If you don’t like candy canes, I don’t blame you. However, I think that their prevalence in the Christmas days has certainly conjured up a desire to have something “minty” this season. And while the lush in me would absolutely have posted a peppermint schnapps hot cocoa recipe, well, that’s not exciting or innovative. So, I figured I’d make one of my favorite cupcake bases and turn it into something beautifully holiday-esque. That way, you have a superb cake recipe, and then can get all festive if you want to do the full monty, like I did.
I was inspired to make the mini cakes a bit colorful after receiving a fresh pomegranate from my dad’s wife in Northern California. Apparently they had unearthed a little pomegranate plant (? don’t know how you do that, but it was hidden) and that’s amazing because pomegranates are not only delicious, but they’re also expensive so having those mysteriously show up is fabulous. The seeds are delicious and provide such a fantastic crunch when used in cakes. I’d never really seen it done but instead of using food coloring or artificial flavors to create a candy cane coloring I figured, let’s use what we have.
Places that change your life are like lovers. When a connection is first discovered, the following infatuation becomes almost addictive. Dopamine surges and it can become, for the moment, the only thing you want to experience forever. Paris was zero exception to this: it was my first city romance — the second we met I know there was something I could not deny.
But, as with many lovers, that initial infatuation inevitably morphs, how you subconsciously knew it would in the beginning but didn’t want to remove that rose-like curtain because you know the trip will be worth it one way or the other.
Paris was love at first sight, and a 4-year total richness that continues to impact my life in the way I visualize the world to the way I cook to the way I even speak. There’s always a thread of French shadowing every English word I speak or write.
I know what you’re thinking: where, oh where, on Earth have you been? Well, I’ve still been on Earth* (*kind of) and it’s taken me in places that have been a bit outside of the kitchen recently. I’ve still been cooking, of course, but it’s been in a more direct sense: teaching cooking classes, sharing food with friends and family (which was the original point of it, no?) and developing recipes for different brands and clients. That coupled with my new band, Jane Machine, has simply taken over the time I have to give you a proper taste of my current culinary life like I had before.
But hey, I’ve had this site since 2009 and it did take a few hiatuses before, so I guess it’ll always be a part of me in one way or the other.
It wasn’t until my cousin Kelly asked me what the cranberry sauce recipe I had made for last year’s Thanksgiving that I realized something: I really should share a recipe again. Because, if I’m photographing it for her and writing it all down, I imagine you would all want it, too. Read more
Sometimes I’m very bad at listening to authority. For instance, any proper French chef I’ve ever worked for has always said that you must work your potatoes into tiny morsels using a ricer, food processor or stand mixer to mash them, and that you must never over-work your potatoes. Namely, never put them in the blender.
So, I put them in a blender. And sometimes the status quo is very false — my potatoes taste like a fondue deity version of themselves.
There are times, though, when authority is authority for a reason. Every good chef I have ever worked for has also always said to never change the temperature of potatoes too much when you are preparing them. i.e., if they just came out of boiling water and you want to mash them, don’t let them get cold again before doing so. You should only refrigerate once the entire preparation is done. Read more
Thanksgiving in its modern sense is a pretty honest holiday — let’s get together with whomever we have around who we love and eat, enjoy being human (because we know that’s not always easy to do) and give thanks for the good that is in our lives.
I feel as though Thanksgiving is still what holidays were meant to be. You don’t need to buy a ton of gifts at the mall to give to people, they don’t start selling decorations for it 2 months in advance, and people generally get less territorial about family members. It really gets down to the core of why we celebrate, and I am absolutely into that.
Thanksgiving can vary from kitchen to kitchen. Some eat meat, some don’t. Some can afford a huge feast, some celebrate whatever leftovers are around. No matter your dietary creed, I do think that Pumpkin Pie is a pretty crucial part of the meal. Or at least a delicious one. Divine, really. Like, please eat it if you wanna have a proper Thanksgiving.
And that is why I am sharing with you this little genius thing that landed in my kitchen the other week. An experiment gone well, and here’s why it’s the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had:
The crust tastes like a pumpkin seed truffle. No joke. Truffle.
The filling is perfectly creamy but leaves space for the taste of roasted pumpkin and spice. A perfect compliment to such a decadent crust.
Everyone can eat it: your diabetic Grandma, your hippie vegan cousin, or your “trying it” gluten-free girlfriend. Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free… this cake’s got it all.
I had the absolute pleasure of making this with the fabulous qkatie at my home in Paris. We both did desserts with xylitol instead of sugar for our youtube channels. For those who do not know what xylitol is, it’s a naturally-occuring sweetner found in birch trees. Beware of that which is made from corn as it is more processed and less healthy, but the stuff from birch trees is pretty fantastic.
Check out qkatie’s recipe for a Molten Chocolate Cake here, using this special sweetener:
And here’s my Vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe. 🙂 Enjoy, and I hope that despite all the hard things happening in the world right now that you can still give thanks for what is good this Thursday. <3
1/4 cup xylitol (or sugar or date paste if you prefer)
2 cups pumpkin purée*
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup xylitol (or sugar or date sugar or agave/honey)
1 teaspoon agar agar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch lemon zest
*either use unsweetened canned pumpkin purée, or simply roast a pumpkin that you've cut into segments in the oven with olive oil and sea salt, scoop out the insides from the skin, then blend into a purée.
**take a can of coconut milk with at least 15% fat, and let set in the fridge to separate the fat from the milk. Spoon out fat, and whip together with xylitol or sweetener and a pinch salt and vanilla.
Prepare crust: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and roast pumpkin seeds for about 8 minutes, until just browned.
Transfer immediately to blender/mixer and combine with 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup sweetener and a pinch salt. Mixture should resemble pumpkin seed butter, as the coconut oil will have melted.
Prepare a spring-form pan by lightly oiling it. Spoon crust into bottom and make it flat, like a cheesecake crust. Let set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Prepare the filling: Combine all remaining ingredients. Transfer to medium saucepan and heat over low heat until coconut oil has melted and the agar agar starts to make the mixture thick. You should be whisking it over the heat and for about 4 minutes.
Complete the pie! Let the filling cool to room temperature about 15 minutes. Whisking it helps remove the heat and cool down faster. Remove your crust from the fridge or freezer, and spoon filling on top of it. Flatten the top, and set in the fridge for at least 5 hours. Can be made in advance. Stores in the fridge to keep the crust firm.
To serve, cut yourself a hearty slice and top with your favorite whipped topping. I do highly suggest the coconut whip recipe**, as it's quick and easy and healthy and tastes delightful with the rest of the ingredients.