Tag Archives: holiday

Daring Bakers: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Christmas Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book…and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I have heard of Stollen, but have never made it. I’m not a fruitcake person, really, but I do love dried fruit and nuts, and this was more of a bread than a cake. I was excited to give it a try, but knew I only had 1 shot at getting it right. Instead of trying to guess which gluten-free flours would make a perfect bready texture (and I’m out of several of them, and have to wait for my online order to arrive), I opted instead for Pamela’s Bread Mix. I’ve used it multiple times for pizza crust and hamburger buns, and it bakes up fluffy and light. As for the dairy-free substitutions, that was a breeze – I used So Delicious coconut beverage  for the milk, and palm shortening for the butter. I opted to not use red glace cherries, instead substituting dried cherries and bumping up the amount of dried fruits in the bread.

The verdict? I was worried it wasn’t rising at first. I made the dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for 2 days, and when I let it warm, rolled it out, and rested it, it really didn’t look as though it rose. I know gluten-free dough has a tendency to have difficulty rising (that lack of gluten!), but I had concerns it was going to bake into a doughy lump. But once it was in the oven, it rose, browned, and looked delicious and crusty. And when we ate it – heaven. Yum. Not too sweet, crusty on the outside, and a soft interior studded with sweet cherries.

I would love to make this again. Next time, I’d love to soak my dried fruit for longer (I only soaked for about an hour), to really bump the flavors, (and probably use rum instead of bourbon) but overall, a lovely Christmas treat.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Christmas Stollen Wreath

1/4 c lukewarm water (110 degrees F)

2 packages dry active yeast (Red Star is gluten-free)

1 c non-dairy milk

9 T palm shortening

5 1/2 c of your favorite gluten-free flour blend

1 T xanthan gum, if your flour blend does not already include it (mine did)

1/2 c sugar

3/4 t salt

1 t cinnamon

3 large eggs, beaten

Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

2 t vanilla extract

1/2 t almond extract

1 t lemon juice

3/4 c candied orange peel (make your own!)

1 c golden raisins

1/4 c dried cranberries

1/2 c dried cherries

3 T bourbon

Juice from zested orange

1 c sliced almonds

Melted non-dairy butter for coating the wreath

Powdered sugar for dusting the wreath

In a small bowl, soak the raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries in the bourbon and orange juice. Set aside while you work on the rest of the stollen.

Add the yeast to the warm water and stir to dissolve. Allow to sit for a few minutes to “proof”.

In a small saucepan, combine the non-dairy milk and the shortening and melt the shortening over medium heat. Remove from heat and let stand until lukewarm (about 110 degrees F).

Lightly beat eggs with extracts in a small bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, xanthan gum (if using), sugar, salt, cinnamon, and zests. Then stir in the yeast mixture, eggs, and the lukewarm milk mixture. Mix until dough comes together. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the candied peel, the soaked dried fruit, and the almonds and mix with your hands or with a mixer (with a dough hook) on low until well-incorporated.

Sprinkle some additional gluten-free flour onto a clean counter, and turn dough onto flour. With floured hands, knead dough for approximately 8 minutes. Dough should be slightly sticky, but not excessively so. The raisins and dried fruit might fall out of the dough a bit as you knead – this is good. Just keep pressing them back in. Gather the dough and make a ball. Lightly oil a large, clean bowl, and place the dough ball in it, rolling it around to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature on the counter for about 2 hours. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter and turn dough onto it, and place another large piece of parchment on top. Roll dough out into a rectangle about 16 X 24 inches and about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment, and starting with the long side, roll dough up tightly into a cylinder.

Transfer the cylinder roll to a sheet pan. Form the roll into the shape of a wreath, using a bowl in the center as a guide, if needed. Pinch the ends together. Using kitchen shears, make cuts along the outside of the circle, about 2 inches apart, and about 2/3 of the way through the dough. Roll these pieces towards the outside of the wreath so that the cuts separate somewhat. Cover wreath loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate 180 degrees. Bake for another 30 minutes or until dough reaches 190 degrees F in the center and wreath is deeply browned. Remove from oven and brush with melted non-dairy butter. Using a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer, sprinkle powdered sugar over the wreath in an even layer. Allow to soak in for a minute, and sprinkle another layer of sugar. Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving, or store in a plastic bag once completely cool.

Serves about 12.


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

Kids in the Kitchen: Dairy-Free Fudge (and Peanut Butter Fudge!)

Christmas is obviously in full swing around here. Brittany wanted to go all out with chocolate this past weekend – she wanted to make brownies and fudge. Not just plain fudge, either – she wanted to make peanut butter fudge too! So I stocked up on chocolate, experimented with my tried-and-true gluten-free brownie recipe (making it dairy-free by substituting 7 tablespoons of palm shortening for the 8 tablespoons of butter – easy peasy!), and located my soon-to-be favorite fudge recipe over at Go Dairy Free.

I opted to lower the sugar just a tad (not that it’s a low-sugar recipe by any stretch!), but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely, making improvisations for the peanut butter variety. What resulted was an intense, rich, creamy, dreamy fudge. The peanut butter variety was even more crave-inducing, and was the favorite of all three kids (and John, who savored his piece.) It was a breeze to make, and will definitely be a recipe I’ll turn to time and time again. If you’re looking for a last-minute holiday candy to bring to a party, give as a gift, or just to set out for the family to enjoy, this is definitely one to consider!

Dairy-Free Fudge (adapted from Go Dairy Free)

1 c dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 c confectioner’s sugar

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T dairy-free margarine (I used Earth Balance)

1/2 c regular coconut milk

1/2 t vanilla extract

Lightly grease an 8X8 inch square baking pan. Set aside.

Set a stainless steel bowl over a small saucepan with an inch or so of simmering water. Place chocolate chips, margarine, and coconut milk and melt, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and cocoa powder  and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour everything into your prepared pan and spread out evenly. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Fudge

1 c dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 c confectioner’s sugar plus 1 T more (for peanut butter)

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T dairy-free margarine (I used Earth Balance)

1/2 c regular coconut milk

1/2 c smooth peanut butter

Lightly grease an 8X8 inch square baking pan. Set aside.

Set a stainless steel bowl over a small saucepan with an inch or so of simmering water. Place chocolate chips, margarine, and coconut milk and melt, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and cocoa powder  and stir to incorporate. In a microwave safe bowl, heat peanut butter until softened, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar. Remove fudge mixture from heat and pour everything into your prepared pan and spread out evenly. Scoop the peanut butter and place on top of fudge mixture in spoonfuls. With a butter knife, drag the peanut butter around the fudge to make swirls. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.


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

Kids in the Kitchen: Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut butter cups rank pretty high up there in terms of favorite candy, when it comes to our kids. I can’t blame them – I long for those creamy, sweet, delicious treats myself, but because of my dairy “issues”, most store-bought candies are off of the list. So when Matt said he wanted to make these, I was excited. Not only would we be rewarded with delicious candy treats, the process was relatively simple and fun!

This would be a great project if you happen to be home with your kids during the holiday break. Candy molds are relatively inexpensive, and if you use the paint brushes, it’s almost like going back to kindergarten – and who doesn’t love that every once in a while? And when you’re getting to eat your project when you’re finished, then it’s the best kind of project available!

If you are looking to make this dairy-free, be sure you find dairy-free chocolate chips. I used Enjoy Life brand, but I’ve found some other brands also are dairy-free. And of course, if you or someone in your family can’t do peanut butter, then almond butter or even sunbutter would work! You can even try to use a bit of jam (I’ve used raspberry jam in the past) and make fancy bon-bons!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cups

1 1/2 c dairy-free chocolate chips

about 1/2 c peanut butter (I used creamy)

In a double boiler (or you can use a small saucepan with a bit of water in the bottom, and place a stainless steel bowl on top), bring water to low boil and add chocolate chips in top. Stir slowly until melted. Turn heat down to low.

Using a paint brush (I used a cheap one – no need to get fancy), paint chocolate in the inside of the mold, making sure to coat evenly and thoroughly. Place mold in freezer for a few minutes. Remove from freezer, and scoop small amounts of peanut butter into each mold. Freeze again for about 10 minutes. Remove from freezer, and paint chocolate over the top of the peanut butter, making sure you have enough to “seal” the filling inside the candy. Freeze again for 30 minutes, and remove from freezer. Turn mold over and pop the candies from the mold.


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

Chocolate Cherry Nut Truffles and a Month of Unprocessed Foods

So maybe I’m a little ahead of myself here. Nut truffles are something I usually think of when the holidays are nearing. But they’ll be here all too soon, won’t they? This year, I’ll be more than prepared. (And now, perhaps, so will you.)

Truffles aren’t a new treat. They’ve been around for a long time; given as gifts during the holidays, gracing a dessert table, or made as a decadent treat. What’s so great about these nut truffles? They’re not sugar-laden, diabetic coma-inducing, nutritionally-deficient treats. These truffles are a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber. But don’t tell that to your taste buds – because as far as they’re concerned, these are chocolate. And chocolate is an indulgence. Something to be savored. So savor these truffles. You deserve it, and your body will thank you.

Chocolate Cherry Nut Truffles

1/2 c raw cashews

1/2 c raw almonds

1/2 c pitted dates

1/4 c all-natural almond butter (I make my own)

2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 T agave nectar

1/2 T vanilla extract

3/4 c dried cherries

1/4 c dairy-free chocolate chips

Additional cocoa powder for dusting 

Place the cashews and almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Process until nuts are finely ground. Add dates and process until no large chunks remain. Add almond butter, cocoa powder, agave and vanilla and process to combine. Add dried cherries and chocolate chips and process until no large chunks remain.

Spread out a bit of cocoa powder on a plate. Using a teaspoon, scoop out some of the truffle mixture and form into a ball by rolling gently in your hands. Roll the truffle in the cocoa powder and shake off any excess. Set aside and repeat with remaining truffle mixture. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until ready to serve. Can be made several days ahead.

Makes about 35-40 truffles.


Can you imagine going for an entire month without eating processed foods? For most average Americans, eating processed foods is a standard way of life. We all know that the added preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, and refined sugars and flours aren’t good for our bodies. But it’s become so common, so everyday, so normal to eat these foods, that for most, going without eating processed foods for a month is a real challenge. But it’s a challenge worth taking. Over at Eating Rules, you can sign up to take the challenge, and forgo eating processed foods for the entire month of October. I’ve signed up. Don’t worry that October has already started – you can still join in. But you won’t be left in the cold, wondering how to go about this process. There are daily posts sharing recipes and ideas on how to eat without resorting to those plastic-wrapped, boxed, or fast food meals. I encourage you to check it out. Even if you can’t wrap your head around the idea of going totally unprocessed, then make a goal of going unprocessed for one meal a day. Or one day a week. Whatever works for you. The idea is to make an effort to become more aware of what you eat.

I began eating less and less processed foods around the time I went gluten-free. When you eat a gluten-free diet, you already have to scrutinize labels of every packaged food in order to ensure you are eating safely. Consequentially, it increases awareness. I suddenly started becoming really aware of all the crap I was eating. Yes, crap. I couldn’t tell you what a lot of those ingredients listed on the packages were, or what they did. Most labels sound more like a science experiment than actual food. I began learning more and more in the kitchen, and realized that with a little planning, I could simply do without the junk, and instead focus on whole, natural, unprocessed foods. I would make my own (healthier) version if I had a craving.

So, what do I eat? I get this question a lot from people when they find out that I eat gluten-free and dairy-free. Well, I eat a wide variety of foods, and I promise you, I don’t feel deprived. (With chocolate cherry truffles lying around, it’s actually quite the opposite!) Here are a few typical meals that I eat fairly regularly:

Breakfast: cup of black coffee (maybe two)

 2 eggs scrambled with spinach and shiitake mushrooms (made the night before and reheated)


2 hard-boiled eggs with a green smoothie (something like this or this)

Morning snack, if I’m hungry: handful of almonds, pumpkin seeds, or other nuts, gRAWnola, or sometimes, homemade beef jerky (yes, recipe coming soon!)

Lunch: leftovers from the night before

OR a sardine and avocado salad (my new favorite lunch!)

OR any other variety of salad consisting of greens, fresh veggies, a bit of chicken, and possibly some olives or pickled peppers, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Afternoon snack, if I’m hungry: a piece of fruit, carrot and celery sticks, a handful of nuts, or beef jerky

Dinner: Lamb chops, a baked sweet potato, and steamed broccoli

OR Italian-style spaghetti squash

OR some type of chicken curry, like this recipe

What do I drink? Water. Lots of water. I also drink herbal teas, coffee, and black and green teas on occasion. And once in a while, a glass of wine or a gluten-free beer.

Most of the time, I cook in bulk for meals other than dinner. Sunday nights are usually my prepare-for-the-week nights. I make hard-boiled eggs. I cut up vegetables and place them in baggies. I cook chicken for salads. And then every night, as I’m making dinner, I organize our lunches (I pack lunches for my husband and myself) at the same time or afterwards. This makes it easy in the morning, and ensures we have enough nutritious, tasty food for the day.

Sure, it takes planning to eat unprocessed foods. It takes a bit of time, and it takes getting used to, if this isn’t your normal routine. But once you get in the habit, it becomes second nature. But if you make a commitment, you just could start a new habit worth keeping!


Filed under Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Vegetarian