Brownie Cookies

Bake Your Love
Bake Your Love

Brownie Cookies… Did you know that you can actually make brownie cookies? Brownie bites, but more elegant.

And did you know The Adventuresome Kitchen’s Chocolate Lover’s TDF (to die for) Brownie Mix makes great cut-out (brownie) cookies? It does indeed!

We design our mixes to be as versatile as possible- because some days you want something a little more elegant than a simple brownie…something a bit more lovey-dovey.

Our Brownie Cookies recipe is also a perfect way to stretch the Adventuresome Kitchen’s gluten free brownie mix to accommodate a classroom full of sugar fiends ready to let out for a long weekend. There’s a reason the Valentine’s parties are at the end of the day!

See the recipe below for how to make these delicious bites, and if you need a last minute sweet for your sweet- click here and use code AWESOME6 until midnight tonight (2/12/15) for a crazy discount…

Why? Because I Love You!!

Baking Chocolate Cookies

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Breakfast Bread Pudding – A New Year’s Tradition

le petite arbre de NoelHappy New Year!! Do you have traditions for welcoming the New Year? Apparently we do, and it’s called Breakfast Bread Pudding. I’ve never been big on family traditions- mostly out of necessity, choosing the adventurous route of new activities and experiences based on our schedule and location… Somehow though, one snuck up on us.

I didn’t even realize it until the other day, when we were making our New Year’s plans with the Kitchen Divas in Training. Suddenly my oldest, who is at the age where she lives in an adult body but is still very much a young girl, burst into tears.

“NO! She emphatically cried. We ALWAYS have Breakfast Bread Pudding and watch the Rose Parade. We HAVE to do that!” I was a little surprised at her outburst of emotion, but mostly I was touched by how important this simple routine is to her. So just like that we have a tradition. Never again will I suggest New Year’s activities that don’t include Breakfast Bread Pudding and the Rose Parade.

Gluten Free Breakfast Bread PuddingThankfully, this is incredibly easy to make- less than 15 minutes of prep. You just need enough room in your fridge to let it sit overnight- ready to pop into the oven when you’re ready. Like many of our Adventuresome Kitchen recipes- our Breakfast Bread Pudding is designed to be played with. Change up the fruit or the bread, use eggnog instead of heavy cream (very tasty), or add some pumpkin.. See what magic you can make in your kitchen.

We’ll post our Breakfast Bread Pudding recipe below, but you can see the original blog post here– there’s an interesting commentary about settling for crappy food because we think we have no choice…still an issue 4 years after the original post.

However you welcome the New Year in your home, we wish you much laughter and many culinary adventures in 2015- in the kitchen and beyond!

Cheers & Happy Adventuring

Have you ‘Liked’ our Facebook Page? Post a picture of your Breakfast Bread Pudding and any changes you made!

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Pear Crisp

Pumpkin Pear Crisp- Not Just for the Holidays!
Pumpkin Pear Crisp- Not Just for the Holidays!

So I saw this cubed pumpkin in the store the other day and my imagination ran wild. Why not do a take on apple crisp but with pumpkin? Well here you are…pumpkin pear crisp!

We tried this first with apples and pears- which you can do, but ultimately settled on the pumpkin-pear combination. To complete the holiday spin on this dish- although it’s so good, you really should consider it anytime you can get pumpkin- we added dried cranberries and pecans.

Crisps are so easy and are a perfect canvas to experiment with flavor combinations- You have apples on hand and don’t want to go to the store? Use them, or a combination of apples & pears. Don’t like cranberries? Add figs, or candied orange peels. Hate nutmeg? Add ginger.. Add fresh ginger, or cloves, or, coconut…. you get the idea- make our recipe as is, or use it as a jumping off point and come up with your own cool twist on our recipe. The important thing is to go play in your kitchen. And if you can, make it a group event- grab someone to cook with you!

Oh yeah- one more thing… I don’t know about you, but I am *way* too busy these days to spend hours peeling fruit.  So I just don’t do it. If you prefer skinless fruit- good on you- and your dish will be finer for it. Just don’t feel like you have to peel it to make this recipe sing.

We’ll be bringing this to our neighborhood’s progressive dinner. And I guarantee you- no one’s going to know it’s gluten free!

Cheers & Happy Eating!

Have you ‘Liked’ our Facebook Page? Please do so, and if you make this recipe, post a pic of your pumpkin pear crisp, and any modifications you made! We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes..ever..

The Best Gluten Free Chocolate CupcakesIt’s National Cupcake Day!! Get yourself to the kitchen and make yourself a batch of the best gluten free chocolate cupcakes ever!

The history of the cupcake goes back to at least 1913. It differentiated itself from the pound cake recipe (a lb of sugar, butter, flour, eggs) with the following formula: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, a heaping tablespoon of baking powder and a cup of milk… Cupcake vs. Poundcake…so simple, when you think about it..

Our recipe was originally conceived several years ago for the elder Kitchen Diva In Training’s 9th birthday. But, it’s so good we decided to repost today- we keep coming back to this recipe- sometimes making modifications like adding a teaspoon or two of chipotle powder, or a tablespoon of cinnamon, or even a bit of espresso powder.

We like this recipe because it has the following qualities: A slightly crispy top, a spongy but not too dry middle, light and fluffy, and of course….very chocolate-y…. making these the best gluten free chocolate cupcakes- ever!

The Ultimate Gluten-Free Chocolate CupcakesGluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key to this recipe is the buttermilk. Buttermilk, when reacting with baking soda and the acid from chocolate, undergoes this nice chemical reaction that adds air bubbles to the batter. I’ve also found that setting a hot (400 degrees) oven for the first five minutes, then turning it down for the rest of the baking helps too. The high heat helps encourage the lift and sets the structure so that the cupcakes don’t collapse.

Really, I don’t think you need to wait for a birthday to make these- think of something to celebrate and enjoy these tonight! Oh yeah- and give these to your gluten-full friends and see what they think! I guarantee they’ll be stunned…and happy!

* Have you ‘Liked’ our Facebook Page? Post a picture of your gluten free chocolate (or otherwise) concoctions there and we’ll share your pics!

 

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Gluten Free Chocolate Maple Bourbon Balls

Boozey Bourbon BallsPicture this: You get a last minute invite to a party- like *seriously* last  minute… “Hey, we’re having a party…in an hour…can you come?? And bring something??”  Or, your mother’s long-lost second cousin fourteen-times-removed calls you because she’s ‘just passing through’ and wants to stop by- in 25 minutes… Or, you’re Christmassed out, and are supposed to bring something- anything– to the Christmas dinner feast, and you’re out of time and ideas…

Have no fear!!! These delicious chocolate maple bourbon balls are just thing. They are lightning fast to put together- seriously- my friend Elke posted a pic of her version of these last night, and less than 20 minutes later I was in confection heaven. The original recipe as shared with me called for rum not bourbon, white karo not maple syrup, and traditional (ie gluten-bomb) ‘nilla wafers.

I just happened to have one half cup of bourbon left in the bottle, and prefer using maple syrup to karo most days. Instead of ‘nilla wafers, I used 3 boxes of Schär gluten free vanilla wafers- these are the skinny rectangles with the waffle tops and frosting in between…LOVED them as a kid- SO happy to have GF versions available now…

The best thing about this recipe? You get to play with your food and lick your fingers!! We thought about calling them Booze Balls, or Boozey Bourbon Balls, but really, as long as you call them delicious I’m okay! ;0

Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays and Much Good Food!

Happy Eating!

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Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie & Cranberry Pear Salad – 2 Easy Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Easy Make-Ahead Thanksgiving RecipesFor those of you who are working right up until the Holidays- I sympathize. For those of you who work retail, hospital shifts, night jobs, or more than one job- I really sympathize.

If you’re a working foodie- this time of year can be really tough to channel your inner Kitchen Diva, work, be attentive to family and friends, and take care of yourself… I know. I’m right there in the trenches with you this year… Happily, sales of my GF Pie Crust are out of control…I’m excited…but that also leaves little time for much else..blogging? Recipe development? Photography? Housecleaning??!!!?? Thankfully (or not-so-thankfully, depending on how you look at it) a malfunctioning mixer and a delay in an ingredient order left me with time to catch up on some much needed kitchen activity.

I am not hosting dinner this year..But, I still intend to eat well with a few friends and play in someone else’s kitchen. What’s on our menu? Easy stuff. Stuff I’m making tomorrow with the Kitchen Divas in Training so I can sleep in on Turkey Day and loll about in my pajamas taking in the Macy’s Parade with the girls while sipping a mimosa and enjoying a gluten-free scone! So what’s on the dinner menu??

  • Duck Confit (already made, you can check out the pics on our Facebook Page)
  • Smoked Chicken Liver Pate w/ Gluten Free Baguettes
  • Baby potatoes roasted in duck fat and truffle salt (pop in the oven at 400 and cook stirring occasionally until done)
  • Fresh Cranberry Pear Salad (Recipe Below- only 20 min to make and seriously delicious)
  • Roasted Brussels (Check out our Adventuresome Kitchen Recipe with Mint Sauce)
  • Roast Duck or Goose (we’re channeling our Pilgrim roots and dispensing with the Turkey (but I’m not making that!!)
  • Gluten Free Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie (Easy, No Bake, and all the Pumpkin Pie Flavors you love- Recipe Below)

Now that might seem pretty ambitious to some of you- but here’s the deal: With the exception of the baguettes which are a little more involved, everything else listed above is 10-15 minutes of prep and into the oven, or can be completely made in 20 minutes or less… My kind of food these days.. All of it can be made now or on Thanksgiving and still taste great.  My point? Even if you’re crazy busy this year and the thought of cooking makes you want to take a nap…pick one or two fast, easy recipes and eat well. Your tastebuds will be the first to Thank you!!

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Peach Crumble Provençal- A Gluten Free Recipe Infused w/ the Essence of Southern France

peach crumbleOne of the greatest benefits of recipe sharing is watching how they change and morph like a game of telephone. This recipe that I’m going to share with you was at first the creation of a French Magazine- which one, I don’t know. Then an artist friend of mine who is currently living in Southern France (sigh…could we all be so blessed!) painstakingly translated it and tweaked it. Then, she was so excited she shared it with me, and as we talked, I got even more ideas… and now you have a different recipe that I call Peach Crumble Provençal. One that is still true to the very Provençal flavors that make this dish shine.

So what do I mean when I say “Provençal flavors”?

The marriage of orange blossom water, peaches, almonds & pistachios, lavender and vanilla.. All of which grow profusely in the Provençal region of Southern France… Yes- my friend send me a handful of vanilla beans!!

As summer finally begins to drift into Autumn, there are a few super-ripe peaches left at the farmer’s markets. Grab some and celebrate the rich flavor we sometimes forget to enjoy during the last lingering days of summer. Come winter, you’ll have a fabulous memory.

PS- did I mention our peach crumble recipe is naturally gluten free?? Just like every dish you’ll find on The Adventuresome Kitchen site!

Gluten Free Peach Crumble Provencal

Like this recipe? Make it, take a picture and post it on our Facebook Page (Be sure to Like us too!)

Special thanks to my fabulous photographer friend, Rebekah West (you can see her gorgeous photos here and here), and to the great recipe developers at the unknown French Magazine for providing us with such a delicious foundation!  And to my other fabulous photographer friend Maria- who took the pictures of the finished product! (you can see some of her lovely work here)

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Grilled Peaches

Grilled Peaches side 2We are at the tail end of peach season here in Kansas City. The late varieties are showing themselves by the bushel at the farmer’s markets. Three years ago I took the plunge, decided we probably weren’t going to be moving anytime soon, and purchased three dwarf peaches for our backyard. I have been in peach heaven ever since. Why I waited so long to plant peach trees I will never know.

But, for those of you who own fruit trees, you know that when the harvest is in, it is IN! We have had peaches covering every available surface for the last 4 weeks. I know- my life is so hard. I will tell you though that the fruit flies are getting a little bit annoying.

So- what do do with all those peaches? Eat-em of course! We’ve enjoyed:

  • peach pancakes
  • peach sangria
  • peaches on salad, yogurt, and granola

But I think the new favorite would have to be grilled peaches. They are so easy, and are a great way to use up the less desireables- you know the ones I’m talking about- they may be bruised and beat-up. Perhaps you had to cut a bit out, or maybe they’re slightly green. Grilling brings out all the sugars and sweetness, and the flavor here was enhanced with a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon. Although I think cumin would be great too.

We enjoyed our grilled peaches plain, and over bitter greens. And the leftovers? They went into a boozy adult shake! Summer in the backyard doesn’t get much better than that!

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Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin PieIt’s Pi-Day! Pie Day….3/14 What better way to celebrate than with a gluten free chocolate pumpkin pie?

3.14 Pi… I was never great at geometry. And although I forget the exact formula to find the area of a circle, I do remember pi. However, I much prefer contemplating this circle of chocolate pumpkin pie perfection invented by none other than my oldest Kitchen Diva in Training. She has not yet engaged in the geometry struggle. I hope that when she does my negative feelings don’t rub off on her. And, if she struggles- I hope she remembers the joy she found in filling the area of this circle with something that brought a smile to our faces.

Make a pie today. Make several.. Roll out your dough and contemplate how many bites it will take to fill the tummies of those you love. That’s my kind of geometry.

The Kitchen Diva in Training with her creation
The Kitchen Diva in Training with her creation

 

Can’t get enough of Strawberry- Rhubarb? Try this pie

Berry Pies more your thing? Try these

Or if a twist on Apple Pie is what you prefer, try this.

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Chocolate Pumpkin Pie -makes 1 pie

This pie, based on my Oma’s pumpkin pie and redesigned by my daughter, is dense, creamy, and VERY easy to make. My kind of pie.

Ingredients

Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Pie1 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 TBS Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/2 cup of small chocolate chips

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups pumpkin (this is slightly less than 1 can- if you like a super-pumpkinny flavor, use the whole can)

3/4 cup milk (we used 2%, but you could use a fatter milk, or even non-dairy)

Directions

Place all ingredients in a bowl, and mix until thoroughly incorporated. We used our stand mixer.  Pour into an unbaked (gluten free )piecrust and bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 50-55 minutes.

Snow Day Homemade Marshmallows

David Lebovitz's MarshmallowsKansas City was the recipient of an epic- century sized- snowstorm today. We’re at over 12 inches and counting- making this the largest February snowstorm since 1900. And- this wasn’t your typical blizzard- here in the midwest we get Thundersnow! Yes- you read that right- Thunder, lightening, and heavy snow- all at once! Thankfully, there were no “snow-nado” warnings!

Now for those of you who live out west or in New England, 10-12 inches may not seem like much. But to the flatlanders out here 3 inches is enough to cancel school and tie up traffic for a good day or so. And when we start getting into the double digits- well- besides sledding, making snow people, and shoveling out the cars from the driveway, there’s not much else to do besides make hot cocoa and watch movies… Unless you feel brave enough to tackle homemade marshmallows!

Not feeling like reinventing the wheel, I hopped online and ended up at David Lebovitz’s site. Not only do I love reading about Paris, but David is great at sweets- something I am not. So, when I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone- this is where I go.

The Kitchen Diva in Training hard at work
The Kitchen Diva in Training hard at work

I was happily surprised to discover that marshmallows are one step removed from italian meringue, which I am now very comfortable with thanks to our Adventures in macaron making last month!

They are super easy, and taste Waaaaaay better than the plastic-y cylinders we all grew up eating. We added a touch of peppermint schnapps to ours, and then toasted them in our mini oven to gently carmelize them. They were the perfect addition to our post-snow shoveling cocoa!

For a great read, and a beautifully easy marshmallow recipe- click here. And the next time it snows buckets in your neck of the woods- try making your own marshmallows!

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Remember- we’re experimenting with Gluten-Free Croissants this month….. How’s it going? Post your comments below.

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cake

Gluten Free Caramel Apple CakeThe Adventuresome Kitchen is now on Facebook!

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re cooking ‘in’ this year, you might want to consider this delicious Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cake that the Kitchen Divas in Training and I developed yesterday. You may recognize the technique of whipping the eggs and sugar, then adding very soft butter- it’s a classic cake technique outlined by Julia Child in many of her recipes.

This was the big girl’s first effort in making a cake all by herself. One change she recommended was skinning the apples. The skins look really pretty, but as she discovered this morning, they are hard to cut through. With the rest of the cake so tender, she thought it would be best to be able to cut through the apples too.

IMG_0576Using good caramel is key- and I happened to have this lovely, lovely jar of caramel that a friend had given me for Christmas. When you receive a fabulous gift like that, it demands special treatment. This is a rich, moist cake. I think it’s perfect with a cup of coffee- and therefore a delicious candidate for breakfast! It’s tender and moist, and the gluten eaters in your life will have no idea this cake is gluten free!

If you like the flavors in this cake, be sure to check out a pie of similar flavor- our Caramel Apple Pie– so yummy!

In other news: Feel free to post your comments, stories, food photos and recipe questions here or on our new Facebook page! Please stop by and say hi! And don’t forget to ‘like’ us!

IMG_0579Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cake– makes one 8 1/2 inch round cake

Ingredients

6oz unsalted butter

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup almond meal flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup sorghum flour

1 apple- sliced thinly, skinned,  and sprinkled liberally with lemon juice & water

1/2 cup good quality caramel

IMG_0574Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trace the bottom of the cake pan on a piece of parchment and cut out the circle. Place it in the bottom of the pan. If you are using a non-stick baking pan, this is all you have to do. If you’re using a different pan- grease and flour the sides, then place the parchment in the bottom.

Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer if you don’t mind a little extra work) mix the butter using the paddle attachement until it is verysoft and creamy- about 6-7 minutes. You want the butter to feel like frosting. Remove the butter from the stand mixer bowl and set aside. Scrape the bowl clean and then either wipe with a paper towel or clean the bowl. (This is a pain, I know- it’s either wash the bowl or have your arm fall off using a hand mixer. I decided the path of least resistance was to wash the bowl.)

In your clean stand mixer bowl, now place the eggs and sugar. You can use the whisk attachment for this. Start off on low, and gradually increase speed to high (between 8-10) and set your timer for 5 minutes.

Gluten Free Caramel Apple CakeWhile the eggs are beating, you can slice the apple and set them in a bowl of lemon juice and water- this will keep them from turning brown.

After 5 minutes, the eggs should be pale and very, very fluffy. Turn the stand mixer to low and quickly add the dry ingredients in a steady stream. Then add the softened butter. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for 5 seconds.

Remove the bowl from the stand- try and get as much batter out of the whisk attachment as possible- it will be thick. Spoon the mixture into the pan. It will come out in a big blob and you will have to use the spatula to smooth it out and over to the sides.

When the batter has been smoothed, place the apples on top in a pretty design- pressing the apples into the batter.

IMG_0595Bake for 40 minutes at 350. When the cake is done, gently remove it from the cake pan, peel the parchment, and place on a plate- with the apples facing up.

While the cake is still hot, poke holes in the top with a toothpick. Then, using a small, flexible spatula, spread the caramel over the apples and let it drip down the sides. The heat will help thin the caramel and it will fill in the holes.

Allow to fully cool before enjoying. We waited overnight, and the caramel really sunk in to the top layer of the cake. It also cooled along the sides, so we enjoyed a bit of the caramel with the ‘crust’.

The History of Crepe Day

Gluten Free Galette on the Griddle
Gluten Free Galette on the Griddle

Happy Ground Hog’s Day! Happy Crepe Day! (In our house that’s gluten free crepe day!)We’re halfway through winter!

The History of Crepe Day

Crepe Day is February 2nd, and in Europe is also called St. Brigid’s Day, St. Bride’s Day, or Candlemas. In France, Crepe Day is called Chandeleur. Originally a Pagan fertility and planting festival called Imbolc paying tribute to the Mother Goddess Brigid,  it was co-opted by the Catholic church in the Middle Ages and turned into a celebration marking Christ’s presentation at the temple.

This is where the Candles come in- Priests would bless candles on this day and hold candlelight processions honoring the idea that Christ was the light of the world. However, the Goddess Brigid was so popular throughout the British Isles that the priests eventually made Brigid a ‘Saint’ and gave her the feast day of February 1. The origins of Brigid predate even the Celtic Druids, and as February 2nd marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, this date has been important to humanity for millenia. It has always been associated with light coming out of darkness, new growth and birth. In fact, many farmers today begin planting spring crops like peas, kale, radishes and broccoli on February 2nd.. (at least if you live in a place where the ground is likely to be unfrozen!)

Gluten Free CrepeIn France- Chandeleur has become “Crepe Day”. People across the country take the opportunity to stop and make crepes together. It’s said that on February 2nd,  if you can flip a crepe with only your right hand you will have good fortune for the rest of the year! I like that, and intend to make some crepes today.

I realized that I have several gluten free crepe recipes already posted- so below you’ll find links to previous Adventuresome Kitchen Gluten Free Crepe posts. Wherever you find yourself, and whatever your spiritual belief- know that for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere- we’re halfway to warmer, sunnier days! Cheers!

Basic Crepe Recipe
Basic Crepe Recipe
Gluten Free Chicken & Spinach Crepes
Gluten Free Chicken & Spinach Crepes

 

Gluten Free White Asparagus Crepes
Gluten Free White Asparagus Crepes

 

Gluten Free Galette de Sarrasin (Gluten Free Savory Crepes)
Gluten Free Galette de Sarrasin (Gluten Free Savory Crepes)

How to Make Macarons Part 4- The Kansas City Experiment

Gluten Free TiramisuThis is The Adventuresome Kitchen’s final installment of How to Make Macarons. (really we should call this post Gluten Free Tiramisu)

“There are never any mistakes- only happy accidents.” So says my PBS painting hero Bob Ross. I used to be transfixed by Bob Ross’s shows as a child- and I actually learned a thing or two about painting. But what always stuck with me was his cheerful demeanor whenever the paintbrush slipped and left an unexpected mark on the canvass. He never grumbled (granted- it’s possible those moments were left on the editing room floor) and cheerfully changed course based on what was happening in the moment.

Gluten-free cooking is a lot like that… sometimes you just have to change course. We gluten-free bakers and chefs are pioneers. We constantly live on the edges of what’s possible- often not by choice. For me that means lots of trial and error-being willing to make grand mistakes for the sake of learning and growing. And, when life gives you lemonade- or flat macarons- you’ve got to be willing to recognize the fabulous “not macaron” in front of you and develop a new dessert.

My final macaron experiment did not go as I had planned. I had grand visions of a new macaron called “The Kansas City”… fabulous blend of maple, pecan, bourbon and bacon. “Un Homage” to Kansas City and the Southern/Midwestern borders it straddles…. what I got something new and unexpected. Well many somethings new…My first attempt in grinding my own nuts led to a very delicious maple-pecan butter. I’ll be using that as a filling for one of my croissants this next month. The second something  looked and tasted more like a really awesome GF ‘Nilla Wafer (even though there was no ‘nilla in this whatsoever!) than a macaron! Go Figure!

Maple-Pecan Butter

Gluten Free 'Nilla Wafer

 

 

 

To make our newly named GF ‘Nilla Wafer, we subbed out pecans for almonds and used maple sugar and maple syrup. To be honest- that was the most unscientific thing we could have done. When working under proper conditions with plenty of time- you should only ever change one variable at a time….never all of them! But- would I have ended up with a GF ‘Nilla Wafer if I’d tried that? Nope….so there you go- a case for just going for it and seeing what happens.

Notice the 'fishy' macaron on the left!
Notice the ‘fishy’ macaron on the left!

To those of you who joined me on the Macaron Journey this month- thanks for your participation, and I hope you enjoyed the results- whatever they were.  My cousin Hannah sent me a few pictures of her Macaron party.  Hannah and her friends are to be commended. They are college students with limited equipment, and in this case, also limited ingredients! They did a great job, and I’m so proud of their endeavors! I have to point out that Hannah is an aspiring Marine Biologist, and so it’s fitting that one of her macarons looks like a little fish!

To create GF Tiramisu, use my GF Ladyfinger recipe here, or use your failed macarons.

The Kansas City Tiramisu incorporated maple sugar and bourbon in place of white sugar and marsala, used sprinkles of pecans and maple sugar, and a bacon garnish.

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How to Make Macarons Part 2: The Inca – or lost in translation

The Inca
The Inca

This is the second installment of The Adventuresome Kitchen’s 4 part “How to Make Macarons” series. Join me by posting your stories, thoughts and questions, or by emailing me a picture of what you’re working on in your kitchen!

Maybe it’s that we read the recipe 25 times. Maybe it was the sunshine, or the incredibly smooth school-day, or the fact that since I wanted my daughter to succeed at this, I took it down a notch from warp-speed and wasn’t a total spaz while I was cooking. Did you know that? I’m often a total spaz in the kitchen. A whirling dervish; a white tornado. Pots and pans seem to enter my gravitational pull and then get flung aside with enough force they could be catapulted into orbit like the Voyager heading to Saturn. I nearly set a dish-towel on fire the other day. Mr. Kitchen Diva would beg to differ and say that I did set it on fire.

In spite of the high energy in the kitchen, stuff rarely boils over, burns, spills, or catches At work in the kitchenfire. And somehow in the midst of the creative frenzy that is my brain,  I manage to take pretty copious notes. But with a Kitchen Diva in Training at the helm today, working on a complicated recipe she picked out, things had to slow down. What ensued was a luxurious afternoon spent cleaning, prepping, measuring, timing, teaching, singing, dancing, and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

 

 

Pierre Herme Macaron - The Inca

 

The elder Kitchen Diva in Training, just past 11, went for Gold- literally! She picked a lovely, somewhat intimidating macaron called The Inca. Lemon yellow with gold glitter, its filling is comprised of avocados, bananas, white and dark chocolate. We were all a bit unsure when she picked it. I’m guessing it’s not the most popular treat in the macaron shop- but it should be. Holy Guacamole Bat-Man! This filling could exist on its own as a cream pie and people’s eyes would roll back with ecstasy. It’s not too sweet, just slightly tart, and Ka-Pow! Then you’re hit with a tiny square of bittersweet chocolate. This is why Pierre Hermé is the master.

As for the process? Well, it was a little tricky. There were some language issues in this recipe that were not resolved either with editing or translation. Namely with the drying of ripe bananas. The recipe calls for 120g of ripe bananas to be ‘sprinkled’ with lemon juice and dried in a low oven for 2 hours. The recipe then says to chop it into 60g pieces for the ganache filling? Whaa? 60g is most of a banana, and there’s no way that’s going to fit in a piping tube… And, as you can see from the picture below- ‘sprinkling’ with lemon didn’t quite get the job done. Those babies went straight into the trash. Cue the whining trombones.

We tried again with the last banana we had left and tossed them all liberally in the lemon juice with much better results.. Now, I admit, perhaps the tang of the lemon might not be what Monsieur Hermé was after, but they were good, and at least they didn’t turn black!

I'm guessing these are Not exactly what The Master was envisioning.
I’m pretty sure these are not exactly what The Master was envisioning.
Take 2: These look much more appetizing. The difference? Tossed in Lemon Juice.
Take 2: These look much more appetizing. The difference? Tossed in Lemon Juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank goodness we’d read the recipe 25 times! One of the challenges I told my daughter about is that often things happen very fast in the kitchen- even when I’m not flying about at light speed. Sugar hits a temperature and has to be moved to the egg whites. Egg whites have to be whipped only so much or they go from light and fluffy to saggy and separated in the blink of an eye. If you’re prepared, and you’ve considered your work space, set up your ingredients, and know your recipe, you can tackle these timing issues with ease- and hopefully without throwing too many pots and pans into orbit. And if you’re very lucky, your macarons will turn out just like the picture!

The finished product!
The finished product!

Here are some of the things we learned today:

Piping Le MacaronI need 5- yes 5 cookie sheets to fully pipe a batch of macarons. Back to the kitchen store before Friday.

I need more piping nozzles. They definitely work better than the ziplock bag, but we had to stop during piping to replace the bags etc.. It would be much easier with 4 bags and 4 nozzles set out ready to go.

My oven is simultaneously too hot and too cold. It runs 25 degrees cold. But today while we were baking, I realized that 350 degrees for these yellow macarons was too much. They were sticking to the parchment and were slightly gummy on the inside, even when their tops showed they needed to be pulled from the oven. Ultimately, we landed on 300 degrees for 14 minutes. They peeled off the parchment with the ease of a ripe banana, and were perfect on the inside.

MacaronageChocolate colored macarons are infinitely more forgiving than lemon yellow colored macarons. There’s no hiding when they’ve been ever so slightly over done.

According to the Kitchen Divas in Training, macaron parties are lots of fun and the only way to make macarons is in a group.

The younger Kitchen Diva in Training is getting quite good at photo documentation. Most of the pictures you see today are hers, or her big sister’s.

The elder Kitchen Diva in Training really shined. She was nervous about piping,

Et Voila!
Et Voila!

macaronage-ing, working with boiling sugar, but she rocked it all, and showed herself she can do anything in the kitchen.

You’re never too old to have fun getting covered in gold glitter.

Anyone can make macarons. Yep. You read that right. It’s true. Anyone can make macarons.

Lastly- these macarons should always be enjoyed after a delicious bowl of Vegan Chili!

There are still two weeks left to join in the macaron fun! Grab a friend, or tackle it on your own. You too can master these delicious gluten-free treats! Next week, the younger Kitchen Diva in Training will be picking out one of Brave Tart’s magic creations to try in our kitchen!

How to make Macarons Part 1: Beauty & the Beast

Pierre Hermé: MacaronsThis is part 1 of our 4 part mini series- How to Make Macarons.

For those of you who have read my Gluten-Free Paris posts, you will know that I am a huge fan of Pierre Hermé. I feel his macarons are by far the best thing going on in Paris. Last year for Christmas, Mr. Kitchen Diva gave me his fabulous Macarons book. The pictures are glorious and enticing, and Monsieur Hermé works to break down the very intimidating macaron process. I found his directions to be clear and concise. In fact, he writes that he had his 10 year old daughter test the basic macaron recipe and make them by following the steps he outlines in the book.

Well crap. If a 10 year old can do this, why can’t I? And for that matter, why am I letting a ‘leetle cookie’ intimidate me? Eesh. So I began by working through Monsieur Hermé’s recipe.

Here’s what I learned during attempt #1:

1) I need a new oven. I won’t be purchasing a new oven anytime soon, so I am going to have to work with what I have. This means cooking only 1 pan of macarons at a time- on the top shelf. You can see from the pictures below, my first pan of macarons turned out beautifully- they had perfect feet, glossy tops, and were cooked to the right consistency.

The macarons on the bottom shelf of the oven did not fare so well. They were lumpy, cracked, and their bottoms scorched. This is indicative of poor airflow, and a different temperature…I don’t quite understand myself how a macaron can be simultaneously overcooked on the bottom and undercooked in the middle… I think it may have something to do with number 2.

This was the first batch on the top oven rack. Notice the happy feet, uniformity of shape, evenness across the top and the glossy texture
This was the first batch on the top oven rack. Notice the happy feet, uniformity of shape, evenness across the top and the glossy texture

 

 

This was from the same batch but placed on the bottom oven rack. Notice the crumple-y, uneven texture and the cracking.
This was from the same batch but placed on the bottom oven rack. Notice the crumple-y, uneven texture and the cracking.

2) I have a few cookie sheets that need to go to the great recycle bin in the sky. One in particular is so bad that every macaron scorched on the bottom. The other I think I can work with by placing the parchment paper over a silpat- which I will do in round 2.

Scorched.
Scorched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) I really need some piping nozzles. Sadly, I thought I had them, until I frantically went searching for said large piping nozzle after I had already made my fillings. I ended up going the MacGuyver method and made my own piping bag with a ziplock. It was okay. It lacked a bit of control and so my macarons were varied in size.

I put the whole batch in a big ziplock. The later macarons spread further. Next time, I'll only work with a little batter at a time.
I put the whole batch in a big ziplock. The later macarons spread further. Next time, I’ll only work with a little batter at a time.

4) Although my first batch of macarons (on the top shelf of the oven) were cooked beautifully, I suspect that part of my issue was that I didn’t quite beat my meringue high enough, as the other batches were slightly gooey in the middle. This feature was actually a bonus for one of my tasters, but it wasn’t what I was going for.

5) I would like stronger flavor from my fillings. For attempt 1, I made a Pierre Hermé-style chocolate macaron shell and filled some with a pumpkin pastry creme and others with an orange curd. I found myself wanting more intensity to balance the chocolate. Of the two- I liked the pumpkin pastry creme the best

The prettiest for the pictures. Pumpkin filling is on the left, orange curd is on the right. Next time, I will make the filling a little more generous.
The prettiest for the pictures. Pumpkin filling is on the left, orange curd is on the right. Next time, I will make the filling a little more generous.

6) Making macarons is always better with company. The youngest Kitchen Diva in Training helped with production this time, took most of the pictures you see on the blog today, and was great in the encouragement department. In fact, at one point when I was grumbling about what I’d do next time, she ran to the ‘fridge and pointed to a magnet we have. “Never, Never, Never Give Up- Mommy” she said in her pipey voice. “Remember, you always tell us that the fastest way to learn is to make lots of mistakes!” Ah yes, out of the mouths of babes. I really do have the most adorable children.

I also discovered some great troubleshooting websites:

http://foodnouveau.com/2011/12/16/destinations/europe/france/a-macaron-troubleshooting-guide-useful-tips-and-advice-to-master-the-french-delicacy/#equipment-09-double-baking-sheets

http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.com/2010/08/macaron-troubleshooting-new-recipe.html

http://misohungrynow.blogspot.com/2011/01/troubleshooting-macaron.html

My favorite online macaron resource is written by the witty and engaging Stella Parks from BraveTart. Stella was named one of the top 10 Pastry Chefs of 2012 by Food and Wine Magazine. Her posts are informative, funny, and inspiring. She demystifies much of the macaron making process, and reminds us not to get too caught up in seeking perfection. She makes macarons in a totally different way from Pierre Hermé, but I’m guessing they are no less delicious. I’ll be attempting Pierre Hermé one more time next week, and then moving on to one of Stella’s fabulous concoctions.

Never Never Never Give Up

For next week: I’ll be hitting my local kitchen store to purchase a few more cookie sheets, some piping nozzles, and maybe even some fancy gel food coloring. I’ll be honing in on how to manage my wildly inconsistent oven, and lastly, I’ll be inviting the oldest Kitchen Diva in Training to take the lead in the next round of baking.

 

 

JOIN ME: Grab a friend or two and jump in! Feel free to post your comments and email me pictures at adventuresomekitchen(at)gmail(dot)com.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pastry Creme-makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1/3 cup sugar,

2 tablespoons cornstarch

4 large egg yolks

1 cup eggnog

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Place egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl and whip at high speed until the mixture is thick and color is pale yellow. Meanwhile, using a stainless steel saucepan, bring eggnog, pumpkin, and cinnamon to a simmer. As soon as the mixture begins to show the tiniest bubbles, slowly pour about 1/3 of the mixture into the eggyolks- whisking constantly! This is called tempering the eggs, and is a crucial step in the custard/creme making process. Otherwise you end up with sweet scrambled eggs!

Next, pour the warmed-up yolk batter into the hot pan with the remaining eggnog. Whisk constantly and remove from the heat when it begins to bubble. Pour into a large stainless steel bowl. I like larger bowls because it helps cool the mixture faster- more room to spread out.

Stir with a lifting motion for a few minutes to release some of the heat. When the mixture has partially cooled, place a film of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry creme, removing any airbubbles, and place in the refrigerator. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

Gluten Free Biscochitos (Bizcochitos)

Christmas LuminariasFeliz Navidad! Joyeux Noel! Happy Christmas! Traditions and flavors of New Mexico are a constant part of our lives- especially at Christmas. And what would the Christmas season be without a gluten free Biscochito? Sometimes spelled “Bizcochito”, these anise and cinnamon flavored cookies came to New Mexico as early as the 16th century, likely brought there by the Spanish conquistadors. These cookies are among my favorites to make during the holidays. They are light, flakey, flavorful, and not too sweet. Traditionally made with lard, I have modified my recipe to use vegetable shortening. They are still light, flakey, and utterly delicious. They are also dairy-free, so if the people in your life are both gluten-free and dairy-free (many of mine are) this cookie is sure to please everyone. They melt in your mouth and have none of the ‘gluten-free’ texture that typically marks many baked goods. They are also fun to make- the Kitchen Divas in Training enjoy squishing the diamond points together. Wherever you find yourself this Holiday- may you experience love, light, joy, and gluten-free deliciousness!

Gluten Free Biscochitos (Bizcochitos)-about 5 doz

Ingredients Gluten-Free Biscochitos (Bizcochitos)

1 lb vegetable shortening (4 sticks) or 1 lb lard

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

3 tsp anise seeds

2 cups sorghum flour

2 cups cornstarch

1 cup millet flour

1 cup sweet rice flour

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tbs baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup brandy, cognac or bourbon

For Sprinkles:

1/4 cup white sugar

1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set out eggs and allow them to come to room temperature. In a medium bowl mix all dry ingredients and set aside. In a stand mixer, or other large bowl, cream shortening, sugar, and anise until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until smooth. Add a little flour and mix. Then a little brandy. Keep alternating flour and brandy until everything is mixed together. The dough will be very stiff. Separate the dough into 3 large balls. Flatten, wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

Making a gluten-free biscochitoWhen you are ready to bake the cookies, take out one package, break off a chunk of dough and roll it out on a piece of floured parchment paper (I use cornstarch).There should be enough oil in the dough that it won’t stick to your rolling pin. If you find the dough sticking, smooth cornstarch over your rolling pin, or lightly sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on the dough- it will get incorporated, but will help with any stickiness you may encounter. Roll dough to about 1/4″ thickness. With a knife, cut squares out of the dough- biscochitos are traditionally shaped into diamonds or fleur-de-lis. Make a cut in the corner of each square. Be sure to only go part-way towards the center, or you will cut your cookie in half! This will leave four triangle-ish sides.  Pinch the corners of each triangle together, pushing towards the middle. This bunches the cookie up and helps create the light, flakey texture. Don’t worry about perfection! This is a very forgiving cookie, and the shapes are pretty hard to mess up. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon/sugar mixture just prior to sticking in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-11 minutes. They will not look done when you pull them out, but will harden as they cool. If you leave them in longer than 11 minutes, they will be too dry.

How to make stovetop popcorn

This whimsical concoction was dreamed up by the Kitchen Divas In Training over the Holiday Weekend during our Back to the Future marathon. Once I had shown them how to make stovetop popcorn, they managed to find a box of Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones in the recesses of a cabinet, and decided they’d like their movie popcorn and ice-cream rolled up into one.

I hesitated at first, but then thought- what the heck? The worst that can happen is they don’t taste that great. So we popped our corn and went Adventuring! They were delicious! If you like the salty/sweet combo, or like chocolate chips on occasion in your popcorn, you will love these. It’s a good thing we ran out of ice-cream and cones, because I easily could have enjoyed several more! This is the kind of item that should be sold at the Iowa State Fair this summer!

Now- a word about the popcorn: Do NOT- waste your money on microwave popcorn, or that premade junk you get at the store. First of all, it’s filled with all sorts of yucky stuff- partially hydrogenated oils- usually soy or cottonseed (Yuck…do you know that the cotton industry is the most egregious user of petrochemicals? 5lbs of chemicals for 1lb of yield. I do not want that stuff anywhere near my body, let alone in it!) Or, if it’s a “good for you” brand- it uses Palm Kernel Oil, which thanks to its rocketing demand as people give the heave-ho to the partially hydrogenated stuff, is a food responsible for millions of acres of rainforest deforestation. And the corn? If it ain’t organic- it’s GMO. No ThankYou, I’m a stovetop popper these days.

Now, some of you may say that pulling out the bag and popping it in the microwave is faster, but is it really? I can have an enormous bowl of popcorn ready in 6 minutes or less, made with real oil, real salt (if you like salt) and real corn- and instead of costing 2.99/bag- it costs me pennies. Do you know how much a pound of bulk organic corn costs? About 1.50, or less. Do you know how much corn is in 1 pound? A LOT of servings!

Below are the instructions for how to make stovetop popcorn– it’s so easy my 10 year old cooked it this weekend (I documented!)

 

 

1. 3 tbs oil with a high burning point- I use grapeseed oil. You could use corn, canola, or something else. As much as I like the flavor of olive oil, its burning point is too low. (btw the black flecks in this picture are not burned bits, but seaweed pieces from my fancy sea-salt)

 

 

 

 

2. Place oil in pan with a few kernels and some ground up salt (if you choose). Alton Brown turned me on to putting salt in the pan 1st. It flavors everything and you use way less. However- don’t add other seasonings first. I learned the hard way there, and burned my herbs and spices.

 

 

 

 

3. Place the lid on your pan (I use a medium sized one) and wait for the kernels to explode against the lid- peek if you need to. When the kernels explode add a generous 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels, slap on the lid and set your timer for 3-3 1/2 minutes.

 

 

 

4. Now comes the tricky part. Do NOT Walk Away! Agitate the pan continuously- you will hear the popping, and somewhere between 3 3 1/2 minutes the popping will virtually stop. Pull the pan from the heat- open the lid to let out the steam, and place it back on again for a count of 5- this will allow the last kernels to pop.. Give one last good shake and turn out into a bowl.

 

 

 

5. Flavor- add butter, olive oil, herbed garlic powder, parmesan cheese, nuts, whatever….let your imagination run wild.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Now- for the corny cones- grab a cone and fill the bottom with popcorn. Add a nice scoop of chocolate ice-cream on top and then take a handful of popcorn and gently smoosh onto the ice cream. Eat fairly quickly because the hot popcorn does speed up the melting of the ice cream.

 

For Corny Cone: Add Ice-Cream and cover with popcorn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious!  I kid you not.  Happy Start of Summer, Everyone!

Caramel Apple Pie

Greetings from Toronto!!

The Adventuresome Kitchen has been up here on a whirlwind 48-hour Gluten-Free tour. We have eaten our way across the city and only scratched the surface of the delicious gluten-free opportunities here. I will be posting on our Toronto experience later this week, but for now- here’s a photo teaser.

And yes….for those of you who are “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fans, you may recognize one of these photos!

And now, let’s talk Pie!!! How about a Caramel Apple Pie?

This month’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap features a recipe called “Ozarkian Taffy Apples”.

There was some conversation in our group about why this recipe was called “Ozarkian”. Now, I can’t say for sure, but I do have a few ideas. I live just west of the Ozarks, and I do know that apples have played a big part in their history. It is said that Johnny Appleseed came through the Ozarks in the early 1800’s, introducing apples to the region. However they got here, by the late 1800’s pioneers from the Dakotas frustrated by drought and the brutal conditions of farming in the high plains were backtracking to the Ozarks ready to try their hand at raising apples. Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband Almanzo, and their daughter Rose were among those seeking to improve their fortunes by raising apples (among other things)in the Ozarks.

During apple season, our local farmer’s markets are filled with many varieties of heirloom apples and I thought it would be great to learn what kind of apples Laura cooked with on her farm. I contacted the very kind people at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, Missouri to find out what kind of apples Laura and Almanzo grew, and was told that the two varieties on Rocky Ridge farm were Ben Davis and Missouri Pippin. I’ve had Pippins before and they are a great pie apple. For me, the idea of making a pie with apples that may have been grown on Laura’s farm was irresistible, and the Caramel Apple Pie was born. I started working on this recipe last fall, in the hopes of making a nice apple post, but wasn’t happy with the results, and was happy to give it another try. I used Braeburns for this pie and felt their slightly tart flavor worked nicely against the sweet of the caramel-type filling. I also added lots of pecans- because for me- when I have a candied apple, it always has to have nuts.

The Kitchen Divas in Training had to get in on this adventure as well, and did a great job of making their own pie. You can bet I’ll be making this again during apple season and looking for Laura’s apples at the farmer’s market!

Be sure to visit the recipe swap page at Burwell General Store and check out the links to my fellow blogger’s sites- you will be in for some delicious apple treats this month!

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Pie

Makes One 8-9 inch pie

Ingredients

Pie Crust (gluten free if you need)

5-6 apples (enough to make about 6 cups, chopped)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tbs corn starch

1 tbs lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Topping

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 stick (8oz) butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbs cornstarch

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 and move oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped apples, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch, and set aside.

Roll out half of the pie crust and place it on the pie pan. Cover with 1/2 cup of the pecan pieces. Set aside.

In a second bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar, butter, cornstarch and pecans.

Roll out the top crust for the pie and cut out any decorations you may like.

Add the apple mixture to the pie pan. Place the caramel topping over the apples, covering the apples completely.

Pour the heavy cream over the mixture and cover with the top crust.

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, then turn the oven to 350 and bake for another 30-45 minutes- until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling out of the holes. You may need to cover the crust with aluminum or a pie ring if the outside of the crust browns too quickly.

If you can- wait at least 4 hours before eating. This allows the juices to firm up. You are certainly welcome to enjoy immediately, but your pie will be a bit more crumbly. This pie tastes absolutely fabulous for breakfast!!



Gluten Free Sponge Cake w/ Rose Water & Mandarin Orange Filling

Well Hello Again!! It’s Royal Wedding Week, and while many of you are scurrying around making last minute egg and bunny preparations, my eye’s been on a certain Princess-to-Be whose pending nuptials are just around the corner.

We have been very busy around here over the last few weeks. Mother Nature waits for no one, and in between the rain, snow, and generally yucky weather we’ve been having this spring, the Kitchen Divas in Training and I suspended regular schooling for a week to put in a square-foot garden. It’s amazing how much practical learning can be packed into one backyard kitchen garden project! When I debriefed the experience with the girls, here’s just some of what they said they learned:

Geometry, volume, money management, reading, chemistry, patience, ‘that it’s hard to co-operate sometimes’, flexibility when your project goes wrong, ‘bossy’ leadership vs. ‘real’ leadership (don’t you love that?!?), that big projects take longer and cost more money than you think, a sense of humor makes the hard work more fun, delayed gratification, that sometimes you just have to stop and play (I’ll admit- it was me who had to learn that!) the list goes on, but you get the idea…. what a rich experience for all of us! Future lessons will include the enjoyment and preparation of our food (arguably the best part- right?) and then preserving the bounty of the harvest- so keep your eyes peeled in future months for posts regarding pickling, freezing and other types of preserving!

When the rains began again, I found myself digging in a box of old photos for a picture that my grandmother took of me holding a badly decorated ‘wedding’ cake in front of the TV, where Prince Charles and the new Princess Di were in a carriage leaving St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was 10 years old. (Alas, the picture was not to be found.) I’d like to say that my cake decorating ability has improved significantly in 30 years time, but it hasn’t. So I compensate with whipped cream and flowers.

Now, if you’re a true Anglophile, you know the proper wedding cake for an event such as this is a fruit cake. Not the nasty stuff we all received in red tins from various grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the day, but real fruitcake. Such as soon t0 be Princess Kate- or is it Lady?- will be having next Friday. Now, I know absolutely nothing about the proper making of a fruitcake, but Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu has an incredible fruitcake recipe that’s been a part of her family for some time. While I haven’t attempted a GF version, one look at her picture is enough to make a fruitcake lover out of anybody.

Thinking of the Royal Wedding Cake naturally got me thinking of my own wedding some years ago. My wedding cake was the last gluten-bomb I enjoyed. Six weeks later I was handed my life-changing celiac diagnosis. But, I do remember my cakes fondly- an antique rose cake and a mandarin orange cake. Both high on flavor, but low on fuss and frosting. So this week I set out to create a gluten-free hybrid of what I remember enjoying on my big day.

There are two places I go when I need to convert a recipe, The Joy of Cooking, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. First, the technical cooking information is very comprehensive, so it helps me figure out the cooking chemistry. Second, who needs anything else? You’ve seen the picture of my beat-up Joy in a previous post, and my Mastering is quickly taking on the same look. This time, Julia did not disappoint. I converted her recipe for a basic butter spongecake with a handful of tweaks and only one hiccup. First go-round I was supervising the Kitchen Divas in Training in a chemistry lab, and as soon as I turned around from popping my fluffy cakes in the oven I noticed this: (melted butter sitting on the counter)

Which resulted in this:(funky looking cake)

In case you’re looking at these pictures a bit mystified- let me explain. Spongecakes get their sponginess from eggwhites whipped into stiff peaks. This provides structure, air bubbles,  and even a bit of elasticity to a gluten-free pastry. This is key for the pastry to not have that tell-tale ‘gluten-free’ texture. But, fat has a role to play too. Think of the egg whites as very excited children on a sugar high. They get all huge and out of control and then- phfszzzzz- they collapse. Adding fat to your spongecake is like insisting your child eat a turkey sandwich prior to the candy. It keeps everything manageable, and results in a cake that looks like this: (normal looking cake)

Much better, yes? More stable and cake-like. With the addition of the fat- in this case melted butter- the batter also behaved more like regular batter. It flowed nicely, and spread easily in the pan.

Now, if you look closely at both versions of the cake, you’ll see that the first cake- while not as attractive, does have a little more volume- this is because the eggs expanded unhampered by the fat. I would absolutely consider this recipe without the use of fat if I were spreading it on a sheet and making a buche de noel. The texture was very nice and definitely spongy- but too spongy for what I wanted for this cake.

The second cake is a bit denser, but ended up having a lovely crumb, and worked well with the mandarin orange curd I made. While I used rose water to flavor the cake this time, this is a very basic recipe that could easily take on any flavoring you desired. There will definitely be different incarnations of this in my future.

As for the decorating- in this life I will never win any awards for a beautiful cake. I content myself with simple frosting or whipped cream. The girls had the idea of picking the violets and the mint- both are rampant in our yard at the moment, and since we don’t use chemicals in our yard- they’re also edible. So in the mist and drizzle this afternoon, we ran in and out of the kitchen collecting pretty edibles and decorating a cake fit for a princess…or two!

Gluten Free Sponge Cake w/ Rose Water &  Mandarin Orange Filling

Makes 2 8-inch rounds

Ingredients

4 tbs ghee or grapeseed oil (ghee is clarified butter)

2/3 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

2 tsp rose water (or other extract or flavoring of your choice)

6 egg whites

generous pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

2 tbs sugar

1/4 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup white rice flour (could also use brown)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch cake plans and flour using sorghum flour. Melt the ghee and set aside. You want this tepid- but not yet solidifying again- it should be clear. Sift flours into a small bowl. Sifting here is important because it’s adding air to the mix.

If possible, use a stand mixer and a hand mixer for this next section- you can have the yolks mixing in the stand mixer while you whip the whites. If you don’t have both; do the yolks first, then whip the whites.

Place yolks in the bottom of the stand mixing bowl. For optimum leavening, have all ingredients at room temperature, or about 70 degrees if you’re in a hot climate. In a separate bowl place the egg whites. Turn the stand mixer on medium high and begin to whip the yolks. After about 20 seconds add the rose water and gradually pour in 2/3 cup of sugar. Mix until the eggs are fluffy and very pale yellow and make ‘the ribbon’. See this post for an explanation of ‘the ribbon’.

Begin to whip the egg whites with a hand mixer on the lowest setting. When the eggs start to get a bit foamy add the salt and cream of tartar. When the whites reach the ‘soft peak’ stage, add the 2 tbs of sugar, and beat until the peaks are just stiff. Remember, at the stiff peak stage the whites are glossy and stand up when you scoop them with the beaters. The tops may flop over a bit- that’s ok. If your whites become dull and uneven you’ve overwhipped. I’ve read this can be remedied by adding another egg white, but I’ve never tried it myself.

Scoop 1/4 of the whites into the yolk mixture and begin to fold them together. Next, sift (yes, this is the second time you’ve sifted) 1/3 of the flour mixture into the yolk mixture. Then add another 1/4 of the eggwhites and fold, followed by another 1/3rd of the flour, continuing to fold.  Add another 1/4 of the egg whites, fold, and sift the last of the flour. Fold again, and finish by folding the last of the eggwhites into the batter. Pour 1/2 of the butter mixture into the batter and fold. The butter will drop straight to the bottom of the bowl, so it’s important to fold from the very bottom up. Fold in the last part of the butter and pour into the pans.

Cook in the lower third of the oven for about 25 minutes. The color should be golden and a cake stick should come out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the side of the pan and flip over onto a cake rack to cool. It may take a little effort to get the cake out, but gravity will win- just be patient and don’t force it.

While the cake is cooling, make the filling.

Mandarin Orange Curd

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

zest of 2 clementines

1/2 cup clementine or orange juice- strained (about 3 clementines)

8 tbs butter, cut into 1 tbs segments

Directions

Place egg yolks, sugar and zest in a medium saucepan and whisk briefly until yolks have just started to lighten (be carefeul not to over-whisk as this results in grainy curd)

Add orange juice and butter. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until butter has melted and mixture has thickened. This will be a little runnier than lemon curd, but will thicken in the refrigerator if left overnight.

To Assemble Cake

When the cake has cooled and you are ready to assemble, place one layer on a tray or large plate. Using a bread knife, gently remove the crusty top part of the cake- this facilitates the absorption of the filling. Scoop the filling into the center of the cake and using a spatula spread outward within 1/2-3/4 inch from the side. The weight of the top layer will push the filling all the way to the sides.

Next, use a bread knife to remove the crusty top part of the second layer. Gently flip this exposed side down onto the filling and using your hands, gently center the cake. Place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to allow the filling to firm up. While the cake is chilling, make your frosting or whipped cream.

For this recipe, I used 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 tsp of rose water, and 4 tbs sugar. Beat on high in a cold bowl until cream makes soft peaks. If you over beat the cream it will turn to butter. Spread evenly around the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as you wish. Edible flowers are always lovely!