Coco crazy chocolate cake with salted espresso caramel

Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen :: Coco crazy chocolate cake with salted espresso caramel

Let me just start by saying – this is not your ordinary cake. It is completely free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar. It is filled with healthy fats, fibres and minerals from coconut, cacao and dates. Plus – it is super simple to throw together. Can you believe that?

One of my friends asked me (with a smile of course, but did I sense a little fear too?) when posting this cake on Instagram the other day: – What? Can’t we even be allowed to have cake made with loads of sugar and butter anymore?

I think there is nothing wrong with sugar and butter (in fact I especially love butter, and use it often) as long as we keep it for treats once or twice a week. But if a cake can be made a little healthier – and equally good, or even better than the less healthy counterpart – why not go for the healthier alternative?

Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen :: Coco crazy chocolate cake with salted espresso caramel

This cake have everything you can ask of a cake. First of all – my two favorite things combined, chocolate and coffee – woo hoo! And with no grains or added sugar, this is a great one to share with family and friends to help convince them healthier food is the future.

When I saw this cake on Nordmat a while back, I instantly bookmarked it. It was one of those recipes I just knew I had to try. I’ve baked it a few times now, and only made some minor changes to the original recipe. For the cake base I’ve tried both maple syrup and coconut sugar and both work very well. If using maple syrup your cake will become a little sweeter and a tad more moist than with coconut sugar. Either way, this is a very rich and moist cake without that overly sweet aftertaste.

Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen :: Coco crazy chocolate cake with salted espresso caramel

I prefer using a neutral coconut oil, so that the coconut flavor doesn’t take over. But that is up to you and your taste buds of course! And if you don’t have an espresso machine, just use a strong solution of instant coffee or regular (strong!) coffee. I also like to add a tablespoon of instant coffee powder to the caramel to get that full-bodied coffee flavour.

Now go ahead and try this cake for your next gathering or birthday! Or make half a batch, bake in silicone muffin molds (200° C for about 12-15 minutes), top the muffins with the caramel+berries and enjoy on an ordinary Monday evening!

Coco crazy chocolate cake with salted espresso caramel
Adapted from Nordmat, original recipe by Megan Guertner/Pur Oslo

serves 8-10

3/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar or maple syrup
3/4 cup (raw) cacao powder
1 tsp sea salt
1,5 tsp baking powder (aluminium free)

4 shots espresso, cooled (about 3/4 cup)
6 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
3/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (preferably neutral)
3/4 cup coconut milk

Salted espresso caramel
1 cup dates (medjool or regular), soaked for 3-5 hours and drained
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (again neutral)
1 tsp powdered vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp instant coffee (the powder), optional
2 shots espresso, cooled (about 1/3 cup)

1) Preheat the oven to 200° C (400° F). Line the bottom of three round springforms (approx. 15 cm/6 inches) with parchment paper and lightly oil the sides with coconut oil.
2) In a medium sized bowl mix all the dry ingredients for the cake. Add the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
3) Divide the mixture equally in the three springforms and bake for about 18-20 minutes on the middle rack, or until a until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
4) Place all ingredients for the caramel in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and shiny.
5) Assemble the cake with the caramel between the three layers and decorate with seasonal berries or fruit.

Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen :: Coco crazy chocolate cake with salted espresso caramel

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Roasted red pepper soup for warm summer days

Dagmar's Kitchen/Sonja Dahlgren :: Roasted red pepper soup for warm summer days

I know it’s been a while, and I wasn’t planning on posting anything here until next week when I start working again after a long (and well needed!) vacation. But since I posted this soup on Instagram the other day I have had so many DM:s and emails asking for the recipe so I thought I’d just pop by to say hello and post it here.

Dagmar's Kitchen/Sonja Dahlgren :: Roasted red pepper soup for warm summer days

I make mine as simple as possible. With few ingredients and very few steps. The only effort you have to make really is to roast the peppers (and roasting is the magic that lends all the great flavor to this soup), blend all ingredients well and chill!

Just the kind of food I love on a warm summer day. And whenever I have a batch in the fridge, I even drink it as a post workout smoothie. Do I have to mention it is healthy too? Enjoy!

Roasted red pepper soup

serves 4-6

5-6 large to medium red peppers
1 cup strained tomatoes
3/4 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes (or fresh red chili)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds, herbs and olive oil to serve

1) Preheat the oven to 240° C (460° F) using the grill function. Rinse, wipe and cut your peppers into quarters (seeds removed). Arrange the peppers skin up, in a single layer on parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet and roast on the upper rack until blackened. This takes about 5-7 minutes – watch carefully!
2) Once the peppers are deeply blackened, remove them from the oven and use kitchen tongs to transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with a plate (or similar). Let the peppers steam for at least 10 minutes. Remove the cover and let them cool. Use your fingers to peel off the charred top layer of skin and discard.
3) Place the peeled peppers and all other ingredients in a blender and whizz until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add more chili if you like it peppery!
4) Transfer to a large bottle or jug and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
5) Serve with toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds or hemp seeds and fresh herbs. Dill and chives work very well and basil is great too. A drizzle of olive oil won’t hurt either.

Dagmar's Kitchen/Sonja Dahlgren :: Roasted red pepper soup for warm summer days

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A simple stone fruit caprese

A simple stone fruit caprese :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

I’ve felt a lack of words lately. And combined with lack of time, it as led to very little posting here on the blog over the past months. I also feel that with Instagram taking over the casual, simple, everyday posting that I used to do more of, I really miss spending time here on the blog.

That said, I have been using my iPhone camera more and more. It is light and always in my handbag or pocket. And Instagram has definitely become my most active social media lately, snapping photos of this and that from my work and everyday life. Using my iPhone.

But I miss posting “real” photos. Also, I never think of sharing recipes like these here on the blog because they are so simple. But simple is good.

So today I thought I’d just share this very simple and fast, but oh-so-delicious recipe with you.

Summer plated.

And we need that here in Sweden (at least on the west coast) since we’ve experienced the coldest, windiest month of May we can remember. But we keep on hoping for warmer weather to come. And while waiting – and with the stone fruit from Mediterranean countries making an appearance at the market – it’s a good idea to brighten up your day with this salad.

A simple stone fruit caprese

serves 2

2 peaches, nectarines or apricots
handful of cherries
1 mozzarella cheese, about 100 g (or use Burrata if you’re lucky enough to find that)
handful of basil leaves, torn
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
fleur de sel + black pepper

1) Halve and pit the stone fruits of your choice and cut the larger ones into wedges. Tear the mozzarella roughly into pieces.
2) Get a bowl or a platter and layer stone fruit and mozzarella with torn basil leaves, sprinkling with balsamic and olive oil as you go. Finish with a pinch of fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Stone fruits :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

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Sunchoke soup with toasted walnuts, parsley oil and sunflower sprouts + a short summary on my recent workshop

Sunchoke soup with toasted walnuts, parsley oil and sunflower sprouts :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Last Friday I had the honor to meet six new students at another food styling and photography workshop here in Dagmar’s Kitchen. And as always on these workshops, it is so inspiring to meet other food photography nuts and just sit down and chat about those things that “normal” people just don’t get.

And we chatted almost too much before we got to work on the sunchoke soup and the rhubarb crumble that came to be the center of everyone’s attention for the next three hours or so.

A food styling and photography workshop in Dagmar's Kitchen :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's KitchenA food styling and photography workshop in Dagmar's Kitchen :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's KitchenA food styling and photography workshop in Dagmar's Kitchen :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

In case you don’t know I work from my home here in Gothenburg, and that is also where I host my workshops (most times). Working from home (or in a “non-studio” environment) is also what I base my teaching on; how to make simple setups in the home and how to make most use of the available light.

A food styling and photography workshop in Dagmar's Kitchen :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Juliana working by my favorite north facing window

A food styling and photography workshop in Dagmar's Kitchen :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

A simple setup with a board on two stools by a window

A food styling and photography workshop in Dagmar's Kitchen :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Food and prop styling by Maria and Annica

Rhubarb crumble with custard :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

When the time had come for dessert we discussed simplicity (as in “less is more”) and how to style the same food in different ways

Rhubarb crumble :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Thank you so much Juliana, Jenny, Maria, Anders, Louise and Annica for coming and for making the day so memorable for me and for your fellow workshoppers.

And if you read this and are interested in participating next time (most likely in September/October) just send me an e-mail and I’ll put you on the list to get a notification once the announcement is out here on the blog.

I’ll leave you with the recipe for the sunchoke (jerusalem artichoke) soup we played with on the workshop and wishing you all a lovely weekend! Be back soon.

Sunchoke soup with toasted walnuts, parsley oil and sunflower sprouts

serves 4-6

1 pound (about 500 g) sun chokes
1 onion
1 small leek
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups (about 500 ml) vegetable stock
6 tbsp white wine
6 tbsp full fat cream or coconut cream
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt & black pepper to taste

toasted walnuts, parsley oil and sunflower sprouts to garnish

1) Peel the sun chokes and cut them into smaller chunks. To prevent from darkening drop the pieces into lemon- or vinegar water while peeling the remaining sun chokes. Peel and chop the onion, leek and garlic clove finely.
2) In a medium pot, melt the butter/olive oil over medium heat. Add the sun chokes, onion, leek and garlic. Cook on medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes until slightly softened (do not brown). Add the vegetable stock and wine. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.
3) Add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and puree the soup in a blender.

Serve the sunchoke soup with the toasted walnuts, parsley oil and sunflower sprouts.

Toasted walnuts
1 cup raw walnuts

1) Preheat the oven to 150° C (300° F). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper , add walnuts and spread them out in a single layer. Place on the middle rack of oven and toast for 6-10 mintes (for walnut halves – a little less if using walnut pieces). Once crisp and fragrant they are ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Parsley oil
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt

1) Blend all ingredients with a hand blender until smooth. Store in the fridge until using – remove from the fridge 30-60 minutes before using to make sure the oil softens again.

Sunchoke soup with toasted walnuts, parsley oil and sunflower sprouts :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

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My brown snack staples

Slow roasted apple and rosehip granola :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Slow roasted granola – always in my pantry to go along with seasonal berries or fruit

Sorry again for the long blog absence. Life and work are keeping me busy and even if I love so much to post here I just haven’t gotten to it lately. Today I thought I’d share with you something that’s really close to my heart and something that I eat several times a day.

Snacks. Healthy, nutritious and delicious snacks.

Snacks that keep you going for hours, and that can be prepared in very little time to make sure your pantry is always stocked with a healthy nibble or small healthy meal.

A peek into my pantry :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

A peek into my pantry – gluten free seed crackers, granola and salt toasted almonds on the lower shelf

You see, I’m a true believer of having a well stocked pantry and fridge in order to eat better and more healthily. Because we tend to eat what we happen to have at hand. Are you with me?

And, with my brown snack staples you always have a grab-and-go breakfast or a healthy snack option on hand. Yes, they may all be brown and a bit dull looking on their own – but oh so good! And combined with juicy, colorful berries or fruits, seeds and honey they are quickly transformed into mouth-watering nibbles.

Apart from my brown snack staples I always keep my pantry and fridge stocked with the following for fast and delicious snacks:

• Skyr yoghurt or Turkish/Greek yoghurt
• Organic raw honey
• Fresh seasonal berries (or frozen)
• Seasonal fruit
• Avocados and bananas
• Hemp seeds (raw)
• Toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds
• Cacao nibs
• Boiled eggs
• Hoummus (delicious as a spread on seed crackers)
• Protein powder (usually hemp, rice or pea) for smoothies

I’m pretty sure you have a favorite snack too? Tell us about it in the comments!

But let’s get to the recipes shall we?

Enjoy and happy snacking! Be back soon.

Granola
First and foremost – granola. What would a pantry be without good granola? I always have a jar of homemade granola in my pantry. It is my go-to breakfast or snack with Skyr yoghurt, almond butter and berries or fruit. I slow-roast my granola because I found it is the best way to get that perfectly crunchy granola every time. No burning and always perfectly clustered.

You’ll find my recipe here – and do try to make a batch with olive oil instead of rapeseed oil, maple syrup instead of apple syrup, a dash of cinnamon and vanilla instead of rosehip powder and walnuts instead of hazelnuts. Add some pumpkin seeds too and raisins once it’s cooled. Absolutely delicious!

Slow roasted apple and rosehip granola :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's KitchenSlow roasted apple and rosehip granola :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Slow roasted apple and rosehip granola

Almond butter
Making your own nut or almond butter is so easy and way better than the store bought varieties (even if there are some pretty good ones there too), and I always keep a jar of homemade almond butter in my fridge. I use it for simple things like spreading over seed crackers (recipe below) with berries or apple slices on top, in smoothies or a dollop on my yoghurt. You’ll find my recipe for almond butter here (scroll down to find the recipe).

Homemade almond butter :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Almond butter with vanilla and cardamom – always in my fridge 

Gluten free seed crackers
I have only posted this recipe before in Swedish, so today I thought I’d share it with you in English too. It is just too good to keep it from you guys! It takes 10 minutes to throw together and after an hour in the oven you have a jar full of lovely scented, crunchy and salty crackers to go along with anything from cheese to almond butter (below). I have only one more thing to say – just make them!

Gluten free seed crackers fresh from the oven :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

A batch of freshly baked gluten free seed crackers

Gluten free seed crackers
6 tbsp corn flour
6 tbsp quinoa flour
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
3 tbsp flaxseed
6 tbsp sesame seeds (preferably unhulled)
1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup + 4 tbsp boiling water
3 tbsp olive oil + more for oiling

fleur de sel and sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

1) Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) – preferably fan-assisted oven. If you don’t have a fan-assisted oven, raise the temperature to 175°C (350° F). Oil a rimmed baking sheet with a thin layer olive oil and set aside.
2) In a medium bowl mix all dry ingredients. Bring the water to a boil and then pour it along with the olive oil over the dry ingredients.
3) Use a fork to stir until well mixed and then use your hands to flatten the dough out evenly over the rimmed (oiled) baking sheet. If the dough sticks to your hands it helps to use a parchment paper between your hands and the dough. Sprinkle the surface with fleur de sel and sesame seeds and bake on the middle rack for 50-55 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the crackers cool in the oven to dry completely. Once cooled, break the crackers into smaller pieces and keep them in an airtight glass jar.

Gluten free seed crackers with almond butter, strawberries and cacao nibs :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Seed crackers with almond butter, strawberries and cacao nibs – SO good!

Salt toasted almonds
This may be the simplest of recipes but such a life saver to have a jar in your hand bag for those late afternoon snack cravings at work. I often make them with salt only because then my kids will eat them too, but sometimes I spice them up with some cayenne pepper, chili pepper and ground paprika.

2 cups raw almonds

6 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 cups water

1 tbsp olive oil
fleur de sel to sprinkle

1) Rinse and drain the almonds in cold water. Bring water and coarse sea salt to a boil and remove from heat. Add the almonds to the salt water and soak for 30-45 minutes. Drain well and wipe off any excess water.
2) Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the drained almonds on a parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. Add 1 tbsp olive oil + a few pinches fleur de sel and with your hands, make sure the almonds are covered in oil/salt. Toast on the middle rack for 15 minutes, stir and continue toasting for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and light brown on the inside.
3) Remove from oven and let cool completely before you place them in an airtight jar.

Salt toasted almonds :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Salt toasted almonds – a life saver for those late afternoon snacking needs at work

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