Spicy Cinnamon Date Brownies - gluten free, Grain Free, dairy free, refined sugar free

Brownies are one of my favorite indulgent treats. They're simple to throw together without any complicated steps or long resting times. They're also delicious both warm out of the oven and cooled and stored overnight. The only downside is the large proportion of sugar most recipes have. I came up with this recipe to curb the sugar content but still satisfy my brownie cravings.  These are made with Lily's baking bar chocolate, which is dairy free and sweetened with a hint of stevia. 


Spicy Cinnamon Date Brownies (gluten free, grain free, dairy free, sugar free)

1 cup almond flour
1 lily's premium baking bar (4 oz)
1/3 cup coconut oil
7 medjool dates, pitted
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line 8" square baking pan with coconut oil and parchment paper.

In a double boiler over medium heat, melt Lily's premium baking bar with coconut oil until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pepper, and salt.

With a blender of food processor, blend dates until smooth. Add eggs and continue to blend until incorporated, then pour in melted chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool before cutting. Finish with a drizzle of melted chocolate and a pinch of salt. Makes 9 brownies.


Lily's Mint Chocolate + Pomegranate Cake - gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free

Since I can remember, I've always had a sweet tooth. As I child I would carefully ration out my Halloween candy to last throughout the year. I liked them all--dum dums, tootsie rolls, and even smarties. But my favorites were anything with chocolate. Those would always disappear first. 

Now that I'm older and much more conscious about the food I consume, those childhood chocolate bars are far and few between. Luckily I recently learned about Lily's, a chocolate bar company with no sugar added and instead sweetened with stevia. In the past I hadn't enjoyed stevia sweetened treats as they tended to have a strange aftertaste. So naturally I was apprehensive when I first tried Lily's, but to my surprise there was no odd flavor but instead an honestly delicious chocolate bar! 

Lily's recently came out with a stevia sweetened baking bar and asked me to try it out, so I came up with this mint chocolate and pomegranate cake. The baking bar melted, baked and even made chocolate curls like a dream, without a hint that this cake was baked without any refined sugar. As a plus, it's also gluten free and dairy free to fit a variety of dietary restrictions.

Mint Chocolate + Pomegranate Cake
gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free

1/2 cup oil, such as olive or coconut
1/2 cup Lily's chocolate baking bar, chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut nectar
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup almond milk
3-4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves roughly torn
mint chocolate ganache (recipe below)
fresh pomegranate seeds
fresh mint for garnish
Lily's chocolate baking bar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 6"  (3" tall) round pan by greasing bottom and sides with oil and lining bottom with parchment paper. 

In a small saucepan, infuse almond milk with fresh mint leaves over medium low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove mint leaves and add Lily's baking bar chocolate and oil, mixing occasionally with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, buckwheat flour, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, whisk eggs and coconut nectar on medium-high speed until thickened and pale, about 6-8 minutes. With a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 dry ingredients until just incorporated, then pour 1/2 chocolate mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat process, ending with dry ingredients. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Let cool for 10 minutes then invert on wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, place cake on plate or stand, then immediately pour ganache while still warm. Use an offset spatula to gently smooth ganache to drip over the edges. Top with sprigs of fresh mint and pomegranate seeds. To finish, use a vegetable peeler to create curls of Lily's chocolate baking bar to garnish the cake. 

Chocolate Mint Ganache

2 sprigs of fresh mint
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup Lily's baking bar, chopped
2 tbsp oil, such as olive or coconut

In a small saucepan, infuse almond milk with fresh mint leaves over medium low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove leaves, then add Lily's baking bar chocolate and oil, mixing occasionally with a rubber spatula until smooth. Use immediately.

California Made: A Holiday Market

Next Saturday, November 14, I will be participating in California Made: a holiday market in Downtown LA. I'll have cake by the slice available and a couple other surprises!


Paper Pastries - rubber stamps, stationery, and supplies
Le Petit Elefant - prints, buttons, stickers, stationery
Homako - handmade fabric and felt jewelry
Paper & Type - stationery and writing supplies
Matchbox Kitchen - cake shop

Live music by The Cheeky Few, refreshments, specials, and a chance to win our giveaway! 

More details and RSVP here.
Follow @californiamade on instagram

Poketo Cake Basics Class

I recently taught my cake basics class with Poketo at The Line Hotel! The hotel was such a beautiful place for my class and working with Poketo was a lot of fun. A special thank you to Lisa for all your help!

The class was structured similarly to my previous cake basics classes. We went over how to make a chocolate cake, such as how to know when you've creamed the butter and sugar enough and how to check when a cake is done baking. Next was learning how to make swiss meringue buttercream. Lastly, each student learned to torte and assemble their own naked cake and finished them off by decorating with fresh organic fruit and edible flowers and herbs. 

An example of the type of cake we were going to make in class. Students could leave the sides completely exposed or "semi naked", as shown below.

photo: lisa kwon

photo: lisa kwon

Demonstrating a crumb coat naked cake frosting style. Those small offset spatulas sure come in handy for a 6" cake.

cake and photo: @Littlesparkjess

cake and photo: @Littlesparkjess

A finished cake by one of my students, Jess. I love the green herb leaves on the sides!

Photo: lisa kwon

Photo: lisa kwon

Students concentrating on assembling and frosting their cakes. There were 22 students in my class, and each and every one did an excellent job!

Cake: @llee52 

Cake: @llee52 

The final product by Lydia, finished off with beautiful edible flowers and fresh fruit from Farm Box LA. We set up a makeshift photoshoot area, which I think all my classes should have from now on!

Fresh berries from Farm Box LA and edible flowers and flowering herbs (not pictured). 

Farm Box LA kindly provided fresh fruit for the students to decorate their cakes with. We had a variety of delicious berries fresh from the farmers market, and they also generously gifted everyone with a goodie bag of delicious stone fruit and a coupon for their first order! 


All students also went home with a goodie bag filled with treats from some of my favorite companies!

QUIN Candy
Dreams Come Chew - these are so good. They are similar to starbursts except about 100x better, with seriously delicious flavors, only a handful of ingredients, and no artificial colors or flavors. QUIN makes real, classic candy without all the weird stuff.

I purchased my own cuppow several years ago and use it all the time! A simple lid made of recycled (and recyclable!) plastic turns a mason jar into a portable drinking cup. I'm so happy everyone got to take one home and hopefully decrease their reliance of single use cups and straws. 

Knot & Bow
It's surprisingly hard to find beautiful, elegant candles for birthday cakes, so when I discovered Knot & Bow offered these slender beeswax candles I knew they would be the perfect pairing with an understated naked cake. 

Hands down my favorite spatula. They are made of one single piece of silicone which means no parts for water to get into, no separate parts to wash, no moldy wooden handles. If you have a spatula that separates the top from the handle, go take it apart and see what's lurking inside. I also love that they come in a variety of fun colors and sizes! The skinny is my favorite for getting the last bits in small jars. 

Cotton & Flax
In addition to beautiful home textiles, Cotton & Flax recently released a series of small notebooks screenprinted with their patterns. Its pocket size is perfect to put in your handbag or leave in your car for last minute note taking! I also have a few of tea towels that I love so much. 

Ann Shen
A sweet card with Ann's signature illustration style. Each student received the perfectly fitting Happy Cake card. She's also got a lot of other art, prints, and cards in her shop. One of my favorites is her Study of Ice Cream print.

Cali Water
Wild prickly pear cactus water, non GMO, low in sugar, and filled with naturally occuring electrolytes and antioxidants. This was so refreshing to drink while I was teaching the class. I don't like drinking water (I know I should!) but Cali Water has just enough of a light sweetness and flavor that made it enjoyable to drink without resorting to something filled with sugar. 

More cake classes are coming soon, and will be traveling across the US (and perhaps the world?) Want me to come to your city? Leave a comment and let me know where I should visit next.