Tag Archives: gluten-free cookies

Daring Bakers: Baklava

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

When I read this, I felt that lump creep up in my throat. Baklava? It’s one of my most favorite of treats. Sweet and sticky with honey, flaky, with a bunch of lovely nuts in between the layers. But gluten-free? I’ve never seen it – and certainly never tried it. One of the keys to those flaky layers in the phyllo dough is that stretchiness in gluten. If there’s no gluten, how do you recreate the stretchiness?

So I googled. I looked for gluten-free phyllo dough. I wasn’t finding much, and not everyone out there in the internet world was successful at making it. This was an elusive thing for sure. But I perservered. I found some instructions on Glutenfreeda.com and opted to try my hand at it.

After I started to roll out my layers, I started to feel more confident. I could roll out pretty thin sheets of dough with success. I rolled each layer on parchment, but as time went on, found that it would peel from plastic wrap even easier than parchment, so I changed to using plastic wrap. One daunting task achieved – I could roll thin dough.

I then made the filling – this was easy. Just a blitz in the food processor and I was ready for the next step.

Then came the assembly. This went well, which further bolstered my confidence. I could peel the dough, layer by layer, brushing with vegan butter in between, layering the nut mixture as well, until I had a completely layered dish. Even cutting the pieces was pretty easy. All that was left was baking and allowing it to sit. And so I did, crossing fingers.

Once it came out of the oven, this was when I was concerned. No flakiness. It looked virtually the same coming out as it did going in – only a wee bit more brown. I went ahead and poured the syrup over and allowed it to sit, hoping for the best.

Unfortunately, the baklava didn’t live up to expectations. The layers were dense. Bordering on gummy and chewy. From far away, it still looked like baklava, but upon closer inspection, it wasn’t. (However, the filling was still delicious, if you peeled off the layer of dough and just ate the filling. Not that I would know or anything.)

So the perfect gluten-free baklava still eludes me. It’s still in my dreams, however. Hopefully someday soon, I’ll muster up the courage to try the phyllo dough again. Thanks to Erica for this challenge – I hope to one day conquer it!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Baklava

Phyllo Dough

½ c sweet white rice flour

1 c sorghum flour

1 c potato starch

½ c tapioca starch

1 T psyllium husks

1 t guar gum

2 large eggs

2/3 c coconut milk

1/3 c water

Whisk together flours, psyllium husks, and guar gum. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, and water. Attach the dough hook to the mixer. Gradually add in the flour, with the machine on low, until the dough is no longer sticky. (add additional tapioca starch as needed) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper at least 10 inches wide. Using generous amounts of tapioca starch, roll each piece of dough onto a piece of parchment paper until it measures at least 10 inches by 6 inches, making sure the thickness is fairly uniform. You want it as thin as possible without breaking. Repeat with each piece of dough. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap to keep from drying out.

Filling

2 t cinnamon

1/8 t allspice

¾ c almonds

¾ c walnuts

¾ c pistachios

2/3 c pitted Medjool dates

Pinch salt

½ c combination of melted ghee and melted vegan butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cinnamon, allspice, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times until nuts and dates are finely chopped (but not turned into dust).

Trim your phyllo sheets to fit your pan by setting the pan on top of each sheet, and using a pizza cutter or knife, cut around the pan. Brush melted ghee/vegan butter inside the pan along the bottom and sides. Carefully peel a piece of phyllo dough (I used a thin, flexible spatula to help me) and place in the bottom of the pan. Brush with “butter” and peel another piece of phyllo dough, placing it over the first. Brush with “butter” again.

Place 1/3 of the nut filling evenly over the dough in the pan. Add another 2 layers of phyllo dough, followed by “butter” on top of each. Add another 1/3 of the nut filling. Add another 2 layers of the phyllo dough followed by “butter” on top of each, the final 1/3 of the filling, and finish with the last 2 layers of phyllo dough, followed by “butter” on top of each. Tuck down any edges that are flipping up on the sides of the pan with a spatula so that the top looks neat.

Using a knife, carefully cut the baklava into pieces as desired. Brush one last time with “butter”, making sure you get it covered completely.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, make syrup.

Syrup

1 ½ c honey

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

1 2-inch piece lemon peel

¼ c water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove cinnamon, cloves, and lemon peel.

 When the baklava is finished baking, cut again all the way through. Pour the syrup evenly over all of the baklava. Allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, cover and allow to sit overnight to allow syrup to absorb.

Serve at room temperature.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: Gluten-Free Goodness

This month for Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger I chose to adopt Cheryl of Gluten-Free Goodness. Cheryl’s a relatively new bloggy friend of mine; I “met” her through Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl. Cheryl is a Registered Dietitian and nutritionist, as well as a health and wellness coach. She helps a lot of people enjoy a healthy, gluten-free diet. Cheryl has several food allergies, and while that might frustrate some in the kitchen, Cheryl handles it with grace and innovation. She is always coming up with something delicious, healthy, and allergen-free. It definitely makes choosing just a few recipes to try that much more difficult!

Somehow, I managed. I had to choose one of her dessert recipes, and came across these amazing Brazil Nut Chip Cookies. Brazil nuts, however, are not something I adore, so I improvised a bit. (Okay, more than a little bit…but I wanted to use what was on hand.)I used almond butter instead of the brazil nut butter, substituted raisins for the chocolate chips, and used 1 whole banana instead of the avocado. My gluten-free flour blend was 1 part teff flour, 1 part millet flour, and 1 part coconut flour. These came out of the oven tasting like banana-y oatmeal raisin cookies – one of my favorite cookies of all time. I’m definitely making these again and again. They were superb.

Another recipe I have tried (more than once) from Cheryl is her coconut curried greens recipe. I opted to use canned coconut milk, and did not add chicken, as I made this a side dish. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients here – these greens are craveably delicious. I had to make them twice – after the first time, the flavors haunted me. It’s a good thing collard greens are arriving in my CSA box in large amounts lately!

While this is all I’ve made so far, I definitely found more recipes I want to make in the future. Cheryl has a Nana Skillet Bread that looks comforting and delicious. I can imagine it as tasty breakfast treat. Her Sniffle Stew looks like a go-to recipe, especially in the winter. (I don’t think you need the sniffles in order to eat it – I can imagine it’s the perfect lunchtime soup as well!) And who could pass up her Chocolate Raspberry Pie? That looks killer.

Need some healthy, easy recipe inspiration? Check out more of Cheryl’s recipes here. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Filed under Baked goods, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Daring Bakers: Edible Containers (Maple Mousse in Bacon Chocolate Chip Cups)

 The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

Yes, more edible containers. What’s not to love about a container you can eat? Evelyne suggested making a maple mousse and a bacon cup to hold the mousse. I loved the idea so much, I decided to stick closely to the recipes suggested. I made the mousse (dairy-free, of course), refrigerated it, and got to making bacon cups. I molded bacon around the back side of a muffin tin, secured with toothpicks, and baked, but my bacon cups weren’t really cup-like – they shriveled and had holes too large to hold any mousse. Stumped on what to do instead, I questioned my husband. (Who was walking in and out of the kitchen this whole time, drawn to what I was doing by the aroma of bacon.) His suggestion? Let him eat the bacon. While this is a tasty solution, it doesn’t give me an edible container. (I did share some of the failed bacon cups with him though!)

After some time to think, I remembered that a year or two ago, bacon chocolate chip cookies were all the rage in the food blog world. Having never made them myself, I decided I would play with a chocolate chip cookie recipe, only instead making them in a cup form. I set off making dough and pressing the dough into muffin cups.

I did, however, forget that in spite of pressing the dough only around the edges of the muffin cup (like it was a pie crust), that the cookie dough would rise and fill in the cup entirely. Whoops. So what I ended up with was more like a bacon chocolate chip muffin. Undeterred, I grabbed my melon baller and scooped out a bit of the center, making it a cup once again. (And enjoying the bits of cookie I scooped out – the baker’s treat for sure!)

The rest was easy. Scoop in the maple mousse, top with bacon bits, and refrigerate. Voila – an edible container with a delicious mousse!

The verdict? I think if I try this again, I’ll modify the cookie/cup recipe somewhat. It was a bit dry and crumbly. The mousse, however, was amazing. I could sit down and eat tons of that by itself. As for the bacon-in-a-dessert thing? It’s not bad (it adds a lovely sweet-savory touch, but didn’t taste much like bacon), but it’s not my favorite combination. I could take it or leave it. I think I’d much prefer just to enjoy the mousse unadorned (or maybe with some dairy-free whipped cream).

This was definitely a fun challenge! A big thanks to Evelyne.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cups with Maple Mousse

For the cups:

1 ¾ c gluten-free flour blend (I used equal parts arrowroot starch, brown rice flour, and sorghum flour)

2 t ground chia seed meal

½ t baking soda

½ t kosher salt

1/3 c vegan buttery sticks or oil (I used bacon grease leftover from cooking the bacon plus vegan butter)

½ c coconut sugar

½ c coconut nectar

1 large egg

½ t vanilla extract

½ c finely chopped cooked bacon (about 8 strips), divided

2/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, chia seed meal, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add buttery sticks/oil, sugar, and coconut nectar and beat for about 3 minutes or until blended. Add egg and vanilla and mix on medium until incorporated. Stir in half of the bacon and all of the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for an hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin and divide into 8-9 of the muffin cups, pressing up against the sides. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until beginning to brown on the edges and set in the center. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from tin and place on cooling rack to cool completely.

With a melon baller or similarly sized spoon, scoop out the center of each chocolate chip cup. Fill with chilled maple mousse and garnish with remaining bacon.

For the mousse:

½ c grade B maple syrup

2 large egg yolks

½ envelope gelatin

¾ c coconut cream (scoop cream off of the top of a can of coconut milk)

Bring maple syrup to a boil and remove from heat.

In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they won’t curdle).

Add eggs to maple syrup and whisk until well mixed.

Measure ¼ cup of the coconut cream and place in a bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Place in microwave for 15 seconds and then stir, and microwave for 10 seconds more if needed to dissolve gelatin completely.

Whisk gelatin mixture into the maple syrup and set aside.

Whisk occasionally, leaving mixture out for about an hour, until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

Whip the remaining coconut cream in a large bowl. Stir ¼ of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from fridge, whisk, and scoop into bacon chocolate chip cups.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Kids In The Kitchen: Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I cherish these Kids In The Kitchen times. With three teenagers in the house (well, one is 12, but in some ways she’s going on 16 anyway, so I might as well include her in that “teenager” description), I realize that this special time we spend together learning to cook, experiencing food adventures, and generally having fun, isn’t going to last forever. Eventually, one by one, their focus will shift, priorities will change, and they’ll have grown up and won’t be cooking every other weekend in the kitchen with me anymore. This makes this time we have that much more precious. So much more happens than just a kid, a recipe, some food, and a resulting blog post. We get opportunities to learn together, to be silly together, to bond together, one on one. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world.

Matt is the oldest (he’ll be 16 next week!). I suppose that means he’s not a little boy anymore. He’s learning to really voice his opinions and trying to understand and feel his way around where he stands on important worldly beliefs and issues (ranging from what genre of music is best to religion), but at the same time, he continually tries to make us laugh with a quick joke. He takes after his Dad that way – the jokes aren’t always funny, but the sense of humor behind their delivery will guarantee a chuckle and a smile, and many times can disarm me, even in stern moments. In my opinion, a good sense of humor is definitely an asset.

But in spite of his ever-more-grown-up ways, he is still in some ways a boy. Take his suggestion for what we would make for Kids In The Kitchen – peanut butter cookies. That’s a childhood favorite I think he and I share (and a lot of others). Some things you just never outgrow.

These peanut butter cookies are a breeze to make. In fact, I’ve made an almond butter version before following the same recipe. It’s Shirley’s recipe from Gluten-Free Easily, and it’s by far one of the easiest cookie recipes out there. We made these as written – complete with chocolate chips. I only had a taste, but the kids definitely took care of the rest for me – they enjoyed two a piece when they were made, and gladly took the rest home to enjoy at the end of the weekend. They were indeed a hit. Of course, this won’t be the last time this recipe (or a version of it) will be gracing our kitchen. It’s an easy, go-to recipe for cookies that can please a crowd (and some hungry teenagers).

Check out the recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies here.

Have you entered into the giveaway for a copy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free: 120 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less by Amy Green? If not, there’s still time! Check out the giveaway details here. Hurry, because the giveaway ends April 23!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy

Review and Giveaway: Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free by Amy Green

This giveaway has ended, and the winners have been announced here. Thank you all for reading!

In case you haven’t heard, my good friend Amy over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free has written her first book, Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free: 180 easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, and it’s just been released! I couldn’t wait until my copy arrived in the mail, and when it did, I plopped myself down on the couch and read the whole thing, cover to cover. I’m so proud of Amy’s accomplishments. This book is gorgeous, with amazing recipes for everything from buckwheat crepes to cauliflower soup to multiple brownie recipes, all free of gluten and refined sugar. As I am trying to cut refined sugar out of my diet, Amy has become a valuable resource. This book couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It was only a matter of deciding which recipes to try first, so I could share with you just how awesome this book is.

Of all of the tantalizing recipes, it might seem odd that the first thing I made was her Slow Cooker Ketchup (also available on her blog). I haven’t actually eaten ketchup in a long time. When you don’t eat french fries, burgers, or hot dogs on a regular basis, there’s just not that many ketchup opportunities left. I’ve also found that store-bought ketchup, which typically is full of high-fructose corn syrup or sugar, is intensely sweet – something I’ve lost a taste for. Amy’s ketchup, however, is more than just sweet – there are layers of spices, some tang, and a lovely full flavor. I used some of it later in the week for some chipotle sloppy joes (on a slice of gluten-free bread) and oven fries, and felt like a kid again. It was so, so good.

But I wouldn’t do a review of a cookbook purely based on ketchup. That just wouldn’t be right. After all, I’ve sampled Amy’s baking before, and I know what she’s capable of. Her baked goods are phenomenal. When I came across her Fig and Date Bars, I paused. She said they tasted like fig newtons. Fig Newtons? Oh yes, these were so about to happen in my kitchen. I couldn’t wait.

Did they deliver? I would definitely say so. I loved the sticky, sweet but not-too-sweet fig and date filling, and the crumbly topping was just perfect. I brought them to the office, and all day, people would venture back into the kitchen to sneak another one. Our company President even enjoyed some and shared them with his granddaughters (who were visiting that day), and remarked how good they were. (He didn’t know they were gluten and sugar-free until afterwards!) If they pass the test of the gluten and sugar eaters of the world with flying colors, I say that’s definitely a win.

Just look at them. How could you resist?

Do these recipes have you interested? I hope so, because I have FOUR opportunities for you to win a copy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free! Want to know how you can enter to win? Scroll down to the bottom of this post and find out! The giveaway will end at midnight CDT on Saturday, April 23, 2011. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully so you can be entered as many times as possible!

Fig and Date Bars, reprinted with permission from Amy Green, excerpted from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free

1/2 c pitted Medjool dates

1/2 c dried black Mission figs, stemmed and cut in half

1/2 c walnuts

1 c sorghum flour

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t xanthan gum (I used guar gum)

pinch of kosher salt

1/4 c cold butter, diced (I used ghee (also called clarified butter), which is lactose and casein-free)

2 T honey or agave nectar

1 t freshly grated orange zest

1 T freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly mist an 8 X 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl, cover the dates and figs with hot water. Set aside. Or, cover the dates and dried figs with water and microwave for 1 minute.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, chop the walnuts until they are in small pieces but not mealy. Add the sorghum flour, cinnamon, baking soda, xanthan gum, and kosher salt. Process for 30 seconds or until the mixture is combined and the walnuts are a little finer. Sprinkle the butter evenly across the walnut mixture and drizzle in the honey or agave. Pulse until a dough forms. Turn the dough out into a large bowl.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the dates and figs to the food processor, reserving the soaking liquid; there’s no need to wash the processor bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid, the orange zest, and orange juice. Let process for several minutes, until smooth.

While the food processor is running, use wet hands to firmly press two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Once the date and fig mixture is smooth, spread it evenly across the dough. Break the remaining dough into marble-size pieces, sprinkle them across the fig and date paste, and lightly press in.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through, until the top becomes lightly golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and store in the refrigerator. These also freeze well.

Makes 16 2X2 inch bars.

Now, for the giveaway!

In order to be entered into the giveaway, simply leave a comment at the end of this post. Your name will be entered once into a drawing for a chance to win one of four cookbooks.

If you want more chances to win, then listen up!

For a second chance to win, follow Ulysses Press on Twitter and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.

For a third chance to win, friend Ulysses Press on Facebook and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.

For a fourth chance to win, like Ulysses Press’s new Health and Fitness fan page and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.

(An added bonus for you, when you follow/like Ulysses Press – they often host giveaways and other fun stuff!)

For a fifth chance to win, like Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free on Facebook and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.

For additional chances to win, Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter, post about it on Facebook or your blog, and leave me comments telling me you did those things.

And remember – the giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, April 23, 2011.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Kids In The Kitchen: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Matt wanted to make cinnamon rolls. This was what was decided on the weekend before last. I hadn’t perfected my “healthier” cinnamon roll recipe yet, and while I’ve bookmarked quite a few, I thought that perhaps Matt didn’t want to experiment with those. Instead, I made plans to make these from I Am Gluten Free (who is now Gluten-Free Diva), as I had made them before, early on in my gluten-free life, and they tasted very much like the original – light, fluffy, and deliciously cinnamon-y.

And then Matt changed his mind.

Normally we don’t do last-minute changes, particularly when things like live crabs were purchased. It’s just not that easy – someone still has to cook up perishible foods like that. But in this case, it was an easy switch. He wanted to make chocolate chip cookies instead. I thought, and realized I had all of the ingredients for some version of a chocolate chip cookie. But which recipe would I choose? I’m notorious for never making the same recipe more than once when it comes to baking – I love to experiment. I hadn’t yet perfected a relatively healthy, yet still chewy and delicious chocolate chip cookie. Elana’s recipe has been my favorite so far, but I was still on a quest. And while I love that cookie, it’s not exactly as familiar as a traditional gluten-y and sugary cookie. This time around, I wanted to allow Matt to make cookies like he was used to – the kind of cookies he loved.

So I scoured the internet a bit. It didn’t take long, because my favorite trustworthy TV “chef” had a solution – a gluten-free chewy cookie. That’s right, Alton Brown went gluten-free! (Okay, just for this recipe. Admit it though, I had you going for just a split second, right?) I made minor changes, making it also dairy-free, and we were on our way to making chocolate chip cookies.

To be straight, this is NOT a healthy cookie. Nope. Not at all. But was it chewy? Oh yes. Was it slightly soft in the center, with slightly crispy edges? Most definitely. Was it full of chocolatey goodness? Indeed.

I had to hide them from myself until the kids took them home, once I had my cookie. They were addictively good. Definitely a treat – not something I could keep around the house. But they also delighted the kids – so they were indeed a success!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted from Alton Brown

8 oz vegan butter, such as Earth Balance

11 oz brown rice flour (about 2 cups)

1 1/4 oz potato starch (about 1/4 cup)

1/2 oz tapioca flour (about 2 tablespoons)

1 t guar gum

1 t kosher salt

1 t baking soda

2 oz sugar (about 1/4 cup)

10 oz dark brown sugar (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

2 T non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut beverage)

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

12 oz non-dairy semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the vegan butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

In a medium bowl, add the brown rice flour, the potato starch, the tapioca flour, guar gum, salt, and baking soda. Whisk together and set aside.

Add to the melted butter the sugar and brown sugar. Cream together on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the egg, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture gradually until well combined. Add in chocolate chips and stir.

Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Shape the dough into 2-ounce balls and place on parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheets, no more than 6 to a sheet. Place oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and place one baking sheet on each. Bake for 7 minutes, and then swap the baking sheets and bake for an additional 7 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute or two, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes about 2 dozen LARGE cookies.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Daring Bakers: Dairy-Free Panna Cotta with Peach Thyme Gelee, and Gluten-Free Florentine Cookies

 

 The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Panna Cotta. That simple, yet oh-so-satisfying cream-based dessert. It stands the test of time. It’s a go-to recipe for anyone who wants to delight their dinner guests, and it’s relatively uncomplicated…until you go and throw that whole dairy-free thing in there.

But alas, this is why I joined Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks – to not only take on the challenge of making something new, but also to make it gluten and dairy-free. It hasn’t always been a complete success, but sometimes, it’s that whole “thrill of the chase” thing that keeps me coming back for more. And honestly, the panna cotta was not any more difficult to make non-dairy.

This month, I opted to take a risk and share the (hopefully) successful fruits of my challenge with my sister and her husband. They arrived on a Saturday afternoon, twin girls in tow, ready for an evening filled with grilled pork chops topped with sauteed apples, onions, and melty colby-jack cheese (made by my brother-in-law, with Daiya on mine instead of cheese – sweet-and-savory deliciousness!), a simple spinach salad, mashed sweet potatoes, and this roasted cauliflower dish. Glasses of inexpensive zinfandel were filled, and filled again. Warm, comfortable conversation was made in between baby feedings, rounds of Mario Bros. on the Wii with Brittany (who decided to spend the weekend with us), the debut of a new little video camera, and an occasional attempt at distracting a slightly grumpy, teething baby. And dessert.

Charlie and Zoe, 7 1/2 months old

 We sweetened the end of the meal with creamy, rich, dairy-free panna cotta with a peach-thyme gelee, and an overabundance of gluten-free, dairy-free florentine cookies. The panna cotta was made with coconut milk and almond milk instead of cream and milk. The gelee was inspired partly by the lonely bag of frozen peaches leftover from last summer, and this jam recipe. It was a lovely blend of rich and sweet, but not overly so – the fact that I kept it refined sugar-free definitely helped to keep the sweetness at a more natural level.

The florentine cookies, on the other hand, were definitely sweet. In spite of my use of dark chocolate, they still were still plenty sweet – although not cloying. While I’d never enjoyed this cookie before – a lovely oat-y sandwich, filled with chocolate – I knew it would be a favorite.  It was definitely well-received by my sister and brother-in-law. As I know my limitations on self-control around good cookies, and they were both so excited about them,  I sent them home with the rest.

It was a good day.

These two recipes were lovely – and I was excited to finally get around to making panna cotta. The cookie stole the show, however. A big thanks to Mallory for this month’s challenge!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Panna Cotta with Peach Thyme Gelee

1 c unsweetened almond milk (I made my own using this recipe – it’s really easy!)

1 T (1 packet) unflavored gelatin powder

2 cans coconut milk (not light)

1/3 c honey

pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean

Pour the almond milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over evenly. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

Pour the almond milk into a saucepan and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat until hot, but not boiling. Whisk a few times during this process. Next, add the coconut milk, honey, and pinch of salt. With a small knife, carefully cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the saucepan. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the honey has dissolved, 5-7 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Then pour into glasses or ramekins. (I used 5, but you could easily make this a 6-serving recipe.) Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

(If you want to layer the gelee on top, allow the panna cotta to firm up for a few hours in the fridge first. If you wish to top with another layer of panna cotta, as I did, you have to reserve some of the panna cotta, and wait for the gelee to firm up before carefully layering the remaining panna cotta on top.)

Peach Thyme Gelee

3 T water

2 T (2 packets) unflavored gelatin powder

1 lb peach slices (can use frozen), chopped finely

1/4 t fresh thyme leaves

2 T honey

pinch of salt

Sprinkle gelatin over water. Place fruit and honey in a small saucepan and simmer until honey has dissolved. Mix the gelatin mixture into the fruit and stir until gelatin has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree in a blender. Once panna cotta is sufficiently gelled, carefully spoon gelee over top. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Florentine Cookies

2/3 c vegan buttery sticks (I used Earth Balance)

2 c gluten-free quick oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 c granulated sugar

2/3 c gluten-free flour mixture (3.5 oz – I used 1 oz teff flour, 1 oz potato starch, and 1.5 oz sorghum flour)

1 T combination of chia seed meal and flax meal, plus 1 T boiling water, mixed into a slurry

1/4 c agave nectar

1/4 c almond milk

1 t vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 1/2 c dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat. Melt vegan buttery sticks in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Add oats, sugar, flours, chia/flax slurry, agave nectar, almond milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop by the tablespoonful, three inches apart, on the baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your spoon. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (I use a stainless steel bowl large enough to sit on top of a small saucepan with an inch or so of simmering water) until smooth. Place the cookies upside down and spoon a bit of chocolate into the middle of each, and place another cookie on top to make a sandwich.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free