Love is in the Air this Valentine’s day!
A great reason to make Chocolate “Love” Cakes, by my gluten free friend Michelle Palin. As well as a great time to share about her new blog, My Gluten-Free Kitchen.
I have had the amazing opportunity to meet friends from all over the country since starting my Gluten Free Mama business and writing my cookbooks. Michelle Palin is one of my favorite gluten free friends that I have had the opportunity to meet. We first became friends on Facebook, then finally had the wonderful opportunity to meet in person when I taught gluten free baking lessons at a local gluten free store in her neighborhood. We have shared recipes and tips for several years, and now it’s her turn to share her recipes and baking tips with you.
Michelle is married to an incredibly supportive husband, mom to 2 Lego-loving boys, is a Kindergarten teacher and a lover of Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Michelle has always loved baking and enjoys few things more than seeing someone enjoy goodies she’s made for them. Hmmm….sounds a lot like me. How about you? Michelle’s joy for baking inspired her to fulfill her dream of starting a gluten-free blog, My Gluten-Free Kitchen.
I asked Michelle several questions so we could get to know her, after you enjoy reading about Michelle, enjoy her tasty recipe for Chocolate “Love” Cakes!
What inspired you to start your blog?
I was inspired to start blogging as I began to receive at least one phone call or email each week from friends who knew someone new to eating gluten-free and wondered if I’d share some tips and recipes with them. My blog gives me a great way to share that info!
What are your goals for your blog?
My main goals in blogging are:
1. To help those newly diagnosed with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy make the overwhelming adjustment to the gluten-free lifestyle.
2. To share recipes with those that are already experienced with gluten-free cooking and baking, but might be looking for some new recipes to add to their favorites.
3. In addition to sharing recipes for everything from breakfast to main dishes to dessert, I also share my favorite gluten-free products, ingredients, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks and books about Celiac disease and eating gluten-free.
When were you diagnosed and what is your story behind it?
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in June of 2010, at age 33, following an endoscopy and biopsy of my small intestine. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I had honestly never heard of Celiac Disease and I did not know a single person with it. However, I was so relieved to finally have an answer for what was causing my health problems! I believe that I probably had active Celiac Disease since age 16, as that is when my stomach issues started. Like many others back then, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. I had many health issues over the years: migraines, stomach pain, infertility, anemia and many complications during my pregnancies. I believe that most of my health problems were likely due to my undiagnosed Celiac.
By the spring/early summer of 2010, I was barely able to eat, feeling full and in pain after about 5 bites of food. My weight dropped from a healthy weight for someone who is 5’7” to only 114 lbs. I finally ended up on a liquid-only diet, with my doctor advising me to have milkshakes with peanut butter in them every day so I could get enough calories. While I did not have the diarrhea that so many others have prior to a Celiac diagnosis, I had constant stomach pain, brain fog, difficulty remembering things, migraines, and fatigue. I was so fatigued that I was only able to function until about noon each day, and then was in bed for the remainder of the day. I literally felt like I was wasting away and everyone said I looked like it. The constant pain, inability to eat, and fatigue were so discouraging. A Gastroenterologist finally ordered an endoscopy to look for an ulcer since that is what he and my doctor suspected that I had. We were all surprised when instead they found that my small intestine showed severe villous atrophy due to Celiac Disease. After about 6-8 weeks on a completely gluten-free diet, I finally started feeling much better. As the fatigue went away, my energy level increased, the constant stomach pain and brain fog left, enabling me to think clearly again. I was also having fewer migraines and finally started gaining weight!
How may of you can relate to Michelle’s story? I bet a lot. I know for my daughter, it was 18 months of a struggle with her health and then after only 2 weeks of being on a gluten free diet she was already showing huge signs of improvement. I find it very interesting that the best cure and only cure is staying away from gluten. It is crazy and unfortunate how damaging gluten can be to individuals with Celiac Disease. However the good news is that we can eat great tasting gluten free foods and live a very tasty and well fulfilled life.
Is anyone else in your family Celiac?
No one else in my family is Celiac. Before our entire household switched to gluten-free, both of my sons had endoscopies that were negative for Celiac Disease. They have also both had the genetic test (blood test), which identified that we need to keep an eye on one of them as he has a 10% chance of developing Celiac disease at some point. Our kitchen is 98% gluten-free. I didn’t make my hubby get rid of his favorite Life cereal, but he is super careful about it so that there is no chance for cross-contamination! My husband has been my biggest supporter through all of this and is the one that suggested we make our house gluten-free so that I wouldn’t continue to get sick from accidental cross-contamination.
Now for the FUN STUFF…
If you could spend the day with any famous chef or baker who would it be and why?
I’d love to spend a day with Alton Brown from the Food Network. I think he’d really get into the chemistry behind gluten-free baking and I’d love to see what recipes he and I could come up with together!
What are your top 3 baking tips?
1. Unless you have to be dairy-free, use real butter in your baking. It makes a real difference in flavor!
2. Use parchment paper whenever possible in your baking. I actually wrote a whole post about the usefulness of parchment paper on my blog. (link: http://mygluten-freekitchen.com/friday-favorite-parchment- paper-silicone-baking-mats/)
3. I find that most of my muffins, quick breads, cupcakes and cakes have
the best texture the day AFTER I bake them. On day 1, those baked
items are a little more spongy/springy in texture, while on day 2 they
have a perfect moist crumb. So I definitely recommend you bake
those the day before you want to enjoy them.
What is your all time favorite Gluten Free Mama recipe?
How can I pick just one? My favorite Gluten Free Mama recipes are all from the cookbook “In the Kitchen with Gluten Free Mama. They are: Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls, Honey Oat Hamburger Buns, and Apple Huckleberry Pie (though I use all apples).
Do you have a recipe to share that you have created?
Yes, I’m going to share with you a favorite chocolate cake recipe. I’ve successfully made this cake as a Texas sheet cake, a 9×13 cake, a bundt cake, cupcakes, and today, heart shaped cakes for Valentine’s Day!
Now that we have had the great opportunity to meet Michelle, try her recipe for Chocolate “Love” Cakes and stop by her blog for inspiring recipes and lots of gluten free tips. My Gluten-Free Kitchen
Chocolate “Love” Cakes or Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Note: To get a deep, dark brown for the cakes and frosting, I use a mix of part regular cocoa powder + part Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder in both the cakes recipe and the frosting recipe.
1 ½ tsp. xanthan gum
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup butter, or dairy free margarine
⅓ cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
½ c. buttermilk (See Mama’s dairy free tip below)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Spray cooking oil in the bottoms and sides of your heart shaped pans or muffin pan and set aside.
In your mixing bowl, combine flour, xanthan gum, sugar, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, cocoa, and 1 cup water. Bring just to boiling, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add to dry ingredients, beat until combined.
Add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and beat for one minute on low-medium speed.
Pour batter into prepared pan. If using the mini heart shaped pan or cupcake pan, pour ¼ cup of batter into each opening.
Bake at 350° for 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs (no wet batter).
Let cool in pan for 4 minutes, then turn over pan and the little cakes should just fall out. Wait to frost until completely cool.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
½ cup butter, or dairy free butter sticks (spectrum)
½ cup cocoa powder
3 ⅔ cup powdered sugar
6-7 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Using a medium glass bowl, melt the stick of butter in microwave. Whisk in cocoa powder, then heat for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and milk alternately, beating with a hand mixer until creamy. Add vanilla last, beating in until mixed well.
*** If you use this frosting while still warm, it is easily spreadable and has the glossy finish when dried like you see in the photo but can slide off of whatever you are frosting. If you let it cool completely, then it firms up and can be placed into a pastry bag for piping for decorating cakes or cupcakes. The icing can be refrigerated to use later; just microwave 10 seconds at a time, and stir, until you get to the right consistency for piping or spreading.
*** The pan Michelle used for the Heart Shape cakes can be bought on Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/behmxqh
GFM TIP: For dairy free buttermilk substitute, use milk of choice (dairy,rice, nut, soy) add 2 tsp. vinegar. Allow to rest on counter for about 15 minutes.