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook a few years back and there inside was the recipe for the ever so delicious Banana Pudding. Since leaving NYC I have made this delicious treat many times, but then I learned the ugly truth about some of the ingredients. Those truths were a major turnoff in my love affair with Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding. 

One of the main ingredients in Banana Pudding, besides banana, are Nilla Wafers. The cookbook specifically says to use the Nabisco Nilla Wafers – no substitutes. Take a look at the ingredient list I found on www.nutritionix.com. From Soybean Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Emulsifiers, to Artificial Flavors.

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Now I know why these are called “Nilla Wafers” instead of Vanilla Wafers – there is not a drop of vanilla in these cookies. I know a lot of people don’t pay attention to the ingredients on food labels, but seriously what sounds good about those Nilla Wafers now?

I was on a mission at this point. I still wanted to enjoy the essence of this delicious dessert, but without all the questionable ingredients. Then there was this brief moment, standing in a Books-A-Million with this boy I know reading cookbooks, when a lightbulb came into my head and I thought Banana Chia Seed Pudding! That was the answer to my constant cravings for the delectable Banana Pudding that I missed so much, but knew was bad for me. So, that is where this lovely creation came from. It’s nothing like the original Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding, but in my opinion it might just be better in its own special way.

This recipe has a few different parts. First, there is the recipe for Vanilla Wafers. Second, is the recipe for Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding. Followed by the third part, involving the assembling of this layered pudding.

The Vanilla Wafers

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil *
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp sea salt

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*Instead of coconut oil feel free to substitute with unsalted butter.

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 325 F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl cream together the coconut oil and honey until smooth. Add vanilla and egg, mixing until well combined.

In a separate bowl, add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

Place mixture in a piping bag or Ziploc bag and pipe dough onto parchment lined baking sheet in quarter sized dollops about a 1/2 inch apart.

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Bake for 8 minutes at 325 F. Turn off oven and let sit in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until wafers begin to brown on the edges. Check on these frequently during this time because they can burn easily if they’re left in too long. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Once cooled, transfer cookies to an airtight container and repeat baking process with remaining dough.

These finished vanilla wafers are super delicious all by themselves, but we are not done yet. One more prep step in making the Banana Chia Seed Pudding.

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Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup chia seed
  • 4 cups almond milk or soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Directions: 

In a medium size bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla, and maple syrup.

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 (at this point, I kind of just wanted to pour this mixture into a glass and drink it – yum!)

Next add chia seeds to the milk mixture and whisk it all together.

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About a minute later whisk again. Wait 5 minutes and whisk…then again 5 minutes later. Now let the mixture sit for an hour before transferring to your storage container.

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After an hour, transfer your chia seed pudding to your storage container and place in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least an hour).

Now we are in the homestretch, the final step is next. Assembly time!

The Final Product – Banana Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients: 

  • vanilla wafers
  • vanilla chia seed pudding
  • 2-3 large bananas sliced

After your chia seed pudding has had time to set up in the fridge you want to get out a large size bowl or Glad container. Start with putting a layer of your homemade vanilla wafers on the bottom of your bowl. Next a layer of sliced banana followed by a nice thick layer of your homemade vanilla chia seed pudding. Repeat this two more times and finish off the top layer by crumbling some of the vanilla wafers. At this point I like to let this set up again in the fridge for a few hours, but it’s not necessary. There you have a delicious healthy version of one of my favorite desserts. I hope you enjoy!

Banana Chia Seed Pudding

On a side note, if you want to make this dessert slightly more decadent, make some homemade whipped cream and add it in between your layers of banana slices and chia seed pudding. I was debating doing this, but ultimately I wanted to keep this recipe low in sugar and decided to go without the whipped cream. Here is a simple whipped cream recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/whipped-cream/