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Gluten-Free Chocolate Quick Bread with Cherries and Pecans

When we were kids, Mom used to make an applesauce cake from a recipe her sister-in-law found in the newspaper. It was chocolaty, nutty, sweet, and spicy (pumpkin pie spicy), a little bit like a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.

This recipe seemed like a perfect one to try to adapt when we decided to go gluten-free, since we were willing to give up gluten, but not willing to give up baked goods completely. Mom’s original recipe called for walnuts and raisins. We swapped those for dried cherries, pecans, and added chunks of dark chocolate. The result is this delicious, decadent treat that’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, dessert…well, for any time or occasion.

As with any quick bread, the first step is to combine the dry ingredients. The method we like to use it to combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk them together. You can sift them, if you like, but we like to whisk.

dry ingredientsYou’ll know you’ve done it right when you achieve a consistent light brown color, with no white streaks. Now it’s time to add the nuts, cherries, and chocolate! We like to toast our nuts for added nuttiness (I mean, to bring out the flavor of the nuts). Also, be judicious when adding the chocolate chunks. You should find your sweet spot somewhere between 1/2 cup and 1 cup.nuts, cherries, chocolateNext, combine the wet ingredients. The original recipe called for melted butter, but we opted for vegan butter (not margarine) to keep things dairy-free.

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Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well.

mixNow pour the mixture into a greased and lightly floured bread pan (we actually dusted it with a cocoa/flour mix). Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until done. Start checking the loaf after about an hour and fifteen minutes, because you don’t want to over cook your bread. Check by inserting a cake tester into the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean, your loaf is done. Allow to cool completely before attempting to slice, or it may crumble. Now eat and enjoy.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Quick Bread with Cherries and Pecans

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

DIRECTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients; add the nuts and cherries. Mix well. Combine the melted vegan butter and applesauce in a separate bowl; add to the dry ingredients.  Mix well and pour into greased and lightly floured bread pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until done.

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How do I…toast nuts?

Like Paris, toasting or roasting nuts is a always good idea. It’s what will take your recipe/dish to the next level. (Why is it that I can’t say that phrase ‘take it to the next level’ without thinking about Dave Chappelle’s character in You’ve Got Mail?)

Does the idea of a smoking pan of ruined nuts have you running scared? Have no fear. Instructions are here. Follow these and your cookies, pilafs, quick breads, salads, etc. will go from good to great, from perfectly adequate to out of this world.

Oven Method

You will need:

  • nuts (in large pieces/not chopped)
  • a shallow baking tray with an edge
  • spoon or spatula
  • a plate for cooling nuts
  • a knife for chopping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer nuts on baking tray. Place tray in oven. Let the nuts toast for 5-10 minutes. During the toasting time, check the nuts frequently and stir them around in the pan once or twice to ensure an even toasting.

Once the nuts are toasted, immediately remove them from the pan to a plate. Allow the nuts to cool for a few minutes before chopping them for your recipe.

Stove-top method

You will need:

  • nuts (in large pieces/not chopped)
  • a heavy skillet, such as a cast iron skillet
  • spoon or spatula
  • a plate for cooling nuts
  • a knife for chopping

Toast nuts over medium heat in a heavy skillet for about 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from pan as soon as they are toasted. Allow the nuts to cool for a few minutes before chopping them for your recipe.