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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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Today we are celebrating our first participation in the Tuesdays with Dorie twice monthly recipe challenge. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this unique baking club, it was originally started by Dorie Greenspan, who worked alongside Julia Child, writing her famous cookbook ‘Baking with Julia.’

The rules are really very simple; every month two recipes are selected from the book Baking with Julia, and posted ahead of time on this website. All registered participants agree to make and post the agreed upon dishes on the selected date, which always falls on a Tuesday. Hence, our post today. Each week a couple of bloggers are chosen to host the event, and they are the only ones allowed to actually post the official recipe. Everyone is encouraged to branch out and create their own version, following the original recipe as closely as possible. This week’s hosts are Allison of ‘think love sleep dine,’ and Sophia of ‘Sophia’s Sweets.’ Check out their beautiful websites and locate today’s original recipe, albeit the gluten containing version.

Since we live gluten free, our participation naturally demands that we develop a unique take on each recipe. As all of you gluten free bloggers know, this can present a few challenges.

Today’s recipe offered an opportunity to explore another gluten free take on creating a perfect Génoise (a type of sponge cake). Over the past few years of living and baking gluten free, we developed our own unique take on this dessert, since it is also very popular in Southern Germany.

However, as part of the TWD challenge, we wanted to stay true to the original recipe, and merely replace the regular flour with our own gluten free flour blend, keeping all other ingredients the same. The end result was not at all to our liking. Julia Child’s Génoise cake is intended to be a triple layer cake. With our first attempt, that would have been impossible. Now please understand, that we are in no way blame casting the original recipe, but want to emphasize the great difficulties one encounters when first converting any baking recipe into a gluten free version. The proportions of liquids and fats have to be adjusted, eliminated, or replaced with another option. In order to let you participate in this baking challenge, we wanted to let you see the failures that one encounters along the way. As we already mentioned, the following image depicts our first attempt, in which we followed the original recipe to the letter, replacing only the flour. As you can see, this did not work at all.

Despite our careful attention to folding the flour into the heavily whipped and very fluffy egg/sugar batter, the entire cake fell flat once baking in the oven, completely failing to rise. We immediately went about adjusting the recipe, tweaking it just slightly.

We eliminated the melted butter entirely, but added a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk instead. The other change we made, was in the preparation of the eggs. Three eggs were separated into egg whites and egg yolks, adding the fourth whole egg into the bowl with the egg yolks. We whipped the egg whites first, until stiff peaks formed, and then, in a separate bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar and the vanilla extract, until the batter tripled in size and was very creamy, light and fluffy. The whipped egg whites were then placed on top of the egg/sugar batter, and then carefully topped with the sifted flour blend, consisting of almond, tapioca flour and guar gum. As emphasized in Dorie’s book, the success of a génoise rests on the careful attention one places on gingerly folding the flour into the egg batter. You might enjoy this short little video with Julia Child and Flo Braker, demonstrating the making of  a typical French-style Génoise. In our version, we also added a teaspoon of baking powder to the flour, differing from the original recipe, which doesn’t call for leavening of any kind. As anticipated, this approach was a success.

As you can see, we did manage to create a triple layer cake. Although the process of cutting the layers, takes courage and nerves of steel. ;-)  The génoise, turned out to be moist, light and fluffy. As directed in the recipe, we filled each layer with chopped fresh strawberries and a cream filling. We took another liberty in replacing the recommended sour cream with Greek-style yoghurt, because it is one of our favorites.

Since it is exceptionally hot at the moment, we immediately refrigerated our cake, once the filling and the outer topping were complete. The cake is topped with fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

Once the cake was nice and cool, we made ourselves a cup of coffee and enjoyed the fruit of our labor, albeit just a small piece ;-) . The cake is light, moist and truly exceptional in every way. So good,  it is a foregone conclusion that we will make it again. We encourage you to look up the book, go to page 273, and try it for yourselves. You will not be disappointed.

Feel free to participate in TWD for their next recipe challenge, or just share your version of this recipe with us – no actual sharing of the recipe required. We love hearing from you.

Enjoy!

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It is still officially Spring, but who would know amidst the ever rising temperatures – we already surpassed the 90°F mark here in New Mexico. These temperatures are more reminiscent of our typical summer days.

On the upside, the local stores are also carrying more and more strawberries. Now, personally I just enjoy eating strawberries plain and would encourage you to select only the organically grown varieties. Strawberries unfortunately have become a very heavily sprayed crop, in fact, commercially grown, non-organic strawberries rank near the bottom of the safe foods list. If you wish to learn more about this, read about it at this great living foods site,  or check out a complete safety listing of fruit and vegetables at this link.

In general, I prefer to eat raw and living foods, and during the warmer months it is so much easier to do just that; but not everyone here feels the same way. Since no one in our family as any allergy responses to dairy, this afforded an opportunity to try out Chobani yoghurt, which came highly recommended by several people. Now, this yoghurt has already become a favorite. It is certified gluten free and safe for people with corn, soy and nut allergies, as well as free of synthetic growth hormones, artificial flavors and preservatives.  Chobani has the  added benefit of live probiotic cultures and tastes just ever so good. For those of you that are allergic to dairy, or just prefer to use a nondairy alternative – try the So Delicious brand’s yoghurt line. We also never tried a cake mix from Pamela’s – another first. It turned out to be one of the easiest desserts ever.

For this recipe, you will need to purchase:

1 package of Pamela’s Gluten Free Classic Vanilla Cake Mix

3 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

1/4 tsp. gluten free vanilla extract

1 8oz. container of Chobani yoghurt with strawberries

1 8oz. package of Neuchatel cream cheese

2 Tbsp. raw honey

Sliced organic strawberries to cover the top of the cake

Wash the strawberries, remove the stems and slice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, combine the mix, eggs, oil, water and vanilla extract and (we used a hand mixer) mix well on low to medium speed. Pour batter into a lightly greased 9-inch spring form baking pan. Pamela’s also offers suggestions for other types of baking pans on their package directions. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not over bake.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack. Once cooled,  slice the cake into half horizontally. Place the bottom part onto your favorite cake platter and top it with the Chobani yoghurt. Spread it out evenly and place the top layer of the cake over it.

In a separate bowl, mix the Neuchatel cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of raw honey and blend well. Spread this mixture over the entire cake and top with sliced organic strawberries. Serve with your favorite summer drink!

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