Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chocolate Espresso Dried Cherry Biscotti.

I love biscotti. You bake a batch and they can stay around the kitchen for a week or two (since they generally produce a large amount of cookies) and you don't have to worry about them not tasting as fresh as the first day, because if anything, biscotti just get better over time.

I make a different batch of biscotti about once a week and last week I was craving chocolate badly. I didn't want to just do plain chocolate biscotti so I added in a bit of espresso, dried cherries and toasted walnuts. The additions made these biscotti a bit harder to slice after the first baking, but in my opinion it was worth it! The flavor combination is lovely and pretty perfect when dipped into a steaming mug of black coffee in the morning (or even a cold glass of milk before bed). Perfect for the crisp, cold fall and winter mornings ahead!

Chocolate Espresso Dried Cherry Biscotti
Adapted from Good Housekeeping
3 large egg whites
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tablespoons strong coffee or espresso (I dissolved a tablespoon of instant espresso in 2 tablespoons of hot water)
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the egg whites, oil, and coffee or espresso in a small bowl.  Combine all the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a larger bowl, whisking to make sure everything is combined.  Add the egg white mixture to the dry ingredients and stir in the nuts and cherries.

Divide the dough into two equal portions and form two logs on the baking sheet, each about 12 inches by 1 inch.  Flatten the dough a bit and place in the oven until the logs are firm, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let them cool AT LEAST 30 minutes, preferably almost completely before slicing. If you try slicing them before then, they will crumble horribly.  After they've cooled, cut each log into 1/2 inch slices and arrange the cookies on the baking sheet.  Bake in the oven again until they've crisped up, about 15-20 minutes longer.

Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Honey White Wheat Knot Rolls.

September means beginning of major soup weather.  You can (and I do) make soups all year 'round but when you make soups in September through April, no one makes faces or thinks you're crazy.  To go along with steaming bowls of delicious chicken-vegetable gumbo, I made these lovely rolls.  They made a perfect accompaniment to the soup, but the leftover rolls were amazing toasted, spread with butter and jam for breakfast or just re-warmed for a few seconds in the microwave to make them taste freshly baked again.

I used this recipe but used white whole wheat flour instead of regular whole wheat.  The dough was incredibly sticky even after rising so the cloverleaf shape was a no-go, I just did knots instead (and was reminded of my days in culinary school when we had to do 4 dozen knot rolls every day...) Anyway, if you want to do the cloverleaf shape, after forming the dough into 12 pieces, you cut the 12 pieces into 3 each and roll them into little balls, then place into the muffin cups, let rise and bake.  They are adorable, but the knots are much faster and taste just as good.  Had the dough been less sticky, I might have attempted the cloverleafs!

Honey White Wheat Knot Rolls
Adapted from Cooking Light
2 1/4 teaspoons or one package dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F.)
2 cups bread flour, divided
1 cup white wheat flour (or whole wheat)
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg

Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl, let stand for a few minutes until foamy.

Add 1 1/2 cups bread flour and the white whole wheat flour along with the honey, melted butter and salt.  Stir until a loose dough forms, then turn out onto a floured surface.  Knead the dough, adding the other 1/2 cup bread flour, until it's springy and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (I weighed the dough first, then divided the total weight by 12.  Each piece was about 2 ounces.)  Roll each piece into a 5-6 inch rope, then make a knot and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or into greased muffin cups.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Beat the egg and 1 tablespoon water and brush over the risen rolls.  Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Anniversary Celebration.

Last Sunday, September 19th, my parents celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary.  I asked my mom what kind of cake she wanted and she said "Hmm, how about black forest?" Black forest cake it is!  I hope they do something big next year for number 30 :)

From the same book as the gluten free vanilla cake, this is my go-to gluten free chocolate cake.  It's absolutely chocolaty and delicious.  You can switch sugars here, brown for granulated, if you'd like.  I usually use all brown sugar because it tastes fudgier that way, but feel free to use either one.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Adapted from 125 Best Gluten Free Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt
3/4 cup whole bean flour (garbanzo or chickpea is fine)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly spray or grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients (whole bean flour through cocoa powder) to make sure everything is thoroughly combined and there are no lumps.

Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Add in the dry ingredients and the sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes before baking.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.  Let cool completely before filling and frosting.  As with the gluten free vanilla cake, this cake freezes very well. Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap first and store for up to 3 months.

To make this cake "black forest" I just split one layer in half and filled it with good cherry jam, iced the top of it with whipped cream and decorated it with some maraschino cherries.  It's too bad this wasn't requested during cherry season as I'd obviously prefer to use fresh, but I do think this was a festive cake nonetheless :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Comfort of Baking Bread.

In late August my dad developed a really bad cough and he couldn't sleep at night.  A few days after he started getting better, I developed a bad cough and couldn't sleep at night.  I still have no idea what it was - my ears were plugged up, I couldn't hear, I had no voice, I was dizzy, and the lack of sleep made me no fun to be around.  The first thing I did when I started feeling better was bake bread.  It made me feel normal again to be in the kitchen, kneading dough and creating something delicious for myself and my family to enjoy on the first really cold and dark day of September.  It filled my house with warmth and one of the best scents in the world - baking bread.  There are few scents I want to smell more than bread baking after being sick for two weeks. 

I used this recipe from Taste Of Home.  I made the recipe twice and made one smallish 9x5-inch loaf and the cinnamon swirl heart bread you see pictured here.  It makes a deliciously soft, fluffy and golden bread, I highly recommend this recipe for a great sandwich or toasting bread.

Basic White Sandwich Bread
Adapted from Taste Of Home
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 package)
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1/3 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F.)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine the yeast, sugar or honey, and water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy and the yeast is dissolved.  Add the flour, salt, milk and butter and stir until a soft dough forms.  On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it's elastic and springy, 8 to 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover.  Let rise in a draft-free and warm spot until doubled in size, about an hour.

Fold in the dough to release the air and place in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.  Cover and let rise again until doubled, another 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  When the dough has risen, bake it until very golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Brush with melted butter.

For a cinnamon swirl bread, after the first rising of the dough, roll it out into a small rectangle.  Brush the dough with about a tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and roll up tightly.  Place in a greased loaf pan, let rise until doubled, and bake like normal.

Let the bread cool as long as you can and then slice, spread with butter and honey or jam, or just eat the bread as is, taking comfort in the carbohydrates :)

For those curious in how I got the heart shape, my boyfriend found me a retro Valtrompia heart bread tube on Amazon and it is ADORABLE.  You can use it for yeast bread and thicker cake and quick bread batters.  I love mine!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chocolate Mousse.

I had been baking cupcakes and cakes all summer, some for money, some for family, and by the time late August rolled around I just wanted to make something different, easy, yet impressive.  In comes chocolate mousse.  Mousse is always elegant - maybe because of its decadent taste and texture - people always assume it's incredibly difficult to make.  It isn't and it's too bad more people don't make it as much as other desserts!  In a way it's easier than a cake or cookies because you don't have to bake it.

There is some cooking involved, since there are raw eggs here, and lots of whisking.  You can use a handheld electric mixer for the first parts of the recipe but I will say I used a whisk and I thought of it this way: if I whisk by hand instead of using a mixer, I can justify eating this mousse... We all make eating excuses like that, but you do burn more calories whisking by hand than by using an electric handheld mixer, right?  I'd like to think so.

This recipe says it makes 2 1/2 cups or serves 8 generously but I doubled it to serve 20 people with at least 3 or 4 glasses extra.  I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips for the chocolate called for because I was making it for so many people and I have to say I loved it and I won't be snobbish and say to seek out only high quality 66% bittersweet bars or anything like that (although the book does ask for this).  I say use what you have - it will still be delicious.

Dark-Chocolate Mousse 
Adapted from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, chilled

In the top of a double broiler or in a heat-proof bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and thick, the sugar should begin to dissolve and a ribbon should fall back in the bowl when the whisk is lifted.  This could take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes depending on if you're whisking by hand or using a handheld mixer.

Stir in the water.  Place over simmering water and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture is very thick and registers 160 degrees F.  and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, salt and vanilla.  Stir until the chocolate is melted and then continue to stir until the mixture is cool to the touch.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cold heavy cream until it forms soft peaks and gently fold it into the chocolate mixture.  Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until cold.  Alternatively, spoon the freshly-made mousse into glasses or bowls first and then chill.

I served the mousse with some gluten free shortbread cookies and a dollop more of whipped heavy cream just because I had extra and I felt like gilding the lily.  Here's the recipe for the shortbread, although the mousse really didn't need any accompaniment to be honest!  These cookies are quite fragile and you need to be careful when taking them off the cookie sheets.  The broken ones make great crusts for cheesecake though!

Gluten Free Cinnamon Shortbread
Adapted from 125 Best Gluten Free Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt
2/3 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup butter, very soft

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients besides the butter until well-mixed.  Add the soft butter and mix until a dough forms.  Pinch into 1-inch balls and place on the parchment-lined baking sheets.  You can flatten these with the tines of a fork dipped in sugar or I used the bottom of a glass dipped in cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until very lightly golden brown on the bottom edges.  Transfer the sheets of parchment to a cooling rack to cool completely and then take the cookies off the paper carefully.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recipe Index.

Delicious Inspiration Recipe Index

Coffee Cakes:
Apple Kuchen
Butter Cake
Butter Crumb Coffee Cake
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Sour Cream Cocoa Swirl Coffee Cake
Pumpkin Coffee Cake
Christmas Tree Coffee Cake
Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake
Toasted Pistachio Cinnamon Swirl Cake
Cinnamon-Crumble Jam Coffee Cake

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Election '08 Cookies
Oatmeal Cookies
Espresso Meringue Cookies
Simple Spice Biscotti
Gluten Free Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate Espresso Dried Cherry Biscotti
Apple Oatmeal Cookies
Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Chocolate Biscotti
Cinnamon-Ginger Cookies (Biscotti dello Canella-Zenzero)
Peanut Butter Cookies
Cranberry Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Spiced Orange Sugar Cookies
Peanut Butter Delights
Mocha and Toasted Almond Biscotti
Mini Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Orange and Toasted Almond Biscotti
Molasses Oat Cookies
Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Coconut Almond Cookie Hearts
Cranberry Cornmeal Heart Cookies
Brownie Heart Roll-Out Cookies
Basic Biscotti
Brown Butter Shortbread
Fudgy Brownies with Mint Chips
Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies
Teacakes with Springy Glaze
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits
Cinnamon Toasted Almond Biscotti
Sand Dollar Cookies
Chewy Chili Chocolate and Oatmeal Cookies
White Chocolate Chip, Pistachio, Coconut, Dried Guava and Dried Pear Cookies
Wedding Shower Cookies
Tiny Sugar Saucers
Toasted Almond-Honey Ice Box Cookies
Chocolate Crackles 

S'mores Bars
Apricot-Raisin Oatmeal Bars
Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars
Apricot Bars
Chunky Jam Bars
 Chewy Date and Nut Bars
White Chocolate Chip and Toasted Pecan Butterscotch Blondies

Cakes/Layer Cakes:
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Mascarpone Cream Frosting
Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cheesecake
Gluten Free Carrot Cake
Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Revised and Improved)
Guinness Oatmeal Apricot Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
Gluten Free Orange Cornmeal Cake
White Chocolate Eggnog Mousse Cake
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate Chip Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
Pumpkin Cranberry Cake with Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cake
Easy Spice Cake
Brown Sugar Angel Food Cake with Italian Meringue Frosting
Banana Cake with Cocoa Frosting
Banana Pistachio Cakes with Guava-Pear Compote
Sapelo Island Hard Time Cake
Honey Cake
Miss Emma Smith's War Cake 

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Buttermilk Cupcakes
Chocolate Oatmeal Cupcakes with Cocoa Espresso Buttercream
Chocolate Cupcakes
Orange Cupcakes with Orange Curd Filling
Chocolate Filled Gluten Free Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting  

Tarts and Pies
Dutch Apple Tarts
Cherry Tart with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
Szarlotka - Polish Apple Tart
Heart-Shaped Butterscotch Tarts
Orange Buttermilk Chess Tarts
Ginger-Honeyed Apple and Apricot Phyllo Crunch Pie

Apple Kuchen
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Apple Muffins with Maple Pecan Streusel
Pumpkin Spice Scones
Date-Walnut Sticky Buns
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
White Whole Wheat Apricot Muffins
Ricotta Honey Oatmeal Muffins
Dried Cherry Buttermilk Scones
Mini Strawberry Muffins with White Chocolate Chips and Toasted Almonds 

Quick Breads/Loaf Breads:
Date Pecan Orange Bread
Pear Walnut Bread
Apple Spice Bread
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Gluten Free Italian Herb Cheese Bread
Orange Poppy Seed Loaves
Nutella and Toasted Coconut Bread
Zucchini Bread

Yeast Breads:
Apple Kuchen
Date-Walnut Sticky Buns
Gluten Free Pizza Dough
Basic White Bread or Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Honey White Wheat Knot Rolls
Christmas Tree Coffee Cake
Irish Oatmeal Bread
Polish Easter Placek

Gluten Free:
Orange Cornmeal Cake
Espresso Meringue Cookies
Gluten Free Carrot Cake
Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Revised and Improved)
Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cheesecake
Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Mascarpone Cream Frosting
Gluten Free Pizza Dough
Chocolate Mousse
Gluten Free Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cake
Gluten Free Italian Herb Cheese Bread
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake - using Featherlight Mix
Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
Gluten Free Lemon Pie Bars
Chocolate Filled Gluten Free Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Cheesecake Ice Cream with Gluten Free Graham Crackers
Cinnamon-Lime Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce

Gluten Free Italian Herb Cheese Bread
Gnocchi Mac 'N Cheese

Gluten Free Baby Shower.

In late August, we threw my sister-in-law Rachel a baby shower on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  The next two posts will be recipes of the food I made - gluten free pizza dough and chocolate mousse with gluten free cinnamon shortbread.

It seems like a lot of gluten free baked goods come in boxes and bags these days because those who need to avoid wheat find it easier or more convenient, just like the people who buy regular cake and brownie mixes.  I hate to be so snobbish, but I always prefer making things from scratch and I can't stand mixes.  They don't allow you to control anything!  I'd much rather figure out a real recipe and perfect it.  So upon first search for "gluten free pizza crust/dough" you get a lot of links and sites for mixes to buy.  Once you start getting into the recipes, many had reviews such as "gummy, not fluffy at all..." etc, etc.  Then I visited one of the tried-and-true recipe websites, Epicurious.  Lucky for me, I found a gluten free pie dough recipe that had (mostly) rave reviews.  We had all the gluten free flours in the gluten free pantry so I decided to use this one.

It. is. amazing.  I know the comparison for gluten free stuff is always "does it taste like the real thing?!" and this one really does, it might be even better.  The thing anyone baking gluten free yeast breads should remember is that the doughs will always be more sticky and wet than regular bread dough.  It's just the way gluten free bread works, don't add more flour or it WILL be tough and gluey.  I found the best way to work with this dough was to use wet fingers and a greased offset spatula to spread it on the parchment paper.

Anyway, if you're looking for an amazing gluten free pie crust recipe, THIS IS IT.  Top it with anything, I swear you'll love it.  I roasted eggplants, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, mushrooms and red peppers a few days before the shower and then spread pesto and the veggies over the par-baked dough and topped with mozzarella cheese (I also did a pesto/tomato/mozzarella as well as pesto/chicken/roasted veg/mozzarella).  A note on quantities:  I doubled this recipe and made it twice to get four rectangular-sized pizzas that I cut into 8 generous pieces each (I had to serve about 20 people, every piece of the 32 pieces were gone at the end of the shower...)  If you're just serving a few people, this recipe as-is should be fine.

Gluten Free Pizza Dough
Adapted from Epicurious
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (or 1 package)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flours, xanthan gum and salt.

Heat the milk and 1/4 cup of water in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stovetop until it reaches 100 degrees F.  Stir in the yeast and sugar.  Add this to the flour mixture along with the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Using the paddle attachment, beat until the dough is thick and smooth, about 5 minutes on medium.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and throw in a baking sheet as well.  The baking sheet needs to be really hot so that when you put the pizza dough on, the bottom will start cooking immediately, therefore it doesn't get soggy or underbaked.

Scrape the dough onto either one large piece of parchment or two smaller pieces (depending on if you want one large pizza or two smaller ones) and form into a rectangle, circles, or any shape you can manage, using wet hands and a greased spatula.  The end formation should be about 1/4 inch thick.  Drizzle the dough with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 20 minutes or until the doughs look puffier and slightly risen.

Transfer the pieces of parchment with the dough on them to the hot baking sheet.  Place into the oven and bake until the bottom is crisp and the dough is set, 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size.  The crust is now parbaked and can be cooled completely and frozen for up to 1 month, tightly wrapped.  Otherwise, use your toppings of choice and put back in the oven until the cheese is melty and golden brown or the toppings are warmed through.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gluten Free Birthday Cake.

For those who don't know, I bake a lot of gluten free things because my sister-in-law Rachel is gluten intolerant.  She and my brother, Andy, come over nearly every Sunday and it's always nice to be able to offer them something gluten free for dessert and I love experimenting with gluten free baking.  Anyway, she's about to pop any day now with a baby boy:

This cake wasn't made for her birthday, but it was for my mom's birthday and when Andy and Rachel come over we like to do everything gluten free.  This is my go-to gluten free vanilla cake and hopefully anyone else who bakes gluten free will take notice - it's SUCH a great, foolproof recipe.  I do believe I even forgot the xanthan gum when I made this batter into cupcakes for one of Rachel's baby showers but it still came out delicious as always.  The mascarpone cream and fresh fruit were there to dress things up a bit, (plus my mom loves fresh fruit) but this cake, frosted with good old buttercream frosting, is perfect for any gluten free occasion.

I generally double this recipe so I can get 2 8 or 9-inch layer cakes or 24 cupcakes, but in this case I just split one 8-inch layer in half and filled it with fruit and cream.  It was big enough to serve at least 8 or 9 people generously.  (and as Nigella Lawson says, " else would you want to feed them?")

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake 
Adapted from 125 Best Gluten Free Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt
2/3 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease an 8 or 9-inch cake pan, square or round.

In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the dry ingredients (white rice flour through salt) and set aside.

Combine the cider vinegar and milk and let the milk sit for a few minutes while you cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and the soured milk alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix well and scrape the bowl with a large spatula, making sure everything is well combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and let sit for 15-30 minutes before baking.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, although check on the cake at 20 minutes, as I find this cake is often done before a half an hour is up and certainly check at the 15 minute mark if you use this for cupcakes.  Let cool completely before filling or frosting.  This cake also freezes well, just wrap it in plastic wrap twice and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Mascarpone Cream:
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, cold
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar, depending on your taste
Vanilla extract

Using the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese and heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.  Stir in just enough sugar to slightly sweeten the cream and add a splash of vanilla.

Use on any vanilla cake or cupcakes, although I'm sure it would be great with chocolate as well.  What isn't? :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cheesecake.

I made this sucker for the 4th of July and it was gooood.  (That weekend was quite a whirlwind due to a family reunion and a birthday as well as the holiday so I did a lot of baking and quite frankly don't remember how many things I baked, but there was at least a sweet potato pound cake, tiramisu and cupcakes in the mix...) I also made a chocolate mayonnaise cake with Duke's Mayonnaise (a present from my North Carolina buds) but I must say, it was gone before I could get any pictures.  For anyone skeptical about mayonnaise in cake, it's just oil and eggs!  People at the party I took it to made faces when I told them what it was, but then when they put a forkful in their mouths, everyone said it was the best chocolate cake they'd tasted. I hope to make the cake again soon, that way it can have its own post like it deserves.

Moving on to the main star here, though - this cheesecake is gluten free, it's easy and it's delicious.  The crust is made out of gluten free brownies, the filling made out of rich cream cheese and melted bittersweet chocolate.  I added the whipped cream and raspberries on top, but they were just for show.  This cheesecake would do just fine on its own, no matter what the situation, for people who have to eat gluten free or not.

(This recipe is adapted from a book I go to more than any other when I need to bake gluten free, I highly recommend it to any Celiac or anyone who bakes or cooks for people with Celiac's.  The recipe is originally accompanied by a raspberry coulis, hence my inspiration with fresh raspberries on top here.)

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from 125 Best Gluten Free Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt

Fudgy Brownies for the crust:
1/3 cup chickpea flour (original recipe calls for yellow pea flour, never seen it)
2 tablespoons potato starch
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease an 8x8 square pan.

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl, whisking to make sure all the flours aren't clumpy. 

In a large microwavable safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth and shiny.  Add the vanilla extract and beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined.  Dump in the dry ingredients and stir well to eliminate any lumps.

Spread in the prepared pan and let sit for 15-30 minutes.  Bake the brownies for 20 to 25 minutes or until when a toothpick is inserted in the middle, a bit of crumb is sticking to it.  Let cool completely, then crumble and set aside.

2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons sorghum flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
8 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate, cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly spray a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray.  Press the brownie crumbs in the bottom and up the sides of the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.  In a large bowl using an electric mixer or handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until very smooth.  Slowly and the sugar and sorghum flour and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Add the vanilla, salt and yogurt or sour cream, and finally, fold in the chocolate.

Pour the cheesecake mixture over the cooled brownie crust.  Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes in the hot oven and then reduce the temperature to 250 degrees F. and continue to bake for another 35 to 40 minutes or until the center is just set.  Let cool at least 30 minutes before refrigerating at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Garnish as you'd like, and serve in thin slices with strong coffee.  Yum :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm back...

I don't really care how long the gap has been or how many people actually read this blog, but I realized a few weeks ago, I like doing it.  I really like writing about the food I make and eat with my friends and family and I love sharing recipes and photos to go along with them.

So even if no one reads this, I'm going to try and keep it updated anyway.  Because a few nights ago I was going through all the recipes I've posted thus far and realized what a good resource this is.  The recipes I posted two years ago are the recipes I still want to make now, especially after losing 85 lbs.  I think dieting put a real damper on recording recipes here because I only ate desserts every once in a while.  I felt guilty for posting a high-calorie, high fat recipe when I was dieting because that's not what I ate every day.  Now I eat a cookie or baked good (almost) every day, and I bake 3-5 times a week rather than 1.  Granted the cookies are smaller and the cakes might include more whole wheat flour and less butter now, but they still taste delicious and deserve to be shared.

Anyway, this summer was absolutely fantastic. But the end of August and the beginning of September were a bit rough - two baby showers in the span of one week for my sister-in-law, I got pretty sick right after that and couldn't sleep for days let alone eat normal food.  But things are back to normal now.  It's fall, it's not too hot to turn on the oven, and I have plenty of new recipes to share. Or just record for my own future use :)

Starting where I left off, this is part of what I made for brunch back on Mother's Day 2010.  These were absolutely delicious and I highly recommend this recipe to anyone looking for a lightened-up sticky bun.  I have one of Cooking Light's cinnamon roll recipes bookmarked the next time I feel like making a morning sweet roll like this, but if you're into the sticky bun, try these.  I added a bit more salt to the dough (undersalted yeast doughs should be addressed in every baking book... salt is soooo important for the flavor in yeast doughs) and switched out the figs for dates because my mom and I adore dates.  Feel free to use any dried fruit/nut combination you'd like - dried cherries are probably my favorite dried fruit at the moment so I'm imagining those with some pecans, dried blueberries with hazelnuts, dried apricots with sliced almonds, etc. The possibilities are endless :)

Date-Walnut Sticky Buns
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast (I use active dry)
2/3 cup warm water (100 degrees)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
7.9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing on rolled dough

Sticky topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup finely chopped, pitted dates
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the dough, dissolve the granulated sugar and yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the melted butter.

Combine 6.75 ounces of the flour (about 1 1/2 cups), salt and nutmeg in a bowl, stirring with a whisk while adding the yeast mixture and forming a sticky dough.  Knead dough either by hand or in a mixer until elastic, about 5 minutes and add the rest of the flour about a tablespoon at a time.  Place the dough in an oil or cooking spray-coated bowl, turning so the entire ball of dough is lightly coated and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  (I always use my oven for this, it has a bread proofing setting but even if you put it in a turned off oven, it's probably still warmer and more draft-free than a countertop.)

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, syrup, and milk in a small saucepan and bring this mixture to a boil.  Remove the pan from heat and add in the dates.  Sprinkle the nuts evenly on the bottom of a cooking spray-coated 9x13 inch baking pan.  Spread the date mixture over the nuts as evenly as you possibly can, I used a small offset spatula for this and it helped. It might not seem like there's enough to go around, but I promise there is.

Combine the other 1/4 cup of brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Punch down your dough (I should talk about this term some time... you never want to PUNCH the dough down, more like fold it over itself so most of the air bubbles go out of it) and let it chill out for 5 minutes to rest.  Roll the dough out to a 12x10 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface and brush with the 2 tablespoons melted butter.  Sprinkle the dough with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture and roll up tightly starting with the long end.  Cut the dough into about 1-inch slices, creating 12 rolls.  Place the rolls cut-side up in the baking pan and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until the rolls touch each other and have doubled in size, about 15-20 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool the buns on a wire rack for 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter and eating, still warm from the oven :)