My Cousin Vinny (Caramel Popcorn Affogato)

My Cousin Vinny (Caramel Popcorn Affogato)

You may be wondering why this recipe is called ‘My Cousin Vinny’.  It’s because it’s a loveable Italian hot mess, that’s why.

This recipe is a concoction I came up with that’s a hybrid of two amazing desserts.  Last year, I had Thanksgiving dinner at Vancouver’s Four Seasons hotel where for dessert, I experienced Nutella ice cream with salted caramel popcorn.   I remember seeing that on the menu and thinking ‘this is going to be insanely wonderful’ and man, was I right.

Affogato lined up

The crunchy salted popcorn in nutty ice cream was such a bizarrely brilliant combination that was a delight and surprise that I’ll always remember.  Such a perfect blend of cold, sweet, salty goodness that’s perfect for recreating at home.

Affogato ready to serve

‘Affogato’ is an Italian dessert that combines gelato or ice cream and a shot of espresso.  I love serving affogatos with some crumbled cookies on top as a quick yet decadent dessert when entertaining, especially during weeknights when I really want something assembled and quick yet ‘homemade’ and satisfying.

Caramel SauceIce cream with popcorn

I served this dessert last week after whipping up a rustic Italian-inspired dinner that started with an antipasta platter, followed by pasta ala Norma (fried eggplant and pasta in tomato sauce), crispy chicken thighs, and arugula salad.  I kept the decor pretty casual to go along with this theme and it was a relaxed and fun evening that was both a joy to cook and to eat.  And everyone’s favourite part was ‘My Cousin Vinny’ for dessert (a very close second was that crispy chicken… recipe to come).

 AppetizersRustic Italian dinner

 

 Affogato in spoon

'My Cousin Vinny' (Caramel Popcorn Affogato)

You may be wondering why this recipe is called ‘My Cousin Vinny’. It’s because it’s a loveable Italian hot mess, that’s why. This recipe is a concoction I came up with that’s a hybrid of two amazing desserts. Last year, I had Thanksgiving dinner at Vancouver’s Four Seasons hotel where for dessert, I experienced Nutella ice cream with salted caramel popcorn.
Course: Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: chocolate, corn, fast, gluten-free, kid-friendly, nut-free
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • Gluten-free vanilla ice cream (see here for brands)
  • Gluten-free caramel sauce (store bought brands like this or this or homemade)
  • Gluten-free chocolate covered popcorn (from Popcorn Indiana)
  • Espresso (Americano or coffee (homemade, store bought, or instant all work fine))

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Scoop ice cream into individual serving dishes or bowls. Pour caramel sauce onto ice cream. Add scoop of popcorn on top of ice cream. Pour hot espresso along edge of dish around ice cream and serve immediately. For kid-friendly version, try decaffinated coffee or hot chocolate.
3 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse (Dairy & Egg Free)

3 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse (Dairy & Egg Free)

Do you prefer going out to eat or staying in?  I love both.  Sure it’s nice to be waited on, and no clean up is always a good thing, but sometimes you just want something exactly the way you want it.  And eating at home can definitely allow for that.  You can make your favourite things, just the way you want, without worrying about what hidden allergens may sneak in.

One area that restaurants often trump home cooking is in the dessert department.  Sometimes you just need an indulgent splurge, something sweet, decadent, and sinfully good at the end of your meal.  For anyone who’s ever tried, finding a dairy/egg/gluten-free dessert (besides fruit) is tough, especially in restaurants.  The other night, after we opted to stay in for dinner, I whipped up this decadent chocolate mousse and it was totally the best part of our meal.

chocolate mousse in glass dish

I came across this recipe on Pinterest called ‘3 ingredient chocolate mousse in 5 minutes’ and felt that it might be the right combination for me to tinker with, to create something dairy/egg/gluten-free yet still delicious.  (PS follow me on Pinterest here – I am seriously addicted).

I’ve made traditional chocolate mousse many times before and have always found the step of whipping the egg whites to be so fussy.  My version here is a combo of chocolate chips, coconut milk, and soy milk and was ready in about 8 minutes.  Not bad right?   The end result is a mousse with a texture that’s rich and creamy.  While this version isn’t as airy and fluffy as a traditional mousse, it’s just as indulgent and satisfying.  The canned coconut milk creates a rich creaminess and the soy milk helps lighten up the texture. 

This recipe involves two steps: 1) melt chocolate, 2) mix in coconut and soy milk with a hand mixer. You can make just before serving or make ahead and chill in the fridge. A little shredded coconut on top makes for a pretty garnish, but is totally optional.  If you’re a hardcore coconut lover, mix in some shredded coconut right into the mousse.

This was so delicious that I will be making it over and over again forever and ever.  We served this to a couple of friends the other night and lets just say that one of our guests licked the bowl clean. Literally.  What a sweet compliment.

chocolate mousse on spoon

3 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse (Dairy-Free)

My version here is a combo of chocolate chips, coconut milk, and soy milk and was ready in about 8 minutes. Not bad right? The end result is a mousse with a texture that's rich and creamy. While this version isn't as airy and fluffy as a traditional mousse, it's just as indulgent and satisfying.
Course: Dessert
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: chocolate, coconut, corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, fast, gluten-free, kid-friendly, yeast-free
Servings: 4
Author: ness

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • Hand mixer

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 10 oz bag of dairy-free mini chocolate chips from Enjoy Life
  • 1/2 cup canned chilled overnight full-fat coconut milk (solid part only (*see recipe note))
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk or other dairy-free milk
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place chocolate chips in a large heat-proof bowl over a pot with 1" of simmering water, so that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and place bowl directly over a large bowl of ice. Add coconut milk and soy milk to chocolate. Using an electric hand mixer, beat ingrendients until blended together and mixture becomes light and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in grated coconut if using. Serve immediately or chill to serve later.
It's important to chill the coconut milk overnight in order to get the solid part to fully separate from the coconut milk. Adapted from Drizzle and Dip
Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Do you smile and get giddy like a 2-year old when you see a cupcake that is disguised as an ice cream cone?  If you don’t, you may want to check for a pulse, because I probably could have named this post ‘happiness in a cone’.  I first made ice cream cone cupcakes back when I was a teen summer camp counsellor looking after pre-school aged kids.  The utter joy the campers got from helping to create these and gobbling them up was priceless.  As wise and mature teenaged counsellors, we made sure to serve these to the kidlets right before we sent them home with mom and dad so we got to experience the joy, and parents got to deal with the resulting sugar high afterwards *insert evil laughter*.

cupcake cut in half

What’s in it? This simple recipe involves gluten-free cake mix from Pamela’s Products, egg-replacer from Ener-G, homemade frosting, and gluten-free cones from Let’s Do.  These cones look just like it’s gluten-filled original except the texture is slightly little less crunchy but still delicious.  These cupcakes would be perfect for a birthday party for kids of any age – I actually made these for my own birthday which happens to be next week.  You can do just about any combination you would do for a normal cupcake – the options are endless.  This version happens to be gluten/nut/egg/dairy-free – so almost allergen-free but still super yummy.  A rare combo indeed.

ice cream cone box
cake mix egg replacer

Specialty Bakeware Not Required: Now I’m not normally one to acquire too much specialty bakeware, as living in a condo means very limited storage, but I couldn’t resist this ice cream cone baker that was on sale.  You don’t need it to make this, you just need some tin foil and a muffin pan – there’s a great tutorial here.

cake batter in cones

cupcakes baked in rack

Test one first…  I recommend doing one test cupcake before doing the entire batch.  The cone only needs to be about 2/3 full with cake batter (using a small ice cream scoop or one tablespoon at a time), however, different cake recipes rise differently.  Once you’ve tested one cone, you can fill the rest of the cones with the right amount of batter.  Too much batter will result in overflow, look messy, and messy up your oven too.  Once these cuties are baked, poke a small hole in the bottom of each cone with a fork to allow the steam to come out so the cones don’t get soggy. 

coconut oil
icing in pot

MMmmm Fudgy Frosting… Most people will agree that the best part of a cupcake is the frosting.  This fudgy frosting is dairy-free thanks to chocolate chips from Enjoy Life and coconut oil. This recipe is adapted from Elena’s Pantry – a great gluten-free resource.  The instant espresso powder gives the frosting a more deeply chocolate-y tasting.  The heart-healthy coconut oil allows me to enjoy my birthday cupcakes guilt-free, especially since birthday calories don’t count, right?  I chose an unscented coconut oil so the chocolate flavor wouldn’t compete with coconut, but if you wanted a choco-coconut frosting, scented coconut oil would be perfect.

For garnish, I recommend some white chocolate shavings (contains dairy) or shredded coconut to pretty these up even more.  I considered putting some sprinkles but all the ones I found had wax or shellac as an ingredient so I passed.

I plan to make these cupcake ice cream cones every year for my birthday from now until infinity, so that I always feel like a kid no matter how much older I get.  I hope you enjoy these for your next celebration.

cupcakes iced in rack

 

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

This simple recipe involves gluten-free cake mix from Pamela's Products, egg-replacer from Ener-G, homemade frosting, and gluten-free cones from Let's Do.  These cones look just like it's gluten-filled original except the texture is slightly little less crunchy but still delicious.  These cupcakes would be perfect for a birthday party for kids of any age.
Course: Dessert
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: cake, chocolate, coconut, cupcakes, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, kid-friendly, nut-free, Pamela GF Mix
Servings: 12 ice cream cone cupcakes & 6 extra regular cupcakes
Author: ness

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • Muffin pan and foil, or ice cream cone baker from Niftys

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 flat bottomed gluten-free ice cream cones (1 package from Let's Do)
  • 1 package Pamela’s Chocolate Cake Mix (gluten-free)
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup egg replacer (Ener-G brand or 2 large eggs)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (dairy-free from Enjoy Life)

Dairy-Free Vegan Chocolate Icing (for 12 cupcakes)

  • 1 cup chocolate chips (dairy-free from Enjoy Life)
  • 1/3 cup unscented coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon soy milk

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover muffin pan with foil. Poke a hole over holes where cupcake would go and place ice cream cone in. In a large bowl, add cake mix, oil, egg replacer or eggs, water and chocolate chips. Mix all ingredients with a spatula until just combined. Do not over mix. Using a small ice cream scoop, fill ice cream cones until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes on center rack or when toothpick comes out with slight crumbs. (Place a clean cookie sheet on bottom rack in case of spills.) Place on baking rack to cool. Poke a small hole in the bottom of each cone with a fork to release steam.
  • For remaining batter, fill paper lined muffin tin until 2/3 full. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. Place on baking rack to cool. Reserve or freeze for future use.
  • Prepare frosting. In a small saucepan on very low heat, melt chocolate and coconut oil. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in espresso powder (if using), vanilla and soy milk. Stir and place in fridge for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and beat with hand mixer until light and fluffy. Ice cooled cupcakes and garnish as desired.
A note about substitutions: I know many of my readers do not necessarily have gluten allergies or have varied food sensitivities. This post can be used as a guideline to inspire you to create ice cream cone cupcakes with your favourite options. My version is the most stripped down version and serves as a jumping off point for your own creations. I love hearing from you so if you end up tinkering with the recipe, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Happy baking!
Adapted from Pamela's Products and Elena's Pantry.
Links:
Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows

Happy Halloween!  Here are some spooky sweet treats to take to your Halloween party – these tasty tombstone marshmallows are heading to the office tomorrow.  I made double whats in the picture in about 30 minutes and could probably have made a zillion more if I had to feed a crowd.  They’re so simple and fun to make, require minimal ingredients, and because they are foods on sticks, are perfect for entertaining.  Bonus: the messier the chocolate, the better they look.  And you can dip into anything you like – I opted for Skor bits and toasted coconut.  Trick or treat indeed.

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows

Here are some spooky sweet treats to take to your Halloween party - these tasty tombstone marshmallows are heading to the office tomorrow. I made double whats in the picture in about 30 minutes and could probably have made a zillion more if I had to feed a crowd. They're so simple and fun to make, require minimal ingredients, and because they are foods on sticks, are perfect for entertaining.
Course: Dessert
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: chocolate, coconut, dairy-free, gluten-free, kid-friendly, nut-free, soy-free
Servings: 30
Author: ness

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

  • 30 candy sticks or skewers, tray lined with parchment paper

INGREDIENTS

  • 60 Large marshmallows (about 1 and 1/2 bags)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used gluten-free/dairy free ones by Enjoy Life)
  • 1/2 cup total of toppings of choice (I used 1/4 cup Skor bits, 1/4 cup toasted coconut)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Skewer 2 marshmallows on a stick. Repeat until all marshmallows are skewered.
  • In a small bowl heat up half the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Heat for another 30 seconds until melted, stirring in between (about 2 minutes total).
  • Dip skewer in chocolate, wipe away excess with a spoon. Dip spoon in melted chocolate and drizzle over marshmallows. Dip in toppings and place on parchment lined tray. Add remaining chocolate chips to bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Repeat dipping process. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate is set.
Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini Muffins

Do you ever stand in line at a coffee shop and get tempted by the bountiful displays of baked goods only to end up leaving with some crazy awesome donut/danish/cookie/muffin you didn’t plan on getting?  I guess one of the blessings/curses of being gluten-free is that I can’t ever succumb to my desire for those delish gluten-filled goodies.  So to compensate, I try to satisfy my cravings by baking.

Now I fully admit that gluten-free baking can be a challenge, however, when I come across an easy and fool-proof version, I have to share. This muffin is adapted from Erin McKenna’s Babycakes cookbook and it was moist, delicious, chocolate-y and gluten/guilt-free.  So good, that it makes me forget all about those high-priced gluten-filled sugary sweets in the coffee shops.  Great for my wallet and my body.

Just remember everything in moderation – too many muffins will lead to ‘Muffin Top” which “is a… slang term used to describe the phenomenon of overhanging fat when it spills over the waistline of pants or skirts in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing.’  Thanks to Wikipedia for that informative and graphic definition.

zucchini muffin close up

 

Zucchini Muffins

Now I fully admit that gluten-free baking can be a challenge, however, when I come across an easy and fool-proof version, I have to share. This muffin is adapted from Erin McKenna's Babycakes cookbook and it was moist, delicious, chocolate-y and gluten/guilt-free. So good, that it makes me forget all about those high-priced gluten-filled sugary sweets in the coffee shops. Great for my wallet and my body.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Bob's Red Mill, cake, chocolate, corn-free, cupcakes, dairy-free, gluten-free, muffin, nut-free, soy-free, yeast-free
Servings: 12
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill all purpose gluten free flour
  • ½ cup flax meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ¾ cup agave nectar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened soy milk (or non-dairy milk alternative)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup mini gluten-free vegan chocolate chips (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and cinnamon. Add oil, agave, soy milk, and vanilla to dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Using a plastic spatula, gently fold in zucchini and chocolate chips (if using) just until evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Do not over mix.
  • Pour half cup of batter into each prepared liner, almost filling it. Bake the muffins on the centre rack for 25 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 15 minutes. To check doneness, a wooden toothpick will come out clean after being inserted into the centre of a muffin.
  • Let the muffins stand in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store muffins in airtight container in the fridge or freeze.
Adapted from Babycakes by Erin McKenna

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