Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche & Fleur de Sel

As you’re reading this post, I’m throwing last-minute essentials into my suitcase before leaving for a week in London and Edinburgh. Thanks to the low-fare transatlantic carrier Norwegian Air International now with more direct flights to London than any US airline and a British travel agency, I found a vacation package unable to ignore.

Braised Mediterranean Lentils with Roasted Spaghetti Squash


Our Emma was chosen by her classmates to be the Junior Princess at her high school’s homecoming in Bishop, California. Escorted by her family onto the field, she was crowned by sister, Clara, now a freshman, during the game’s half-time show. A happy moment for our family.

For the past five years I’ve tried to follow these two wise mantras: 1) What’s not life-threatening is manageable with minimal stress; and, 2) If Not Now, When?

Just before dawn, these healthy, gorgeous bears, Mama and Baby, often arrive to drink at the stream near my condo building. When I need to get in my car, to leave the parking lot, Mama Bear and I are wary and cautious but always good neighbors.

Look carefully and you will see Baby Bear climbing down the tree. I walked out to get into my car and Mama called the baby to come down and be near her.

This Fall two hit-and-run accidents put a large dent into my #1 mantra. Imagine being an innocent 2008 Lexus, already a little worn with mileage fatigue, parked in your owner’s condo space only to be walloped not once but twice on separate occasions. Both culprits drove off leaving no notes. Readers, who does that? Little goes on at The Gant that others don’t see so one fender-bender was reported to our front office. The unpleasantness that followed taxed my ability with that manage with minimal stress thing.

To add more protein to the Lentils and Squash dish, simply add sausage or the meat of your choice.

This year Mantra #2 has been changed up to If Not Now, Now and that’s precisely why I went out on a Norwegian Air wing, sorta last-minute, and booked this trip. Remember when you were a child and did something without asking permission? That’s what making these plans feels like to me.

Renown Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen team have served more than 1 million hot meals to the needy and Responders in Puerto Rico.

Since late September our French Fridays with Dorie and Cook the Book Fridays blogging groups have been donating to Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen network to support their efforts in PR.

London is not unfamiliar to me, Mind the Gap and when curbside, look left, then right, then left, again, but I’ve never been to the British Museum. Being my birthday week, spending three luxurious days visiting a vast collection dedicated to human history, art and culture is a perfect gift. I also picked up theatre tickets for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two” which, incidentally, begin previews in New York in mid-March. As for Edinburgh, I’m lucky to have good friends who kindly offered to take me under their wing during my visit.

Adriana Angelet, a health administrator in PR and our food blogging groups’ colleague and friend the past 8 years, ran with her team in the Chicago Marathon last week. Adriana blogs at

Donating to Chef Andres was a way to honor Adriana, (holding flag, far left). Despite many obstacles her running club managed to get to Chicago for this long-planned event.In her own words, “Flag across chest. Ears attuned to every “Puerto Rico” cry in the crowd. Each “dale Boricua!” placed the heart closer to the finish line. The legs followed it. Most of the time running, sometimes even dancing. Walking too, but never in defeat.
There will never be another race like the 2017 Chicago Marathon and that’s alright.”


The chocolate cake mixture is ready for the oven.

While trying to always look forward, I still hug each memory of this gorgeous season in the mountains and joyful days for a grandma with teenage grand daughters. My cup runneth over. Plus, this month’s Cook-the-Book-Fridays recipe, Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche & Fleur de Sel, is a stunner. Take a look at Half Baked Harvest, Recipes from my Barn in the Mountains , a new cookbook by Colorado’s own Tieghan Gerard. I made her Braised Mediterranean Lentils with Roasted Spaghetti Squash.

Spaghetti squash is magic. Here’s the squash, cut in half, S/P and ready for roasting.

The magic of turning squash into spaghetti …

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche and Fleur de Sel is basically a molten-center (liquid) chocolate cake. David Lebovitz’s version from his My Paris Kitchen cookbook takes this to a supreme level by adding dulce de leche (a Spanish caramel sauce) and flaky sea salt. He uses 4-ounce ramekins. I added a larger souffle dish, baking it 5-10 more minutes. Rich, for sure but a perfect sweet to complete a meal. Serve small portions, please, with vanilla bean ice cream or crème fraîche. Link to the recipe here.

Half Baked HARVEST Cookbook, Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains by Tieghan Gerard

Half Baked Harvest Cookbook, Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains by Teghan Gerard is my one cookbook purchase this Fall. I subscribe to Gerard’s HalfBakedHarvest blog and look forward to cooking through this book. Braised Mediterranean Lentils with Roasted Spaghetti Squash is my first effort. Very tasty. Unique flavoring. Here’s the recipe link.

Don’t miss seeing the compelling documentary “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” produced by chef Anthony Bourdain. Voted Best Documentary at Aspen’s Film Festival this month, it was my favorite of all the films. Since in this country we waste 1/3 of all our produced food, 133 billion pounds, it’s a must see for everyone and is now in the theaters nationwide and on video-on-demand. Creatively-made, irreverent
and important.

If you wish to DONATE to Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen network, here


  1. Donna Grauer says

    Thanks for this blog. I learned something new: Clara is taller than Emma by a lot. Also, I learned what to do for your birthday.(besides partying) . Puerto Rico and Chef Jose will be getting a donation in your honor .
    Love from TTR

  2. says

    I love, love the happy family photos!!! Missy and all look wonderful. Enjoy your birthday trip! Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate. xo

  3. says

    I loved Wasted too! We watched it last weekend and I was depressed and inspired all at the same time. Some of the ways that different countries are dealing with this issue are just amazing.

  4. Chez Nana says

    I am so glad you are finally going to take a trip, I know you will have a fantastic time. Congratulations to Emma, such a honor and such a proud Grandma…. This was a great little surprise dessert, can’t wait to have all the crew try it when I make it again.
    Have a safe and enjoyable trip, take lots of pictures, and keep on posting.

  5. says

    So much fabulousness in one blog post ! Love the family shot and big congrats to Emma. What a lovely memory for all. I am so excited to hear about your trip across the pond. Good for you and I will be checking airline prices myself (a girl can dream ….). The shouts out for Adriana plus Chef Jose have touched my heart ❤️. Great stuff indeed. And of course, the food looks amazing. Thanks for sharing and safe travels !

  6. Adriana says

    We are most definitely embracing mantra #1. Have a wonderful trip Mary and thanks again for all the awareness you’ve brought to post Maria Puerto Rico. Big birthday hug!

  7. says

    Oh my goodness, Mary! This post has a bunch of ups and downs like that one from a month or so ago! LAME re your car getting hit twice with no notes. I agree: who does that? Own up to your mistake. Sheesh.

    Loved the family photos and seeing more about PR.

    Ugh, food waste. I’ll check it out but I’m internally cringing because I know how much we waste. sigh.

    Finally, these cakes were fabulous, no? I like some dulce de leche and with the salt sprinkled in there and that decadent chocolate. We had to eat them over a few days, they were so rich!

  8. says

    If not now, when, is a good mantra. Enjoy your time in the UK. I’m a big fan of José Andrés restaurants in DC and his current effort in PR. Your cake looks great in a tart pan. It’s all dressed up!

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