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March 30, 2012

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Krispy Treats

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Have you ever walked into a room and experienced a seemingly "real-life" flashback?

Well, that's what happened when I walked into the grocery store last week.  I haven't been to that particular store in over two years, and when I went back, I was surprised at how nothing had really changed--the aisles remained exactly where they were years ago, the same products were being sold, the employees had the same outfits, and so on.  But the one thing that really shocked me, was how the bakery's cookies, cakes and cupcakes were on the same, large round table to greet you right as you walked through the front doors.

When I was a kid, I always ran to this table in utter excitement and begged my mom for a box of... everything.  I wanted the mini chocolate chip muffins, I wanted the chocolate chip cookies, I wanted the giant chocolate cake.  I just realized how much chocolate I consumed as a child... anyways...

When I passed the table last week I looked down and saw White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies.  These were only made on special occasions--yes, I was pretty familiar with the products on this table--and I remembered begging even more for these cookies.  They were so much more unique than the regular old chocolate chip cookies.  When my mother finally gave in to my pleads, she would say, "One box only!"

Extra emphasis on the "one."


But now that I strive to live a healthier lifestyle, I decided to make my own version of my favorite cookies.  Since I have never been a successful cookie baker, I transformed the cookie into krispy treats... I mean, krispy treats are easier, faster, and still just as good!

These were super chewy, super decadent, and definitely unique... just like the cookie.  These took me back to my childhood.  Even though my childhood may not have been that long ago, each bite brought be back to that grocery store, to that large, round table filled with tempting confections, to my mom who always let me buy a small box.

It makes me smile, reminiscing those memories.
It makes me smile, knowing that indulgence is not out of the question when striving to eat healthier.


I choose to indulge "sinfully"   :)


White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Krispy Treats:  [no bake, high protein, GF, vegan*]
(makes 9 larges treats)

   5 cups Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
   1/2 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   2 tbs Flaxseed Meal
   1/4 tsp Salt

   210g (1/2 cup + 2 tbs) Brown Rice Syrup
   128g (1/2 cup) Raw Macadamia Nut Butter
   1 tbs Vanilla Paste
   1 tsp Hazelnut Extract (optional)
   1 tsp Stevia Extract
   1/2 tsp Butter Extract


   64g (2 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder

   2oz White Chocolate (vegans, use vegan white chocolate... you are also welcome to double this ingredient ;D )
   1 tsp Grapeseed Oil (or any other neutral oil)

Directions:
1.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper both ways.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cereal, oats, flax and salt.
3.  In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the rice syrup, nut butter, vanilla paste and extract.  Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until runny.
4.  Stir in the protein powder one spoonful at a time.  Scoop over the dry ingredients and fold together.  Scoop this into the pan and flatten.
5.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the white chocolate and oil and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.  Drizzle into desired pattern.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes then slice and serve!



I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.  Oh, what wonderful memories  :)

March 27, 2012

Walnut Fig Krispy Treats with Dark Chocolate Ganache

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This is yet another attempt of mine to recreate the classic rice krispy treats.  My plan with these was to make a sophisticated, yet healthy, no-bake treat (no marshmallows here!).  And may I just add that this was a successful attempt?  Everyone absolutely loved them  :)
My sister, who is strangely not a sugar addict like me (gasp!) , loved how these were mildly sweet (unlike my other tooth-achingly sweet recipes).
My father, who is abnormally not a chocolate fan, ate these with a smile and no complaints.
My mother, the normal one (aka, a fellow sweet tooth) gobbled one up in no time at all, and quickly reserved another treat for breakfast the next day.
I, the sugar fiend, topped mine off with a few more sliced figs and ate in bliss.


Naturally sweet from the figs and brown rice syrup.  Nutty from walnut butter and flaxseed meal.  Bittersweet from the dark chocolate.  Simply sophisticated, decadently rich and oh, so satisfying...


Walnut Fig Krispy Treats with Dark Chocolate Ganache:  [no bake, high fiber/protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 9 large treats)

   Krispy Treats:
      150g (5 cups) Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
      48g (1/2 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
      13g (2 tbs) Flaxseed Meal
      1/4 tsp Salt
      168g (1/2 cup) Brown Rice Syrup
      128g (1/2 cup) Raw Walnut Butter
      1+1/2 cups Dried Figs, chopped
      3/4 tsp Stevia Extract
      62g (2 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder

   Ganache:
      4oz Dark Chocolate (60-70% cacao)
      6 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk (or light coconut milk)
      3/4 tsp Stevia Extract

*You can use chocolate protein powder if you like, just add 1 tsp of vanilla extract to the wet ingredients

Directions:
1.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper both ways, set aside.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cereal, oats, flax and salt.
3.  In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the rice syrup, walnut butter, figs and stevia.  Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between each one, until mixture is runny/liquidy.
4.  Add the protein powder to the microwaved mixture, spoonful by spoonful, stirring between each one until incorporated.
5.  Scoop this mixture over the rice krispy mixture and fold until incorporated.  Scoop this mixture into the brownie pan and flatten with the rubber spatula (or a pastry roller).  Refrigerate while you make the chocolate ganache.
6.  In a clean microwave-safe bowl, chop up the chocolate and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.  Stir in the almond milk, one tablespoon at a time, then add the stevia.  Spread over the krispy treats and refrigerate until slightly firm, then slice.

March 23, 2012

Maple Cinnamon Castella Cake

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Castella cakes are traditional Japanese desserts, often made with five or so egg yolks, lots of sugar and processed flour.  Although though they don't usually contain oil or butter, the cake as a whole isn't the healthiest.

So why not make my own?  :)


I made my version using no eggs, a small amount of dry sugar and whole wheat pastry flour, perfect for people watching their cholesterol or sugar intake.  This a firm, spongey cake with the perfect level of sweet, yet subtle, maple flavor.  The maple drizzle finish makes the cake even sweeter and more moist.

This castella cake is a sweet treat to satisfy your cravings for when you really need it.  Because you need it... now  ;)


Maple Cinnamon Castella:  [eggless, low fat, high protein]
(makes one large loaf* or one 9" cake)

Dry:
   180g (1+1/2 cups) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
   90g (3 scoops) Unflavored Whey Protein Isolate
   48g (1/4 cup) Pure Cane Sugar
   13g (2 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
   1/2-1 tsp Cinnamon (to taste)
   1 tsp Baking Powder
   1/2 tsp Baking Soda
   1/4 tsp Salt

Wet:
   1/2 cup Skim Milk
   168g (1/2 cup) Pure Maple Syrup (I used Grade A)
   21g (1 tbs) Molasses
   185g (3/4 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
   28g (2 tbs) Almond Oil (or any other neutral oil)
   1 tsp Maple Flavor
   1 tsp Vanilla Extract
   1+1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
   2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Glaze:
   84g (1/4 cup) Pure Maple Syrup

*Traditionally, castella cakes are made in loaf pans


Directions:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray your loaf or cake pan with cooking spray.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
3.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and fold until incorporated.  Whisk vigorously for 5 seconds to break apart any clumps.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, until center of the cake bounces back when touched, is brown in color (but not burnt!), and toothpick comes out clean.
4.  Keeping cake in pan, pierce the entire surface of the cake with a fork and brush 1/4 cup of maple syrup over it.  Slice when cool and serve warm if you like.

March 20, 2012

Almond Joy Krispy Treats

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I guess you could say I have a newfound looove for almond extract.  It's sweet, yet bitter... and it kinda smells like licorice to me.

WARNING: do not sniff a new bottle of almond extract--you will flinch and spill it everywhere.

Whaaattt?  No I'm not saying that from personal experience!  Silly you, I don't know why you'd think that...


Anyways, I also have a love for coconut extract.  Why not put almond extract and coconut extract together and make an Almond Joy-ish dessert?  Or even better, why not put them together and make Almond Joy Krispy Treats?!  Clearly, nothing held me back from doing just that...


And clearly, nothing held me back from taking a giant chomp out of a krispy treat right at the start of photographing this little gem!  Seriously, I think I got three pictures in and just had to eat it, it smelled so good!

The creamy milk chocolate, the bitter almond, the sweet coconut--I call that a trifecta of utter perfection.  I have no idea if that even made sense so just ignore me, I'm in Almond Joy-induced bliss  :)



Almond Joy Krispy Treats:  [no bake, high protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 9 large treats)

   150g (5 cups) Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
   48g (1/2 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   13g (2 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
   1/8 tsp Salt


   210g (1/2 cup + 2 tbs) Brown Rice Syrup
   128g (1/2 cup) Raw Almond Butter
   1 tbs Vanilla Paste
   3/4-1 tsp Almond Extract (to taste)
   1/2 tsp Chocolate Extract (optional)
   1/2 tsp Stevia Extract


   64g (2 scoops) Chocolate Protein Powder

   64g (1/4 cup) Coconut Butter
   1/4 cup Light Coconut Milk, canned
   3/4 tsp Coconut Extract
   1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
   64g (2 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder
   15g (1/4 cup) Reduced Fat Shredded Coconut

   1-2oz Sugar Free Milk Chocolate

Directions:
1.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper both ways.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cereal, oats, flax and salt.
3.  In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the almond butter, rice syrup, vanilla paste and extracts.  Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until mixture is runny.
4.  Add the protein powder to the wet ingredients, spoonful by spoonful, until incorporated.  Scoop this mixture over the dry ingredients and fold together.  Scoop this into the pan and flatten.
5.  In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, add the coconut butter and microwave at 30-second intervals until melted.  Stir in the coconut milk and extracts.  Add the protein powder and coconut and stir again.  Spread this over the base layer (you can use a rubber spatula or wrap your fingers with plastic wrap and press it to the edges of the pan).
6.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate and melt at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.  Drizzle over the krispy treats and refrigerate until firm.  Slice and enjoy!




I can't believe these are healthy.  I reviewed the ingredient list about 3x until I was fully convinced...  Yes, I had to convince even myself that my own creation was healthy.

March 17, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Almond Krispy Treats with a Pomegranate Icing Drizzle

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So, just like every other day, I was in dire need of a dessert.  You know, something crunchy, yet chewy, something mild in flavor but with a unique, zippy and zingy taste.

I looked in my pantry and found a box of brown rice krispies resting nicely on the shelf.
I was going to make krispy treats.  It was fate.

But what flavors would be the answer to my sugar craving, without providing any guilt to my otherwise healthy diet?


The first thing that popped into my head was:  chocolate  (yes, chocolate can be healthy!)

I grabbed some chocolate protein powder and looked around for something sweet and tart.  I saw a bag of dried cherries on the very top shelf and reached for it.  I'm usually not a fan of cherries (especially dried cherries), but if it was paired with chocolate I was definitely willing to try it out!

I grabbed the brown rice syrup and thought of what nut butter would go well with chocolate and cherries.  The first thing I thought of was:  almond butter  (chocolate, cherry and almond is a classic combo!)


Let me just tell you, these krispy treats were amaaazziinngg!!!!  Yes, four exclamation points were necessary.

The chocolate and vanilla created the perfect base for the other flavors, and the almond extract and cherries added the zippy flavor I was looking for.  The cherry flavor did not come through as much as I thought it would, so next time I would add half a cup more.  Overall, though, the cherries definitely provided chewiness and sweetness to the super soft and satisfying krispy treats.


Although I got the zippy flavor from the almond extract and cherries, I was missing the zing!  I looked around my pantry once more and saw the pomegranate powder I recently bought and thought it was perfect!  It created the most flavorful (and colorful) icing I have ever made, not to mention pretty  :)

I absolutely loved the drizzle.  It added tartness, sweetness and presentation to the krispy treats--it definitely took them to the next level!  The burst of bright pink color makes these look like a decadent, bad-for-you dessert while it's all actually 100% healthy!


Chocolate Cherry Almond Krispy Treats:  [no bake, low fat, high protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 9 large treats or 16 small)

   150g (5 cups) Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
   48g (1/2 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   13g (2 tbs) Flaxseed Meal
   1/8 tsp Salt

   210g (1/2 cup + 2 tbs) Brown Rice Syrup
   128g (1/2 cup) Raw Almond Butter
   1/2-1 cup Dried Cherries, chopped (no sugar added)
   1 tbs Vanilla Extract
   3/4 tsp Almond Extract
   3/4 tsp Stevia Extract

   64g (2 scoops) Chocolate Protein Powder

   Pomegranate Icing Drizzle, recipe below

Directions:
1.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper both ways.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cereal, oats, flax and salt.
3.  In a large, microwave-safe bowl, stir together the rice syrup, almond butter, cherries and extracts.  Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until mixture is runny.
4.  Add the protein powder to the wet ingredients, one spoonful at a time, until incorporated.
5.  Scoop the mixture over the dry ingredients and fold together.  Scoop mixture into the brownie pan and flatten.  Refrigerate while you make the Pomegranate Icing Drizzle!


Pomegranate Icing Drizzle:
   24g (2 tbs) Powdered Erythritol
   15g (2 tbs) Pomegranate Powder
   ~1/2 tbs Water

Directions:
1.  Add the erythritol and pomegranate powder to a small bowl, then add the water and stir (it should not be liquidy, it should be somewhat thick).  Pipe using a very small tip or use a sandwich bag and snip a tiny corner.  Refrigerate for 30+ minutes to firm the icing and serve!

It's best to slice the treats and then top with the drizzle, you know, so you get more drizzle on each treat  ;)

March 15, 2012

Sweet Matcha Almond Oatmeal

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Don't be scared!  This oatmeal is just like any other oatmeal--it's warm, it's sweet, it's healthy!

It's just, you know...  green.

Very different from my Chocolate Fudge Brownie Oatmeal.  One can never get sick of chocolate but it's always good to change things up a bit, so I decided to use matcha instead of cocoa and vanilla protein powder instead of chocolate protein powder.  The result?  Delicious, bright and sweet almond matcha oatmeal!


Sweet Matcha Almond Oatmeal:  [low fat, high fiber/protein, GF, vegan]
(serves one)
  Step 1:
     1/2 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
     1 tbs Sweet Matcha
     2 tbs Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
     1/2 cup Water
  Step 2:
     2-3 tbs Water
     15-19 drops Almond Extract (to taste, I like 19)
     10-13 drops Stevia Extract (I used 13, as I have a maaajor sweet tooth)
     1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder

Directions:
1.  Add the Step 1 ingredients into a microwave safe bowl and stir (it should look like Shrek's choice breakfast!).  Microwave for 2 minutes (I stopped it around 1.2 minutes to stir and prevent boiling over).
2.  In a cup, whisk together the Step 2 ingredients.  Pour over cooked oatmeal.  Sprinkle some almonds over top and enjoy!


Don't be scared and just enjoy.  Close your eyes if you have to  ;)

Perfect for St. Patty's Day or any day for a kid, just tell them Shrek made it for them!

March 9, 2012

Peanut Butter Cups

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Not only are these healthy, but they are 80 calories a piece!
Not only are these decadently sweet, but they are sugar free!

I mean, do I really need to say it?  These are perfection--they are stuffed full of flavorful peanut butter and coated with creamy milk chocolate.

Heaven.


Oh, and did I mention you only need 5 ingredients to make them?


Reese's Peanut Butter Cups:  [no bake, sugar free, high protein, GF]
(makes 18)
   Chocolate Coating:
       6oz Sugar Free Milk Chocolate (or chocolate of choice)
   Peanut Butter Filling:
       64g (1/4 cup) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
       2 tbs Water
       4 tbs Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
       96g (1/2 cup) Powdered Erythritol
       39g (6 tbs) Soy Protein Powder
       1/8 tsp Salt

Directions:
1.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.  Spoon an even amount of chocolate into a PB cup mold or muffin liners.  Turn the pan or muffin liners to create a chocolate "wall" and "floor."  Refrigerate while you make the filling
2.  In a medium bowl, mix together all the filling ingredients (it should be able to form a ball if you tried)
3.  Once chocolate is firm, fill peanut butter cup with prepared filling up to the top of the chocolate "wall."  Spoon more chocolate over the filling until you create a "ceiling" and refrigerate until firm.

Keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Leave at room temp for 10-20 minutes before serving, even though I just ate them out of the fridge  ;)


Super soft and chewy.  Satisfaction with every bite!


I think these nutritional facts are pretty impressive compared to Reese's peanut butter cups!
Mine are lower fat, lower carb, lower sugar and higher protein.  They taste amazingly similar, only mine are secretly healthy.

March 6, 2012

"Nutella" Krispy Treats

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Believe it or not, I was never really a fan of Nutella (I always preferred peanut butter!).  Nutella is too thin and runny, aka, too difficult to eat out of the jar with a spoon.  To me, it doesn't even go well with my two of my favorite foods: bread and jelly... perfect pairings for peanut butter!  But, 99.9% of the people on this earth love Nutella.  Heck, February 5th is even dedicated to it!  So I decided to make a recipe with "Nutella"  (yes, those are quotation marks)...  becauuuse, these krispy treats don't really contain Nutella, just all the ingredients and flavors of Nutella, like chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla, etc.  The only difference?  I tripled the chocolate flavor!

^^See the three layers?

The base, a chocolate hazelnut krispy treat.
The middle layer, a chewy, toffee-like chocolate fudge.
The topping, a thin layer of milk chocolate.


I found hazelnut butter at Whole Foods, it was even raw with no sugar, salt or oil added!  (That's a "win" if you ask me).
The second I got home I stirred it up and gave it a sample.  I never knew hazelnuts had such a strong, potent flavor!  Perfect for these krispy treats  :)

At first sight, all you see is chocolate.  At first taste, you taste both hazelnut and chocolate.

Sticky and sweet, warming and comforting, chocolatey and flavorful.
Soon, you are in "Nutella" bliss--bliss that doesn't involve breaking out the stretchy pants...


"Nutella" Krispy Treats:  [no bake, high protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 9 large treats)

   Krispy Treats:
       120g (4 cups) Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
       48g (1/2 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
       13g (2 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
       1/4 tsp Salt

       210g (1/2 cup + 2 tbs) Brown Rice Syrup
       112g (1/2 cup) Natural Hazelnut Butter (no oil/sugar/salt added)
       1 tsp Vanilla Paste
       1 tsp Hazelnut Extract
       3/4 tsp Stevia Extract
       1/2 tsp Chocolate Extract (optional)
       1/2 tsp Butter Extract (optional)
       64g (2 scoops) Chocolate Protein Powder

   Toffee-Fudge Layer:
       28g (2 tbs) Coconut Oil
       4 tbs Unsweetened Soymilk
       80g (2+1/2 scoops) Chocolate Protein Powder

   Chocolate Layer:
       2oz Sugar Free Milk Chocolate (or chocolate of choice)

Directions:
1.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper both ways.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cereal, oats, flax and salt.
3.  In a large, microwave-safe bowl, stir together the rice syrup, nut butter, vanilla paste and extracts (not the protein powder yet!).  Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until mixture is runny.
4.  Slowly stir in the protein powder, spoonful by spoonful, until mixture is even.  Scoop this over the dry ingredients and fold together.  Scoop into the prepared pan and flatten.  Refrigerate while you complete the toffee fudge layer.
5.  In a medium bowl, stir together the coconut oil, soymilk and protein powder (it should be thick).  Spread this over the krispy treat base (you can spread this mixture initially by wrapping your fingers with plastic wrap and pressing the mixture to the edges of the pan, then flatten it with a rubber spatula).
6.  In a small, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.  Pour the chocolate over toffee-fudge layer.  Spread by gently jiggling the pan from left to right and front to back until it reaches the edges.  Refrigerate to firm then slice and serve!


Enjoy the intense chocolate flavor x 3... it is pure insanity decadence!

March 3, 2012

Rum-Drenched Almond Pound Cake

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So moist, delicate and tender.  So sweet, warming and comforting.  This cake was really spectacular.


I made this cake in the summer, but just a little different than my usual cakes as it was a thank-you gift for a neighbor who was not so much into "healthy food." It contains a bit more sugar and a tad bit more butter extract, but I still managed to keep the recipe healthy and balanced as a whole.

It's whole wheat, still reduced sugar and contains a bit of protein.  Despite all that, it is ultra moist and the rum glaze grabs your taste buds' attention right away!


Almond Pound Cake:  [low fat, high fiber]
(makes one 9" cake)

   Dry:
       240g (2 cups) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
        96g (1/2 cup) Pure Cane Sugar
        2 tbs Arrowroot Starch
        1+1/2 tsp Baking Powder
        1/2 tsp Baking Soda
        1/4 tsp Sea Salt
   Wet:
        112g (1/2 cup) Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
        182g (2/5 package) Lite Silken Tofu
        42g (3 tbs) Almond Oil (or any other neutral oil)
        123g (1/2 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
        42g (2 tbs) Agave Nectar
        2 tsp Stevia Extract
        1 tbs Vanilla Extract
        1+1/4 tsp Butter Extract
        1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and spray your cake pan with cooking spray.
2.  Put wet ingredients into a blender and puree.
3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
4.  Pour the blender mixture onto the dry ingredients and fold gently (batter will be somewhat thick).  Scoop batter into prepared pan and flatten the surface.  Bake for 60-65 minutes, or when surface of cake springs back when touched.



Rum Glaze:
   2-4 tbs Almond Rum Liqueur (use 4T if you want a stronger rum flavor, I used Guavaberry rum)
   84g (4 tbs) Agave Nectar

Directions:
1.  In a small bowl, whisk the two ingredients together until the mixture looks like a pure syrup
2.  When the cake is slightly warm to touch (not too hot or cold), "stab" the surface of the cake with a toothpick all over (don't get too dramatic though), and use a basting brush to coat the top of the cake with the glaze.  When completely cooled, slice and serve.


To store, cover with plastic wrap.


I remember baking this cake and sharing it with my neighbor.
I remember eating this slice, smiling and relaxing.

Enjoy  :)
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