Tag Archives: cakes

Easy Mardi Gras King Cake with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling

Easy Mardi Gras King Cake with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Gluten free chocolate cake in a mug #secretrecipeclub

gluten free chocolate cake

This month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment was Judee’s Gluten Free A-Z Blog. I was intrigued with her recipe for Chocolate Cake in a Mug that used gluten free coconut flour, which is high in protein and fiber. However, since she used bananas and sugar – two things I can’t eat due to my food sensitivities – I knew I’d have to make adjustments.

The first time I used a combination of her gluten free recipe and the original recipe that she modified since I don’t have to avoid eggs. Here’s what I came up with:

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake in a Mug (Version 1)



  1. Add dry ingredients to microwavable mug and  mix well with fork.
  2. Add egg and mix well.
  3. Pour in coconut milk, oil, and vanilla and chips.
  4. Mix well and put mug in microwave for 3 minutes.
  5. Remove , allow to cool a little, and tip onto plate .

gluten free chocolate cake in a mug Baking gluten free at a mile high

I’m going to be honest with you and say that the first three gluten free chocolate cake in a mug cakes I made (I made seven chocolate mug cakes in all) didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. First, it was challenging to get the cake out of the mugs in one piece even after I released the sides with an offset spatula. The cakes usually split in half (see below).

Second, the cakes were dry, which maybe meant I needed to add more oil or milk or microwave the cake for less time.

Third, the cakes were, as my son put it, “Too chocolaty and not sweet enough,” probably due to using too much dark chocolate and not enough sweetener. (I’ve added more sweetener to the recipe above.)

Fourth, I loved the shredded coconut, but the kids weren’t too crazy about it.

Frankly, since I moved to Colorado over 20 years ago, I’ve been baking challenged. When I use a premade mix from the store, it’s usually fine. But when I bake from scratch, it never turns out as planned. So, maybe it was me and not Judee’s recipe. (After all, it turned out well for her.)

Needless to say I was determined to try a few more versions, this time adding more sweetener, more coconut milk, and trying applesauce instead of banana.

gluten free chocolate cake in a mug

More variations on Gluten Free Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Note: directions for Versions 2 through 5 are the same as in the first version.

Version 2 (My favorite)


Version 3 (My daughter Lucie’s favorite)


  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic High Fiber Coconut Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Stevia Extract in the Raw
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Dagoba Organic Chocolate Unsweetened Drinking Chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3.9 ounces of Mott's Healthy Harvest Sauce Country Berry (one single serving cup)
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten free, pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

Version 4 (My son Nathan’s favorite and Lucie says it tastes like brownies to her)


  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic High Fiber Coconut Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Stevia Extract in the Raw
  • 1 tablespoon Sweet Tree Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 + 1 tablespoon cup light coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten free, pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

Version 5 (Lucie likes this one, too)


  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic High Fiber Coconut Flour
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten free, pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

Not quite there yet, but still a delicious gluten free chocolate treat

The kids and I really liked the gluten free chocolate cake in a mug made with the Mott’s applesauce. However, the cake was so moist that it wouldn’t come out of the coffee mug. I’d suggest scooping out half of the cooked cake, putting it in another mug, then adding a scoop of ice cream (or your favorite soy or coconut ice cream if you’re dairy free) or whipped cream to top it off. Note: a half to a third of the mug cake is usually enough for one person.

Also, in versions 2 through 5, I used smaller mugs instead of the large mugs I’ve purchased from Starbucks when I travel. (So far I have Starbuck’s mugs from Minneapolis, Denver, New York, San Diego and Chicago.) I suggest using a large mug if you have it since it seems easier to get the cake out of the larger ones.

Finally, adding more sweetener, whether coconut sugar, agave or stevia powder, adding more coconut milk, and using semi-sweet instead of bittersweet chocolate chips worked much better. The chocolate flavor was less bitter this time around.

All in all, I had almost as fun a time experimenting as my kids did in trying out the various gluten free chocolate cake in a mug treats. If I hadn’t run out of coconut flour and time, I would have made a few more variations and tried to perfect the recipe even more.

More from the Secret Recipe Club!

Want to join the Secret Recipe Club? You can sign up here!

Here’s what’s going on with the club members this month:

Disclosure: Scharffen Berger and Dagoba provided me with samples of their products to use in my chocolate dessert recipe development.

A Clean Start and a Pear Cake

pear cakeClean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well is Terry Walters’ follow up to her first cookbook, Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You.

Even though I’m not a vegan, having to avoid milk and wheat products has caused me to seek out vegan and gluten free blogs and cookbooks like Terry’s latest. Working around food sensitivities and allergies is all about cooking with clean ingredients and making dishes from scratch. Clean Start fits this need by sticking to straightforward recipes and using local, seasonal ingredients. She does use some exotic ingredients like tahini and tempeh, but those should be familiar to vegans and anyone who shops at a well stocked health food store.

How to Eat Clean

Her cookbook starts with an explanation of eating clean, such as eating the rainbow and skipping packaged foods. She then addresses the benefits of a clean start and how to set up. Then she goes over the basics like her favorite ingredients such as almond meal, arrowroot, rice milk, tofu and vegetable stock. Then there’s a primer on basic grains, legumes and greens. Finally, she gives you tips on making a clean start work for you.

Then she goes into more than 230 recipes, each one fitting on a single page (love that!) The recipes are organized into spring, summer, fall and winter chapters. There’s typical vegan fare like seitan bourguignon, scrambled tofu, and curry and avocado dips. Still, there are many recipes that will appeal to all, vegan or not, like Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Apricot and Sage stuffing or Warm Beet Salad with Red Onion, Mint and Pistachio.

My only complaint with the cookbook is that there weren’t more gorgeous photographs by Andrea Gentl and Marty Hyers!

Pear Cake

Terry says the inspiration for this recipe came from her friend, Vicki, “…who is hands-down the best baker I know. Her super-moist apple cake is just the right combination of light and sweet. And, while I’ve still not been able to convince her to share her recipe, this gluten-free pear version satisfied my craving with ease. I would like to think that someday Vicki might actually ask me for this recipe, but I guess that’s unnecessary now!”

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely grated peeled D’Anjou pear (or pear sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated peeled D’Anjou pears
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 large banana)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 D’Anjou pears


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients until blended.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients until blended.
  4. Peel pears for topping and cut into halves. Scoop out cores and slice halves into thin slices and set aside.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix as briefly as possible to combine.
  6. Pour into prepared pan. Arrange pear slices as desired on top of cake and bake 45 minutes or until cake is lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven
  7. and cool on rack before removing pan.
  8. Makes one 9-inch round cake

Tip: This recipe will require 5 or 6 whole pears, depending on the size of your pears – 2 for finely grating, 2 for coarsely grating and 1 to 2 for decorating the top of your cake.

Serving suggestion: For an extra-special presentation, melt dark chocolate with a small amount of virgin coconut oil and drizzle back and forth across each serving.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well.

Eggless Chocolate Cake

Shirley's Eggless Chocolate Cake at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

When my friend Suzanne heard that my daughter, Lucie, is allergic to eggs, she sent along this recipe for an eggless chocolate cake. It's named after the mother of an old friend of hers who used to make it.

Since my daughter is also allergic to peanut butter, I'd make a traditional vanilla or chocolate frosting or maybe a chocolate ganache instead, like the picture above.

Shirley's Eggless Chocolate Cake at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Shirley's Eggless Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing


For tjhe cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 9 tablespoons cocoa (not instant)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (approximately)
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter


For the cake:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl using an electric mixer.
  2. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes.

For the icing:

  1. Mix confectioners sugar and milk - it will be thin.
  2. Stir in peanut butter, which will thicken the icing.
  3. Ice your delicious cake.
Prep Time: 50 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6 to 8
  • Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe

Baking for the cupcake challenged

MissspidercupcakeEarlier this year, Jamie at BlondeMomBlog was pondering her Inner Domestic Diva in Move Over Betty Crocker:

I’m entering unchartered territory as the girls get older…the obligatory birthday cupcakes. I made a batch of two dozen strawberry cupcakes with vanilla icing last week for Caitlin’s class in honor of her 4th birthday. A mixing bowl was unearthed from its dusty confines. Cupcake bling* in cheery pastel colors was purchased. And although they weren’t from scratch, it did require some egg cracking and actual mixing with my electric mixer, which has been used as about as infrequently as Jessica Simpson’s brain cells. I’ve set the bar low all these years and headed straight to the baked goods aisle at the grocery. I mean why bake when you can buy?

With the beginning of the school year, parents of young school aged children will soon have a need to supply a classroom full of hungry kids with cupcakes. Here are some great websites for the cupcake and cake decorating challenged:

And how do I feel about cake mixes and store bought icing? I love them. Baking an high elevation is very challenging for me, and Duncan Hines Deviled Food Mix always turns out well. While I make my own frosting based on Wilton’s buttercream recipe, Duncan Hine’s frosting is terrific, too. After all the bottom line is doing something special for (and hopefully with) your child, without killing yourself.

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Got ground meat? Boy do I have some ideas for you!

Want to know how to make a cake out of ground meat? Check out today’s post, More fun with ground meat at A Readable Feast.

Not only will I share links to Vashti’s and Martha’s recipes, but give you a few recipes from the 1969 edition of Better Homes and Gardens Ground Meat Cook Book as well.

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Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comI'm so busy these days that I haven't had much time to devote to blogging. Thank the kitchen goddess that my good friend, Michelle D. emailed me a cake recipe. She writes:

Hey girlie,

I have a great cake recipe for you! It's very easy. This is the cake with a taste of my childhood. This recipe was always used for birthday cakes. My mom would frost it with cream cheese frosting. You can also use it in different cake pans, not just the 9 x 13, so you could use it in your Wilton pans, too.

The cake always tastes better after you frost it and it sits in the fridge for a couple of hours. I am not a huge fan of cold cake, but IT IS SO FREAKIN' GOOD!

I know Lucie, my poor little cutie can't eat it (it has eggs), but I wanted to share it with you.

Hope all is going well,


I love cold cake and cream cheese icing, so I better try this some day.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

DO NOT USE AN ELECTRIC MIXER when mixing up this cake! Make it by hand.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks Oleo (Can you tell we are from the midwest? Oleo is margarine, but I use butter)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 slightly beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Put the Oleo, water, and cocoa (not instant) in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Pour cocoa mixture over dry ingredients.
  4. Then add buttermilk, baking soda, slightly beaten eggs, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  5. Pour into a greased and floured cake 9x13 inch pan.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.
  7. Let cool and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe.
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6 to 8
  • Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe

Mile high baking

Dear friend Michelle D. emailed me with a common problem in Colorado. Baking at high altitude is a bitch. I used to bake bread all the time. But once I started living at a mile high plus I gave up on it after too many deflated, rubbery loaves. I also love to decorate cakes but leave the recipe up to Duncan Hines and follow their high altitude tips.

Michelle writes:

You are a high altitude cake bakin’ mama, so I have a question for you. How do you convert a cake recipe from let’s say a Bon Appetit magazine into a high altitude recipe? Is there a recommended amount of flour or sugar or something?

Thanks for all the advice!

Per High Altitude Baking: 200 Delicious Recipes & Tips for Great Cookies, Cakes, Breads & More : For People Living Between 3,500 & 10,000 Feet do the following for 3,500-6,500 feet:

Baking power – decrease each teaspoon used by 1/8 tsp.
Sugar – decrease each cup used by by 0-1 Tbsp.
Liquid – increase each cup used by 1-2 Tbsp.

If you are making an angel food or sponge cake, do not beat too much air into the eggs used in these cakes. Beat egg whites only until they form peaks that fall over, not until they are stiff and dry. Using less sugar, more flour and a higher baking temperature also helps strengthen the cell structures of these cakes.

Other tips – decrease the amount of leavening or increasing the baking temperature by 15-25 degrees F will help "set" the batter before the cells formed by leaving gasses expand too much.

Rich cakes may need less shortening, oil, butter or margarine (1-2 Tbsp. per cup used). On the other hand, the addition of an egg may help prevent a "too rich" cake from falling.

Hope this helps.

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