Tag Archives: Chocolate

Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte with Roasted Carrot Buttercream

April 2015

The movement of the spoon filled his eyes with wonder, and his mouth opened as wide as possible. Mashed beets surrounded his precious lips like a first attempt at applying lipstick in a moving vehicle. His chubby fingers curled and tightened, and the bright green of a prematurely cut avocado squeezed through the opening of his tiny fist. The enterprising dog waited under the table patiently, hoping for fallen splatters of purée. “Now you’re just playing,” she scolded in jest, pushing the plate beyond his stubby reach.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte with Roasted Carrot Buttercream // www.WithTheGrains.com

When I first met The Urban Farmer’s future farmhand, aka his nephew, he was a mere string bean tucked in a pod, living off milk alone. Now he’s a chubby, little, army-crawling sweetpea eating yams, avocados, spinach, pears, apples, beets and even caviar on a very special occasion! Think about that leap, from liquid to colors, textures, and tastes. No wonder we approach food playfully when we are young!

Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte with Roasted Carrot Buttercream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Food is exciting, but eventually, even the most supportive mama has to intervene. Her desire to wear a shirt without spit-up stains or Gerber greens surpasses the amusement of a baby discovering his hands and how they clumsily wrap around this thing called a spoon. On our epic journey from milk to solid foods, there comes a point when the all-knowing adults reprimand, “don’t play with your food.”

Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte with Roasted Carrot Buttercream // www.WithTheGrains.com

I may not have a beet-stained face or squish avocado through my fist, but there is a sense of play I find in baking. A cake is like a blank page, and nature has given us so many ways to color. Why cheat and resort to artificial dyes and sugars? Just looking at a baby’s dinner, I saw so many inspirational hues. His “dessert” was spoonfuls of avocado, which led me to thinking, what other vegetables can we eat for dessert? Sure, there’s carrot cake, but what about carrot frosting?

Now we are playing with our food!


Happy Playing!

Flourless Chocolate Cardamom Torte with Roasted Carrot Cream Cheese Frosting

About This Recipe: Whipping egg whites into stiff peaks for the cake will take a long time, (i.e.: the length of a classic Bob Dylan folk anthem), but don’t lose heart. Fluffy egg whites make all the difference in this torte. The frosting starts by roasting carrots (follow this recipe but stick to the orange, red & yellow carrots for color purposes). Then simply puree the roasted carrots until smooth. For the frosting application, I used a #32 pastry tip. Have some piping fun, or simply spread with an offset spatula.

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

March 2015

There are times that call for impressively stacked cakes with fluffy frostings, meticulous preparation methods and elaborate settings. There are other times that call for something more spontaneous, something simple and sweet to cap off a night and satisfy a craving.

For those times, there are these cookies!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies // www.WithTheGrains.com

Cookies can be sweet, round reminders to appreciate the simplest of pleasures. When I need to refocus on these little joys, I find it’s worth putting pen to paper, making a list and reminding myself to be grateful and content.

Slow down. Calm down. Inhale. Exhale. Bake. Share. Repeat.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies // www.WithTheGrains.com

From pen to paper, from paper to web, from frenzies to thoughtful focus, these are the joys I jotted down recently:

Puppy sighs.
Grape hyacinths and the first scents of spring.
The faded ink of aged journal entries.
The many places a camera can take you.
Discovering humility in the midsts of great talent. 
Observing and appreciating the growth of a friendship through so many phases of life.
Loving someone so much, my heart bursts at the seams!
Staying up too late petting Julep because she curled next to me in the most precious wheel, and no matter how much I snuggle her, it’s never enough.
Baking my roundest, softest, gooiest cookies to date!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies // www.WithTheGrains.com

Dogs and cookies. Cookies and dogs. This may be my new mantra for savoring the simple things in life!


Here’s to the chocolatey, gooey, round reminders!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

About this Recipe: Made with Bob’s Red Mill organic whole wheat pastry flour, these cookies are so soft and chewy with big bites of cashews. I recommend a high quality, dark chocolate chip such as Guittard, which I recommend for their use of all natural, non-gmo ingredients. For the cashews, either chop them coarsely, or simply use your fingers to break them in half.

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Chocolate Coconut Almond Granola & A Book Recommendation

March 2015

“You mean I don’t have to be dumb anymore?” was the quote that tugged at my heartstrings and like so many TED talks, it made my eyes blur with inspired tears and a renewed faith in humanity.

We all know the type of kid who would utter such a line. In my first grade class, he repeatedly would have earned “Red Lights” on our traffic themed disciplinary system. Perhaps in your class, he held the time-out record, or he routinely sat in the corner like a sinner indeterminately condemned to purgatory. There he lurked, stuck in labels, categorized as bad, troublesome, and uninterested in learning. Teachers merely tolerated him. Principals expected him, and parents were exasperated by him.

But this type of kid, when equipped with the right mindset, could be the next influential mathematician, the next Nobel Peace Prize winner, the next Michael Phelps…or the next Next. Mindset is that powerful.


This is the encouraging premise of Carol Dweck’s TED talk entitled The Power of Believing That You Can Improve. I looked back on my own mindset as a kid. I feared a wrong answer like wallflowers fear contact with the opposite sex. I excelled in the arts, where concepts were less likely to be labeled wrong. Biology and Algebra stressed me to the point of nausea. In my mind, working harder in these subjects meant I wasn’t smart anymore. This is exactly what Dweck calls the Fixed Mindset. Wanting to understand her concepts on a deeper level, I dove into her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Dweck proposes that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset (and sometimes both). In a fixed mindset, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure. With a growth mindset, you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. Which mindset do you possess?


The book changed my life, and I want it to change everyone’s lives. From coaches, to parents, to teachers, to spouses, to all of us as individuals, we all stand to achieve more of our potential when we approach life with a growth mentality. Once you read this book, you will overwhelmingly observe how we praise success and “natural talent.” Spend one moment around a baby, and you’ll hear adults swoon with the best of intentions, “You’re a genius! You’re so brilliant,” but you’ll be hard pressed to hear, “I’m so proud of how you persevered with that block set. You really put in the effort!”

Malcom Gladwell, the author and New Yorker writer, has suggested that,  “As a society, we value natural, effortless accomplishment over achievement through effort. We endow our heroes with superhuman abilities that led them inevitably toward greatness. It’s as if Midori popped out of the womb fiddling, Michael Jordan dribbling, and Picasso doodling.”


These ideas of growth, progress and transparency resonate with me deeply. Occasionally, I look back on old blog posts, and I cringe. I want to hide these inferior attempts at styling, storytelling and photography in the dark recesses of some internet closet, but I resist that urge for perfection. This blog is a journal of my life through food, and that life is one of exploration, progress and growth. It’s also a life with the occasional brick of a cookie or failed dough, but we learn, and we grow. It takes effort to apply this growth mentality to all aspects of our lives, which is why I recommend reading Dweck’s guide to improving your mindset. I like to read while eating breakfast, so I also recommend baking this batch of granola to accompany you as you embark on this journey.


Happy Reading!

About This Recipe: Granola is surprisingly simple to make and simplifies your morning breakfast routine. The use of almond butter and cocoa yields thick clusters with layers of flavor. The unsweetened coconut adds a light hint of coconut flavor, and the coconut oil adds lots of healthy fats to your breakfast bowl. Serve with raw milk if available, or homemade almond milk. Those last sips of chocolatey milk after your last bite are a bonus treat!

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Spice Layer Cake with Chile Chocolate Sauce

March 2015

The first sensation to hit me was the smell of soil, then the warmth embraced me, and then the color consumed my vision. The color green seemed so foreign to my eyes and nearly forgotten. I had left the muddy, murky, chilly outdoors and stepped inside a greenhouse, where fat, fluffy rabbits nestled in an enviable way, and the chickens were surely squawking the latest gossip. The downy chicks, the paper-thin seedlings, the climbing kale, the pop of pepper color in the corner, all of it seemed to say, “It’s time to emerge from hibernation!” It’s amazing what a dose of plants can do to your spirits!

Cinnamon Cake by With The Grains

This cake, like an early spring wander in a greenhouse, will tease your senses and bring you to life. Cinnamon, when used more robustly, adds quite a spiciness. Top that with a spicy chocolate, and you’ll start the feel the warmth that looms just around the corner.


Spice Up Your Spring!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Spice Layer Cake with Chile Chocolate Sauce

About This Recipe: 
This recipe has three main components- a cinnamon simple syrup, a chile chocolate sauce and the cake itself- but none of them are very difficult. For the chili chocolate sauce, I used a dried Morita chile from my local Mexican grocer. You could also try the international section at your grocery store. You could use a variety of dried chiles, just do your research to prevent unwanted heat levels (whatever your heat level preferences may be). Cinnamon itself adds quite a kick to the cake too, so this is a very flavorful, spicy combination.   

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What To Make With Almond Milk Pulp: Chocolate Covered Almond Treats

March 2015

If I were Catholic, I’m not, but if I were Catholic, I have this nagging guilt I would attempt to assuage through confession. The dialogue would transpire as follows:

Priest: In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been never since my last confession.

Priest: Proceed my child.

Homemade Almond Milk by With The Grains

The remains of making homemade almond milk: chopped almonds, dates and vanilla bean.

Penitent/Me: Father, what I did was so reprehensible, so inconceivable, I shudder to say it out loud to another human being. My sin happened about a month or two ago. With glazes and preparation methods whirling in my head, I removed two salmon filets from the freezer to thaw. By nightfall, they were ready to be savored, but the Urban Farmer had already eaten, so I saved them. The next night, the bright, orange and coral fish filled my vision every time I opened the refrigerator. “I must cook those soon,” I thought to myself, but for one reason after another, day after day, the fish never made it to our dinner plates. One week later, I held the fish package in my hand and evaluated how willing I was to risk food poisoning- not very. I had to throw away the fish. I had to throw away the salmon! The wastefulness haunts me to this day, father [voice screeching by this point. Some tears forming].

Chocolate Almonds by With The Grains 05

Priest: I see. You must say an Act of Contrition [that came straight from my Google search to this “priest’s” monologue], and you must find ways to make amends [is that a Catholic thing?].

Chocolate Almonds by With The Grains 02

Salmon. Of all the foods to squander, salmon! Images flashed in my head of starving children, over-fished waterways, questionable fish farming practices and the price tag on the fish itself. The guilt ran deep, but I tried to channel this negligence into something more productive, something more chocolaty!

Chocolate Almonds by With The Grains 03

This brings me to a brand new category I am introducing here on my blog, “Waste Not, Want Not.” Though this series of blog posts will never undo the fish I have wasted, it will challenge me, and hopefully inspire you, to waste less and enjoy more.

Chocolate Almonds by With The Grains 04

I recently shared a recipe for homemade Vanilla Bean Almond Milk, which I recommend for its simplicity and purity. The potential downside to this process is the remaining almond pulp. There’s nothing wrong with this almond mixture, but using it instead of pitching it does require a little creativity. Being the chocolate lover I am, I combined the remaining almond meal with almond butter and a touch of pure maple syrup, then dunked the combination in dark chocolate. These chocolate balls are difficult to name, but they’re rewarding to eat.

Chocolate Almonds by With The Grains 01

Chocolate Covered Almond Treats

About This Recipe: Landing somewhere between a peanut butter cup and a buckeye, this recipe starts with the leftovers of making Homemade Vanilla Bean Almond Milk. Mixing the chopped almonds with organic almond butter and just a touch of maple syrup yields a high protein, healthy treat that’s low in sugar. Use a high quality chocolate to keep this treat as wholesome as possible. I recently started using Guittard’s Extra Dark Chocolate Chips because they are 63% cacao, all natural, GMO-free, and they use sunflower lecithin instead of soy. They are the best chips I have found to date.


Bless me friends, for I have tried to make amends!

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Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Banana Bread with Toasted Coconut

February 23, 2015

Happy National Banana Bread Day, or what I would like to call Regina Kogel Day! Who is Regina Kogel? Arguably, she is a champion of banana bread. Assuredly, she is my mom. When I think of today’s celebrated loaf, I think of her.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread by With The Grains

Looking back, it seems my family was not particularly adept at consuming bananas in a timely manner because brown, squishy bananas equal banana bread, and there always seemed to be a loaf in Regina Kogel’s house. A believer in breakfast, Regina’s morning spread would frequently include a warm loaf of her freshly baked banana bread. A believer in butter, a slice of this bread was not complete until smeared with bright golden butter (though to be fair, the butter champion is my dad). In honor of my mom, and in honor of today, one of the many, weird, quirky, seemingly random food holidays, I bring you this Quelcy style recipe, i.e: if banana bread is good, chocolate banana bread must be even better! This logic has yet to fail me.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread by With The Grains

Whole-Wheat, Double Chocolate Banana Bread with Toasted Coconut

About This Recipe: Like mom’s but more chocolaty! This loaf begins with a whole-wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder and chunks of dark chocolate chips. Topping the very rich and gooey loaf with coconut yields a toasted crunch once baked. It’s sweet enough for dessert, but it’s wholesome enough for breakfast, so have it for both!


Happy National Banana Bread Day!

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Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies w/ @Cocanu Candied Cacao

February 2015

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways. ~Stephen Vincent Benét

Like a child, I approach bedtime with resistance. I hate to admit the day is through when there were moments squandered and so much more I wanted to do! Rather than ready myself for bed properly and face the next day with more intention, I curl into a ball on the corner of the cozy couch. I burrow under blankets and fall asleep to a program whose ending I will inevitably miss, no matter the length of the show. As with most bad habits, this vicious couch-sleep cycle wrenches me further and further from what I want in the first place: to make the most of each day. I’m working on it.

Craque Brownies by With The Grains-01

As much as my sleep habits fight the looming night, my dessert tendencies celebrate the day’s conclusion. Sure, I like a nib of dark chocolate with an afternoon espresso drink, or a morning pastry here and there, but concluding a day with your sweetest bite is like a firework finale- you saw it coming the whole time, but the awe inspiring display lessens the blow of the show’s end. Ignore the diet guides against eating late with me, bake wholesomely, and allow yourself a moment to delight and relish. Then, hopefully, relax, read, drink tea or do something that proactively transitions into bedtime. Then tell me how to do it.

Craque Brownies by With The Grains-02

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies with Cocanú Craque (Candied Cacao)

About this Recipe: 
I recently started reading chocolate labels more carefully, and was disheartened to discover even many of the expensive dark chocolate brands I had been using list Soy Lecithin as their emulsifier (helps fats and liquids to stay blended smoothly). Most of this soy is genetically modified, a practice I do not wish to support. I eagerly discovered Guittard uses a non-gmo sunflower lecithin and real vanilla, in addition to sourcing their beans from small, family-owned cacao farms. Top that responsible chocolate base with the crunch of Cocanú Craque, a candied cacao, and you have one very memorable brownie. Cocanú was founded by Sebastián Cisneros “as a vessel to shake the imagination through tasteful chocolate ideas produced with fine ingredients, technique, and whim.” I’m into it, and I hope you will be too!


Bon Appétit!

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