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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.

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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!!! ;-)

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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.

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