Archive for December, 2010

December 23rd, 2010

Seven Layer Cookies

I don’t know why I feel like I have the go-ahead to eat like Buddy The Elf during the holidays. The first thing that I eat in the morning is some form of chocolate, and then I eat a healthy breakfast and then I finish it with multiple forms of sugar, such as cookies, chocolate, or a sweet drink.

I’m not the normal Christmas cookie maker. I don’t share! I make these cookies with myself in mind. Sure, I consider what would be good to other people, but only if I know I’ll have lots of left overs. I make my goodies and hide them. This has definitely gotten a little out of hand, but I figured out how to combat my holiday sugar addiction.

Two years ago, I was introduced to seven layer cookies. It had marzipan in it, which I adore! It has chocolate, and layers of apricot jam, which is always the perfect compliment to intense flavors. This was my kind of cookie! I made them right before we left to head home for Christmas. I had the scraps in the fridge at home and displayed the rest at Christmas dinner. I was slightly shocked to see people eating one after the other. I got a little panicky because I didn’t get to really enjoy them yet! Before I knew it, I had just one or two left, so I hi-jacked them, to eat myself. They were perfection in the form of sugar!

The next year, I made them a little earlier and I made quite a dent in the final count before I even packed them up. This year, I made them 1 day before we leave. Once I taste one, I can’t stop, so it’s best when I don’t have multiple days to nosh on them.

This year, I changed the recipe a little bit, making it more wholesome and less damaging. It’s still a lot of sugar, but I swapped out the butter for virgin coconut oil, and replaced the food colors with vegetable juices. The colors don’t pop like the ones made with the artificial colors, but who cares! They’re delicious.

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families!

Seven Layer cookies

4 large eggs, separated
1 c sugar
8 Oz. homemade almond paste
1 1/4 C virgin coconut oil at room temp.
1 t almond extract
2 c King Arthur Gluten Free flour mix
A pinch of baking powder
1/2 t xanthan gum
1/2 t salt
red and green food coloring, I used beet juice for the red and spinach juice for green (pre packaged)
1 (12 oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
1 c dark chocolate chunks

Almond Paste/ marzipan

1 egg white
8 oz. blanched almonds
8 oz. powdered sugar

In a Food processor, grind almonds until very very fine and a little warm. Pulse in the powdered sugar until well combined. With the machine running, add the egg white slowly. Process until it forms a dough, about 3 minutes.

Seven Layer cookies

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper.

Beat egg white with a whisk attachment of a stand (or hand) mixer until stiff peaks. Sprinkle 1/4 c sugar and continue beating until glossy and stiff. Transfer to another bowl, then switch to the paddle attachment. Beat almond paste and remaining 3/4 c of sugar until well combined. Beat in oil until light and fluffy. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined.

Turn mixer to low, and add flour mix, salt, and xanthan gum and baking powder. Mix until just combined. Fold in 1/4 of the egg whites to lighten (it won’t do much lightening) and then fold in the rest. If dough feels too thick to spread, fold in a tablespoon or two of milk. Divide dough into three bowls. Add beet juice food coloring in one bowl, then green in another, just until you get the color you desire. Spread red dough into prepared pan (will be thin), and bake 10-12 minutes until slightly firm and a toothpick inserted in comes out clean. Remove red layer to a rack to cool, prepare another sheet of parchment paper (or another silicon liner) and spread white layer as before. Bake, then repeat with the green.

Once all layers are cooked and cooled, divide the preserves in half. Spread half of the preserves on the green layer, then lay the white layer on top. Spread that with the rest of the preserves, then carefully place the red layer on top. Cover with wax paper, then top with a heavy cutting board or cookie sheet, and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Bring to cake to room temp. and heat the chocolate over a double boiler until just melted. Spread a thin layer on one side and freeze until it sets. Once it sets, flip it over and do the same one the other side, and freeze. Cut in1x1 inch squares and keep cool!

December 17th, 2010

Chocolate Pistachio Gems

I don’t know whether this is a cookie or a candy. Either way, they are my favorite Christmas treat EVER! I can’t stop eating the batter, the chocolate, the filling, etc. It’s all so horribly addictive.

I was sad thinking that I couldn’t make these this year, because of my gluten-free diet but I re-read the recipe, thinking I might be able to switch out a few things, and I realized that they were gluten free anyways! I was so pumped! It’s sort of hard to get motivated to make these because it seems like there’s a ton of steps, but it’s not that bad. They make quite a mess but it’s so worth it in the end.

I personally like to keep these in the freezer (where no one else knows where they are), making them crisp, hard and cold. They are salty, sweet and rich. I’m tell you, they are the best little cookie/candy I’ve ever made. They will be made by me, for years to come!

Chocolate Pistachio Gems

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 15

1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
4 ounces salted shelled pistachios (about 1 cup), ground to a paste in a food processor
1 large egg white
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
1 1/2 C bittersweet chocolate, chopped
For the garnish: slivered, unsalted, shelled pistachios (optional) and Fler de Sel (sea salt)

Make filling: Bring 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved; set aside.

Put egg yolks in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk by hand until yolks are warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Fit mixer with the whisk attachment. Mix yolks on medium speed; pour in sugar syrup. Raise speed to high; mix until mixture is cool and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium; drizzle in melted chocolate. Refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.

Make cookies: Put pistachio paste and rest of sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Mix in the egg white, vanilla, and salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a small (about 1/4 inch) plain round tip (such as Ateco #10). Pipe 1-inch rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing about 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies until firm and golden around edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer on parchment to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Place cookies, bottom sides up, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Spread 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons chocolate filling on bottom of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies. Freeze 1 hour.

Make glaze:tempered chocolate

1 1/2 C organic chocolate chips
in a double boiler melt 2/3 of the chocolate, until it reachers 110-115 degrees F. Take off the heat and add in (seed) the rest of the chocolate chips. Stir until it cools to 80 degrees F. After it gets down to temp. put it back on the double boiler till it reaches 90 degrees F. Dip the macaroons immediately and put on parchment or wax paper.

Using a chocolate fork or regular fork, hold 1 cookie at a time above bowl of chocolate glaze. Spoon glaze over cookie, letting excess drip back into bowl. Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Garnish with slivered pistachios and a sprinkling of sea salt. Refrigerate until set, 5 minutes. Cookies can be refrigerated in single layers in airtight containers up to 3 days.

December 15th, 2010

Zimtsterne Cinnamon Stars

I’m a little late jumping into Christmas baking. Honestly, I was a little discouraged at what I thought was my lack of options. I’ve never had a gluten-free Christmas. Having a GF Thanksgiving wasn’t all that fun, if I’m being honest. I’m really missing my traditional Christmas breakfast, which is “coffee cake”. It’s my Grandma’s recipe for a sweet, cinnamon topped bread. It’s perfect toasted and slathered with salty butter. I may need to make some exceptions! I just realized that I don’t need to make as many exceptions as I thought, with cookies.

I feel like I haven’t been making Christmas cookies, on my own, for that long. It’s true and false at the same time. I was always in the kitchen helping my mom during Christmas. When I was younger, I would be making the more “American” cookies, while my mom would be crankin’ out the German cookies. I guess I should have paid more attention to our traditional recipes. We always had several tins full of all kinds of cookies and my mom would put them on the porch, where it would stay nice and cool, and the cookies would last a long time.

My favorite German cookies were the nut/meringue cookies. I loved the crisp texture of them. It took me forever to make these right, on my own. I would always end up “trying” to making them, and my mom would have to come in and finish them- this is a recurrent pattern in my baking history!

I was glad to realize that my favorite German cookies, that give me that “Christmas” feeling, were naturally gluten-free. A lot of German cookies are made with meringue and nuts, which is very good for me! I guess I just never realized there was no flour in them until I couldn’t have it!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Merry Christmas!

Zimsterne Cinnamon Stars

2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling*
15 ounces sliced almonds, with skin (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large egg whites, room temperature

Sift the powdered sugar

Add 1/2 C. 10x sugar and 10 oz. of sliced almonds to a food processor and process until ground into a meal. It can be a little chunky, if you like bigger chunks of almonds in the cookies.

Add 3 room temp egg whites to a clean bowl of an electric mixer and whip on med high until you get a stiff peak.

On medium speed, add the rest of the powdered sugar and whip until thick and creamy and stiff.

Set aside about 1/2 C. of the meringue for icing the cookies

Fold in the nut mix gently into the meringue.

On a piece of parchment sprinkle it with powdered sugar and dump the mix on the parchment and cover it with more powdered sugar and flatten with your hands as much as you can. Add another piece of parchment and roll out until 1/4 inch thick.

Cut out in star shapes put it on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

With the remaining meringue, paint on the frosting as thick as you like, without letting it seep off the sides. Top with the rest of the sliced almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes until the cookies are slightly browned on the botom and the icing is dry. Crack the door and leave the cookies in for another 10 minutes.

Store in a cookie tin.

December 10th, 2010

Dreams Do Come True!

I normally wouldn’t post something like this, but it’s just too funny not to share! My Mom sent this to me, probably a couple of years ago! She knew how much I enjoyed the claw game. I even would have dreams about winning all the toys. I spent every indoor soccer game, of my brothers, at the mercy of this machine. I would constantly be running back and forth from the arcade to the bleachers where my mom was, begging for another quarter. When she finally turned me down, I would search under the bleachers for the quarter that fell from someones unlucky pocket or purse!

I still remember the time when a couple of the kids and I got so close to getting a stuffed animal, the loop on the top of it’s head was hanging over the side where it would drop. I got real inventive all of the sudden! I ran to the concession stand and asked for a bunch of straws and smiled as the attendant eyed my rye smile with caution. He gave them to me any way, and I got to work. I made a pole out of flexible straws and piped it through the door of the machine and viola! The bear was mine!

So, I say Bravo to this little girl (and the one I saw on the news this morning that did the same thing) for livin’ the dream!

December 7th, 2010

Welcoming December With Potstickers

As my sweet husband put it, the seasons are beings very organized. Fall was fall, and Yesterday, on December 1, it snowed for the first time. It wasn’t anything major, but I nice little dusting to put me into Christmas cheer.

We actually spent the day with my Dad, waiting on our new countertops to show up. After they were finally installed, (at 6:30 PM!!) B and my Dad could get to work putting the plumbing back together and tiling. I felt bad because my dad drove up for just the day and thought he could be home that night to eat dinner with my mom. They live an hour and a half away.

Since we were taking him hostage for the night, we thought we would go get something to eat. Since I’m eating gluten-free, organic and for the time being, dairy-free, it’s hard to think of restaurants I can eat at! I always forget about it but we have a great Thai restaurant in town that use organic ingredients, free range meats and as much local as posible. My Dad loves asian food so this was a win win for me.

It was just us in the restaurant since it was a little before the dinner rush. The food was great, but what made it so awesome was looking out of the window at the falling snow, illuminated by the street lamps. It was such a perfect site to jump start the Holiday Spirit.

I don’t know what it is about winter but all I want to eat is potstickers. It was the highlight of my Chinese Restaurant experience as a kid. Every year since I’ve learned to make them, I just can’t get enough.

The best thing about food blogs, is that people bring their family recipes to the cyber table to share. I love Chinese food but could never recreate it at home, especially potstickers. I found a great blog, UseRealButter, that showed step by step instructions on how to make them. I make these babies in bulk and given them as gifts, they are so good.

I have since played with the ingredients and made my own, vegetarian, gluten free version, that hits the spot every time.

For the Wrapper

1/2 C. Tapioca starch
1/2 C. White rice flour
3/4 t. Xanthan gum
1 T. Toasted Sesame oil
6 or 7 T water

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix all ingredients until well combined. Add the water until it forms a soft but not stick dough ball. Be sure to keep it moist until ready to use. I cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.
Adapted from Hey that tastes good!

Pot sticker filler

2 green onions
1 C. Quorn grounds
2 leaves of napa cabbage
1 oz gluten free soy sauce
2 T chopped ginger
1 clove of fresh garlic
1/2 C. dried shitake mushrooms
1/4 C. mushroom water
1 T tapioca starch
1/3 C water (for steaming)
2 or 3 T sunflower oil

In a skillet, heat the sesame oil to medium heat. Add the quorn grounds (I use them frozen) and cover to cook. Once the grounds are soft, add the soy sauce. Chop very finely the ginger, napa cabbage, green onions, and garlic. Add the dried shitake to a small pot of water and rehydrate them. This takes me about 10 minutes. Once they are soft and rehydrated chop them very finely. You can put all the “hard” ingredients into a food processor, but you need to be sure not to make it too paste. Add all the chopped food to the skillet and cook until every thing is cooked through and not raw. With 1/4 C of the remaining mushroom water add it to 1 T of tapioca starch and combine with your clean fingers. Add to the filling mix over medium heat. It will thicken everything, making it easier to fill the wrappers. Cool completely.

To assemble

Roll a small ball of the dough, about 1 tablespoon, and place between 2 pieces of parchment paper, do not use wax paper. With the back of a small pan, flatten the ball. Once it’s flattened, you can use a rolling pin and roll it a little thinner, but be sure to keep it circular. Peel it from the parchment and in the middle of the circle place a small teaspoon amount of the filling in the center. Fold it in half and press the sides together and place on parchment until ready to cook. Or you can lightly oil a pot sticker press and use it.

To cook

In a skillet that has a tight fitting lid, add 2 or 3 T of oil on med/high. Place the dumplings, side down in a circular pattern around the skillet, facing the same way to make the most room. Pan fry until the bottoms are golden brown. Once the bottoms are cooked, quickly add 1/3 C of water, it will spit and spatter, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook until the water has all cooked off. Uncover the pan and brown up the bottoms a little more to make sure they don’t stick. These are very hot, too hot to eat, so once they slide around, turn off the heat and make your dipping sauce.

Dumpling dipping sauce
1 oz. soy sauce
1 t. honey
a little bit of chopped green onion
1/2 t rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients. You can heat all the ingredients to concentrate the flavors.

December 1st, 2010

Wordless Wednesday