I’ve always thought that there was something magical about the oven. You can mix up a bunch of ingredients, put them in a heated box and 30 minutes later you have something delicious that everyone in the house is dying to get their hands on. Baking is essential to so many parts of our lives. Think about it – where would our celebrations be without baking?

I make a nice birthday dinner for my kids but we put the candles on the cake. And, that’s when their faces light up and they squeal with delight.

Think about it – what would Christmas be without cookies? Or Thanksgiving without pie? You’ve got to admit that without baking the holidays would be a little blah.

Over a decade ago I learned that I couldn’t eat wheat and refined white sugar. This changed how I did life.

For a lot of years I sat out – skipped the birthday cake. Passed on the Christmas cookies. But, I got married and I started to think about what I wanted for our life. I wanted my kids to have memories like mine growing up, with big holiday meals. I wanted to pass down to them the same traditions my mom and Grandma Ruth passed down to me.

So I went back into the kitchen. I tried to recreate many of the dishes I remembered from my childhood. At first, everything that came out of my oven was a disaster. My cakes were dry and dense. My cookies crumbled. My bread didn’t rise. I stood in my kitchen and cried.

Back then, there weren’t a lot of gluten-free recipes. It was next to impossible to find gluten-free baking ingredients in the store. Using unrefined sugar was almost unheard of. It was new territory.

Here’s the great thing about failure – you learn what not to do. Over time, I started to get it right. My baked goods started to get tasty – and people who didn’t eat gluten-free or refined sugar-free started to ask for my recipes.

This brings me back to why I fought so hard to learn to bake in a way that works for my body. I wanted to share the same sense of family with my kids that my mom and grandma shared with me.

When I was growing up our holidays and birthdays were celebrated around a table. We shared food and laughter. We saved room for Grandma Ruth’s pies and apple crisps. We ate her Christmas cookies before we even touched the turkey because we wanted to make sure we got our favorites.

The food we ate was part of the culture of our family. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without my Grandma Ruth’s stuffing. And though she’s no longer with us, I still make her dishes every year. Each time I do, I remember sitting at her kitchen table watching her peel the skin off apples with her wooden-handled paring knife. And her No Bake Cookies – oh my gosh! I still remember watching her mix HERSHEY’S Cocoa into the pan and then eating the warm cookies as she dropped them on waxed paper.

My boys won’t get to sit across the table from my Grandma Ruth. They’ll never make a pie with her or watch her effortlessly cook for a family of more than twenty. But, they’ll spend time with me in the kitchen. They’ll get to listen to stories about how I learned to fix a cracked pie crust at my Grandma’s kitchen table. They’ll eat her cookies and her chocolate pie. They’ll understand who she was through the way she cared for her family. My Grandma Ruth’s recipes will keep her memory vibrant and her legacy will live on.

Baking for me isn’t just about making magic with food – it’s about making magic in my family.

What about you? Why do you bake?

Chocolate Cake with Maple Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

For more recipe ideas, click the links in the ingredient list. A chocolate cake frosted with maple buttercream and covered in chocolate ganache and berries ~ perfect for a special occasion or just gathering with friends.

For the Chocolate Cake
For the cake topping
For the Maple Buttercream
For the Chocolate Ganache
Make the Chocolate Cake:
For the berries:
Make the Maple Buttercream:
Make the Chocolate Ganache:
Assemble the Cake:

For more recipe ideas and information about the products used, click the links in the ingredient list.

Note: Find nutritional information about HERSHEY’S Kitchens Sugar Free Chocolate Chips here:

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