Gluten-Free, Coconut-free “Unicorn Poop Cookies”

This weekend, I was presented with an interesting challenge. We were headed to a party for some of our more.. uh, COLOURFUL … friends, and it was decided that unicorn poop cookies would be perfect for the occasion. We’d all seen these floating around pinterest, and found them good for a laugh.

As I was the one to bake them, I would do them gluten-free. Doesn’t matter to anyone else, as my gf cookies taste at least as good as the “Real” thing”.

… except that one of my friends is severely allergic to coconut, and coconut flour is my big secret ingredient to making gf cookies with great taste and texture. CRAP! (LOL)

So, I developed this recipe to work around both of our allergies, while still providing a great tasting cookie with a nice soft/chewy texture. I flavoured them with blood orange extract, after discovering that I didn’t have any lemon extract. They smelled completely insane throughout the whole process, and were a big hit at the party!

(Excuse the crappy cell phone photography for the progress pics – made these while my husband/photographer was at work!)

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Unicorn Poop Cookie Recipe
Makes about 24 LARGE poops.

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup light/white buckwheat flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp extract of choice
Gel food colouring – I use Americolor *
Sparkle gel, edible glitter, etc *

Whisk together all dry ingredients (except sugar) until well combined, set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add extract, and mix until well incorporated and smooth. Slowly add dry mix to the mixer bowl, and carefully mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Divide dough evenly into as many pieces as you want colours – I think 5-6 works best. (I derped and put WAY too much into the lump that was to be turquoise!). Colour each with food colouring until desired colour is reached, and fough is uniformly coloured. I wanted vibrant, but pastel would be pretty with this, too. Just make sure the colours look good with each other!

Wrap each colour of dough separately in plastic film, chill for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Divide each ball of cookie dough into 4 roughly equal sized lumps. Roll each new ball into a long log shape.


Taking 1 log of each colour, position a set of logs together, then roll into one large rainbow log. Repeat 3 more times, to make 4 large logs.


Cut each large log in half, and then each half into 3 equal pieces. You will now have 24 small logs:


Roll each small log into a longer long, and twist into a turd shape. Have as much fun with this as you can with sculpting poops 🙂

Arrange cookie turds evenly across the two cookie sheets. Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time for 15-17 minutes, or until bottoms look lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving. Cookies need to cool completely before decorating with sparkle gel, edible glitter, etc.

* As with all gluten-free baking, be sure that any individual ingredients you use are also gluten-free. Americolor is gf, as is the brand of edible glitter we used.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies

Back in October, I catered a party that had a Christmas theme. I designed the menu to be holiday themed, but with a twist – everything was gluten-free, in honour of the release of Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking.

I included a bunch of seasonal favourites in the spread – gluten-free versions of my Nanaimo Bars, Mini Pumpkin Pies, Mushroom Turnovers, Fruitcake… and a big spread of cookies.

Among the favourites were these colourful Mint Meringue swirls. Cheap and easy to make, fun to pipe out, and they look so pretty on a holiday sweets platter. Melt in your mouth, too!

Enjoy!

Peppermint Meringue Swirl Cookies
(Makes about a gallon sized baggie worth of cookies)

6 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 1/4 cups sugar
2-3 tsp peppermint extract (NOT peppermint oil)
4 large (or 3 normal and one large) pastry bags

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper. (Do NOT use pan spray!)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, whip on high until glossy peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar – a little at a time – and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Turn off mixer, remove bowl. Gently stir in peppermint extract to taste.

Working quickly but gently, divide the meringue into three bowls. Dye one red, and another green, leaving the third bowl white.

Fit one large pastry bag with a large coupler set and tip of your choice – I used used a 4B, large star tip. Fill the other three bags with one each of the three meringue colours, taking care to avoid air bubbles. I like to tie them off with a little bit of twine, as it keeps things cleaner.

Cut about 3/4″ off the end of the three filled bags and CAREFULLY insert them into the fourth pastry bag, so that the three open tips insert almost all the way into the coupler (NOT all the way into the tip, though!)

Be gentle, you don’t want to squeeze meringue out of one or both of those bags yet!

Use the frosting bag as you normally would, piping small swirls of meringue out onto the prepared cookie sheets. I like to make them just over 1″ in diameter, and leave about 1″ between each little mound.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just starting to get lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool fully before transferring to an airtight container.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Fig Newtons Recipe!

This past week, I was in Chicago for a convention. It went very well – TONS of fun, loads of laughs, great time spent with friends, as always. This is a yearly event that I cater a dessert (and, more recently, some savoury apps as well!) for.

It’s always very well received, but this year I did something different – I made the entire menu gluten-free. Given that only a small number of attendees are GF, I was really nervous. GF food has such a bad rep, would they even TRY it?

Well, given the reviews that I’ve been getting for Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking, I probably shouldn’t have been worried. They whole spread went over SUPER well, with many people declaring that they would have had no idea it was GF. Three people even told me that they adored my mushroom turnovers… even though they hate mushrooms! What a compliment!

Now, time to get back to work!

So, let me share one of the most popular recipes from Beyond Flour – Fig Newtons!

This recipe takes a bit of doing – the filling needs to be made and cooled, the dough needs to be chilled – but the result is well worth the time and effort. This produces a fragrant, delicious cookie that is sure to satisfy your comfort food cravings.

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Fig Newtons

1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/4 cup Granulated sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar, packed
1 Large egg
1 Tbsp Orange juice
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 cup White rice flour
1/2 cup Sorghum flour
1/4 cup Coconut flour
1/4 cup Millet flour
1 Tbsp Tapioca starch
1 tsp Xanthan gum
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder

Filling:
12 oz Dried mission figs
1/3 cup Water
Zest of 1/2 orange
Pinch Salt

Corn starch, for rolling

In stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg, orange juice, vanilla, and orange zest, beat until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Slowly add this dry mix to the mixer bowl, and carefully mix until well incorporated and smooth. Chill dough for 1 hour.

To make the filling:

Remove any stems from the dried figs, discard. Finely chop figs. Place into a saucepan with water, bring to a moil over medium-high heat. Once mixture starts to boil, cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed by the figs.

Transfer fig mixture to food processor, along with orange zest and salt. Process until very smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl, loosely cover with plastic film, and allow to cool to room temperature.

To Assemble:

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C), line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide dough into 4 equal balls. Generously sprinkle clean work surface with corn starch. Roll one dough ball into a long, thin, and narrow strip – about 4″ x 12″. Trim to square up / tidy the edges.

Stir cooled fig mixture to incorporate any condensation that has developed. Transfer about one quarter of the filling to a pastry bag, or heavyweight plastic bag with a corner cut off – either way, you’ll want about 1/2″ diameter opening.

Pipe a long, fat line of filling up the center of the rolled dough, using up all of the filling in the bag. Use a clean spoon to gently spread the filling to a width of slightly more than 1″.

Gently fold one long side of dough over the filling. Fold the other long side over that, forming a long tube of filled cookie. Gently flip over, slice into cookies (About 1.5″ long pieces), and gently transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown. Do not over bake!

Remove cookies from baking sheet, immediately cover with plastic wrap or – as we do – a long cake pan. Allow to steam/cool like this for at least 30 minutes. While these CAN be eaten right away, it’s best to let them sit overnight to let the moisture levels of the filling / cookie balance out a bit.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Pie with Maple Cream

It’s been almost exactly 1 year since I set up a Kickstarter campaign for the gluten free cookbook I’d been considering developing. It was wildly successful – almost double-funding! – and I worked really hard to product the BEST recipes for gluten-free cooking and baking.

Well, today is the day! The official release date for Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking!

To celebrate the occasion, I am sharing a ridiculously awesome recipe with you: gluten free maple pumpkin pie. The crust is a bastardization of one in the book – I decided that I wanted to do a slightly sweeter, spiced-up version for this particular pie recipe.

If you follow the Beyond Flour page on facebook, you may have seen the “teaser” pic of this recipe on a post I made this weekend, here! Just look at those glorious air bubbles!

This tastes as good as it looks, with or without the maple cream topping (which I adore!). Everything you could want in a pumpkin pie – creamy, rich, with the right amount of spice, and a flaky crust. Perfection!

Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Pie with Maple Cream

Dough – makes enough for 2 crusts

3/4 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch each: ground nutmeg & ground cloves
1 (8oz) brick cream cheese
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg
1/3 cup+ cold water

Measure flours, corn starch, brown sugar, xanthan gum, and spices into the bowl of your food processor, blitz to combine. Add cream cheese, butter, and egg, blitz a few times until mixture resembles gravel. Stream in cold water as you run the food processor, just long enough to start to bring it together as a dough – you may need to use a little more or less water. Do NOT over-process it!

Remove dough from processor, knead lightly to bring it together as a ball. Wrap in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Divide dough in half*, Roll your crust (s) out to about 1/4″ thick. Line a pie pan with one crust, trim the edges of the crust to only slightly longer than the edge of the pie plate. Use your fingers to crimp/ruffle the edge of the pie.

Use a fork to prick some holes on the bottom of the crust. Chill in freezer until ready to bake.

* If you are only using half of the dough, tightly wrap the second half of the dough and freeze it until the day before you want to use it. Allow it to thaw on your counter, then proceed as described above.

Filling – makes enough for 1 deep dish pie, two smaller pies, or a normal sized pie and a few tarts (use scrap dough!)

1 brick (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 pie crust recipe, above.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a stand mixer (or in a bowl with an electric mixer), cream together cream cheese and brown sugar. Once smooth, add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

Take crust out of the freezer. Gently cover edge of crust with aluminum foil, bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, discard foil, fill with pumpkin mixture. Transfer to oven, bake for 45-50 minutes or so, until center is set. Remove from heat and allow to cool fully before serving. Right before serving, prepare Maple Cream:

Maple Cream

Whipped Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream (keep it very cold!)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or an electric hand mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add maple syrup and salt, continue whipping until it reaches desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies Recipe

Only one month to go until the official release date of my latest cookbook, Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking!

The books for pre orders and my Kickstarter backers have been ordered from the printer, the files are being converted to an e-book, and I just noticed this morning that Amazon has posted their listing for it! Exciting!

This book has been the biggest book project I’ve ever taken on. It started with a HUGE premise – that gluten-free cooking doesn’t have to be about compromising on flavour or texture. Sure, it’s been said before, but the follow through attempts I’ve seen have been lacklustre – GF food still has a reputation of being pretty awful for anyone who’s not actually GF.

I took the concept a step further – why shouldn’t gf cooking be as good OR BETTER than wheat flour cooking? With the variety of alternative flours available, each with their own unique flavours and properties. All of these flours have more flavour and have more nutrition that wheat flour, anyway – why shouldn’t we all make use of them?

Once you give up on the idea of using an all-purpose flour mix, the sky really is the limit! I’m still shocked over the pitas that taste like JUST Jimmy John’s bread – the loss of JJ was one of my biggest sadness issues when I had to go GF. THAT recipe (in the book) really made me feel like a miracle worker!

The thing is, using an all purpose mix for gluten free baking is kind of like using one spice mix for seasoning everything you eat – sweet AND savoury. Can you imagine that? Sure, it’ll work on some things, but definitely won’t be suited for others. Gluten free flours are the same way – some recipes call for more structure, some need more moisture retention. Robust savoury flavours really lift some recipes… and for others it would be overkill. By using different combinations of flours, you really let the flavours and properties of those flours sing!

Personally, I can’t see ever using wheat flour to bake cookies again, even for my non-gf friends. The complex – but fairly subtle, in some cases – flavours, the amazing textures… I’m pretty sure that every cookie recipe in this book has wrecked me for the wheat versions. Today, I’d like to share one of them with you. These cookies are everything you could ever want in a cookie… chewy, fudgey, dense, and full of flavour.

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups soft caramel pieces *
Coarse sea salt

In stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla, beat until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Slowly add this dry mix to the mixer bowl, and carefully mix until well incorporated and smooth. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll 1″ balls out of the cookie dough. Arrange dough balls on baking sheets leaving at least 2″ between cookies – they flatten out a fair amount. Gently press the tops of each slightly – flatten JUST enough to prevent the dough from rolling.

Bake for 11-13 minutes. Cookies will look puffy, but flatten out as they cool. Do not overbake! As soon as cookies are finished baking, lightly sprinkle tops with coarse sea salt, press lightly into top of cookies.

* We used baking caramel bits, that came as little balls… but if you don’t have those available, you can cut soft square caramels into quarters and use that.

Less into the salted caramel idea, and want to use the chocolate cookie as a base for something else? No problem, just substitute 2 cups of other “stuff” – chocolate or butterscotch chips, mint chips, dried fruit, nuts… whatever!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Brie en Croûte with Prosciutto, Honey Pear Sauce, and Figs

As we were doing our grocery shopping the other day, we happened to notice that fresh figs were in season.

I’ve been waiting for this for a while – I’ve been planning for a decadent gluten-free brie en croĂ»te recipe for Beyond Flour, which requires fresh figs. It’s kind of maddening when you dream something up, and don’t have access to actualize the idea!

Anyway, as one package of figs contained more than I’d need for my project, I decided to do a second, non-gluten-free version for this blog. So glad I did – you should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I presented him with this and declared it to be his supper!

If you’ve never had fresh figs, it may be a bit difficult to picture how this will taste. Unlike their dried counterparts, fresh figs have a dainty, almost floral taste to them. The taste and texture of the fresh figs pairs perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto, the creaminess of the cheese, sweetness of the pear-honey sauce, and the crunch from the pistachios.

This makes a very elegant and impressive appetizer OR dessert course!

Brie en Croûte with Prosciutto, Honey Pear Sauce, and Figs

1 sheet puff pastry
1 small wheel of brie
4 slices prosciutto
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
2 Black mission figs, sliced into wedges
2 Tbsp finely chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 400 F, line baking sheet with parchment paper

Unfold puff pastry sheet onto lined baking sheet. Carefully cut the rind off the brie, if desired. Wrap brie in prosciutto, place in the middle of the puff pastry sheet. Pull up all corners of the puff pastry, to full enclose the brie in a little pouch.

Whisk together egg and water, Lightly brush entire pastry with egg wash.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

While brie is baking, make the honey sauce:

1/2 cup pear juice or pear nectar
1/4 Tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice

Whisk together juices and honey in a small saucepan. Bring JUST to a boil, turn heat down to low, and simmer for 20 minute, or until thick and syrupy. Keep an eye on it – it can burn!

To serve:

As soon as brie is finished baking, transfer to serving plate. Arrange sliced figs on top, drizzle generously with honey pear sauce. Sprinkle with pistachios, serve immediately! Sliced pears, crostini, and crackers make great accompaniments.

Enjoy!

“Con” Brownies

Today is day 4 of the week-long feature on convention food that I’m doing over on Facebook. So far, we’ve had “Convention” Sloppy Joes, Hotel Room Smoothies, and Roasted “Convention” Chili”.

So, with breakfast and entrees pretty much covered, here’s a look at a favourite con dessert / snack recipe I’ve been making the past few years – “Convention Brownies”. With these brownies, the two main con-related nutritional deficits I decided to tackle were protein and fiber.. and these have a fair amount of both!

Don’t worry, though… these don’t have the taste or texture of a nutritional supplement. They’re your basic wonderful gooey, fudgey chocolate brownie. All the goodness is hidden among all the fat and sugar, LOL!

Oh, and hey – if you use gluten-free oat flour, these are naturally gluten free. That’s the thing about upping the fiber and protein in something like a brownie… there’s just no room for something like all purpose flour. AP flour has basically nothing to offer for nutrition… so it’s the first to go when revamping a recipe!

“Convention” Brownies

1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate flavoured whey protein powder
3/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup chopped nuts or other “stuff”

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 9 x 13 pan ( or two 8 x 8” pans) with pan spray / shortening, or line with parchment or foil.

In large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, whisking until everything is well incorporated. Add eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir until dry ingredients are well incorporated and wet. Add chocolate chunks and nuts/etc, stir until evenly distributed in the batter.

Spread batter into prepared pan(s), Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for 8 x 8” pans, or 30-35 mins for 9 x 13” pan. Brownies are done when knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

* If you’re not big on nuts, substitute 1 cup of chocolate chunks, chocolate chips, or… whatever. M & Ms. Reese’s Pieces. Andes Mint Chips. Whatever will make you happy!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Grownup Hot Chocolate & Hot Cocoa

The weather here has been pretty miserable for the last little while – TONS of rain, heavy winds, and pretty cold on top of it. Many of my friends have flooding in their homes, and I’m just super thankful we live up on the hill.

We spent yesterday morning running errands in that nonsense, and ended up soaked to the bone while grocery shopping in a walk-in fridge. Getting home from THAT, all I wanted to do was make a big pot of boozy hot chocolate.

As I whipped it up, I realized that I’d promised some friends my hot chocolate recipes a few months ago. Whoops. I’ve been super swamped with “Beyond Flour – A New Kind of Gluten-Free Cookbook“, and with costuming orders. It’s been a while since I posted anything at all – sorry about that! Things should clear up in a month or two, I expect you won’t be able to shut me up, then!

Anyway – hot chocolate. I actually have two recipes for you today, because I do differentiate between “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa”. “Chocolate” using chocolate, and “cocoa” using cocoa. Easy, eh? 🙂

Both of these recipes are the way *I* like it – so ridiculously rich, that 1 coffee mug is enough. I would never be able to drink these in huge, gas station sized cups. It’s diabetes in a cup! When it’s cold and rainy, though – perfect. Feel free to thin them down with additional milk, if you’d like something a bit more … chuggable.

Also, while I advocate always having a baggie of vanilla beans on hand (they can be obtained from Amazon at reasonable prices!), I get that not everyone does. SO, if you don’t have a bean, just add one tsp of really good vanilla extract right before serving.

Grownup Hot Chocolate

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cup good quality chocolate chips
Pinch salt

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together milk and brown sugar. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Add chocolate chips and salt to the pot, then turn the heat on. Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the chocolate has all melted and is well incorporated, remove from heat.

Pour hot chocolate over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

Grownup Hot Cocoa

Mini Marshmallows
Liqueur of choice*
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup hot water
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean

Place a handful of mini marshmallows in each mug, top with about 1 oz of liqueur per mug. Allow it to soak while you prepare the hot chocolate:

In a saucepan, whisk together cocoa, brown sugar, and salt. Add hot water, whisk to form a thick paste. Slowly add milk, whisking to fully incorporate it.

Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scraping the seeds into the pot – throw the bean into the pot when you’re done scraping it out!

Bring the mixture up to just barely a simmer, stirring frequently. When hot enough, pour hot cocoa over marshmallows and booze, serve immediately!

* SO many liqueurs work in this, it really is whatever you want. I love Rumchata, Amarula, or Amaretto, while my husband leans more towards whiskey. Kahlua, any of the cream tequila liqueurs, pistachio liqueur, Grand Marnier – if it works with chocolate, toss it in!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Bananas Foster Pavlova

Just flew back from an INSANE trip to Dallas this past week. Stayed with friends, enjoyed great company, great food, … Vanilla Ice, Ninja Turtles.. drunkenly prank calling some of my MasterChef “prison buddies” with Matt Orsini (remember him from my videos?).. and more. Truly epic trip.

One thing that I was particularly looking forward to, was meeting Ben Starr for the first time. As you may recall, Ben was my “Haymitch”, as I prepared for my brief stint on MasterChef. I realized this week that it’s been almost a year and a half since first contact!

After I arrived in Dallas, we planned to meet up on our second last night in Dallas – he would have my husband and I over for dinner, along with John – one of our friends that we were staying with. I was honestly kind of nervous – meeting people always makes me nervous, but Ben was even beyond that – someone I owed a good chunk of my sanity to, over the whole course of the past year and a half.

I don’t *ever* get star struck, but apparently I DO get “Starr” struck!

So, with a few hours to go before dinner, I texted him to once again ask if there was anything I could bring, hoping that I could get my mind off of “Man, I wonder what this whole thing would have been like, if I’d never contacted him”. I offered to bring dessert, and he accepted. Yes! Distraction!

Relief soon turned to stress, as I realized that I was in a kitchen that was not my own, with no real access to grocery stores, not a whole lot in the way of available ingredients, and only a few hours to go. Yay for speaking before thinking things out, eh?

We’d purchased the stuff to make a bananas foster bread pudding the following day – erring on the side of too much in the way of ingredients, as I hadn’t created the recipe yet. I quickly worked things out and could tell I had enough to make a bit of bananas foster… and I could easily make a pavlova. Done and done – and Pavlova IS my favourite dessert ever, afterall. Less than 10 minutes later, the pavlova was in the oven, and the wonderful aroma of bananas foster was wafting off the stovetop.

The hour+ drive to his house, I was so nervous. Would I say something stupid? What if I got really emotional about the last year and a half and just bawled on sight? What if he really hated my dessert?

Then, he answered the door in his underwear. I’d actually been so nervous I didn’t even notice, til he pointed it out. We laughed, and my social tension disappeared!

His business partner – from his underground dining venture, “Frank” – Jennie was there. They were both all kinds of awesome. Later on, Ben’s partner Christian arrived, and HE was all kinds of awesome. The whole evening was unbelievably awesome, and yes – I know I’m overusing awesome. IT WAS AWESOME. So much laughter. Such great food! An illicit absinthe collection, a chicken on the table… good times!

Anyway, I could yap all day about that evening (Did I mention that we had an AWESOME TIME?)… but I’m here to share a recipe!

So, here’s the bananas foster pav. Contrary to my early worries, it went over VERY well with the others!

This recipe is a bit different from a normal pavlova, in that I swap out half of the white sugar, for brown. This changes the texture – the inside of the meringue ends up almost cakey! It’s delicious, and is naturally gluten-free. Also, as has been road-tested… it’s a great recipe to pull out as a last minute sure-to-impress dessert!

Ok, I’m going to go get some sleep now…

Bananas Foster Pavlova

Meringue:
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup super fine / castor sugar *
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp Cornstarch

Bananas Foster:
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup amber rum
1 tsp cinnamon
4-5 bananas

Whipped Cream:
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (loose, not packed!) brown sugar
1/4 cup amber rum

1/2 cup toasted pecans

Get ready: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove eggs from fridge and allow to warm to room temp (about 5 minutes). Line a baking (cookie) sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. Fit your electric mixer with the whisk attachment.

In your mixer bowl, beat egg whites together with salt until glossy peaks form. Slowly add in the sugars, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Turn off mixer, remove bowl.

Sprinkle vanilla, vinegar, and cornstarch over meringue, gently fold in till combined.

Heap meringue onto the center of your baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread the meringue out to approximately an 8-9″ circle. I like to have my meringue a fairly even depth throughout – some like a mound, some like it to be a little concave. If you want to get really fancy, put the meringue into a pastry bag and pipe it out as a mass of swirls that form your 8″ circle! It’s really up to you!

Put the baking sheet into your oven, and turn the temperature down to 250 degrees. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Once your timer goes off, turn the oven off and let the meringue cool in the oven for several hours. The baking of the meringue can be done the day before, if needed!

AS THAT IS BAKING:

Make your Bananas Foster topping:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum, stirring until well combined. Add banana slices, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until desired texture. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature.

Just before serving, whip the heavy cream, along with the brown sugar. Once it’s just about thick enough, turn the speed down and add the rum. Once rum is fully combined, turn up the speed and whip until it reaches a good, thick texture.

Mound the whipped cream on your pavlova, and top with bananas foster and toasted pecans. Serve immediately!

Serves 4-6. (Or 2 Pavlova fanatics!)

* Super fine / castor sugar is granulated sugar with a much finer grain size than regular granulated sugar. It is NOT powdered / icing sugar! Super fine sugar is usually sold near the sugar in the baking aisle, in small boxes – sometimes resembling milk cartons. If you aren’t able to find actual super fine sugar, you can process regular granulated sugar in your food processor until fine. Measure AFTER you process!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Geekery and my Partridgeberry Pie Recipe (AKA Lingonberry Pie)

Apologies for the silence on the blog lately – I’ve been hard at work on my upcoming gluten free cookbook, “Beyond Flour”. It hasn’t left me much time, drive, or inclination to post blogs! Whoops.

This weekend, I was inspired to post something… albeit in a roundabout way. The facts are these:

– Since making my husband’s Thranduil costume, we’ve been on a bit of a Lee Pace kick. TOTALLY fell in love with “Pushing Daisies” – posthumously (hah!) – as well as some of his other work. (There is a “Red Bandit” cosplay in the works..)

– A friend (Who you may recognize as “Legolas” in the movie premiere kiss photo of ours that went sort of viral last month) just completed a “Ned the Piemaker” cosplay last week, complete with “Pie Hole” box.

– This past weekend happened to be the weekend I had scheduled for developing a gluten free pie crust for the book.

– Late last week, I came upon this fan art, which I promptly fell in love with.

– We have 159 digits of Pi tiled into our awesomely geeky kitchen backsplash.

… I’m sure you can see where this is going, if you’ve been following this blog for any real amount of time. You should never underestimate how far I’m willing to run with a crazy idea!

So, at the prompting of another friend, we decided to do a mini shoot with Porter as “Thrandy the Piemaker”. We invited our friend over to join in, because… really. Thranduil, Ned, and pie? Awesome. Bonus: Legolas! I went ahead and made a the most ridiculous twee thing I’ve ever made in my whole life – the frilly apron from the fan art – and baked the pie.

The photos from that shoot turned out amazing – and so did the pie! Let me share a few photos, and the recipe for my partridgeberry pie filling. (The gluten free crust recipe will be in the book!):


(We have almost 50 photos from this shoot posted to my costuming page on Facebook. That album is here. So much ridiculousness.. I LOVE it!)

Remember my “Faux Lingonberry Wine” recipe? I think it’s the first time I mentioned my love of partridgeberries on my blog. LOVE them… and I’ve been missing them as a dessert ingredient for a long time now. It’s been almost 8 years… and this is my favourite kind of pie!

So, I splurged a bit and bought some frozen partridge/lingonberries from a local shop*, and here we are!

Partridgeberry Pie

3 cups Fresh or frozen partridgeberries (about 1 lb)*
1 1/2 cups Granulated sugar
2-3 tsp cornstarch
Zest of one orange
Pinch salt
2 pie crusts. See Uncle Tom’s Pie Crust for recipe!
1 egg, whisked
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Place berries in a medium saucepan. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch (use 2 tsp for a slightly runnier filling, 3 for a thicker one. We used 3 for the pie pictured!), and add to the berries along with orange zest and salt.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. The berries will break down a bit, and the mixture will thicken slightly. Allow to boil for 3 minutes before removing from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature – it will thicken more as it cools.

Preheat oven to 425F

If not using a prepared pie crust, roll your two crusts out to about 1/4″ thick. Line a pie pan with one crust, and cut the other into 1″ strips.

Transfer cooled filling into the pie shell, spreading to cover the bottom of the pie evenly.

Use the strips of pie crust to create a lattice on top. Where this filling is very dark and stains easily, I don’t usually do a properly woven lattice – that involves placing and folding back strips to weave other strips through… and can get pie filling all over the place!

I lay one of the longest strips right across the middle of the pie, vertically. Then I cross it with another of the longest strips, horizontally. The next longest strip gets laid aside the first strip laid, then the next one beside the second strip laid. I alternate directions and sides, working from the longest strips down to the shortest.

Once your lattice is laid, trim the edges of the crust to only slightly longer than the edge of the pie plate. Fold the bottom crust edge over the lattice edge, and pinch well to seal. Use your fingers to crimp/ruffle the edge of the pie.

Carefully brush lattice and crust with whisked egg, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pie for 15 minutes at 425 F. Without opening the door, turn the temperature down to 400 and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or so.. until crust is golden.

Serve warm or cold – this pie is especially great with some rich vanilla ice cream on top.

Enjoy!

* If you don’t live somewhere that partridgeberries grow, you can ask around any Scandinavian shops and see if they know where you can find some. Alternatively, they can be purchased frozen online from some specialty retailers, and I’m told that IKEA sells them in their frozen section as well. (I just can’t find anything on their site about it!)

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!