Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Friday, May 01, 2015

The Perfect Meal Cookie : The Oatmeal Standard

I learned too late to do anything about it, that yesterday was National Oatmeal Cookie Day.

Only lightly speckled with dried cranberries… but plenty of pecan chunks.

Imagine the heartbreak in our house, to have missed the opportunity this year to honor such a great food! After all, it is the perfect meal, if you want it to be…egg & nut protein, fiber from the oats and the fruit, and, of course, outrageously edible…if one wanted to, one could even give it real muscle by adding bacon crumbles. Or, you can leave it alone as a tasty dessert treat. Which my family prefers. Even when we miss the holiday. As we did yesterday.

Well, rather than allow this tragedy to go  unaddressed, today I decided to simply pretend it was still yesterday. I asked The Bat for her old stand-by recipe (a battered photocopy of an Ann Pillsbury recipe published at least as long ago as the first year my folks were married, more than a half century ago), and got to work.

Along with the plan of baking a heap of treats, I also gave a test to my most recent gluten-free flour purchase. I'd already tried Bob's Red Mill 1:1 GF, and it was good, but I like to be thorough. And I'm rather glad I was.

I like the texture and taste even of the dough made using the Pamela's flour, and the cookies…most assuredly a repeatable experiment. The one issue I had was that they didn't turn out chewy, the way regular wheat-based flour does. The under-baked cookies still ended up very crumbly, not at all gooey. But then, it's a small sacrifice, considering these were awesomely tasty. I suppose I might consider adding chocolate chips, or even white chocolate chunks, but I don't think it's all that necessary.

These are truly tender and tasty all by themselves.

I could have sworn I had two full dozen, not twenty minutes ago…

Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks (optional)

Directions:

Set oven racks near middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375º F. Lightly grease at least 2 baking sheets.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.

In larger mixing bowl, cream butter and then add sugars gradually, mixing to cream well.

Add eggs and vanilla, beat in well.

Completely mix in sifted dry ingredients, then add oatmeal, pecans, and, finally, dried cranberries (and, if you are adding them, now is the time for the chocolate chips. I passed, this time).

Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet (I use a 2-Tablespoon dough scoop), leaving about two inches between dough balls.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven. If using gluten-free flour, allow to stand on baking sheet at least one minute to set up.  If using regular all-purpose flour, remove from baking sheet with thin spatula, finish cooling individually on rack. Be careful - they are tender and break apart easily!

See the one to the left of center? It cracked, and had to be eaten immediately…a pity, really.
Makes about 5 dozen small (2-bite) cookies, or about 3 dozen larger cookies.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Fluffy, Soft as a Cloud Soufflé Cheesecake (aka Japanese Cheesecake)

Topped with cherries in syrup. Like pie filling on a fluffy cheesecake.
For Pop's birthday, The Bat and I usually collaborate on a lemon meringue pie. For the birthdays of the young'uns, I go all out and build the cakes aimed to surprise them all.  For my birthday, I get to make my own dessert, too. I know, I know, this is all a surprise to my loyal readers (all two of you). It's a sort of rule in our house that, if you have any kitchen skills at all, and you want a cake on any birthday past your twelfth, you either go hit the local bakeries for a stock ice cream cake, or you can get fancy and make your own.

I can't eat the storebought ones. I like them, but they don't like me.

So I get to go crazy in the kitchen, and make my own.

The upside to this is that I can have whatever kind of dessert my little heart desires, and I can make it with no wheat, no other allergens, and few worries about, well…whatever.

The downside is, I have to choose between fluffy sponge cake, cheesecake, and pie. Or not.

Today, I decided to go into full, head-on hybrid mode. I made a cheese sponge cake (or, as it's known in more edumacated circles, a soufflé cake or a Japanese cheesecake), and top it with a nice pie-filling-like fruit (The Bat has some strawberries, and I have dark tart cherries). This puppy has the texture of a light and airy sponge cake, the tang of a cheesecake, and…fruit.

And I made a sour cream whipped cream topping to add to the decadence, for those people who think a birthday cake needs some kind of frosting.

But there are no candles on my cake. I don't want to burn the house down.





Soufflé Cheesecake, or Cheese Sponge Cake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons ultrafine sugar
5 large (not jumbo!) eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (I substitute 1/2 tsp rice vinegar for my own, due to an allergy)
3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Gluten-Free All-Purpose flour or GF cake flour
2 Tablespoons tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325º F, with rack in center of oven.

Lightly grease bottom & sides of an 8"x2" round cake pan. Line bottom of pan with non-stick parchment. Fill a larger pan with water to about 1 centimeter, set aside.

In microwave or double-boiler, melt butter, cream cheese, and milk. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add in flours, corn starch, salt, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Mix well.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar (or vinegar) until frothy. Add in sugar and whip until soft peaks form (everybody meringue!).

Add 1/3 of egg whites to cheese batter mixture, fold in completely. Add batter to meringue, fold in gently and carefully until the marbling is no longer obvious.

Scoop the mixture into the cake pan and smooth the top.

Place water pan in oven, then set cake into the water bath.

Bake cake 70 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Turn off oven. Do not open oven for at least 20 minutes. It will rise to better than double in size, but then settles back down and pull away from the sides of the pan.

Allow cake to slowly cool in oven, in water bath.

When completely cool, remove from pan by sliding a thin knife around the edges of the pan anywhere it may still be attached, to loosen the cake.

If you want to show the golden side up, turn cake out onto a plate by setting a plate over the cake in the pan and then taking a second plate, making a plate-cake-sandwich to then flip it.


It resettles once it cools down. While baking, it's a gigantic crown of gold.
 If, however, you'd like it to look less like a cakey-cake and more like a cheesecake, turn it out onto a plate and allow the golden-brown top of the cake to become the bottom crust of the cheesecake.

I like the way the parchment expanded and made these nifty striations on the base.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Decorate with a simple sprinkle of powdered sugar on the browned top crust (you can create a waxed paper stencil for it, or sprinkle through lace, if you want), and/or offer your favorite fruit or syrup (fruity or chocolate) as a topping, with some sour-cream-based whipped cream* (scroll all the way down).

One can not live on cake alone.







*I will recommend, though, that you let people know, in advance of their piling on the whipped cream, if you use sour cream in the mix. Otherwise, they may believe your cream has turned, and not that it's a more daring, tangy combination of flavors.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"C"is for Cookie, and for Coconut, too: Shortbread for the Rest of Us

While I was baking a pie crust from coconut flour, I began to wonder if I could make a tasty shortbread cookie from it, as well.

Long story short, it seems that I can. 

So can you.

A word of advice, though: if you have to refrigerate some of the dough for any reason, you will need to warm it back up on low power in a microwave oven before you can work it into balls. The shortening (butter or coconut oil recommended) needs to be pretty much liquified in the dough in order for the dough to hold together.

Also, they don't keep well. Eat or freeze within an hour or so of baking.
  


Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
3 to 4 Tablespoons honey (to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh finely grated lime (or lemon) zest
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º F. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick silicone liner.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, stir until it reaches a thick, pasty consistency.

Shape into approximately 1-inch diameter balls and set on lined baking sheet. With a fork, press down gently on the tops of the dough balls to flatten a bit. 

Bake about 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned – keep an eye on them, they will go from golden to dark brown very quickly! 

Allow to cool completely before removing from cookie sheet (handling the cookies while they're still hot will cause them to crumble).


Makes about 40 one-bite cookies.



Serve with light brunch of fruit compote and cacao nib "tea". Or whatever food and beverage floats your boat.

A Peach of a Pie... Peach Curd in a Coconutty Shell, and THEN Some

In case anybody had failed to figure this out, yet…I like food. I like to eat it, I like to look at it, I like to read about it, I like to photograph and paint it and I like to talk (and write) about it. But most of all,  I like to prepare it. Of course, nine times out of ten, when I prepare something, I'm expected to eat it, since I don't work for a professional kitchen (and, no, I have no real desire to do so, since I enjoy the freedom that a private home kitchen affords me).

Now is the season of birthdays in our circle, and this, of course, grants me the excuse to bake unabashedly, and with great variety, with fewer concerns about my own personal girth. The treats get shared, or even given away.

In this case, one of my long-time friends, like me, is on a restricted regimen…she's on an allergy- and celiac-diet – gluten free – and her daughter-in-law has been encouraging her to try, as much as possible, a paleo diet. Well, this isn't exactly paleo, except that the crust could get there, if one wanted to do so, but the entire dish is without gluten, and without other chemicals she has had allergies to. Plus, her husband is a fan of peaches and pies, so there is that. 

The crust is made using coconut flour (yes, there are recipes which use it as the primary flour!), shortening (in this case, butter, so, not exactly paleo, but ultra nibble-worthy, so I made two crusts & popped one in the freezer for later in the week), and eggs (with a little honey, just for the heck of it, but that's not essential to the structure). In essence, it's a pre-baked cookie crust.

The filling is a bigger project. I made a peach curd from peach nectar cooked way down, plus some flash-frozen peaches (thawed and pureed), some egg yolks, and a great honkin' amount of sugar… hey, it's a birthday pie! It's supposed to be decadent!

It was topped with more raw peaches steeped overnight in lime juice, then drained and coated with honey, and, finally, decorated with my favorite stabilized whipped cream topping. One could, I suppose, make it a peach meringue pie if one wanted, since the curd uses yolks and not the albumen, but I'm reserving the egg whites for next week's birthday chocolate sponge cake. Whippy cream it is, this time.


I made a double batch of everything, though, so one went home with the birthday girl, and the other is going on the table Friday evening for our weekly supper. I recommend you do the same, just because.



Coconut flour pie crust (single crust)
Ingredients: 
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted 
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey (optional if this crust is for a savory pie)
3/4 cup coconut flour 
Directions: 
Set rack in oven to near the bottom. Preheat oven to 400º F.
Heavily grease a 9" pie pan. 
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter or coconut oil at low power until almost completely melted (about 1 minute. If it's not near melting point, continue to heat in 20-second increments until all but a few lumps of solid remain. Remove from the microwave and allow the solids to gradually melt, and the shortening to cool slightly. 
Add eggs, salt, and honey and thoroughly mix. Add coconut flour and stir until dough holds together. 
 
Gather dough into a ball and pat into greased 9" pie pan, and prick the dough with a fork. 

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before filling. 



And this is my latest choice for filling:





Peach Curd 

Ingredients: 
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh peach puree (or frozen, thawed)*
1 Tablespoon lime juice (or lemon, if you must)
6 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Directions: 
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, beat yolks with sugar, peach purée and lime juice. Simmer, stirring constantly, until it becomes thickened. 
Remove from heat, begin whisking in butter a few small pieces at a time. Stir in vanilla, then strain curd through a fine sieve. 
Pour into pre-baked cookie-type (sweet) pie shell or tart shells. Or, refrigerate it in a covered container and later you can spread it on your waffles, toast, etc. 

 *I actually started with a liter of high-quality peach nectar, and set it to simmer until it reduced to just over 1 1/2 cups (it took about 90 minutes on medium-low heat), and, since I was doubling the recipe, filled in by running a handful of frozen peaches (after thawing) through the food processor. But that's because I had time and curiosity. Using fresh or thawed peaches, you're likely to have a brighter color to the puree. The nectar darkened with some interesting near-caramelization as it cooked down. The flavor was darned spiffy.

It's too bad I don't have a good excuse to make a dozen of these for the family…just so I can keep licking the bowls, if nothing more.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Stabilized Whippy Cream Frosting, or Cool Whip™ Upgrade

This has all the texture of whipped cream, but, where plain whipped cream returns to liquid after only a few minutes to an hour, even in the refrigerator, this combination holds its whipped form for a very long time, even at room temperature. 

In fact, if you have a recipe which calls for "frozen whipped dairy (or non-dairy) topping, thawed," (aka Cool Whip™ or its knock-offs) use this, instead. You won't get all those peculiar preservatives, emollients, and other unpronounceable chemicals, but you will get everything else the recipe calls for. Plus, you can sweeten it to your own tastes, rather than let somebody else decide how much sugar is right for you.

But even more important for me, it made a magnificently light, not-too-sweet frosting for an anniversary cake of angel food and lemon. There was just enough tang to balance out the sweetness of the cake and the tartness of the filling. Plus, it held its own as a very pretty, fluffy frosting.

There's a Devo song in here, somewhere…


Stabilized Whippy Cream 

Ingredients:

2 cups whipping cream
2 (8oz.) bricks cream cheese brought to room temperature
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (or less, to taste)
4 Tablespoons (or more, to taste) confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract


Directions:

Be sure your cream cheese is at room temperature by setting it out on the counter at least one hour before you are ready to begin whipping process. Also, chill large mixing bowl and its beater(s).

In a small-ish mixing bowl, combine lemon juice and cream cheese. Whip until fluffy and well-aerated. Set aside.

In the large chilled mixing bowl, on medium speed, whip cream until soft peaks (ones which will not remain upright) begin to form.

Add in the cream cheese.

Whip together on high until firm peaks are formed.

Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla, mix until combined.

Apply generously to sides and top of cake using icing bag and decorative tips, or just go wild with a spatula or spoon.* 

It's fluffy, not stuffy!

*As you can see, I couldn't decide which to do, so I went with both spatula and bag with star point. I'm a rank amateur with those bags, though, so…well, it was fun).



Update: I tried another variation on this theme, to go with a fluffy soufflé cheesecake: cut the cream cheese to only 4 ounces, and mix in with 1 1/2 cups of sour cream. Mix well, chill until slightly set up again (about a half hour). Whip the cream until foamy, add in the sour cream, and continue to beat until light and whippy. Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving.

The Anniversary Cake, with Tangy Lemon Cream Syrup and Candied Lemon Peel



It's a challenge, sometimes, for a rookie gluten-free cook to find enough variety in desserts that others will also enjoy. There's too big a temptation to, after discovering one treat which is a success, not mess with it any more, and just do small (or no) variations on it, ever after.

I probably could have done that with the chocolate sponge cake.  But this month marks the golden anniversary of the marriage of two very special people our family chose to include (and, more importantly, they chose to include us in theirs). Therefore, I needed to go a little outside my comfort zone.

Besides, we're also having the lemon meringue pie as a birthday cake for Pop at the same dinner, and a chocolate cake for another birthday in a couple more weeks, so I feel more than justified in making a nice, light, citrus-y cake.

So here I am, doing a variation on fridge cakes.

It starts, of course, with cake. The recipe I chose to do a riff on calls for a couple of store-bought pound cakes, which, of course, as a wheat-intolerant individual, I can not do. And, since my last project, only a week ago, involved a basic GF yellow cake, I was loath to go there again so soon. But I did have a very nice GF angel food cake recipe, and a couple dozen fresh large eggs in the kitchen, so, there, indeed, I went. Due to another of my peculiar allergies, though, where the linked recipe calls for cream of tartar, I needed to substitute a teaspoon of cider vinegar early in the whipping process, and add  a little extra lemon juice, as well. I also used the full amount of vanilla extract (powdered rather than the liquid.  I didn't want to wet the batter too much), since I like the combination of lemon and vanilla… just because.

When the cake was baked, completely cooled, and removed from its tube pan, I popped it in the freezer overnight, because it's easier to slice into layers when it's frozen (I suppose one could make angel food layers, and not worry about slicing a cake before frosting it, but the shallower the pan, the less light and airy the angel food seems to turn out, so, at minimum, bake it as deep loaves and turn this into a trifle by cutting it into chunks before slathering on the filling).



Gluten-free and fluffy as a nimbus cloud.
Once the cake is prepared, stage two – the garnish and the filling – must commence.

I include them both in the same stage, because they both involve lemons, and you will likely need the juice from one to complete the other, so plan accordingly.

Begin a day ahead, by making candied lemon peels:


 

Candied Lemon Peels 
Ingredients: 
4 lemons, washed carefully
2 cups water, plus more for blanching
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups extra fine (bartender's) sugar* 
Directions:  
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips, being careful to avoid taking off the bitter white pith at the same time (if you do get pith'd on, you can take a sharp knife and slice or scrape it off when you're done peeling all the lemons). 
With a sharp knife, slice the zest lengthwise, in narrow julienne strips, about 1/8 inch across – or thinner.  
Fill a 2-quart saucepan HALFWAY with water, put the peels into the water, and bring to a boil on medium heat, reduce temperature and simmer 15 minutes. 
Drain peel in a sieve and rinse thoroughly. Carefully rinse out the saucepan to remove residue, return to stove containing 2 cups water, 2 cups granulated sugar, and bring to a boil at high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. When syrup boils, reduce heat to simmer and add lemon peels. Continue to simmer 15 minutes, or until peels turn translucent. 
While peels simmer, line a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with nonstick parchment (or waxed paper, if that's what you have). 
When peel is cooked to transparency, remove peel from syrup using a slotted spoon, so the syrup will drain back into the pan. Arrange peel in a single layer across the parchment. Allow to cool to room temperature. 
Cover with extra fine sugar, turning with a fork (or, if you're like me, with the nearest set of chopsticks) until all sides of each strip of zest is completely sugar-coated. Transfer to a clean sheet of parchment and allow to dry about an hour, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Then start making the Tangy Lemon Cream Syrup.



The lemon cream syrup was fairly simple: lemon juice, lemon zest, and sweetened condensed milk. I made my own sweetened condensed milk,






so it came out a little darker, an odder color than if I'd used the store-boughten cans, but it also had a slightly richer flavor and texture to start. But if you don't have all afternoon to simmer a pot of milk and sugar down to a thick goo, just go get a couple of cans of the stuff. Then collect the zest of at least a couple of lemons before you cut and juice them. And, you're going to need a few lemons – I made a double batch, and ended up needing six medium-large, very juicy lemons to make my pint-and-change of lemony syrup.




Tangy Lemon Cream Syrup 
Ingredients: 
1 cup sweetened condensed milk†
1/2 cup lemon juice, strained well
1 Tablespoon fresh very finely grated lemon zest


Directions:  
Stir ingredients together. Cover tightly, place in refrigerator at least an hour (best if allowed to stand overnight). 
Stir. Pour over cake, waffles, pancakes, or spoon. 
Top with whipped cream topping (optional)





Once the syrup was made, I sliced the cake in half crosswise, so I had two giant angel food doughnuts, and I slathered a very generous amount of the syrup between the layers (thicker toward the center hole), then restacked the cake, covered it with my Stabilized Whipped Cream frosting, and packed it to go to our feast.

As the cake was cut, each serving then received another generous drizzling of the tangy syrup, then was garnished with several curls of the candied lemon zest.
I will likely assemble this combination again, sometime soon. I suppose I could also pair it up with some fresh berries, instead of the candied zest (or alongside it. I am the sort to be greedy).




*If you don't have extra-fine sugar, you can make your own by running regular granulated sugar through the food processor for 3 to 5 minutes, until it's really fine. Don't take the lid off the processor until the dust settles, though.





† Because I have several projects coming due this next two weeks, I made several batches of sweetened condensed milk, including this one, using coconut milk.

Yum!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

How Waffle For You! GF Raised (Sourdough Yeast) Waffles

Waffles, sunshine. What more could a person want?
The Bat made waffles for us, tonight. And when I say "us", I am including our extended-family member, longtime friend Bill, while his wife is away for the day, at the opera. And, when I say "waffles", I mean those tender and crispy, slightly tangy treats with holes designed for maximum containment of melted butter and syrup in violation of all known sensible diets.

While many people hear "waffle" and think "so what?" or something even less polite, I've spent the past few years missing them terribly. Until now.
You see, The Bat has always made the classic Fannie Farmer raised (yeast) waffles, which take all day to prepare, and I'm not generally an early riser (unless you're one of the few who think the crack of noon is too early to pour oneself out of bed). This means that, in my version of the wee hours, as I continue to saw wood, she mixes up what is, essentially, a sourdough starter… using regular flour. The stuff from the wheat grain. The stuff which gives me migraines and other health issues.

So, normally, when she makes waffles, I get scrambled eggs. NTTATWWT*, but I missed those waffles, and watching Pop drown his in butter and syrup while I nibbled at an eggy fluff...well, I think there's something about it in the Geneva Conventions.

So, a little over a month ago, I planted a seed of an idea, that we could experiment with my many different Gluten-Free flours, and have a family feast on the experiment. After all, most batters using rice and/or bean flours are better if they're allowed to stand and steep in their juices a bit before cooking or baking, and they often give an even more certain crispness than the temperamental wheat varieties...so why not?

Then, last week, I took out of the freezer and left on the counter my most commonly-used flour mixture, my Bob's Red Mill GF AP flour, and waited.

This morning (well, midday, really) when I arose, she already had the starter going. (This is but one of the many reasons I love my mommy.)

Halfway through the afternoon, we could both see that the recipe needed a little tweaking.  She upped the amount of yeast to double, and I added some xanthan gum (it's not crucial, but it helps build the necessary bonds for a tender, porous core). In another hour, the starter was bubbling and ripening nicely.

By half an hour before supper time, the batter was perfect.

There was also a pound of bacon stretched across a rack on a baking pan in the oven, turning crispy. It was a nice, simple, Sunday supper.

One last bite or two, to sop up the remaining maple syrup. Waste not, want not…
I was in heaven.

Too bad for the dog, we aren't going to share with him.

Hope, soon to be dashed
I get the leftovers. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!



Raised (Sourdough Yeast) Waffles

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (or 2 packets)

2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups GF all-purpose flour (you may need to add 1/8 teaspoon or so of xanthan gum, if your flour blend doesn't already have it)

2 eggs
pinch baking soda


Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water and yeast. Allow to stand 5 minutes, then add the milk, melted butter, salt and sugar.

Beat in the 2 cups flour. Cover, and let stand in a warm place 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare and heat the waffle iron.

Add in the 2 eggs and pinch of baking soda. Beat well. The batter will be very thin. Cook according to your waffle iron's directions.

Batter UP! (The ladle is navy surplus. The Bat really likes using it.)

Serve hot, with melted butter and your favorite syrup, fresh berries, or warmed jams/preserves (to make them more easily spreadable, and to avoid unnecessarily cooling the lovely, lovely hot, fresh waffles).

Serves 5-6.


The first little round one stuck to the iron, so it got kind of crumbled & bent. Tasted like a waffle, though, so, no complaints. 






















*NTTATWWT:  Not That There's Any Thing Wrong With That

Thursday, December 25, 2014

White Chocolate Mousse, Ideal for Filling Cakes & Pastries (No Relation to Bullwinkle)

This year, I decided to make my buche de noël even more decadent that it was before, and stuff it madly with a rich mousse. Indeed, a nice, rich white chocolate mousse with orange liqueur and coconut cream made its way into this year's yule log. And it is even naughtier than it sounds…but it does take a little planning ahead, especially as it comes to the coconut cream. You can work around it by substituting whole milk, but it will change both the flavor and the texture.

Any way you look at it, though, it's a very rich treat, and it holds up nicely in the refrigerator, and fills a buche de noël rather well. And, it's not overly complicated, as recipes go.

Plus, I had enough left over to spoil myself with a modest serving for lunch, today.

Christmas is good.

Fluffy, rich, and surrounded by dark chocolate bliss…decadence in all ways.
Very Naughty White Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

8 ounces (1 1/4 cup) good finishing (dipping/dessert quality) white chocolate
1/3 cup coconut cream* (NOT creme of coconut)

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder (1 packet Knox gelatin)
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons orange liqueur (Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or your own preference of brand)

2 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar
2 cups heavy cream

Directions:

In a microwave-safe bowl or the top of a double boiler, gently melt the white chocolate.

Meanwhile, in another microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water and let "bloom" by allowing to stand about 5 minutes.

Gently melt the gelatin in the microwave (do not boil!).

Heat the coconut cream to melt, and, whisking quickly,  mix in to the melted white chocolate until completely smooth. Add in the gelatin mixture and liqueur, and whisk until smooth.

In a stand mixer's bowl, combine powdered sugar and cream, and, using the whisk attachment, whip to form firm peaks.

Scoop about one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture and stir in to lighten the chocolate. When fully mixed, gently fold into the remaining whipped cream.

If using in cake or pastries, use immediately, or refrigerate until within an hour of serving time.
With darkly fudgy, gluten-free chocolate sponge cake with fudgy frosting for a sinful buche de noël

If serving as straight mousse dessert, scoop into serving-sized dishes, cover with a sheet of plastic (to prevent crust from forming), and chill until serving time. Garnish with fresh raspberries or other fruit and light fruit syrup, or serve plain. It's pretty darned good, any way you take it.

*Coconut cream is the product of a can (or jar) of good-quality coconut milk. Place your container of coconut milk in the refrigerator at least overnight, in upside-down position. When ready to begin this recipe, open can from top without shaking or unduly agitating it, and drain away the watery stuff into another sealable container and re-refrigerate, for use in other recipe. Scoop out the thick, lumpy, hardened white stuff. That is the coconut cream you want to use in this recipe (you can have a little bit of the water in it, if you want, but you want to keep it as thick and "fatty" and flavorful as possible).

On a Moonlit Night... Turkish Delight


                     Just because…


Sometimes you feel like a nut…pistachio, today






Sometimes a batch of candy is a quick and easy prospect -- toss some chocolate into the microwave and nuke it up, or boil a little sugar and water, then add flavor and color....

In the pink…
This isn't one of those times. This is Turkish Delight. It takes a variety of ingredients not necessarily commonplace in a middle-American kitchen, and is, at minimum, a full-day or overnight project.

I have it on good authority there are "easy" ways to make fruit variations on this, but when it comes time to do the traditional rosewater recipe, I was sent to the experts at Epicurious. I decided there was no way I could improve on their recipe, so I provide the link here.  Seriously, this creates a tasty, aromatic, and tender confection, but plan on a long time over the stove, followed by a serious wait. And, as their lead-in suggests, read the whole recipe a couple of times to familiarize yourself with all the steps before you start, because there's a point at which you need to have it all set in your mind, or you'll miss something and crash and burn…or, possibly, literally, burn, anyway. 

Tender, sweet, rose-laden…


But, if you're feeling bold – and a little bit crazy – give the recipe a try.

…and more than a little nuts


And, if you still want to try one of the "easy" methods, here's a pretty entertaining one (nothing wild and crazy, just something to consider):


Christmas Cheery Cherry Rolls (Gluten-free)

Merry Christmas. Your plate of rolls is already half empty.
In my yoot (for those who are unfamiliar with "My Cousin Vinnie", go watch it and then come back to ask me about my yoot), Christmas breakfast was kind of a big deal. We didn't have one of those breakfast casseroles, either. The Bat would get up and close the doors to the living room, so we'd have to go those extra six steps the long way to the dining room, and we'd sit down to eat scrambled eggs with bacon, toasted homemade bread with butter, and, last but not least, the Swedish tea ring.

The tea ring was made with a sweetened bread dough, filled with cherries and chopped pecans, and lightly drizzled with a cinnamon/milk/powdered sugar glaze. As most of these things are, it was, in effect, as if one started making cinnamon rolls, and then changed one's mind before completely slicing off the sections, but instead just snipped partway through and curled the tube around itself. In The Bat's case, it was also slightly more than a cinnamon roll, because she added pie cherries into the mix, in a manner similar to this.  It made a pretty, cherry-and-gold sunburst of breadly goodness. She didn't even need to glaze it.

But now that I'm among the wheat-free, that simple and elegant treat seemed a dangerous option. After all, most gf breads are made using a dough which is so soft as to be mistaken for muffin batter.

Which brings me to this year.

The Bat will be making her favorite Christiana Campbell's Tavern Sweet Potato Muffins for supper, and we're going to try to adapt that recipe to GF, so I wondered to myself if I might convert the tea ring recipe to a muffin cup treat.

It appears that I am capable.

Next year, I may even be able to create an actual GF Swedish tea ring, using a pastry bag and a little creative mayhem.

But for now, I have a great way to adapt a package of Bob's Red Mill GF Homemade Bread Mix to make less sandwich-y and more Christmas-y. And kind of roll-y. Well, more than kind of, on that last one.

Oh, and I only just barely followed some of the directions on the package. Which is pretty much in keeping with the old rule of art class: never use paint straight from the tube.

For this you will need three standard 12-cup muffin pans (not the giant size or the muffin-top, and most definitely not the gem pans), 1 small microwave-safe mixing bowl, 1 small mixing bowl of any variety, 1 stand mixer and its large bowl with standard paddle (not a dough hook), a 1 1/2-inch cookie dough scoop, a rubber spatula, a cup of water and a teaspoon (of the stirring and eating sort, not the measuring kind), measuring cups and spoons. You will also need to drain your pie cherries, and, if they're frozen, they'll need thawing completely before starting this recipe. And, if you're like so many of us and you store your bread mixes in the freezer to keep the flours from going rancid, you'll want to take the mix out at least a half hour ahead of time to warm it up, too.

And then you get going and bake these treats with so much less guilt and pain!


Some come out looking a little lumpy. That's okay. They still taste great!



Christmas Cherry Rolls 

Ingredients: 

Filing: 
2 cups tart pie cherries, juices drained
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
5 Tablespoons brown sugar (or 3 Tbs brown sugar substitute)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Bread:
1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed!) plus enough regular milk to have 1 3/4 cups
3 Tablespoons honey
4 large eggs plus enough egg whites for 1 1/4 cups 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 package (for single loaf) gluten-free bread mix

Directions:

Generously butter the cups and around the rims of three non-stick 12-reservoir muffin pans and also generously butter three sheets of foil to fit over their tops. 

In small plain mixing bowl, combine both varieties of cherries, cinnamon, brown sugar, chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Stir well and allow to sit & steep in the juices this will make.

Meanwhile, in small microwave-safe mixing bowl, gently warm milk and honey in microwave (nuke it at half temp for about 90 seconds, check it to see if it's warmed. If not, pop it back in for another 30 seconds at a time until it's about 95º F). Remove from microwave oven, gently sprinkle contents of yeast packet onto the top of the milk mixture. Allow to stand on counter until the yeast begins to foam (about 5-7 minutes).

Pour flour part of bread mix into the bowl of a stand mixer, and, using the paddle (NOT the dough hook), begin to mix in the eggs, butter, and the milk/yeast/honey mixture.

Once the ingredients are mixed, allow mixer to work the thick batter at medium speed for three minutes, occasionally using a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl, as needed.

Using the 1 1/2-inch scoop, fill the bottom of each muffin cup with one level scoop of the thin dough. When all the cups have rough dough balls in their bottoms, take a spoon, dip it in warm water, and create a depression in the middle of each, pressing the dough around the edges of the muffin cup at the same time.

Fill each dough reservoir with a heaping Tablespoon of the cherry mixture, and then top each with a small amount (about a teaspoon) of the remaining dough, until it is all used up. With a wet spoon or wetted fingers, spread and smooth the dough over the top of the cherries.

Cover with buttered foil and allow to rise in a warm place about 20-30 minutes, until the dough comes almost level with the top of each cup. During the rising time, preheat the oven to 375º F.

When dough is risen, place muffin tins in middle of oven and bake 10 minutes. Cover with foil (to prevent rolls from becoming too dark) and bake another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, remove from pans, and allow to cool on rack. If you like the crust of your rolls to be tender, wrap the rolls in airtight packaging before they are completely cool. For a crustier roll, allow to cool completely, about 1 hour, before storing.

If you prepare these the night before Christmas (or other occasion for serving), reheat in oven – not microwave – by covering in foil and baking at 225º – 250º F for about 10 minutes.

MMMM it's smiling at you! This is a merry Christmas!