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.
I’ve made three batches of marshmallows this year – vanilla, chocolate, and chocolate swirl with chocolate chips. I have the ingredients to make a fourth batch, but… I’m stopping for now. How many marshmallows does a person need?
Making marshmallows is very easy. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it! You have to spend time in the kitchen monitoring the stove and stand mixer, but honestly, I haven’t messed up a batch yet. I practically have the recipe memorized. The chocolate swirl are my favorite. The chocolate chips melt but don’t fully incorporate, so they have layers and bits of chocolate in them!
Some people have a love of peanut butter. I am not one of those people. My interest in it waxes and wanes. I enjoy peanut butter when I have it, but I will almost never choose it over a good, pure vanilla or dark chocolate or cinnamon or lemon or berry. I feel sorry for Alex when we share a dessert, because peanut butter is usually in his top three choices of desserts/ice cream/what-have-you to order, and I veto it 9 times out of 10 in favor of something else.
However, today is Alex’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Alex!) He knew I was going to make him a cake, but I kept the flavor a surprise. I let it leak that it was chocolate when I debated buying a replacement bar of baking chocolate at Trader Joe’s, and I even made the chocolate layer cakes while he watched TV on Saturday morning. But when it was time to make the peanut butter cream cheese frosting, and chocolate peanut butter ganache, I banished him to the basement, where he willingly went to listen to music and do some organizing he’d wanted to do for a while. I covered my tracks relatively successfully by making a curried Chex Mix to mask the rich smell of peanut butter in the kitchen, and stored the cake in the fridge, which Alex avoided to keep the flavor of the cake a surprise.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake was a hit. It was incredibly easy to make, and well worth the time spent making it. Half of this cake fed 8 people, and could have fed even more if I could have cut slices smaller.
Today’s high in St. Louis was 81F. Tomorrow’s high is 97F. Is it any wonder that I have ice cream on the mind?
Recently I’ve shifted my obsession with ice cream to a preoccupation with sorbet. I decided I needed to switch from rich and heavy ice cream to something lighter, so sorbet it was. Sorbet is dairy-free, egg-free, and generally low in fat, and often contains fruit. Sure, it still contains a lot of sugar – but this is dessert. It’s not supposed to be too healthy.
I love fruit, but many of my favorite sweets are chocolate. One of the first sorbets I decided to make was a Chocolate-Orange Sorbet, so I could eat something that was clearly dessert.