Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Cake with Molten Lava Salted Chocolate Caramel Sauce

Oh, yeah. This is happening.

First of all, I want to recommend Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix.

It is wheat-free, gluten-free, whole grain, no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. I haven't yet figured out my own gluten-free baking blend so this is what enables us to have pancakes on Saturday morning. On the back are recipes for basic pancakes, waffles, muffins, scones, breading, several kinds of cake, biscuits, and even cookies using the mix. It's about $20 for 7 lbs at Target, and believe me, it's worth it.

The other night, my husband and I were sitting around, each on our own computer. I happened to look over to find him staring at a photo of a doughnut.

"Ohhh," I said wistfully. "I want a doughnut."
"Yeah," said my husband.
We sat in depressed silence for a moment. Then I brightened.
"I could make a cake!" I announced. "A chocolate cake!"

This idea was so popular that he actually came in the kitchen and helped me make it, and let me order him around like a lowly sous chef. I used the basic recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake that's on the back of the bag of Pamela's mix, but I heavily modified it.

Ooh, one last thing: I like to dump my spices in without measuring, I like to eyeball it, modify recipes, add extra ingredients, etc. This means two things. The first is: if you're a finicky or a hesitant cook, this recipe is going to drive you crazy. The second thing is: if I give a very precise direction, I recommend you follow it. That means that I have done it the wrong way before and doing it the right way really does matter. For instance, sifting the cocoa = important. Trust me.


2 cups Pamela's Pancake Mix
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup coconut oil, slightly softened but NOT melted
2 large eggs
1 6 oz. container Liberte' coconut Mediterranean yogurt (Yes, you must. They have it at Ralph's. Buy it to use in this recipe, and buy some of the lemon too, just for eating. You're going to thank me.)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350. I used a stoneware baking dish, though, so I don't turn the oven on until I put the cake in, and it turned out just beautifully.

Stir coconut oil in mixing bowl till it's all creamy and soft. Add sugar and cream together. Add eggs one at a time, stirring in between. Next, stir in the pancake mix, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, and finally the yogurt. Stir until thoroughly mixed. (If it doesn't seem chocolatey enough, sift in some more cocoa powder. I didn't measure it, I dumped, so 1/3 cup is just an estimate.) It should be kind of thick and more doughlike than cake batter-y. Grease a 9x9 baking dish and pour/spread the batter in. I recommend setting the timer for 20 minutes and then checking on the cake every five minutes or so after that until a toothpick poked near the middle comes out clean.

Make the sauce while you're waiting for the cake to bake, because this is a cake that you eat warm.

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 c. sifted cocoa powder
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. half and half
sea salt (to taste)

In a small saucepan, melt the butter on low heat. If it starts to brown or smoke, turn the heat down more. When it's melted, dump in the brown sugar and sift in the cocoa powder. It should seem a bit thick. Stir constantly. (I made my husband stir) Add the half and half. If the sauce seems thin after you've added the half and half, dump in a few teaspoons more of brown sugar. If it still seems too thick, add a couple tablespoons more of half and half. (I warned you!)

Keep stirring. You don't want it to stick and burn. When the sauce feels slightly thick and sticky, take a spoon and dip it in. When it smoothly coats the spoon with no visible sugar grains, it's time to turn it off. If you feel it needs more chocolate, sift a few more tablespoons of cocoa powder in. Now is also the time to sprinkle in some sea salt to taste.

When the cake is done, if there's any sauce left, cut a hot slice of cake. We didn't have any ice cream, but don't let that stop you. I recommend that you put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side and drizzle it all with sauce.

To. Die. For.
You're welcome.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hello from Otis! (and me)

This is Otis. He's very friendly, and I'm just gonna let you know, he's also sensitive, and he's waving his trunk, so you'd better wave back. 

My son asked for a "penny" bank, and this is who came out of the clay.

I'm fairly new to pottery. I started pottering around in my friend Christine's studio at the beginning of 2012. I took a long time to actually start making things. Even now, most of what I make is stamps rather than finished items. 

Back in high school we had a "pottery experience" enrichment class and I made a frog toothbrush holder for one of my best friends as a housewarming gift for her new apartment. And once I visited a paint-your-own-pottery studio downtown and glazed a plate. I learned from this experience that nothing ever comes out quite the way you picture it in your head.

I don't know if it's because I'm older, or wiser, or more relaxed, but Otis actually came out pretty much exactly the way that I wanted. His coin slot is the perfect size: just a hair too small for quarters. This I planned so there will be no question of my son keeping the quarters. What? Don't judge me! He's three! He doesn't need to go to the car wash or pay for parking! Why should I let the quarters be squandered on Matchbox cars? 


For Otis, I used two techniques: pinching and coiling. The pinching I used to make little cups that I then stuck together to make a ball. I also made his feet the same way, like little suction cups that I then stuck on after scoring the clay and wetting it. His eyes are little balls, his ears are rolled and pinched balls, and his trunk and tail are coils. His trunk came out so long that it looked like a vacuum hose, so I decided to give him a little nose job while the clay was still pretty wet. 

Fabulous Otis ... I added little dots to his eyes later,
it really made his face have more expression.
Rear view. If you have small children
you may want to cover their eyes .. 
Note the cheeky little lift to his back foot ...
that was actually an accident but we went with it.
I've had catastrophes happen to pottery items I really cared about before, so I let him dry for a looooooooong time before I put him in the queue to be fired. And he came out okay! I wanted him to coordinate with my son's sock monkey bedspread, so I chose a medium blue underglaze. Wax resist on his big toenails and his eyes ... simple glaze job ... and ... voila!

This is a good view of the suction
cup-style feet .... 
Aaaah! Cover your eyes! So cheeky.

 And that is the story of Otis. Of course, now I have to find a cork that fits ... but that's a story for another day, I think. Plus, Otis wants to watch New Girl with me. So. 

See you next time! 

In case you're interested, here is my Etsy shop where I sell handmade clay stamps:

And my friend Christine's shop, where I work off and on in her studio: