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!

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