Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

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


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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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.

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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.

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Since yesterday was a holiday, we are posting this a little later than usual. Never having attempted to make Mary Bergin’s recipe in Baking with Julia before, we approached this recipe initially with some trepidation, especially reading words like “gossamer”, “billowy” and “fluffy.” In the gluten free world, these kind of desserts can certainly be duplicated, but generally not without tremendous amounts of starch. Outside of tapioca flour (which could loosely be considered a type of starch), we are not known for the use  of any other starches.  Since we also have a sensitivity to corn, probably due to an early introduction to a  favorite German staple in baking called “Mondamin,” the use of cornstarch is definitely not a possibility. Potato starch does create the desired fluffiness many are looking for, but we feel it not only lacks the flavor and consistency we want, but it is also not a healthy choice, due to the added high glycemic load it presents, especially when combined with sugar. As you can imagine, that leaves us fewer options when desiring to make these more delicate desserts.

Though we have made many gluten free celebratory-type cakes before, Baking with Julia’s recipe demanded a completely  new approach, especially since it only calls for one cup of flour. Julia’s favorite motto went something like “try new recipes, be fearless and have fun while doing it.” We are paraphrasing here, but you can get the gist of her meaning. In making this recipe all of these principles were applied.

At this point, we should mention the beautiful contributions by this week’s hosts. You can find the recipe as well as the directions on making it at Marlise’s blog The Double Trouble Kitchen, or at Susan’s website The Little French Bakery. Both have outdone themselves with beautiful photographs and their own unique insights into the making of this recipe. You can also watch a clip of the original PBS series Baking with Julia here, in which Mary Bergin prepares this Upside-down cake together with Julia.

This recipe involves a multi-step process but is very easy to follow. As always, we made a few substitutions, though, this time around there were fewer than most. In the topping ingredients, we switched out brown sugar for coconut sugar and reduced the amount by one fourth, using a 3/4 cup. We also used the coconut sugar in the Streusel, along with certified gluten free oats. This is something to remember, if you are new to eating gluten free, oats, unless certified gluten free, are often cross-contaminated with other gluten grains, and can present huge health problems, if unknowingly consumed.

For the cake batter itself, we reduced the total amount of sugar by 1/4 cup and used organic evaporated cane juice, in place of regular sugar. For the flour, we used primarily tapioca flour with a smaller addition of whole brown rice flour along with one teaspoon of guar gum. It turned out that we didn’t have enough vegetable oil in the house  (we were short by 2 Tbsp.), so we added 2 Tbsp. of coconut milk instead. The same thing happened with the lemon juice (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup) and in this case we added 2 Tbsp. of water to the lemon juice to make up the difference.

As many of you know, we are not terribly fond of sugar (for health reasons), but were impressed by how well Mary Bergin’s addition of a little sugar to the whipped egg whites improved their texture and made them an ideal leavening and binding agent for our gluten free recipe. The batter was delicate, light and fluffy, much like the description in the book.

While baking, it rose to incredible heights. However, we began to worry just a little, when we tested it after 45 minutes, and again at 50 minutes, and it still wasn’t done. Still too soft in the middle, yet nicely browned on top. We ended up placing a piece of aluminum foil on top of the cake, to prevent burning and then waited. Finally, after exactly 63 minutes, we tested it again with a skewer, and, at last, it was finally done. We carefully removed it from the oven, and as called for, let it cool for about 25 minutes. To our great surprise it never sank, and we were able to easily turn it upside down onto a platter. The combination of the beautiful color of the fruit along with the spicy aroma of the cinnamon and ginger in the streusel, was a unique surprise.

The cake itself turned out to be light, buttery and flavorful, somewhat reminiscent of previous endeavors in making a similar cake with pineapple (back in the gluten days). This recipe would lend itself to the use of many different types of fruits, should nectarines not be available.

It was a lot of fun making this, especially for us gluten free bakers, since this recipe was a great success.

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This week’s participation in TWD called for a Berry Galette. We have been looking forward to making this recipe, since galettes can be easily converted into gluten free and offer a variety of options, both savory and sweet. In the past, we  created our own gluten free recipe, inspired by visiting Paris back in 2002, with its abundance of delicious food and patisseries around every corner. Of course, way back then, we did not yet realize the negative impact gluten had on our health (wow, this seems like a lifetime ago now?!). In Paris, we noticed that galettes are not just favorite desserts, but are acutally, more commonly, eaten as a lunch on the go. Many Parisiennes stop by their neighborhood patisserie/boulangerie to not only purchase their daily baguettes, but also purchase a favorite savory galette for lunch. We enjoyed versions made with spinach and cheese, tomatoes, herbs and cheese as well as some containing small amounts of meat. They are usually made in small individual sizes, serving just one person. These delicious treats are very clear in our memories as we recall our visit, but, sadly, we lack the pictures to share with you, since most of our film footage didn’t fair so well going through the airport security in place back then. X-rays do have a strong impact on even developed images, as we unfortunately found out the hard way.

Still, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to experiment with Julia’s/Flo Braker’s galette recipe to see how it compared to our own. If you would like to watch a demonstration of how to prepare these galettes, you can enjoy an episode of Baking with Julia, at this link. The original recipe can be found on the sites of this week’s hosts: Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness who outdid herself in this week’s TWD challenge, including beautiful photos of her picnic. Likewise, Lisa of Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen, is not to be missed, offering another beautiful take on her version of the recipe.

As we mentioned earlier, this recipe is fairly easily converted into gluten free. However, it is important to note, that you cannot use ice water in the preparation of the crust.  Even in leaving this out, the dough is very soft and malleable, perfect as it turns out, after watching the above video. We did use 1 tablespoon of coconut milk, so it is not entirely devoid of liquid, and we replaced the sour cream with Greek-style yoghurt, which lends it a beautiful flavor and enhances the consistency of the dough. Due to our other allergy to corn, instead of corn meal, we used and equal blend of rice bran and almond meal. This choice also allowed us to leave out any of the usual gums (xanthum or guar gum) used in gluten free baking, which is very welcome, and we are going to explore this combination and potential replacement of gums some more in the future. Outside of the obvious gluten free flour replacement, we pretty much stuck to the recipe, except for the choice of fruit.  Having an abundance of fresh plums and apples in the house, we chose to use them instead of the berries (which is offered as an option in the recipe itself).

Alongside this dessert recipe, we also made a savory galette for dinner, which we will be posting tomorrow, including our recipe. So if you are new to galettes, and need a recipe to follow, check back with us tomorrow.

Gluten free dough, as is many times the case, is a little bit more finicky, and  needs to be carefully folded to make sure it contains the juices from the baking fruit. Unlike making a pie, the filling in this recipe is a little bit more on the dry side, but, refreshingly, not very sweet – but sweet enough. Please remember, we never use white sugar and also did not use honey, an optional ingredient, in this recipe.

We were very happy with the outcome and will continue to make this in the future. The great aspect of galettes, is  the sheer unlimited number of ingredients you can add to a filling, and create surprising new flavors every time. You may be only limited by the Seasons, or the choices in your freezer.

Happy baking!

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Today is Tuesday and yes, we are ready for another challenge; our own  TWD gluten free challenge. This week’s hosts are Jodi of Home Made and Wholesome, and Katrina of Baking and Boys. Check out their websites for the original recipe, which can also be found on page 315 of Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan.  Just for the fun of it, we looked up a video on YouTube from the PBS Baking with Julia series. It features Julia with Alice Medrich, making the Hazelnut Biscotti and you can watch it here.

First of all, we should mention that aside from the obvious (gluten free flour – our brown rice/tapioca flour blend), we did make two other changes to Julia’s recipe. Hazelnuts were difficult to locate in our area, but we did find roasted unsalted pistachios, which made a delicious alternative.

The advantage of using pistachios, apart from their great flavor, is the ease of removing the shells as well as any remaining skins, allowing us to completely skip the initial step of boiling the nuts in hot water with baking soda.

As a rule, we never use white sugar,  ever, or brown, raw, or whatever. We also never use any artificial substitutes, so readily found today. In general, we are very fond of coconut sugar as an alternative, and since some of us will actually be eating this dessert :-o , that was a definite must. In case you are not familiar with it, coconut sugar has a very low glycemic index, and is generally well tolerated  by most. Please be aware, that this will darken any recipe considerably. No ‘anemic looking’ batters here. With our own addition of one quarter cup of dark chocolate chips (suggested by Julia in her book), it didn’t really matter.

The quantities suggested in the original recipe  remained the same. We did need to add  two extra tablespoons of flour. Gluten free baking does require slight alterations in either liquids, or the flour used, but since we live at high altitude this could have played a role as well.

As mentioned in the recipe, this dough is very sticky, stiff and little challenging to work with.  The gluten free bakers amongst us can certainly relate to this.  Since many GF creations tend to spread outward, instead of rising upward, we lined a 9×7 baking pan with parchment paper, creating a raised edge in the center with the paper, to separate the two loaves, just in case. An additional 3 tablespoons of sweet rice flour were necessary for flouring our hands, in order to shape the loaves.

Defying our initial expectations, the loaves rose beautifully.

After baking for exactly 35 minutes, we let the loaves cool for about 20 minutes, before slicing them, and baking them again for an additional 12 minutes. After the second baking cycle we let them cool completely.

We actually baked this recipe last night, and lacked optimal lighting for photographing, which put us in somewhat of a quandary.  The house filled with the delicious aroma of the baking biscottis, yet, we had to wait another day to actually taste them. Well, not quite, we did sample a tiny end piece in all of its crunchy deliciousness ;-) .

Aside from our own unique gluten free challenges, we found this recipe to be extremely easy to make for even the most novice baker. This recipe would lend itself for easy gift giving. When it comes to this recipe, allow your own creativity free reign for any fun and tasty substitutions you can think of. Perhaps some dried fruit, goji berries anyone? Chocolate drizzles for decorating after baking, the sky is the limit.

What are your favorite biscottis? Have you baked this type of cookie before? Whether you are eating gluten free or not, we would love to hear from you.

So far, we are really enjoying participating in the TWD challenges and are looking forward to the next one.

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Coffee Mitsumame

Here we are, almost to the end of April, and still feeling as though we have only begun to scratch the surface on what Japanese food culture has to offer. Far beyond the sushi and tempura that most Western people associate it with, Japanese food offers a vibrant mix of many simple dishes, filled with unique colors and flavors. As with almost any country with a rich and diverse food culture, to truly understand all of the intricacies would take far longer than only one month.

Coffee Jelly, courtesy of Flickr uploader

Of course, along the way, we had to explore the different varieties of delicious desserts, and kept coming across this at once familiar, yet still unique recipe: Coffee jelly. A favorite throughout Japan, served in most coffee shops and restaurants, coffee jelly, called kohii zerii in Japanese, has the flavor of a slightly sweetened black coffee, and the texture of jello. Often served by itself with a small amount of whipped cream, or condensed milk, or added to an ice cream dessert, coffee jelly is also often added to hot or iced coffee drinks. Imagine walking into your local Starbucks, and alongside the lists of fancy frappuccinos and lattes, finding this unique treat. Unlike the way most of us think of dessert, served after, or alongside lunch or dinner, dessert in Japan is much more commonly found as part of afternoon tea. Coffee jelly is also just as commonly eaten by itself, in place of the typical morning cup of coffee.

Mitsumame and Tea by akira yamada

Similar to coffee jelly, mitsumame is another common Japanese dessert, which became popular around 100 years ago, made up of cubes of agar jelly, served alongside fresh fruit slices such as pineapple, peaches, and cherries. As we quickly discovered, mitsumame has a ton of different variations, including the one  we decided to try, called coffee mitsumame, where the two different desserts of coffee jelly and mitsumame are combined.

For this recipe, you will need the following:

Coffee Jelly Mitsumame

2 cups good black coffee

3 Tbsp. evaporated cane juice

4 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. gelatin or agar-agar


Fresh slices of pineapple, mango, peaches or cherries

whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

coffee mitsumame


  1. Pour the coffee into a saucepan along with the sugar. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring until all of the sugar is dissolved.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the gelatin with the water until completely dissolved.
  3. Pour the gelatin mixture into the hot coffee mixture, stirring until completely blended. Then pour the coffee and gelatin mixture into a heat proof container, and store uncovered in the refrigerator until the gelatin is completely set.
  4. Once it is completely firm, cut the coffee jelly into cubes, and serve, topped with your choice of fresh fruit and whipped cream or ice cream, or simply by itself.

This recipe is extremely easy to make, and makes for an interesting and delicious twist on just your ordinary cup of coffee.

Itadakimasu! (Let’s Eat!)

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