Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a cookie craving last Thursday evening, but didn't want to spend a lot of time making them. I couldn't decide between oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip so I decided to combine both and make a simple cookie with a lot of flavor. These cookies look dark due to the brown sugar and cinnamon, but they were so moist and chewy, not dry or crumbly in the least.

1/4 Stick (2 tbs.) unsalted butter
1/4 c. natural unsweetened applesauce
2/3 c. lt. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. gluten-free flour blend (1/4 c. tapioca flour, 1/8 c. potato starch, 1/8 c. arrowroot starch, 1/8c. sorghum flour, 1/8 c. oat flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. old-fashioned gluten-free oats
3/4 c. raisins
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 - 3/4 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, applesauce, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture until well combined. Add oats, stirring well. Add raisins, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Using two spoons, drop batter onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Airy, light, and naturally gluten-free, pavlova is about as close to heaven as dessert can be. A crispy crust protects a marshmallowy interior that will surprise and delight even the most discerning meringue critic. Named after the russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this dessert is like a little dance of flavors and textures: crunchy, soft, sweet, tart, and absolutely beautiful.

1 c. superfine granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 large egg whites at room temperature 30 minutes
3 Tbsp cold water
1 tsp distilled white vinegar

2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 c. heavy cream
5 c. mixed berries and fruits (blackberries, strawberries, mango, kiwi, raspberries, and blueberries)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees with rack in middle. Trace an approximately 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet. Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks, Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 Tbsp at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using a hand-held mixer). Gently spread meringue inside circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than the center. Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes. (For best results, keep oven door closed as much as possible during baking). Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour. 
Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2 qt. heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking, then continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 c. lemon mixture, then whisk into remaining lemon mixture in saucepan. REduce heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened, about 2 minutes (do not boil). Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest. chill, surfaced covered with parchment, until cook, about 1-1/2 hours. 
Beat heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold 1/4 c. beaten cream into curd to lighten. Spoon lemon curd into meringue and mound berries and fruit on top. Serve remaining whipped cream on the side.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Around springtime, there is no more appropriate dessert than that sweet and spicy combination of pastry and vegetable known as carrot cake. Unfortunately, carrot cake has two fatal flaws. Masquerading as a healthy alternative to most decadent treats, carrot cake is actually one of the worst choices one could make. So not only does the high oil content that makes it so moist boost the calorie content (not to mention the cream cheese frosting), but, it also contains flour. So my goals? Make an amazingly tasty carrot cake that is lower in calories and fat (let's keep in mind we are still eating cake, so it's not like it should be completely void of calories), AND gluten-free. The ingredient list is quite daunting, but the payoff is huge. One bite of this delicious cake and you might just believe this is the best carrot cake you've ever tried.

2-1/2 c. gluten-free flour blend (tapioca, potato starch, arrowroot, sorghum, garfava, white rice flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. non-fat greek yogurt (such as fage or okios)
1/4 c. low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 c. natural applesauce
1 c. crushed and drained pineapple
3/4 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. golden raisins
3 c. finely grated carrots

1 pkg. neufchatel cheese
1 pkg. fat-free cream cheese
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened (you may use less according to your personal tastes)
powdered sugar to taste (approximately 3/4  to 1 c. or more)

1/2 c. crushed walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper fitted to the bottom and spray with oil. Combine flours, xanthan gum, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk. Combine sugars, vanilla, vegetable oil, yogurt, mayonnaise, and applesauce in bowl of electric mixer, blending well. Add slightly beaten eggs, blending until well combined. Stir in carrots, pineapple, coconut and raisins. Divide equally between two prepared cake pans. Tap pans on counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake 30-40 minutes. Cool on wire rack and frost when completely cooled. sprinkle top of cake with walnut pieces.

Blend cheeses and butter with electric mixer until whipped and creamy. Add vanilla and blend. Add powdered sugar, tasting to ensure it's slightly sweet, but not overwhelming.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Delights

What better time to start something new than at Easter? So here it goes, my first blog entry...

We are usually traveling around the holidays, but this year, we decided to stay put. This gives me the pleasure of cooking a holiday meal at home for a change. The cookies pictured above were originally created for my cousin's spring-themed wedding shower last year. My sister loved them so much that she requested I make them again year, suggesting that they would also probably be well suited as a gluten-free cookie. She was right

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2-1/4 c. gluten-free flour blend (see note)*
1/3 c. cocoa powder (alkalized or non-alkalized) (I used Hershey's special dark, as I had it on hand, oddly enough)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. dark chocolate chips

1 c. toasted coconut
1 pkg. candy coated chocolate eggs (I usually use cadbury, but this time found M&M eggs)
1 can pre-made chocolate frosting (or if you are ambitious, you can make your own)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs and milk; beat well. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by generous spoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-11 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

When cookies are fully cooled, frost surface of cookie with a thin layer of chocolate frosting. Place two chocolate eggs on center of frosted cookie. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, pressing lightly to adhere to cookie, shaking off excess. 


*NOTE: I use a blend of tapioca starch, arrowroot starch, potato starch, sorghum flour, oat flour, garfava flour, and a little bit of white rice flour (too much rice flour yields a grainy texture). Various flour combinations yield different textures in gluten-free baking, but I find this blend fairly versatile. I'll post more about my flour combinations later.