Gluten-free Blood Orange Dutch Baby

I wish I had adequate words to describe this dish…but I don’t. My mind is exhausted from planning photo shoots and recipe writing and I just can’t seem to muster up any elegant way to describe this dish. Well that, and I’m too busy eating sweet, fragrant blood oranges. Swoon.

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I picked up a few blood oranges the other day and immediately started thinking of what to make with them. Too many options led to me to the conclusion that I should probably just buy all the blood oranges in Richmond and make every type of marmalade, sorbet, cake, infused liquor (!!!!), and pot de crème under the sun. I contemplated just eating all of them in one sitting and then, I remembered dutch babies.

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Dutch babies aka German pancakes aka thick, fluffy crepe-like pillows of goodness are an easy, diverse, and elegant breakfast. I haven’t had one in ages but this post from Smitten Kitchen convinced me that I needed one, immediately. Topped with caramel, please. So, I decided to give in to my dutch baby craving (that sounds borderline wrong) and make one that features blood oranges in every component. Blood orange zest and juice in the batter with a simple blood orange topping, all smothered in a blood orange caramel syrup. Oh, did I mention it’s dairy-free too? Trust me, you’re going to want to make this.

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Gluten-free Blood Orange Dutch Baby

Yields: 4-8 servings depending on size

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

Dutch Baby:

3 Tbsp. almond flour

3 Tbsp. gluten-free all purpose flour

½ cup vanilla soy milk, room temperature

3 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. blood orange zest

2 Tbsp. blood orange juice

pinch of sea salt

2-3 Tbsp. coconut oil

Blood Orange Topping:

This is enough for one or two individual toppings, depending on how much you feel like sharing and the size of your orange

1 blood orange, segmented

1 tsp. honey

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Blood Orange Caramel Sauce:

You can double this recipe if you are serving 4 or more

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

¼ cup blood orange juice

¼ cup vanilla soy milk

To make Dutch Baby:

1. Preheat your oven to 425F and place cast iron skillet or other oven safe skillet in the oven.

2. Make sure your eggs and milk are at room temperature – it helps the dutch baby get fluffy. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together until smooth.

3. Once oven is preheated, remove skillet and carefully add coconut oil. I used 3 Tbsp because my cast iron isn’t well seasoned yet, you made need less if you have a well seasoned skillet. Swirl oil around pan being sure to bring it up the sides.

4. Add batter to hot pan and bake for 15-17 minutes until puffy and golden.

5. Remove from oven and cool, it will sink at this point.

To make Blood Orange Topping:

1. Segment your orange. Check out this tutorial if you aren’t sure how!

2. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and gently stir to combine.

To make Blood Orange Caramel Sauce:

1. Combine sugar, water, and blood orange juice in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium high heat and bring to a boil, without stirring.

2. Once the mix has deepened in color (just a few minutes), shut off heat and carefully add soy milk.

3. Return to medium high heat and boil again for about 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally.

4. Remove from heat and carefully pour into a bowl or small dish. If the caramel begins to harden, simply pop in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm up.

Vegan Salted Mexican Hot Chocolate

*If you’re in Richmond, VA check out the article I wrote for Richmond.com about gluten-free friendly restaurants in Richmond. Check out the comments for even more g-free friendly places! Keep the comments and the recommendations coming!*

Virginia has decided to fully embrace winter – freezing winds and all.  I love the cold but have a strong hate for wind.  Especially cold wind (I just typed wine. Clearly, I have my priorities in order) – it just seems to cut right through me and cause me to have perpetually frozen fingers and toes. Despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I need to invent a nose-warmer, this chill has a lovely silver lining.  And that would be hot chocolate.  Velvety, silky, insanely rich vegan hot chocolate to be exact.

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I grew up drinking the Abuelita mexican hot chocolate and quickly fell in love with the spicy + sweet chocolate combo. Rather than buy the processed stuff, I decided to make my own.  I took the spicy flavors of Abuelita, added in my love for all things salty + sweet and poured it all into a mug.  It is truly drinkable chocolate decadence.

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And if you’re feeling extra sassy, add in a shot of bourbon. And then top it with vegan (or real, if you prefer) whipped cream so it melts into the hot chocolate. It’s gonna get messy. Do it, it’s only right.
Full disclosure: the whipped cream in the photo is the real stuff. I stay away from milk & cream most of the time, but I just can’t resist homemade whipped cream! For a full vegan version – sub your favorite vegan whipped cream.

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Salted Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate
Yields: 2  large servings or 4 smaller servings (it’s rich stuff, so you can get away with a smaller portion)

2 cups vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (use the good stuff)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cayenne (adjust to your spicy liking)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. + a pinch for serving, good quality flaky sea salt, sel gris, or fleur de sel

1. Heat soy milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it just barely begins to steam and simmer. Stir it occasionally to keep a skin from forming.
2. Add chocolate and whisk constantly until chocolate is melted.
3. Add remaining ingredients, whisking to combine.
4. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is hot.
5. If you’re adding booze, do it here. Shut off the heat and serve immediately.  Make sure to sprinkle an extra pinch of salt on top. Yum.

Salted Chocolate Almond Toffee

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday full of family, good food, treats, and relaxation.  We spent Christmas eve and Christmas day with my family relaxing, eating way too much of this and this, and drinking champagne. It was wonderful.

Now that the holidays are over, there are a slew of healthy recipes hitting the blog world as people gear up to get in shape after the New Year.  I will have plenty of those recipes soon but first I want to share a candy recipe.  Yup. Sorry. If you’re looking for something not made of chocolate, sugar, and butter – you may be out of luck today.

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I recently purchased a candy thermometer because I was determined to start experimenting with candy making.  I’ve always been intimidated by the candy making process – thermometers, molten hot sugar, and various firm, soft, and hard ball stages seemed like pretty scary stuff.   After my big (well, $15 big) purchase, I decided to start small and make a simple salted chocolate almond toffee using a recipe from David Lebovitz.

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I cautiously attached my thermometer to my pot and got to work, being utterly intimidated the entire time.  Things went smoothly during the cooking process and it was much easier than expected – there was no stirring, nothing burned, and I didn’t catch anything on fire.  I poured the toffee, spread the chocolate, sprinkled the almonds and anxiously waited for it to set.  I nervously tested it a half hour later – it had set up like a dream.  I was feeling a bit more confident after my successful batch of toffee and decided to give it another go. Five batches of toffee later – I’m feeling confident, excited, and a little hyper from all the sugar. So if you’re intimidated by candy making, give this recipe a try.  You might just turn into a candy maker.

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Salted Chocolate Almond Toffee

Yields: 1 8X8 batch of toffee

Barely adapted from: David Lebovitz

*special equipment: candy thermometer

1 stick of butter

¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 cup white granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. water

¼ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup slivered almonds

a dusting of sel gris or other high quality finishing salt

1. Attach your candy thermometer to a medium, heavy-bottomed pot.  You want a pot that cooks evenly.

2. Line a baking sheet (8×8 or larger) with lightly greased (use  vegetable oil or cooking spray) parchment paper.  Do not overgrease or you may have some slightly greasy toffee.  Set aside, near your pot.

3. Add butter, sugars, and water to the pot. At this time, go ahead and measure out your baking soda and vanilla and set them in separate small bowls near your pot.

4. Heat over steady medium heat.  Try not to stir! Just swirl the pot a bit every few minutes to keep things moving. Stirring encourages the sugar crystals to rejoin which makes clumps, not smooth toffee.  It can also break the butter. So really, don’t stir.

5.  As the mix heats up, very carefully, give it a small quick stir with a  silicon whisk if you are noticing hot spots.  If you don’t have hot spots, just let it bubble away.

6.  Once your candy thermometer reads 300F, shut off the heat and quickly and very, very carefully stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract.  It will steam and bubble violently when you add it.

7.  Pour the toffee onto your lined baking sheet.  You shouldn’t need to spread it around but if you do, quickly even out your toffee with a silicon spatula.

8.  Pour chocolate chips over hot toffee and let them sit for 2 minutes.  Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the surface of the toffee.

9.  Sprinkle a flurry of salt over the chocolate.  You want a very, very light dusting.

10.  Add the almonds to the chocolate.  You can leave them in whole slivers or crush them up a bit.  I simply gave them a quick crush in my hand before I sprinkled them on so I had some larger whole pieces and some smaller pieces.

11.  Let cool completely on your counter or in your fridge if you’re in a hurry and break into several pieces using a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Tipsy Mexican Hot Chocolate Bark

I didn’t intend to blog again until after Christmas but I just couldn’t help myself.  Once I make a really good recipe, I have a hard time not sharing it immediately.  And I definitely can’t help myself when it involves booze and chocolate.

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Last night I had a massive candy making session and had every intention of making some tasty dark chocolate peppermint bark.  I spent that morning gathering ingredients but couldn’t find candy canes anywhere!  I went on with my candy session and made tons of salted chocolate almond coffee instead (we will talk about that later).  I was really craving some dark chocolate though and was determined to make some sort of bark, even without peppermints.  They say that necessity is the mother of invention and last night, I think I proved that statement true.

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Since I was out of pretty much everything you would add to a traditional chocolate bark, I decided to wing it and make something different. I love the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate and I love marshmallows so putting the two together seemed like a great idea.  Then I decided to add some booze because, well, chocolate and booze together just make me a happy girl. The result? A kicked up dark chocolate bark with a layer of Grand Marnier marshmallow fluff that is nothing short of life changing.  Oh friends, it is boozy chocolate heaven.   I would say this makes a great gift to give to someone you love, but you may just end up wanting to keep it all to yourself.   If you do decide to share, you will certainly bring some holiday cheer to your friends and family.

Happy holidays!

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Tipsy Mexican Hot Chocolate Bark

Yields: one baking sheet full of bark!

20 oz (or 2 bags) good quality dark chocolate chips

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

4 cups marshmallows (regular sized)

3 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or other liquor like whiskey, bourbon, or coffee liqueur

good quality sel gris, sea salt, or fleur to sel for garnish (optional but recommended)

1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  Fill a large pot with an inch or so of water and bring to a slow simmer.

3.  Set large glass bowl filled with chocolate the water. Do not let the bowl touch the water. You’ve just made yourself a double boiler.

4.  Stir chocolate until just about fully melted, there should be a few whole chunks left.

5.  Remove chocolate from heat and stir to finish melting all the chocolate.  Your chocolate should be silky, smooth, and lump free.

6.  Pour half of the chocolate over the parchment lined baking sheet.  Use a silicon spatula to spread the chocolate into an even layer.

7.  Place in the fridge or freezer to set while you make the marshmallow layer.

8.  Add marshmallows and booze to a medium sized pot and heat over medium- low heat.

9.  Cook, stirring often, until all of the marshmallows have melted and you are left with marshmallow fluff.

10. Once your fluff is done and your chocolate is set, pour fluff layer over chocolate.  To do this, spray an offset spatula with cooking spray and spread around evenly.  It’s going to be sticky but do your best.

11. Place bark back in the freezer for the marshmallow fluff to set.  You want to the marshmallow layer to be firm but not frozen.  You should be able to touch it with your finger without your finger getting sticky.

12. Once your fluff layer is set, pour the remaining chocolate and spread evenly.  You want to work very quickly here since the cold fluff layer will start setting the chocolate immediately. Sprinkle with a small pinch of salt.

13. Place in the fridge or freezer to set.  Once fully set, use a knife sprayed with cooking spray to cut into large pieces.  Store in an airtight container with parchment paper.  It will be sticky, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Peppermint Meringues

Today’s post is short and sweet since it’s a busy, busy Sunday over here. There are long workouts to be had

food to be prepped

and places to go.

I have to confess, I almost didn’t post this recipe. Not because the recipe isn’t great –but because I couldn’t get my photos juuuust right. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and for some reason, these innocent little meringues decided to give me hell. Who knew such a cute little cookie could be so downright frustrating? I wish I had a full day to experiment with the light, time of day, and angle of photographing these little guys. If there are any left next week – I doubt it- maybe I will do just that.

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December is flying by at lightning speed for me – is it doing the same for everyone else? It seems that the holiday season is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for everyone. There are gifts to be purchased, wrapped, and shipped; cookies to be baked and exchanged; and lots of holiday parties to attend. Weekends are no longer leisurely days of rest (were they ever, really?) but instead are jam-packed with to-do lists a mile long. By the time Sunday rolls around, I feel like I need another full day just to recover. It’s these kind of days where little pick-me-ups make all the difference in the world. For me, that perfect pick-me-up is a peppermint meringue.

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These sweet, minty, and crisp little meringues are one of my favorite holiday treats. I love all flavors of meringue (chocolate espresso holds a special place in my heart) but peppermint is probably my favorite. The peppermint flavor makes these little cookies so refreshing and downright addictive. Let’s just say I made these guys on Friday and so far, they are halfway gone. And I’m pretty sure my husband has only had about 5. Oops.

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I better get going on running errands and checking off my to-do list. But first, I’m going to pack a few of these for the road.

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Peppermint Meringues

Yields: about 50-60 small meringues

Recipe from Bon Appetit

*try to make these on a non-humid, dry day. The humidity can make the meringues sticky.

3 large egg whites

½ cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8-1/4 tsp. peppermint extract (I used a little over 1/8 and I think I could have added a bit more – I like stuff super minty!)

red or pink food coloring, optional (I accidentally used pink, but I actually really like how they look)

1. Preheat oven to 200F and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a clean and dry stand mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until white and foamy.

3. Keep the mixer running and add in regular sugar, in three equal additions, beating for 2 minutes in between additions. Continue to beat until you have firm peaks.

4. Add in powdered sugar and peppermint extract and beat again for another 2 minutes.

5. Add 10-12 drops of food coloring over your meringue. You can stir if you want them all one color, if you want a swirl effect, don’t stir.

6. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2” circular tip or put into a ziptop bag, seal, and cut of a corner.

7. Pipe meringues onto cookie sheet (hint: if your parchment paper keeps moving or coming up, simply dab a bit of meringue in each corner of the baking sheet and press paper on), spacing about 1” apart.

8. Bake for 2 ½ hours until firm, rotating baking sheets half way through.

9. Let cool completely for one hour so they get nice and crisp.

10. Store in an airtight container.

Sugared Cranberries

I love Thanksgiving – in fact I love it so much that as a kid, I would have my mom make me Thanksgiving dinner for my birthday….in July. My absolute favorite part of the whole meal? Her cranberry sauce. I always have my mom make an extra batch just so I can eat it with a spoon. Or with chocolate. Yeah, try that.

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Thanksgiving is usually the one and only time of year when people cook with cranberries. After Thanksgiving, these little red gems get pushed aside by peppermint, chocolate, molasses, and spice and other seasonal Christmas treats. Well, I’m here to say that cranberries most certainly deserve to be used more than once this year and that they can hang with their choco-peppermint and gingerbread rivals.

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This year, I made it my mission to cook with cranberries during the holiday season. I bought three bags of them while they were on sale a few weeks and they have been sitting in my freezer ever since. I was stumped on what exactly to do with them besides pop them in champagne or top my oatmeal with them. I thought about putting them in a bread, or making cookies with them, or perhaps even just making a good compote but then, I thought about sparkly sugared cranberries.

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Although I’ve seen sugared cranberries, I’ve never made them. After making them to top a cheesecake, I can say that I will be making these all.the.time. They are the most addictive, gorgeous little sweet-tart gems that are perfect for topping cakes and also great on their own. They’re slightly tart but sweet, crunchy but juicy, and so freaking pretty. My love of cranberries has now extended far past Thanksgiving and my mom’s amazing cranberry sauce. Who knew that all cranberries needed to be the quintessential holiday treat was to put on a sparkly party dress?

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Sugared Cranberries
slightly adapted from 101 cookbooks
*Be sure to start this a day ahead.

2 cups cranberries
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
larger granulated sugar for coating + regular sugar

1.Rinse your cranberries and dry them. Place them in a large glass bowl.
2.Make your simple syrup by combining water and sugar in a saucepot and heating over medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is clear. Don’t let it boil or simmer. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Once your simple syrup has cooled, pour syrup over the cranberries in bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
4. After your cranberries have soaked, remove them in very small batches and toss them with larger grained sugar until coated. Be mindful not to get the sugar too wet or it gets a bit clumpy. Tip: I used a paper bag filled with sugar to coat the cranberries.
5. Set cranberries on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry for a few hours.
6. Toss again with regular sugar and set on parchment lined baking sheet to dry for another hour.
7. Top your dessert or place in a pretty bowl. Try not to eat all of them but I won’t tell if you do.

Port Wine Chocolate Truffles

I’m slowly making my way through my list of things to bake this holiday season. I had a massive baking session last night which resulted in a butter and sugar smeared counter, a sugar high, and some epic baking fails. I like to think that I’m a fairly decent baker and usually, I can bake up some pretty delicious gluten-free cookies but last night I was proven wrong. The cookies I baked all tasted really good but nothing turned out quite right. Gluten-free baking is more science experiment than art so there are bound to be some fails every once and awhile. I used to get really frustrated when this happened but I’ve come to realize, there really isn’t much you can do except to take note and try again.

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The one thing that I made last night that did turn out to be amazing? These port wine chocolate truffles. I’ve never made truffles before because I have always been intimidated by the process. Chocolate is incredibly fickle but these truffles are really quite easy. I originally set out to make some classic chocolate truffles but wanted to give them a bit more oomph. Nothing goes better with chocolate than wine and I happened to have an excellent port wine from the vineyard we got married at.

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This port wine, Othello, is heavenly. It’s silky smooth, strong but not too strong, and tastes just sweet enough to be a full-fledged dessert. Needless to say, chocolate and Othello are soulmates and they should really never be apart. If you can, I would encourage you to order some off the vineyard’s website or if you’re in Virginia, take a day trip to visit the vineyard. Even though I had some baking fails last night, these truffles were a sure win. Then again, anything with chocolate and wine is pretty much a win in my book.

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Port Wine Truffles
Yields: approx. 3 dozen truffles, depending on size

8 oz. bittersweet good quality chocolate (either bar or good chocolate chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup medium bodied red wine
1/4 cup red port wine
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
sugar for coating

1. Coarsely chop chocolate (if using bar) or simply place chocolate chips in a large bowl.
2. Pour heavy cream into a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir often.
3. Add butter to simmering cream and stir until melted. Add vanilla extract, stir, and remove from heat.
4. Pour cream over chocolate and whisk until chocolate is completely melted.
5. Add red wine and port wine to chocolate and stir to combine.
6. Pour chocolate ganache into a 8×8 baking dish and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
7. Once ganache is firm, use two spoons to form into medium sized balls. Don’t worry about them being perfectly round, you will roll them later. Refrigerate chocolates again until firm, another hour or so.
8. Once firm, use hands to roll into balls. Roll truffles in sugar to coat and place in fridge until ready to serve.
9. About 15 minutes before serving, remove from fridge and roll in another coating of sugar.