Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles

As the clock ticks ever closer to midnight on New Year's Eve, I sit here wondering what on Earth happened to Christmas?  While everyone else is putting away their trees and lights, sighing with relief that the carols and holiday music are done for another year...  I'm wistfully wishing for just a little more.  I didn't get enough of the music this year, in spite of "Swinging Holidays" on Pandora.  I didn't get to see the Grinch (original animated version, of course).  Didn't get in enough baking.  Didn't even get buckeyes made!  My tolerant husband did at least download a digital rental of "White Christmas" for me, to stave off total withdrawal.  He even put up with me singing along with my favorite songs in the movie (which would be all of them) including this one:

When I'm troubled, and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep.
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

When my bankroll is gettin' small,
I think of when I had none at all,
and I fall asleep counting my blessings.

It's a good lead in to the New Year.  And, yes, I have some goals and intents for 2012.  Hopefully it will hold some better things in store for us than it's recent predecessors.  But for now, I'm trying to savor the last of the holiday spirit.  Even if it's only me and Panera Bread that are still in a Christmas mood.  As of Friday at least, they were still playing Christmas music.  And still selling their Mint Crinkles.  Which gave me an idea....
I came home and dragged out my copy of Betty Crocker's Cooky Book.  My mother had the original.  And, bless her heart, the sense to get me a copy of the facsimile edition that came out a few years ago.  It's a treasure-trove of recipes, and one that she used a lot.  So, here I share my conversion of the classic Chocolate Crinkles recipe to a gluten-free version.
2 1/2 c. Fancy Flour Blend OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
4 Tbsp shortening or unsalted butter
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 c. powdered sugar

In a bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt shortening and cocoa over low heat.
Stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
Beat together oil, sugar, and cooled chocolate mixture.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in extracts.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Refrigerate dough several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Form dough into 1-1/2" diameter balls.  Roll in powdered sugar.
Place on baking sheet several inches apart.
Bake about 12 minutes, or until cracked areas no longer look wet.  Cool on pan 2-3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can leave the mint out if you prefer.  Either way these are soft, tasty cookies.  And even though Christmas is gone for another year, it's well worth making a batch for friends and family.  Or maybe your sweetie?  After all, Valentine's Day is just around the corner....

Note:  The original recipe calls for 4 oz. of unsweetened chocolate, melted.  I almost never have that in the house.  This substitution is one that Mom taught me and is how I usually approach recipes that call for unsweetened chocolate in it's "solid state".

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Minute Round-Up

I really haven't (intentionally) gone on vacation here. My holiday baking has gone just a little bit awry and most of the things I wanted to share with you got.... thwarted. So I'm going to beg your forgiveness and hope to make it up to everybody by providing a little list of some of the best traditional treats is you still need to make some. Please go visit the blogs of the nice people who shared these recipes. All pictures, unless otherwise noted, belong to them and are included her with the sole purpose of enticing you to click through to find the original post. Have fun! 1. Gluten-free, casein-free gingerbread, courtesy of Only Sometimes Clever. I made these last week, and sent them in for my daughter's classmates, teacher, and therapists. These pictures are actually mine:
As far as icing goes, I'm a follower of the Sweet Sugar Belle method.  Callye does lovely work and I drool over her blog on a regular basis. I used McCormick brand lemon extract, and found that it complemented the gingerbread nicely.  The trees are a wet-on-wet icing method presented (and done better) by Bridget at Bake at 350.  This is also true of the little mittens.  Marian of Sweetopia also has a fabulous video tutorial on marbling royal icing.  Go visit all of these ladies for a wealth of inspiration and fun in cookie-land.
2.  Sugar Cookies.  I like this recipe, again from Karen of Only Sometimes Clever.  I don't have any pictures, but I do have two batches in my freezer for when Cookie Fever strikes.  
If you prefer a softer cookie, head back a couple of posts for my soft Almond Sugar Cookies instead.
3.  Peanut Butter Blossoms.  These are a Christmas Classic.  And this version from Lori of is a staple of my holiday baking these days.  I love the salty-sweet combo of peanut butter and chocolate.  And for extra fun, you can experiment with all the new flavors of kisses that are available for the holidays.  Hmmm, I might have to do a chocolate cookie base to go with the mint truffle or candy cane kisses...
Photo propert of Lori Lange -
4.  Buckeyes.  These were always a favorite when I was a kid.  And are gluten-free by their nature, rather than an "adapted" recipe.  A nice recipe for the classic version can be found on  Mom insists that she used to use 1 lb of semisweet chips and 1/2 lb of milk chocolate chips, and she may have.  I don't remember.  Like the authors of The Kitchn, I prefer the frozen.  Or at least out on the back stoop until the chocolate is crunchingly cold. 
Photo property of
5.  Fudge, homemade marshmallows, caramel, and other candies and confections are all gluten-free.  Recipes abound on the web, especially Martha Stewart, Nestle, and other major commercial sites.  Go nuts.  In fact, I'll share my recipe for Hazelnut marshmallows now, though I don't have any pictures for you at the moment.  A local lack of Frangelico made getting a fresh batch made for the camera a no-go.

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 c. water, divided
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. dark corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp. Frangelico or 1/2 tsp. Lorann Creamy Hazelnut flavoring
1/2 tsp cinnamon or 1/2 tsp espresso powder, if desired

Bloom gelatin in 1/2 c. water in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Set up your whisk attachment.
Take out a glass 9x13 pan.  Oil it, line with parchment - leaving parchment paper extending over the sides will help remove them later -, and oil the parchment.  Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, combine the other 1/2 c. water, sugar, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil, then cook to 240 degrees.
Turn on the mixer and set on low.  Pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl in a this stream.  Once all the syrup is added, turn up to high speed, and whip for 12-15 minutes, till light and fluffy.  Add hazelnut flavoring.  Also cinnamon or espresso if desired.
Spread mixture into pan with an oil spatula.  Sprinkle nuts over the top.  Dust with cornstarch.  Let sit overnight.

In the AM, turn out onto a board, cut with an oiled knife or oiled pizza cutter.  Place in a bag a few at a time with some powdered sugar and shake.

Merry Christmas everybody!  I promise to be back after Christmas with more cookies, cupcakes, cake, and even a souffle or two!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bomb Pop Pie

I'm going to shake up the Holiday Happenings around here today and bring you a breath of Summer.  Where Women Cook is creating a book called PIEOGRAPHY: Where Pie Meets Biography, The Story of Your Life in a Pie.  As part of that publication, they're conducting a contest.  So here I give you an Auto-Pieography:

My life is one that exists in layers: wife, veterinarian,...Autism mom. Nothing about it is simple, but things blend together into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, but always something to come back for more of, while never being what I thought my life would be. Bomb Pops, for me, bring back memories of lazy Summer afternoons making castles in the air and planning for the future. Fall was just around the corner, but Summer held sway for just a little longer.

Those dreams and fancies carried me through college and graduate school, and into a career filled with equal parts humor and tender moments. I met a Marine and “red, white and blue” took on a whole new meaning. There have been twists and turns – unemployment, crazy hours, crises of various types - nothing is ever what we planned when we started out.

Now I'm a married, a full-time professional with two beautiful daughters who are on the Autism spectrum. No part of my childhood daydreaming included that. For me, it's not soccer practice and piano lessons – it's therapists and evaluations. Watching other moms with their children tends to make me melancholy – I love my girls, but I'm sad for what they've been dealt. Like the nostalgic sighs brought on by remembering childhood August days, I try to let go of the “might-have-beens” and make my daughters' childhoods what they should be: A little sweet, a little tart – and leave them wishing there was a little more of it. The way I wish their baby curls would stay.

So enjoy this little taste of summers-that-were – a sweet, tart, red, white and blue tribute to living the Unexpected Life.


(If you don't want or need this crust to be gluten-free, omit the xanthan gum, and use 1/4 c. almond flour and 3/4 c. AP flour)

1/4 c. almond flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp white rice flour
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1/4 c. potato starch
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temp.
1-2 drops almond extract
1 egg yolk
ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine flours, sugar, zest, salt, and xanthan gum in a bowl.  Cut in butter until well combined.  At almond extract and toss lightly.  Beat the egg yolk with 1 Tbsp water and add to flour mixture.  Toss to combine.  Add additional water a little at a time until dough can be formed into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

 Roll out between two sheets of wax paper dusted with cornstarch.  Line a 9" pie plate and crimp edges of dough.

Prick dough with fork.

 Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges start to turn golden.  Cool completely.

Blueberry Layer

1/2 c. blueberries
3/4 c. tart cherries (frozen is fine)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 Tbsp butter
a few drops of blue food coloring, if desired
1-1/2 c. fresh blueberries

Place 1/2 c. blueberries and cherries in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until berries swell and burst.  Mash berries and cherries or use a stick blender to break them up, then drain through a sieve, pressing solids to get most of the liquid. Rinse saucepan.  Measure 1/2 c. of the resulting juice and return to saucepan.

Add lemon juice and zest.  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and sugar.  Cook over low heat, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens.  Set aside and stir in butter and food coloring if desired.  Allow to cool till just barely warm.  Stir in 1-1/2 c. blueberries and pour into pie shell.

Refrigerate until ready for the next layer.

Lemon-Lime Mousse

1/2 c. combined lemon and lime juice (about the juice of 1 large lemon and 2 small limes)
1 Tbsp lime zest
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 egg
2 egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
2 Tbsp cold water
1 c. heavy cream
a drop of green food coloring, if desired

Bloom gelatin powder in the cold water.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, in the top of a double boiler, whisk together lemon and lime juice, both zests, egg, egg yolks, and sugar.

Cook and whisk until mixture thickens and becomes pudding-like.  Remove from heat.  Stir a small amount of hot egg mixture into gelatin and whisk to dissolve.  Return all the gelatin/egg mixture to the rest of the egg mixture.  Stir in a drop of green food coloring, if desired.  (I overshot this in the photo, so my curd is greener than I intended.  Go for a pale lemon/lime color).  Chill, stirring occasionally, until cool.  Whip the cream until it holds its shape.  Stir a small amount of cream into the egg mixture to lighten, then fold in the remaining cream.

Spread the mousse gently on top of the blueberry layer and return to the refrigerator.

Raspberry Layer

1/2 c. raspberries
3/4 c. tart cherries
2 Tbsp c. lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
1-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 Tbsp butter
1-1/2 c. fresh raspberries

Combine 1/2 c. raspberries and cherries in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until raspberries break up and cherries soften.  Mash fruit or use a stick blender to break it down.  Strain through a sieve, pressing with a spoon to obtain liquid.  Rinse saucepan.  Measure 1/2 c. of the strained juice and return to saucepan.  Ad lime juice and zest.  Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, then stir into juices.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Cool to room temperature.  Stir in remaining 1-1/2 c. raspberries.  Carefully spoon over the mouse mixture and return to refrigerator 4 hours or overnight.

Serve with whipped cream, if desired.  My husband preferred it all by itself.

And enjoy this little taste of Summer, hope, and sunshine.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not Your Grandma's Sugar Cookies

For that matter, not MY Grandma's sugar cookies.  In fact, just WHOSE Grandma's Sugar Cookies these are tends to get a little confused.  Because everybody in the family loves these soft, cake-y, almond-y treasures.  They're not crsipy, they're not buttery, but they're very, very Dutch.  Redolent of almond and cream, soft and decadent.  You need to make some.

For the record: these are my Mom's Grandma's cookies.  To get the recipe, Mom actually followed her around the kitchen and jotted down her best estimate of the "bit of this and bit of that" that her Grandma used.  These cookies are now a family tradition, especially at Christmas.  Sometimes with just a little sugar, sometimes with frosting.

Now, Great-Grandma never frosted hers.  But she did keep a constant supply in the Turkey Roaster in the pantry.  And apparently kept a watchful eye on them.  I remember two of her sons discussing it once.  They had a system.  Johnny would go into the kitchen, get a cookie from the pantry, then go and talk to Great-Grandma.  While she was distracted, Hiram would sneak into the pantry, snag three cookies, and meet Johnny behind the house to divvy up the spoils.  When Johnny told this story, Dad laughed and said, "She never cared how many I had."  To which Johnny responded, "I know."

Where Great-Grandma got the recipe is lost to the mists of time.  Possibly it came over on the ship from the Netherlands with her mother.  Though the corn syrup probably was a substitution that came up during sugar rationing and just stuck.  They were such a part of MY childhood and holiday memories, that this is one of the recipes I've put the most effort into converting to a gluten-free version.  Here they are:

1 c. millet flour
1-1/2 c. sweet rice flour
1-1/2 c. potato starch
1-1/2 c. white rice flour
2-1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 c. corn syrup
1 Tbsp white vinegar + enough cream to make 1 c.
1 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs
2 tsp almond extract

In a large bowl, combine flours, xanthan gum and salt.  Whisk until well combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar.  Add eggs, 1 at a time.  Add corn syrup and beat until combined.  Stop and scrape down sides of bowl.

Stir soda into cream/vinegar mixture.  It will foam a little.

With mixer on lowest setting, pour in cream and beat on low until combined.  Add extract.

Gradually add the flour, a little at a time until it's all incorporated.  The resulting dough will be sticky, but if it's still too much like batter, add a bit more white rice flour.

Refrigerated the dough at least four hours, or overnight.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line several cookie sheets with parchment.  Use corn starch or sweet rice flour to dust your counter and rolling pin.  Roll the dough out about 1/4" thick.  Cut out with a cookie cutter dusted with starch.  Be warned, this remains a sticky dough, even chilled.  Very intricate shapes are not a good choice.  Really, shapes are not a great choice.  Mom always used a drinking glass.  I do find that the gluten-free version is actually slightly more forgiving the original, and simple bells and other rounded shapes would probably have been OK.

Place on the cookie sheet and bake 12-13 minutes.  Sprinkle with sugar if you don't plan on frosting.  Cookies should not brown or take on much color at all.  Allow to cool on the sheet for a few minutes before attempting to remove.  Cool on a wire rack.

Make frosting:

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp almond extract.

Cream together butter and shortening.  Add about 1 c. powdered sugar and beat well.  Add extract and a little of the milk.  Beat well.  Continue to alternate additions of sugar and milk until all sugar is incorporated and frosting is a spreadable consistency.  This may require a bit more or less milk.  Tint as desired and frost cookies.  Allow to dry, then store in an airtight containers.  The frosting will remain quite soft, so separate layers with waxed paper.

My eldest helped put the snowflake sprinkles on.  I tried to get a picture, but she took off her little pink apron and wandered off while I was mixing up the last shade of blue.  Her little sister, The Empress of Cute, was quite impressed.  While she's prone to just lick off the frosting, I ask you, could you say "no" to this face?

Enjoy MY Great-Grandma's sugar cookies for a change of pace to the usual crisp, butter variety.

This post is part of the #cookielove bloghop.  Stop by hostess Junia's site for more cookie fun!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Give Away and a Good Cause

I've been working on making a gluten-free version of Great-Grandma's sugar cookies.  Since that's not ready for prime time, I've got something else for you.

The good folks at Oxo sent me two of their new "Be A Good Cookie" spatulas, free of charge.  One to test-drive so I could share my observations with you, and one to give away.
Now, I had spotted a version of this spatula in the store and contemplated it, but I just wasn't sure how I would like it.  As it turns out - I like it.  The spatula is a little small, but that makes it work well for getting in between crowded cookies on a cookie sheet.  Especially when I'm getting impatient and putting LOTS of cookies on a sheet.  The silicone coating comes to quite a thin bevel around the edges:
This makes it ideal for getting under cookies.  And the silicone coating makes it excellent for manipulating gluten-free cookies - which can be especially delicate.  The metal blade is flexible, making it maneuverable in tight places.  I recommend it!

So - if you'd like me to share the other spatula with YOU - leave me a comment here on the blog before 11:59 Saturday EST.  I'll choose a random numbered comment and contact the winner (so make sure you include some way for me to contact you!) on Sunday.  That's it.  I'm going to make it easy on you.

But wait, there's more!  These spatulas have a purpose.  OXO is donating a portion of the proceeds from sales to Cookies for Kids' Cancer - founded by two OXO employees inspired by their son's battle with pediatric cancer.

However, if you want to purchase one of these cute little spatulas (or two!  Maybe three, if your holiday shopping list includes other bakers), go visit your nearest Bed, Bath and Beyond or, or check out OXO's Good Cookies website.  They even have information about other ways to help from sending a Virtual Cookie to holding a fundraiser Bake Sale.

While there won't be extra entries (cause I want to make this easy for you), I'd be delighted if you were to follow me on Twitter, or like the Gluten Free Goes Vintage page on Facebook.  Please also feel free to share this post and help me spread the word about Cookies for Cancer!

And I promise, more Christmas Cookies later!

ETA:  OK, apparently everybody is out shopping this weekend.  So I'm going to extend the deadline to 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday. :-)

And we have a winner:
(I even used a random number generator - I think I nearly broke it. ;-)
Annys, the spatula is yours!  Contact me with your mailing address and I'll send it out!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chocolate Brownie Muffins

Muffin Monday goes chocolate!  This installment of Muffin Monday is again brought to us through the never-ending efforts of Anuradha at Baker Street.  Go visit her for the original recipe.  Below, you'll find my gluten-free variant - with a couple of extra tweaks.

Preheat to oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

1/2 c. millet flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 egg
1/2 c. nutella
3/4 c. + 1 Tbsp milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 tsp white vinegar + enough heavy cream to make 1/2 c.
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. mini M&Ms

Combine flours, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Whisk and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter, nutella, and cream mixture.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the egg mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and M&M's. Portion into cupcake liners with a 2 oz disher. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack

Note:  I used milk chocolate chips, but I think on a repeat I'd use a darker chocolate - they sort of got lost.
The yield on this recipe was also a little higher than stated - I got 12 regular muffins and another 14 mini muffins.  The minis bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Book Review, Dec 2

This week, let's take on Gluten-free Baking Classics, by Annalise G. Roberts.  Yet again, I pulled this book off the shelf of the library to play with, though it's widely available in bookstores.
My first flip through this book was a little disappointing.  No glossy pages.  No color pictures.  No cute fonts.  And, in fact, some of the font choices are a little hard on the eyes.  Visually, it's about as interesting as one of the "Dummies" series books.  It also starts a little slow.  The first three chapters discuss gluten intolerance in general and then detail some of the strategies for baking gluten-free.  Finally we reach the meat of the book, chapters on muffins, cakes, pies and tarts, cookies, other sweets, breads and pizzas, and other savory baked goods.

Don't judge a book by it's cover.  Or even by it's overall graphic design.  What this book lacks in the "wowie zowie" visuals, it makes up for in the quality of the baked goods its recipes produce.  Most of them are decent dopplegangers for their wheat flour counterparts.  The only exception to this is that a few of them do tend to be a bit over-crumbly.   This may be due to the use of relatively minimal amounts of binders (xanthan or guar gum) and tends to only occur in those products that are also light in the egg department.

The other nice thing about this book is that it covers a lot of "classic" recipes, such as gingersnaps and German chocolate cake, that many people miss deeply when going gluten-free.

So often, gluten-free cookbooks also feel the need to accomodate other special dietary requirements as well - dairy, soy, sugar, vegan, etc.  But the more you restrict the ingredients available, the more sacrifices you make in the end product.  Which is what makes this book a small treasure, and one that I intend to add to my own collection when I can.  (I promise, I'll take this copy back to the library for someone else to discover).