Cookies · Dessert

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Bars

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My husband has a soft spot for these bars – the bars that go by many names. Depending on with whom you’re speaking, they may be called Special K bars, Scotcharoos – or in my case fat bars. I’m not sure who coined the name fat bars, but growing up at my grade and high school everyone called them by this name. Made in their original recipe, I imagine it’s because we all knew they were laden with sugar, processed items and a large dose of fat. I remember them being sticky and so sweet that they got you in that spot in the back of your throat and jawline. $.50 got you a full square and they were the most popular item on the Ala carte line.

These are a much less sugary version, and so simple to make. 5 ingredients (plus a sprinkling of Himalayan salt if you so desire!) and so delicious. The dark chocolate is what makes these better than the original, in my opinion – though if you’re similar to my husband and prefer milk chocolate, substitute away!

I made this recipe to fit within our dietary restrictions and was really happy with the results. It’s an adaptation from a number of recipes and comes together in 10 minutes or less, plus refrigeration time. Enjoy it with friends or family (or by yourself over a cup of coffee!) Happy Independence Day to you all! I hope your memories are as sweet and easy as this dessert.

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Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 2 cups organic, raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup

For the chocolate + peanut butter layer

  • 8 oz. organic dark chocolate (I used 80%)
  • 1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • Himalayan salt for topping (optional)

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Method:

  1. In a food processor, blend the raw almonds until they are semi-finely ground
  2. Add the avocado oil and maple syrup and pulse until combined
  3. Spread evenly on a parchment lined 8×8 pan.
  4. Roughly chop the chocolate and microwave in a glass bowl for 30 second increments until melted.
  5. Stir in the maple syrup and peanut butter until combined. Spread over the almond crust + sprinkle with pink Himalayan salt (optional.) Refrigerate 4 hours.
  6. Cut, serve, enjoy! (These will be best if stored in the fridge.)

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Cookies · Dessert

Oatmeal Cream Pies

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We were recently having dinner with friends and the topic turned to favorite childhood snacks – specifically the ones that concluded a sporting event’s win or defeat. My memory was swift and sweet. Summer nights for me were filled with softball. From the moment I could toddle my father had me holding a bat and glove, and what began as coaches pitch led into a love for the game through early adulthood.

Memories of teammates on the field flooded my mind – the smell of the infield dust and broken in baseball gloves still ripe in my nose. Each family would rotate turns bringing snacks – typically the boxed Little Debbie numbers on rotation. Star crunch were my personal favorite.

As every one recalled their favorites, both men mentioned Oatmeal Cream Pies as one of their top choices. Naturally, I had to follow up by making these for them!

I created a version of this recipe years ago for my husband, but have tweaked the recipe since. I love this version and none are the wiser it’s gluten free. That being said, feel free to substitute a mixture of 1 cup unbleached + 3/4 cup whole wheat flour if you prefer them to be made with flour.

May your memories be sweet, and shared amongst friends.

Recipe yields approximately one dozen sandwiches.

~Julia

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Ingredients:

For the Cookies

1 stick butter, room temp
1/2 cup organic pure cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup gluten free 1:1 flour mix
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sprouted brown rice flour
1 cup rolled oats (not the instant)

For the Filling

3 cups powder sugar
1 cup Nutiva brand palm shortening (or vegetable shortening)
1/4 cup almond milk (or whole milk)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
  2. In your Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together about 3 minutes. Add the applesauce and vanilla, mix.
  3. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, flours and oatmeal: mix until combined. Do not over mix or the batter will become gummy.
  4. Drop teaspoon sized dollops onto lined cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
  5. While cookies are baking, using your whisk attachment on the Kitchen Aid mixer, add 1 cup of the powder sugar, shortening, milk and vanilla to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  6. Add remaining 1 cup powder sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and cream of tartar and mix on medium speed for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Once the cookies are completely cooled, spread a layer of filling on the bottom of a cookie and top with a second cookie to form your sandwich. Finish with remaining cookies and filling.

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Dessert

Simple Strawberry Ice Cream

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Summertime brings me fond memories of summers spent with my grandma, climbing the giant tree in her front yard and baking sweets in her kitchen. Warm evenings at her house were magical. While the sun was setting and the day drew to a close, we’d sit on her front porch swing eating ice cream that dripped down our hands while chatting away about anything and everything.

These are the memories I cherish and want to make with my little girls today. Life is a blur most days. I seek so strongly to capture moments, slow down our lives, walk away from technology and just listen to the world from their point of view. In all honesty, this is chaotic and often filled with a combination of tender moments interjected with whining or fighting – but all too soon our girls will become young women and our conversations will change.

Part of my love for food is that it draws people together. We engage with one another over meals someone has lovingly prepared – be it prepackaged or homemade.

I will remember making this ice cream with my oldest for the rest of my life. On a muggy summer day while our youngest napped, I was begged to make strawberry ice cream. Her version, be it sweet and well-intended was mushed strawberries mixed with water, then frozen. Instead, we made this version which couldn’t be simpler. Pure ingredients + an eager five-year-old made the best combo, and I loved watching my family enjoying the spoils of her hard work that evening. It brought me back to my childhood nights at grandma’s. May it do the same for you.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic whole milk
  • 1 cup organic half + half
  • ¾ pint of organic strawberries, lightly pureed
  • 1/3 cup organic pure cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Wash + hull the strawberries, then pulse them a few times in your food processor. The main point for us was to remove any large chunks to ensure the little ones didn’t chomp into a sizeable frozen strawberry. The benefit also was a beautiful coloring to the ice cream.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a large mixing cup or bowl + stir.
  3. Add the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Transfer to the freezer to harden slightly + enjoy!

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Dessert

Bizzy Espresso Granitas

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Little known fact about me (that isn’t necessarily going to win me popularity votes…) – I really don’t care for ice cream. There. I said it. Any time I admit it out loud, I get a look suggesting I ought to be confined to an island far, far away. That idea is sort of appealing to me, though – so I’m okay admitting it aloud.  I know I am part of the minority, but the ice cream truck didn’t invoke the same sort of emotion in me as a child that it does for 98% of the population.

Enter the granita. By definition, a granita is is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. This version is kind of ice cream’s cousin because the two main components are whole milk and Bizzy cold brew coffee. I mean – it’s basically a cold brew coffee in a frozen form. Lightly + naturally sweetened and velvety smooth, this dessert makes me insanely happy.

If you’re invited to a dinner party, bring this to the table for dessert. It’s the definition of simple and a great way to cap off the night amongst friends. 5 ingredients + the bold, smooth flavor of the Bizzy coffee really shines in this dish.

This may be my new morning routine. Then again, I’m a sucker for cold brew.
Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups organic whole milk (don’t go less fat, friends. Use the whole milk.)
  • 1 cup Bizzy cold brew concentrate
  • 1/2 cup Wholesome Sweet organic pure cane sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate covered espresso beans

Method:

  1. Combine the whole milk, Bizzy cold brew + cane sugar in a saucepan over medium heat on the stovetop, whisking constantly for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. Refrigerate the liquid 12-24 hours.
  4. Pour the mixture and roughly chopped chocolate espresso beans into an ice cream maker and follow the directions per the manufacturer manual. I used a Cuisinart and let churn 20 minutes to thicken.
  5. Transfer the churned granita mixture to the freezer to harden another 12 hours. Serve + enjoy.

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Breakfast · Dessert

Dark Mocha Donuts {Gluten Free}

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Their’s is a classic pairing, donuts + coffee; it’s only natural they joined to form a union, really. Adding chocolate to that union creates a trifecta made for mornings. I threw in sprinkles for good measure, and because my little ones love them. Who am I trying to kid? I love sprinkles just as much as every child alive.

These donuts are decadently rich, soft and airy as a cloud with just the right hint of coffee. Bizzy’s organic cold brew boasts a super smooth flavor profile and is the perfect addition to the recipe. I didn’t dilute the concentrate in the recipe, simply used it straight from the bottle.

Kid friendly, neighbor approved — I’m adding these lovelies to the routine for weekends, or just any time I need a chocolate + coffee union made in heaven. And no one will be the wiser that they are gluten free! Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!

Recipe yields 12 donuts.

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Ingredients:

For the donuts:

  • 1 cup Almond Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (same brand)
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar (I used Wholesome Sweet)
  • 3/4 tsp xantham Gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup Bizzy’s cold brew concentrate
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 organic eggs, room temperature + beaten
  • 1/3 cup canola oil

For the glaze:

  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar (I used Wholesome Sweet)
  • 3/4 cup Bizzy’s cold brew concentrate
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • Sprinkles should you be so inclined

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and whisk until just incorporated. Do not overmix; the batter will be thick.
  4. Spray your donut pan (I used Nordic Ware) lightly with cooking spray + spoon the batter into each well, about 3/4 to the top.
  5. Bake 8-9 minutes. Remove + let cool 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Mix the glaze and top while the donuts are still warm. Add sprinkles. Enjoy!

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Dessert

Strawberry Cupcakes

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Minnesota springs have the tendency to reflect Jeckyl + Hyde personality traits. One day brings sunshine & temps in the mid 60’s, the next a foot of snow. It’s recipes like this one that remind me of those mid 60, sunshine-filled days and keeps the mentality of spring alive and well.

Berries are one of my favorite food group, and the change in seasons is definitely reflected by the recent bounty. I love the brightness of ripe strawberries in almost any dish, be it paired with cheese, salads, desserts or drinks alike.

Often times I find recipes for strawberry cake laden with items I typically aim to avoid (like jello or food coloring.) As often is the case in such situations, I aim to recreate a recipe using pure ingredients that showcase the natural flavors; in this case — strawberries. I’m not certain why strawberry cakes need to be an insane shade of dark red to denote strawberry cake, but these are perfectly shaded pink cakes, without all the overly sugary flavors.

Real ingredients like butter from grass fed cows, a pound of strawberries and pure cane sugar make these delightfully sweet, perfectly moist and a welcomed completion to any party. Frost with your favorite recipe, I used my go-to vanilla buttercream. A fresh whip cream would be lovely and lighter on the sugar front. Enjoy + happy baking!

Yields 18 muffins

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Directions:

For the cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup room temp organic butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups pure cane sugar (I used Wholesome Sweet brand)
  • 1.5 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 room temp organic eggs
  • 2.5 cups unbleached AP flour 
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled + puréed, plus more for garnish (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup room temp organic butter
  • 2 lb confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup whole milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line cupcake pan with paper liners + set aside.
  2. In kitchen aid mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter, canola oil +  sugar, 2 minutes.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Mix in the flour and baking powder until incorporated. Do not overmix.
  4. Purée the hulled strawberries and fold into the cake batter with a spatula. Using an ice cream scoop, transfer the batter to each muffin liner and bake 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

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To make the frosting:

  1. Using your kitchen aid mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract + 1/4 cup whole milk on medium speed for 5 minutes. If the frosting is too thick, gradually add more milk one tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached.
  2. Frost each cupcake + garnish with a sliced strawberry. Enjoy!
Cookies · Dessert

Vanilla Cream Sandwich Cookies

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Let’s be honest for a minute. There’s always something brewing in most our minds that fills us with some sort of “guilt” factor, am I right? If it’s not engrained in our personalities, the world throws enough out there to attempt and make us feel guilty about something we are inevitably “doing wrong.” For me, it’s usually mom guilt on many different levels. Am I spending enough one on one time with each girl? Which school would be best for my oldest, full day vs. half day? Will my kids love tanks be full when I return to work? Is the food I’m feeding my family the most nutritional? The list goes on…

For this reason (amongst many others,) I recreate some of my family’s favorite store bought treats whenever possible. There truly is no reason we can’t eat real food that isn’t full of GMO, preservatives and refined sugars but have to compromise in flavors. These cookies are proof of my last statement.

One of my daughters favorite store bought cookies are the vanilla cream filled cookies. While she’s never eaten the Oreo brand, even the healthier options weren’t what I preferred her to be eating if I could help it. So I challenged myself to create a version of that cookie sans refined sugars (or as limited as possible) and GMO.

I struggled with the cream filling part and my husband, after two attempts looked at me and told me it was impossible. This is, after all THE most important part of the cookie! Think of all the children and adults alike who eat that part first! It had to be perfect. A trip to my local co-op led me to find the perfect products and eventually perfect the cream filling. Happiness ensued as my oldest told me with joy that these cookies were better than the store bought version. I can’t stress enough to seek out a local co-op when possible. The ingredients are fresh, local and the variety of healthy alternatives to every day pantry items never disappoints.

Enjoy baking these for your family, friends – or even yourself for that matter. Then enjoy crossing one more item off the guilt list, should you have one.

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Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1.5 cup organic, room temperature butter
  • 3/4 cup Organic grade A, medium amber maple syrup (I used Target’s Archer Farm brand which is also non-GMO.)
  • 1 organic egg, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached AP flour

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup Nutiva Red Palm + Coconut Oil Shortening
  • 3 cups Wholesome organic powdered confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp Wholesome organic cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp organic whole milk

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Method:

  1. In your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together maple syrup + butter on medium speed 2 minutes. Add in egg + vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  2. Slowly mix in the flour and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Divide the dough in two balls and place each ball between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll out the dough while between the parchment paper to desired thickness of the cookies. The thinner the dough, the crunchier the cookies will be.
  4. Refrigerate a minimum of two hours in advance to baking, but as far in advance as 24 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350. Remove one rolled dough disc from the fridge at a time to keep the alternate dough cold as long as possible.
  6. Using a 2″ cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and transfer to a parchment sheet or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake 12-13 minutes or until the edges of each cookie turn a golden brown one pan at a time.
  7. Without over kneading, continue the process of the remaining scraps until all the dough has been baked.
  8. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Once cookies are cooled, using your mixer with the whisk attachment, add all the ingredients for the filling to the mixer and whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  10. Frost or pipe the filling onto half the baked cookies, reserving the second half of the batch to place atop each frosted cookie. The amount of filling you use is your choice, per your preference! This recipe yields 20-25 cookies, depending on how thick or thin you cut each individual cookie.

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Dessert

Sparkling Rose + Strawberry Frosted Cupcakes

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Typically speaking, my sweet tooth isn’t as strong as the savory one, but a cupcake baked with Sparkling Rose? Completely up my alley! Rose all day, especially the sparkling kind. I even have a shirt with said statement.

I was really pleased with how they turned out; light + fluffy and filled with the flavors of the bubbly wine. The addition of the strawberry frosting sweetens them up and is the perfect topping.

These really are the perfect way to jazz up the average cupcake. Valentine’s Day is a few days away, why not skip the overpriced dozen roses and pop a bottle of sparkling rose to bake these for your loved one? The recipe only uses 3/4 cup, so you’ll have plenty left to sip together while you eat them.

Recipe yields 16 cupcakes.

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Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup organic butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sparkling rose (as with any recipe, only use a wine you would drink with flavors you enjoy.)

For the frosting:

  • 2 lb. bag powdered sugar
  • 1 cup organic butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup puréed strawberries
  • Pinch cream of tartar

Method:

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  2. In kitchen aid mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter + sugar for 2 minutes. Add vanilla & eggs one at a time and mix until combined, scraping down the sides.
  3. Add the milk and sparkling rose into a 2 cup measuring cup. The mixture will foam up.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer & mix until incorporated. Add in the milk + rose mixture and fold in with a spatula.
  5. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 to the top.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cupcake. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. In your kitchen aid mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together butter & half the bag of powdered sugar 5 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients & whisk an additional 5 minutes. Decorate each cupcake with frosting.
  3. You can store the extra frosting in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 2 months.

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Cookies · Dessert

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gluten Free

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These cookies are insane. Though I am not a celiac, many of my close friends + family are either gluten intolerant or suffer from celiac disease. Whenever possible, I try to create a copy cat recipe that tailors to those friends + family. Sometimes it works out well, and then every once in a while, it’s a huge success (like my chocolate cupcakes recipe, found here.)

These cookies are, in my opinion, a huge success! Buttery, soft + chewy and all the flavors of a traditional cookie, but sans any gluten products. I made these on a mission one afternoon to test on my family as Guinea pigs, and waited anxiously for their response. Now, my kids and husband are pretty intense about their cookies. Not one of them guessed that what they were eating weren’t one of my usual recipes.

What I love most about these cookies is how light + chewy they are. Most of the gluten free cookies I’ve enjoyed have been fairly dense. While that doesn’t equate to a bad cookie – this one is so close to its original ancestor made with flour.

I encourage you to try this recipe. I’m confident you’ll love it as much as we do!
Recipe yields approximately 40 two inch diameter cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2.5 cups almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup brown rice flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup organic rolled oats (not the quick oats)
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 10 oz bag Chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Brand)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets With parchment paper or silpat liners.
  2. Cream together butter + sugars 2 minutes
  3. Add vanilla extract + eggs until incorporated.
  4. Add dry ingredients + mix until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Using a tablespoon or a cookie scoop (I used the oxo brand cookie scoop), place 12 drops of cookie dough on the pan, evenly spaced.
  6. Bake 10-11 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly golden brown.

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Dessert

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes – Vegan | GF

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This recipe is far and away my favorite when it comes to a chocolate cupcake. They’re dangerously dark + chocolatey and super moist. I’ve brought them to many a get together where people asked me for the recipe. I love sharing it with them + seeing the disbelief when I tell them they’re gluten free…and vegan.

Many people follow a vegan or gluten free lifestyle – be it by choice or necessity and I applaud them. I had to follow a lifestyle like this for a while when my girls were born to try and ease their reflux + food sensitivities. It was really a challenge for me, but one I tried hard to embrace. In the end, both kids had intolerances to nuts as well and had to go on prescription formulas – but this was what led me to be much more active in the kitchen and in the grocery stores from an ingredients perspective.

I missed butter. And cheese. I can’t forget about cheese. I digress…

My mom suffers from a gluten sensitivity and I created this in the summer of 2014 when we were celebrating our birthdays. No one knew they lacked any gluten or animal bi-products, and neither will you!

Deep, dark, chocolate bundles of joy, these are. Once you make them, they may quickly become your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe as well!

Recipe yields 22 cupcakes.

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Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1.5 cups Almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1.5 cups Brown Rice flour (also Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1.75 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups dark chocolate almond milk (I used Silk)
  • 1 tsp. coffee extract
  • 1.5 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 bag dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Foods)

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups vegetable shortening. (If you’re not sticking to the vegan theme here, sub room temp butter for shortening. I used organic unsalted.)
  • 2 lb. bag powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup almond milk (or whole milk)
  • pinch cream of tartar (to stiffen the frosting)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners + set aside.
  2. In your Kitchen-Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend canola oil + sugar for 2 minutes.
  3. Add extracts + chocolate almond milk & mix until combined.
  4. Add all dry ingredients and blend until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full + bake 22-25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. Cream together the shortening + 1/3 bag of the powdered sugar & 1/4 cup milk for 5 minutes on medium speed.
  2. Add in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, cream of tartar + remainder of the powdered sugar + mix an additional 5 minutes on medium speed.
  3. If the frosting is still too dry, add the additional milk 1 tbsp. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Pipe or spread atop each cupcake.

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