October 7, 2009



Remember back in the summer, when I was on my crazy diet/cleanse? When I couldn’t eat much of anything? And yet managed to fully enjoy myself discovering quinoa, avocado, and asparagus all over again?

Well, as enjoyable as it was, it turns out it didn’t do much good. I’ve been told that my health issues don’t have anything to do with what I’m eating. Which is both bad and good. Bad, because I’m still trying to figure out the problem. Good, because I can go back to eating whatever I want.

I’m really happy I did that diet though. It was hard, but it showed me that I tend to eat the same stuff all the time without really thinking about it. It was great to be forced to think outside the box for my daily meals, to imagine combinations of food I had never tried before. More than anything, I think I ate more simply for those five weeks than I have in a long time.


I bought a cookbook called Babycakes when I was on the diet. It was when I thought I might be intolerant to gluten. You may have heard of Babycakes by now (click on that link and tell me you’re not swooning). It’s a vegan, sugar-free and mostly gluten-free bakery in New York City. The cookbook came out over the summer and has been getting a lot of good press. I profiled it for one of my cookbook columns on the radio back in August.

Even though I can eat gluten again, I am so glad I bought this cookbook. Not only because it’s cute, wonderfully designed and has amazing, down-to-earth photos. Not only because the recipes are absolutely to die for. But also because it’s perfect when you’re cooking for anyone in your life who can’t eat certain foods. It turns out there are a lot of vegans and people with lactose and gluten allergies in my life. And I still want to bake for them! That’s why Babycakes is so great.

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I made the ginger cookies right before leaving on vacation back in August. I was a little worried, because the batter (like most gluten-free batters) tasted disgusting. But when the cookies emerged from the oven, they were spicy and crackly and perfectly crisp, and tasted just as good, if not better, than any flour-filled ginger cookie I’ve eaten. I took some to work, and took the rest on vacation with me, and everyone loved them.

Then we decided to make the chocolate cupcake recipe for a dinner party we had.  We got lazy and just made it in cake form instead of in cupcakes. But either way, this cake is a revelation. It’s very different from our usual, go-to chocolate vegan cake recipe from the Moosewood desserts cookbook. If the Moosewood cake is the comforting Grandmother in a checked apron, the Babycakes cake is the sexy young thing in the little black dress. It’s dark, rich and extremely chocolatey. It’s so decadent that you might not feel like eating it all the time, but when you want it, you really want it. We paired it with a homemade sour cherry sauce and the whole thing was absolutely divine.


The ingredients in this cookbook can get expensive, and sometimes these cookies and cakes will take a bit longer to prepare than the average. I admit I’m not pulling this book down from my shelf every day. But even when you’re not cooking for people with allergies, the allure of sugar-free baked goods can be damn strong. Especially when they taste this good.


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