Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Sweets

If you're looking for ideas for a good dinner for tomorrow night, this is not the post for you. This post is strictly sweets...and healthy breakfasts disguised as treats. There might be so much chocolate in this post that you could possibly fall into a chocolate comma just looking at these pictures. Viewer discretion is advised.

Valentines day is a day to appreciate your significant other, but for me Valentine's day is all about chocolate and strawberries.
Of course, you have to have the classic chocolate covered strawberries...
I used a mixture of dark chocolate and unsweetened for super darkness. Toppings included cocoa nibs, toasted coconut, and toffee bits! My favorite goes to the toffee bits. And this is wayyy cheaper than buying a dozen at the store. The strawberries cost $2 (and I didn't even use all of them to make these) and the rest of the ingredients I already had on hand. A lot like this can cost 20 bucks at the grocery store! Also, this way you don't have to worry about hydrogenated oils or iffy ingredients. Just strawberries and chocolate.
Posing with the roses.
My second ode to the classic was in the form of ...chocolate cake!!
Okay. Woah, now. Stop the presses. You probably weren't expecting this. That's right; I made a huge cake. For no reason.
The cake had (that's right, its all gone) a strawberry filling along with being garnished with strawberries (and the last chocolate covered strawberry) to keep the theme goin'. I really love this cake because its a lot healthier then the average cake and I experimented making a vegan frosting! And what takes it all home is that this is THE best cake I have EVER made. Dying to see the inside?
Uber moist, uber chocolatey, just the right amount of sweetness, absolutely to DIE for.
For the cake part, I actually used a "Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake" recipe from Eating Well. Everyone that reviewed it said they loved it and that the cake was super moist but that the pumpkin flavor didn't come through. Fine by me! In this recipe, I didn't mind that the flavor of pumpkin wasn't there because it came out as a really, really good plain ol' chocolate cake. I stayed with the recipe this time because I've had problems with cakes in the past when I try to deviate too much. The only difference was that I (obviously) didn't make this in a bundt pan and I didn't use the glaze listed for the top.

To Die For Chocolate Cake
1 cup all-purpose, flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, (not Dutch-process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup light corn syrup (I will try brown rice syrup next time)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 8 inch cake pans with cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder.

Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl.

Blend 1 cup buttermilk, pumpkin puree and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed.

Beat in whole egg and egg white. Stir in oil, corn syrup and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.

Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.
Now that you have the basic cake down, you can dress it up however you like. My strawberry filling consisted of 7 ounces (by weight) of frozen strawberries and 1/3 cup all fruit strawberry jam. I just heat it up on the stove for a little bit and add some corn starch to thicken it up enough so it doesn't sploosh all over the sides when you put the other half of the cake on top.
I was on the search for a great, fudgy, lower fat icing when I came across a vegan fudge frosting that I really liked. I didn't measure how much this makes but my guess is around 3 cups. It was able to frost this huge cake with over 1/2 cup left over.

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cocoa powder (dark is great)
9 tablespoons corn starch (next time I'm going to try to decrease this to 1/4 cup and see how it goes)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons oil (preferably coconut oil)

Mix together sugar, salt, cocoa powder, and cornstarch in a medium sized sauce pan. Add water and cook, stirring continuously, on medium heat until mixture comes to slight boil. Cook until mixture is thickened (but not thickened completely because it will thicken more as it cools). Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Stir in oil and vanilla. Let cool before frosting cake.

I love how this only has 3 tablespoons of oil in the whole batch! This frosting isn't super sweet, which I love; and the chocolate flavor is so dark. This will definitely be my go to frosting from now on, but I'm going to attempt using less corn starch next time because 9 tablespoons is way too much! I can't wait to frost some cupcakes with the extra :D

And boy, does this frosting have fudge factor!
I let the cake have a photo shoot with the flowers as well.
Those red envelopes are valentines cards my parents gave each other. Awhhh...
And whats that golden box you ask? That would be pure crack my mom, my sister, and I found at Costco.
Dark chocolate cheesecake fudge. We all got a sample and couldn't get over how amazing it was so my mom decided to get a package for my dad for Valentines Day. Best decision ever.

But really. How can you beat a cake that is made with almost half whole wheat flour, only a quarter cup of oil, a whole can of pumpkin,with a frosting that only has 3 tablespoons of oil? You can't. And as the saying goes- if you can't beat em, join em.
Well, that doesn't make sense; but you get the picture... Try out this cake, for realz!
Next up on the chocolaty agenda is a Chocolate Zucchini Roll!
I actually made this a while ago but just never got around to blogging about it. Not because it wasn't good enough, trust me, because this baby was GOOD!
I modified the Taste of Homes recipe to transition it from cake to breakfast :D

Chocolate Zucchini Roll
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (packed) shredded peeled zucchini
4 ounces light cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoons Brummel & Brown
½ teaspoon vanilla
Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with waxed paper. Grease the paper; set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to egg mixture until well blended. (batter will be thick).

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert onto a kitchen towel dusted with cocoa. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For filling, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth.

Unroll cake; spread filling evenly over cake to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place seam side down on a serving platter. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour

Oh wow. This was just like how I imagine chocolate heaven to be. I felt absolutely sinful having this type of delishery for breakfast. I think that a great addition might be to add some peppermint extract to the filling. It would taste like a thin mint!
If you were to ask me if I liked this roll or my pumpkin roll better I would say its a tie. I like them for different reasons. The pumpkin roll seemed a lot more light and cake-like while this one was a little more dense and almost brownie-like. They both have hidden nutritious vegetables, which is a plus. And both relatively low in fat. Its a toss-up!
 SO chocolaty and moist. Unlike the pumpkin roll, which was best straight from the fridge, this roll was best after being nuked for 10 seconds in the microwave. This was SUCH a treat; absolutely divine! (can you tell I loved it?)


Last but not least, just yesterday I made Raspberry Almond Truffle Bread from Sugar Plum. The name "truffle bread" intrigued me so I took a gander. I was surprised to see that this bread uses no added sugar or oil! The oil for the bread comes in the form of chocolate almond butter and the sweetness comes from raspberry jam and dates.
Raspberry Almond Truffle Bread 
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup water
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate almond butter (homemade)
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup raspberries (frozen)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons slivered almonds (sliced)

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.

Bring dates and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, or until dates are softened.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat almond butter, raspberry preserves and date mixture for 1 minute or until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture alternating with buttermilk until just combined. Stir together an additional tablespoon of flour and raspberries until well coated; stir raspberries into batter along with chocolate chips.

Smooth batter into pan; sprinkle with almonds and a few extra chocolate chips if desired. Bake 40-45 minutes or until well risen, fragrant, and golden brown around edges. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf

Emily used Maranatha Dark Chocolate Almond Butter, which I can guess is a lot sweeter then the one I made, I also had low sugar raspberry preserves, so that was less sweet too.  But since I always cut down on sugar in most of my quick bread recipes, I figured this would probably produce a just-right loaf on the sweetness scale.
Obviously this is not sugar free since there was sugar in the preserves, sugar in the chocolate chips, and sugar in my almond butter but it was very low in added sugars. I love how the gooey dates just disappeared into the bread!
This morning I cut myself a piece:

I love those little pockets of raspberries that absorbed into the bread so that you just get a delicious bite of raspberry infused bread every once in a while.
Truffle bread indeed. Need a chocolate fix? This will take care of it, for sure
This bread was the perfect sweetness for someone like me but my dad thought that it was just slightly not sweet enough. It was so fudgy! Or shall I say truffley? Either way, it was a winner winner chicken dinner at this house.  
This bread has a real staying power. Its not light, but I like it that way. The almond butter really adds to the satiety.  
My only gripe? Mine turned out kind of crumbly. I'm guessing it was probably due to the fact that I didn't use commercial almond butter (mine is a bit more thick) so that could have been the problem. I couldn't pick up a piece without it falling all over the place. The weird thing is that its nice and moist but crumbly at the same time. I'm wondering if something like 1/2 cup raspberry puree might help or not. Thoughts?
Regardless, this recipe is definitely going in the recipe file!

And to squeeze every single drop of chocolate out of this post, I'm posted a picture of a dark chocolate "Maya Gold" bar I got FREE from Sprouts!
The company is Green & Black and they have a line of all organic chocolate bars ranging from white chocolate to 85% dark chocolate! I was sent a coupon in the Sprouts e-newsletter for one free chocolate bar and you can bet I took full advantage of it. Who wouldn't want a free chocolate bar? Sprouts didn't carry all of their flavors, but I knew I wanted to get one of their dark chocolate varieties. The one I ended up getting had a "twist of orange and infused with spices". SUPER GOOD Y'ALL! High quality chocolate is where it's at. :D

I don't know; did I cover enough chocolate in this post? I sure hope so because tomorrow I'll be giving y'all a break from all that sugar and talk about some savory flavors.
Yay for Fridays! 
PS- we would of had school off tomorrow thanks to that unexpected snow day...*sigh*

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