Tag Archives: gluten-free baking

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

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: The Spunky Coconut

grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free cinnamon roll

This month, for Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger (a fantastic event, initiated by Sea at Book of Yum, where gluten-free bloggers “adopt” one another, cook one or more of their recipes, and share them with the world, in the interest of becoming more acquainted with one another and enjoying one another’s recipes), I adopted Kelly of The Spunky Coconut. The Spunky Coconut is a relatively “new to me” blog; one I’ve only been frequenting for the past few months. I discovered it around the same time I was given her latest book , Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts as a gift. I was immediately hooked – the recipes are nutrient-dense, simple, and delicious. I’ve made her vanilla bean cake and her coffee cake, both in the blog and in her book. I loved them so much, I purchased her first book as well – The Spunky Coconut Cookbook. I knew I wanted to adopt her, just as an excuse to try more recipes. So I did.

But what to make? There are so many choices! I did have a lot of raw nuts lying around, so I first opted to soak and dehydrate them, just so I’d have some yummy snacks (or potential nut butter beginnings!). Kelly outlines some easy instructions on how to do this.

All you really need is time (and a dehydrator – although I’ve also done this before on the lowest setting in my oven, in my pre-dehydrator days). Mine took around 24 hours to dry in the dehydrator at 115 degrees. The nuts were tasty and crunchy – perfect for snacking.

And then this morning, I turned my attention to cinnamon rolls. Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts has a lovely cinnamon roll recipe – and it’s completely dairy-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free. The only change I made was that I added some raisins (about 1/4 cup) to the filling. They came out full of cinnamon-y flavor, but not overly sweet or sticky. They were a lovely “grown-up” breakfast treat, perfect with coffee.

These two recipes are just the tip of the iceberg of The Spunky Coconut. I encourage you to go. Visit. Browse around a bit. You might decide you want to try a vegan, raw-inspired caesar dressing for your salad. Or grain-free tortilla wraps (which are next on my list!). Or as it warms up outside, how about a chilled chia coffee drink? The recipes here are endlessly creative – I know they’ve opened up my mind to a lot of amazing possibilities in the kitchen!

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Filed under Baked goods, breakfast, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, 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

Lemon Earl Grey Cookies

Just a quick note to give you a little sunshine in your late February day. These little cookies have a lovely lemon flavor that will brighten any dreary, cloudy, or otherwise less-than-sunny day. They’re not overly sweet, they’re not rich, and they’re perfect with a cup of hot tea (yes, Earl Grey would be a great option here). They’re also great to bring to work and push off on your coworkers, which is what I did. After all, a cookie in my kitchen is a cookie begging for me to eat it – and I’ve already had more than my fair share!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Lemon Earl Grey Cookies

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c quinoa flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/2 t guar gum

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

leaves from 3 bags of Earl Grey tea, crushed fine

1/2 c vegan buttery sticks, softened

3/4 c sugar, plus 1/4 c more for rolling

1 egg

1/2 t vanilla extract

zest of 1 large lemon

2 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, potato starch, guar gum, baking powder and soda, salt, and tea leaves. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add buttery sticks and sugar. Beat on medium until fluffy and pale (about 2-3 minutes), and then add egg. Beat on medium until egg incorporates, and add vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat until incorporated. Turn speed to low and add in flour mixture, and allow to beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.

Place the remaining sugar in a small bowl, and using a tablespoon (and another spoon if needed), scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough, and roll them around in the sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets, 2-3 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are just barely starting to brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

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

Wild Veggie: Maple Carrot Custard (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Last week, I was contacted by Wild Veggie to see if I would be interested in trying out their product and sharing it with you. While I don’t try out a lot of products (either they’re not gluten AND dairy-free, or they’re so full of “junk” that I don’t want to eat), this was one I could definitely get to know. The ingredient list is quite short – basically just veggies, spices, and (gluten-free) food starch. They are vegetable purees, perfect for soups, sauces, or in this case – custard.

Carrot custard? Why not? We make custards out of everything else. This was very easy to prepare – just whisk together the ingredients, pour into greased ramekins, and bake. Then enjoy, drizzled with maple syrup, a few pecans, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a few flakes of coarse sea salt. The flavor is actually reminiscent of Thanksgiving – it’s similar to pumpkin pie – but why reserve those flavors just for a certain time of year? I could enjoy this throughout the colder months. It’s creamy and delicious.

I also tried a bit of the Broccoli Wild Veggie in mashed potatoes. My husband and I both enjoyed it. I have yet to try the red pepper, but I’m imagining some sort of delicious red pepper sauce to accompany a nice piece of fish – halibut, perhaps? It definitely will not go unused! A big thanks to Wild Veggie for sharing their products. 

Wild Veggie Maple Carrot Custard

1 c Wild Veggie Carrot

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 c maple syrup

1 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground allspice

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t kosher salt

3 T tapioca starch

1 1/2 c full-fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together ingredients. Spray 4 ramekins with gluten-free nonstick spray. Pour mixture evenly into ramekins. Place on a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm, with maple syrup drizzled over, topped with a few pecans and a few flakes of coarse salt, if desired.

Makes 4.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Ginger Lemon Girl (Vegan Crusty Bread and Almond Flour Pizza Crust)

This month for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger, I adopted a good blogger friend of mine, Carrie from Ginger Lemon Girl. I identify with Carrie quite a bit – we’re both gluten and dairy-free,  love baking, and we both juggle full-time jobs, family life, and a blog. And yet, for all of our similarities, I love that we venture into different areas in the kitchen! This makes this whole “adopting” thing that much more fun. While I have not spent much time worrying about gluten-free pizza crusts or bread in my kitchen (while I miss it a great deal, pizza has become something I only eat once in a great while – same with bread), Carrie has perfected some amazing recipes. I tried two – her vegan crusty bread, and her almond flour pizza crust.

Both were quite lovely. I was concerned that I’d ruined the bread recipe – I am not all that successful in the bread-making department, gluten-free or otherwise. Her dough was wetter than I’m accustomed to, and given my previous bread attempts (which have often turned out gummy in the middle), I was sure I’d messed it up. And while my boules did not raise very high, the texture was amazing. Lots of nice little holes in the bread that just begged for a schmear of vegan buttery spread or jam, and an oh-so-delicious crusty exterior. To date, it was the best bread to come out of my oven.

The pizza was also delicious. The crust is not chewy like a gluten-y crust, but it was very light and flavorful from the addition of herbs. I topped mine with a bit of pizza sauce (homemade – I didn’t really follow a recipe, just added some spices to tomato sauce), a touch of Daiya, and sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and a few sundried tomatoes. Divine. It was also good leftover for lunch the following day, in case you made enough to have leftovers.

Carrie has many more recipes I’m dying to try – vegan chocolate cake, for example. (hmm, maybe I could make that right now…) Or good ol’ chocolate chip cookies, egg-free. Or one of my favorites – Almond Joy impossible pie.

If you’re not yet familiar with Ginger Lemon Girl, I strongly encourage you to check out Carrie’s blog!

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Vegetarian

Daring Bakers: Failed Attempt At An Entremet, And A Pomegranate Gelee

No, what you’re looking at above is not an entremet. Not even close. But sometimes, there is a silver lining to that dark cloud that seems to rain on your kitchen creations. That silver lining in this case was a simple, light, and delicious pomegranate gelee.

But we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s first start at the beginning.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. In case you’re not familiar with an entremet, here is how they do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca4eLDok-4Q (video is in French – FYI)

And yes, my hopes were high. I was to make a thin, pretty, decorated cake to wrap around a filling of my choice. Many entremets are filled with bavarian cream, or cheesecake, or any number of other lovely concoctions. I pondered for a while on how to accomplish this gluten and dairy-free, but I devised a plan. I would simply swap out gluten-free flours for the regular flour, and I’d fill mine with my vegan cheesecake recipe. My plan was to make a middle layer of more of the cake and some “cinnamon roll” filling – which was basically a paste of dates, cinnamon, and pecans. Finally, I’d top it with a pomegranate gelee – so the top would look sparkly and like a pretty red glass. In my head, this sounded spectactular.

Only I should have stopped when I was coloring my jaconde (the design filling). I was low on natural food dye. All I really had was blue. So I went with it. (Only blue really isn’t that appetizing for a cake. Or very many foods, actually – except for blueberries.) The cake actually turned out beautifully, except for the blue part. The texture was spongy, and it was pliable. It was relatively easy to wrap around my 9″ cheesecake mold. Despite the less-than-stellar color, I was excited. I filled it with the cheesecake filling, and stuck it in the freezer to firm up.

A while later, I made the pomegranate gelee. This is where things turned for the worse. I thought that somehow, when I poured the liquid juice-and-gelatin mixture over the cake, that it would stay where it was supposed to. It didn’t. Instead it leaked all down the sides of the cake, making pink splotches and causing the cake to look, well…ugly. It actually tasted alright, but I couldn’t get over how it looked. The combination of colors was downright unappetizing. I begrudgingly took my photos, tasted a bit, but it ultimately ended up in the garbage. I was disappointed.

Until I realized that I still had pomegranate gelee left over. You see, I made way more than I needed for the entremet, so I opted to pour the rest into individual serving bowls and sprinkle some pomegranate arils into each of them. I placed them in the refrigerator to set. I took one out, grabbed a spoon and dug in – and somehow, the sting of failure lessened. My mistake caused an unexpected success – almost a yin and yang in the kitchen. The pomegranate gelee was sweet, tart, and fresh. It was light. I loved it.

But wait, you say. You took pictures? Where are they?

Okay, well, yes, I did. I didn’t want to start this post off with a garish photo of a less-than-appetizing entremet, lest I scare you away, never to return. But since you’ve stayed with me this far, here goes:

Here's the unmolded, whole entremet, with the pink "stains" in the cake

A slice of the entremet - I think any color but blue would have improved it!

There you go. I would love to try this challenge again soon, knowing what I know now. I think it could be a lovely, impressive treat for company or a special occasion. I will go ahead and share the revised version of the biscuit jaconde (cake) recipe with you – but trust that you shouldn’t dye it blue, and learn from me – don’t pour liquid on top of it and expect it to stay there! 

As for the pomegranate gelee, this was probably the easiest dessert recipe I’ve ever posted. It’s almost not a recipe. But if you have guests coming over, but want dessert to be easy and something that you literally can just pull out of the refrigerator and serve, this is it.

A big thanks to Astheroshe for this challenge. It was fun, even if mine didn’t turn out as planned. I’m definitely going to try again soon!

Pomegranate Gelee

2 envelopes powdered gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)

24 oz 100% pomegranate juice (I used POM Wonderful)

about 1/2 c pomegranate arils (totally optional, but it adds a nice touch)

Pour powdered gelatin into a small bowl and pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the juice over. Allow to sit. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the juice over medium heat until nearly to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until smooth. Allow to cool for a few minutes and pour into desired serving bowls (I used bowls, but wine or champagne glasses could be extravagant too). Place in refrigerator and chill for 3-4 hours. About halfway through the chill time, sprinkle some pomegranate arils over each. When the gelee is set, they are ready to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Biscuit Jaconde Imprime (adapted from Chef John O. at The International Culinary School in Atlanta, GA)

Ingredients:
¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar

¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour (I used 1 cup sorghum flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, and 1 cup tapioca starch, with 1/2 teaspoon guar gum, sifted together, as cake flour)

3 large eggs – about 5⅓ oz/ 150g

3 large egg whites – about 3 oz/ 90g

2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar

2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted (again, I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)

Directions:

  1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
  2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
  3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
  4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
  5. Fold in melted butter.
  6. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Ingredients
14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened (I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)

1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners’ (icing) sugar

7 large egg whites – about 7 oz / 200g

1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour (I used 1 cup sorghum, 1 cup brown rice flour, and 1 cup tapioca starch, with 1/2 teaspoon guar gum, whisked together, to make cake flour)

Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
  2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
  3. Fold in sifted flour.
  4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

  1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
  2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one. (I used a piping bag to make my blue designs)
  3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
  5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
  6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
  7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Preparing the MOLD for entremets:

– Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.

– A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.

– Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.

– Glass Trifle bowl. You will not have a free standing dessert, but you will have a nice pattern to see your joconde for this layered dessert.

1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.

2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.

3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)

4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.

5. The mold is done, and ready to fill with anything from cheesecake to bavarian cream to fruit or even more cake layers. The possibilities are endless.

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Kids In The Kitchen: Peanut Butter Brownies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

With the exception of Brandan’s adventures, it seems we’ve fallen into a bit of a dessert-o-rama here in the Kids In The Kitchen series. Just look – there were brownies not long ago, along with chocolate peanut butter fudge and peanut butter cups. Okay, so maybe that’s not just a dessert-o-rama, but rather a chocolate-peanut-butter-o-rama. But the former is a bit easier to say, don’t you think?

Anyway, I digress. I couldn’t deny Matt an opportunity to make brownies as well. Besides, brownies are one of my favorite food groups. And these were slightly different than other brownies, even if only that they included peanut butter. I started with my favorite brownie recipe and made adjustments from there. It’s a relatively simple recipe – and I love that it only uses one pot. It’s almost as if it makes up for all of the dirty dishes that usually accumulate in my kitchen. (Okay, not even close. But let’s just pretend, shall we?)

Verdict? These were lovely. Chewy on the edges, fudgy in the center, with a slight peanut taste. Personally, if it were my choice, I would have opted to swirl in the peanut butter, rather than blending it in completely, but this was Matt’s choice. He wasn’t complaining – and neither was anyone else. Let me just say – it will be hard to keep these around the house for longer than 24 hours.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Brownies

7 T palm shortening

2 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 c sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 t  vanilla extract

1/4 c plus 1 T sweet white rice flour

1/2 t guar gum

1 t unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 t kosher salt

1/2 c semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips

1/2 c creamy all-natural peanut butter

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8 X 8 pan (or line with parchment and grease the parchment) and set aside.

Melt the shortening and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once completely melted, remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. Add rice flour, guar gum, cocoa powder and salt and whisk to blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter, and pour batter into prepared baking pan.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. Cut and serve unadorned, or you can get fancy and top with peanut butter, ice cream, or frosting.

Enjoy!

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