Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nanaimo Bars Eh?

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Okay so I would have loved to make this gluten free but at this season of my life i have to use what i have on hand or i don't get to make the challenge at all. First off were the graham crackers...
graham crackers

They were pretty great. I really enjoyed being able to share one of these challenges with the Little One. I think that she enjoyed it too.

the bun

And the finished Nanaimo Bars turned out great. They were super rich so I cut them into pretty tiny squares (they look big in the picture but they are on an espresso demitasse saucer.)  and used some sprinkles to add some color. I considered different flavor combinations but since I had never had Nanaimo Bars before I wanted to try the traditional recipe. Which by the way (surprisingly enough) is a super easy no-bake recipe. So we will for sure be making these again.

nanaimo bars
Thanks for a great challenge Lauren! All of us enjoyed it!

p.s. anyone have any suggestions for more traditional canadian foods?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

happy birthday little one! (chocolate zucchini cake)

zuke cake 4 real

At the end of last year we celebrated the Little One's very first birthday (a.k.a. the marker of the fastest year of my life). I try really hard not to feed her a lot of sugar or highly processed foods. I didn't want her to miss out on cake for her birthday so I made her a zucchini cake to ease my conscious.  All of my inlaws though I was a weirdo until they tasted it. That's because the only difference between a chocolate cake and a chocolate zucchini cake is that the zucchini one (other than adding a bit of vitamin a, vitamin c, calcium, magnesium, and potassium) is that it is incredibly moist. I may never make a regular chocolate cake again!

I came across this recipe watching Sandra Lee. (I've tweaked it a tiny bit.) I know that she can be quite despised in the food world but let's be real. I have a 1 year old, Christmas, and a million in laws going on. Besides this recipe tastes like it's from scratch. That's really what matters right? Right!  So here we go...

Chocolate (Zucchini) Cake

2 cups of finely grated zucchini
1 (1-pound and 2.25-ounce) package chocolate fudge cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (this is totally optional. I used it because my little one loves flavor.)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9" pans with baking spray (or use parchment... do whatever you usually do)
You are going to want to drain all of the extra moisture out of your zucchini. So get a mesh strainer and smush your zucchini in there. If you don't you will end up with chocolate soup instead of cake.
In a mixing bowl combine everything but the zucchini. Beat for 2 minutes on a low speed. Fold in the drained grated zucchini and pour your batter into the prepared cake pans.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Be sure to cool your cakes completely preferably on a wire cooling rack.

Now Sandra Lee makes a sort of tofu mousse that she serves with this and that is all well and good but 1) I wanted a nicely iced cake for LO's bday (which actually only happened because my sister in law decorated it for me...thanks mandy!) and 2) I have a "secret family recipe" up my sleeve.


I will never forget my first Thanksgiving with my inlaws. My mother in law actually pulled out the wheat to grind to make the rolls. I believe that it was at that exact moment that I secretly vowed to
a) Never cook in front of my mother in law
b) to learn everything i could from the woman
This is her recipe and with it comes a promise that it will change the way you ice your cakes from now on.  It's called Light Frosting because it's more the like whipped cream than that stuff you buy in a tub. Make it properly (a task in itself) and it will come of smooth and fluffy with no crunchy sugar. People who do not like icing will like it and  you will get compliments like " I love how your icing isn't just full of sugar".  But beware you must follow this recipe to the T.
Light Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter (do not attempt margarine. just trust me on this one.)
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
2/3 cup milk (must be at room temperature!)
1 tsp vanilla
Pull out your stand mixer....because honey you're going to need it. Cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar. Continue beating and add flour one tbsp at a time. Extremely slowly dribble the milk into the mixture. If you do this correctly then it will take a while. Add the vanilla. And continue mixing for 5 minutes until there is no crunchy sugar left.

I doubled the icing recipe so that i could fill it really nicely but you don't have to. One batch will be fine for cupcakes or it you don't want to use a lot. Then use it to frost your cooled zucchini cake.

Emmer's Birthday 148

be sure to check out a soft place to land for some great diy projects!