Category Archives: Dessert

Super moist and rich gluten-free chocolate cake

Whip together my favorite gluten free chocolate cake for your sweetie this Valentine’s day.  No frosting needed, but add some berries if you want some color!

Quionoa Chocolate Cake

  • 2 c cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 c milk (I use almond)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (sometimes I do 1/2 almond extract and 1/2 vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1½ cup coconut palm, cane or white sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one large cake pan, or two 8 inch round or square baking pans, OR use about 6 ramekins or cupcakes (adjust the cook time according to the pan).  Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add cooked quinoa, butter, applesauce and softened butter. Process until smooth.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes so the quinoa gets extra soft.  Whisk together sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add milk mix and combine until well blended.  Divide between pans and bake:  40 minutes for large cake pan, 22-28 minutes for the portions.  You know the cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool before serving.  This cake is even better second day, so make it a day ahead of serving if you want.  


My fav muffin–Coconut banana gluten free

Baby bits of coconut sprinkled on top add a nice crunch

Get ready to read the recipe for your new favorite muffin!

My yogi friend, Sarah shared this recipe on her blog and I just had to give it a try.  I have now made these fantastic muffins 3 times in the 2 short weeks since she posted the original recipe.  I didn’t have many of the ingredients that her recipe called for, so I modified it with what I had in the pantry AND to lower the fat just a little.  It worked beautifully and I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.  My hubby gets so excited when I walk into his office with a hot pot of tea and a freshly baked muffin.  Maybe you should surprise your loved one(s) with this super moist and delicious muffin this afternoon?!

Bon Appetit!  XO

Fresh from the oven!

Coconut banana muffins

Servings: 6 large muffins



  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 c applesauce (organic, unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla bakers cane sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 ripe bananas, lightly mashed (mine were pretty small)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (AP flour does not sub well for coconut, so try almond if you can’t find coconut)
  • 1/2 c (plus about 2 T for sprinkling on top) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease the muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.  Spoon into the muffin tin.  Sprinkle the muffins with the coconut flakes.  Bake for 25-28 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clear.  Serve with a cup of hot tea or a large glass of coconut milk.  ENJOY!


Vanilla Sugar

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly!  I know, I know, I do not use much sugar here at 488, but using artificial sweeteners is NOT an option, and the natural sweeteners that I turn to (honey, molasses, agave nectar, stevia, maple syrup and rice syrup) instead sometimes just do not work.   So when I do bake and need to use sugar, I make sure it is fully loaded with vanilla oils to provide my baked sweets with the absolute BEST flavor!  This is so stinking simple, you will be kicking yourself for not discovering this sooner!  Remember that big bunch of vanilla beans that I convinced you to buy a couple of years ago.  I hope you still have some on hand because all you need to do is chop up a vanilla bean or two and stick them into your sugar jar.  Put the lid on and give the oils time to release into your sugar.   When I get low on sugar or when my beans seem to be losing their oil, I just chop up more! I have had my jar going now for probably 6 years (maybe more), so my jar is packed with beans.

Vanilla sugar!

I usually keep baking sugar in the jar, which has a little finer texture than regular sugar.  Mainly because I like baking with it better, but use what you like!  I am sure you could do the same with brown sugar as well!  I don’t know how powdered sugar would work, but give it a try and let me know what you find!  Anyway, experiment with it and HAVE FUN!


Dark chocolate mousse

As I mentioned in the previous post, I just returned home from 5, yes, I said FIVE, glorious weeks in Costa Rica!  4 of those weeks were spent at Anamaya Yoga Resort in Montezuma.  What a fantastic place!  I will not be able to say enough about the food and chef Camillo to do them justice, but I hope to recreate some of his ridiculously healthful (dairy, gluten-free, mostly vegetarian) dishes here on the 411 so you can get a tiny sampling of their beauty.  This mousse was not something that was served there, but was inspired by chef Camillo and some of the wonderful mousses he made for us.  The raw eggs in this one give it a ridiculous richness that probably can’t be beat by anything dairy, but keep in mind there is always a small risk of salmonella when consuming raw egg!  I get my eggs from my neighbor, so I trust them completely, but many of you do not have that luxury, so you may want to skip this one until you can source farm fresh, free range eggs that you trust!  This 3 ingredient mousse is sinfully creamy, decadent, and will satisfy even the most obnoxious sweet tooth!  Top it with a little whipped cream (coconut whipped cream for you non-dairy folks) and fresh berries or citrus fruit–marianated in amaretto or grand marinier– to make it even more beautiful and exotic!

And yes, I am officially a certified yoga teacher!!  I will be posting more information about classes and my new studio soon!

Bon Appetit, my friends!


Chocolate Mousse

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 60g chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or to taste)

1. Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a bowl over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate begins to melt, turn the heat off. Separate the eggs.

2. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks, add the sugar, and whisk briefly.

3. Mix the egg yolks quickly into the melted chocolate and then whisk in a third of the egg white. Fold the rest very gently into the mixture until just combined (be careful not to overmix), and then put into bowls and refrigerate for at least four hours until set.


Chia fruit pudding

Chia seeds are such the rage right now!  I had been silently resisting the temptation to jump on the chia seed party train until I was fully convinced that they were really worth the hype…I didn’t need another trendy food item taking up space in my pantry, afterall!  Well, a few days ago after doing more research on their health benefits (omega 3 fatty acids for mitochondrial renewal, antioxidants to get rid of cancerous free radicals, seed protein with low acidity and high calcium to help build strong, long, and lean muscles and keep my large bones strong, and fiber to keep me GOING!), I finally broke down and bought a big bag from the bulk foods section of my regular grocery store.

Coincidentally, right after I purchased my seeds, I saw a recipe on Pinterest for coconut mango chia seed pudding.  You probably already know how much I love coconut and mango, so I figured this was a pretty safe place to start.  Boy, oh boy, was I right!  I whipped a modified version of this pudding together in about 3 minutes that same afternoon and in the fridge in went.  A short time later, I had to give it a try.  I must say, I liked it.  No, I did not love it–it seemed a bit boring and thin.  Feeling a little miffed and dissatisfied, I went back and read the recipe again.  I had completely forgotten that it suggested waiting overnight (or at least 5 hours) before eating.  Sooooo I stuck it back in the fridge and waited.  WOW, what a difference a few hours made!  My creation had taken on a whole new consistency and honestly, it had a lot more flavor!  I was sooo elated, I ate nearly the whole bowl!!  Since then (which was only about a week ago) I have made it a few more times, trying different fruits and adding some vanilla beans–testing it out to see how versatile it is.  I am happy to report that so far, I have loved everything I made!  Even my hubby–who isn’t crazy about these sorts of dishes– digs on this one!  He had a small bowl with blueberries at lunch today and told me “It is sooo good, it tastes a lot like tapioca”!  When I eat the seeds, I am actually reminded more of poppy seeds because of their size and texture.  Next time I make it, I might try adding some chopped pecans or walnuts to the pudding to make it a great option for breakfast.  Oh, and how about lemon or lime zest?!?  If you want to doll it up a bit more for dessert, try adding some small dark chocolate chips and/or some coconut (toasted coconut?)–I bet it would be fantastic!!  Anyway, I am pretty sure you will almost always find a bowl of this yummy pudding sitting in my fridge just waiting for a hungry tummy to call home!  Bon Appetit!

Chia Pudding

Servings:  4-5

1 c vanilla almond milk (I like Silk’s)

1 c vanilla coconut milk (ditto)

4 T chia seeds

1 c cubed fresh champagne mango (or blueberries, raspberries, peaches, strawberries, blackberries)

dash of sweetener (optional–I don’t do this, but if you like it sweeter add some agave, honey or stevia)

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours.  It will thicken up nicely if left overnight!

Mango lime pie

Mango lime pie!

Wow, being stuck in the house because of record breaking outdoor temps STINKS!  I guess I could clean or paint or busy myself with some other domestic activity like reorganizing the closet…NO THANK YOU!  Instead I think I will get my hiney in the kitchen and whip up something new!  What should I make??  Well, my sweet tooth is really kickin right now, so how about a pie??  Oh, a key lime pie sounds so0oo good, but I only have 3 limes in the house…and not key limes!  Problem?  Nah!  I have my usual stash of ripened champagne mangos, so lets see if mango lime pie soothes that aching tooth!

This post is 16 hours and 2 slices of pie later…I can’t seem to keep myself out of that darn pie!  The texture is soft and creamy and the flavor is sweet, yet perfectly tart!  I am thrilled with the result and am looking forward to having another slice after dinner tonight!  In the meantime, you can find me working it off on the elliptical downstairs!

FYI–this pie is even better second day, so make it well ahead of time for the best flavor!

Bon Appetit!

Mango lime pie

Servings:  8

  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 large and juicy limes
  • 2 large mangos or 3 champagne mangos, ripened and cubed
  • 2 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 c graham crackers, crushed
  • 4 T butter, melted
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c sour cream–I used tofutti sour cream
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 2-3 T powdered sugar
  • PAM cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the crushed graham crackers, butter, and sugar together.  Spray a 9 ” pie pan with PAM.  Using your fingers, pat the cracker mix to line the bottom and half way up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Remove from oven and cool to room temp.  Lower the oven temp to 325 degrees F.

While the crust is cooking, put the mango cubes in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Put the puree in a liquid measuring cup and then squeeze the limes in with the mango puree until you have added enough lime juice to have 1 c of liquid.  Put the fruit puree into a medium bowl, mix in the evaporated milk and eggs.

Once the crust is at room temp, put the fruit puree into the pie shell and bake for 20-25 minutes–until the pie is firm.  Allow the pie to cool.

While the pie is cooling, mix together the lime zest, powdered sugar, and sour cream in a small bowl.  Taste and add more powdered sugar as needed to achieve the sweetness that you desire.  Once the pie has cooled, put a layer of the sour cream mix on top of the pie.  Garnish with a fresh slice of mango and more lime zest.



Baklava crunch

This is just sooooo good!

I hate to brag, but I have to say that I make a KILLA baklava!  I mean TO DIE FOR!  Which is why I am not posting that recipe here today…I wouldn’t subject my dear and health conscience readers to that level of indulgence!  Instead, I am sharing the recipe that I use to get my baklava ‘fix’ without all of the calories and fat.  Yes, it is still a decadent dessert, but you won’t feel the need to spend the next 3 days chained to the treadmill after this one!  This recipe will make about 2 cups of the topping which should last quite a while in your fridge or freezer.  Heck, sometimes at about 3 in the afternoon you will find me indulging in a big spoonful of this nut mix served over diced mango (sans the ice cream) as my afternoon snack!  This is behavior that I would not necessarily recommend, but it is a heck of a lot smarter than a big fat cookie or the like!  Hmmmm…I wonder what this would be like with a big spoonful of omega 3 laden flax seed ground in with the nuts??  I will let you know how it works the next time I make this!


Baklava ice cream crunch

Servings:  depends on how you use it!

  • 1 c black walnuts (unsalted)
  • 1/2 c pistachios (roasted and salted)–I buy big bags of shelled pistachios at SAMS
  • 1/2 c almonds (unsalted) almonds
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • dash of allspice
  • vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • 1 ripe champagne mango

Put the nuts, brown sugar, allspice, and cinnamon in your food processor and let it spin until the nuts are finely ground.

Dice the mango.   Sprinkle about 1-2 T of the nut mix over two scoops of ice cream (or yogurt).  Top with about 1/2 of the chopped mango.  Serve with a nice digestif!

Store the remainder of the nut mix in a tightly covered bowl in the fridge or freezer for future indulgences

Coconutier Macaroons

I couldn’t sleep a few nights ago so I got up and starting browsing around for some inspirational blogs and/or food related websites.  During my groggy search I found a recipe for macaroons that perked me up.  When I finally made it back to bed, I must have dreamed about these pillows of sweetness because I got up the next day, did 90 minutes of power yoga and then made COOKIES!  These babies turned out pretty darn good and were ridiculously easy to make.  They ring in at about 100 calories per cookie, but the cool thing about this cookie is that there is no added fat.  The fat comes from the coconut alone–which makes it much easier to swallow!  So pour yourself a big glass of milk (or coconut milk) and enjoy (but try not to over-enjoy) this very sweet treat!

Fluffy pillows of coconut

Coconutier Macaroons

Servings:  12

  • 1 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • dash of ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/3 c brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whip together the egg whites, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, and brown sugar.  Add the coconut and turn until it is well covered.  Using your fingers, form tightly packed  little coconut stacks (recipe makes about 12) on your lightly greased (I use PAM) cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until they are nicely browned.  Leave the cookies alone until they completely cool otherwise they will just crumble into pieces.

Green Tea Panna Cotta

This year I was emphatic that our Valentine’s dinner would not be complete without the perfect final course!  Days before, Andy and I had decided to go with one of our favorites–a simple, but intensely flavored Thai dish as the main course.  I was left to decide on the ever-so-important final course and I couldn’t think of anything more perfectly suited to end this meal than a creamy panna cotta–which I, of course, had never made before.  But I did remember sitting at my doctor’s office years earlier (7, to be exact), nauseously browsing the pages of some cooking magazine while waiting for my impending and much anticipated diagnosis of ‘the flu’, when I found this recipe.  Maybe it was my sore throat or low-grade fever that made me rip this puppy out of the magazine just as I was being called by the enthusiastic receiving nurse–I don’t really know, but I am sure glad that I did!    Isn’t it funny how the mind works–I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but I can remember the details of finding this recipe years earlier…and so it goes.  Since then, this delicious recipe has patiently been waiting amongst many others for my culinary attention.  Valentine’s 2011 was it’s big debut and let me tell you it was nothing short of perfection.  In fact, I am confident that our Valentine’s dinner would have received top reviews even from the likes of the Andy Haylers of the world–at least that is what MY sweet Andy believes!  This dessert is simple to make, beautiful on the plate, and silky soft and sweet on the tongue!  I encourage you to give this a try on your next special evening at home with your sweetie or with friends!  Don’t be intimidated by the matcha–it is easily sourced from your local asian grocer and can be used for many different creations (green tea coconut latte sound good about now???)!

Green Tea Panna Cotta

Servings:  3

  • 1 t unflavored gelatin
  • 1 T cold water
  • 1 c + 2 T heavy cream or coconut milk (Silk)
  • 3 T vanilla sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t Matcha

Place the cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top to dissolve and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1 c heavy cream (or the coconut milk*) with the sugar on low until the sugar is dissolved–about 3 minutes.  Whisk in the gelatin mix well until smooth.  *If using more or mostly coconut milk (vs cream), you may want to add a little more gelatin to be sure the panna cotta thickens enough to remove from the ramekin for serving.  I usually end up using a minimum of 1/2 cream for the best mouth feel and texture.

In a small bowl, whisk 1 t matcha with 2 T cream (or coconut milk) until smooth.  Mix this with the remaining cream mixture and divide among three ramekins or custard cups.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until the gelatin has set.

To serve, fill a lasagna pan with very hot water.  Dip the ramekins in the water for 30 seconds to loosen the sides; invert the cup and shake gently until the custard is released onto your serving dish.  Garnish with whatever you like–small bits of dark chocolate, fresh raspberries or strawberries, toasted coconut or NOTHING!

Serve this dessert with your favorite beverage and lots of LOVE!


Dark Chocolate Soufflé

Andy’s 36th birthday was a few weeks ago.  When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he immediately answered “Chocolate Molten Lava Cake”!  Well, that answer came from out of the blue, as we had never had that kind of cake together before! So I naturally asked when he had had it last.  “I remember it from when I was a little kid.  It was very moist and had a nice creamy chocolate center, and that is what sounds really good for my birthday”.  Well, how could I argue with that and not allow him to relive this really SWEET childhood memory?!

I had never made a molten lava cake so I hit google right away to find the perfect replica.  There were plenty of well-reviewed and promising recipes available, but I put my faith in The Food Network’s Paula Deen.  Boy am I glad I did!  The dessert was ridiculously easy to make and was absolutely decadent!  Andy was more than impressed by my first molten lava cake attempt–which I am reclassifying as a chocolate soufflé because it reminded me of the soufflé we get at a local place called Clary’s.  I served it with a small scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt and a healthy drizzle of Grand Marnier on top.  Berries would have really been a nice addition–maybe next year?!  I really wish I had picture of this dessert–GORGEOUS AND DELICIOUS!  Pair this with a 20 year tawny or a muscat to finish the night with a BANG or a BUZZ!  🙂


Dark Chocolate Soufflé

5-6 Souffles

  • 6 (1 ounce) bittersweet chocolate squares
  • 2 (1 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3+ tablespoons Grand Marnier or flavored liquor

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Coat the souffle dishes with pam cooking spray.  Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double broiler or in the microwave.  While you are waiting for the butter and chocolate to melt, beat the eggs together in a separate bowl.  In another small bowl mix together the vanilla and liquor.

Once the butter/chocolate mix is melted to a smooth consistency slowly add the flour and sugar and blend smooth.  Add the eggs and stir until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla and liquor.  Divide the batter evenly among the soufflé dishes and cook for 12-13 minutes.  Serve immediately!   The batter can be stored in the refrigerator if not serving right away – let warm  to room temperature and divide batter into your souffle dishes.