Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lower-Fat Chocolate Chip Vanilla Blondies

I am a die-hard brownie fan. You can ask my cousin Erin how safe a pan of brownies is if I'm within a 50-foot radius of it. (The answer is: not safe. Not safe at all.)

But there is something about vanilla that I adore as well, and the allure of these blondies is pretty much on par with that of a pan full of straight chocolate. These are essentially like chocolate chip cookie bars, just bursting a bit more at the seams with vanilla flavor.  I substituted applesauce for some of the fat (although these are not even close to being fat-free) and the results were pretty excellent - still a moist crumb, but it held together very nicely and didn't fall apart.  These are a great treat for "mixed company" (that is, gluten-eating and gluten-free folks alike) -- if they even make it out of your kitchen.

Lower-Fat Chocolate Chip Vanilla Blondies (Adapted from the Allergen-free Baker's Handbook)
Makes one 9x13 pan

4 tbsp. Spectrum Shortening
4 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
4 tbsp. applesauce
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (or more!) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Cream the shortening, butter, and applesauce together with an electric mixer.  Add in the sugar and continue to cream until well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and mix in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Add 1/3 at a time to the wet ingredients using the electric mixer.

Stir in the chocolate chips and then spread evenly into the pan. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or just until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean. If anything, you want to underbake these instead of leaving them in for too long, so definitely keep an eye on them after 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Cut into pieces and either serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days on the counter.  If you are storing them for longer, keep refrigerated or frozen until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chai Latte Cashew Cookies for the Ratio Rally

Cookies are woven into our culture. Images of chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven at grandma's house. The classic Tollhouse recipe. The cookie jar. The cookie monster. Girl Scouts sell them. Web browsers have them. They're everywhere, when you think about it.

And with good reason.  Friends, it's because cookies rock.  And that's why I'm so excited that this month's Ratio Rally recipe is for cookies! This is what you've been waiting for. For years, you've been tethered to your classic Tollhouse recipe. But now - now you can create delicious, chewy, buttery cookies (and as many or as few as you want) using a simple ratio.

I thought long and hard about what kind of cookie I wanted to create. There are such endless possibilities. Should I go classic chocolate chip? German hazelnut jam thumbprint? Peanut butter with chocolate? Pumpkin? Sugar? My mind was spinning (and my stomach was growling).

Then I noticed a forgotten little package of cardamom in my spice cabinet that I had never gotten around to using before. And I knew what I was going to make.

Chai Lattes. In cookie form.

There are a few different possible ratios for cookies. I originally tried the 1-2-3 ratio, but those ended up being cakier than I preferred. So I went for a ratio closer to the 1-1-1 ratio (1 part each of butter, sugar, and flour) and they came out much more like traditional cookies. Buttery, soft, and with a nice texture. And delicious. These really did taste like little chai lattes - I brought them into work and they got great reviews! And cookies are a piece of cake (ha) to throw together, so they'll be making your house smell wonderful before you know it.

Many thanks to Caroline of The G Spot Revolution for hosting this month's Ratio Rally for cookies!  See below my recipe for a list of all the other fantastic cookie ideas the other Ratio Rally members came up with.

And get ready for a chai latte - just not the kind you're used to.

Chai Latte Cashew Cookies
Makes 24 - 36 cookies

1.5 oz butter
1 oz brown sugar
1 oz white sugar
1/2 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
.75 oz brown rice flour
.75 oz sorghum flour
.5 oz potato starch
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped cashews

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla and beat together. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix together. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until combined. Add the chopped cashews.

Drop by teaspoonful onto the lined cookie sheet (no greasing necessary). Bake for 7-9 minutes, or just until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and leave on hot cookie sheet for another 2 -4 minutes or until firm enough to move to a cooling rack. When completely cooled, remove to an airtight container.

Take a look at the fabulous recipes the other Ratio Rally folks came up with!

Amanda | Gluten Free Maui | Simple Shortbread
Amie Valpone | The Healthy Apple | Grapefruit Sugar Cookies
Brooke | B & the boy! | Candy Cane Shortbread
Caleigh | Gluten Free[k] | Mulled Spice Cookies
Caneel | Mama Me Gluten Free | Cardamom Date Cookies
charissa | zest bakery | Coconut Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Caroline | The G-Spot | Double Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies
Erin | The Sensitive Epicure | Spritz Cookies with Jam
gretchen | kumquat | Classic Sugar Cookies
Irvin | Eat the Love | Apple Brown Butter Bay Leaf Spice Cookies
Jean | Gluten Free Doctor Recipes | Reindeer Cookies
Jenn | Jenn Cuisine | Basler Brunsli
Jonathan| The Canary Files | Vegan Salted Oatmeal Cherry Cookies
Karen | Cooking Gluten Free! | Mexican Wedding Cakes
Lisa from Gluten Free Canteen | Molasses Rum Raisin Cookies
Mary Fran | frannycakes | Pinwheel Cookies
Meaghan | The Wicked Good Vegan | Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Meredith | Gluten Free Betty | Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Morri | Meals With Morri| Stevia Sweetened & Grain-Free Thumbprint Cookies with Apricot Preserves
Pete & Kelli | No Gluten, No Problem| Belgian Speculaas Cookies
Rachel | The Crispy Cook | Melomakarona
Silvana Nardone | Silvana's Kitchen | Old-School Italian Jam-Filled Hazelnut Cookies
T.R. | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | Cinnamon Lemon Cookies
Tara | A Baking Life | Walnut Shortbread

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Featured in Shape Magazine!

Remember these?  My delicious Banana Rum Cupcakes with Rum Glaze that resulted from the "cake" round of the Gluten-free Ratio Rally?

Well, I do. I have made them a few more times since posting about them for the Gluten-free Ratio Rally. They've turned out wonderfully every time - and not only are they based on a Ruhlman ratio, but they are also (relatively) guilt-free. So you can make - and EAT - as many as you like.

The people at Shape Magazine seem to agree with me, and they've included this recipe in their recent piece, "The Best Healthy Cupcakes We've Ever Seen."  Check out the other cupcakes that made rank - they all look pretty amazing, and there are a few other gluten-free recipes included as well that I can't wait to try out. Thanks so much to for the feature!!

And just in case you were thinking of not making a batch of these immediately after reading this post, I'll leave you with this:

Yeah. You might want to start preheating the oven.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Aunt Maggie's Pumpkin Spice Pie for the Gluten-free Ratio Rally

There's nothing more quintessential to me about fall than pumpkin pie.  And luckily for me, I have a family who loves it just as much as I do.  Which is why I decided to feature my Aunt Maggie's amazing recipe for pumpkin pie for this month's Gluten-free Ratio Rally.  Her pie is legendary and is one of the things our family looks forward to most each fall, and it will make your house smell like the season. 

Many thanks to Lisa from Gluten-free Canteen for hosting this month's Ratio Rally!  

The filling for this comes together so easily, so that part will be a piece of....pie?  You can literally just dump it all in a bowl and mix it up with an electric mixer in less than 5 minutes.  Done.  And even though making a pie crust from scratch may seem daunting (I know it did for me!), it's really much simpler than you might expect.  And it will be so delicious, you'll be glad you took the extra 20 minutes to do it - I promise.  This crust turned out wonderfully firm and flakey (like a good crust should be), and the filling set beautifully thanks to a milk substitute of So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk.  We always have this pie (erm, several of these pies) at Thanksgiving, but you can use any excuse to make it anytime.  For example: It's Friday.  Bam - good enough reason to make a pumpkin pie.

It worked for me, anyway.  And it disappeared just as quickly as it came together.

Aunt Maggie's Pumpkin Spice Pie 

For the pie crust:
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour (plus about 1/2 cup more for dusting when rolling out)
1/2 cup potato starch
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. butter
1 large egg
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

To brush on top:  1 egg white, beaten

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray.

Combine the flours, sugar, xanthan gum, and salt.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it's small and crumbly.  Beat the egg and vanilla together, then add to the crust.  Mix with a fork, and then with your hands to form it into a cohesive ball.  Add extra brown rice flour as needed so that it's not sticky.  Cut in half and roll into two equal size balls, and wrap into saran wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Place in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.  If you're making two pies, remove both balls of dough from the freezer; if you're just making one pie, remove one of them and leave the other in the freezer until you're ready to use it another time.  Place the dough (one ball at a time) on a surface dusted with brown rice flour.  Place the sprayed saran wrap (spray side down) on top of the dough and press down.  Using a rolling pin, roll to a thin consistency, about 1/8 inch, adding more brown rice flour as needed to avoid sticking.  As best as you can, place the sheet of dough into the pie dish.  Don't worry too much if it falls apart; just scoop up the pieces and press them down into the bottom and about 2/3 of the way up the pie dish.  Brush the pie crust with the beaten egg white and place in the oven to pre-bake for 7 minutes, then remove from the oven to add the pie filling.

While the dough is chilling, prepare the pumpkin filling.  You'll need:
3 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 can pumpkin
3 eggs
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk

Melt the Earth Balance and beat together with the sugars and pumpkin.  Add the eggs one at a time and blend in, then add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg (more of each to your own taste, if desired).  Add the So Delicious Coconut Milk 1/2 cup at a time.  The filling will seem rather fluid; that's ok!

Pour the pumpkin pie filling into the pre-baked pie crust.  Return to the oven and bake for about 1 hour, or just until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  After about 30 - 40 minutes, check to make sure the top isn't starting to get burned; if it is, use a piece of tin foil to create a little tent over the pie to protect the top but still allow the filling to set.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Serve plain or with gluten-free whipped cream topping.

Check out the rest of this month's Ratio Rally's delicious pie ideas:

TR from No One Likes Crumbley Cookies Chocolate Mousse Pie
Jean Layton from Gluten-Free Doctor Cheese Crusted Apple Pie
Charissa from Zest Bakery Apple Galette with Pisco Soaked Golden Raisins
Kate from katealicecookbook Kale & Zucchini Tart
Jenn from Jenn Cuisine Sweet Potato and Duck Pot Pie
Caleigh from Gluten Free[k] Leek and Potato Pie
Rachel from The Crispy Cook Maple Walnut Pie
gretchen from kumquat deep dish chocolate bourbon pecan pie
Claire from Gluten Freedom Autumn Pumpkin Spice Pie
Morri from Meals With Morri  Spinach – Prosciutto Ricotta Quiche & Muffin Tin Pie Variations
Silvana Nardone from Silvana’s Kitchen Chicken Potpie
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free Green Tomato Pie
Meredith from Gluten Free Betty Blueberry Pie
Shauna from Gluten-free Girl and the Chef Fresh Pumpkin Pie
Meaghan from The Wicked Good Vegan Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed and Ginger Topping
Erin from The Sensitive Epicure Chess Pie
Mary Fran from frannycakes Pumpkin Mousse Pie and Apple Maple Cream Cheese Pie
Brooke from B & the boy! Pot Pie
Lisa from Gluten Free Canteen Frangipane Apple Tart 
~Mrs. R from Honey From Flinty Rocks Mock Apple Pie
Irvin from Eat the Love Double Butterscotch Apple Pie

Friday, October 21, 2011

Low-fat Lemon Poppyseed Cupcake Muffins

I'm not sure precisely why I had a sudden craving for lemon poppyseed muffins today. Given the amount of candy I ate last night at the movies, there was no good reason to be craving anything sweet.  But suddenly it hit me, and I really, really wanted some.

Now, knowing my propensity to eat my way through more than my fair share of a regular batch of muffins, particularly mid-semester, I decided to use my handy ratio for cupcakes to make a neat little pack of 4.  And they turned out to be lovely!  I reduced the fat in these by even more than I originally had, substituting in some applesauce, and they ended up being moist and slightly denser than cupcakes. These are based on the original ratio for cupcakes, but turned out having the slightly more dense and healthy-feeling texture of muffins (and no icing!).  My compromise?  I'm calling them cupcake muffins. (Honestly, throwing the word "muffins" in there just makes me feel slightly better about eating four of them.)  Give these a try - you won't be disappointed!

Low-fat Lemon Poppyseed Cupcake Muffins
Makes 4 muffins

15 grams Earth Balance Buttery Spread
35 grams applesauce
50 grams white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh lemon rind (rind from ~1.5 small lemons)
20 grams potato starch
10 grams tapioca starch
30 grams sorghum flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter and mix with the applesauce, egg, vanilla, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon rind.  In a separate bowl, combine the potato starch, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds.  Stir into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into the muffin tin liners and bake for 13 - 16 minutes, or just until they are slightly browned at the edges and spring back when you touch the tops lightly.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Oh my GOD were these good.  I scarfed down more of them than I honestly care to admit, although I did give a significant portion of them away, too.  So at least there's that.

Trader Joe's makes gluten-free oats now - did you know that?  I just discovered them recently - and not only are they certified gluten-free, they are also a lot cheaper than their competition - by several dollars.  AND they come with a recipe for oatmeal cookies on the back.  What more could you want from a bag of oats, celiac friends?

I modified the recipe quite a bit, of course.  I added a few different ingredients, reduced the fat, etc. (all my usual courses of action).  And they turned out to be fabulous - they were chewy, moist, and full of flavor.  Everyone who tried these loved them, and I suspect you will, too.

**Update: Since giving up sugar a few months ago, I also created a modified version of these that - in addition to being free of gluten and dairy - is also sugar-free. That modification is below!

Flourless Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen medium cookies

Regular version:
1.5 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 cup fig butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower butter or peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups gluten-free oats
5 tbsp. unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
3/4 - 1 cup chocolate chips

Sugar-free version: 
1.5 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 cup plain pumpkin puree
1/2 cup Stevia in the raw
1/2 cup nut butter (I used plain salted almond butter, but sunflower or peanut butter will do, too! Just be aware that many nut butters have added sugar)
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups gluten-free oats
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 - 3/4 cup pecan pieces
**Chocolate chips are usually full of sugar, but if you find ones that aren't, add them back in by all means!

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whip together the Earth Balance, fig butter/pumpkin puree, and white and brown sugar/Stevia until well-mixed.  Add the egg and mix together well.  Add in the nut butter and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, and salt.  Stir them into the wet ingredients and mix well.  Add the extras (sunflower seeds, pecans, and/or chocolate chips) and stir in to combine.

Scoop the cookies out by the teaspoonful or tablespoonful onto the cookie sheets and space 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes (JUST until they start to brown on the edges), then remove from the oven.  They probably won't look completely done - that's ok.  Let them sit on the hot cookie sheet for another 3 - 5 minutes or until you can scrape them off onto a wire rack without their falling apart.  Cool completely, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slow-roasted Cranberry-Apple Pulled Pork Tenderloin

This is a dish chock full of the fall flavors of cranberries and apples, and also full of the simplicity needed around this time of year, when everything seems to be happening 100 times faster than you think it should.  It's a recipe for a slow day - at least, a slow day for your crockpot.  While it's wonderful to be in the house to smell it turning into its wonderful self, this is one that will take you a mere 10 minutes (possibly less!) to throw together.  Then you can go out for the day, and when you come back, a dinner you'd swear had been slaved over is waiting for you.  The broth simmers with a depth of flavor that can only come with the kind of time your crockpot will be putting in for you with this one.  I didn't actually know this would turn into pulled pork until I opened the crockpot when I got home last night and found it to be so tender that it fell apart when I took a knife to it.  But what a lovely surprise!  I served this with mashed sweet potatoes with a little thyme and agave nectar stirred in and sauteed brussel sprouts with garlic, but you could also serve it in sandwiches if you'd like.  I cooked mine for so long (9 1/2 hours) that the broth had reduced and thickened enough for me on its own, but if you can only cook it for 6 - 8 hours, you can thicken the broth by simmering it with a cornstarch slurry (see recipe below).  I can't imagine this going over badly with anyone, unless they happen not to be fans of pork, of course.  And honestly - if they don't it?  That just means more for you.

Slow-roasted Cranapple Pulled Pork Tenderloin
Makes 3 - 5 servings

1 1-lb pork tenderloin
2 tsp. salt
1 jar Trader Joe's cranberry sauce (or a can of your favorite gluten-free cranberry sauce)
1/2 cup cranberry juice or cranberry cider
1/2 cup white sugar
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 large onion, cut into slivers
2 stalks celery, diced into large pieces

Salt the tenderloin and place it in the slow cooker.  Add the diced apples, onion, and celery.  In a small bowl, combine the cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, and sugar and pour over the ingredients in the crockpot.  Cook on "low" for 6 - 10 hours.  (I cooked mine for 9.5 hours and it was extremely tender.)  Lovely served with sweet potatoes, or you could make pulled pork sandwiches out of it as well.

To thicken the broth, combine 2 tsp. cornstarch with 2 tbsp. water and mix together until there are no lumps.  Place the broth in a small saucepan and add the cornstarch slurry, stirring constantly until it is thickened.  Remove from heat and serve over the pork tenderloin.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fajita Pizza with Cilantro Pesto Sauce

Why should anyone have to choose between Mexican and Italian?  It's unfair; they're both so delicious.  Confronted with the latest Ratio Rally challenge of pizza dough, I decided it was time for some nation-building and brought them together into one amazing dish.

I wish I could write more about this pizza; how it was crunchy and bursting with so many simple and strong flavors, and had enough taste on its own to defy a need for cheese.  Sadly, though, graduate school is sucking all of my free time away from me right now, so I'll just leave you with the recipe and this final thought:  make this.  It's a party in your mouth - seriously.

Thanks to Karen of Cooking Gluten Free for hosting this month's Ratio Rally!  See below the recipe for a list of the other participants and their creations.

Fajita Pizza with Cilantro Pesto Sauce

This works best if you make the pizza dough first, then make the cilantro pesto and slice the veggies and chicken while the dough rises.  Try to have the fajita ingredients ready to go before you put the dough in the oven so that it's all ready at roughly the same time.

For the dough (adapted from the Gluten-free Girl's Pizza Crust recipe)

2.2 oz cornstarch
2.2 oz. corn flour
1.1 oz. tapioca starch
2.2 oz. potato starch
1.1 oz. brown rice flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. warm water
2 tsp. honey
~1/4 cup cornmeal for dusting

Don't preheat the oven yet! Place the warm water, olive oil, honey, and yeast in a bowl and place somewhere warm until it's very frothy, roughly doubled in size.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.  With an electric mixer, beat the yeast mixture in until it is well mixed.  Sprinkle liberal amounts of brown rice flour onto a cutting board or countertop and place the dough on top.  Use more brown rice flour to work the dough into a soft ball with your hands, adding just enough to keep it from sticking.  Return to the bowl and place somewhere warm, covered with a towel or a greased piece of plastic wrap, for an hour, or until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  This will turn out best if you preheat your pizza stone (if you have one) in the oven as well.

Take a fist-sized piece of dough and place on a large greased sheet of wax paper.  Fold the wax paper in half over the dough, then (using a rolling pin) smooth it into a very thin layer.  It doesn't have to be pretty - just try to make the thickness of the dough consistent.  Carefully peel back one side of the wax paper so the dough doesn't stick, then place the dough (exposed side down) on a piece of greased parchment paper.  Peel back the wax paper from the other side of the dough.  Sprinkle with cornmeal and place the parchment paper on the pizza stone.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until lightly browned - don't overcook!!

For the cilantro pesto sauce:
2 bunches of cilantro, washed and patted dry
~1/3 cup olive oil
~1/3 cup pine nuts or cashews
3 - 5 cloves of fresh garlic

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth.  Set aside.

For the fajita topping:
2 - 4 tbsp. olive oil
3 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced into slivers
1 red pepper, sliced into slivers
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. minced onion
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Saute the onion and red pepper in 1 - 2 tbsp. olive oil until blackened and tender.  Remove to a bowl, then add the other 2 tbsp. oil and saute the chicken strips until they are cooked through and blackened to your own taste.  When the chicken is done, add the pepper and onion back into the pan.

In a small bowl, combine all of the spices and the cornstarch together.  Add to the pan and stir to mix well, then add the 3/4 cup chicken broth.  Simmer until it thickens to your liking (I simmered mine for at least 7 - 10 minutes).

Compiling the pizza:

Spread a generous amount of cilantro pesto on each baked pizza crust, then top with the chicken fajitas.  Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and top with salsa, sour cream, or cheese to top if you like, but trust me, these are flavorful enough on their own. 

Be sure to check out what the other Ratio Rally folks put together:

Jenn of Jenn Cuisine made Moitié-Moitié Sausage Pizza
Meg of Gluten-Free Boulangerie made Pissaladière (Provençal flatbread w/ olives & anchovies)
TR of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Teriyaki Chicken Pizza
Erin of The Sensitive Epicure made Stuffed Pizza Pie: Spinach, Mushrooms, Sausage
Charissa of Zest Bakery made sauteed onion and sausage grilled pizza with basil
Pete and Kelli of No Gluten, No Problem made Grilled Pizza
Mrs. R of Honey From Flinty Rocks made Pepperoni Pizza & Pineapple, Black Olive & Ham Pizza
Caneel of Mama Me Gluten Free made Pizza crust by ratio (choose your toppings)
Morri of Meals With Morri made Everything Peace Pretzels & Pizza Blanca
Meredith of Gluten Free Betty made Pizza
Gretchen of Kumquat made  Mozzarella Pizza with Pine Nuts, Currants & Arugula
Jean of GF Doctor Recipes made Pizza
Brooke of B & the Boy made Dessert Pizza
Karen of Cooking Gluten-Free! made GASP! Garlic, Artichoke,Sun-Dried Tomato, Pesto Pizza
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Rum Raisin Apple Pizza Pie, Gluten Free Dairy Free

Monday, September 19, 2011

Swirled Blackberry Sage Banana Muffins

Swirled blackberry sage banana muffins.  Aren't they pretty?  The name even sounds pretty....blackberry sage.  These were inspired by a favorite tea of mine, the (you guessed it) Blackberry Sage flavor of Republic of Tea.  I used to go on afternoon tea runs with a friend of mine when we used to work together, and the people at the place we visited would make any tea iced.  We tried them all - but the blackberry sage remained my favorite.

A few weekends ago, a spree at Haymarket landed me three containers of blackberries.  I was pondering what to do with them on the ride home.  I continued to ponder as I washed them and put them in the fridge.  And then, it hit me.  Of course.  It had to be something with sage.  So I pulled out one of my favorite recipes for banana bread and reshaped it into delicious sweet-savory muffins. 

These rocked.  If you're a sage fan, give these a try - it really brings the flavor of the berries to the forefront without crowding them.  I had a hard time refraining from eating all of them in one sitting, but I kept it together and ate a respectable number (only two, I swear) and saved the rest to share with friends. 

Swirled Blackberry Sage Banana Muffins
Makes about 16 - 18 muffins

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1.5 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 - 2 tbsp. ground dried sage, depending on your own taste (I used 2 tbsp.)
1 cup blackberries, either chopped into small chunks and stirred in, or pureed and swirled on top of each muffin

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line two muffin trays with 18 paper liners or spray with cooking spray.

Combine the wet ingredients together and stir well.  In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sage and sift together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Now you have two choices - you can either add chunks of blackberries to your muffins, or you can puree the blackberries and swirl them in.  I swirled, but I can't say it would be a bad idea at all to swirl AND add whole chunks.  But do what you feel is right for your muffins.  If you're adding chunks, chop up the berries and add them to the batter, stir lightly, and then spoon even amounts into the paper liners.

If you're swirling, puree the blackberries in a food processor.  If desired, push the mixture through a sieve to get the seeds out (but it's not really necessary).  Add about 1 tbsp. of blackberry puree to each muffin and swirl around in the batter using a knife or fork.  If desired, sprinkle the top of each muffin with a little more dried sage.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or just until they are slightly browned and spring back when you push down on them.  Remove from the oven and let sit in the hot pan for another 2 - 3 minutes until they firm up, then remove them carefully and place on a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or cold - they are delicious either way!  Store leftovers in the fridge until ready to serve.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chocolate Coconut or Cinnamon-Glazed Vanilla Mini Cake Donuts

Mmmm, donuts.  How long has it been since you've had a donut?  I had to really think about that question.  Before this summer, it had been at least as long as I've known I have celiac (roughly 3.5 years), if not longer.

But now, armed with my Norpro donut pans (a birthday gift from my sister!), donuts are back in my life.  We've had a happy reunion.  Which is part of why I was so excited about this month's Gluten-free Ratio Rally assignment: donuts and fritters.

Now, I know that everyone loves a good, traditional, fried donut.  Who couldn't love them?  I thought about going that route.  But I wanted to take this opportunity to make some awesome, slightly healthier baked donuts.  The ratio I came up with for cake donuts was 2 parts flour: 1 part liquid: 1 egg.  The amount of fat used was so negligible that it doesn't even warrant a place in the ratio - it was 2 teaspoons for the entire batch!  Instead of non-dairy milk, I used cranberry juice as the liquid base in these.  For me, this ratio created a donut that held together and didn't crumble in my hands, and had a slightly dry crumb that was perfect for absorbing the glaze I slathered all over it.

I experimented with several different glazes for the donuts - I tried vanilla, plain chocolate, chocolate coconut, orange (which ended up tasting like a gumdrop - no, thanks), powdered sugar cinnamon, and cinnamon glaze.  I think I can safely recommend any of the above, with the exception of the orange (unless that's your thing, in which case, go crazy!).  But in the end, my two favorites were the cinnamon and chocolate coconut glazes.  A little tip - these are fabulous if you freeze them once they're glazed.  The chocolate ones reminded me of those chocolate Entenmann's donuts, which I used to love. I brought both versions into work, and everyone loved them - especially the chocolate ones.  "Phenomenal" and "out of this world" were used to describe the flavor

Our host this month was Meg of Gluten-free Boulangerie.  Check out her blog for her recipe for Old Fashioned Raised and Cake Doughnuts, and for a list of all of the other amazing recipes from the other blogger participants. You can also look below my recipe at the bottom for the list of all the other bloggers and recipes in the Ratio Rally this month. 

So say yes to donuts!  Check out what happens when a group of creative bloggers put their minds to something.  Beautiful - and delicious - things result.

Chocolate Coconut or Cinnamon-Glazed Vanilla Mini Cake Donuts
Makes about 18 mini donuts or 10 regular donuts

5 oz. / 1 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used 1/2 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup sorghum, and 1/4 cup brown rice flour)
2.5 oz. white sugar (~1/4 cup + 2 tbsp.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread, melted
1 egg
2.5 oz. cranberry juice (~1/4 cup + 2 tbsp.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

For the chocolate coconut glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 - 4 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 - 1 tsp. coconut extract (to your own taste)
1 - 3 tbsp. hot water

For cinnamon glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
 2 - 4 tbsp. hot water
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Spray two mini donut pans or two regular donut pans with cooking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients first and mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, mix together, and then add to the dry ingredients.  Stir to combine, making sure there are no patches of dry flour.

Place the donut dough into a plastic baggie and cut a hole in one corner (this is your makeshift pastry bag).  Pipe the dough into each donut tray, filling it about 2/3 of the way full.

If you are making mini donuts, bake for about 6 - 8 minutes, or just until they spring back when you touch them.  For regular donuts, bake for about 8 - 9 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave in the donut pans for about 2 - 3 minutes to allow them to firm up.  When they're firm enough not to fall apart, gently remove them from the donut pans and place on a wire rack to cool.

Make whichever glaze your heart desires, preferably in a wide, flat bowl.  Drench each donut in glaze, rolling it around to ensure that all sides are covered.  Place each newly glazed donut on a plate or tray and place in freezer until glaze is frozen.  Then you can remove them from the tray and store them in tupperware - but it's still a good idea to place a sheet of wax paper between each layer of them.

Store in the freezer or fridge until ready to serve. The chocolate donuts tasted best frozen, but the cinnamon ones are equally good frozen or refrigerated.

Here's a list of all the other amazing bloggers and their recipes for donuts or fritters!

Britt of GF in the City | Blueberry Fritters
Brooke of B and the Boy! | Apricot Fritters
Caleigh of Gluten Free[k] | Beetroot Fritters
Caneel of Mama Me Gluten Free | Thai Fried Bananas
Charissa of Zest Bakery | Picarones (Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Fritters)
Claire of Gluten Freedom | Chocolate Coconut or Cinnamon-Glazed Vanilla Cake Doughnuts
Gretchen of Kumquat | Peach Cider Doughnuts
Jean of Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes | Cinnamon Apple Fritters
Jeanette of Jeanette's Healthy Living | Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine | Mini Raspberry Doughnut Cakes
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen | Apple Butter Maple Syrup Doughnuts
Mary Fran of Frannycakes | Raspberries and Cream Doughnuts
Mrs. R of Honey From Flinty Rocks | Jelly Doughnuts
Pete & Kelli of No Gluten, No Problem | Jelly Doughnut Holes
Rachel of The Crispy Cook | Chocolate Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze
Silvana of Silvana's Kitchen | Vanilla-Glazed Chocolate Chip Doughnuts
Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl | Glazed Yeast Doughnuts
Tara of A Baking Life | Brioche Doughnuts with Italian Plum Jam
T.R. of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | Sweet Pepper and Pancetta Fritters

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chewy (Better Than) Fig Newtons

Who doesn't love fig newtons?  Seriously, if such people exist, I have not met them. 

I don't know exactly what made me crave them last week.  It may have been because the last time I was at Trader Joe's, I came across a new product that made me want to jump in the aisle.  Fig butter!  And it was so cheap.  Needless to say, I stocked up, afraid that it would disappear quickly, like other favorite TJ's products that have vanished oh-so-suddenly from the shelf, leaving me standing forlorn in the aisle (cranberry chutney, I'm talking to you!).

These are super simple to make - I swear.  You mix the dough, spread it on parchment or wax paper, spread the fig butter over half of it, and then fold it over.  It's like a little fig burrito.  AND - they are gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.  Seriously. 

For my first attempt, I tried this recipe from Elana's Pantry just as she made it.  They were tasty, all right - but I didn't feel like they had the heavier texture of fig newtons that I was really looking for. 

So I innovated a bit.  I tweaked the flours, adding some more whole grainy goodness to balance out the plain almond flour.  I made the dough a little drier, and substituted applesauce for some of the fat.  I baked them for slightly less time. 

They came out so wonderfully, even I can't believe it.  I brought these into work with me, and my co-workers couldn't believe they were gluten-free.  One woman liked them so much that she kept checking in with me to see how many I had left, torn between taking one at the expense of someone else and just, you know, really wanting another fig newton.

But maybe you'll think of some other, new way to make these that will be even better.  If you do, please share your own tweaks with me.  Until you come up with your favorite version, though, these will definitely hit the spot for a fig newton craving. 

Chewy Fig Newtons
Makes about 40 small cookies

1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup + 1 tbsp. sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 (or more) tbsp. fig butter (you can buy this at Trader Joe's or use any other fig jam/butter)

In a small bowl, combine the flours, salt, and xanthan gum and mix together well.  In another small bowl, combine the agave nectar, honey, oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix well to combine.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix together until it's as smooth as it can be.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Take about half of it and plop it onto one side of a large piece of wax paper.  Fold the wax paper over in half and use a rolling pin to make an even rectangle that is about 10 - 12 inches long and about 4 inches wide.  Peel back one half of the wax paper (so that the top of the dough is now exposed) and then transfer the whole thing to a piece of greased parchment paper for baking.  You can do this by greasing the parchment paper, then pressing it onto the top of the dough, then flipping the whole thing over and peeling back the rest of the wax paper (which will now be on top).

Spread a generous amount of fig butter along one half of the dough - as much as you want, really.  Go crazy.  Make them figgy.  Then, using the parchment paper to help you, fold the dough in half.  Peel back the parchment paper carefully from the top of the cookie.  Use a knife or fork to tuck in the dough fringes so that none of the fig butter is exposed. 

Place the parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 10 - 13 minutes, or just until the dough is set and is ever-so-slightly browned.  It may not look totally done - that's ok.  Remove from the oven and let sit on the pan for about 3 - 5 minutes, then, using a sharp knife, cut into little fig newton squares and cool on a rack. 

Repeat the process with the other half of the dough, or freeze it to use later.  Keep refrigerated, but leave out at room temperature or zap in the microwave briefly before serving for the best flavor.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Decadent Lemony Berry Coffeecake

Uh, yeah.  That cake tasted as good as it looks.  Better than it looks, if you can believe it.

I know this isn't technically a post for the Gluten-free Ratio Rally, but I feel this need to profess the power of the ratio again.  Because Oh. My. God.  This cake is seriously amazing.  Like, out-of-this-world good.  And it is possible because of a ratio.

My cousin was visiting me last week, and it was a total food bonanza.  It's sort of our thing.  We wander around grocery stores, and we talk about recipes.  And when we're in the same physical space, we cook and bake.  A lot.

After a trip to Boston's Haymarket, we came home with bags of fresh berries - probably about 2 pounds of them.  We had cherries, strawberries, and raspberries - and they were just begging to be part of something baked and delicious.

Done and done.  I consulted the ratio that Ruhlman has in his book for sponge cake (which is one part each of flour, eggs, fat, and sugar), and then we innovated a little with the flavors and flour blend.  I'm always one to reduce the fat and substitute something else, so I used applesauce to keep it moist.  And actually, there's more applesauce than fat in this cake - only 6 tablespoons of Earth Balance buttery spread in the WHOLE THING.  Think of how many extra pieces you can eat with all those fat calories you're saving (I know my cousin and I thought about that.  And then we definitely ate those extra pieces.).

And the result?  My gluten-eating, cake-loving cousin said it was the best cake she'd ever eaten.  The word "phenomenal" was dropped multiple times by both of us (in between mouthfuls).  I brought pieces around to my co-workers, who dubbed it "wonderful" and "delicious."

So you can make this one for mixed company, is what I'm saying - for gluten-eaters and gluten-haters alike.  Barring berry-haters, I suspect everyone will love it.

Decadent Lemony Berry Coffeecake

**Please note that all measurements given below in cups are approximate, as I used my kitchen scale to make this cake and used an online converter to figure out the volume measurements.

4 eggs
8 oz. white sugar (~1 cup)
3 oz. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (3/4 stick or 6 tbsp.)
5 oz. applesauce (unsweeted, natural) (~1/2 cup)
1.5 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
3 oz. tapioca starch (~3/4 cup)
2 oz. sorghum (~1/2 cup)
3 oz. brown rice flour (~1/2 cup)
(OR 8 oz. of your favorite gf flour blend)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 lb. berries, chopped into small pieces (we used cherries, raspberries, and strawberries, but you could use any dark berries you think would go well in this)

For crumble topping:
4 - 6 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (or more to your own taste)
2 tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray a glass 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium or large mixing bowl, beat the eggs (preferably with an electric mixer) with the sugar until it's frothy.  Add the Earth Balance, applesauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla and mix until it's well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, and xanthan gum.  Add about 1/3 cup at a time to the wet ingredients, beating on medium speed until the batter is very smooth.

Pour the batter into the 9" x 13" pan.  Press the berries lightly into the top of the batter.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and Earth Balance.  Mix with your fingers until it's finely crumbly.  Sprinkle the cake generously with the cinnamon sugar crumble topping.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for as long as you can stand it before eating a piece (we lasted 20 minutes).  Keep refrigerated once cooled.  It's fantastic if you warm it slightly in the microwave before eating.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Banana Rum Cupcakes with Rum Glaze for the Gluten-free Ratio Rally

Soft. Fluffy. Spongey. Moist. Tender. Crumbly. Cake-y.  

Sadly, those usually aren't the first words that that come to mind to describe many gluten-free cakes I've tried from the store.  But that, up there?  That is a cupcake.  A real cupcake.  It is all of those words, to a tee.  And what is behind all of those happy descriptors?

A ratio.  A beautifully simple ratio.

Our host for the Gluten-free Ratio Rally this month is Kate of Gluten-free Gobsmacked.  She's inspired us all to make some delicious variations on white and yellow cake.  Check out her blog for her recipe for Basic White Birthday Cake (I could have used this a few weeks ago for my own birthday!) and for links to all of the other fantastic recipes the members of the Rally came up with (which you can also find at the end of this post).

Sometimes the ratios that Ruhlman describes need a little tweaking.  A few adjustments; a little less flour here, a little more liquid there, an extra egg here, a dash more sugar there.  But for me, his ratio for sponge cake worked perfectly.  One equal part each of flour, butter, sugar, and egg gave me a cake with an incredibly tender crumb, and a beautifully brown and spongey top.  It tasted like real cake - the kind I remember from my gluten days (you know, the kind that made me sick, but was delicious - but that's beside the point.)

Of course, I had to do SOME kind of tweaking to make it my own.  One of my absolute favorite cakes ever is my great aunt Gene's rum cake. (Whenever I see the cover of the cookbook Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, I always think of aunt Gene and rum cakes, for some reason - I think it makes me think of other, older times and places and scraps of paper tucked between the tattered pages of cookbooks, holding the keys to unlock the secrets of the most delicious things your family has passed down.)  I wanted to make a cake I could drizzle her rum glaze over, so I used some banana in place of half the butter to balance out the rum flavor (which also had the added advantage of making it a lower-fat cake).

The result was absolutely heavenly.  These are best served warm, so either drizzle the glaze over them while they're still cooling and consume right away, or store refrigerated and then reheat them in the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds before serving.  Cold, they are still pretty delicious, but they are a bit harder.  Warmed up, they practically melt in your mouth.  I was both sad and very, very glad that I had used the ratio to make only 4 cupcakes.  I shudder to think of myself in the alternate scenario, which would likely have resulted in my eating a full dozen of these.  That's another reason ratios are awesome - you can make as many - or as few - as you like.

Trust me, you will not be sorry you made these.  The commitment is minimal anyway - you can just make 4 to start and see how you like them.  It's perfect for girls living alone, or for you and just a few friends.  I'm pretty sure you'll want to get right back into your kitchen to make more, though.  It's hard to resist an old-fashioned favorite like rum cake.

Banana Rum Cupcakes with Rum Glaze
Makes 4 cupcakes - can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, get the idea.

For the cupcakes:
25 grams Earth Balance Buttery Spread
25 grams very ripe banana (about 1/4 medium banana)
50 grams white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. rum extract
20 grams potato starch
15 grams tapioca starch
15 grams sorghum flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum (probably optional, but I didn't try the recipe without it)

For the rum glaze:
1 tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2 tsp. water
1.5 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. rum extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Place 4 cupcake liners in a muffin/cupcake pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the Earth Balance Buttery Spread and the banana.  Whisk together until smooth, then add the sugar and mix well.  Add the egg, vanilla, and rum extract and beat together.

In a separate small bowl, combine the tapioca starch, potato starch, sorghum flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into the prepared cupcake liners and bake at 350 F for 15 - 17 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.  Mine took exactly 17 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit in the hot muffin pan for another 3 - 5 minutes (so they don't fall apart when you take them out).  Remove to a cooling rack and let cool the rest of the way, or until you can't stand it anymore and have to eat one.  When they are totally cool, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a fork and drizzle a good amount of rum glaze over the top so that it sinks into the cupcake.

Store in the fridge until ready to serve.  Microwave for a few seconds before serving.

To make rum glaze:  Combine the butter, water, sugar, and rum extract in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer for 1 - 3 minutes or until it just starts to get thick.  Drizzle over the cooled cupcakes immediately (or it will get too thick to drizzle).

Here's a list of all of the other amazing cake recipes to come out of this month's Ratio Rally:

Basic White Cake by Kate at Gluten-free Gobsmacked
Boston Cream Pie by Britt at GF in the City
Chocolate Hostess Cupcake Dupes by Erin at The Sensitive Epicure
Chocolate Pistachio Pound Cake by Amie at The Healthy Apple
Coconut Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes by Gretchen at Kumquat-Blog
Confetti Cake by MaryFran at FrannyCakes
Czech Cherry Bublanina by Rachel at The Crispy Cook
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes by Caroline at The G-Spot
Edna Lewis Busy-Day Cake by Shauna at Gluten-free Girl
Frangelico Cupcakes with Nutella by Lisa at Gluten Free Canteen
Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Cake by Caneel at Mama Me Gluten Free
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins by Marla at Family Fresh Cooking
Lemon Tea Cake by Kate at KateAlice Cookbook
Mocha Buttercream Yellow Birthday Cake by Dr. Jean Layton at GF Doctor Recipes
Nina’s Hot Milk Cake by Charissa at Zest Bakery
Tiramisu Cake by TR Crumbley at No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Traditional Birthday Cake by Karen at Cooking – Gluten Free!
Vanilla Cupcakes by Winnie at Healthy Green Kitchen
White Cake with Apricots & Blueberries by Brooke at B and the Boy
White Chocolate Cupcakes by Caleigh at Gluten Freek(k)