Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

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.

About these ads

Read Full Post »

Chocolate Rice Cakes, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved.

When most of us start embracing a gluten free lifestyle, especially when it is due to health reasons, someone along the way introduces us to rice cakes because it is considered to be a safe substitution for regular bread. This person is generally well-meaning but the expression in their eyes belies their actions – they are really thinking “You poor thing – that is all you are going to eat from now on. Sure glad it isn’t me?!?” Most of us have experienced this scenario at one point or another. I think most of us have mixed feelings about rice cakes. It is definitely a safe option, but perhaps not the most enticing when it comes to flavor. This post is not intended to unfairly criticize rice cakes – far from it. We always have some on hand, just in case. Our favorite brand, hands down, is Lundberg, which offers organic brown rice cakes, which are also non-GMO. Lundberg, actually offers quite a few varieties to choose from – anything from white, brown and wild rice , and with or without salt.  Some people, especially those with celiac disease,  initially have such damaged digestive tracts, that their food choices may appear very limited. Rice cakes are usually a helpful substitution, especially in the beginning stages of healing from celiac disease. But once gluten, in all of its forms, has been strictly eliminated for some time, and the diet has been enriched by consuming primarily whole foods, ideally from organic and non-GMO sources, one feels better and wants to venture out into the greater world of gluten free options. That can be a shock in and by itself. Thankfully, today there are many more options available, but not all are necessarily healthy for you. It seems that every couple of months, there are new offerings in prepared gluten free baked goods. We quite applaud the larger availability of gluten free options, but one still needs to be discerning when it comes to the ingredients that are being used. If you are faced with a choice between an overly refined, starch laden gluten free bread and a whole grain brown rice cake, I would choose the rice cake every time from a nutritional standpoint. And since not everyone is inclined to bake their own bread, cookies or cakes – it is helpful to have some commercial choices to choose from.

Rice cakes due to their neutral flavor, lend themselves to the creation of an easy to make dessert as well.  It doesn’t involve any lengthy preparations, or baking, just a short time for preparing and melting the chocolate and a few more minutes of waiting time to let the chocolate set in the  freezer, or conversely one hour in the refrigerator. It is loved by everyone in our home and very easy to make. You just need a packet of rice cakes and few extra ingredients for toppings.

Chocolate Rice Cakes, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Ingredients

6 – 8 Lundberg organic brown rice cakes

6 oz. dark chocolate chips

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

2 tsp. camu camu (or your favorite Vitamin C powder)

2 tsp. maca (optional)

1 tsp. peppermint oil

Organic Raisins (a few per cake)

6-8 Tbsp. of peanut butter or almond butter (1 per rice cake)

A few tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut

Fresh berries for garnish.

Chocolate Rice Cakes, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil, stirring constantly, over low heat. Add the camu camu, or Vitamin C powder, and maca (optional). Let cool a little bit and then add the peppermint oil, blending everything well. Set aside. On a tray, lay out the number of rice cakes you wish to use and spread one tablespoon of nut butter on each one. Make sure that the nut butter is at room temperature, because it makes it that much easier to spread on the more delicate rice cakes. Unfortunately, rice cakes tend to break easily. I am sure you have your own stories to tell ;-) Top each one with a few raisins and then spread the prepared chocolate sauce  evenly on the rice cakes, covering the nut butter spread completely. Sprinkle some shredded coconut over the chocolate and place the finished rice cakes in the freezer for a few minutes to let the chocolate set. If you have more time on your hands, you can also refrigerate them for an hour.

Serve alongside some fresh berries for an easy dessert, or snack. We love this dessert for its simplicity, the endless possibilities for creative substitutions, i.e. fresh banana slices, or any other fruit, for that matter, other dried fruits, carob instead of chocolate, or, perhaps you could hide some dreaded vitamins, or other supplement in the chocolate sauce – just kidding!!! ;-)

Read Full Post »

Mocha Chocolate Chips, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Who would have thought a cookie recipe could turn out to be such a challenge? If you bake with gluten, cookies are one of the easiest recipes to make. Even when baking gluten free, classic drop cookies, like chocolate chip, are fairly simple to create. A basic combination of flour, butter, sugar and eggs. In other words, not particularly difficult. When baking in general, the ratios of liquid to flour, and the proportions of butter and eggs  are usually what determines the success of a recipe. This becomes even more important when creating a gluten free recipe. As a rule, most gluten free flours are not able to absorb high amounts of fat in the same way that gluten flours can. As a result, we were a little worried when first looking over this recipe and seeing that it called for 2 cups of butter in relation to 2 cups of flour. As always, when testing an unfamiliar recipe, we only make half a batch in order to limit the possible wasting of ingredients. Making this recipe, we were especially happy we followed this rule.

Mocha Chocolate Chips, copyright 2013 gfcelebration.com. All rights reserved.

Since the rules of TWD encourage everyone that participates to generally follow the recipes as laid out in Baking with Julia, we followed these guidelines by only substituting the regular flour for gluten free, and the sugar for sucanat. So far so good. Sometimes this approach works, and other times it leads to a big disaster. Our first attempt at this recipe was no exception, as you can see from the following photo.

Mocha Chocolate Chips,copyright 2013 gfcelebration.com. All rights reserved.

What a mess. Everything about the recipe seemed fine right up until it was time to bake. The dough was chilled for the required amount of time, and then dropped by the tablespoonful onto sil-pat lined baking sheets. After ten minutes in the oven, the butter was clearly the winner. It went everywhere. We almost gave up the idea of making this recipe again after ending up with such greasy, wafer thin “cookies.” To be honest, they really didn’t resemble cookies at all. Is it the elusive special Parisian butter, or the Parisian air that makes the recipe in the book work? Who knows? It certainly didn’t work for us.

Mocha Chocolate Chips, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

After we were done cleaning up the first fiasco, we decided right away to cut the butter in half, and increase the amount of flour by 1/8 cup. Originally, we used a flour blend made up of more tapioca than brown rice. However, thinking this may have been part of the problem, with the second batch, we flipped the ratio and used more brown rice flour, with a much smaller addition of tapioca and sweet rice. We also subbed out baking powder for baking soda, which ended up resulting in fluffier cookies than perhaps the original creator of the recipe intended.

Mocha Chocolate Chips, copyright 2013 gfcelebration.com. All rights reserved.

With this second batch, the end result was at least something resembling a cookie. We loved it. It tasted great, we even liked the texture, but we altered the recipe so much, that it no longer completely resembled the original. In order to stay closer to the original recipe, we still feel it would have to be tweaked a little further. But not by us. We usually don’t favor recipes that call for excessive amounts of fat or sugar. I think at the end, we all have a favorite “go to” recipe for chocolate chip cookies. This one, sadly enough, just did not become ours.

This week’s host is Peggy of Galettista. She has done an absolutely beautiful job with these cookies, and also gives the precise recipe on her site. Do check out all of the other TWD participants’ creations by going to the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

Read Full Post »

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

This is one of our very favorite desserts. It meets all the criteria we look for in making a dessert. It is generally loved by young and old alike.  It doesn’t require baking, there are no gluten free flour ratios to balance out, no added sugar,  free of lengthy preparation and complicated steps, and most importantly so delicious. In our globally connected world, you can now find strawberries almost year round. We generally prefer to eat foods as they are available seasonally, and locally grown if at all possible. But that is just not always practical when you live in a high desert environment, where so much of our food gets trucked in. Nearly all our local stores carry quite an assortment of berries throughout the year, which makes this dessert such a nice treat, especially during the winter months.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Looking out at the garden beds,  my own strawberry plants looks rather sad right now, holding a mere promise of a harvest still several months away. I found these organic strawberries in our local store and couldn’t resist making this dessert. Like I said, it is extremely easy to make, using the following ingredients:

  • 15 strawberries
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 4 oz. white chocolate chips

Wash the strawberries and allow them to dry completely, leaving the stems on.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In a double boiler, combine the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the coconut oil and melt over very low heat. The added oil makes the end result just a little smoother. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off. Place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat the process until all the strawberries are covered. Place them into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, allowing the chocolate to set and harden.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate chips. Pour the melted white chocolate into a pastry bag, fitted with a small writing tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can also fill a zip-lock bag and cut a very small hole in one of the corners.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Remove the refrigerated strawberries and “draw” lines across the dark chocolate.  When finished, again place the tray with the strawberries back in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator when fully set, and serve. They easily store in the refrigerator for a couple of days, if necessary.

Read Full Post »

Better late than never. At last, the posting for our gluten free version of the Best Ever Brownies, which we actually managed to make a couple of days ago for a birthday celebration, but didn’t have time to actually post.

Brownies have a special place in our hearts. In our own personal experience, we have been welcomed to several homes, including our current one, by some special neighbors bearing flowers and a beautiful plate of brownies. In fact, upon moving in to my very first apartment in this country, near San Francisco, my new neighbors, whom I had never met before, left a basket filled with brownies alongside a beautiful bunch of flowers by my doorstep. I was stunned – this had never happened to me before but highlighted forevermore,  the incredible generosity of Americans. I will never forget that, nor any of the other experiences, of a similar nature, as the years have gone by. Although, the question is worth asking, is it that obvious that my family and I adore chocolate? Perhaps, there is an invisible sign above the door? Just wondering!?

Over time, we have tried many different brownie recipes, both fudgey and cakey. We love both, but prefer the cakey variety best. Baking gluten free, there is always an element of surprise. Combine that fact with living at high altitude and extreme low humidity,  and some interesting results can emerge.  For instance, this particular recipe required an additional 30 minutes of baking time. It may have had something to do with the fact, that we used a chocolate whey protein powder,  something we have successfully experimented with several times in the past, and have found it to be an excellent gluten free flour substitute in a brownie recipe. It does, however, require a longer baking time.  Our blend for this recipe involved a combination of  chocolate whey protein powder (3/4 cup), brown rice  and tapioca flour (1/4 cup each).  No gums, or other stabilizers whatsoever. As usual, we cut down the amount of sugar by half, using 1/2 cup of coconut sugar (blended with the melted chocolate) and 1/2 cup of sucanat (whipped with the eggs).  We also took the liberty of adding 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the dry ingredients and used 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips and 2 oz. of bittersweet chocolate. Other than that, we followed the original recipe precisely.

After the recommended baking period of 25-28 minutes at 350° F, our brownies were not just fudgey, but were nowhere near done. After testing them even 10 minutes later, they were still way too liquid but began to show the first signs of rising. And, voila, after 58 minutes total, a toothpick inserted in the center, finally came out clean. We should also mention, that the batter rose somewhat unevenly, with the center rising higher than the sides. We let the brownies cool in the pan, before slicing.

A short while later, we were able to enjoy them with a favorite cup of coffee. Right away, they were given the “most favorite brownie ever” label by everyone. While not being as fudgey as the original recipes calls for, they were still extremely moist with that rich decadent chocolate experience. The addition of walnuts only enhanced this recipe, creating a combination of flavors that was unbeatable. We definitely give this recipe a thumbs up, and deem the multiple  steps necessary well worth the effort.

If you are interested in making this recipe yourself, please check Monica’s website A Beautiful Mess, who is our host this week for the original Baking with Julia recipe. If you are planning to make these brownies gluten free, just follow our substitutions mentioned above.

To all of our readers, we wish you and your loves ones a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Read Full Post »

This is a fabulous dessert, which makes both a wonderful birthday/celebration cake as well as a delicious finish to any dinner. You only need a few basic ingredients, many of which can be substituted for whatever you have on hand. We used these ingredients because they were easily available to us at the moment.  The combination of gluten free rice crispy cereal,  chocolate chips, coconut milk ice cream and fresh fruit, invokes images of fun and childhood birthday parties. Many years ago, we used to make ice cream birthday cakes, using rice ice cream (Rice Dream), dressing it up with little umbrellas, fresh fruit and lots of candles. Just be forewarned, placing lots of candles too close to tiny paper umbrellas has, on occasion, presented some problems. Children and adults alike love this particular cake, especially, if you are limited to eating gluten, dairy and/or egg free.

The steps to make it are very simple and easy, you just need to set aside a little time for freezing the cake.

Ingredients needed:

  • 4 cups of gluten free rice crispies (Koala Crisp, by EnviroKidz)
  • 1/2 cup of gluten free chocolate chips
  • 1 pint of Purely Decadent Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream, slightly softened
  • 1 pint of Trader Joe’s Vanilla frozen Greek yoghurt, slightly softened (for a dairy free option, just use the vanilla coconut milk ice cream)
  • 3 fresh Nectarines, washed and thinly sliced (peaches, strawberries, or other fresh fruit of your choice)

Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Mix with the rice crispies. Lightly grease the 9-inch spring form pan with a little butter. Fill the chocolate rice crispies mixture into the spring form, creating an even layer both on the bottom as well as the sides, which should be about 1-1/2 inches in height. Fill with the chocolate coconut ice cream, spreading it out evenly and smoothing out the top. This will be your bottom layer. Cover with a layer of the frozen vanilla Greek yoghurt (or vanilla coconut milk ice cream of your choice). Place the dessert in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Remove from the freezer and top the cake with a layer of sliced nectarines before serving.

This makes for a great dessert any time of the year, but especially during the heat of the summer, when the mere thought of turning on the oven becomes unbearable. It is delicious, and the best part is, that it is gluten and egg-free! If you wish to make this recipe dairy free as well, just substitute the Greek yoghurt with vanilla coconut milk  ice cream.

Read Full Post »

Brownies, no doubt due to their high chocolate content, are generally loved by everyone. What is it about chocolate? Is it the ensuing relaxation from its high magnesium content, or just the mere addictive qualities attributed to chocolate? Probably, all of the above. The creative ways of using chocolate are endless.

There are also a hundred different ways of making brownies, gluten free or otherwise  – and we do have a few options up our sleeves.

In one of our earliest blog posts, we highlighted a commercially available gluten free mix, which is free of any grains and just uses whey powder in lieu of flour. Fabulous!

One of our favorite brownie recipes would have to be this one, a little bit like cake with that rich, melt in your mouth chocolate experience, topped with a hint of  matcha. Following our Japanese Food Culture series, we wanted to create a favorite Western desert with a little hint of Japan, combining the two cultures. Matcha powder, a green tea, can be found in most Asian food stores (some regular grocery stores with an Asian food section, also carry it). Some of the matcha powders can be pricey, but we located a much more affordable option by Yama Moto Yama.

It is certified gluten free without any artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives. It is available in both unsweetened and sweetened with stevia varieties. Surely you have  heard of the much lauded health benefits of green tea? We gave this matcha powder a try and really loved the results. Since we only topped our brownies with matcha, it gives the less adventureous souls out there an opportunity to create either your own gluten free topping, i.e. frosting, or select our other option,  a white chocolate frosting.

We never use white sugar, also reducing the overall amount,  and replacing some of it with coconut sugar, known for its much reduced glycemic index. Except for the use of a little butter (which could be replaced with vegetable shortening, if necessary, although we generally never use it. Coconut oil might be another substitute).

We love these brownies not only because they are very easy to make, but they turn out consistently well each time we make them, and allow for a multitude of different toppings, or frosting. They take only 30-35 minutes to bake, which is so welcome during the heat of summer – around here it has been consistently in the mid-90’s F every single day, and turning on the oven, for any reason, takes some serious convincing. With some sacrifce ;-) on our part we present you with this fun recipe.

You will need the following ingredients for our gluten free brownies:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 mochiko, or sweet rice flour
  • 1/3 cup sucanat, or organic evaporated cane juice
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. gluten free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Himalaya salt
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • macha powder, by YamaMotoYama
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips (frosting option)

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

In a double boiler, over low heat, melt 2 ounces of chocolate together with the butter, stirring frequently. Set aside and let cool slightly.

Grease a 8 x 8 x 2 inch brownie pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, top with the milk vanilla extract and egg. With a hand mixer, beat at low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Then add the lightly cooled and melted chocolate/butter mixture. Continue to beat at high speed until everything is well incorporated and creamy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, letting it sink into the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden pick, inserted into the center, comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Let cool in the pan.

When completely cooled. Decide which topping you would like to use. You can also divide the brownies in half, top one with matcha and drizzle the other with the white chocolate.

For the matcha option, place the matcha powder in a sieve and dust the top of the brownies with matcha. For the white chocolate option, melt the white chocolate chips, over very low heat, in a double boiler. Pour into a little plastic bag, cut a small hole in one of the corners, and slowly drizzle the chocolate in irregular lines over the top of the brownies.

Cut the brownies to the desired size (we cut it into 16 pieces) and serve with your favorite beverage. Perhaps some chilled coconut milk?

Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 581 other followers

%d bloggers like this: