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January 30, 2012

Sweetened Condensed Milk

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I think we can just skim passed the time in my life where I went crazy for condensed milk.  Like, to the point where I would spread it on my morning toast... and everything else.  Hey, I was young and it was pure sugar!

Thank goodness I grew out of the habit (aka, I discovered peanut butter's superiority when it came to toast).  But today, the reason for me avoiding condensed milk very different:  I have resolved to eat healthier and cut out the added, processed sugars from my diet.  So I said buh-bye to my condensed-milk craze!


Although I didn't really miss the condensed milk in my daily life, there was a void of it in my baking life.  Many recipes used condensed milk as its main ingredient--like key lime pie, tres leches cake, fudge, etc--so I could never make them.  Just like how peanut butter filled my personal void before, other desserts filled my baking void this time around (yes, many of which contain peanut butter).

But.  I wanted to make fudge.  I really wanted to make fudge!

So I made my own condensed milk!  And oh my gosh it's good.  I took down a spoonful as fast as Mary Poppins would take down a spoonful of medicine, only my spoonful was a little more enjoyable  ;)


January 23, 2012

Carrot Cake with Maple-Cinnamon Frosting

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When it comes to liking carrot cake, nobody is really "on the fence" if you know what I mean.
You either love it or you hate it.

To tell you the truth, I've always hated it.  The carrots always tasted raw to me, they were crunchy and its flavor was much too potent.  Whenever I came across a slice of carrot cake, I would simply scrape off the icing and eat that spoonful by spoonful, leaving the orange scraps on the plate.  And even though I currently hate carrots (yes, still), I absolutely loved this cake!


To be honest, the carrot flavor was not strong at all.  I don't even remember tasting it!  I was a little too focused on the smooth, sweet frosting   ;)   The cake itself is unbelievably moist, the raisins were plump, and the frosting in between the cake layers make your individual slice even more exciting!


The amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves is perfect.  This cake is not bland in any way, but not too spicy either.  It is just as sweet, just as rich and just as decadent as any bakery's carrot cake.  The frosting adds both flavor and presentation too, but it's not your typical, pastel white cream cheese frosting.  This frosting has a little secret!  Can you guess?


It's tofu!  I originally wanted to make a cream cheese frosting but the selection at Whole Foods was particularly small, so I settled for blended tofu.  Don't worry, you don't taste it at all!  My mother hates tofu and when I told her the frosting's secret ingredient she was shocked.  Trust me too, though, I hate tofu as well.


I'm really excited to share this recipe--the cake is so tender and moist it's unbelievable, and the frosting just completes the dish.  I'm growing somewhat fond of that bright orange color...  Could this be it?  Are vegetables really making me this happy?


Spiced Carrot Cake:  [low fat, high protein]
(makes a two-layer 9" cake)

   Dry:
       240g (2 cups) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
       30g (1 scoop) Unflavored Whey Protein Isolate
       48g (1/4 cup) Pure Cane Sugar
       32g (1/4 cup) Arrowroot Starch
       2 tsp Cinnamon
       1/4 tsp Nutmeg
       1/8 tsp Cloves
       1+1/2 tsp Baking Powder
       1/2 tsp Baking Soda
       1/4 tsp Salt

   Wet:
       170g (2/5 package) Extra Firm Tofu, drained
       112g (1/2 cup) Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
       1/2 cup Orange Juice
       28g (2 tbs) Almond Oil (or any other neutral oil)
       123g (1/2 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
       42g (2 tbs) Molasses
       2 tsp Stevia Extract
       2 tsp Vanilla Extract
       1+1/4 tsp Butter Extract
       1/2 tsp Lemon Flavor
       1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

   Add-Ins:
       1+1/2 cups Grated Carrots (about 3 large carrots)
       1/2 cup Raisins


Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and spray two 9" cake pans with cooking spray.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
3.  In a blender, add all the wet ingredients and blend until smooth.  Pour over the dry ingredients and fold gently.  Add the carrots and raisins and fold again (do not overmix)
4.  Pour batter into the two cakes and bake for ~33 minutes, or until the surface of the cake has browned, a toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when touched.
5.  Flip cakes onto wire cooling racks.  When cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (be careful, the cakes are very soft).  Frost the next day.


Maple-Cinnamon Frosting:
   170g (2/5 package) Extra Firm Tofu, drained and rinsed
   14g (1 tbs) Coconut Oil
   50 drops Stevia Extract
   1 tsp Maple Flavor
   31g (1 scoop) Vanilla Protein Powder
   12g (1 tbs) Pure Cane Sugar
   1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:
1.  In a food processor, add the first four ingredients and puree.
2.  Add the last three ingredients and puree again.
3.  Put one layer of the cake down, and scoop a spoonful or two of frosting onto it, spreading out to the edges and sides.
4.  Place the next cake layer onto the bottom cake and scoop the rest of the frosting onto the cake, spreading it out overtop and to the sides.  Slice and serve.



I decided to do a little "nutritional showdown" between my cake and the Most-Favorited carrot cake recipe on FoodGawker so far.

Chockohlawtay's nutrition label is on the left (includes frosting).
The other cake's nutrition label is on the right (includes frosting but not the pecans).

Prepare to be shocked.


In case you didn't see, the label for my cake is for 1/8th of the recipe while the label for the other cake is for 1/16th of the recipe.  So, um, it goes without saying that my cake has less than HALF the calories as the other cake and for double the quantity!  My cake also contains less fat, sugar and cholesterol, while containing more fiber, protein, calcium and iron.

I was so surprised about the large discrepancy that I doubled-checked my nutrition label and triple-checked the other.  They are correct.  I think I'll take two slices of my cake, please!  Yes, that is one quarter of the entire cake, but, it's always nice having some more sugary goodness cake, right?  Yes.  It is.

So enjoy this healthy, flavorful, veggie-packed dessert without having to bring out the stretchy pants!

January 17, 2012

Matcha Almond Layer Cake with Matcha Frosting

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When I was in high school I went vegan for about a year.  I loved how it was a challenge and surprisingly, I loved tofu (strange, right?).  The most memorable moment for me during that year was going to Barnes & Noble to buy some vegan cookbooks.  My favorite cookbook at the time was Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, it was filled with every sinful carby confection imaginable.


But I found that with every recipe I baked from that book, I wanted to eat the entire batch!  After learning more about nutrition and food in school I discovered the reason behind me wanting to eat all the cupcakes: they were nutritionally unbalanced!  Most of the recipes called for processed all purpose flour, lots of sugar and vegan "butter."  Just a few things your abs don't like very much...


And that's why I made my own version!  I made it whole wheat, added some protein powder and some yummy extracts (ooh, and then a rich, sweet frosting!)

Don't you just love the green color?  I find it strangely appetizing...


Matcha Almond Layer Cake:  [low fat, high protein]
(makes one 2-layer cake)
Dry:
   240g (2 cups) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
   52g (1/4 cup) Sweet Matcha
   32g (1/4 cup) Arrowroot Starch
   1+1/2 tsp Baking Powder
   1/2 tsp Baking Soda
   1/4 tsp Salt
Wet:
   112g (1/2 cup) Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
   182g (2/5 package) Silken Tofu
   123g (1/2 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
   42g (2 tbs) Honey
   28g (2 tbs) Almond Oil (or any other neutral oil)
   1 tbs Vanilla Extract
   2 tsp Stevia Extract
   1 tsp Butter Extract
   3/4 tsp Almond Extract
   1/4 tsp Lemon Flavor

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray two cake pans with PAM
2.  In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and whisk until thoroughly mixed
3.  In a blender, add all the wet ingredients and puree until there are no more tofu clumps
4.  Pour the wet over dry, and fold until mixed (make sure there are no clumps, but don't overbeat)
5.  Pour into the baking pans and bake until surface begins to brown a little, doesn't spring back when you touch it and a toothpick comes out clean.  I'm sorry for the lack of a baking time, I forgot to set a timer!  But I can assure you that it bakes around 25ish to 35ish minutes
6.  When cake is cool, wrap each layer individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, serve with the frosting recipe below!


Matcha Frosting:
   84g (6 tbs) Coconut Oil, room temp/slightly firm
   19g (1+1/2 tbs) Sweet Matcha
   126g (6 tbs) Honey
   55 drops Stevia Extract
   45g (1+1/2 scoops) Unflavored Whey Protein Isolate

Directions:
1.  In a medium bowl, add the coconut oil, sweet matcha, honey and stevia and mix until a thick, dark green paste
2.  Add the whey protein and stir until texture is even
3.  Put the bottom cake layer down and spoon some frosting onto it, spreading it out over the cake and on the sides (if the cake is warm at all, the frosting will not grip onto the cake, so have it a little cold)
4.  Center the top cake layer down and spoon the rest of the frosting on it, spread it over the cake and on the sides.  Use a square of wax paper to smoothen out the frosting

To store, tightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

I am really proud of this frosting.  Even though it looks like hummus at first and is annoying to spread, it has a similar taste and texture to those unhealthy Pillsbury frostings... this one is just a little on the green side.


And now, a little "nutritional showdown" between those cupcakes I made back in high school and the layer cake I made right here!  (both are for 1/8th of the total recipe)

On the left are the nutrition facts for Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World's Green Tea Cupcakes (includes icing and marzipan), and on the right are the nutrition facts for my Matcha Almond Layer Cake (includes the matcha frosting)


As you can see, the calorie- and fat-level are basically identical, but my version is lower carb, lower sugar, higher fiber and higher protein to keep you satiated for a longer period of time.  With my Matcha Almond Layer Cake, you will feel satisfied after one slice rather than all twelve cupcakes!

So moist.  So sweet.

Enjoy the green-ness!

January 10, 2012

Apple Pie Cheesecake with Maple-Nutmeg Drizzle

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I've been trying to make a cheesecake for...  well, let's just say, too long!  Every cheesecake I've made in the past was quite the failure.  The first was not cooked all the way through, plus, it wasn't flavorful at all.  The second didn't have the proper texture (it was a little too dense) and didn't possess that tangy flavor associated with real cheesecakes.  The third not only sunk in the center, it formed a hard surface in the oven!  Yeah, I'm pretty much a failure in the kitchen sometimes.


But this.  This is what I call delicious!  It's creamy and smooth, airy, tangy and sweet.  A perfect description of the word, "decadent."  Unlike the ordinary Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, this cheesecake contains no refined sugar and no eggs (trust me, it works), yet it is still surprisingly rich!


This recipe was inspired by The Healthy Foodie's apple pie cheesecake (what a great combination right?).  I never would've thought to mix the two together.  Not only do the apples add presentation points, but they cover up the cracks that form on the cheesecake's surface during the baking process.  Which is not a problem, no one can see it anyways  ;)


Back then, whenever my family and I went to dinner my parents always ordered cheesecake for dessert.  I was never a fan of its tangy flavor and super creamy texture, but I'm definitely starting to appreciate the flavor more nowadays.

But now that my parents are watching their cholesterol levels, restaurant cheesecake is a no-no.  When I gave a bar of my healthified cheesecake to my mom, all she exclaimed was, "Oh my gosh!" and shoved another forkful into her mouth.  She even said it tasted like a classic restaurant cheesecake, and I trust her (very) knowledgable critique!  This yolkless cheesecake was an answer to their cheesecake-involved prayers.


Apple Pie Cheesecake with Maple-Nutmeg Drizzle:  [high fiber, high protein]
(makes 9 bars)

   Pecan Crust:
       3 cups Raw Pecans
       1/4 cup Sucanat
       1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
       1/4 tsp Salt

   Cheesecake:
       16oz Fat Free Cream Cheese
       2 cups Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
       2 tbs Arrowroot Starch
       1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
       1/4 tsp Lemon Flavor
       1/4 cup Brown Rice Syrup
       60g (2 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder

   Apple Layer:
       3 Apples (I used Golden Delicious)
       1 tbs Lemon Juice, fresh
       Cinnamon

   Maple-Nutmeg Drizzle:
       1/4 cup Dried Nonfat Milk
       2+1/2 tbs Pure Maple Syrup
       1/4 tsp Cinnamon
       1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Directions (for the crust):
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a square brownie pan with parchment paper.
2.  In a blender, blend the crust ingredients until mixture is sticky enough (to see if it's ready, clump a ball of the mixture between your hands and make a patty.  If it's crumbling, blend a little more).  Press into the pan and flatten to ensure it's even in all places.  Bake for 11 minutes.

Directions (for the cheesecake):
1.  In a large mixing bowl, whip together the cream cheese and yogurt.
2.  Add the arrowroot and whip again.
3.  Add the extracts and brown rice syrup and whip again, then finally add the protein powder (make sure there are no clumps!).  Pour over the somewhat cooled crust (after I took it out of the oven I put it into the freezer while I made the filling).  Bake for 33 minutes, or when cracks form on the crust (yes, cracks are okay in this cheesecake!).  Once done baking, let cool a bit, place a paper towel over the cheesecake and put into the fridge overnight.

Directions (for the apples):
1.  Spray a pancake pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat.
2.  Slice the apples into thin slices, coating both sides with lemon juice and sprinkling both sides with cinnamon.  Cook on the pan for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until tender. Place onto the cheesecake in the pattern of your choice and sprinkle with more cinnamon if desired.

Directions (for the drizzle):
1.  In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients (feel free to add some maple extract!)
2.  Place mixture into a piping bag (or sandwich bag, and snip a small corner off the bag) and drizzle in the design of your choice.

January 6, 2012

Pumpkin & Apple Cider Spice Cake

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But I'm still on vacation!


Excuses, excuses, I have too many.  One of my resolutions for the new year is to cut down (or maybe eliminate?) my added-sugar intake.  Even though my old Hersheys chocolate addiction has been cured, I found myself resorting to similar foods near the end of 2011...  I guess due to school stress?

All I know is that I ate chocolate at least once a day, I ate storebought protein bars too much and made excuses to replace healthy dinners with homemade cakes.


But that ends now.  I vow to savor my homemade baked goods during breakfast time only, and keep lunches and dinners savory.  I hope this lasts the whole year.  The last thing I want to do is stuff my face with cake sprawled out on the kitchen floor... at 3am... dazed... yet happy.  Not like that's ever happened or anything.  Anyways, the cake.  It is unbelievably moist, rich, and full of flavor and spice!  I even left a slice uncovered on the counter and it stayed moist for breakfast the next day.  Hey, what's wrong with cake for breakfast??


Pumpkin and Apple Cider Spice Cake:  [low fat, high protein, GF]
(makes one 9" cake)

   Dry:
        80g (1/2 cup) Brown Rice Flour
        72g (3/4 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour (GF if you like)
        72g (3/4 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, left whole
        65g (10 tbs) Soy Protein Powder
        3/4 cup Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
        6g (1 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
        1 tbs Cinnamon
        1/16 tsp Nutmeg
        1/16 tsp Cloves
        3/4 tbs Baking Powder
        1+1/4 tsp Baking Soda
        1/4 tsp Salt
   Wet:
        2 cups Apple Cider (no sugar added)
        1 cup 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree, canned
        1/2 cup Egg Whites
        28g (2 tbs) Sunflower Oil (or any other neutral oil)
        42g (2 tbs) Pure Maple Syrup
        42g (2 tbs) Molasses
        1 tbs Butterscotch Extract
        2+1/2 tsp Vanilla Stevia Extract
        1 tsp Vanilla Extract
        1 tsp Maple Extract
        1/4 tsp Lemon Flavor
        1 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

*NOTE:  this is a high altitude recipe (for about 3,000 feet), so if you live at sea level don't attempt this recipe without making some adjustments!

Directions:
1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spray your cake pan with cooking spray
2.  In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix well
3.  In a medium mixing bowl, add the pumpkin, apple cider, oil, maple syrup, molasses, extracts and vinegar
4.  In a small bowl, add the egg whites and whisk.  Add the egg whites to the other wet ingredients and whisk again.  Add the wet to dry and fold.  Give the batter a vigorous whisk for about 20 seconds, or until all the clumps break apart.  Pour into the cake pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Unfortunately, the frosting you see in the pictures was not a success.  It had a great flavor but it was a little gritty, so I recommend either using this Cinnamon-Spiced Icing or this Classic White Icing to top the cake off.


PS:  Check out the recipe page for upcoming posts!

January 3, 2012

Vanilla Guavaberry Rum Cake

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I expected to return home right after the fall semester ended, but my family surprised me with a vacation in the Caribbean followed by a long stay at a ski resort in Canada.  It was a lovely surprise!  I got a nice tan and spent quality time with my family--two things I haven't really been able to do while in school on the other side of the country from my family!


One itty bitty letdown, to me, was that I didn't get to go straight home and bake.  It's funny how much I miss baking at a regular altitude!  I feel like I'm torturing those at sea-level by posting all these high-altitude recipes, but they're just too good to stow away for safe-keeping.

^^ I love how the guavaberry rum colored the cake pink!

The rum flavor in this cake is a lot stronger than the rum in my Chocolate Almond Rum Brownies.  I was going to soak the cake in a Guavaberry rum glaze, but after taking a bite of the cake I felt that it didn't need any more rum.  If you are not much into alcohol, just replace the rum with more soymilk and you'll make a simple Vanilla Butter Cake.  Both sound good to me!


Vanilla Guavaberry Rum Cake:  [low fat, high protein, GF]
(makes one 9" cake)
Dry:
   72g (3/4 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour (GF if you like)
   72g (3/4 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, left whole
   80g (1/2 cup) Brown Rice Flour
   65g (1/2 cup + 2 tbs) Soy Protein Powder
   3/4 cup Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
   1 tbs Ground Flaxseed
   1 tbs Baking Powder
   1+1/4 tsp Baking Soda
   1/4 tsp Salt
Wet:
   1 cup Guavaberry Rum Liqueur (I used Guavaberry brand)
   1 cup Unsweetened Soymilk
   28g (2 tbs) Sunflower Oil (or any other neutral oil)
   8oz Unsweetened Applesauce
   84g (1/4 cup) Honey
   1 tbs + 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
   1+1/2 tsp Butter Extract
   1/4 tsp Lemon Extract
   2 tsp Vanilla Stevia Extract
   1/2 cup Egg Whites
   1 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

*NOTE:  this is a high altitude recipe (for about 3,000 feet), so if you live at sea level don't attempt this recipe without making some adjustments!

Directions:
1.  Spray your cake pan (you can try making cupcakes too!) with PAM and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
2.  In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix until mixture is even
3.  In a separate large mixing bowl, add the rum, soymilk, oil, applesauce, honey, extracts and apple cider vinegar
4.  In a small bowl, add the egg whites and give it a little whisk.  Pour into the other wet ingredients and whisk again.  Quickly pour onto the dry ingredients and fold.  Give the mixture a vigorous whisk for about 20 seconds to make sure all the clumps pop open.  Pour into your cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean
5.  Ice the cake with this Classic White Icing


I'm definitely bringing this slice to the table!  I sense some Déjà vu here...
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