Well hello there January, my least favorite month of the year. People generally either hate January or September. Not very hard to understand why. Post-holiday blues, post-vacation stress, back to work, back to school, everyone’s all tired, the media are all talking about diets, there’s not much to look forward to for the next few months except maybe Valentine’s Day and that’s not even a real Holiday. And then there’s the pitiful weather, which is the worst whether you are in the Northern or Southern hemisphere. January in Brazil gets HOT. Not “ooh tropical breeze and sipping Mojitos under palm trees” kind of hot, no, more like “unsexy glistening face, I can’t even move my arms because it’s so freaking humid and tropical pouring rain” kind of hot. Bet that snowfall you’ve been having in the US almost sounds kind of nice now eh?
But for the first time, January is actually exciting for me this year. Did I tell you that I’m moving to Peru? PERU! In six days! SIX days! As always, I intend to leave packing for the last minute. I’m also finding myself a little ridiculous as I intend to make room in my luggage for an electric coffee grinder, a cake loaf pan, two dozen little muffin silicone molds, a Ziplock bag of cacao nibs, 4 boxes of Yogi tea and a jar of almond butter when I already know I’ll be exceeding my authorized weight limit. Hey, it’s better to come prepared, you never know what you may or may not find in the middle of the Andes right? I’m a little scared about a post I read on a forum that says you must bring your own strainer because you can’t even find tomato sauce in Cajamarca which is where I’ll be living for the first few months of this new job. If my memory serves me well from my days in Ecuador, potatoes, corn and rice are – well – just about the foundations of Andean cuisine. Which is perfect since those are all foods I’ve eliminated from my daily diet. Hence, the almond butter! See, I’ve thought this through. (I’m being sarcastic, but I actually love Peruvian cuisine and looking forward to it. Ceviche come to mama!)
What’s really been keeping me busy from all the not packing these days is cooking. I have all of these ingredients that I don’t want to take with me but don’t want to throw away either like coconut palm sugar, almond flour and coconut flour, so I’m using them up little by little. The good news is that I’m going to have a series of baked goods recipes to post on the blog, which gives me some backup since apparently I won’t be finding much to cook with in Cajamarca. The bad news is that, well, I have to eat it all. I haven’t even had many friends around lately since they’ve all been away for the Holidays, to pass them on to like I usually do when I whip up big batches of treats. I had intended to do another Whole30 starting January 1st – not that I’ve been particularly excessive in my consumption of alcohol or sugar during the Holidays, but I do feel I need to do a little back-to-basics, solid clean eating no crap month – but I decided that between the farewell dinners with friends this week, the finishing up of all my gluten-free flours in under a week and the move to a new country, January wouldn’t be the right month to get all restrictive.
So on that note, I leave you with a dessert, or what I would call a celebratory I’m-not-doing-a-Whole30 indulgence, with this Cappuccino Pots de Crème recipe. This is just one of my favorite French desserts of all time. If you like crème brulée, you’ll love this. It’s not brulée, but it has the same custard composition. It’s very easy to make, requires little ingredients, and I’ve kept the sugar on the low side because, well, if I’m not going to do a Whole30, I might at least TRY to keep things as healthy as possible. I wanted to behave and only eat a couple spoonfulls, you know, let the pleasure last over a few days, not gobble it all down like some uncontrollable hog. Do you see where this is going? I’m not saying I’m proud, I’m saying it happened. Do I feel the need to humiliate myself in public on the internet and tell you about how I lost all self control on these little puddings, eating them standing up with the refrigerator door still ajar? No, definitely not, I’m saying it for you. These Pots de Crème are vicious! Delicious, but vicious. Devicious if you will. They’ll entice you and seduce you and whisper in your ear “just one more little spoon can’t hurt you” and then before you know it you’re looking like Bruce Bogtrotter from the movie Matilda after he eats the entire chocolate cake. Was anyone else ever traumatized by that scene by the way? Just for fun and good old times, you can watch it here.
Recipe: Cappuccino Pots de Crème
Makes 4 small ramequins
2 large egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
1 tbsp unsweetened, raw cacao powder
2.5 tbsp coconut sugar
1 cup (230 ml) coconut milk
Cacao nibs, for garnish
1. Preheat oven at 325°F (160°C).
2. In a saucepan on the stovetop, heat coconut milk to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and add the coconut sugar, brewed coffee and cacao powder and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
3. Beat egg and egg yolks until frothy. Add the warm cappuccino mixture to the eggs and stir very gently, without beating, to combine.
4. Boil a pot of water for the bain marie. Divide the mixture through a sieve (to remove any remaining lumps) into ramequins and place in an oven-proof shallow dish. Pour the boiling water into the dish around the ramequins, 1.5 inch deep. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Time will depend on the temperature of your mixture when you put it in the oven and on your oven. Check after 30 minutes: the edges should be set and the center should still be a little jiggly (like jello). If the center appears too liquid, keep baking and check every 5 minutes. Careful not to overbake.
5. Transfer the ramequins to a cooling rack and let them come to room temperature, then chill for 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator or overnight. Serve garnished with cacao powder and cacao nibs.
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