Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gingerbread Waffles

I've managed to acquire another couple of fun cookbooks at antique stores that I'll be playing around with in a bit.  I do note, though, that gingerbread waffles turn up fairly regularly.  Tonight's recipe is an adaptation of this one at Martha Stewart.  If you don't need to be gluten-free, heck - go use that one!  I do like the addition of cardamom - it adds a bit of a Scandinavian touch.  Great for Christmas Morning breakfast.  Or, if you're like me - dinner.  Yep.  I admit it.  This is what my girls had for dinner tonight.

They seemed appropriate to the season.  And they're pretty easy!

Gingerbread waffles

2-1/4 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp potato starch

1-1/2 tsp guar gum
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
1 c. milk
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. greek yogurt (vanilla, honey, or plain)
3 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat waffle iron.  In a bowl, combine dry ingredients.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs.  Add melted butter and yogurt and mix thoroughly.  Add milk, molasses, and vanilla.  Whisk until combined.  It's OK if the yogurt is still a little chunky.
Add dry ingredients and whisk until combined.  It will start to bubble happily very soon.
Cook in waffle iron, using the manufacturer's directions.  Serve warm, with whipped cream.  Or, if you prefer, lemon sauce or ligonberry sauce.
(Yep, those are gingerbread man sprinkles.  ;-)  )

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Candy Cane Blossoms

Greetings, Gentle Readers.  It's the Holiday Season, and I'm going to try to think of you a little more in the upcoming future.  I know I haven't done so well for the last month, but I'm going to queue up some posts in the hopes of aiding you in your holiday baking.

(And, as a side note, I'm looking at updating my template for Blogger.  I'll have to redo all of the graphic design - which has its faults as it is, but hopefully I'll gain threaded commenting and maybe even get the Recipe Index to WORK.  Opinions on this move are solicited, especially if you have experience with Blogger to share).

For the start of the Holiday Season I'm kicking off my holiday baking with a twist on a classic.  I love peanut butter blossoms.  But my youngest daughter's school has a strict "no peanuts" policy due to some severe allergies.  So I give you Candy Cane Blossoms:

 They're delightfully chocolatey with a kick of peppermint.  Great for cookie swaps!  (Well, if you can find enough people in your neck of the woods for a gluten-free cookie swap.  If you can, you have my envy!!)

Candy Cane Blossom Cookies

1 Bag Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
1-1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. chocolate chips (I used ghiradelli 60%)
1 Tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil if you must)
2-1/2 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1-1/2 tsp guar gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. high quality cocoa powder (such as Penzey's or Droste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flour, guar gum, soda, salt, and cocoa.  Stir to combine, and set aside.

In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips and coconut or vegetable oil.  You can do this in a double boiler, or in the microwave.  If in the microwave, heat for 20 seconds at a time and stir in between until chocolate is smooth and melted.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a medium sized bowl, if you have a spunky hand mixer) cream together butter and brown sugar.

Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract.  Scrape down bowl and beat until smooth.

Add 1/2 of flour mixture, beating until just combined.  Add chocolate mixture, beating again until well mixed. Then add remaining flour mixture.  Turn mixer on low and allow to mix for 2-3 minutes.  The nice thing about gluten-free baking is that it's impossible to make things tough by overmixing.  So take a moment and make sure things are well blended.  It will also give your flours time to hydrate a bit.

Form into 1-1/2" balls and place on a baking sheet.  Or use a 1 Tbsp disher, leveled off.  Bake for 10 minutes. rotating the tray at least once if you get hot spots in your oven.  Pull the cookie sheet and allow cookies to cool on the sheet for about 2 minutes before pressing one kiss onto each cookie.

Since the candy cane kisses are a bit softer than chocolate, they may sort of "pool" rather than stand up and retain their peaks.  Just press them down far enough that they won't run off the cookie.

Put a pot of coffee on and you're ready for company.  They won't even know these are gluten-free if you don't tell them!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

3-1/2 Minute Frosting

Some of you may have noticed that Geraldine, my KitchenAid Heavy Duty 5 Qt stand mixer, is often an uncredited star in this blog.  However, after 16 years of faithful service, the wear and tear took their toll on her.  Since she was a graduation present from my parents, it is with no small degree of sentimentality that I say good-bye and usher in her replacement.

That said, because I want to help you all out, I'm going to share here a review of that mixer.  This week, I received a 7-Qt KitchenAid stand mixer, purchased directly from KitchenAid's outlet store as a refurbished model.  I introduce you to Mary Margaret:

Now, I'm no stranger to KitchenAid.  Geraldine and I had been together many years.  And, before that, I was well-acquainted with my mother's 5-qt Heavy Duty model (Geraldine's doppelganger, and the reason I'd wanted one to start with).  These days, my mother owns a 6-qt professional model.  I'll do a little compare/contrast as we go.  Note:  This is an un-influenced review - nobody sent me a free mixer to review (I wish!), nor has offered me anything to say nice stuff.

In order to determine the ins and outs of Mary Margaret, I put her through three little "tests" today:  bread, cake, and icing.  Here we go:


The fact that my children are on a gluten free diet and therefore I MUST make bread every week is the main reason that I honestly need a stand mixer.  Gluten free bread is nearer a heavy batter than a dough - hand-kneading is NOT gonna happen.  Hand stirring is exhausting.  And less useful.  In my more honest moments, I must admit that Geraldine made heavy weather of bread.  At least a 3-loaf batch, which is my usual method.  On more than one occasion, bits of dough would climb out over the sides or up the beater and onto the stem to which it attaches.  Messy.  I also suspect that the wear from doing this weekly is one of the things that eventually took it's toll.  So... how did Mary Margaret do?

The first thing I noticed is that the dry ingredients for a batch of bread fit much more comfortably in the 7-qt bowl.
  On placing the bowl in the mixer, and starting it up, I got my first real taste of Mary Margaret's "soft start" feature - the beater begins slowly, so there is no cloud of flour thrown up.  Another bonus?  All that extra room in the bowl meant that the eggs were less likely to be thrown back out as the dough moved around the bowl.  (Yep, that happened more than once with Geraldine).  Quiet?  Not especially, though no more noisy than the Heavy Duty.  I did notice that the 7-qt model does seem to shake and shimmy around the countertop just a little when turned up to medium speed.  The batter blended quite evenly, and in a shorter time than I'm used to:

The capacity again was a nice change of pace.  Even when fully risen, the dough is well inside the bowl, with plenty of room to stir it down.  I'll have to adjust my "eye" for when it IS fully risen - because in the 5-qt bowl that was just level with the upper edge!

As I poured the batter into the loaf pans, I also noticed that the consistency is uniform throughout, with no denser material being left along the walls.  (I didn't scrape it down because I wanted to check this.)

So, for bread, a fair success.  (At some point, I'll probably stir up a batch of wheat flour-based pizza dough for my husband and I, and get a chance to check the dough hook.  I have yet to be able to really come up with a gluten free recipe that acts as a real dough, rather than as a heavy batter.).


The cake test was brief and to the point, mixing up a batch of cake batter.  I went with a relatively small batch, to see how Mary Margaret handled the little jobs.  This batch made about 24 cupcakes.  From the start, it was clear that the extra width of the bowl aids the "planetary action" in mixing.

In other words, ingredients are more thoroughly combined, and more quickly, than in my former mixer.  Again, I used the batter from the bowl without doing any "scrape downs".  There was a thin layer of darker batter along the sides of the bowl that hadn't been completely incorporated, but not very much.  Certainly, there was much less at the bottom of the bowl than I'm accustomed to with the 5-qt Heavy Duty.  I'd call this a success as well.  Smooth operation, a little loud, but quick and efficient.


And, in fact, 7 minute icing.  I wanted to see how Mary Margaret did with soft, delicate egg whites.  My recipe for this classic icing involves pouring sugar syrup into the mixer while beating egg whites.  I never turned her up above "4" on the power setting, and still nearly overbeat my egg whites due to a moment's inattention.  The wider bowl again proved useful, as I had enough room to pour the syrup in easily without getting it caught in the whisk at speed and flinging hot sugar syrup around the bowl or even creating cotton candy.

I admit that I'd had some trepidation about replacing Geraldine.  She was such a work horse, for so long.  And, to be truthful, I've had some very negative experiences with a couple of KitchenAid blenders, one of which died after only a year of very light usage.  Thus far, however, Mary Margaret appears ready and willing to take on the challenge of being an integral part of my kitchen.

So I'll end with some advice, if you're in the market for a mixer:

Those little stand mixers where the bowl spins around?  Don't bother.  They don't have nearly enough power nor a decent design.  You'd be better off with a KitchenAid hand mixer and well-developed biceps.

The KitchenAid Artisan mixer is nice, but small.  It's also not really powered for doing a LOT of bread/bagels/pizza crust.  If you're a casual maker of baked goods, primarily of the cake-and-icing variety, you'll be fine.

The Professional models are a pretty nice middle-of-the-road option.  Mom's 6-qt is certainly adequate to her needs (and she taught me, so I wouldn't call her a "casual" baker by any stretch).  Give some real thought to checking KitchenAid's outlet site for one of these.  They're an excellent mixer and an excellent deal.

The 7-qt model is definitely worth the extra outlay if you can possibly swing it.  The extra capacity is really the main reason.  I have no idea what I'm even going to DO with the other 6 speed settings on Mary Margaret.  There's probably a lot of power there that I'll never use.  But the increased bowl width and ability to maneuver things around more easily are certainly worthwhile.  Again, if you're not wound up about "new", getting a refurbished model (which looks pretty darned new to ME) is a steal of a deal.

I was pleased with how quickly my order shipped and how well packed it was.  And, since I was expecting bare metal beaters, I was pleasantly surprised that these were coated - I just think they're easier to keep clean that way.

In all, I think Mary Margaret and I at the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Best-ever GF, CF Chocolate Cupcakes

I really mean that.  Best.  Ever.  You may remember last year when I made cupcakes for the Princess's class, with the orange and black icing?  This year, I left out the chocolate, and went with green/purple.  I'd wanted some gummy spiders or something for the tops, but left it till today to shop for them and could find any.  So, nonpareils, it is:

Cute, are they not?  But the real story is the cupcakes themselves.  They're so soft and moist, you'll never miss the gluten OR the dairy.  Now, on first read, this recipe might look a little scary.  Why all the cocoa powder?  What with the yogurt?  It can be difficult to find even baking chocolate that has no dairy and has not been processed on equipment that may have processed dairy.  So I went with all cocoa powder.  Just for the record, if you ever need to, you can make a chocolate/cocoa conversion.  Each 1 oz square of baking chocolate (unsweetened) can be replaced by 3 Tbsp cocoa and 1 Tbsp oil or butter.  So this recipe has something like 8 oz of chocolate.  Easy, right?

The yogurt and vinegar both help (along with the acid in the cocoa) to react with the leavening and create the right texture.  Since this as an oil-based recipe, rather than a butter cake, the cake is very moist and tender.

Best-Ever Gluten Free, Casein Free Chocolate Cupcakes

3 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
1 c. white rice flour
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1-1/2 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 c. cocoa powder
3 eggs
1/3 c. canola oil
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. brown sugar
6 oz non-dairy Greek Yogurt style-fermented coconut or almond milk
1-1/2 Tbsp white vinegar + enough almond milk to make 1-3/4 c.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake liners into cupcake pans.  (This recipe makes 36-42 cupcakes... be prepared.  Or you can make 24 cupcakes and one 8 or 9 inch layer)

In a bowl, sift together flour, guar gum, baking powder, soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs, then add canola oil and coconut oil.   Add vanilla.  Mix until combined.

Add sugar and brown sugar, mixing well.

Beat in yogurt.  I used coconut-based yogurt.

Combine vinegar and almond milk.  Stir.  Yes, it's going to look curdled.  Trust me.  Really.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture.  When all ingredients are combined, beat on medium high for 2-3 minutes, till smooth.

Portion into cupcake liners with a 2 oz disher.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Almond Buttercream

1/4 c. dairy-free margarine, such as Earth Balance
1/2 c. shortening (such as Spectrum)
1 tsp almond extract
1 lb. powdered sugar (about 4-1/2 c.)
1/4-1/2 c. almond milk

Cream together shortening and margarine.  Add about 1 c. of the powdered sugar and beat well.  Add almond extract.  Continue adding powdered sugar and almond milk alternately until all sugar is incorporated and frosting is of a soft, pipable consistency.  Tint as desired.

These are really fabulous cupcakes.  And I'd bet you can take them out in public and no one will even know what's missing!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

It's that time of year again.  Octember.  When the retail giants try to smoosh all the fall and winter holidays into one giant spending spree.  And convince us all that we'll just *die* if we don't get that limited-time-pumpkin-pie-spice latte before they're gone for the year!

Yeah, I get tired of it, too.  But I'm going to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon one more time because it DOES taste good.  And these waffles are really, really pumpkin pie-y.  No beauty shots this time, as my children were more interested in just eating them with a little brown sugar.  But I'd recommend whipped cream.  Or some caramel sauce and pecans.  Or both!  These are adapted (rather loosely) from Williams-Sonoma.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

1-1/2 cups Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour OR
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. white or brown rice flour (or even amaranth, teff, or quinoa if you'd rather)
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp guar gum
2 eggs
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. plain or vanilla greek yogurt (or soy yogurt, if you need to be dairy-free)
1 c. milk (or almond/soy/rice milk)
1 Tbsp vanilla

Heat waffle iron.  When hot, spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  (Be prepared to spray the iron every 2-3 waffles.  This batter is delicate, and the high sugar content makes them a little prone to sticking).
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, soda, spices, salt and guar gum.  Whisk together.

In a bowl, whisk eggs until well blended.  Add oil and continue to whisk until combined and oil is emulsified.

Add vanilla, pumpkin, and sugar.  Whisk again.

Stir in yogurt, then milk, whisking until thoroughly combined.

Add dry ingredients and whisk until batter is moist and only small lumps remain.

Bake in waffle iron based on manufacturer's directions.

Not only are these delicious, but they make the house smell fantastic as well.  As an added bonus, they reheat in the toaster on the lowest setting and crisp up even a little better than when fresh.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Doughnuts with Salted Caramel Glaze

Things are finally settling into the Fall rhythm around here.  Kinda sorta.  Homework with Autism probably involves more than the usual amount of arm-twisting.  And I'm still on the hunt for a way to try to get the Princess to really grasp the concept that numbers mean things.  She's hit a wall with math, and I suspect it's a lack of understanding the correspondence between the symbol and the number of things it represents.  There is probably a certain ironic justice in the universe that is forcing a woman who was always a terrible tutor to not only slow down but to try to explain things that are intuitive concepts for most people - to someone who is just this side of nonverbal.

Everybody needed a pick-me-up this weekend.  And, as it happens, a friend had asked early this week if I had a recipe for GF baked pumpkin doughnuts.  I didn't.  But I couldn't see why I couldn't manage one.  What do you think?

 These were adapted from King Arthur Flour's Pumpkin Doughnut recipe on that wonderful company's blog.  Go check it out for more tips and suggestions.  The donuts themselves are also dairy-free.  If you wish, you can make the glaze dairy-free by using a dairy-free margarine and soy or almond milk.

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

1 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour, OR
1/3 c. millet flour
1/3 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. +2 Tbsp white rice flour
1/3 c. tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1 tsp guar gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp King Arthur Cake Enhancer (optional)
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1/3 c. canola oil
1-1/4 c. granulated sugar
1-1/2 c. pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 doughnut pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, guar gum, spices, Cake Enhancer (this helps GF baked goods, which are notoriously fast to go stale, to last a little longer), salt, and baking powder.

Whisk to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs until light and frothy.  Add oil and beat until incorporated.  With mixer on low, add pumpkin, vanilla, and sugar.  Scrape down sides, then beat again until smooth.  Add dry ingredients and beat until combined.

Fill the wells of the doughnut pans.  King Arthur's suggestion to use a 1 Tbsp cookie scoop worked pretty well.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the donuts at the deepest part of a well comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert:

Cool completely.

Caramel Glaze

2 Tbsp butter or Dairy-free margarine
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3-4 Tbsp milk or almond/soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. powdered sugar

In a small, shallow saucepan, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar.
When melted and combined, stir in vanilla.  Add powdered sugar and milk alternately in small additions until all sugar is incorporated and glaze is a smooth, pou-rable consistency.
Dip each doughnut into the glaze, hold it over the pan for a moment to allow the excess to drip off, then set on a cooling rack to dry.
I topped mine with a sprinkle of black sea salt.  I think it makes a nice contrast.  You can use any coarse salt that you think looks nice.  I liked the orange-and-black Halloween-y look.
So, first of all, enjoy the doughnuts!  And second, know that I'm always open to requests, especially if you've got an old-fashioned recipe you had to give up when you went gluten-free.  Send it along and I'll see if I can convert it for you!  If it gives me an excuse to avoid the math homework.....  ;-)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Caramel Layer Bars

It's been quiet around here, I know.  Bear with me, gentle readers.  The beginning of the school year is always a little rough around these parts.  Both of my little darlings are transitioning with some glitches that include stripping, tantrums, destructive moments and self-trauma.  And that's just Momma!

Plus, it's a busy time of year in general.  We took the girls to the Michigan Feis (if you're not familiar with the world of Irish Dancing, that's a dance competition).  They both enjoyed watching the action, and I had volunteered to do a shift as a stage monitor.  For me, it's sort of bittersweet.  I love all the girls that I work with at a feis.  They're so sweet, and most of the time very polite, if a little revved.  But hanging out there is like being able to watch how the Other Half lives - though only through a glass, darkly.  At least I did have the older girls' stage this time out.  It's harder for me to work with the girls who are The Princess's age - doing all the things she can't.  It underscores just how great a gap exists between Princess and her peers.  Still, we'll keep her in classes for now (in spite of her objections - she'd much rather stay home and play with the computer.  She doesn't get to be in charge ALL the time, however, and she can use the physical activity).  For now, it's one foot in front of the other!

Things have gotten baked, but no blogging has gotten done.  So, as an apology, I now give you a true vintage treasure:  Caramel Layer Bars

 These little beauties came out of yet another Pillsbury Bake-off Cookbook, this one has no dates (the cover is missing) but I'm going to guess late 50's or so.  These are some great bar cookies that hold well and are well suited to making in advance.  They were also a bit nostalgic to make.  I used to have the job of unwrapping the caramels for Mom when she made her famous chocolate-caramel-in-between cake.  (Maybe I'll try that for you someday, if you're very good!)

Caramel Layer Bars

1-3/4 c. + 3 Tbsp Fancy Flour Blend, or other GF AP Flour Blend OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. + 2 Tbsp gluten-free quick cooking oats
3/4 c. butter, slightly softened
36 Kraft caramels
3 Tbsp cream
3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9"x13" pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1-3/4 c. flour, soda, salt, xanthan gum, oats and brown sugar.

Whisk together.  Cut in butter until mixture is in fine pieces.  Reserve one c. of mixture, and pour the rest into the 9"x13" pan.

Press into pan, evenly.  Bake for 10 minutes, until set.
Meanwhile, place caramels and cream in a bowl set over boiling water.

Stir until smooth.  Stir in 3 Tbsp. of flour.  Spread gently over base.  Sprinkle chips on top.  Cover with reserved base mixture.  Return to oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until very slightly golden.

Warm bars were distributed, and The Gentleman Ranker commented, "Wow, these even taste vintage!"  He did later clarify that they taste like something you'd have been given at Grandma's house... with a glass of milk.