Lavender, mint, beet powder cupcakes with kefir frosting

 

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I recently read that cupcakes are still in, and I thought it was a crazy thing to read because cake in any form should always just be, cake is beyond “in”, cake is it’s own world, it’s own entity and to say any form of cake, whether in pound, round, square, small, cup, or otherwise is in or out is to degrade the thing that is cake. So, I’m posting this recipe, but not in response to the thing I read, because I don’t want to acknowledge cake speculation and trending, but just because these cupcakes are important to me. They are important to me because they are pretty and easy and absurdly delicious in all the right ways.

These cupcakes are quick and a totally successful first use of my beet powder. The lavender and mint combination is perfection I think, I mean just being able to smell mint and lavender before biting into a cupcake makes everything feel more okay. I first made them without mint and without beetroot, but the incorporation of these two ingredients made them both incomparably tastier and prettier. Oh, and the kefir! It just so slightly offsets the sweetness, and adds dimension and complexity, the way kefir should.

Cupcakes:

1/2 cup coconut oil melted
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp plain whole milk kefir
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut flour

Oven 350
1. Whisk coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, kefir, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl
2. Mix coconut flour and baking powder, then whisk into the egg-sugar mix
3. Line a cupcake tray, and bake for around 15 minutes.
4. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
1-2 tsp lavender buds
3-4 tbsp kefir
1 Tbsp beet powder
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (add more/less as needed)
Mint leaves

1. Whisk together the lavender buds and kefir; place in the fridge while the cupcakes cool.
2. Add the beet powder and powdered sugar. Adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar or more kefir.
3. Frost the cooled cupcakes, garnish with mint.

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Salted Chocolate Espresso Cookies

20150314_095044-001These cookies are super thin and crispy and have a nice little kick from the espresso. We had a few in the early afternoon and they are a much more mild option than a cup of coffee for a little extra boost. They are mostly chocolatey, buttery and a little salty, and store well in the freezer. Serve with vanilla ice cream or make ice cream sandwiches with them for a special dessert.

Salted Chocolate Espresso Cookies

8 oz. semisweet chocolate
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons espresso
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Flaky salt, like Maldon

Oven 350
1. Melt the chocolate, butter and espresso over a double broiler.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
3. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
4. Add the chocolate espresso mix into the egg mixture and combine thoroughly, then add the flour mix until just combined.
5. Refrigerate the mix for a few hours or overnight.
6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop spoonfuls of the cookie mix onto the paper, bake for about 10 minutes, or until flattened. Sprinkle with Maldon and allow to cool. Use a spatula to get the cookies off the parchment paper. Serve warm, or store in the freezer.
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Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels

IMG_2352 IMG_2348 IMG_2350It seems that these caramels make it officially fall. They are so good, but good in a way where you can just have one and feel satisfied. They are sweet and savory and deeply apple-y. The color is darker amber because I used coconut palm sugar. The pairing of rich and caramel flavored coconut sugar with the apple and sea salt just brought a better flavor and complexity, and somehow made these treats taste a bit more grown up.

Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
4 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt flakes
8 tbsp/1 stick unsalted butter-I use Straus, chopped into pieces
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used raw heavy cream)
Avocado oil

Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
Pour the apple cider into a saucepan over high heat and boil for about 45 minutes, or until the apple cider is greatly reduced in volume to about 1/2 cup of thick, syrupy liquid. Stir occasionally as it heats.

Once the cider has reduced, remove from the heat and add the butter, sugars, and cream. Stir to combine, then place back on medium-high heat. If you have a candy thermometer, bring the temperature up to 252*, if not (and I didn’t have mine where I made these) you’ll do the cold water trick. So as you heat the caramel, the texture becomes more bubbly, every so often you drop a bit of caramel into a very cold glass of water. The caramel is done when the drops become firm and chewy. This step happens pretty fast, and the caramel is ready in about 5-8 minutes. Keep and eye on the caramel, but more importantly your nose, make sure you don’t smell any burning.

Remove the caramel from the heat, stir in the cinnamon and sea salt, then pour the mix onto parchment paper in the pan. Try for about 1 inch thick, but you can also choose what size/shape you want, so this is up to you.

Allow the caramels to cool for about 1-2 hours in the fridge. To cut them into shape, coat a sharp knife with avocado oil and recoat after each cut. Store the caramels in wax paper of on layers of parchment paper in a tupperware in the fridge or on the countertop.

Peach Souffle + Lemon Verbena Cream + Blackberries

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So light and tasty and not too sweet and just exciting on the tongue is how I’d describe this dessert. The only hard part is making sure you have all the parts ready to go together, so doing a bit of prep beforehand pays off. I, for example, made the lemon verbena cream while the souffle was about to go into the oven and so I was running out to the garden to get more verbana to make the infusion, while watching the souffle cook, while trying to whip the cream. Just make the cream first and save yourself some trouble. These are to be served right out of the oven, piping hot with the cool, light, lemony cream just dripping a bit down the sides. Using coconut palm sugar gives the souffle a delicate caramel taste, but its not traditional and it effects the way the whites fluff up a bit. That said it was still excellent and I would use coconut palm again next time.

Peach Souffle (Recipe adapted from here)
2 large peaches
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 meyer lemon juice
sea salt
7 egg whites
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 tbsp butter, room temperature

Oven 400. Generously butter 8 ramekins ( I only had 4 small ones and one huge one, so use what you got).

In a food processor, or by hand, chop the peaches, or pulse until they are just about bite size pieces. Scoop a heaping spoonful of the peach mix into the bottom of each ramekin.

Add the vanilla, lemon juice and salt to the remaining peach and process/blend until smooth.

In another bowl, whip the egg whites until they are slightly frothy, and then add a touch of salt, and gradually, over about 5-10 minutes, add the 3/4 sugar. Blend until the egg whites start to hold their shape and form peaks. Again, they will behave a little differently than your used to if you use coconut palm sugar-they won’t form such high peaks.

Incorporate about two cups of so of the eggs yolks into the peach mix, stir well, then add the peach/egg mix back into the beaten eggs. Stir until just combined

Spoon the souffle mix into the ramekins all the way to the top. Bake in a rimmed pan for about 10 minutes.

Lemon Verbena Cream (make before souffle)
4-5 small springs lemon verbena
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup  coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup water

In a small saucepan heat the water + sugar. Chop the lemon verbena and bruise a bit with your hands, then add it to the saucepan. Whisk on low heat for a few minutes, until quite fragrant. Remove from heat, and pour into a glass jar. Cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes

When the verbena simple syrup has cooled, whip the cream for a few minutes, then add the vanilla. Spoon in about 1/4 cup of the simple syrup, but not too much. Add it to the cream slowly so the cream doesn’t lose its shape.

Serve the souffles piping hot with cream on top, blackberries and any other garnishes you wish. Enjoy!

Coconut Palm Sugar Toffee with Dark Chocolate, Almonds + Sea Salt

IMG_1836Thanksgiving

IMG_1830This toffee has a slightly different taste and texture than toffee made with white sugar. It is a little bit darker, very smooth and crunchy. I like the rich flavor and complexity of the coconut palm sugar balanced out with the dark chocolate, almonds and salt. To me this is a more interesting and delicious and unique toffee. The coconut palm sugar behaves differently than the white sugar though, you end up with some extra butter that does not get incorporated. Adding more sugar helps the situation, but you may need to still pour off a little butter. I poured out the toffee so that it is in a smooth, thin layer and I didn’t use a candy thermometer, I used the cold water test which works well. I try to avoid white sugar because it lacks flavor and complexity, so this is a great alternative, and much tastier.

Coconut Palm Sugar Toffee with Dark Chocolate, Almonds + Sea Salt
1 cup unsalted butter (Straus Sweet Cream)
1 1/2 cups coconut palm sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt + some for sprinkling
4-5 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 big handful of almonds, chopped

Method:
In a heavy saucepan, heated to medium, add the butter, sugar and 1/4 tsp salt. Melt everything together, stirring, and bring to a boil. Continually stir with a wooden spoon. If you have a candy thermometer, heat until the temperature reads 300 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also use a cold water test, spoon a drop of the mix into cold water, it is done when it is crunchy, not chewy, and separates into brittle threads. This takes about 10-15 minutes and the color is slightly darker than other toffee because of the rich amber color of the coconut palm sugar.

Pour the mix onto an aluminum lined baking pan and sprinkle with the dark chocolate. Give the chocolate a minute to melt, and then spread it with a spoon. Add the chopped almonds and a few grinds of sea salt. Set the tray in the refrigerator until it cools completely, and then break into pieces.

Note: The coconut palm sugar absorbs the butter differently that normal white sugar. So, when you finish, you may need to pour off a bit of the butter, or add a little more sugar.