Curling up with a new cookbook always feels like a treat to me. When said book happens to be penned by a dear friend, is loaded with colorful photos, and literally takes the reader on a magic carpet ride from one end of the globe to the next, that cookbook rivals anything on the New York Times best sellers list!
Alice Phillips, known to friends as Ally, is one of the first people I met when I started The Fountain Avenue Kitchen. In her new book, Ally uses her background as an actress, cook and world traveler to tingle readers’ tastebuds with flavors from around the world. Chapters are organized by region–the stunning Mediterranean, an African excursion, middle eastern allure, Caribbean island eats, and more. Each recipe is introduced with personal insights and interesting snippets that bring the food alive while offering the reader a sense of Ally’s vibrant personality and bohemian charm.
From spice rubs and sauces that will bring life to a simple piece of chicken or fish to kabobs and sliders and comforting stews, Ally’s book paints a gorgeous picture of international flavors while using ingredients that are mostly familiar and readily available to the reader. Of course, no good cookbook would be complete without dessert, and that’s where I began!
The following recipe for Carribean-inspired chocolate jar cakes caught my eye for its clever cooking and serving container as well as its use of rice flour instead of all-purpose flour. Rice is ubiquitous throughout the cuisine of so many cultures, including that of the islands, so why not use the ground form on occasion? Economical rice flour is also naturally gluten-free, making this treat ideal for those with a gluten restriction. In the recipe below, I have included some of my own notes, as I did test the recipe with all-purpose flour and a gluten-free blend as well.
Whichever flour you choose, these jars are fudgy, decadent, and a novel twist on the usual chocolate cake. I’m not going to say that I tried this (wink, wink), but you could remove the top third of the cake, put a small scoop of ice cream on the remaining cake, and then replace the top. Just an idea. ; )
- 1 1/2 cups white rice flour (see notes for substitution options)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup milk of choice (see notes)
- 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- Mini chocolate chips for topping (about 1/4 cup or 1 rounded teaspoon per jar)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease 6 (8-ounce/half-pint) canning jars. In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, thoroughly combine the espresso mixture, eggs, milk, and sweetened condensed milk. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir to fully incorporate.
Evenly fill the jars with the batter. It will fill the jars about 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle the chips evenly over the top.
Place the jars in a deep casserole or baking dish and then add water to the dish so that it reaches about 1/3 of the way up the jars. For added ease in transferring to and from the oven, you can place the dish on a baking sheet with sides. Bake approximately 25 minutes, give or take a few depending on oven, or until the cakes pass the toothpick test. (Like a brownie, I have found that a hint of undercooking is enjoyed by many. But a word of caution: the batter of the rice flour version has a hint of graininess, and this may be detected if cakes made with rice flour are undercooked. They still taste great, though!)
Once the jars are removed from the oven, place them on a wire rack to cool. Store any uneaten cakes, covered, in the refrigerator where they will maintain freshness for at least 3 days. The cakes can be removed from the jars by running a butter knife around the edges and gently prying them out. However, we like to eat them right from the jar!
- For testing purposes, I have made this recipe with all-purpose flour and a gluten-free flour blend.
- Ally’s original recipe called for buttermilk and I have made it this way with excellent results. Regular milk, however, works equally well given the use of baking powder in addition to the baking soda. For a non-dairy option, I also tested almond milk with a perfect outcome.
The above photo shows Ally’s original version using rice flour. Below is a jar from the all-purpose flour batch which rose slightly higher. The textures are slightly different but each delicious in their own way. Interestingly, the colors are actually the same. The photos, however, were taken on two different days–one sunny, one cloudy.
Ally’s Kitchen, a passport for adventurous palates, is available here. To see the trailer, click here. And to visit Ally’s blog, click here.
I made this for my co–workers and they LOVED them. In addition to the chocolate chips, I drizzled a praline glaze on top, too. I used a 12oz jar to leave room for a dollop of ice cream. My co-workers thought the individualized jars were very fun. I wrote each of their names on the lids. This recipe really should be illegal! I’m searching for another reason to make them again. Thanks for posting!
I love the praline addition and the thought to use the taller jars to allow room for ice cream is brilliant…and right up my alley! So glad these were a hit, Julie!
Ann, Ally’s cook book is something special and I love how we (Boho) are getting so much more than recipes from it. The thought of scooping off the top to place ice cream is a winner!! love it all xoxo
I did it and it was divine, Beverley! And you are so right. This cookbook tour has been a special experience in so many ways! xoxo
Ann! I love love your post on the cookbook…you captured so much of everything…what a fabulous condensation!! And, I love these jars of chocolate love, too…as Kim said, your input into making them even better is much appreciated…that’s what it’s all about in our worlds! And, please tell that adorable cute ‘hand’ model that I’d like to hire him! What a luv!
It doesn’t quite seem it’s been so many years since we first met…and I remember your blog design changes and the logo creation…now look at this beautiful thriving site…you’re an artist, for sure. ~peace love & namaste~ ally xo
What lovely comments, Ally! And I agree, it seems like just yesterday when I first baked a loaf of your amazing peasant bread, and I believe you challenged me to a flour fight. I knew then and there that I liked you as much as your recipes! Your book is such a pleasure to own–truly a labor of love and as much fun to simply page through as it is to actually cook from. Thank you for asking me to be a part of the big launch!
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Thanks for all of your trials and tips and “serving suggestion” too. 🙂 I can’t wait to make (and eat) these. Wonderful review!
Thank you, Kim. They are truly a treat…and all the experimenting was not a hardship. ; )