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KCL Friday Finds

Happy weekend, and welcome to Friday Finds! Today it's all about holiday hostess gifts. It about the time when you may have several seasonal parties and functions to attend, and you should never show up empty-handed. The best hostess gift should be something just for the hostess that he or she can use at a later time, either for entertaining or just for themselves. Just because you may have been assigned a side dish or drinks, you should still being along a special hostess gift.

A hostess gift doesn't need to cost a lot. They can range anywhere from $10-$25, and really should be on average $20. There are so many appropriate options in this price range - anything from a set of tea towels to a cookbook, or something gourmet, or even a little bath and body gift. If you need a hostess gift for a party or dinner this holiday season, you can't go wrong with one of the picks below.


This first one is my favorite, because it's a versatile multi-use item, and it's so chic. …

Dairy-Free Chocolate Birthday Cake



Both my daughters and I can't have any dairy, though we still do plenty of baking and enjoy sweets just like everyone else. With a few simple tweaks, I make many dessert recipes dairy-free. My oldest daughter Kylie just had her ninth birthday. She didn't care about what her cake looked like, as long as it was chocolate with more chocolate. To make it gluten-free as well, simply substitute the white flour with rice flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour. If you don't need it to be allergy-free, you can of course just use store-bought cake mix.

For her birthday cake, I layered it with bright pink royal icing to make a "naked" cake. This growing trend is also known as an unfinished cake. It's somewhat easier than icing a traditional layer cake, and it looks great. For summer entertaining; this frosting technique also works well with white cake, cream filling, and fresh fruit toppings.

INGREDIENTS

· 2 ¾ cups white flour
· 1 cup cocoa powder
· 1 t. baking soda
· ½ t. salt
· 1 ½ cups olive oil or vegetable oil
· 2 ½ cups sugar
· 4 large eggs
· 1 ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
· ¼ cup honey
· 1 T. vanilla
· ½ C melted carob chips


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and prep two 8-inch round cake pans with a coating of oil and dust with cocoa powder.

2. Combine the wet ingredients into a large bowl - the eggs, oil, milk, honey and vanilla with the sugar and mix until creamy and smooth.

3. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift with a whisk then add slowly to the wet mixture while mixing.

4. Melt the carob chips in a double broiler or in the microwave (1 minute at a time). Add to the cake mix.

5. Bake 30-40 min or until a toothpick comes out clean when placed down the center. Let cool and cut the tops down flat with a serrated knife before assembling the cake. If you want to make 4 layers without doubling the recipe, slice each round in half with a long serrated bread knife to make 4 layers. (Though I only suggest this if you're experienced with making layer cakes.) I wanted three easy layers, so I doubled the recipe and had leftover batter for cupcakes. You can also freeze or refrigerate the cake mix.

6. For a 2-layer cake, get two containers dairy-free icing. I never have trouble finding naturally lactose-free icing at my grocery store. I used the Pillsbury Funfetti Hot Pink Vanilla Frosting which comes with pink sugar sprinkles. I used three 12-oz containers to frost the three-layer cake.

7. Use a piping bag or a plastic disposable bag with the tip cut off to pipe the outside edge before filling in the rest with a rubber spatula. Repeat with each layer. Use a rubber spatula to swirl the frosting on the very top then top with the pink sprinkles.




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