Gluten Free

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

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I have recently been on the search for the perfect “healthy” muffin that I can snack on for breakfast with out feeling like I have just had birthday cake for breakfast. This is NOT that muffin. This is your classic, all the way, over the top, indulgent blueberry muffin.

I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record when I say “you would never know this muffin is gluten free.” So I’m going to stop using that phrase. Instead, I’m just going to pronounce this an awesome blueberry muffin recipe (perfect for anyone avoiding gluten). These came out moist and delicious– just as you would expect from a blueberry muffin recipe. The yogurt and lemon give these muffins a zesty flavor that keeps you wanting more.

Enjoy!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

INGREDIENTS

Muffin Batter:
2 1/4 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Mix (see Below)
heaping 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp loosely packed lemon zest
3 tsp lemon juice (wishing I had put more)
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries

Muffin Topping:
3/4 cup GF all purpose mix
pinch of salt
3 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP granulated sugar
4 TBSP butter, softened

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift gluten free flour mix, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside.
3. Beat together the butter, eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and Greek Yogurt. Gently fold in the dry ingredients- being sure not to over-mix.
4. Toss your blueberries with a pinch of the flour mixture and then gently fold them into the batter.
5. Scoop into prepared muffin pan or baking cups. { I used these decorative paper cups to make 6-8 large muffins. I think this batter would be enough for 12 regular sized muffins. Tip: The batter was pretty thick, so after scooping out the batter into the cups, wet your finger and smooth out the batter in the cups so that it is evenly distributed. This will ensure an even rise.}
6. In a separate bowl, use your hands to mix together your topping. This shouldn’t be too uniformly mixed, there should be clumps of butter. Place a heaping spoonful directly on top of each muffin- pressing down just a tiny bit.
7. Bake in a 350 degree oven. Large muffins take about 30 minutes, but regular sized will take about 15-20 minutes (test with a cake tester at about 15 min). The tops should be slightly golden and the topping is nice and crisp.

GLUTEN FREE ALL PURPOSE FLOUR MIX
(this will be enough for this recipe and you will have a little extra left over)

8.25 ounces brown rice flour, approximately 1 1/2 cups
8.25 ounces sorghum flour, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1.8 ounces cornstarch, approximately 6 TBSP
3/4 ounce tapioca flour, approximately 3 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Italian Amaretti

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A couple months ago I made, what I thought were, the easiest gluten free cookie in the book- peanut butter cookies. I think I have found a recipe that is actually EVEN easier. The Italian Amaretti cookie has just 3 ingredients: almond paste, sugar, and egg whites. You pulse all the ingredients in a food processor then pipe it out onto parchment paper lined sheet trays. Bake for 15-18 minutes and you have a delightful almond cookie that is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. These cookies are great on their own, but sandwiching 2 together with some ganache made for a wonderful sweet. It is a lot like a French macaron, but with fewer steps. Another blogger recommend putting a jam or preserve in the middle- that sounds like a great idea too.

ITALIAN AMARETTI

1 (7-ounce) tube pure almond paste (not marzipan; 3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar
Pinch of Kosher salt
2 large egg whites at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

1. Preheat oven to 300°F and place racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.

2. Pulse almond paste, sugar and salt in a food processor until broken up, then add egg whites and puree until smooth. Transfer batter to pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch tip and pipe 3/4-inch rounds (1/3 inch high) about 1-inch apart in pans. Dip a fingertip in water and gently tamp down any peaks.

3. Bake, rotating and switching position of pans halfway through, until golden and puffed, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Let cookies cool almost completely in their pans. Once cool, they’re much easier to cleanly remove from the parchment. You can make them into sandwich cookies but spreading some ganache (3 ounces of semi-sweet chips melted with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream, then left to thicken a bit would be enough to sandwich the whole batch).

{Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two or frozen up to one month.}

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I accidentally over baked one of the trays, so half came out a little crisper than I would have liked (they were perfect for dipping in coffee).

There’s Something About Meringue

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cake

There’s something about meringue that just makes me smile. Whether it’s a cookie , a cake , or an icing….I absolutely love making meringues. I don’t know if it’s the moment when the egg whites double, then triple, then quadruple in size that makes me happier or the part where you fold all the fun ingredients into the shiny {and sugary} egg whites.

I made this cake for my mother’s recent birthday party and I was surprised by how much people liked it. Generally, I don’t think people love meringue as much as I do, but this combination of hazelnut, chocolate, and whipped cream seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

I found the original recipe on Food & Wine magazine’s website and followed it closely, only making a couple changes. One thing that is very important when making this dessert is to chop the hazelnuts by hand; this makes a huge difference. It was nice to have the  slightly varied sizes of hazelnut pieces throughout the meringue (you can kind of see that in this photo below).

folding meringue

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MERINGUE CAKE

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (7 ounces)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, roughly chopped {the size of a mini chocolate chips}
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet of the parchment and one 8-inch round on the other.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a third baking sheet and toast for 12 to 14 minutes, until browned. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a towel and rub to remove the skins. Chop the nuts. Lower the oven temperature to 225°.
  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff. Beat in the vanilla extracts. Fold in the hazelnuts and semi sweet chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled. Don’t fold too much! The more marbled, the cooler.
  4. Spread the meringue in the drawn circles and bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes, until crisp; rotate the pans halfway through baking. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringues cool completely.
  5. In the bowl of the standing mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them. Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature. Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving {to make the chocolate shavings: use a vegetable peeler on a large/thick bar of chocolate}.

Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies

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Peanut Butter cookies are officially the easiest gluten free cookie to make.  The first recipe I posted makes the perfect chewy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie.  This recipe, however, produces one pretty perfect CRISPY peanut butter cookie.  They come out just like the cross hatched peanut butter cookies your mom used to make.  What’s also fun is that this recipe is super easy to jazz up. I added a couple tablespoons of Nutella to make them Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies. Then, I didn’t stop there there. I topped them off  with a couple tablespoons of marshmallow fluff.

Hint: These are great cookies to bake for your gluten free friends!

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup natural peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place racks in the upper and lower third of the oven
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until well combined. {If you want to add nutella or marshmallow fluff, add it here. Just don’t stir too much; the swirls and the big clumps of marshmallow fluff look cool}. 
  3. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mix about 1 inch apart onto un-greased baking sheets; flatten mounds with the tines of a fork, making a cross-hatch pattern on the cookies
  4. Bake until golden around edges (approx. 10 mins), switching the position of the pans halfway through baking; transfer to racks to cool; repeat with the remaining dough

Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies

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If I could trace back to a single recipe that made me realize that gluten free baking wasn’t going to be all that bad… I would say it was this recipe by Stella Parks.  After many many failed attempts to make cakes, muffins, and other baked goods, I came across this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine.  I remember being on the brink of giving up all hope that I could make a great baked good without fluffy gluten-full flour. I even considered getting rid of all of my baking cookbooks because I was so frustrated.  But when I saw this recipe and photo I knew I had to give it one more attempt. This brownie looked and sounded too good to be true.  Lucky for me… it was a great recipe. I took them to work the next day and no one would have ever known they were gluten free. They were extremely chocolaty and delightfully moist– Just as a brownie should be.   After making the brownies I actually wrote the chef an email because I was so elated with the way they turned out. She wrote back to me saying  “ Many chefs see gluten free baking as a “restriction” but I think the person who commits to a lifetime of baking with only one kind of flour is the one with the restriction…” How very well said!

Stella has a great website named bravetart.com  Check it out!

Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies

7 ounces hazelnuts

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups sugar

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent), chopped

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water

1.      Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, pressing it into the corners and leaving overhang on the 2 short sides.

2.     Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for 15 minutes, until fragrant and the skins blister; transfer to a kitchen towel to cool slightly, then rub off the skins. Let cool completely. Transfer the nuts to a food processor. Add the cocoa, salt and 1/2 cup of the sugar and pulse until finely ground.

3.     In a large saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until nutty-smelling and golden and the foam subsides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate; let stand until melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk the butter and chocolate until smooth, scraping up any browned butter solids from the bottom of the pan. Let cool slightly.

4.     In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar and the coffee until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate-butter mixture. Add the cocoa-hazelnut mixture and beat to combine, scraping down the bowl. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until the top is glossy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the brownie cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate until chilled.

5.      Lift the brownie out of the pan and peel off the foil. Cut into 20 pieces and serve.

SERVE WITH Ice cream.

 

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies

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“Wait, there’s no flour in there? I don’t understand. What’s keeping it together and giving it shape??…. oh wow that’s good!” This is just one of the typical comments that come when friends bite into this cookie. This simple recipe turned out the most amazing peanut butter chocolate cookie I’ve ever had. I actually think everyone baking peanut butter chocolate chip cookies should convert to this recipe. The trick with this one is to refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours before baking. If you don’t…you’ll have some puddled messes on your pan. This cookie was crisp around the edges but still chewy— I swear on my new Breville Stand Mixer!

 

Adapted from Averie Cooks http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/

1 cup creamy peanut butter {I used Peter Pan Honey Roasted, it turned out great}

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 TBSP Vanilla Extract

1 tsp baking soda

6 ounces semi-sweet, dark, or bittersweet chocolate, chopped {I used Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate Bar}

  1. To the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-combined and the sugar is fully incorporated and is mixture is no longer gritty or granular, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape down the bowl as necessary.
  2. Add the baking soda and beat to incorporate. Add the chocolate and beat to just incorporate; don’t overmix or the nice chocolate chunks will break down. Using a 2 inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 5 days, before baking. This will help the cookies keep their shape and prevent them from spreading too thin. .
  3. Preheat oven to 350F, line 2 baking sheets with Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mats, parchment, or spray with cooking spray; set aside. Place mounds of cookie dough on prepared baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart (9 per tray). Slightly flatten the mounds before baking so they don’t stay too domed and puffed while baking, just don’t over-flatten.
  4. Bake for 10-12  minutes, until edges and top are browned. Cookies firm up and deflate slightly as they cool,
  5. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Double Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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This cookies is not for the faint of heart. I love the way this cookie crisps on the outside but stays fudge-y in the center. Next time I think I’m going to try baking these with white chocolate chunks instead of dark chocolate chunks.

original recipe from bakerita.com

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided (I used 2 cups)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
  2. Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 (I halved the sugar here) cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme.
  3. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients and lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips into meringue (dough will become very stiff).
  4. Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

 

Pinata Cakes

What? You don’t know what a pinata cake is?

Neither did I, until I stumbled upon it in Bon App Magazine. It looked interesting, so I had one ordered, personalized, and shipped to town for my friend Elizabeth’s birthday. Before I brought it out at the end of dinner, I had to preface Elizabeth by saying… “Well, you know how …sometimes… I do really dorky food things?? Well this is one of those times.”

I pulled the “cake” out of the box and, as everyone watched in bewilderment, she proceeded to crack the cake with a little mallet to reveal the chocolate candies inside.  Lucky for me, all of the chocolates inside are gluten free. It turned out to be a fun little treat for the table!

Gluten Free Angel Food Cake

Before switching to a gluten free diet, I was a pretty good baker. I don’t think I’m a bad baker now… but it has surely become a challenge for me (there are more baking failures than every before).  New flours, thickeners, binders, and leaveners always seem daunting when reviewing a new gluten free cake or cookie recipe.  I don’t quite understand it all, but I’m learning.

My favorite gluten free cake so far is the Flour-less Meyer Lemon Cake that I posted a couple of months ago. My second favorite, though, is this Angel Food Cake recipe.  What I have begun to notice is that the cakes that use primarily eggs as the ingredient to give the cake structure, as opposed to wheat flour, come out the best when substituting a gluten free flour.  Thus making Angel Food Cake a good cake to convert to gluten free.

GLUTEN FREE ANGEL FOOD CAKE

  • 3/4 cup Gluten Free All Purpose flour ( Arrowhead Mill or King Arthur)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP  Superfine Caster Sugar (will be divided and used in 2 locations in the recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites (the whites of 10-12 eggs)
  • 1/4  tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2-3  tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the lowest position.
  2. Place flour, cornstarch, and 3/4 cup of sugar in a bowl. Whisk and then sift together.
  3. In a large, clean mixing bowl, beat together egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until foamy. This will take about 1 minute
  4. Add Vanilla and continue to beat until the egg whites have increased in volume, and thicken.
  5. Gradually beat 3/4 cups + 2 TBSP sugar, a little bit at a time, into the egg whites until the meringue holds soft peaks.
  6. Gently fold the sifted flour/sugar mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, into the egg whites. Fold until just incorporated. Do not over stir.
  7. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10″ round angel food pan. Gently tap around the pan to diffuse any large air bubbles.
  8. Bake the cake until golden brown, and the top springs back when pressed lightly, about 45 minutes.
  9. Remove cake pan from the oven and invert pan onto the neck of a heat proof bottle or funnel, to suspend the cake upside down to cool for about 2 hours.
  10. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to help turn the cake out of the pan.
  11. Serve with berries, whipped cream, strawberry sauce.

Flour-less Meyer Lemon Cake

Last year, at a food conference at the CIA Greystone, I met a woman who is named The Saffron Queen.  Yes, you heard correctly, the Saffron Queen.  She was from Spain, spoke with an accent, and, if I recall correctly, she donned a navy blue beret the entire time she demonstrated her recipes.  I have tried to look her up… but cant seem to find very much information on her.  Regardless of whether she was a figment of my imagination or not, she made the most marvelous Flour-less Lemon muffins a gluten free girl has ever tried.

When I asked her if they were truly “flour-less” she said to me, in her thick Spanish tongue, ” you are celiac?”  I was shocked at her knowledge of the subject (not all American chefs understand what it means when I say I have celiac disease).  “This Majorcan cake only has 3 ingredients,” she proclaimed “Almond, Sugar, Eggs, and Lemon.”

After walking away (with 4 muffins in my purse for the road) I knew I had to find a recipe for this Majorcan cake.

After testing a variety of flourless almond cake recipes, here is my favorite:

Flour-less Meyer Lemon Cake

  • 1 1/3 cups blanched slivered almonds
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 5 teaspoons packed grated meyer lemon peel
  • pinch of salt 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pan with waxed paper. Finely grind almonds with 2 tablespoons sugar in processor. Combine yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon peel, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in almond mixture. Using clean beaters, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 4 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold large spoonful of whites into almond mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites.

Transfer batter to pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Turn out onto platter. Remove waxed paper.

Originally published in Bon Appetit Magazine