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.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fluffernutter Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache

Fall has been nosing around at the edges of the days lately.  My girls are finally back in school, though mornings have been a bit chaotic so far.  I have to keep reminding myself that although it's often cool in the morning, by the time they come home from school the air might be quite warm.  And that they'll likely want a snack!

I try to keep lots of fresh fruit on hand.  But with girls who can be... intermittent... in their food choices, sometimes that means a little less-than-fresh fruit.  Today, it was some bananas that were a little past their prime.  In an effort to use the bananas AND have a snack to feed the girls, I bring you Fluffernutter Cupcakes.

Fluffernutter Cupcakes

1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. mashed bananas
3/4 c. sweet white sorghum flour
1-3/4 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
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp potato starch
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. Jet Puffed Marshmallow Bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the wells of 2 cupcake pans with paper liners.

Cream together peanut butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.

Add vanilla extract and bananas, beating well.

In another bowl, combine flours, salt, xanthan gum, soda, and baking powder.  Whisk to combine.  Add to banana mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Beat on medium until smooth.  Add marshmallow bits and stir in or beat on low until combined.

Fill the liners 2/3 full or use a 2 oz disher.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Whipped Ganache Frosting

16 oz. chopped chocolate of good quality (I used half milk chocolate and 1/2 dark)
2 c. heavy cream

Place the chocolate in the bowl of your stand mixture.  In a saucepan, heat the cream until it steams and tiny bubbles form at the edges.  Pour over chocolate.  Allow to stand for 3-5 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Put the bowl in an ice bath and stir chocolate until it thickens and a spoon or spatula pulled through it leaves a track for a second or two.

At this point the chocolate will be cooler than room temperature, but not really cold.  Place the bowl on the mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat until ganache lightens and can hold soft peaks, about 1 minute.  Do not overbeat, or you'll end up with chocolate butter!

Pipe onto cool cupcakes.  If it's at all warm out, store the cupcakes in the refrigerator as the whipped ganache is quite temperature sensitive.

There you have it!  A tasty snack with about 1/2 whole grain flour, some bananas, and some peanut butter.  They're even decorative!

Well, kinda.  But have fun with them!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Scotch Spice Cake

Today was the first day my little angels (ahem) went back to school.  Here in Michigan we have this inane law that forbids any school accepting state money from starting classes before Labor Day.  It's supposed to improve tourism.  Laugh with me now.  Nobody comes up from out of state much, because THEIR kids are back in school.  And everybody here goes on longer vacations... out of state.  *sigh*

At any rate, school means lunch boxes.  And lunch boxes mean trying to find SOME sort of goodies that my children will eat and can have.  So today, we make yet another foray into the 8th Pillsbury Bake Off cookbook and dust off an old fashioned snack cake recipe.

Scotch Spice Cake

1/3 c. gluten-free quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. boiling water
3/4 c. evaporated milk
1-1/2 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour, or:
1/4 + 2 Tbsp. c. millet flour
2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp. potato starch
1/2 tsp soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 + 2 Tbsp shortening or unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8" square pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a heat-proof bowl, pour boiling water over oatmeal.  Stir for a minute.  Add evaporated milk.  Set aside.

In another bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and xanthan gum.  Whisk together, and set this aside as well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening, sugar, and brown sugar.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stop and scrape down bowl.
Add milk and oatmeal mixture, as well as vanilla extract.  Mix well, then scrape down again.  Yep, it's going to look curdled:

Add dry ingredients gradually.  Beat on medium until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes until top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool completely


2 Tbsp butter
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp hot coffee of milk

Blend butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add milk or coffee until spreading consistency is reached.  Pour onto cake and spread with a knife or the back of a spoon.

The original recipe called for 1/2 c. each raisins and nuts.  My kids don't like either so I left them out.  IN hindsight, cinnamon chips might have been a tasty addition.  Don't use old fashioned oats unless you really want to chew on them in the cake!