One of the steps we had to take to complete my registration for a national ID card was a trip to Rabat for a background check. The appointment itself was less than thrilling but we also were able to meet up with my friend Allison and her family. Allison and I have known each other online for many years, when we were going through the immigration process of bringing our spouses to the US. Then within a few weeks of each other we announced our plans to relocate back to Morocco! She and I had never met in real life until we moved to Morocco but now any opportunity to visit each other’s cities is welcome.
After we finished the paperwork we were picked up by them and went to their home for a really delicious fish lunch prepared by their housekeeper. (Yes, we have these, and I plan to post about it later, but please don’t think we’re incredibly wealthy or lazy – it’s just possible here). This was an incredible meal and we were happy to have great conversation in a super relaxed atmosphere -plus get to play with Allison’s kids!
We were taking the last train back to Marrakech so we didn’t have a lot of flexible time, but decided to take a drive to see the Hassan II Mosoleum (which neither of us had seen). Within minutes of walking in we were told that they were closing and we weren’t able to go inside the actual mosoleum. Bummer. Next time.
But what does all this have to do with brownies? After we were kicked out we headed back to the train station and sat in a cafe (Venezia Ice) to wait until our train arrived. A quick browse through the menu and I spotted brownies and ice cream. Could it be?? Allison and I both enthusiastically ordered this and crossed our fingers not to be disappointed. I’m happy to say we weren’t!
Since then I had been craving brownies. I knew they weren’t hard to make, but hadn’t ever experimented with gluten free brownies. I also have had serious cravings for nuts and caramel so I topped the brownies with this.
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup cream of rice
- 2/3 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, and butter.
- Slowly add cocoa powder stirring well to combine evenly.
- Add in vanilla extract and salt.
- Then, whisk in 1/4 cup cream of rice powder.
- Finally stir in chopped chocolate.
- Pour into a a parchment lined, or greased 8x8 pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center has set.
- Allow to cool completely and remove from pan.
- Cover brownies with caramel.
- Toast cashews in a pan on the stovetop until they start to slightly brown and release oils, you should be able to smell this.
- Roughly chop and cover the top of the caramel with the cashews.
MarocBaba looooves caramel. It’s his favorite sweet topping. Honestly, I know very few people who dislike it! I’ve shied away from making my own because it scares me. A year ago I attempted to make it from sugar and well let’s just say what I ended up with was a hard, sugary mess. So I gave up. Then my mom told me she saw a way to make caramel on Pinterest (of course!) and we should try it.
So, last week she and I decided we would do holiday baking early as I won’t be here this holiday season. At the top of our list was attempting to make caramel. I was skeptical – she was too – but we trusted the good people who pin on Pinterest to not lead us astray. So how do you make it?
Get ready to have your mind blown!
This is so so simple. What you need;
- clean glass mason jars with lids
- sweetened condensed milk
- slow cooker
How do you do it?
Wash and dry the mason jars. Fill them, leaving a little space at the top, with sweetened condensed milk. Wipe off any dribble on the jar and put the lid on. Add about 1″ of water to the bottom of a slow cooker. You don’t want to submerge the glass jars. If your jars are too tall, you can tip them on their side to cook. Then set your slow cooker on low and forget about it for 6-8 hours. You’ll know the caramel is done when it turns light brown. Remove from the water and place on the countertop to cool. You want the caramel to cool down before opening it, otherwise you will end up with chunky caramel instead of smooth. After it’s cool then you can stir and use as desired!
Not only would this make a great gift for someone but is a delicious topping for Saffron Road’s Salted Caramel Mini Tarts.
These little guys are really tasty. There’s 12 in a box and come frozen. Just thaw for 30 minutes and dig in. I added them to my holiday buffet along with the other three flavors; chocolate coconut cheesecake and Kashmiri lemon ginger. You’ll want all of them because it’s too hard to just eat one.
Disclaimer: I am a paid ambassador for Saffron Road. All opinions are my own.
After spending 3 weeks in the US, it’s safe to say I’ve gotten my fill of “holiday stuff.” Everywhere I went there was Thanksgiving decorations/food/music at every turn and then plastered in front of it all was the looming Christmas panic. I seriously wondered why every year this happens earlier and earlier. I came at the end of October and there was Christmas decorations out before Halloween! My favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that has really nice memories for me and I do love preparing all of the dishes for a traditional meal. Whether you’re entertaining for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday a dessert bar is a fun and easy idea.
What’s a dessert bar?
Just what it sounds like – a buffet that’s full of desserts! I love using this idea for later evening gatherings or mid-afternoon. It’s easy to put together, and most everyone is happy. You can easily please any of your guests by adding a variety of options for all diets. I mix homemade goodies with store bought items as well as some fresh options. Having a few drink options is also nice. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juices, and water are inexpensive and easy to have on hand.
What to include on a dessert bar:
Here are some of the things I included;
- Homemade caramel sauce
- pre-made frozen gingerbread cookies (that I baked!)
- Spritz cookies
- Pistachio Bites
- Saffron Road Dessert Mini Tarts
- Assorted Chocolates
- Fresh berries
- Chocolate shavings
- Toasted coconut
Really whatever you think fits the bill for dessert can be included. Having a cheese plate, with cheeses, dried fruit, and nuts would also be a delicious addition. Over the next week I’ll be sharing some of the recipes for items listed above as well as my thoughts on Saffron Road’s new dessert mini tarts.
So, what would you include on your dessert bar?
Disclaimer: I am a paid ambassador for Saffron Road Foods. All opinions are my own.
Some years I’m counting down the days until my birthday, it can’t come soon enough. Other years the day creeps up from behind me and then it’s here. My mom always made a big deal out of our birthdays. She had a different theme every year, making food and snacks that matched. We got plenty of gifts and always had two parties; one for our friends and one for our family. Having these memories has really been a very treasured part of my childhood and always made me feel special and loved.
This year, I’m away from my husband and kids so there’s something a little bittersweet about my big day (it’s on Sunday). I’m also entering the last year of my 20’s. Wow. I just need to sit on that for a little while. There are so many days I feel like I’m still just a child. There’s something about leaving this decade of life that I know I can’t escape the adult label. This year to celebrate I decided to post 29 special birthday cakes, one for every year of my age. These cakes are for those of us who have special diet needs, the ones that can’t pick up something at the bakery but want something delicious for the special day. Some are gluten free, or vegan, or paleo, or sugar free, or well there is something for everyone! If you’re celebrating a special day soon I hope you find a delicious dessert here.
- Naturally Red Velvet Cupcakes by Guts by Nature
- Grain free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting by The Skinny Pear
- Mini Raw Vegan Carrot Cakes by Good Girl Gone Green
- Sweet Potato Cake with Paleo White Chocolate Frosting by Paleo Fondue
- Lemon Potato Cake by Strands of My Life
- Carrot Cake Bites with Cinnamon Kefir Cheese Frosting by Loula Natural
- Chocolate Muffin in a Minute by DJ Foodie
- Pumpkin Carrot Harvest Cake by Soundness of Body & Mind
- Banana Brownie Cupcakes by Popular Paleo
- Double Chocolate Muffins by Butter Nutrition-
- Grain-Free Individual Cheesecake Swirl Brownies by Girl Meets Nourishment
- Paleo Yellow Cupcakes by A Girl Worth Saving
- Chamomile Honey Cakes with Orange Cashew Cream by The Dabblist
- Double Mocha Layer Cake by Healthy Living How To
- Ooey Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Mini Cake (with Peanut Butter Frosting) by Scratch Mommy
- Plantain Skillet Brownies with Salted Caramel Sauce by So Let’s Hang Out
- Orange Cloud Cake by The Sour Path is the Sweetest
- Coconut Cloud Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle by Real Food Outlaws
- Chocolate Ganache Cake by Just Enjoy Food
- Spice Cupcakes with Maple Marshmallow Frosting by The Gluten Free Doctor
- Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes for Two by An Edible Mosaic
- Strawberries and Cream Layer Cake by Ricki Heller
- Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream by Jew Hungry
- Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake with Olive Oil by Cooking on the Weekends
- Gluten-free Golden Fudge Cake by Cupcakes and Kale Chips -
- Vegan Peach Cobbler Cupcakes by Hezzi D’s Cooks and Books -
- Gingerbread Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting by Keeping Busy in Brooklyn -
- Gluten Free Smores Cupcakes by Beyond Frosting -
- GAPS Banana Cake by Gutsy
“When I was 17 my mom and dad took the train west to visit family. They left me home with my baby brother who was maybe 2 years old. At that time I didn’t think anything of it, I had helped my mom from the time he was born. We lived on a farm and every morning I’d get up before my brother to take care of the chores around the house. Then some days I would put him in the backseat of our car. There were no baby seats, and I was driving, so I just put him in the back and told him to stay put.
There was a big blueberry patch a few miles down the road and so every day when the chores were done we would make our way there. I spread out a quilt for him and I picked blueberries until all the buckets were full. He sat on the blanket, playing with sticks, or whatever he found around him. I’m sure there were ants crawling on the blanket and who knows what else but back then no one fussed about that stuff.
When we’d get home at night I would make the blueberries into preserves and can them. It had to be done right away or the berries would have gone bad. By time my parents got home I was able to have picked and saved 50 pounds of blueberries. If I would have waited until my mom came home they would have all been gone. You know I didn’t even think about doing this, it was just a part of life, the way things were. Every summer my husband, kids, and I would go pick berries – all kinds – to put up. My husband still makes a couple hundred gallons of blueberry wine. We’re lucky to get a few bottles after we give it to family and friends. It’s a good thing they’ve made blueberry bushes now, I don’t know if my back could take bending over to pick off those little bushes on the ground.”
Before we moved we had a garage sale to get rid of all of our extra “stuff”. In a way that I’ve come to discover is quintessentially Midwestern my mom struck up a conversation with an older couple. The man was a World War II vet and wore his Navy pride on his VFW hat. Somehow the conversation turned to a discussion about the best place to pick blueberries, and the giant bucket my mom and step-dad picked a few days earlier. Then she told us the story that she always remembers when she thinks about blueberries. As she walked away I smiled and told my mom, those stories just capture a moment of someone’s life, a piece of the past. It’s too bad they aren’t shared often enough and just disappear.
As I was making these, I kept thinking back to the lady and her little brother. I wondered how time had changed them, if he admired his big sister and I would have the guts to leave my 17 year old in charge of a toddler for a few weeks (I wouldn’t!). I thought about the treats they made through the cold Wisconsin winter with the blueberries, bringing back a small taste of summer. I couldn’t save the blueberries and there’s none to be found here but if you happen upon some fresh berries, or even some frozen berries that have been thawed you’ll love this easy breakfast/dessert.
- 2 cups coconut flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 11/2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp xantham gum
- 1 stick or 4oz of cold butter cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp vegetable shortening
- 1/4 c ice water
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 Tbsp chilled butter
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- sliced almonds for decoration
- Add the coconut flour, almond flour, xantham gum, sugar, and salt to a food processor. Begin to pulse and add the butter and vegetable shortening. Continue to pulse until there are no large pieces left and the dough looks like bread crumbs. Slowly add water just until the dough comes together. Warp the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours but up to 24 hours. (If you do not have a food processor the ingredients can be mixed by hand)
- Add washed and rinsed blueberries to a large bowl. Use your fingers to break apart the butter in to small pieces and combine with the berries. Mix in sugar, lemon juice, and almond flour.
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Remove dough from the fridge and divide into four to five equal parts. Allow the dough to warm up a little. Lightly dust a cutting board with coconut flour or almond flour and press out the dough with your hands. You will want to create a round disc shape.
- In the middle of the disc add a few teaspoons of the blueberry mixture. Fold up the edges of the galette. It WILL NOT cover the full top of the pastry, just a rough lip.. If the dough buckles or even crumbles a little bit it’s ok. This is a rustic pastry.
- Slide each galette onto a baking sheet that it will not stick.. I like to use a silpat liner. A sheet lined with parchment paper will also work. Decorate the tops of the pastry with slivered almonds.
- Once all galettes are ready to bake, place in the oven for 20 minutes and then check. The crust should be a toasted brown color and the fruit soft when you poke with a fork or knife. If they are not done at this point, continue checking every 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.
- These are often served at room temperature but I think they taste best when warm.
For months we prepared to move our family and for months I planned just what life would be like. Everything would go smoothly, our bags would arrive, our apartment would be ready to go. In a day or two I’d have a phone and internet. I would go shopping daily in the market and prepare meals that I knew we enjoyed. I would easily slide into life, it really wouldn’t be that different than what we were used to.
But, then I found out I was wrong.
So the first week wasn’t what I envisioned at all. I was depressed. I wanted to be alone, to have my space and digest what I had just gotten myself into. I really didn’t eat much, nothing tasted good to me. Even if I wanted to make something I was out of luck. No pots, no pans, no spoons, or forks. While I’ll admit it wasn’t terrible having someone else cook, my diet has changed so much I found a lot of things I just couldn’t eat.
In the midst of my depression, because yes that’s what it was, I knew there had to be something that would help. Emotional eating is usually not a good thing but in this instance I felt it was warranted.
So when there’s a hodge podge of cooking implements and a freezer what do you do? Well you make chocolate no bake bars of course! I knew I could get a little nutrient boost from oatmeal and even though it looks like there’s a lot of chocolate here, it really wasn’t that much. I really want to share the recipe with you but here’s the thing – I didn’t measure it but I estimated. I’ve made them twice now never measuring. They came out a little different but delicious no matter what.
I melted about 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a pan on medium heat, stirring until I’d made a thick syrup (caramel would be delicious too!). In another pan I melted 1/2 cup of butter, with about 4 ounces of milk chocolate, and 3/4 cup of peanut butter. Once it was completely melted a teaspoon of vanilla, and the syrup.
How much oats (gluten-free variety!) do you use? Enough to hold together all of the wet ingredients. Add some nuts or coconut if you like. Then pour into a greased 8×8 pan and spread flat. You might want to eat a spoonful just to check. Finally slide it into your freezer to firm up. Once the bars are frozen they can be cut and stored individually in the freezer or refrigerator.
So now when I’m feeling a little lonely and just a little homesick, I know what’s waiting for me in the freezer to make it just a little bit easier.