This month I made Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons with some egg whites I’d previously frozen. I’d made them once before – the day before I gave birth, in fact. They were the perfect snack for being in the hospital – rich, two-bite indulgences that were very chocolatey and yet didn’t seem too decadent thanks to lots and lots of coconut, which made them filling. These were my go-to snack – I’d grab a few in the middle of the night before heading to the NICU to feed baby. They were both comforting and practical.
The recipe is similar to the Raspberry-Coconut Macaroons I made before; both recipes were very simple to make. The chocolate macaroons were just as rich and satisfying now as they were when I first made them in February. They are like a Mounds bar, but better since the cookies are not as sweet. The macaroons provide a real fix for a serious chocolate craving. And not only are they amazingly delicious – making them only took me 30 minutes from start to finish.
Our baby is one month old! Recently my life has been changing diapers, nursing, and napping. It’s a good thing that I stocked my freezer with meals and all the bread I made last December, because we’ve gone through just about all of it. I don’t mind emptying my freezer or taking care of Amelia at all, but it does mean that I haven’t had two hands available to do cooking or typing/blogging. As baby gets bigger, spending time in the kitchen or on the computer should become a little easier, and I can keep updating this blog!
The only thing I made before last Saturday was baked oatmeal. It was very quick and easy to make in the evenings, and I only made it to streamline my breakfast during the week. My friend Jen reminded me that last Saturday was Pi Day. Was I going to make a special pie for a super-special Pi Day, since it was actually 3/14/15, the extended digits of Pi? It was a shame not to make a pie, since Alex would be home all day and able to watch baby. I hadn’t planned to make anything elaborate, but then I saw that Smitten Kitchen had posted the recipe for a Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie, and although it was more complicated than the super-easy Key Lime Pie I made recently, I couldn’t resist it.
This pie wasn’t too difficult overall, but it was a little more involved than I probably should have tackled with a 4-week old at home. When you have the time to make it, though, it’s totally worth it. As you can see, it didn’t last long in this house.
Most of my posts start off with “recently I really wanted…” And really, why shouldn’t cooking and baking be that way? I’m fortunate that I can generally make whatever I want, and make it relatively well. Recently, what I wanted was biscotti. This surprised me, because I usually don’t choose hard cookies. I like tender, chewy, and soft. For a long time, that was all I ever looked for in a cookie. Over the past few years my palate has grown, and I’ve come to appreciate the variety of food that I can make and enjoy (even if it seems like I only make sweets based on the recipes I post). I can embrace gooey brownies and crisp biscotti without conflict.
Good biscotti can certainly be tender, and they don’t have to be rock hard. And that’s what I hoped the Chocolate Buckwheat Biscotti recipe I found would be. They were gluten-free without making any unusual substitutions, provided you embrace the buckwheat and almond meal included in the ingredient list. I only first tried buckwheat flour a few weeks ago, and based on my limited experience with it so far, I think I like it. It gives an earthy flavor that works well in these chocolatey biscotti.
My friend Kate was willing to sacrifice a birthday dinner so she could watch a co-ed softball game that her friends play on. That’s friendship. To show how special she is, I thought I would surprise Kate with cake!
Kate is also vegan, which makes baking a little, but not a lot, trickier. I also had to make something gluten-free if I wanted to make sure everything tasted okay, as any good baker will do. (How do you discover you forgot the sugar unless you taste the batter?) So I went to a website she shared with me, and found this recipe for gluten-free and vegan Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes.
Let me tell you about very delicious chocolate chip cookies. This recipe yields some of the most delicious chocolate chip cookies I have ever made, period. Having made another gluten-free cookie recipe, I think it’s probable that this is the most delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe known to man or woman.
The first time I made these cookies, I had cut gluten out from my diet for about 3 weeks. I fortunately can and am willing to make a variety of food and to experiment, so I didn’t miss very much. It got easier as the diet progressed, in fact. That said, I have missed classic cookies, and granola bars are a good substitute for only so long. I was incredibly excited when something online led me to Alton Brown’s Chewy Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. It was the perfect thing to look forward to making on a cold weekend in February – and any time, really.
Let me tell you now – this makes excellent cookies that you don’t realize are gluten-free. And, the cookies are huge! I decided to wait until I’d made the recipe again and tried making normal-sized cookies before telling you about it.
My friend Molly and I got along superbly as roommates, perhaps in part because we both loved food and enjoyed cooking. We still do. It’s no wonder that we’d cook at least once during my visit. Molly mentioned that she had made a Chocolate Espresso Tiramisu for a friend’s birthday. I love tiramisu, but I never make it at home since Alex doesn’t like coffee, so I promptly asked if we could make one while I was there.
Bread, Week 11: I’d planned to make a different loaf of bread this week, but unfortunately, I didn’t really plan ahead. The “no-knead” part of the recipe title didn’t jump out at me (I was distracted by cherries and chocolate in the title instead), so I had to do a little searching to find another bread that I could bake without waiting overnight. I wanted a yeast bread, and I wanted it to be sweet since I would eat it for breakfast and a snack on vacation. Nothing jumped out at me until I found this White Chocolate Cinnamon Bread recipe.
The original was a bread machine recipe. I don’t know much about bread machines, but luckily I’ve made enough bread to know how long I needed to knead it and let it rise. The recipe gave me the baking times that I needed.
Valentine’s Day was a Friday this year, and I couldn’t bear the thought of going out to dinner with hordes of other people. I had no inspiration for dinner (we ended up buying steak and appetizers at Trader Joe’s), but I had decided earlier that I absolutely had to make this Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting. I love baking and I love sweets, but decorative desserts usually aren’t my thing. I don’t like having to focus on presentation. But for this dessert, I made an exception.
I’ve tried making almond macaroons once or twice, and they haven’t turned out perfectly. I simply don’t whip egg whites often enough to have them turn out well every time. But this time, everything turned out just fine.
Bread Week 4: I said that I wasn’t going to make muffins for my weeks of bread, and I hadn’t planned to, but that’s what I’m going to share with you tonight – some of the most delicious muffins I’ve ever made, and they are gluten-free to boot. Week 4 of Bread was supposed to be cornbread again – a delicious and simple cornbread. I actually made it twice for various reasons, and one batch was a full quarter inch shorter than the other; a third attempt is clearly needed. So, I’m going to bend my rules since I didn’t intentionally make muffins for Week 4.
I’m glad to have the excuse to share these with you. My adaptation of these Pear and Hazelnut Muffins are one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. They are delicious. Seriously, you need to make these muffins. When Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted them, I lamented that I couldn’t make them while I am on a gluten-free diet – until I read the preface to the recipe where she suggests a few gluten-free flour alternatives to use, and I read the comments where a few readers reported success making them gluten-free. Heartened, I made them last weekend to have as a snack for this week, and I am so, so incredibly glad that I did.