Chocolate Souffle Cake Topped with Sweet Strawberries


The usual strawberry shortcake goes chocolate and gluten/dairy-free.  Top with fresh mint and coconut  cream”whip” laced with honey or maple syrup.

Chocolate and strawberries are always a treat. Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s olive oil cake, I freshened up the recipe by using grapeseed oil and coconut palm sugar, and a few extra touches like dark chocolate.

This dessert will please a crowd especially when native strawberries are plentiful in early summer!

  • 1/4 cup cocoa 
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Mix together water and cocoa till smooth. Microwave the chocolate chips a minute or two, until they melt, being carefully not to overheat and burn. Stir till smooth. Mix the chocolate mixtures together and set aside to cool a bit.

In a stand alone mixer or hand held, beat eggs, oil, sugar and extracts for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy.  Add almond flour, baking soda, and chocolate mixture and blend well.

Pour batter into oiled half fill muffins tins lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffy and set in the middle. Run a knife along the edge of each cake and invert the muffin tins when cooled onto a flat cookie sheet. Cakes will fall flat when cooled. Remove parchment paper and top the bottom side of the cooled cakes with whipped coconut cream  sweetened with maple syrupto keep this dessert non-dairy. Add fresh sliced strawberries and finish with a mint sprig if desired. Makes about 2 dozen.

Chocolate Chunk Maple Almond Teff Cookies


You’ll want to eat every crumb! Photo by White Point Imaging.

These lightly sweetened cookies laced with maple syrup are made with teff flour, a naturally gluten-free artisan grain.

Inspired by Shiloh Farms’ peanut butter cookie recipe, I made my own dark chocolate chunk version substituting almond butter and adding almond flour for a yummy tea-like cookie-biscuit.

1 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 ounces grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups teff flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse wet ingredients in a food processor until thoroughly mixed. Place in a bowl and mix in dry ingredients. Form dough into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Lightly flatten dough with a spatula to cookie size and bake for 12-15 minutes. Cookies are crumbly when hot. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes approximately 2 dozen.

Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Souffle


Serve this as a sweet side dish with your Thanksgiving meal or as a dessert paired with vanilla coconut ice “cream” for an autumn treat.

This recipe is inspired by a Thanksgiving family favorite first made by my sis-in-law Abby (who probably found the original recipe in Gourmet magazine, but not sure).

Nonetheless, I’ve “freshened up” this dish by omitting butter, using gluten free flour along with non-dairy coconut milk and cut out refined sugar.

Maple syrup makes the souffle sweat – use a specialty maple syrup for an extra boost such as bourbon or vanilla bean, being mindful to adjust vanilla and almond extracts if needed. Top it all off with coconut palm sugar and pecans for a nutty crust.

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons oat or gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam potatoes on the top of a double boiler until tender. Transfer to a large bowl and whip with a hand mixer. Add olive oil, eggs, maple syrup, flour, vanilla and almond extract. Add milk. Beat until smooth.  If too watery, add a bit more flour. Place sweet potato mixture in an oiled souffle dish or several smaller ramekins. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of souffle. Bake large souffle for 1 hour or until set in the middle. Lessen baking time for smaller ramekins.

Maple Almond Pumpkin Custard


Made with almond milk, this custard is like a crustless pumpkin pie!

Creamy custard was a staple in my house because dad loved creme carmel, the Italian version his mom made. My mom would bake her weekly custard in a bain marie bath and sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top. It was oh so good warm out of the oven on a chilly night.

I make my own non-dairy pumpkin version using the sweetness of maple syrup and the creaminess of almond milk for a seasonal treat. Almond milk brands vary, so find unsweetened milk without a long list of additives. Top with a dollop of coconut cream, maple coated pecans or my Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Seeds.

3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup maple syrup
grapeseed oil spray

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 4 – 5 ten ounce glass custard cups or ramekins with grapeseed oil spray, blotting any excess with a paper towel.  Boil water and fill an ovenproof glass baking dish 1/2 inch up for a bain marie bath. Place baking dish in the oven. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until thoroughly blended. Fill custard cups or ramekins 3/4’s full and place in the bain marie. Bake for 40 minutes or until custard is set in center but not puffy. Set on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.


Chocolate Zucchini “Cupcakes”


Zucchini in cupcakes never tasted so YUM!

To keep up with the cupcake rage, I adapted my chocolate zucchini bread recipe with artisan spelt and sweet rice flours topped with non-dairy coconut whip.

Although I try to avoid baking with refined sugars, I found that flavor is sacrificed if using less sugar or substituting with honey or maple syrup. Instead try unrefined coconut sugar which adds a deeper molasses taste and see what you think.

The nuetral taste of grapeseed oil lets the nut oil shine through. Of course, if you don’t like nuts or need a nut-free recipe, omit walnuts and walnut oil and increase grapeseed oil by 1/4 cup.

3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup walnut oil
2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups spelt flour
1 cup sweet white rice flour
3/4 cup pure coco powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking power
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by brushing surface with extra grapeseed oil and filling tins with large paper baking cups.

Sift flours and set aside. In a stand up mixer add eggs and sugar and beat with whip attachment until thick and light yellow.  Add oils and vanilla. Change to paddle attachment and add zucchini. Then add flours, coco powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in batches until consistency is like cake batter.  Remove bowl from mixer and add walnuts and chocolate morsels with spatula. Fill baking cups 3/4 full and bake 15 – 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool.

“Frost” cupcakes with sweetened whipped coconut cream and finish with sifted coco powder on top.

Olive Oil Honey Soaked Cake with Grilled Peaches & Basil


It’s peach season and this is one easy and elegant dessert. Off season, mangoes can be substituted for peaches.

This olive oil cake is a version of my basic dairy-free spelt sweet bread cut into rounds for individual cakes.

No fresh mint in my garden, so I used basil growing plentifully. A surprisingly welcomed taste with coconut whip and sweet, juicy peaches.

A treat on a lazy summer day!

1  1/2 cups spelt flour
1 cup rice flour
3/4 cup honey plus more to drizzle on top
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces applesauce
1 ripe banana mashed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
coconut oil non-stick spray
ripe peaches, cut in slices
basil, cut in strips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 inch oven proof glass baking dish with coconut oil spray or a healthy nonstick alternative spray.  Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl by first using 1/4 coconut milk. If batter is too dry, add more  milk, a little at a time, until batter is firm but not loose or watery. Spread  batter in baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat grill pan or gas grill and spray with coconut oil. Grill peach slices on medium high heat until grill marks show. Flip and grill the other sides being careful not to over-grill or peach flesh will be mushy. Set aside.

Make Coconut Whip below. Cut cake into individual rounds with 2 or 3 inch round cookie cutter. Slice of thin top layer of each round and drizzle honey on top. Finish off with dollop of coconut whip, peaches and basil strips.

Coconut Whip
1 15 ounce can organic coconut milk, drained so only the “cream” remains
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 cup honey,maple syrup or agave

Chill coconut cream by placing in the freezer for 15 minutes or more, careful not to freeze. Add honey and vanilla. Whip with a hand mixer for 3 minutes until thickened.


Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait


Rhubarb and strawberries are early farmer’s market staples and go so well together. Skip the pie and go for an easy-to-make parfait.

Rhubarb grew out of my Grandma’s garden in the early summer and I loved the sweet-tart flavor of her strawberry-rhubarb pie as a kid. Now, I forgo the crust and have fun making these parfaits layered with  yogurt.

For extra farm-fresh taste, try sheep’s yogurt found at farmer’s markets and natural food stores. I used Turbinado sugar because it’s minimally processed and has a hint of molasses.  But feel free to substitute coconut palm sugar or approximately 1/3 cup honey. Use the best granola sweetened with honey or maple syrup.

3 cups rhubarb
3 cups strawberries
3 Tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 13 ounce cans organic coconut milk or 1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dice rhubarb and strawberries, tops removed, into 1/4 pieces. Add tapioca flour sugar and lemon juice and toss to combine all ingredients. Pour into a greased glass baking dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until fruit is soft and bubbly. Remove and let cool.

If using coconut milk, drain and whip the remaining coconut cream with vanilla and syrup. Alternately, stir vanilla and syrup into the yogurt. Layer  the dessert in a parfait glass or mason jar starting with coconut cream or yogurt and top with rhubarb mixture. Repeat to make a second layer and top with coconut cream or yogurt. Optional – sprinkle granola on top. Serves4-6

“Cleaner” Churros


The classic churro is dusted with cinnamon-sugar, but try dipping these GF Mexican “donuts” in honey-cinnamon for a treat!

I’ve discovered a gluten-free churro that is just as yum as the original!

The other big change is coconut oil instead of butter. I even tried baking them but the results were marginal. So, to be as authentic as possible with ridges, crunch and all, fried is best. Hey, two out of three ain’t bad!

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
24 oz canola oil
Cinnamon and sugar for dusting or honey for dipping

In a saucepan, heat coconut oil, water and salt till boiling. Remove pan from heat and add flour. Stir until a dough is formed and pulls away from the sides.

Transfer to a stand mixer with a dough paddle. Add one egg at a time on medium speed. Then add vanilla. Alternately, a hand mixer can be used but the dough tends to clump on the beaters.

Meanwhile, heat oil to 325 degrees. Put dough into a pastry bag with a large star tip. Oil is ready when a test piece of dough sizzles on the edges. Pipe 2 1/2 to 3 inch churros into the oil, cutting the dough with kitchen shears at desired length. Turn with a slotted spoon when dough is lightly brown and repeat on the other side. Transfer churros to a cooling rack lined with a paper towel for 1 minute then carefully roll them in cinnamon sugar or serve with honey laced with cinnamon.



Matcha Chocolate Truffles


You’ll love these green chocolate jewels made with stone ground Japanese matcha powder

A superfood tea, matcha is finely ground whole leaf green tea. So it’s loaded with good stuff!

Personal preference will decide whether you dredge each truffle in matcha or sprinkle it lightly on top. Coconut milk is used instead of dairy. Stay vegan by choosing chocolate chips free of dairy  or soy, and also gluten free. And yes, go ahead and substitute your favorite liqueur for the vanilla if the mood strikes you. For the best truffles, choose only the finest chocolate.

One further note.  As a reformed purist, I made an exception to my rule of not using microwaves. You’ll get the same results melting the chocolate in a double boiler, but this is one dish requiring minimal time in the micro and the results are perfect every time. I guess some rules are made to be broken.

10 ounces dark chocolate chips (60% cacao)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
matcha powder

In a glass measuring cup, melt chocolate chips and coconut milk in a microwave on high heat for 1 minutes and 30 seconds. Even though the top may appear watery, stir chocolate thoroughly up from the bottom until incorporated into a thick, melted chocolate mixture.  If chips are not quite melted, microwave for 30 more seconds, being carefully not to overheat or chocolate can burn. Add vanilla and stir until smooth and fully blended.

Transfer to a medium glass container with a wide top so that chocolate mixture is at least 1/2 inch thick. Cool for 15 minutes then cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours to solidify, but still soft enough to roll into balls. Scoop chunks of chocolate in between your palms and mold into 1 inch truffle balls.  Sprinkle on top , lightly coat or dredge truffles in matcha powder and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes about 2 dozen truffles.

Chocolate Bread Almond Butter Stack


Gooey and messy, but oh so good with almond or peanut butter!

Chocolate bread is my non-dairy low sugar version of chocolate pound cake. A treat on it’s own, but as a stack resembling your favorite nut butter cup, it’s a winner!

Keep refined sugars and flours at bay with raw almond butter spread on slices of chocolate bread made with turbinado sugar and artisan spelt flour.  Banana slices wedged in between the layers completes the stack.

Chocolate Bread

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 cup white or brown rice flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (splurge for the best!)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
dash of sea salt
1 cup unsweetened organic applesause
2 ripe banana’s, mashed
1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds
Optional: chocolate chips (I like dairy free mini-chips by Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease oven proof glass loaf pan. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and still until combined. Batter should be wet and incorporated. If too gooey, add a bit more flour. If it’s too dry, add a little more coconut milk.  Transfer batter to loaf pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

GLUTEN FREE: Substitute all purpose gluten free flour for spelt.