The moment I discovered how to make a small batch recipe of personal layer cakes from The Pancake Princess, my life rapidly shifted and I’m convinced it will never be the same again. After my first sweet success at the concept with my lemon layer cakes, my waking hours have been filled with fantasies of all the fantastic flavor combinations I could try. Since they’re layer cakes, there’s lots of opportunity to experiment with different flavors of cake and icing. And since the recipe only makes three servings, I feel relatively safe trying anything… no one’s going to be stuck trudging through twenty servings of a gastronomical failure for three weeks. In terms of innovation, the sky’s the limit. Red velvet with banana? A possibility. Orange with mocha and caramel? Why not?
With all these crazy fantasies bouncing around my baker’s brain, it was only a matter of time before the personal layer cake made its reappearance… so when these apple cinnamon butterscotch personal layer cakes entered the True Healthy Me kitchen it was not to the surprise of the diners. But it was certainly a pleasure to have them. While the flavor combo wasn’t as far out as some others I’d dreamed up, it was still a bit unusual, while also fitting into the comfortable range of flavors people typically consume together.
In terms of health, I must be honest: these cakes don’t rank as high as some of the other baked goods I’ve made in the past. For icing I used a butterscotch pudding snack, which probably contained a lot of weird ingredients and sugar. But on the plus side, at least it was a good source of calcium! I used one whole apple in this recipe, which means each cake provides 1/3 of a generous serving of fruit – not incredible, but probably more real fruit than you’ll find in typical baked goods at a grocery store or sweets shop. The cake itself is baked with whole wheat pastry flour and sweetened with Truvia baking blend, and is low in fat as I replaced most of the fat found in a traditional cake recipe with unsweetened applesauce. So all of those thing, I suppose, balance out the colossal sugar load from the pudding. And besides…it’s apple butterscotch layer cake! You couldn’t turn it down if you wanted to!
The personal layer cake is back in town with a vengeance. All citizens are to make this recipe…or suffer the wrath of the villainous conquerer, Mr. Personal Layer Cake. So let this recipe strike again…and again, and again, and again in your kitchen. You won’t regret it!
Apple Cinnamon Butterscotch Personal Layer Cakes
based on recipe from The Pancake Princess
makes 3 personal-size layer cakes
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup Truvia brand baking blend
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
dash of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup warm water
about 2/3 of a large Granny Smith apple
1 single-serving butterscotch pudding snack
remaining 1/3 of the Granny Smith apple (see above)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a Wilton brand coil cakes mini cakes pan or other mini jellyroll pan with nonstick spray. (This recipe can also be made in a regular cake pan – see the original recipe for instructions.)
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.
Add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Slice up a large Granny Smith apple, into thin slices. Cut each slice in half horizontally.
Place about 2/3 of the apple pieces in batter. Stir.
Pour batter evenly into three cavities of Wilton coil cakes pan.
Bake at 350 for 7 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow cakes to cool, then carefully remove from pan.
When cakes have cooled completely, cut each evenly into thirds. Spread some of the pudding on each third of the cake, then stack another third on top, and so on, topping off the cake with the remainder of the pudding.
Arrange your remaining apple slices artistically atop your cakes.
Now devour! Savor the sweet revenge of the personal layer cake! Note: this revenge is best served cold.
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It’s healthy to vary one’s diet to get the full breadth of nutrients available. I don’t stick to one particular breakfast but always try to have something different each day. However, especially with the end of school and finals crashing down upon me this past week, it’s easy to get caught up in convenience food ruts, always breaking down and heating up that frozen burrito or making that instant oatmeal, just dumping in fuel so I can get out the door. But I happen to be picky about what fuel I use to run my busy day. I prefer to eat something healthy and different, even if it means a bit more preparation.
I don’t believe in the common excuse “but I don’t have time to make a healthy breakfast or to cook myself.” That’s why I made time last weekend to go shopping for ingredients. I tried to buy the most eclectic stuff I could find in the produce section of my local market, accumulating a diverse combination in my grocery basket that made my mom’s eyebrows do a little wiggly dance on her forehead. I informed her, “today I’m making a recipe. Tomorrow I’m going to have a DIFFERENT breakfast.” She smiled as I added the disclaimer, “I don’t know if it will be a good breakfast or not. But at least it will be different.” That evening, I made most of the recipe ahead of time, assembling the raw veggies and the hot food in separate containers to prevent the spinach from wilting. I popped them both in the fridge, and on Monday morning all I had to do was mix it all together in a bowl and devour.
Luckily for me, the breakfast was not only different, it was also great tasting. Here’s what I put in: a plantain banana, a good source of vitamin A and C, fiber, and protein, cooked in honey and spices; a tad of caramelized onion (mostly just for flavor); one Lightlife brand veggie protein link (basically a fake-meat sausage/hot dog for vegetarians) that contributed protein for not many calories but could have been more flavorful; all served on a bed of the superfood spinach; tossed with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese for calcium and protein, and a sprinkling of cranberries. The result: a healthy and yummy make-ahead breakfast salad that pleases the palate and provides essential nutrients. You do have time to make a healthy breakfast. With a little planning over the weekend or in a free evening, this nourishing meal can easily be thrown together the night before you intend to enjoy it. So go ahead and take up the challenge! Step outside your comfort zone. Try a different breakfast. Make this Plantain & Protein Breakfast Salad.
Plantain & Protein Breakfast Salad
- 1/4-1/3 of a small white onion
- 1 tsp Earth Balance Whipped or Original Buttery Spread
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 medium plantain banana
- 1 tsp organic honey
- dash of cinnamon
- dash of nutmeg
- dash of sage
- 1 Lightlife brand Smart Dogs Jumbo Veggie Protein link (or other veggie hot dog of your choice)
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 5 cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup Lucerne brand reduced fat crumbled feta cheese
- 1-2 tbs dried cranberries
Directions: To make caramelized onions: First, prepare the onion by chopping off both ends, peeling off the skin, washing the onion, then cutting off the amount you want to use.Cut this into several rough strips.
Toss the onion strips with the salt and brown sugar.
Place Earth Balance in pan. Heat to medium until Earth Balance is melted.
Place onion pieces in pan. Cook over medium heat until they are very soft and brown.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Now, make the honey-spiced plantains: Peel plantain banana. Cut into circular slices, then cut each slice in half to speed up cooking.
Mix together plantain slices, honey and spices.
Spray pan with nonstick spray. Place plantain pieces in pan. Cook over medium heat until they begin to soften. Remove from heat and toss with the caramelized onions.
Cook the veggie dog according to directions on package. Cut into round slices.
If you aren’t eating this right away, Store the onion, plantain, and veggie dog pieces in one airtight container. In a separate container, assemble the cold veggies: combine spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, and cranberries.
Store both containers in the refrigerator.
The following morning, heat hot food in microwave. Then place all ingredients into desired serving bowl and toss. Enjoy!
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I’ve always found the ancient Mayans fascinating, if frightening. For one thing, they loved to sacrifice people to the sun god. It’s Saturday? Make a sacrifice to the sun god. It’s cold and rainy? Appease the sun god with a human sacrifice. It’s too hot? Keep the sun god so busy with all our human sacrifices, he has no energy to keep beating down on us.
This picture was in my textbook in the seventh grade, and may just have scarred me for life:
The Mayans also had this awesome calendar. You know, that famous one that supposedly “predicted” that the world would end in the year 2012? There was a movie written about it? Said calendar looked something like this:
Actually, whoever started that whole “world ending” rumor should have done their research first – turns out the ancient Mayans just ran out of space on their calendar for any years after 2012. Maybe they figured by that time there wouldn’t be anyone left to look at the calendar anyway, since they were being killed off at such an alarming rate to be sacrificed to the sun god.
The final gory yet fascinating detail about the ancient Mayans that has always intruiged me is that they held chocolate sacred. They developed a chocolate cinnamon drink, the precursor to modern hot chocolate, made from cacao beans laboriously ground into a paste with chili peppers and other ingredients added. Only the king was permitted the luxury of tasting this drink. Anyone else who tried to snag a sip was executed.
Luckily for us today, we live in a less bloody time, where people from all walks of life can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in relative safety. But I’m not going to give you a recipe for hot chocolate today. Oh, no, I’ve got something way better and more substantial up my sleeve…
Mayan brownies! Sweetened with low-GI agave and intense muscovado, spritzed with cinnamon and infused with hot spice, these brownies are authentically Mayan-flavored. And what’s more, they’re flourless and can easily be made gluten-free! A 12th of the recipe serving is about 140 calories, quite low as brownies go. So this is a treat you can truly feel good about eating.
They are black bean brownies (yes, I know, I’m SO late to the internet-black-bean-brownie party!!!), but if you don’t tell anyone the secret ingredient, they’ll never guess. My mom hates beans. I didn’t tell her there were any in these brownies. She tried and loved them, and thought they had orange flavor in them, which was a little strange. But what really matters is that she didn’t detect the beans!
Make these brownies to share with family and friends. (If you can bear not to hog them all to yourself, that is!) Serve hot, preferably with vanilla fro-yo, or cold from the fridge. Either way you choose to serve them, they’re sure to be a winner.
If you have any leftovers at the end, you may sacrifice them to the sun god.
Image credits: (in chronological order) (all brownie pictures are my own): http://enkispeaks.com/2013/07/12/sitchin-thoth-brought-civilization-to-the-maya-in-yucatan/
Info source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_chocolate