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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cinnamon Chocolate Ganache Cookie Sandwiches

Fall is here full force... everywhere, out the window, in the stores... so I felt like baking a pumpkin pie with my son, and the recipe only called for a cup of pumpkin puree, so I needed to make something else with the remaining pumpkin puree. I had just got a brand spanking new bag of gluten free flour from Trader Joe's so I decided to make these lovely, soft baked pumpkin cinnamon and sugar cookies gluten free which by the way are also egg free. Here is what you'll need to make your house smell insanely good ;)

Gluten Free Soft Baked Pumpkin Cookies (about 2 dozen)

2 cups gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the outer coating:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a ramekin get ready the egg substitute, by mixing the ground flaxseed with the water, letting it sit for about 5 minutes or until it thickens. 
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients but the sugars and set aside. In an electric mixer bowl, beat the softened butter, sugar and brown sugar, medium speed for about 2 minutes until creamy and fluffy. Add the pumpkin puree, egg substitute and vanilla, and beat until combined. With the mixer on the lowest speed slowly incorporate the flour mixture until well mixed. Cover the bowl with clear plastic film and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Make the coating for the cookies and scoop and roll the cookie dough into 1 tablespoon sized balls, roll them in the coating sugar mix and place them on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Flatten them gently with your fingers and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Remove and place in a cooling rack.

Meanwhile make the chocolate ganache

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz good quality dark chocolate finely chopped
1/3 heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon butter

Place chocolate in a small bowl, bring cream just to a simmer, pour over chocolate and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until smooth. 

Make the cookie sandwiches with desired amount of ganache making sure it's at room temperature, add as much or as little as you want.
Decadent and sweet. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tadritional Crème Brûlée with Berries

Creme Brulee, just the sound of it intimidates a lot of people... french, decadent, rich, delightful, creamy, and YES! simple too... really, I mean it! I make it a lot when I have people over. It always impresses my guests. You make it ahead of time, so you have time to enjoy it with your friends ;) and not to mention, the entertainment it provides... lol, when people see me coming with my torch, they love it!!! :)
I used eggs from our hens, so it turned out delicious and bright yellow.

Here is what you'll need to make 4 of them: 

4 cold egg yolks
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped off, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2 quarts boiling water (use teakettle)

Preheat oven to 325 F, rack in  mid position.

Place cream and vanilla bean with its pulp into a heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk briefly to disperse the seeds. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl lightly whisk the cold egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt, just to combine and set aside.

Make sure the cream is warm, but not too hot (it shouldn't be above 165 F, if it is, let cool before proceeding) Lightly whisk about 1/2 cup of the cream vanilla mixture into the yolk mixture and stir  for about 30 seconds to temper the yolks (this will make sure the yolks don't get cooked). Then gently whisk in the remaining cream, stirring for about 15-20 seconds only. You don't want the mixture to get frothy or they will have a foamy looking surface. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now.

I like to sieve the mixture over a large Pyrex measuring cup with a spout to strain out any solids and for easy pouring into ramekins. Place the ramekins in the baking pan, dividing the custard base evenly among the four of them. Slowly pour the hot water from the teakettle into the pan until about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins (don't get any water in them)

Bake until set but trembling in the middle, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan and let cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before browning the top. Divide equally the 4 remaining teaspoons of sugar (if you like a thicker crust, use more sugar) and spread evenly on top. Hold the torch flame 2 to 3 inches from the top to melt the sugar slowly gliding it back and forth over the surface until the sugar melts and turns deep golden brown. 

Allow the sugar to cool and harden for about 5 minutes and then serve immediately, before the sugar softens, gets sticky and looses its crunch.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Asian Pop Corn

I'm finally back! This summer has been crazy!!! Happy, very sad... busy... and everything in between! So I'm again running around like a chicken with no head... back to a crazy schedule. When I feel like eating a feel good snack, pop corn comes to the rescue. So here is a great simple, different and quick way to eat pop corn!
I like my pop corn air popped, healthier and quicker too! I only dressed this healthy and satisfying snack with pink Himalayan salt, lime zest and fresh chopped cilantro, and sprinkled some raw sesame seeds to add some nuttiness.
Give it a try, and try dressing up your pop corn!! There're a million ways to do it! Your imagination is the limit. Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gluten Free French Lavender Madeleines

The madeleine or petite madeleine is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun, two georgeus communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France.
They are very small sponge cakes with distinctive shell-like shape acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions. These are celiac friendly, and pretty darn good if you ask me... :)

The flavor is similar to, but somewhat lighter than, sponge cake, and with the addition of the culinary lavender extract they are super floral and delicate, perfect for your afternoon tea, coffee time, or just because you feel like it.

Makes about 12 large madeleines or 36 minis
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons culinary lavender extract or fresh finely chopped lavender sprigs.
3/4 cup all purpose GF flour mix
1/2 teaspoon GF baking powder
5 tablespoons melted butter cooled

In a bowl whisk together eggs and sugar until pale. Beat in the lavender. Sift the dry ingredients and with a rubber spatula incorporate them to the egg and sugar mix, then fold in the cooled melted butter.

I like to put the batter  in a zip lock bag, (it really makes it a lot easier to fill the molds by squeezing it out) and place it in the refrigerator overnight. If that's not possible let it rest at least 2-3 hours, this will help the batter develop the characteristic crown or "hump".

Fill the molds and bake in 400 F preheated oven. Depending on the mold you have, baking time will vary. I have the non stick ones and usually they are done between 7-8 minutes, if using regular molds they will take 1-2 minutes longer, also remember to butter and flour (rice or tapioca flour) regular molds. Simply keep an eye on them until you see their edges light gold.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Death by Chocolate Gluten Free Zucchini Cake

It's summer time and that means loads and loads of cucumbers that we devour in humongous salads every night (although they say cucumber is no good at night time... we don't have any problems with it), but it also means lots and lots of zucchinis. We love it grilled, added into soups, creams, traditional zucchini breads with nuts and cinnamon... but I also wanted to add it into a chocolate cake (of course, we all know that everything is better with chocolate, and cheese too... LOL), and since I am in gluten free mode, I wanted to make it gluten free too! and let me tell you I was pleasantly surprised... it turned out super moist, and chocolatey.

Here is what you'll need for the cake:
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract
1 teaspoon gluten free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs room temperature
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 1/2 cups Gluten Free All purpose flour
3/4 cup raw dark cocoa
 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 12 ounces)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, coconut oil, sugar, vanilla.
Beat in the eggs.
Stir in the yogurt, incorporate the dry mixture, mixing till smooth. Finally, fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool completely on rack before cutting.
Chocolate Ganache Topping
This is so ridiculously simple (only two ingredients) yet soooo good, that I feel bad when people tell me that it's so good that probably I don't want to share the recipe... and of course I don't have the heart to say no... LOL
6 oz heavy cream
9 oz chocolate chips
Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Wait 3-5 minutes then stir to combine. It won't be too hot, so pour over cake and smooth with spatula. Allow frosting to set for about 30 minutes before serving… if you can, that is...
Spatula licking optional, but highly recommended!!!
It's incredibly good and hard to believe that it's gluten free...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Gluten Free Blueberry Scones

I've been asked many times on my etsy shop if I could make this or that item gluten free, but the two most popular items I've been asked about, were gluten free scones and gluten free madeleines. It took me a long time to build up the will to make these two items celiac friendly, and I thought I had to wait at least until September to try them since we've had such a long heat wave, that just the thought of turning the oven on put me to sweat... hehe
But last Thursday, the weather went completely nuts and just sent us a fall day in the middle of July... lower 60's in the middle of summer, so it was the first thought, make celiac friendly goodies and so I did, I made them both with a very happy ending I think... either one didn't make it to the next day, so I take that as a success... ;)
Gluten Free Blueberry Scones
1 3/4 cups Gluten Free Multi purpose Flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (don't forget this, it will hold the scones together)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract
1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
1/2 cup dried blueberries
2 large eggs
1/3 cup chilled buttermilk
Mix all dry ingredients and using a fork work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly and resembles cornmeal, I did it with my hands so I refrigerated the mix for about 10-15 minutes to get the butter cold again ;) add dried blueberries.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract until well combined and add to dry ingredients and stir until well blended
Dough should be cohesive and pretty sticky.
on a well floured surface and with well floured hands, form the dough into a log-like shape, or round shape and cut to give desired shape.
Bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes, until the rise high and turn nice deep golden brown.
I really like my scones the traditional way, still warm and with a dollop of clotted cream which I prefer to call Double Devon Cream that you can buy here.
You would never know these are gluten free, pair with a nice cup of English Tea and enjoy your afternoon tea to the max ;)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fresh Fig Ice Cream

Here it is! Fresh California Figs Ice Cream. We got an ice cream maker last year, and since the summer started, I basically make sorbets or ice cream every single week: rum raisin, mango, banana, pineapple... 

and since I had bought so many figs the other day, I had to do something with them, and what's better than ice cream during this insanely long heat wave we are going through...

I always say that I don't like anything sweet too sweet, and ice cream is no different, so since these figs were super ripe and sweet, I didn't add any sugar at all, I thought that I could always add a little honey or maple syrup over it, but I really didn't have to, it was just the right sweetness for me! ;)

This is what you'll need:

1 lb fresh ripe figs
1 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Cut the figs in quarters, stems removed and in a heavy bottomed sauce pan cook them with the water for about 8-10 minutes until it reaches marmalade consistency, using a wooden spoon make the fig pieces smaller by stirring it. If mixture is not sweet enough for you, add desired sugar at this point a tablespoon at a time until you get the desired sweetness.
Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until completely chilled. Pour mixture into a blender, add chilled cream and blend until you get a fine puree, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time if too thick.

Pour in ice cream maker churn depending on the brand for about 10 minutes. Pour in plastic or ice cream container and place in freezer to harden thoroughly.

Delicious topped with chopped almonds and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup... 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Cherry-Lime Beer Bread

Sweet delicious cherries, tangy limes and ice cold beer... They all scream summer time to me, that's why I decided to put them all together in this super quick and easy recipe, that BTW is google's number one recipe for beer bread, and so far I have to agree with them.

You can change it in so many ways, I mean... The sky is the limit, last month during our vacation to Spain, I made one beer bread for my family adding coarsely chopped dark chocolate and hazelnuts, and it was a total hit... It was not even cool yet and we were eating it like there was no tomorrow... hehe.

I've made other variations, like white chocolate macadamia, cranberry pistachio, milk chocolate and coconut... And even a bunch of savory ones like sharp cheddar cheese and fresh thyme, parmesan and sun dried tomato to mention a couple, whatever floats your boat basically. 

These are the ingredients you'll need to make one loaf:

3 cups shifted (shifting not optional) all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) can of beer. For this specific recipe I used Sam Adam's Cherry Wheat
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups fresh pitted cherries cut in halves or quarters
The zest of one lime

Mix all the dry ingredients, mix with the beer. Pour into loaf pan, I like to line mine with parchment paper, it comes out easier I think, but by all means feel free to use a greased loaf pan. For this one I used these cute wax loaf paper liners... cute!

Pour over melted butter and bake in a 375 F preheated oven for about an hour or until a super nice, crunchy, buttery and golden crust is formed. 
Remove from pan, and cool for at least 15 minutes, if you can that is... hehe.

For me this bread is better enjoyed the same day you bake it, (I like mine warm) but it will come back to life the day after if toasted in a toaster oven... Which in our home it rarely happens, we usually eat the whole thing the same day :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fresh Grilled Figs with French Vanilla Yogurt and Honey-Frangelico Liqueur Syrup

It's fig season! Thank Goodness now they seem to be more affordable, because figs are one of my favorite fruits... They bring me so many childhood memories... hot long summer days... my Grandma's house ancient, knotted, twisted fig tree produced the biggest sweetest figs ever! We also had another fig tree at my father's garden, so when fig season came, they were all over the place... If I close my eyes I can still see my father bringing them home by the bucket! 

Since now is BBQ season, (among other things I made fig ice cream with some of them, I'll post the recipe in the next few days...) I decided to grill some of them, and let me tell you I was not disappointed. They were not too sweet since I used plain unsweetened creamy Greek Yogurt... a perfect match!

Here is what youl need:
(Serves 1)

4 Fresh Figs
Oil or cooking spray
1 Plain Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
1 vanilla bean split, seeds scraped off
2 tablespoons Honey
1 tablespoons Frangelico Liqueur (Hazelnut, you can also try Amaretto)
Hazelnut cookies crumbled up (use Amaretti cookies if using Amaretto Liqueur)

You only have to cut them in half, brush them or spray them with oil (I used organic coconut oil spray) and place them on a hot grill or grill pan. It's very important that you don't remove them until they become loose on their own, if you try to remove them while they're stuck to the grill, you'll remove those lovely grill marks, and you'll end up with a messy, sticky and not pretty looking fig, simply try to lift them up super lighty and remove them ONLY when they become totally loose.

For the yogurt, I used plain Greek yogurt, split a fresh French vanilla bean, added the lovely, tinny, sweet seeds and mixed it all together, placed it in a round mold and froze it for about half hour, until I was able to release it while it still held the round shape and placed the yogurt in the middle of a deep dish.

Placed grilled figs around.
For the simple sweet syrup I mixed two tablespoons of honey and one tablespoon of Franfelico (Hazelnut Liqueur) poured over the final dish and added Hazelnut cookie crumbs to give it some crunch...

They get caramelized and smoky and sweet... the flavor is just insanely good... and then the freshness and silkiness of the Greek Yogurt was a perfect pairing, my mouth is watering as I'm typing... hehe.
 I devoured them! LOL.

If you never tried fresh figs before... give them a try, You'll fall in love right away.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Easy French Macarons

Finally I took the jump!!! Yes! and the results were pretty good I must admit... I love french macarons... they are delicious, so delicate, crunchy, chewy... but I've always been intimidated by them... always thought they were to difficult to make, too complicated... I don't know... so whenever I wanted to enjoy them, I had no choice but to buy them. But giving them a try and making them has always been like a pending subject in the back of my mind. So finally after surfing the net for a simple french macaron recipe to start with I decided to go with Elle's recipe, and then added my own twist to them ;)  

Easy French Macarons
(makes 16)

3 egg whites
1 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds


Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until whites are foamy; beat in the white sugar and continue beating until egg whites are glossy, fluffy and hold soft peaks. Sift confectioner's sugar and ground almonds in a separate bowl and quickly fold the almond mixture into the egg whites, about 30 strokes.

Here is where I changed the recipe, I made different flavors as you can see in the picks, so I took small amounts of batter and added the natural food colorings and different flavors (matcha green tea, orange, coffee, raspberry extracts, etc...) Be very careful when incorporating the coloring and extracts since you don't want the batter to loose its volume. Fold them carefully until incorporated.

Spoon small amounts of batter into a plastic bag with a small corner cut off and pipe test a disk of batter, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, onto prepared baking sheet. If the disk of batter holds a peak, instead of flattening immediately, gently fold the batter a few more times and retest.

When batter is mixed enough to flatten immediately into an even disk, spoon into pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet in rounds, leaving space between the disks. Let the piped cookies stand out at room temperature until they form a hard skin on top, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 285 degrees F (140 degrees C).

Bake cookies until set but not browned, about 10 minutes; let cookies cool completely before filling.

Basic Macaron Buttercream Filling

1 stick of softened butter
5 oz of powdered sugar, add a little more sugar if it's too runny
1/8 teaspoon of the desired flavoring (vanilla, almond, orange, pistachio, coffee...)

Stir all of these ingredients until you have a light and taste buttercream. Then add the desired food coloring for each flavor.

For some of mine I used raspberry jam and  nutella, since I was making a bunch of different flavors I wanted to make some of them simple :)

I wanted to introduce my son to different flavors like matcha, so I decided to make these and top them with these cute Circus cupcake toppers and I sure worked... He devoured them! Hehe.