Blackberry Sour Cream Cake – A Guest Post from gotta get baked

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I figured since I’m off gallivanting in Europe for a few weeks, it would be a good time to feature some guest bloggers here on Because I Like Chocolate. I’ve got three amazing ladies lined up to share some delicious eats with you, kicking things off with Nancy from gotta get baked. I have never met Nancy in person but I can say without question that she is one of the most honest, blunt, tell-it-like-it-is people on the face of the planet. She’s a realist, that’s for sure, and she never fails to make me laugh – in that really unattractive, “oh my god I just snorted, I am so sorry” kind of way. Seriously, you have to check out one (or all) of her random crap posts, stat. If she doesn’t succeed as a blogger, Nancy could definitely make it as a comedian. Now over to Nancy!

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Hi everyone! I’m Nancy of gotta get baked. I live on the West coast of Canada (born ‘n raised) and I blog mainly about desserts ‘n sweets ‘n anything made with copious amounts of butter and sugar. In other words, it’s a (mental) health blog.

I don’t know when Mal and I started following each other’s blogs, commenting and becoming friends, but I’m glad we did. The girl’s blog is called Because I Like Chocolate. It’s like our relationship was meant to be!

To say I’m a chocoholic is a huuuuuuuuge understatement. I crave it, need it, want it all the time. I eat so much it’s probably running in my veins instead of blood. When my 9th grade English teacher had us write a report on any subject we wanted, I researched the history of chocolate and wrote 20 pages about it. During the process, I found out that there’s a Hershey chocolate town and it was my dream to go there (and live there). Some of my favourite books as a kid featured chocolate prominently (The Chocolate Touch and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Delicious classics!).

That’s why it’s super odd that I’m guest posting for Mallory two times this month but neither of my recipes feature chocolate. What’s wrong with me, right?! Well, because it’s summer, I wanted to make something fresh and seasonal, thus the blackberry sour cream cake featured in today’s post. The cake is super moist and lightly spiced, studded with sweet local B.C. blackberries. Perfect for breakfast or an any-time-snack.

Blackberry Sour Cream Cake
 
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Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 cups of fresh blackberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Scrape the batter into the cake pan. The batter will be thick.
  4. Top the batter with the blackberries. You can sprinkle the top of the cake with sugar if you want – that’s totally optional.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may want to start checking the cake around the 30 or 35 minute mark. I left my cake in the oven a bit longer than necessary (such a rookie mistake!) and it was a bit darker than I wanted. Thankfully it didn’t negatively affect the texture too much.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the side of the pan to loosen the cake, then move it onto a cooling rack to continue cooling. Enjoy as is or with ice cream or whipping cream. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for two days. Any longer and I’d put it in the fridge.

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Stay tuned for another post from Nancy in the coming weeks. I won’t give it away completely but let’s just say it involves peanut butter. Cannot go wrong with that, can you?

Canada Day Desserts

Happy early Canada Day to all of my fellow Canadians out there! To celebrate the occasion, I have put together a round-up of some amazing Canada Day desserts and other sweet recipes from some unreal Canadian bloggers. This country has some great talent and there are simply too many to choose from, so this is just a taste of what Canada’s food scene has to offer! Enjoy and I hope you have a fabulous day spending time with those you love most.

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The Dunbar, courtesy of Isabelle over at Crumb. It’s based on a recipe from a bakery in Vancouver.

– This Canadian take on Baklava from Dan of Dan’s Good Side, chalked full of apples and cranberries.

– Nothing says summer in Canada like stone fruit and berries. Julie from Dinner with Julie definitely know what’s up.

– We love our camping up here in the Great White North and that means one thing – s’mores. Wanda from Bakers Beans has you covered!

Blueberry pie is pretty traditional but not when you add spruce tips like Bernice from Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen did. Too pretty!

– These strawberry cloud bars from Regina at Leelalicious are red and white, just like our flag. Sounds about right for Canada day!

– When you are hiking in the mountains you need some trail mix – or trail mix cookie balls like these ones from Stephanie over at Global Dish.

– Anna Olson is as quintessentially Canadian as it gets. Check out her chocolate chip cookies on Stephanie’s blog (a different Stephanie), Clockwork Lemon.

– Ok it’s technically not dessert but it’s still sweet. The honey brew beer cocktail over at Eat North that is.

– If you have any rhubarb left it must go into making this tart from Melissa at Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach. It must.

– Does the top of this soufflé from Medha of Farm on Plate not look like our flag too? Except in chocolate form which is even better!

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– We may not grow tropical fruits in Canada but we do have some wicked blueberries. Mixing them into cheesecake ice cream is genius! Thanks to Nancy from Gotta Get Baked for this.

– Amy of Simple Bites makes a wicked looking fresh strawberry pie. Heck yeah.

– This country makes some gooood ice wine. Why not try it in a gelée like this one courtesy of Tara from Seven Spoons?

– Cool off with this frozen berry tart from Emily, the blogger at This Rawsome Vegan Life.

– What dainty little muffins from Jo-Anna at A Pretty Like in the Suburbs. Pretty indeed!

– Start off the day with these strawberry crepes from Janice at Kitchen Heals Soul.

– Maple syrup and blueberries. Check and check. This cake from Dessert by Candy looks awesome and super simple too!

– If there is anyone who deserves recognition on Canada Day it is Valerie from A Canadian Foodie. She has started up such projects as the Canadian Food Experience Project and basically dedicates her site to all things Canadian. It seems fitting to end things with Valerie’s grandmother’s angel food cake. Traditions are what make this country what it is and there are nothing better than food traditions. Happy Canada Day to all!

Vegan Strawberry Coconut Muffins

Vegan Strawberry Coconut Muffins I’m not a vegan personally but I love challenging myself to make recipes for various dietary restrictions, vegan or otherwise. For whatever reason, people always assume that the “vegan” version of something must taste worse than its non-vegan counterpart, thus I usually reframe from telling people that whatever I made is vegan until after they have tasted it and proclaimed how good it is. Take that butter and eggs, we don’t need you after all! Unless of course you are making brownies, in which case I have yet to find a vegan recipe that replicates the fudginess produced by butter and eggs.

Anyways, let’s talk about these vegan roasted strawberry coconut muffins for a bit. I will walk you through the process so you can try your hand at veganizing some of your own baking recipes. The #1 thing is that you have to know what purpose eggs and dairy serve in your recipe so that you can replace them with something that still manages to accomplish this. Say you take out the eggs from a soufflé – they are what cause the soufflé to rise. In order to do so successfully, you are going to have to find another ingredient that soufflés up like eggs do. It’s an awful example really because I am not sure I have ever seen a successful vegan soufflé before.

Never fear though, muffins are much easier! 99% of the time muffins involve a very basic process of mixing together wet ingredients, mixing together dry ingredients and then combining the wet with the dry. Usually there is nothing in the dry ingredients that is not vegan, so we are good there. Moving over to the wet ingredients, the 3 top culprits would be milk, eggs and melted butter. Melted butter is the easiest to replace, simply swap it out for equal parts oil. Milk is pretty simple too. It’s basically just providing moisture so swapping it with a non-dairy alternative, like almond milk, is no big deal. Eggs are a little bit trickier but only marginally. In muffins eggs serve two purposes; they add some leavening power and they act as a glue to hold everything together. By taking them out, you have to compensate for both of these factors elsewhere. In terms of leavening, I just add a bit extra baking powder (not much, if the recipe called for 1.5 tsp, up it to 2) and call it a day. As for the structural aspect of eggs, you can always use flax eggs in their place to prevent things from crumbling apart. The thing about most muffins is that they are wet enough that this never becomes an issue. Once that flour combines with the wet ingredients it should get gluey enough, for lack of a better word, to hold everything together. In other words, you can remove the egg(s) with little to no negative repercussions.

Then of course you have to make sure not to throw in any non-vegan additions. So sorry, no non-vegan chocolate chips or cream cheese filling. Although that should not be a probably when you can still use roasted strawberries and coconut. Combine that with a crunchy coconut oat streusel on top and no one will ever know your little secret. Vegan baking is not half as daunting as you would think, in fact cutting out ingredients makes it even easier than many traditional recipes. Let’s bake some muffins!

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Vegan Roasted Strawberry Coconut Muffins
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup bran
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup oil (neutral flavoured like canola, grapeseed or light olive oil)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup roasted strawberries, chopped
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2-3 tbsp oil (neutral flavoured like canola, grapeseed or a light olive oil)
Instructions
  1. To make the muffins:
  2. First heat your oven to 350F and line a 12 cup muffin cup with cupcake liners.
  3. Combine the bran and milk and let stand for 15 minutes or so to rehydrate the bran.
  4. In the meantime, combine the first quantities of flour, oats, baking powder, salt and coconut.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and brown sugar. When the bran is done soaking, mix the bran/almond milk mixture into the oil and sugar.
  6. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Add in the strawberries and stir until everything is incorporated but not over-mixed.
  7. Portion the batter equally into the 12 muffin cups and top with streusel (see below). Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool and eat.
  8. To make the streusel:
  9. Mix together the second quantities of flour, coconut, brown sugar, oats and oil.
  10. Sprinkle this liberally over top of the muffin batter before baking.

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Roasted Strawberries

Roasted Strawberries

When it comes to jumping on bandwagons, my participation usually falls under 1 of 3 categories.

First, there are things that I would like to think I will never, EVER do. These include:

– Shoving cookies inside cookies. Oreos are good. Chocolate chip cookies are good. Why wreck a good thing, 2 good things to be exact?!

– Surprise inside cakes. All of that food colouring cannot possibly be good for a person. Plus it seems like a lot of work to go to just to make a cake. Cake isn’t even that good.

– Putting sprinkles in everything. See point #2 re: food colouring. Also, they don’t taste like anything. Oh and cake batter flavoured things with sprinkles? Don’t even get me started. Admittedly I did try making cookies of this sort once but I am still filled with regret.

Then there are things that sound good in theory but crash and burn miserably. See:

Sourdough starter. I wanted it to work. It bubbled and gave me hope, but my bread turned out like bricks of concrete.

– Sprouting seeds/nuts/legumes. Sprouted quinoa was amazing when it worked but I wasn’t so lucky the second time around.

Macarons. Sure I figured them out….after round 4 or 5. They are just too piddly.

– Not food related but the 2004 Calgary Flames. If you are a Flames fan you are probably crying now that I brought that up, my apologies. But it’s fun to cheer for a team when they are winning, no? Until they aren’t winning anymore that is.

Finally, there are the things that are so amazingly amazing that it’s a wonder I took so long to get on the band wagon in the first place but I know for sure that I am never falling off.

Chia pudding, overnight oats, etc. You either love or hate these kinds of things but if you love them, you totally get where I am coming from. Plus it is an acceptable way to stir in some cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, thus eating chocolate for breakfast.

Homemade pretzels and/or pretzel buns. Best eaten warm out of the oven. It ain’t no lye. Clever, I know.

– You knew this had to be coming – roasted strawberries. I shouldn’t have been such a skeptic. Roasting is my favourite method of cooking just about anything, so why not strawberries? All of the sugars concentrate and they turn into little bites of sweet, strawberry crack. No added sugar required, just pure, unadulterated strawberry heaven.

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Roasted Strawberries
 
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So simple, it's not even a recipe.
Author:
Ingredients
  • As many strawberries as you deem fit
Instructions
  1. Put your strawberries (cleaned and hulled) in a 425F oven for 15-20 minutes. When the juices have run out of the berries and look sticky and syrupy, you are good to go. Eat as is or use in your favourite recipes. Muffins, ice cream, cakes, loaves, you name it!

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Cocoa Poached Pears with Dolfin Chocolate Sauce

Cocoa Poached Pears

One of my instructors at culinary school had a favourite expression that has stuck with me over the past couple of years – “keep it simple stupid.” Although I don’t always heed this advice, when I do, things tend to turn out better than if I had added 200 ingredients to them. Take this Dolfin chocolate sauce for example, I knew I had to take the quote to heart in order to truly showcase the chocolate at its best. Because the chocolate is so unique to begin with, I wanted to sculpt the recipe around its flavours, rather than simply making a recipe and adding chocolate to it. After all, what goes better with pears and almonds than more pears and almonds? Have you ever had a chocolate bar with pear in it? Neither had I until trying Dolfin’s pear and grilled almond bar. Floral fruit, floral chocolate – it works.

Cocoa Poached Pears

I decided to bring everything together by building on the flavours that were already there. I started by poaching pears, upping the anti by having them bath in a chocolately, cocoa syrup. As for the chocolate sauce itself, 2 ingredients; Dolfin pear and grilled almond dark chocolate and whipping cream. Then I topped everything with candied almonds, not only to mimic the almonds in the chocolate, but also to add some necessary texture. See, dessert does not have to be complicated to be good.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci

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Cocoa Poached Pears with Dolfin Chocolate Sauce
 
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Tender poached pears with Dolfin chocolate sauce and candied almonds.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 pears, peeled and cored
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups agave syrup
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup slivered, blanched almonds
  • 1 bar Dolfin pear and grilled almond chocolate (70g)
  • ⅓ cup whipping cream
Instructions
  1. To poach the pears, bring the water, agave and almond extra to a boil. Remove it from the heat and gradually whisk in the cocoa powder. Then add the pears and cook over low heat for about 1 hour, or until the pears are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, you can make the candied almonds by heating up ¼ cup of white sugar with a splash of water. Bring it to a boil. When the bubbles get bigger and it starts to thicken, stir in the almonds. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the almonds separate, becoming sandy and dry. Put them in a separate bowl and let cool.
  3. To make the Dolfin chocolate sauce, bring the whipping cream to a bowl, either in a pot or in the microwave. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate to melt it and stir to combine.
  4. When the pears are ready, allow them to cool slightly before plating, garnished with the Dolfin chocolate sauce and candied almonds. You can also poach the pears ahead of time, allow them to cool in the syrup and then refrigerate them in their poaching liquid. In that case you can either serve them chilled or at room temperature, or reheat them.

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