Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sweet, Sweet Hope

I recently came into a fortune.

This particular fortune happened to come in the form of chocolate cake. Which, you know, is a pretty good kind of fortune if you ask me.

You see, about 2 weeks ago, I landed in London, hauled a 60 pound suitcase onto a train, and headed for Wales where I should be spending the semester. Yes, that's right, I am now writing this from a different country, approximately four and a half thousand miles away from home (oy). Upon arriving, I promptly got sick and spent over a week in bed.

During that time, I had little appetite, and what I did have to eat was a hassle to find. I tried catching a bus into to the city center one day when I thought I was feeling up to it (I wasn't) to hunt the larger supermarket for its reported gluten free goods selection, and I ended up stumbling away with a measly pack of bread and pasta. Now, don't get me wrong, those two things were instrumental in getting me back on my feet after a week of a baby stomach virus, but it wasn't exactly an encouraging outlook for the next 5 months. Where was my selection?? Where was my flour and cereal and cookies and, gosh dang it, where was my frozen pizza?!? Was I going to have to go this entire period attempting to create things I really didn't have time or talent for?

It was a rather stressful thought.

I returned to the store a few days ago with a bit more energy to actually hunt things down. Lo and behold, they actually do have more than bread and pasta. Now, we're certainly not talking U.S. variety where I know what to look for and what I like (the stores just aren't the same size), but it has improved upon the original outlook. Flours and allergen-friendly pancakes and snacks could be found. There wasn't much cereal, but there was dairy free yogurt and granola bars and marinades. And what was the shining token of this; a signal it might be alright (at least when it comes to eating)?

A gluten free chocolate sponge cake, sitting buried on a lower shelf.

Ah, heaven.
(I'm still looking for you, frozen pizza.)

I've been doing my best to enjoy this sweet treat while I have it around and before I eat enough to feel guilty. Last night I whipped up a simple sauce using what I had in my fridge, mostly out of curiosity, to accompany a slice of it. Simple, sweet, and with the tiniest dash of non-traditional twist. It certainly made my mouth happy. (Bear with me, I guesstimated in all the measurements. I wasn't prepared for sharing, y'all. It's impulse!) I hope you'll enjoy it, too.

Raspberry Dessert Sauce with Cherry Coke

 This makes approximately the amount shown above. It can easily be increased to make more.
  • water
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c fresh raspberries (if frozen, defrosted and drained--I used 2 small-to-medium sized handfuls of fresh berries)
  • 1-2 T sugar, to taste (agave nectar would also work well)
  • approx. 1 T Cherry Coke (or Cherry Dr. Pepper, etc.)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp lemon juice, to taste
Put approximately 1/2 inch of water in a small saucepan. Mash the raspberries with a spoon or fork (or pulse them in a blender, if you've got one and don't mind the extra cleanup). Add raspberries, 1 T of sugar, and cherry coke to the water. Bring to a simmer or low boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. As the mixture heats, continue to mash the raspberries into smaller pieces (this will get easier) and make sure none stick to the bottom. When the consistency begins to approach your desired thickness, taste and add additional sugar and lemon juice as desired. I probably went with 2 T sugar and 3/4 tsp lemon juice overall. Stir frequently as the sauce thickens to prevent burning. Remove from heat (remember it will get just a bit thicker as it's cooling--if you allow a little too much water to boil off and it becomes too thick, simply mix water back in a spoonful at a time). Serve with cakes, brownies, ice cream, or just a spoon. It's okay. Nobody's judging.

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