Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Russian Tea Cakes

 
Russian tea cakes (aka Mexican wedding cookies) are dense cookies with chopped walnuts rolled in confectioners’ sugar that look like little snowballs.  It has become a staple cookie in our home during the holidays. While this cookie is rolled in confectioners’ sugar, it’s not overly sweet and almost a little salty even though there is very little salt. They are guaranteed to have you licking the powdered sugar off your fingers.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

·      Finely chop walnuts to equal 1 cup when chopped. Use your food processer if you have one. Set aside
·      Whisk the flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
·      In your mixing bowl, combine the margarine, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.
·      Mix in the flour and salt.
·      Add the nuts.
·      Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight.

·      Preheat oven to 400°F.
·      Roll into ½ inch balls (or 1 inch if you prefer a larger cookie).
·      Place on a lined, ungreased baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
·      Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies should be set, but not brown.
·      Gently roll in sifted confectioners’ sugar.
·      Cool completely on a wire rack.
·      Once cool, roll the cookies in sifted confectioners’ sugar again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies



These gluten free sugar cookies are quite good. They have a light crunchy texture. The dough cannot be rolled like regular cookie dough. If you try to roll it out like you would with regular sugar cookie dough, it will crack. You need to press the dough out with the rolling pin first and then very gently roll it out in small sections. Be very careful when transferring the cookies to the cookie sheet. They break easily. They are sturdier after they come out of the oven and are cooled.

Make the following flour blend before making the cookies.

2 cups superfine white rice flour (I use Authentic Foods White Rice Flour Superfine)
1  cups potato starch
⅔ cup tapioca flour
3 tsp xanthan gum

Whisk the ingredients together.




1 cup Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks
½ cup confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
2 ¼ cups gluten free flour blend
1 tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt

·      Preheat the oven to 400F.
·      Combine the flour blend, cream of tartar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk.
·      In a mixing bowl, combine and mix the margarine, confectioners’ sugar, almond and vanilla extracts. Start slowly so you do not end up wearing the sugar.
·      Mix in the flour mixture.
·      Refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours or over night.
·      On a lightly floured surface, press out the dough and then gently roll out the dough in sections and cut with your favorite cookie cutter(s).
·      Place on a lined cookie sheet.
·      Bake for 6-8 minutes.
·      Cool completely on a wire rack.

Frosting

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tsp almond extract (or vanilla extract)
5-6 tblsp rice milk

·      Dip the tops of the cooled cookies in the frosting, one at a time.
·      Sprinkled with your favorite colored sugar.
·      Let the frosting dry.


Gluten Free Pumpkin Streusel Cake


Here is a gluten free version of the Pumpkin Streusel Cake. It is important to use the Authentic Foods White Rice Flour Superfine, if possible. Their flour minimizes the grittiness that you get with regular rice flour or sweet rice flour. Make sure you use potato starch, not flour.

1 cup superfine white rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
2½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
tsp ground allspice
½ cup dairy free margarine (I use Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (I use Libby’s Pure Pumpkin)
1 cup rice milk (soy, almond or coconut will work too)

·      Preheat oven to 350°F.
·      Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
·      In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice.
·      Beat margarine and sugars together until combined.
·      Add eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin.
·      Mix until smooth.
·      Add dry ingredients alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
·      Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the crumb topping. It will seem like a lot, but some of it sinks into the top of the cake.
·      Bake 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Crumb Topping

4 tbsp cold dairy free margarine
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup superfine white rice flour
¾ cup potato starch
½ tsp salt
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
½ tsp cinnamon

·      Mix together the superfine white rice flour, potato starch, salt, and cinnamon.
·      Add the brown sugar and blend until thoroughly combined.
·      Cut in the cold margarine with a pastry cutter, forks, or your fingers.
·      Add the pecans.
·      Sprinkle on top of the cake.

Pumpkin Streusel Cake



When I was in graduate school, I made this pumpkin bar recipe. It was a cross between a pumpkin cake and pumpkin pie with a crumb top. We have moved several times since I made that recipe and I lost it.  It also used a box cake mix to make the crumb topping. My version has a crunchy streusel top without using a box mix. Pumpkin Streusel Cake is a great alternative to pumpkin pie. So, if you are looking for a new pumpkin recipe, give this one a try.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
tsp ground allspice
½ cup dairy free margarine (I use Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (I use Libby’s Pure Pumpkin)
1 cup rice milk (soy, almond or coconut will work too)

·      Preheat oven to 350°F.
·      Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
·      In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice.
·      Beat margarine and sugars together until combined.
·      Add eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin.
·      Mix until smooth.
·      Add dry ingredients alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
·      Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the crumb topping. It will seem like a lot, but some of it sinks into the top of the cake.
·      Bake 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Crumb Topping

½ cup cold dairy free margarine
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
½ tsp cinnamon

·      Mix together the flour, salt, and cinnamon.
·      Add the brown sugar and blend until thoroughly combined.
·      Cut in the cold margarine with a pastry cutter, forks, or your fingers.
·      Add the pecans.
·      Sprinkle on top of the cake.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Truffle Torte

I have been pondering for a while if I could make the torte gluten free since there is already so little flour in the recipe. Recently, I have had more people come into my life that either have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive, so I tried to give it a whirl. I considered substituting gluten flour, but I decided to just omit the flour because there was only 2 tablespoons in the original recipe and plenty of egg whites to act as a binding agent. If you are looking for a recipe that will WOW everyone and please those who are dairy free and/or gluten free, this is the recipe for you!


Ingredients

Cooking spray
12.5 squares (5oz) Dark Chocolate Dream chocolate
¾ cup + 2T sugar
½ cup rice milk
3large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp Kahlua or coffee extract
¼ tsp salt
3 large egg whites at room temperature
2 tbsp all-purpose flour

·      Heat oven to 350F
·      Line the bottom of an 8” springform pan with wax paper and lightly spray the bottom and sides with the vegetable spray.
·      Wrap bottom of pan with foil (and up the sides by 2 inches).
·      Place the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl.
·      Microwave on high for 1.5-2 minutes to melt until smooth.
·      In a small sauce pan, combine ¾ cup sugar and rice milk. Whisk together and ook for 2 minutes over medium heat, whisking constantly until smooth.
·      Whisk the milk/sugar mixture into the melted chocolate until smooth.
·      Stir in egg yolks, vanilla, Kahlua (or coffee extract) and salt.
·      Beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl at medium speed until foamy. You want the egg whites to form stiff, shiny peaks. 
·      Gradually beat in the remaining ¼ cup sugar; increase speed to high and beat just until stiff, but not dry. Be careful not to over mix to point of being dry.
·      With a rubber spatula, gently fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture, at a time.
·      Fold in flour
·      Spread in prepared pan.
·      Place springform pan in a roasting pan.
·      Pour enough water to reach 1” up the side of the pan.
·      Bake for 30 minutes.
·      Remove pan from water.
·      Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack
·      Discard foil. Remove sides of the pan and cool cake completely.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Quick and Easy Fudge


After making fudge last year, I wondered if I could come up with a quicker and easier way to make fudge. The Peanut Butter Fudge from last year had me pondering if I could do something similar with chocolate. After a couple of tries, this fudge is what I came up with. It is a quick and easy recipe that can be whipped up without much difficulty.  The fudge turns out rich and silky smooth. The coffee extract is the key to making it have that little something extra and you really do not taste the coffee. It just enhances the chocolate flavor.  This would make a great treat to bring to an office or neighborhood party or even a gift for a teacher.

2 tbsp Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks
½ cup SO Delicious Original Coconut (or Almond) Creamer/(or rice milk)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
10 oz dark chocolate* chopped or broken into pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp coffee extract



·      Line a 9x9 in pan with foil.
·      Heat creamer/milk and margarine in a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.
·      Once the margarine is melted, whisk in the cocoa powder.
·      Whisk until smooth.
·      Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
·      Bring to a boil.
·      Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
·      Add the chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.
·      Stir in the vanilla and coffee extracts.
·      Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and cool. If you need it to cool quickly, you can put it in the freezer or outside if you live where it’s cold.
·      Remove the fudge from the pan by lifting up the foil.
·      Remove the foil and cut into ½ inch to 1inch squares.
·      Store in an airtight container.
·      Enjoy!

*I use Dark Chocolate Cream Pure Dark or Scharffen BergerSemi-Sweet Chocolate

Note: I've noticed that after several days the fudge tastes better. The flavor seems to mature and becomes richer..