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I can scarcely believe that two weeks has gone by since my last post.  I’m writing this in my hotel room in Portland, OR, with the howling wind and the steady rain outside.  It may seem like the blog has just been sitting idle in that time but it’s hardly been far from my mind.  I’ve been busy with work and business travel and keeping up with home life when I am actually at home that it has kept me from posting new content but my mind is constantly running through various food ideas.  I applaud all of you bloggers, especially the mommy ones, who keep up with fresh and exciting posts.

Being in the Pacific Northwest is really getting me ready for the holidays.  And by being ready I mean, of course, being ready for all the treats of the season.  The weather here is cold (brrrrrr) and it’s driving me to turn into one of the many corner cafes in search of something hot to drink.  Oh, and I have to have something to nibble on as well.  Which brings me to sharing this recipe for a chocolate biscotti inspired by Elana’s Pantry (also featured in her cookbook).  This crunchy cookie, paired with a steaming hot cup of tea, makes a great afternoon reprieve from work, travel, or holiday preparations.

Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti

Makes 24 cookies

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup Zsweet (or 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together.
  4. Combine with dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate and hazelnuts.
  6. Divide dough into 2 portions and form flattened logs on lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes then let cool for about 30 minutes.
  8. Cut the biscotti into 1/2 inch slices and lay each cookie on its side on the baking sheets.
  9. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Flip the cookies over and bake for another 15 minutes or until they are dry and no longer soft in the middle.

These are crunchiest when they have cooled but when they are slightly warm, the chocolate is still gooey and melty and crazy good.

So far, I am really enjoying my stay in Portland.  It’s really easy to navigate on foot or with its convenient light rail system.  There are some fantastic restaurants in the downtown area and it’s been fun exploring the Pearl District.  I hope to see some of the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls, if the rain lets up.  But I will be very happy to go home at the end of the week and get finally back into the kitchen.

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I’ve been making this cocoa banana cake ever since I saw these cocoa, hazelnut, banana muffins earlier this year.  Honestly, the photographs alone are bananas but the actual muffins are even better.  I love me a moist muffin or cake and these definitely are.  As I mentioned in my post on espresso banana muffins, I love to use bananas in all kinds of goods, so this has become one of my favorites.  I have yet to try these with hazelnuts but I think it would be fairly easy to do by making some meal out of whole hazelnuts.

Cocoa Banana Loaf

Makes one loaf (7¾” × 4½” × 3″) or 10 muffins

1 cup blanched almond flour

2 tablespoons coconut flour

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or melted coconut oil or butter)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 banana, mashed

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease loaf pan or muffin cups.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together with mashed banana.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Fill loaf pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes.  For muffins, bake 20 – 25 minutes.

As good as a slice of this cake is when served warm, the flavors are even better the next day because the cocoa and banana have had time to become friends.  Best friends.  BFF.  LOL.  JK.

Great with some tea in the afternoon or scoop some vanilla ice cream on top and go bananas.  TTFN.

I love chocolate.  And I love cake.  And thanks to a clever recipe I found, I can have a grain-free version.  I have made these a few times now and each time I’ve tried these on gluten-lovin’ taste testers, they have no idea that the cupcakes are grain-free.  What’s more is that they are really surprised to learn what the secret ingredient is. 

Beans.  Yep.

This recipe is adapted from one on The Spunky Coconut.  Thanks Kelly!

Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cooked beans (I used garbanzo)

6 eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 ounces dark chocolate (about half of a chocolate bar, 85% cocoa)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Puree beans, eggs, stevia, vanilla and honey together.
  3. Melt coconut oil and dark chocolate.  Add to other wet ingredients and blend.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend again. 
  5. Pour batter into greased or lined muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes.

These were enjoyed all on their own, without adornment, but I am definitely looking for a good chocolate frosting recipe to pair with the cupcakes for the next special occasion.  Since they contain beans, these little cakes are not primal.  But if you’re a fan of Mark’s Daily Apple, you are well aware of the 80/20 principle.  So here’s to the 20!