Category Archives: Cakes and Breads

Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache

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I made this cake for my roommate’s bakery last summer and it was TO DIE FOR! There is no better indulgence in my mind than a chocolate-y peanut butter treat–whether’s it’s a Reese’s peanut butter cup, chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, or this heavenly pound cake. Of course none of these things are on my Primal diet so when my friend Boomer requested a peanut butter chocolate birthday goody, I jumped at the chance of making this cake again. (I also made Blueberry Lemon bars for the other of this Birthday extravaganza, Stacy). He was having a pool party so for the sake of convenience I made mini bundt cakes, but I have to say I STRONGLY urge you to make this cake in a 10″ tube pan as the batter is just not meant for small spaces. They were adorable and quite tasty, but definitely did not live up to the first result of this recipe. Pound cake is just meant to be consumed in the form of a beautifully tall slice of cake lightly smothered in a thin layer of frosting. Trust me!

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Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting (Adapted from the Penzey’s Catalog) (Difficulty-Medium; Serves 12-14)

For the Cake:

  • 1 c. butter softened
  • 1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 5 cage-free organic eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk

For the Ganache:

  • 12 oz. premium semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream

Make the Cake: Do not preheat oven.  The Penzey’s test kitchen suggests placing the cake in a cold oven.  Lightly grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter.  Add the sugar and beat until light in color.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  The mixture should be light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix the batter until smooth and creamy.  Pour into cake pan.  Place in the cold oven.  Set the oven temperature to 325°F and bake until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean; about 1 hour and 25 minutes.  Please note that all ovens are different, so check the cake’s progress after 1 hour 10 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool completely before icing.

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Make the Ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a small mixing bowl.  Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan until boiling.  Pour over the chocolate and stir until creamy and smooth.  Let cool for 2-3 minutes.  Brush any loose crumbs from the cake.  Place the cooling rack on a clean baking sheet to catch the drips.  Pour the icing evenly over the cake, allowing it to cascade and cover the cake.  Move the cake rack to another clean baking sheet.  Scrape the drips from the first baking sheet, reheat and pour over the cake.

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Chocolate & Olive Oil Fig Cakes

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I have been holding onto this recipe since last summer and I am so glad I finally got around to making it! The fig season is so short that by the time I went to make it last year, I couldn’t find fresh figs anywhere. So do yourself a favor and try this while you still can. Fresh figs are like a completely different food than their dried counterpart that we usually find in salads. Don’t get me wrong I love dried figs too, but fresh figs are a summer delicacy to savour! Their sweet juicy flesh pairs perfectly with the rich chocolate and olive oil in the cake. And the sea salt and fresh ground pepper in the chocolate topping perfectly finish off this decadent treat. I know what you’re thinking…ground black pepper on chocolate cake?!? Believe me! It heightens the lemon zest and pairs with the sea salt to balance the chocolate, olive oil, and figs. Chocolate Perfection! A great Italian dessert to follow up my Salmon Florentine.

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Chocolate & Olive Oil Fig Cakes (Adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Intermediate; Makes 6-7 mini cakes)

For the cakes:

  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • 1 c. almond meal, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. raw honey
  • 1 large cage-free organic egg plus 1 yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 3-6 fresh figs, halved

For the glaze:

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Large pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for topping

Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the cakes: Brush a 6-cup muffin pan (I used a mini bundt pan) with olive oil and dust with almond meal. Whisk the cocoa powder and 1/4 cup hot water in a small bowl; let cool slightly. Combine the almond meal, salt and baking soda in another bowl.

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Combine the honey, egg and egg yolk, vanilla and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed until pale and slightly thick, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add the cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the almond meal mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake 8 minutes, then top each cake with a fig half and continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, 8 to 10 more minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack, 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

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Make the glaze: Place a small saucepan of water on the stove to boil, then turn off the heat. Put the chocolate, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper in a metal bowl and place over boiling water, stirring, until smooth.

Top the cakes with the glaze and more fresh ground pepper. You can add additional fig slices to the top of the glaze if desired.

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Primal Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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I just returned from the most glorious week of cooking! I helped my wonderfully creative Aunt Nancy cook for a silent meditation retreat at Insight Retreat Center near Santa Cruz, CA. The menu was all vegetarian and we made variations on dishes to accommodate other dietary restrictions and needs like gluten-free and dairy-free–there was even a yogi sitting the retreat that was Primal! It was such an amazing change being able to cook more nutritionally balanced and health-focused meals, especially for a group of such insightful and loving individuals! I also managed to get out for a few hikes in the beautiful redwoods. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity–my soul is fully charged and inspiration high! I am very much looking forward to the several catering events I have coming up and am already trying to figure out a way to get back up North for another retreat.

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A calm and quiet kitchen at 6am–just before the breakfast rush

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De La Veaga Park, Scott’s Valley, CA

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Came upon this precious scene on my hike through Henry Cowell State Park

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Aunt Nancy and I took a little trip the Santa Cruz Boardwalk…boy was that a lot of stimulation in comparison to the tranquil retreat center

   All of the meals we cooked were focused around the seasonal organic produce that came from local farmer’s markets and even the on-site garden and orchard–what a dream come true! So my Aunt and I got to talking about different uses for zucchini one day and I remembered the chocolate zucchini cake I had seen in the Food Network Magazine just before I left. With the abundance of food and goodies to be created, we never got around to making the zucchini cake so I obviously got right back in the kitchen at home on Sunday and made a Primal adaptation for all of you. This cake is so incredibly easy and the perfect answer to a chocolate craving. Not to mention it is full of the vitamins and nutrients from fresh organic zucchini. Taste it for yourself!

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake (Adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 6)

  • 1 1/2 c. almond meal
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. raw honey
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cage-free organic eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 medium organic zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 c. semisweet vegan chocolate chips

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a small 8×6 pyrex dish or other small cake or bread pan with all natural cooking spray. You can also make this into cupcakes with a muffin pan.

Mix the 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, the eggs and vanilla in an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes. Add the almond meal, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda allspice and nutmeg and mix on low to combine, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and beat until combined, about 2 more minutes. Fold in the 1/2 c. chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.

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Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

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Make the glaze: Combine the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon olive oil and the honey in a metal bowl. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Turn the heat off and set the metal bowl over the boiling water and stir until the chocolate is melted. Be sure to use a potholder to hold the bowl steady as it will become hot quickly. Spread over the cake with a spatula.

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Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

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My coworker has been asking me for months to bake him a Birthday treat so now that the day has finally come he requested strawberry cheesecake cupcakes. I wish I had the time this week to test and create a new Primal recipe for this occasion, but things were jam-packed so I had to stick with a recipe I knew would work the first time around. I have perfected my primal chocolate cupcakes, which I still need to share with all of you, and soon will set out on experimenting with a primal yellow cupcake. For now, you’ll have to settle for this flour-filled version, that I must say was quite tasty!

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Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes (Adapted from Doughmesstic) (Difficulty-Intermediate; Makes a dozen cupcakes)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 c. organic sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, pods scraped out
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temp.
  • 1/2 c., plus 2 Tbsp. buttermilk (I made my own non-dairy version by adding 1/2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar to organic coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 large organic strawberries, diced small

For the Frosting/Topping:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temp.
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 large organic strawberries, quartered

Make the Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 340 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.

Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl with the butter.  Beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and creamy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 2 more minutes.

Add the sugar to the butter mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the vanilla and beat for 1 additional minute.  In a separate bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another minute. Using a spatula fold the diced strawberries into the batter.

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling around 3/4 full.  Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans.

Make the Frosting: In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Assemble the Cupcakes: Using a piping bag and tip, top each cupcake with a healthy amount of the cream cheese frosting.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave.  Add brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs and stir well,  Sprinkle the mixture onto the frosting. Place a quartered strawberry on top of each cupcake.

IMAG0312 IMAG0311 As you can see, my strawberry chunks settled to the bottom, so try to be strategic about spooning your batter in the pan with more strawberries at the top. You could also skip folding them into the batter and place them once you’ve already spooned the batter into the cupcake pan. Nonetheless they still tasted great!

Primal Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake

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I have been wanting to create a primal cheesecake for months and my brother’s Birthday provided the perfect opportunity, as he is also primal and LOVES cheesecake! I’m also completely obsessed with rhubarb and don’t let a Spring go by without making some perfectly balanced sweet and tart baked good with this bright red seasonal stalk, usually paired with strawberries or raspberries. If you are in the Santa Monica, Malibu or Topanga Canyon area, I am now selling individually sized versions of this cheesecake and new york style at Topanga FRESH Market, an organic and natural foods market and cafe in Topanga Canyon!! Come by and give it a taste. Its debut at the Birthday party went over quite nicely–I’m pretty sure everyone went in for seconds.

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Primal Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake  (Difficulty: Intermediate; Serves 12-14)

For the Crust:

  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1 c. toasted pecans, finely ground in food processor
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. raw honey
  • pinch of Kosher salt

For the Filling:

  • 24 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temp.
  • 2/3 c. raw honey (**this can vary depending on type of honey–add gradually and taste for sweetness)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (next time I want to experiment with some zest for an even brighter lemon flavor)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 organic cage-free eggs, at room temp.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote:

  • 2 c. rhubarb, sliced (organic if possible)
  • 2 c. diced organic strawberries
  • 1/3 c. raw honey
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. arrow root powder

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350° and wrap a 9″ springform pan with two layers of heavy duty tin foil. Toast pecans in a toaster oven or tradition oven on 300° for 5-7 minutes. Let cool and finely chop in a food processor. Combine almond meal, ground pecans, honey, melted butter and a pinch of salt in a bowl. With a stand or handheld mixer, beat on medium speed until well combined. The crust should be moist enough to slightly clump together when mixed. Pour the crust mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

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Make the filling: Reduce oven temperature to 325° and put a large pot of water to boil on the stove. When the water is boiling, fill a large roasting pan with boiling water to serve as a water bath for more even baking. This will help prevent the cheesecake from cracking on the surface.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, and honey in a large bowl until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if necessary. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan prepared with boiling water. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cheesecake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour (the cake will become firm when it is cold). Transfer the cake to a rack; cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

Make the compote:

Combine rhubarb, strawberries, honey, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the honey is well incorporated. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rhubarb is tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add the arrow root powder to the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and add to the fruit mixture. Simmer on low until the compote has thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer rhubarb mixture to bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Remove cheesecake from springform pan and serve topped with compote.

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