Gluten Free Caramel Chocolate Chunk Blondies

I’ve heard that some people cut gluten from their diet in order to lose weight. I don’t know how that works for them, when recipes for things like gluten free caramel chocolate chunk blondies exist.

Lace and Lemons - GF Caramel Chocolate Chunk Blondies

My mom bought me a spiffy little cookbook that has a nice variety of GF recipes for everything from breakfast to desserts – so naturally I went for the desserts first. Baking is the scary part of eating low-gluten or gluten-free. Even if you’re a big pasta eater, you can find some reasonably priced pastas in most grocery stores. But cookies? Yikes. No one likes paying $6 for a box of mediocre cookies.

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A Bushel and a Peck

Apples are my favorite. I loved when either of my parents would peel and slice up an apple for me when I was little. Dad would sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on it. Mom and I would watch closely while she peeled the apple, to see if there was any pink or red beneath the skin.

I stopped eating sliced apples as much when I was old enough to do it myself because, well, I don’t always like to put in twice the amount of prep time for something as it will take me to eat it.  Especially just for a snack. With that in mind, there’s no reasonable explanation for why, this weekend, I decided not only to cut and peel multiple apples, but to cook them on the stove for our own homemade applesauce. But I did. And it was worth it.

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Can I just say, I love October

Hey yinz! I hope you’re enjoying October. We’ve seen some really beautiful trees already. It’s been a busy month, too!  Nick and I got to celebrate the wedding of two wonderful people. The next day I made it to homecoming to catch up with the college crowd.  I’m still tired from the weekend. Soooo I haven’t done much craft or cooking/baking-wise, but I did want to share pictures from last week’s cake decorating class.

We learned how to make drop flowers, leaves, and basket weave.  My hand was ready to fall off by the end of class, but I’m sure I’ll get better at these icing techniques with some practice.  Disclaimer: the flowers were a very vibrant pink in the lighting at class. When I brought the cake home, in the yellowish light we have in our kitchen (ick), they looked almost gray.

October is my favorite. I went on a mad pumpkin-cooking spree early last week (the cake below is a pumpkin cake with cream cheese filling).  I’ll tell you more about that soon, and I plan to share a recipe for pumpkin fritters, and perhaps one for a roasted pumpkin! 

~Amy

If You’re Happy and You Know It

In an effort to live creatively but not chaotically, I recently signed up for a cake decorating class at a local school! I love baking cakes, but their presentation never quite does them justice. I’ve tried using books and online tutorials to learn how to decorate cakes, but it makes such a difference to have someone who knows what they’re doing help you out.

Last week we learned how to level, fill and ice the cake, and how to smooth the icing out (I struggle with this). We also practiced with star tips and round tips to fill in pictures on cakes. This week, we worked on a shell border, reverse shell border and rope border. Then we learned how to use piping gel to transfer an outline to a cake to be decorated. Next week: basket weave!

If there’s an activity or craft you’re interested in learning, or you just want to see if maybe it’s something you’d like to pursue, see if your county or local churches offer any public classes for it. The community colleges here offer short courses on everything from cake decorating to grant writing to basic auto repair.

Because I am irreverent and insensitive to the plight of the T-Rex, here is my first decorated cake!

Rawr

~Amy

Flaky Double Feature

Hey, you know what we haven’t had around here in a while? (Besides a blog post – oops! sorry about that). A blog post about a failure! We promised to share with you our successes and our failures, but it’s so tempting to post only the successes, especially when some of the failures are just so awful (srsly. I have a lace dress I’ll show you eventually, but I’m just not emotionally prepared enough for that yet).

You know what, keep that in mind whenever you come across a blog by someone who seems to be unbelievably organized and productive and creative. They might really have their act that well together – but they might also be doing a lot of editing and selective posting.  There’s nothing wrong with that – bloggers are the narrators of these first-person narratives, after all – but now that I am blogging I feel better about my own attempts at new projects knowing that even pro-bloggers probably have some horrific projects they’re hiding.

So, to keep myself grounded but still give you something sweet to bake, I’m going to give you a double update featuring a still-mostly-edible failure (slab apple pie!) and a tasty success (rustic plum tart! mmmm).

More like slop apple pie

Pretty plum tart!

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Simple and Sweet

A big thank you to my sister, Lara, for sharing her German Chocolate Cake with us this week!  I got to sample the cake myself and it is delicious.

Today I’m going to continue with the chocolate and family recipe themes.

When my sister and I were little, instead of a cake, often our mom would make cheesecakes for us for our birthdays. I remember one cheesecake that my sister decorated – Mom had reserved some of the filling from her no-bake cheesecake and mixed in food coloring in small bowls for Lara to decorate the cake with. It probably didn’t look very appetizing to the grownups, all covered in purple and green, but we loved it!


I also distinctly remember one birthday having, by my special request, a chocolate cheesecake covered in chocolate chips. I was thinking about that recently and asked my mom if she had the recipe.To my horror, she had no idea what I was talking about! I asked Lara if she remembered it, but she had no recollection of it either. Was I just crazy?

Just when I was beginning to believe I had completely imagined that whole birthday, I got an email from my mom with the recipe!

I kind of want to make one for every person I know (partially just to prove I wasn’t crazy!). For those of you who don’t want to wait around for me to do that, I’ll share with you how to make a chocolate cheesecake yourself!

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Sister’s Mother-in-law’s Baker’s German’s Chocolate Cake

Hello readers!  I’m Lara, older sister of Amy, the east coast half of lace and lemons.  Amy’s recent wedding made me think back on my seven years of marriage, and one of the important lessons I’ve learned:

Chances are, your husband has a strong attachment to some of his mom’s favorite dishes.  The beef stroganoff she slowly cooked to perfection or the Oreo dessert that, even now, makes him drool as he thinks of it.  For your sanity as a bride and daughter-in-law, figure out which of these dishes you can recreate for him . . .and which are best left for his mama to make.

In my husband’s family, birthdays are almost always an occasion celebrated with German Chocolate Cake.  I decided that this was a dessert I could recreate!

First of all, a word about what is, and is not, German Chocolate Cake.  This cake is actually a torte, with three chocolate cake layers filled and topped with coconut pecan topping.  There is no chocolate frosting involved, and there is no icing on the sides of the cake.

NOT a true German Chocolate Cake

Also, it has nothing to do with Germany (though you may serve it after a meal of viener schnitzel and sauerkraut if you wish).  The chocolate used in the cake is actually Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, invented in 1852 by a man named Samuel German.  And the cake recipe was submitted to a newspaper by a Dallas, TX housewife in 1957.  This recipe, with few changes, has been printed on the wrapper of the chocolate for many years.

The good stuff

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It occurs to me that I am America

Today’s post is (juuuuuuust under the wire here in California) born on the Fourth of July. It is acceptable (and some might say it is our duty) to be ambivalent about who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we are going, but it is unacceptable to be ambivalent about picnics. So today, my poet friends and I had a wonderful, old fashioned American cookout with all the brats, hotdogs, tofurky dogs, pasta salad and potato chips you could want.

A picnic requires a handful of things to be successful, in my opinion, and chief among those is watermelon.

delicious.

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Lesser Babka? I think not!

I have an epic recipe for you today. I actually made this back in April as an easter treat for my friends and family, but I haven’t had the guts to blog about it until today. That’s because this recipe is hard. It’s not impossible, but it’s a lot of ingredients, and a lot of steps, and a lot of work. And it’s horribly indulgent. Tons of chocolate and butter and bread. But the real horror is that it is AMAZING. This recipe is not yummy. It’s not delightful. It’s heaven on your tongue. And once you make it, you will want to make it again and again, despite the wreck that it leaves your kitchen, despite the fact that you have to take a day off to do it, despite the fact that you need to walk everywhere you go for the next month to offset the calories. And even more so, EVERYONE YOU FEED IT TO will beg you to make it again. They will plead. They will make sad faces. When you get invited to a party, someone will say “hey remember that thing you made? with the bread and chocolate? can you bring that??”

Yes, that!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m going to tell you how to make Babka.

Yes, I got the idea to make Babka from watching Seinfeld with my little brother, Lou. But unlike Jerry and Elaine, you will not have to make the heartbreaking, agonizing choice between chocolate and cinnamon. The recipe I found (from Smitten Kitchen, but of course) is for chocolate babka, but it has just the perfect cinnamon kiss. It’s the best of both worlds.

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