Fine Fixin's

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cakes

Confession: We love dessert. There you go, I said it. Unfortunately, we also know that when dealing with dessert, moderation is imperative, or at least imperative at times — sometimes you just need some decadence. So while Sarah still claims to have a portion of her stomach specifically reserved for sweets, we’re trying, albeit gingerly, to make some of these sweets a bit healthier. A little less decadent, and a little less sweet.

To kick things off, we made flourless almond cakes for the new year. These little chocolate cakes are made with almond meal and honey (hey, it’s not sugar) and guess what, they’re tasty — especially with ice cream (oops, but we had to, I promise. I overcooked them just a tad, making them dry). They also get some bonus points for being simple to prepare, which I always appreciate with a dessert. If you or someone you know is trying to cut down on sugar for a New Year’s resolution, we’d definitely recommend it. . . just skip the ice cream.


Flourless Chocolate Almond Cakes
Serves 2
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
  1. ½ cup raw almonds (or almond meal)
  2. 3 tablespoons butter
  3. 3 tablespoons honey
  4. ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  5. 1 egg
  6. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1 pinch kosher salt
  8. 1 pinch cayenne
  9. 2 5-ounce ramekins
  10. 2 tablespoons sliced almonds (for garnish)
  11. powdered sugar (for garnish)
  12. additional honey (drizzled lightly on top for garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. If using whole almonds, grind the almonds very finely in a food processor until the texture is light and fluffy.
  3. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, add 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons honey, and ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips. Microwave for 10 seconds intervals, stirring after each, until fully combined. (Alternatively, use the double boiler on the stove to melt the chocolate and stir in the butter and honey until fully combined.)
  4. In a medium large bowl, beat one egg with a whisk. Then add ½ cup of the almond meal, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 pinch of kosher salt, 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, and the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Butter two 5-ounce ramekins. Pour in the batter, and bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out nearly clean.
Adapted from A Couple Cooks
Adapted from A Couple Cooks
Texas Toasted

Carrot Cake with Honey Ginger Figs

4-Layer Carrot Cake with Honey Ginger Figs

I once lied so that I wouldn’t have to eat a piece of carrot cake.

I remember the day so vividly; there was a birthday in my kindergarten class, and someone’s mother had made carrot cake cupcakes for everyone. As they were being handed out, my excitement turned to horror. Shaggy with coconut and clearly neither chocolate nor vanilla, these cupcakes were so unnatural, so unappetizing, so scary looking that in my greatest stroke of lying genius I politely informed the approaching mother that I was “allergic to cupcakes.”

It was, I believed, the perfect lie. I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, I received a bit of unspoken pity because of my mysterious dietary restrictions, and most importantly, I didn’t have to eat one of those gross cupcakes.

Oh how far I have come. With carrot cake that is. My lying skills have really not improved much.

This is a darn good recipe for carrot cake. It’s so moist and simple —  any picky kindergartener would enjoy it. But it’s also special, because it was used by my husband’s grandma Ruth and is used now by her daughter and grandsons (and me!). Unfortunately, I never got to meet Ruth, but she seems to have possessed everything that I want for myself: a meaningful career, a husband who adored her, and a talent for cooking that was unforgettable to her family and friends.

For the purposes of this post (and the celebration of a friend’s birthday), I spruced the cake up a bit. When plain and unfrosted, however, it is practically perfect.

Carrot Cake with Honey Ginger Figs

Ruth’s Carrot Cake

Two notes:

The original recipe called for “salad oil”, which means you can use any neutral flavored oil.

You want the carrots to be somewhere between a fine grate and a puree. I chopped mine up in a small food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, a grater is ok, but use the finest grate possible.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (and take out your butter and cream cheese to soften for the frosting if you’re making some).

Grease a pan (2 round 9-inch pans or a 9 x 13 would work fine)

1 1/2 C oil (see note above)

2 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

2 C flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 1/4 tsp vietnamese cinnamon)

1 tsp salt

3 C finely grated raw carrots (see note above)

Mix together first three ingredients, beat well.

Beat in eggs one at a time.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, except for carrots.

Add dry ingredients to wet, then add carrots.

Stir until just combined.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for up to an hour.

Check the cake after 25 minutes, and every 5 minutes after that if you think it is almost done. I baked mine in two batches in a shallow baker’s quarter sheet, and each only took about a half hour. Cupcakes could take only 15 or 20 minutes.

While your cakes are cooling, make your frosting.

Carrot Cake Bites with Honey Ginger Figs


Cream Cheese Frosting

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

2 8oz pkgs cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick butter, room temperature

1 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla

Beat the cream cheese and butter together with 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar.

While the mixer is running, add the rest of the powdered sugar in 1/4 cup scoops, beating well before each new addition.

Add vanilla and beat a few more minutes until combined and fluffy.

Ginger Honey Syrup

1/4 C honey

1/8 C water

3 inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced into thin coins

Simmer all ingredients over low heat for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow ginger to steep in the honey before removing with a slotted spoon.

Drizzle over the top of the cake after assembling.

Editor’s Note: this post is part of the series “Texas Toasted” by guest blogger Grace Steinel Jones.

Out & About

Out & About: Plank Road Orchard

Plank Road Orchard apples in Sycamor, IL
Despite the fact that our car was hit on Saturday morning (we were just fine), we managed to make it out to Sycamore, IL (home of my parents, among other things) and visit Plank Road Orchard. I had been wanting to pick some apples and grab some apple cider (donuts) for a little while now. Unfortunately, U-Pick apple season was over, but they still had lots of bagged apples, fresh cider, and all the other apple-y things that you might expect to find at an orchard.
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