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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Last Minutes Christmas Gift, copyright 2013 gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Just a brief update on our temporary absence from the blogging scene. These last few months have been ultra busy and challenging for both of us – a new job, many new recipes being developed and tested for our upcoming new book (watch for it in the coming year as well as a rebirth of our present blog format),  a new roof being installed on our house, and sadly, the loss of our beloved cat Bhakti on September 4th. We posted about him earlier in the year, telling you about his struggle with lymphoma. What a challenging journey – so many ups and downs. He fought so hard to live, but in the end his body was too weak to sustain the life he desired. We’ll always treasure the gift of this beautiful and special soul’s presence in our lives. A peaceful spirit, filled with pure love and joy. Just thinking about him brings a smile to my face and fills my heart with joy.

I suppose this offers a nice transition to today’s post and our gift to you, our readers, for the holidays. A delicious chocolate recipe,  our “Delectable Goji Berry Chocolate Bark,” which is incredibly easy to make, as well as directions on how to make your own “Rudolph” gift bags.

To make the gift bags, you will need the following items, some of which may already be in your “arts and crafts” drawer:

  • brown paper lunch bags
  • small bells
  • red ribbon
  • glue stick
  • wiggly eyes (you can also draw then on the paper)
  • small red pom-poms (you could paint a red dot, or use a red sticker – be creative)
  • small cellophane treat bags
  • dark brown construction paper for the antlers
  • light tan paper for the ears

Most, if not all, of these items can be found in any crafts store.

Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

  1. Make a template for the antlers, trace it on the dark brown construction paper and cut out. If you make this with small children, you can  help them trace the outline of their hands on the construction paper. Cut out this design and voila ‘antlers.’ Many years ago we created some fun Thanksgiving and Christmas projects, using this idea. It is a great way to get little kids involved in their own gift giving projects.  Repeat the above steps over and over until you have the desired number of antlers. You need two per bag.
  2. Draw the shape of the ears, trace on the light tan paper (you can use the paper from an extra brown lunch bag), cut out and repeat, until you have enough to complete the number of bags you need.Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved
  3. Fold the top of the lunch bag over (roughly between 2 and 2-1/2 inches). Now punch two holes through the folded part (about 1/2 inch below the top fold). The holes should be at least 3/4 – 1 inch apart.
  4. Using the glue stick, attach the antlers on either side of the folded portion of the bag. Glue the ears over the beginning part of the antlers. Using a pencil, or marker, draw an inner outline for the ear (see  examples in the photos).
  5. Glue the wiggly eyes about 1 inch below the folded part of the bag. You could also draw the eyes on the bag. There is no need to run out and make a special purchase, especially facing all the craziness in the shopping malls and the ensuing traffic everywhere.
  6. Attach the red nose about 1-1/2 inches below the eyes.
  7. Draw a line (see photo) from each corner of the nose up to the outer corner of the fold of the bag.
  8. Fill each bag with the chocolate filled bag.
  9. String a bell on each red ribbon, thread through the two holes (start from the front of the bag – bell needs to face the front) and tie a bow.

For the “Delectable Goji Berry Chocolate Bark” you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 bars of at least 72% Dark Chocolate, each weighing 3.5 oz (100g)
  • 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil/butter
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut sugar, or sucanat
  • 4-5 Tbsp. goji berries, or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews (optional)
  • Himalaya salt, or celtic sea salt
  • 2 large cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper

Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In a double boiler, over low heat, melt the chocolate together with the coconut oil/butter and coconut sugar. Stir constantly, until all ingredients are liquid and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate mixture on the parchment paper lined cookie sheets, dividing it up evenly. Spread it out evenly to about 1/8 inch thickness. Top the chocolate with the goji berries, seeds and nuts and sprinkle with a small amount of salt. Place the cookie sheets into the freezer for about 45 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to keep the chocolate firm until you are  ready to place it into the cellophane gift bags. Ease the chocolate away from the parchment paper and cut into strips, then breaking each strip into  smaller pieces. Fill each bag with the desired amount and close. Place this bag inside the “Rudolph” bag, and close it with the red ribbon.

Last Minute Christmas Gift, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

From our home to yours, wishing you a most joyous holiday! Enjoy this time with your family and friends. Remember it is not about the presents, but about how to be present.

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Johnny Cake Cobbler, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

After a brief break from baking in general, we are back once again on a Tuesday, baking along with our fellow doriestas. This week we were given two options, either a Fig Crostata, or Johnny Cake Cobbler. The selection was easy, since we had just purchased the most amazing, locally grown fresh peaches at Whole Foods. The recipe actually calls for sliced nectarines and purple plums, but peaches are in season and were an easy substitution.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with our TWD baking experiments, there is usually a weekly host who supplies the actual recipe from  the book Baking with Julia. Lacking a host for this week’s recipe, we will break with tradition and supply our own gluten free version. If you are looking for the original recipe, please check out page 389 in “Baking with Julia” and/or visit the TWD website here.

Johhny Cake Cobbler, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved.

First of all, like most cobblers, this is very easy to make.  For any novice gluten free baker, this is a recipe you cannot fail at.  Provided you have the ingredients on hand, which is easy this time of year, with all the abundance of fresh fruit, you can have this dessert on the table from start to finish in under one hour. We chose peaches, but any choice of fruit would lend itself beautifully for this dessert.

To fill a 9 x 9 inch casserole dish you will need the following ingredients:

Fruit filling:

  • 6 peaches, sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, or coconut oil

Melt the butter, or coconut oil (if you need to be dairy free), in a large pot over medium heat. Add the peaches, minced ginger and coconut sugar. Mix well and cook over low heat, until the peaches are just beginning to get soft. Fill into the lightly greased casserole dish and set aside, while you prepare the topping, for which you will need the following ingredients.

Topping:

  • 1-1/2 cups of gluten free flour, consisting of 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour and 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Himalaya salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz.) of butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup lactose-free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup almond-coconut milk blend

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Please note that we took some liberties with the original recipe.  We reduced the amount of flour by 1/2 cup and substituted lactose-free sour cream (Green Valley Organics, available at Whole Foods and your local health food store) as well as added the almond-coconut milk (Califia Farms) to help thin out the batter.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add the butter, mixing well until coarse crumbs form. Then add the sour cream and coconut-almond milk. You are looking to create a light pillowy dough/batter that easily drops by the spoonful on top of the prepared fruit. Spoon the batter on top of the prepared filling and bake in the preheated oven for 14-17 minutes. Your baking time may vary depending on the type of fruit used, or the elevation in which you reside. You will know the cobbler is done when the biscuit topping is golden and the fruit filling is bubbling.

Johnny Cake Cobbler, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Serve warm. It is delicious by itself but could also be served with your favorite ice cream. We absolutely loved the ease of making this tasty dessert. The flavor of the fresh peaches was absolutely phenomenal making this a favorite late summer treat.

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Fresh Pear Upside-down Cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

The original recipe for this week actually called for upside-down baby cakes made with rhubarb. Since we had neither baby cake pans nor rhubarb, we decided to change things up a bit.  Upside-down cakes are extremely versatile, allowing for easy substitutions, and are among our favorite cakes for this very reason. The other issue we ran into, looking at the original recipe, was the fact that it called for bourbon, not something we are particularly fond of. However, we could see ourselves using some sweet white wine for poaching some pears. Good thing our local store happened to carry some delicious fresh Bosc pears.

Bosc pears, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

Sadly, our own pear tree will not bear any fruit this year, since some unexpected late storms packing high winds, followed by frost, pretty much destroyed all the newly emerged blossoms overnight. Growing fruit at high altitude has its challenges. Hopefully, some other local growers faired better than we did, perhaps offering some of their crops at the farmers’ markets later on this summer.

Getting back to the recipe, other than the substitution of pears poached in white wine, we converted the recipe to gluten free, using a combination of chestnut flour, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca flour. An interesting addition that we also included in this recipe, in place of the typical gums and binder, was psyllium seed powder (1-1/2 tsp. dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of warm water). Why psyllium seeds you might ask? Well, we have been using rice bran as a thickening agent in the past (works really well in bread recipes and muffins but has mixed results in delicate desserts and cakes). Psyllium seed powder  has a funny name and is surely known to many you as the agent that keeps you “regular.”  You know what we are talking about. However, don’t knock it, it works very well as a binding agent in gluten free baking. For the caramel, we kept the amount of sugar suggested in the recipe, but substituted equal amounts of coconut sugar and sucanat for the brown sugar. We love coconut sugar for its low glycemic index and delicious molasses-like flavor, a perfect addition to caramel. We only used half the amount of sugar called for in the batter, and replaced the granulated sugar with sucanat.

Bosc Pears, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

If you are interested in the original recipe, please check out the beautiful site of this week’s host, Erin of Pastry Brush. You can also find the recipe on page 244 in Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan. Also, do check out the many contributions by our talented fellow Doristas at TWD.

Fresh Pear Upside-down cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

As we mentioned earlier, we used a larger cake pan (9″ spring form, lined with parchment paper), set on a heavy cookie sheet, to prevent spillage. After peeling, halving and coring the pears, we poached them in about 3/4 cup of white wine (Alice White Lexia Muscato, from Southern Australia). While the pears were poaching, we prepared the caramel, as suggested, substituting the same white wine for the bourbon. We continued with the rest of the recipe, exactly as described in the book. The cake rose and baked beautifully, but needed an additional five minutes of baking time – this could be attributed to our high altitude, or our oven, which can be temperamental at times. Once baked, we let it cool for a few minutes in the pan, just loosening the outer edges with a sharp knife. The recipe suggests flipping the cake immediately on to a cooling rack. Flipping a cake takes courage and conviction – you have to believe you can do it ahead of time. The rules for baking gluten free are slightly more challenging. We knew that we could flip the cake, but were less sure whether it would survive the cooling rack, followed by another transfer to a platter. So it went straight onto a platter, fingers crossed and breath held. Success – a beautiful cake after all.

Fresh Pear Upside-down Cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

After the cake had sufficiently cooled, we could finally enjoy the reward of sampling a slice. This cake immediately moved high on our most favorite list. The combination of flavors is outstanding. Delicate, subtle and sweet and completely satisfying. Do give this dessert a try. We loved it.

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