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I know it’s all supposed to be super healthy-healthy in here, and I’ve been selling you on the premise of keeping our culinary experience well balanced. It’s not that this time will be much different. It’s not that I want to spin you around and flip my whole belief system over night on you BUT: A GIRL NEEDS A CAKE sometimes, too. And today is the day.

Agi - Bicep Show OffI stick to my guns, however, even when I bake. I am on a quest to prove anyone who thinks that a sweet slice of a baked delight is bad for you WRONG. I’m feeling feisty today so don’t come too close, cuz I’ll fight for my right for one more bite (pun intended) and I WILL bite. Bam!

I propose my Almond-Meal Cake with Balsamic Reduction for the weekend. I found a recipe, tested it, tasted it, then tested it on Jason, adjusted it so it fits Agi’s criteria of health and Hallelujah! First of all, the original recipe called for corn meal. However what you are getting from me is an Almond-Meal Cake. Another “improvement” was substituting white flour for a whole-wheat kind. I also used organic butter (the only kind in my refrigerator) and cut down the amount used. Moreover, I chose raw cane sugar over the white processed crap and also reduced it by half. Finally, the eggs I used were organic and came from cage-free and happy chicks.

Strawberries & ChocolateI’ll make a deal with you, a very sweet one. Along with the cake recipe I’ll share another DOLCE treat, a fruity kind, to keep it all BALANCED. And remember, you do not need to eat the whole cake all at once. That would not be healthy-healthy, not in the least. There’s nothing wrong, however, with a slice here and there to accompany your cup of coffee, or a decaf-skim-extra-hot-green-chai latte.

Enough talk. Roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty. For the ALMOND MEAL CAKE WITH MINT you need to combine dry ingredients first:

-       1/2 cup of fine ground almond meal

-       1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour

-       a pinch of salt

-       1 tsp of cinnamon

-       1 tsp of baking powder (aluminum free)

Mix it all in a medium bowl.

Now the wet ingredients:

-       3/4 of a stick of butter (at room temperature)

-       3/4 cup of raw cane sugar

-       1 tsp of pure vanilla extract

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a separate bowl, add vanilla and mix again.

Next – eggs. Add 2 whole eggs into the wet mix and incorporate with the butter and sugar well. You need 4 more yolks (no whites) to add them separately while mixing each one first with the rest of the wet ingredients.

You’re almost done, but not quite. For that extra aroma add:

-       1 tbsp of lemon zest

-       1 tbsp of minced fresh mint (aha!)

-       1/2 a cup of light sour cream.

Mix all the wet ingredients together. Slowly add the dry mix into the wet mix in 3 batches, making sure to incorporate all elements well.

Pour the batter into a round baking pan, previously greased with butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake the cake for 35 – 45 minutes (depending on the size of your pan). The cake is done when you dip a toothpick in the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

In a small pan, mix a 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with a 1/2 cup (or less) cane sugar. Add a sprig or two of fresh mint. Mix well, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. It will get thicker as it cools. While still hot, pour a teaspoon worth of the reduction over a slice of your cake. Open mouth. Stick out tongue. Pop a piece inside. Smash against the roof of your mouth. HEAVEN!

Almond Meal Cake

When you decide to conquer this recipe, I advise you to gather a few good people around and keep them close to your kitchen, just to ensure you don’t devour the entire desert on your own. It’s dangerous, it’s that good!

Almond Meal Cake Gone!

To satisfy your sweet tooth on all the other days, simply choose fresh fruit and turn the volume up. I’ll give you an example of one of my FRUIT SALADS. Just today I got fresh honeydew at the store and decided to turn it into an after-dinner desert. Since Jason’s parents are in town visiting their son and his woman (moi), I am making an extra effort. (More about that later.)

I cut the fruit in bite size chunks. Then I quartered a few strawberries. All went into a big bowl, topped with a handful of blueberries. (I loved the color combination. It really tickled my esthetic gene.) I sprinkled about a tablespoon of cane sugar over the fruit, added maybe a tablespoon of lemon juice and its zest, minced fresh mint, and topped it all with 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. Mixed well, I packed in a closed container, and stored it in our refrigerator for a couple of hours.

The lemon juice and the sugar helps the fruit to release juice that will later mix with the other guys. It will coat the fruit chunks with a layer of ambrosial nectar. Mint will accent the flavor and also serve as decoration. It’s a MUST TRY desert. You’re in for a big surprise.

Fruit Salad

I’m out of here for today. We’re taking J’s folks to the wine country tomorrow for a little vino tasting. I better get my beauty sleep before the trip!

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