Fig and Date Coffee Cake

It’s no secret that I like cooking with beer but I also like baking with beer. And experimenting with different ways to use beer in the kitchen.

One of my most recent experiments resulted in what is now my favorite coffee cake of all time. This coffee cake uses dried figs, dates, and nuts as part of the crumble topping.

This helps keep the cake moist while baking and gives a slight nod toward the fig newtons of my childhood.  I wasn’t a huge fan of fig newtons as a kid but when I got older I enjoyed them a great deal.

Having found dried figs at the store, I knew that I wanted to use them in something.  With seasonal beers out right now, the idea of making a coffee cake with one seemed like a natural fit.

I’ve made this cake several times since the first experiment and it always makes me squee with happiness when I get a chance to nibble on it.

Andrea’s Fig and Date Coffee Cake

For the Batter:

  • 1 1/4C Dark Winter Ale
  • 1C Oats
  • 2C White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 1TBSP Maple Syrup

For the Topping:

  • 8 Dried and Pitted Dates
  • 1C Dried Figs, stems removed
  • 1C Pecans, Heaping
  • 2TBSP Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2tsp Cinnamon

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add in dates and figs and cover with very hot water.  Allow to steep for at least half an hour.  Drain water from dates and figs.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a square baking dish with nonstick spray or olive oil.  About a 9×8 dish is what I used.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients for the topping.  Pulse until everything is broken up and a crumble forms.  It will be sticky and will stick together.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients for the batter and whisk.  In a medium sized mixing bowl combine wet ingredients, beer, maple syrup, and vanilla and whisk.  Slowly add the liquid mix to the dry mix.  Gently stir until everything is combined.  Pour mixture into baking dish.  Top batter with fig and date crumble.  You’ll have to use your hands to crumble it and spread it around.  The crumble mixture should cover the entire top of the batter.

Bake in oven for about 10 minutes.  A toothpick inserted will come out clean.  Don’t over bake as that will result in a dry coffee cake.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Slice and serve!

I used Rivertown’s Winter Ale for this coffee cake.  It’s brewed with molasses and cinnamon.  The cinnamon is very prominent in this beer and I knew that it would work well in the coffee cake.  It’s also a dark colored beer which provides a nice caramel color to the coffee cake.

We had this coffee cake over the Thanksgiving holiday and I’m already dreaming about when I can have it again! That’s how much I love it!

The fig and date topping help keep the cake moist while also making it a very filling cake.  This isn’t your grandma’s coffee cake.  This baby is hearty!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

Frozen Pumpkin Dessert

We eat a lot of bananas in this house.  So much, that I’m pretty much convinced the grocery store checkout clerks find us a bit bizarre as we pile up at least 5 bunches of bananas.

They get used in oatmeal and frozen ones get used in smoothies.  Rocky also gets a frozen one every night in his kong for his bedtime snack.  We eat them a lot!  So it’s a good thing we love bananas.

When I came across Gena’s tip for using frozen bananas to make a soft serve style dessert I was intrigued and knew immediately that we would love it.  We’ve had frozen banana dessert a bunch of times now, our favorite way using chocolate soymilk and peanut butter.

I know, it’s pretty much heaven.

Being that it’s fall, it was only a matter of time before I tried my hand at using pumpkin in this dessert.

I used to be in love with pumpkin ice cream.  It was my very favorite flavor!  Then I started becoming more aware of ingredients and what exactly I was putting into my body.  Sadly the majority of pumpkin ice cream out there (Jeni’s excluded obviously) has a ton of crap in it.  I stopped buying it and became a very sad Andrea.

Until now.

Andrea’s Frozen Pumpkin Dessert

  • 4  Frozen bananas
  • 1/2C Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2C-1C Vanilla Soymilk (or nondairy milk of choice, or milk)
  • 1/4tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp Ground Clove
  • Pinch brown sugar (really small pinch)

Break frozen bananas up into chunks or at least cut them in half.  In a food processor or heavy duty blender if you have it, add all ingredients. Start with 1/2 cup of the soymilk.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  You might want to start the process with a few pulses first and then let it go for a bit.  If it starts getting too thick on you and won’t blend, add in some more of the soymilk.  Slowly until it starts moving again and blending.

Dish up into ice cream bowls and serve immediately!

You can see that this makes two HUGE bowls of “ice cream”.  It tastes exactly like pumpkin ice cream.  It is made with bananas, so the banana flavor is there but with the pumpkin and spices, you hardly notice it.  It tastes like fancy pumpkin soft serve.

I ate everything in my bowl and then licked it clean.

Be careful with the amount of cinnamon you add.  Cinnamon in large quantities can come across spicy with heat to it.  You don’t want this in pumpkin ice cream.

Now go make yourself a bowl!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Chocolate Quinoa Bread

It’s the end of the month which means we are wrapping up Quinoa Month!  What better way to end the month than with some chocolate!

I originally set out to make brownies but this experiment turned out a lot more quick bread-like and not so brownie-like.  However it’s still super tasty and full of chocolate goodness!

Andrea’s Chocolate Quinoa Bread

  • 1C Whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2C Unbleached All-Purpose flour
  • 1 1/2C Cooked quinoa
  • 1/4C Cane sugar
  • 1/4C Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2tsp Baking powder
  • 1tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1TBSP Ground flax
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2C Crushed walnuts
  • 1/2C Dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4C Soymilk
  • 1/2C Coffee
  • 2tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a brownie pan or 8inch square casserole dish with nonstick spray, set aside.   In a medium size mixing bowl combine the soymilk, vanilla, and coffee.  In a large mixing bowl combine all other ingredients except the walnuts and chocolate chips.  Whisk to get all ingredients combined and fluffed.  Add in the nuts and chocolate chips, then add in the soymilk mixture.  Gently stir until everything is combined and then add the mixture to the baking dish.  The batter is a bit thick so make sure that you even it out with a spoon once it’s in the baking dish.  Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I would try but words really can’t describe the chocolate gloriousness of this cake.  It’s rich and decadent but not so heavy that you feel weighted down by dessert.  It’s full of whole grains, quinoa, and nuts making it packed with protein and lots of good stuff for you body.  Along with the antioxidants of the dark chocolate of course!

Even though this did not turn out like brownies, it still turned out and I’m really happy with that!  Sometimes I think a lot of us might be afraid to experiment in the kitchen because we are afraid of failing.  But sometimes those failures will turn into surprises successes!  You just never know until you try.

Have fun guys and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!