Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hot Chocolate

Before embarking on my new dairy- and wheat-free life, my boyfriend and I had a Sunday paper tradition of hot chocolates and croissants. Making croissants without butter and flour has me stumped so far, though I will keep trying, but I did find a replacement for hot chocolate. Before stumbling on this recipe I had been making a sorry excuse for hot chocolate with dairy-free chocolate syrup and almond milk that failed to recreate the thick and foamy hot chocolate that I remember. But now (and without any obscure ingredients I might add) I can make hot chocolate that coats the back of a spoon and is so thick it is really just a few hours of refrigeration away from becoming a pudding. Which is important, because I often need a bit of pudding to get over having had a hot chocolate without whipped cream. I have started to make marshmallows and scatter them across the top, especially if I'm drinking out of a cafe latte bowl which has an enormous brim and can carry a substantial number of marshmallows and even, if I'm so inclined, a little extra sauce drizzled on the top. 

This recipe is inspired and adapted from Melissa Clark's  02.06.09 article for The New York Times. 


3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder (the best you can afford, though as I often forget about this tradition until the dog is barking at the newspaper delivery man, I am usually using whatever the corner store has stocked on Sunday morning)
1 can of coconut milk
1/4 c. brown sugar
a few sloshes of pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. chopped dairy-free chocolate (I have used everything from left over Easter candy to truffles from a house guest) 


Heat the coconut milk with the sugar and then then add both of the chocolates until they are all melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla. Adjust sweetness to taste. 

You can keep this in the fridge and reheat as you wish. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Banana Bread

I've called this bread because I've baked it in a loaf pan, but feel free to use cupcake tins or double the recipe and try it as cake, perhaps a bundt. Many recipes without wheat/dairy are chocolate and I'm certain there are several dozen excellent chocolate banana breads out there with some of the flour replaced with cocoa. Feel free to do the same here (1/3 cup would be about right) or do half of the batter with cocoa powder and make a fancy swirl. I hope you like this recipe; it's one of the first that I adjusted for myself and it's a hybrid of several. If baked in a muffin pan, the little cakes should come out nice and high (the result of all the baking powder) and if they don't, a swirl of icing will distract any one who claims to only like the tops. After the recipe, I've posted a couple of options for dressing this up, though I think it is great plain and should there be any left over, makes wonderful baked french toast.

One more note: those who are avoiding eggs can easily use a vegan substitute and in fact I often do. 


1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup finely mashed bananas (about three)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of non-wheat flour of your choice (I usually use rice flour, sometimes with a mix of ground oats)
2 teaspoons of baking powder (or 1 each of soda and powder)
1/4 tsp salt (optional)


Cream the butter until fluffy and add in the sugars. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until well blended. Add the bananas and vanilla and mix until combined.

Measure the flours in a large measuring cup and gently mix/whisk in the baking powder and salt, letting all the dry ingredients breath a bit. Then slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. 

Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, though do test it. Also, if you are bringing this somewhere, you can generously line the pan with tin foil and then pop the whole thing out and wrap it with the excess foil and it's ready to go. 


In addition to the chocolate swirl I mentioned in the introduction, there are several options for adding a little polish to this recipe. 

Chocolate chips tossed in a few tablespoons of almond (or whichever, though I suppose not corn) flour so they don't sink to the bottom of the pan are a great addition, as are 1/2 cup of chopped nuts or dried fruit such as apples or cranberries. 

1 tsp. of cinnamon with the dry ingredients would add some lovely dimension. For extra texture, a crumble of granola or oats, brown sugar, and a generous 3 tbs. peanut butter could be swirled in or patted on top. Margarine instead of peanut butter would really turn this loaf into a coffee cake, but if that's where you want to go, you should.

A simple glaze of almond milk, vanilla, and icing sugar would be great run down the sides to add softness and the right amount of moistness. If the cake seems a little dry or your banana content was a little scant, prick the top several times to really let the glaze pool about. If you are more patient and want a cake, a proper icing thickly spread over the top would add some sweetness once the loaf had properly cooled.