Hmmm…What’s in the Pantry?

And yes, if you just said that in a slightly howling, tortured Brad Pitt in Seven imitation, you and I are on the same page.

bradpitt7

Kind of how I was feeling the other night. Just instead of looking at a head in a box, I was staring longingly at my pantry shelves. In search of a sweet treat that was also comforting, due to a slightly upset stomach.

Needless to say not much was catching my eye.

Except the oats.

Did I want oatmeal? Nah, too hot.

Overnight oats? Not quick enough.

Oatmeal cookies? Hmmm, never done them before outside of the fall. After apple picking. And even then, not really oatmeal cookies, but an apple cookie with oats.

Could this idea satisfy my somersaulting stomach?

A deeper dive into my ingredients provided inspiration in the form of dried cranberries.

Nutritious, anti-oxidant filled, and comforting. All the boxes were checked.

Now to making this happen.

Obviously I was flying blind, and yet I didn’t want to research! I wanted to trust my gut. Go with my instincts. Play with abandon.

So I did. I began to happily throw things together with confidence and fun. And it was magical!

The result: A completely satisfying, cinnamon-y pillow of goodness with just the slightest chew. Everything I have ever wanted in an oatmeal cookie!

Give these a try! Your mouth will thank you!

 

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

(makes about 30 cookies)

1 Cup Teff Flour

2 Tblsp. Tapioca Starch

2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Sea Salt

2 Tsp. Cinnamon

2 ½ Cups Gluten Free Oats

1 Cup Dried Cranberries

1 ½ Cups Coconut Sugar

¾ Cup Earth Balance

2 Eggs

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease cookie sheet with Earth Balance.

In a large bowl, combine the Teff Flour, Tapioca Starch, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon.

Stir in Gluten Free Oats.

IMG_3298

Stir in the Cranberries.

IMG_3299

Set aside.

In a stand mixed fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the Coconut Sugar and Earth Balance together on high speed until light and fluffy.

Add the Eggs and Vanilla, stir on medium speed until just combined.

Add the dry mix to the sugar mixture, ½ at a time on medium speed until just combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop a rounded mound of cookie mixture on to greased cookie sheet.

IMG_3300

3-4 cookies to a row only, approx. 3 rows, depending on your tray size.

Freeze pan for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Cookies should still be quite soft but holding together.

Don’t let this concern you! Don’t overcook these or they will become hard.

Remove from tray immediately and place on rack to cool.

IMG_3301

 

THE BRAIN OF IT ALL…

Inspiration is a weird thing. It can happen in the most unlikely and strange circumstances. And often, it is totally personal. What is inspiring to one, is not necessarily inspiring to another.

I have been away from this blog for months now, due to an injury and a surgery. Since surgery I have managed to bake a little, but each time I tried to write a post my mental clarity became as murky as a bog. This was due to a lot of reasons: pain, medications, lack of proper sleep, stress. I felt I just didn’t have the proper story or angle yet to discuss here. I couldn’t come up with a through-line for my writing to the recipe. And it was frustrating.

You see I am pretty proud of my brain. That’s not to say I am ever the smartest or most educated person in the room. I am proud of how my brain takes in the world, how it processes information, how it assists me in talking intelligently, and how it allows me to feel deeply.

And this brain seemed to be failing me. I would sit and stare at the computer trying to form words into cohesive sentences, to no avail. I tried to write my thoughts out on paper, and yet there were no thoughts to be had, just doodles. And I am not a great doodler.

And then today, inspiration. Write what you know. And this I know. My brain has been in overdrive. Trying to crunch data, make sense out of what my body has been going through, regulate my stress levels, and still allow me to function on some level like myself. This has not been a easy job. But my brain has done it valiantly.

Strangely enough, this recipe came after I willed a trip to the apple farm, just weeks before I had my ACL surgery. I wasn’t walking that great, I was in pain, and I tired super easy. But determination kicked in, joy filled my soul and my brain so OK, let’s do this. So I went apple picking. It was a deliriously delicious sort of day. The kind with no shadows, only light. Where laughter mingled with the smell of the great outdoors. I came home from that trip and set to making both the applesauce and the donuts. How? I don’t know. But my brain does.

So today I am inspired by that glorious, mysterious grey matter that makes me, me. And by the experience that it helped me to tattoo in my memory for years to come.

So here are two recipes for you to enjoy!

fullsizerender-10

Homemade Applesauce

20-30 Apples; peeled, cored and diced (I used a mix of Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious for this batch, slightly sweet and tart)

Juice of 2 Lemons

1 Tblsp. Cinnamon

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

fullsizerender

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, place all the diced apples.

Combine the remaining ingredients and stir.

Stir every 5 minutes, until the apple juices start to release.

Place lid on saucepan, reduce heat to low and cook for 30-45 minutes, until apples are fork tender.

img_2310

Using a potato masher, mash apples to the sauce consistency you desire.

Baked Applesauce Donuts

Makes 22 donuts

 2 Cups Gluten-Free Flour

½ Tsp. Xanthan Gum

2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 ½ Tsp. Cinnamon

½ Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Nutmeg

1 Cup Coconut Sugar

6 Tblsp. Earth Balance, melted

2 Large Eggs, beaten

1 Cup Applesauce

½ Cup Cashew Milk (or any you prefer) + Juice of 1 Lemon, combine

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease donut pan with Earth Balance or GF Shortening (or your alternative).

img_2315

Combine all of the dry ingredients through Coconut Sugar in large mixing bowl.

Add the melted Earth Balance, beaten Eggs and Milk mixture.

Stir to combine.

Add the Applesauce and the vanilla extract, fold in, until just combined.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until donuts are springy to touch.

Run the straight edge of a knife along the outer rim of the donuts, to loosen from pan.

Let cool to touch in pan, before removing.

img_2316

 

Topping Options

Cinnamon Sugar:

Melt ½ Cup of Earth Balance and set aside. Combine ½ Cup Coconut Sugar, 2 Tsp. Cinnamon, and 1 Tsp. Lemon Zest. Brush the tops of the donuts with the warm melted Earth Balance and then tip the top in the Cinnamon mixture.

fullsizerender-4

5 Spice Glaze:

Combine 1 ½ Cup Confectioners Sugar, ¾ Tsp. Vanilla Extract, 1 Tsp. Cinnamon,       1 Tsp. Chinese 5 Spice, and 4 Tblsp. Cashew Milk (or your choice). Dunk the top of the donuts in to the mixture and set on racks to set. Repeat dunking once the glaze has set.

img_2317

COLLABORATION, INSPIRATION, & FRIENDSHIP

This past weekend my friend Christine came over for an afternoon of chatting, dreaming and creating. I first met Christine (who most people lovingly refer to simply as “Perez”) through my PIC CJ. CJ’s day job is as a CrossFit coach and personal trainer. His journey with Perez began as a fellow athlete, then as her coach and now additionally as a friend. Eventually they started to spend more time together outside of box, grabbing coffee at the coffeeshop I work at. And, so I got to spend more time with this delightful human.

Christine runs a blog called PaleoishPerez.com and if you don’t know about it, you should definitely get it and her on your radar. This lady is awesome. She is so kind, smart and fun and you just wanna chat chat chat the more you are around her. Her energy is instantly warm and welcoming, and isn’t that what we all want from someone who is our friend and a foodie?!?!

We talked all about our mutual wants to demystify cooking and baking. To make this fun and accessible for anyone who wants to do it. We discussed our like-minded thoughts about starting our own business’ that were community and collaborative based. We discussed our journeys to this point and certain experiences, which helped us to embrace this present so strongly. And we baked! Pretty much a perfect Sunday afternoon!

This little bar is a collaborative, creative, and kinda spur of the moment creation. I had some idea about where I was going with this, but no idea how it would all turn out. And like everything I bake, I will probably do some more experimentation and playing with the recipe. But I whole-heartedly believe that any endeavor embarked upon in the spirit of fun and collective enjoyment should be shared. And this bar is quite delightful as is, so perhaps no tweaking is really necessary!

Just a side note…if strawberry-rhubarb jam is not your jam…don’t worry! Sub in a jam you love! Blueberry, Fig, Apricot, and play around with the spice combos. Baking is fun and should be individually inspiring. So go wild! Create! Don’t be afraid to see what happens. You could surprise yourself!

fullsizerender

 

 STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COOKIE BAR

Approx. 12-18 servings

For the Cookie Layer:

1 Cup Earth Balance (or butter)

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 Tsp. Butterscotch Extract

2 Large Eggs

2 ½ Cups Gluten Free Flour (see earlier post)

2 ¾ Tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Salt

For the Jam Layer:

1 20oz Jar of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

For the Crumb Topping:

¼ Cup Gluten Free Flour

¾ Cup Nut Flour (almond, coconut, or a blend will work ~ if you don’t have or like nut flour simply use 1 total Cup of Gluten Free Flour)

½ Cup Earth Balance (or butter)

½ Cup Coconut Sugar

½ Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1Tsp. Almond Extract

1 ½ Tsp. Ground Ginger

For the Drizzle:

¼ Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tblsp. Cashew Milk (or any kind of milk)

¼ Tsp. Vanilla Extract

¾ Tsp Almond Extract

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9×13 pan with shortening or butter or Earth Balance.

To make the cookie layer, in a medium-size mixing bowl combine the Flour, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda, and Salt. Set aside.

Cream together the Earth Balance, Coconut Sugar, Vanilla extract, and Butterscotch extract in your stand mixer, a hand mixer or by hand.

Once combined and slightly fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Make sure to blend completely before adding the next egg.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Pour the mixture evenly into the pan.

Scoop the jam onto the mixture and gently cover the entire top.

img_2300

To make the crumb topping, in a medium-size mixing bowl combine all the ingredients. Using either a pastry cutter (see last week’s post), two knives or your hands to mix all the ingredients. The topping should be slightly wet and sandy once combined.

Crumble on top of the jam layer.

Bake for 30 mins.

Once removed, the bars will look undercooked and wobbly.

This is ok!

Allow the pan to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled to room temperature, put in fridge for at least an hour.

While the bars are in the fridge, make the drizzle by combining the Powdered Sugar, Milk, Vanilla extract and Almond extract. The result should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, add a little more Powdered Sugar. If too thick, add a touch more milk.

Once the bars are cool, drizzle the mixture on in any pattern your heart desires!

fullsizerender-1

For The Love of Chocolate

I have noticed a trend on my site thus far. CHOCOLATE! I love it. Morning, noon, night….doesn’t matter. I was contemplating not putting this recipe up today because here it is, one more chocolate recipe. But since I promise you that Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies, Blueberry Peach Cobbler Muffins, and Pumpkin Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Marshmallow Frosting are coming, I feel secure in giving you this delightful choco-centric treat.

These are super simple and quick to make! This recipe utilizes Teff Flour, which I think is underutilized in most gluten-free kitchens. This flour is great paired with anything chocolate, as it has a deep “roasty-ness” to it!

BROWNIES

1 Dark Chocolate Bar, chopped

1/4 Cup Cacao Powder

1/2 Cup Earth Balance

(I use the Soy Free one, but hey butter will work too!)

1 Cup of Coconut Sugar

(or regular White Sugar will work!, so don’t fret)

3 Large Eggs

1/3 Cup Teff Flour

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 square brownie pan.

Melt the Earth Balance, chopped chocolate and cacao on the stove in a small saucepan over low/med heat. Stir consistently and don’t let burn.

Let chocolate mixture cool to the touch.

 In a separate bowl, add sugar. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the sugar and stir with a spatula or spoon to dissolve the crystals.

Add an Egg, one at a time. Stir in between each addition.

Add Vanilla, stir.

Fold in Teff flour, just to combine.

Pour into pan and bake for about 20 mins.

 

IMG_1497

A Delightful Popum

I will confess. Coconut is not my favorite flavor in the world. I love the idea of it much more than I ever end up loving the baked good. And strangely neither is chocolate frosting. Annnnd, I am also not a huge cupcake fan. But I wanted to challenge myself, and my taste buds, this week and make something different. I was also, strangely trying not to make anything chocolate, because I am starting to notice a trend here. But alas, that failed….which is ok by me because this recipe is quite amazing!

My original idea was a whoopie pie that tasted like an inside out coconut chocolate candy bar. But I also wanted to experiment with Almond Flour, since I had it on my baking shelf and had yet to try to use it. My brain pinged with excitement about this idea. Almond, Coconut, Chocolate….ummm probably delightful! Now I just had to figure out how to make something out of this.

Once the batter was made, I kinda noticed that it might be too delicate to be a whoopie. Now truth be told, this realization could have derailed the whole operation. But I am learning to trust my instincts more and more in this beautiful kitchen fun zone, and I just readjusted. I had some mini muffin liners an old roommate had left for me from a work photo shoot. Hmmm…..that might work. Cook the cakes a little longer in a smaller more concentrated area. What the hey! It either works or doesn’t work, right?!

After about 30 minutes (15 mins of cooking, 15 mins of waiting to cool a bit), I had to see. I bit into this little bite sized (or in my case two bite size) coconut powerhouse and what I discovered was a light cake, super coconutty-nuttiness, slightly chewy yet moist and crumbly. This cake was quite the contradiction in terms. Yet, so am I most days, so of course this is love! Once the Cacao Frosting was added, I had a satisfyingly delectable treat that was not overly sweet yet hit all the right notes in my mouth. For a “Notta Coconut, Chocolate Frosting, Cupcake” lover, these are pretty damn delightful!

Coconut Macaroon Cakes

2 ¾ Cups Almond Flour

4 Tblsp. Coconut Flour

¼ tsp. Cream of Tartar

½ tsp. Salt

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

4 Large Eggs

1 Cup Earth Balance

1 Tblsp Lemon Juice

1 Cup Almond Milk

1 ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

½ tsp. Coconut Extract

1 ½ Cups Shredded Unsweetened Coconut

On a Large cookie sheet lined with foil, spread out the coconut in one layer.

You can add more or less coconut, depending on your taste buds!

You can add more or less coconut, depending on your taste buds!

Bake on 400 degrees for 10 minutes, until just about starting to brown but not.

Set aside to cool. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

IMG_1751

In bowl, mix first four ingredients and set aside.

Separately, mix lemon juice and milk and set aside.

Cream the Earth Balance and the Coconut Sugar together in stand mixer or by hand.

Add the Eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined before adding the next one.

Add the Vanilla and Coconut Extract.

Add the milk mixture.

Slowly, add in the flour mix, being careful not to over mix.

Using a spatula, gently fold in the toasted coconut.

YUM!

YUM!

Line small mini muffin tins with liners.

Fill each to the top.

Cook for 15 minutes until cakes come out clean when toothpick is inserted.

While the cupcakes cool, make the…….

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

¾ Cup Cacao Powder

½ Cup GF Shortening

½ Cup Earth Balance

2 tsp. Vanilla

2-3 Cups of Powdered Sugar

Mix Shortening and Earth Balance together until slightly fluffy.

Add the Cacao Powder and Vanilla.

Add ½ cup Powdered Sugar to the mix until you get the sweetness and consistency you desire.

Frost the top of cooled Mini Cupcakes.

IMG_1757

ENJOY!

The Gilmore Girls, Mallomars and A Dream!

Hmm….you may be wondering what the title three have in common, and for that you have to take a step inside my carnival of a brain!

A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of the Gilmore Girls (which is one of my fave shows, ever…I will try not to gush too much about it here!) and they were eating and discussing Mallomars. For some reason, my brain went “Mallomars….mallowmars….yum….ohhh marshmallow, marshmallow cake, marshmallow pie, marshmallow whoopie pie! Wait, how to make marshmallow….hmm gluten free marshmallow fluff….” and you get the picture. So marshmallow became my obsession and I quickly set about trying to find a recipe to make it from scratch. After some searching I found a recipe on Cooking Channel.com from Chuck Hughes. Then I quickly pondered if I could substitute coconut sugar for white sugar. And then I decided pondering was useless and I should just get my bake on.

While I was whipping up some marshmallow on the stove, I realized I had not stopped to think what the rest of the whoopie pie was going to consist of. Since it is summer, my brain was of course swirling with the idea of something light and fruity…OH ORANGES!!!

Now I am not a huge fan of oranges. Not that I don’t like them, I just get pretty particular about their flavor. They must be sweet and crisp, anything else is dead to me. Plus I always feel that orange sweets are too artificial in flavor, and I wanted these to really pop with that citrusy sweet goodness. Enter the mandarin orange! A childhood fave from way back, I decided to incorporate them with navel orange juice and zest.

So with that all figured out, I was pretty ready to dive in and bake. Did I have a recipe? No. Was I worried? No. I was pretty confident that I could figure this all out as I went along. Taking note from a gluten free orange cake I had seen years ago online, I set to work with buttermilk, egg whites, and a mix of all purpose gf flour and sweet white rice flour. The result? Less than stellar….in fact the most epic fail I have had in the kitchen yet. The cakes were sticky and wouldn’t seem to set up, then had to be scraped from the whoopie pan and I was consistently left with a crumbled glob of undercooked cake for about three hours. Coming to the conclusion that it was not the cooking time or temperature, but the ingredients themselves, I called it a day.

That night, I awoke from some dream (which I have no recollection of!), woke up my peacefully sleeping boyfriend and informed him I had figured out what was wrong with the cakes! He kindly told me to write it down before going back to sleep, which is pretty nice for someone I had woken up in the middle of the night!

Now I am not a scientist and I am not a classically trained baker, but I am pretty sure that the issue lay in sweet white rice being a stickier flour, too much acid from both buttermilk and orange juice and egg whites being incorrect. At least that is what I garnered from my dream.

So utilizing a new mixture the cakes came out beautifully, with a delightfully sweet yet not cloying flavor. And the marshmallow buttercream frosting? Come on, when you start with something conceived during an episode of the Gilmore Girls, you know it is gonna be amazing!

ORANGE WHOOPIE PIES WITH MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

For Cake:

2 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (see earlier post)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xantham gum

3/4 cup Earth Balance

1 1/2 cups Coconut Sugar

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 8oz. cans of Mandarin Oranges (drained and pulsed in blender to liquid)

2 large Navel Oranges (juice and zest of each)

Whisk together the first four ingredients and set aside.

Cream the Earth Balance, sugar and vanilla until slightly fluffy.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Combine after each addition.

Add the mandarin orange juice, navel orange juice, and zest.

This is what the mandarin oranges look like after being drained and blended! Such a great color!

This is what the mandarin oranges look like after being drained and blended! Such a great color!

Mix on low just to combine.

Add the dry ingredients, 1/3 at a time.  Mix on low until just combined after each addition.

Scoop into whoopie pie pan.

Bake on 350 degrees for 6-9mins.

IMG_1601

Let cool for 2-3 mins in the pans before trying to remove.

Cool cakes on wire racks.

IMG_1602

For the Marshmallow:

1 egg white, room temperature

1 tsp. honey

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tblsp. water

1/2 cup coconut sugar

Mix all ingredients together

Place a double boiler on the stove (or a small saucepan filled with a little water and a bowl on top that fits in slightly!)

Over simmering water, use a hand mixer and beat the mixture until soft peaks appear (5-7mins, maybe more!)

The coconut sugar will make this creamier in color than the bright white fluff some of you may know and love!

The coconut sugar will make this creamier in color than the bright white fluff some of you may know and love!

Remove from heat and whip for 2 minutes more.  Place in refrigerator to cool slightly.

For the Frosting:

1/4 cup shortening

1/8 cup Earth Balance

1/8 cup powdered sugar (I have yet to figure out a better sugar replacement in frosting)

1tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients for 30 seconds in stand mixer.

Add the marshmallow “fluff”.

Mix until combined and creamy.

Scoop frosting in between two cakes, and enjoy!

Ahh-mazing!

Ahh-mazing!

Happy Birthday Kid!

Growing up birthdays were an exciting time. And now as an adult, I keep that tradition alive and well! I love the simple idea that there is a day to celebrate each and every one of us. Celebrate the life that we are living, celebrate the place we have come from and where we are going.

Even once we had moved from Pittsburgh to Princeton, NJ, my family always celebrated birthdays back in Pittsburgh when we went to visit.  And no birthday was complete without a cake from Dave’s Bakery.

This cake is a part of my soul and childhood as much as my Legos and summer swimming lessons.  A classic old school ice box cake.  I always chose chocolate with vanilla icing, while others in family were partial to yellow cake with vanilla icing. No matter which flavor was your favorite, you were always treated to a big beautifully decorated cake.  And then the piece de resistance! The sugared nuts.  Yup, sugared nuts.  All around the sides of the outside of the cake.

Now as a small child, these nuts upset me.  I was not a nut fan and did not want my beautiful birthday cake ruined by these mutinous crunchies. But ohh man, the first time I tasted this cake, icing, nut combo pack, I was hooked.  It was genius to me! Soft, luscious middle with a slightly sweet crunch to round it out! Nothing could be better, and this was all I ever wanted to eat as my birthday cake from that time on.

When I first went gluten-free I my biggest lament was that I couldn’t have birthday cake anymore. Cj literally scoured all gluten free bakeries for me each year, trying in vain to find me a treat that could compete with my Dave’s Birthday cake.  Sadly no such treat existed, leading to us both being endlessly disappointed.

Then last year I decided that all I wanted to do on my birthday was re-create that cake. With CJ working all day and rain pouring down outside, I set out to have an amazing birthday.  I had all my ingredients in advance, or at least what I figured I would need.  I mixed and chopped and baked and flipped.  When those cakes came out of the oven, I was floored.  They were chocolatey smelling and springy to the touch.  Then came the roasting of the sugar nuts.  A waft of nostalgia filled the room. Ohh I could feel it, I was getting close.  Then the icing.  Oh what to do?! A traditional buttercream was too, well buttery. Yet a shortening based frosting was too, blah. But perhaps the combination of the two? Blasphemous to some, I was on a mission to recreate my childhood and nothing was going to stand in that way.

When the cake was finally cooled and frosted and decorated, I was atwitter with anticipation. Would it be at all close to my memories? Would I be disappointed? That first bite washed all need for sadness away! I had done it! A moist chocolate cake, with a sturdy vanilla frosting and ohhh those sugared nuts. Nothing had ever tasted so good.

That cake last year saved my birthday’s from being a thing of the past, and welcomed in a new tradition, which is every bit and bite as enjoyable!

So for my birthday, and for all of your birthday’s as well, I say “LET’S EAT CAKE!”

CHOCOLATE ICEBOX CAKE

1 1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour

1 cup Sorghum Flour

2/3 cup Cornstarch

1/3 cup Tapioca Starch

1 tsp. Xanthan Gum

(This should make about 3 cups of flour mix.  Use 2 1/2 Cups for this recipe.)

1 cup Earth Balance (I use the soy-free kind)

1 cup Water

3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (I use dark that is a blend of regular and Dutch process, as I think it yield a delightful yet light flavor)

2 cups of Sugar

2 Eggs

1 cup Almond Milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice (mix and set aside)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Approx 2 cups of chopped pecans (or any nut you prefer)

2 Tblsp. coconut sugar

       IMG_1557

Combine the chopped nuts and the coconut sugar with a teaspoon of canola oil. Place  chopped nuts on a cookie sheet and bake for about 7 mins at 400 degrees, or just until you start to smell the nutty oils. Remove from oven and let cool.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Grease and powder with cocoa powder, 2 8- or 9-inch pans.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add the water and cocoa powder. Bring to just about a boil. Pour over the sugar and mix, allowing the sugar to dissolve.

Yum...nothing better than melty chocolate goodness!

Yum…nothing better than melty chocolate goodness!

Add the eggs, milk/juice mixture, and vanilla. Mix to combine.  Scrape down the sides of your bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups of flour mix with xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry mix in 3rds to the wet mix, mixing at medium low speed after each incorporation. Scrape down the sides between additions.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans, and tap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for about 35 – 40 mins (depending on your oven), until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean.

IMG_1559

While the cakes are baking, make the Double Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup room temp Earth Balance (also I use the soy free but any will work)

1 cup GF Shortening

Approx. 4-6 cups of powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. vanilla bean powder

Cream the butter and the shortening until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until you have the desired consistency that you want. (I find that will frosting, everyone is a little different when it comes to what texture they like. So do you!)

Add the vanilla extract and powder. Mix. Set aside until cakes are fully cooled.

So good I want to eat with my finger...and I do!

So good I want to eat with my finger…and I do!

Here is how I put this beauty together:

You can either do it this way or experiment and find out what works for you, remember this is cake.  It is supposed to be fun!!

When the cakes are cooled, place one cake on a flat surface or cake stand (whatever you have!). Place 1/3 of icing in the middle and begin to ice the top, spreading out from the middle to the sides and down.  Place the second cake on top and repeat, adding a little more icing to get the sides fully covered. Use the leftover icing to decorate however you want!

I chose a sun/turtle for my birthday treat!

I chose a sun/turtle for my birthday treat!

Next comes the special nut layer.  I am sure a true and tested pastry chef knows how to do this immaculately, but alas I am not one. And I really do like to make a mess when I bake….so, I simply take small handfuls in a cupped hand and kinda slap them onto the side of the cake. Do this all the way around, adding as much nut mixture as you deem awesome.

Ohhhh, get happy!

Ohhhh, get happy!

Once this is done, you have yourself a delicious birthday cake. Or anytime cake, because really cake is just about one of the best things on earth. 🙂

A slice of my birthday cake, one of many :)

A slice of my birthday cake, one of many 🙂

The Recipe That Started It All….Then & Now!

Me and Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies have quite the history.  That was the first recipe I ever tried to make on my own.  I was so excited and proud of myself.  I told my mom, who was outside gardening, that when she came back in, there would be a treat waiting. And boy was there! I climbed on counters gathering all the ingredients and tools. I was like a puppy with a toy, I was so excited. Unfortunately, I did my own version of reading the recipe, which was actually skimming, and ended up just dumping all the ingredients in a bowl…together…at the same time.  Needless to say this did not make good dough…or edible dough. When the first batch came out of the oven, I stood there staring at them in disbelief. Then the laughter began. And mom and I went back to the beginning!

But this did instill in me a love for baking and a deep love for the chocolate chip cookie!

Flash forward to five and a half years ago and  that is probably where this new baking journey began. I had begun to have terrible chronic migraines that would last for weeks on end.  Now, I had had migraines before, periodically and knew that my mother suffered from them.  But this was something quite different.  For those of you who suffer from migraines, you understand the whole host of other symptoms that accompany these delightful occurrences.  I felt like my whole body was out of whack and rejecting me.  I saw doctor after neurologist after allergist and on and on.  Soon I was taking a whole host of medications to stop the migraines, I was switching birth control and I felt like I was falling apart.

Soon after a quite scary heart event, possibly brought on by the medications, I started seeing a cardiologist.  With her help, along with my amazing PCP, I went on a 7- week regime to wean off of all medications. I also started a more natural regime of magnesium, niacin, fish oil, D3 and probiotics. And then they suggested one more thing….to go gluten free.  I remember being so resistant.  What about baking was literally my first thought?!? Followed closely by (if not concurrently) with the self pity. Haven’t I been through enough.  Wasn’t this enough changes? I was a healthy 20-something, why was this all happening to me? After a lot of research and many months (pretty close to 12 if I am being honest!) of trial and error, I finally embraced a  gluten free diet.

But through all of this, I was determined to figure out how to make the treats that I had grown to love to make.  Without fail, I would always want a chocolate chip cookie (or chocolate cake, but more on that later!) after a particularly bad migraine spell. So, the first thing I set out to do was re-create the chocolate chip cookie from my childhood.  I started where I always do. Reading.  I read posts and cookbooks and experimented with recipes.  And always something was missing. Too poofy, too hard, too soft, to crispy.  I was looking for that perfect outside crisp and inside chewy gooey delight.  So I went back to the beginning and I studied that Tollhouse recipe and based my own off of that.

To me, this recipe is perfection in a chocolate chip cookie.  Crispy, chewy, gooey…everything that a classic is supposed to be.  Nowadays, I often play around with the ingredients. Change up the chocolate, add nuts, etc.  But the basics always stay the same.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

1c. Brown Rice Flour

1c. Teff Flour

1/8c. + 1 Tbsp Tapioca Starch

1/8c. Cornstarch

1tsp. Xanthan Gum

1tsp. Salt

1tsp. Baking Soda

1c. Butter (I use Soy Free Earth Balance, but regular butter will work)

3/4c. Granulated Sugar

3/4c. Coconut Sugar (or Brown Sugar if you prefer)

2Tbsp Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs

Bag of Gluten Free Chocolate Chips or about 5oz Chocolate Bar chopped

Optional – 1c of Pecans (or any nut you love!)

In medium mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients (first 7) together and set aside.

Here is what I used this time. Chocolate and espresso with pecans made out for an out of this world flavor sensation!

Here is what I used this time. Dark chocolate with espresso beans and pecans made out for an out of this world flavor sensation!

In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer or a crazy strong arm), cream together room temp Earth Balance, granulated sugar and coconut sugar. Mix until light in color and fluffy.

(I substituted coconut sugar for brown sugar to see about cutting down the sugar content, to me this added dimension and a deeper flavor to the cookies that I really liked without being overly sweet)

Add vanilla and 1 egg at a time, mixing after each addition.

Incorporate flour, in thirds, mixing after each addition.  Fold in your chips or chopped chocolate. Fold in your nuts.

Put on lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 7-9 minutes

(Note about baking times: I live in an old Astoria apartment. I love the size of my kitchen, which I know is hard to come by. But my oven frequently has a mind of its own. You made need to adjust baking time on these to a little longer, depending on the mind of your oven!)

ENJOY :)

ENJOY 🙂

 

HELLO WORLD!

Welcome to The Fancy Duckling!

So this is it! My first blog post….whew, I am nervous. Do I try to dazzle you with my wit and charm, do I list my qualifications to be speaking with you, or do I just dive in? Since I have always been a “road less traveled” kinda gal….let’s just jump!

I am an actress, writer and self-taught gluten free baker.  Four years ago when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I was bewildered and overwhelmed.  Sooo much information to sift through to just understand what gluten intolerance was, let alone what the hell gluten was.  But after a little freak out and paper bagging, I started hitting every gluten-free bakery in Manhattan.  I wanted to understand what the texture and tastes were. Then I started devouring every gluten free cookbook and online recipe I could find.  And then finally the experimenting began…..

And experimenting it was! So many flours, so many binders, so many combinations!  But I would not be intimidated. I love baking and the creative release that it brings to my life, and I was determined to figure this out.  Soon, I realized that I enjoyed this type of baking so much more than non gluten-free baking.  Why? To me, each recipe is a puzzle.  And since I fancy myself Nancy Drew crossed with Wonder Woman and Joan Jett, this is magical.

I hope that you enjoy each of these recipes and that they inspire you not just to make them, but tweak them and play around to make them you own.

To some baking is structured and bound by rules, but to me baking is simply fun and delicious!

eggsmileresize