A European Whirlwind and Sweet Potato Dream Cake

Better late than never, as they say…..It’s been about two weeks since we’ve gotten home from our trip to London, Barcelona and Rome and I’m long overdue for a blog post. We had such a great time showing Phillip’s cousin Nick around Europe, and we packed a ton of activities into a one week getaway.

The trip was full of highlights, including a Chelsea soccer game and catching a show in a London theater, visiting La Segrada Familia and other architectural highlights in Barcelona, and seeing the Forum, Colosseum, and all of the wonders of the Vatican while in Rome. We also got an authentic taste of the culture in Barcelona and Rome by embarking on food and wine tours, which were incredible (and accommodated gluten allergies)!

In Barcelona, the tour was focused on tapas (small plates to share) and wine. We tried many traditional dishes, including the octopus salad, pickled anchovies and bread with tomato spread pictured below.

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We also got a taste of the more cutting edge Spanish tapas scene at Cu-Cut, a hole in the wall place that our tour guide frequented. Here, we started with Campari infused olives, moved on to a roasted beet and goat cheese salad, potato croquettes and smoked cod and avocado crema, among other carefully crafted delicacies (as the wine began to flow, we became less concerned with taking photos!)

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Campari infused olives
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Potato croquette with micro greens.
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Smoked cod and avocado crema

The Roman food tour was just as delicious, and just as accommodating of food allergies. There were a few things Phillip couldn’t eat (like these delicious ready-to-fill cannoli shells at a local cafe) and the amazing pizza creations at the world-renowned Bonci Pizzarium.

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Fresh made cannoli shells waiting to be filled.
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Pizza is sliced to order, so you show them how large of a piece you want, they cut it, and charge you by the kilogram. 

Most of the food we ate on the Italian tour was so delicious, we didn’t get a chance to take photos! One of the coolest dishes we were served was this Pasta Amatriciana, or buccatini with pork cheek (they made a separate GF version for us). The pasta is prepared and mixed inside of an actual hallowed out wheel of Pecorino Romano cheese- how’s that for presentation?!

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Not the greatest photo, but I had to share this- AMAZING!

We had such a wonderful time, but once we arrived on US soil, I was definitely ready to sleep in my own bed, and get back into my own kitchen. Phillip requested a gluten free chocolate cake for Easter dessert, and the baking inspiration struck. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m trying to eliminate refined grains and refined sugars, so the Betty Crocker baking mix that Phillip had in mind was not on the menu. Instead, I decided to make a Dark Chocolate Double Layer Sweet Potato Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting. I know, I know- this sounds weird, but trust me, it’s incredibly fudgy and delicious!

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Look at this frosting! Does this look like sweet potatoes to you?!
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The finished product- beautiful and delicious.
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Embarrassing, but the actual size of my first slice. Roughly 1/3 of the entire cake….

And here’s the recipe, modified from: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/sweet-potato-chocolate-cake

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweet Potato Frosting

(the below makes one cake layer- I doubled it for a 2-layer cake)

3/4 cup peeled, cooked, and cooled sweet potato
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour

1/3 cup coconut sugar (or stevia)
1/4 cup mini or regular nondairy chocolate chips
1/2 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9” round cake pan with coconut or other oil, and fit the bottom of the pan with a small piece of parchment paper. In a blender or food processor, puree the sweet potato, water, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla until completely smooth. In a large bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry (be sure to scrape out all the blended ingredients with a spatula. Mix until just well incorporated. Transfer to the prepared pan, bake for 21–23 minutes, remove, and let cool on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Sweets Frosting

Makes about 2 1/4 cups, which is a lot, but it is so good, you can eat it by itself!

1 loosely packed cup peeled, cooked, and cooled sweet potato (see note)
2/3 cup stevia
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 scant cup peanut butter (you can also use almond butter or other nut butter)
1/4 rounded teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons nondairy milk (I’ve used flax milk and almond milk- both were great!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. Taste, and add another 2–3 tablespoons of milk if needed to thin to preferred consistency. Puree until smooth, scraping down the blender/processor bowl as needed. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Enjoy!

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