Tuesday, March 25, 2014

International Waffle Day 2014

Happy International Waffle Day!  Not be confused with National Waffle Day in the US--that’s celebrated in August. Perplexed much? Me too. But I’ll take whatever excuse necessary to celebrate waffles!

I’ve been out of town and/or sick the past week, so in lieu of a new recipe, I thought I’d post a waffle round up. We really like waffles around these parts. I make them at least once a month. Just because you may have missed out on celebrating International Waffle Day for breakfast doesn’t mean you have to miss out entirely--you can always fire up the waffle iron for “brannier” (aka breakfast-for-dinner).

One final note before we get to the main event (copious amounts of waffles), not all these recipes were originally gluten free, but if you’ve made a batch of Jeanne’s GF AP flour mix, you can substitute that in equal amounts for the AP flour in any recipe to make  that recipe GF.  Pretty nifty.  And vice versa.... if you’re not GF but the recipe is, just substitute regular AP flour for the GF flour and you’ll be all set.

And who could forget the waffle doughnuts

Hopefully that gives you a few waffle recipe ideas? And hopefully I won’t be sick for too much longer & can get back to the kitchen soon.....

Monday, March 17, 2014

DIY "French" Vanilla Coffee Creamer (GF)

I love to have a cup of coffee most mornings... well, actually, it’s more like a cafe au lait (half milk, half brewed coffee), but who’s really keeping track.  I’m somewhat of a morning person, so I honestly don’t drink the coffee for the caffeine. I prefer to drink my coffee simply for the ritual of it.

Not much of my day-to-day life has structure anymore. I can set my own schedule, do my own things, which is both good and bad depending on the day. Even our mealtimes vary greatly from day to day (contingent on husband’s work schedule).

There’s something so special about the morning coffee ritual.  I warm my mug, half filled with milk, then add the hot coffee. Speaking of coffee, my in-laws gifted us some of this coffeein early 2013 and we’re completely hooked now....  It’s become one of our few grocery budget splurges.

But now comes the shameful confession portion.  Even though we drink relatively “fancy” coffee, and even though I’ve worked as a barista, I still have a guilty pleasure when it comes to coffee at home: french vanilla coffee creamer.  Yes, I’m cringing even as I write those words.

Not only do I hate the stigma of a french vanilla coffee creamer consumer (I have visions of gas station cappuccino, which is *another* occasional guilty pleasure of mine), but I know that creamer isn’t good for me.... Though I do feel somewhat better knowing that we’re not drinking the fat free or sugar free versions, even the regular coffee creamer is full of chemicals and unnatural ingredients.

Even more shameful is that I do not just add the faux creamer to my daily coffee, but I also became addicted to adding a splash to bowls of gluten free Rice Chex. YIKES! I’ve got to stop this cycle soon....  Before it gets any worse!

Luckily, Food52 posted a recipe for homemade coffee creamer. Why did I never think of making my own before now?!? It may not taste *exactly* like my favorite french vanilla store-bought variety, but I like that I can adjust the flavoring & sweetness to my own likings. And it’s free from chemicals & weird ingredients :)

Homemade “French” Vanilla Coffee Creamer (GF)
Adapted from Food52

When I worked as a barista, I was taught to make “french” vanilla beverages by adding a little bit of hazelnut syrup along with some regular vanilla syrup  but I have been unable to find any concrete information to back up that practice? Most sources simply say that “french” vanilla should taste more “custard-y.” So, I’m adding a little maple syrup to mimic that “custard-y” flavor found in store bought french vanilla coffee creamer.

1/2 c Milk
1/2 c Heavy Cream
1.75 oz / 1/4 c Granulated Sugar
1 Tbl real maple syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

  1. Add the milk, cream, and granulated sugar to a small stainless steel sauce pan. Bring to a simmer on medium high heat, stirring constantly. 
  2. Reduce the heat to low & continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar completely dissolves, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla bean paste. 
  4. Cool the creamer completely, using an ice bath, before pouring it into a vessel (with a lid) for refrigeration. I like to use an old coffee creamer bottle. 
  5. Shake well before use. Creamer will keep, stored properly, for approximately 2 weeks. 

  • If you prefer to use an actual vanilla bean in lieu of the vanilla bean paste, add the seeds from half a vanilla bean to the sugar & mix well with your fingers to infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar granules.  Add the sugar to the milk & cream and continue as directed above. Good vanilla extract may also be used, however, it will not have as strong a vanilla flavor. 
  • To make a dairy free version, try substituting a nut milk or coconut milk for the milk & heavy cream.  
  • Add other spices or flavorings if you like.  The dairy could be infused with other items like herbs. Or reduce the sugar, if you prefer a less sweet creamer. 
  • Recipe easily doubles, if you go through copious amounts of coffee creamer :) The stove top cooking process just may take a little longer. 
This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Samoa Squares (Gluten Free)

I dream of many things these days... (note: this is not a comprehensive list) The end of this crazy winter (where one day we have the AC on and the next day have to switch to heat). Fresh flowers. Vacations. One day learning to like exercise. A kitchen with a window in it (and marble counter tops too, while we’re dreaming). Paying off student loans. Living nearer a Trader Joes and Whole Foods (though I’m sure it’s better for my pocketbook that I don’t). And Gluten Free Girl Scout Cookies.   Luckily, I can make my own gluten free version of my Girl Scout cookie of preference: Samoas (or Caramel Delites, depending on where you are in the US).

If you think about it, Samoas have quite a few components: the shortbread crust (chocolate crust), the chewy caramel/coconut layer, the chocolate drizzle.... So, I made gluten free Samoa Squares with just a few adaptations to make them a bit easier.  Gluten free shortbread is more fragile than regular shortbread because in addition to not having gluten (i.e. proteins that help provide structure in regular baked goods), shortbread traditionally lacks another structural item: eggs. Making a bar-type cookie that is cut into squares *after* it is assembled is much easier than rolling out the the slightly crumbly dough and attempting to cut out individual cookies. Plus, then the caramel/coconut mixture can be spread on top all at once, and not individually portioned & spread onto each separate cookie base.  Then, instead of dipping the bottom in chocolate, I added a chocolate layer in between the baked shortbread and the coconut caramel. Just a few short-cuts that make the assembly easier, but the squares still taste (and look) amazing! Next time, I may even make a double batch (though then I’d be tempted to eat way, way too many of them....).  

My next dream is to perhaps to take a few of the leftover Samoa Squares make a milkshake or ice cream sundae with a couple leftover Samoa Squares. And perhaps tackle a gluten free version of the Thin Mint (my second favorite).  

Gluten Free Samoa Squares 
Yields approximately 16 squares

Shortbread Base (adapted from Annie’s Eats) 
4.25 oz (1c) GF AP Flour (or substitute AP flour, if not Gluten Free)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3 oz Coconut Oil, solid
1.75 oz (1/4 c) Granulated Sugar
3/4 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder & salt. Set aside
  2. In a slightly larger bowl, use a spatula to cream together the solidified coconut oil and the granulated sugar. Add in the vanilla bean paste. 
  3. Pour all the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture & continue mixing, using a spatula, until a soft dough forms.  
  4. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper (I find it’s easiest to crumple the paper first, then try to line the pan with it)--don’t worry if it’s not perfect. 
  5. Press the evenly dough into the prepared pan. (I used my fingers). Chill the pan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.  
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the chilled dough for 15 minutes, or until the dough is baked through and very lightly golden brown. 
  7. Set aside to cool.  Keep the oven on to toast the coconut. 
Chocolate Layer
2 oz semi-sweet Chocolate Chips 
1 tsp (6 g) Coconut Oil 
  1. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir. Microwave for additional 10 second increments, stirring after each session, until the chips are melted.  
  2. Evenly spread over the baked, cooled shortbread base. Allow to set. 

Coconut Caramel Topping (adapted from Cooking Classy)
90 g (3/4 c) sweetened coconut flakes, divided
6.9 oz (approximately 24) Kraft Caramels, unwrapped (note, weight is taken after unwrapping)
2 1/2 Tbl Milk (approximately 33g) 
  1. Spread the coconut flakes onto a small pan. Toast in a 350 F oven until brown (but not burned)--Mine took about 15 minutes. Stir approximately every 5 minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. 
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat the unwrapped caramels and milk over medium heat. Stir constantly until the caramels are just melted. Set aside to cool slightly. 
  3. Meanwhile, pulse the toasted coconut in a food processor until finely processed. Remove 60 g (approximately 1/2 c) and set aside both the 60g and the remaining. 
  4. Pour the 60g of coconut into the caramel and mix to combine.  Carefully spread in an even layer over the chocolate covered shortbread. Top with the remaining coconut & press into the caramel.  Allow to set completely.
  5. Use a sharp knife to cut the coconut/caramel/chocolate topped shortbread into 16 equal squares. Spread the cut squares out slightly on the parchment paper in preparation for the chocolate drizzle. 
Chocolate Drizzle (adapted from Cooking Classy)
Note: this will make more than needed, but it’s rather difficult to make the batch much smaller than it already is. 

35g (2 1/2 Tbl) Coconut Oil, solid
10 g (2 Tbl) Cocoa Powder
1 oz (1/4 c) Confectioners sugar
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut oil and cocoa powder.  Heat for 10 seconds, or just until melted. Stir.
  2. Add the confectioners’s sugar and mix until combined.  Heat for an additional 10 seconds, or until just slightly warm & of a pipe-able consistency.  Additional coconut oil may be added if the mixture is too thick.  
  3. Place the chocolate into a cornet paper piping bag or a small ziplock.  Barely cut off the tip (or corner) and carefully stripe cross the squares.  Allow the chocolate to drizzle across the *entire* square so that you don’t end up with the “toaster strudel” effect ;) 
  4. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature. Store any leftovers at room temperature. 
Please note: When I made these squares, I used the weighted measurements which will be more accurate. I’ve included some volumetric amounts too, though I have not personally tested them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blueberry Pancakes with Lemon (GF)

Is it a coincidence that I awoke thinking of pancakes on Mardi Gras? I think not......  Well actually, I was thinking more of muffins (these muffins to be exact), but pancakes provide a little more instant gratification (and I don’t have to wash the muffin pan).

Last week I discovered a great new pancake recipe when husband requested pancakes one morning for breakfast, but today was my first attempt at making them gluten free.  To further mix things up, in addition to substituting my favorite GF flour, I also added some lemon zest & frozen wild blueberries.   Somehow the flavors taste like spring (lemon) and summer (blueberry) and give me hope that this crazy winter won’t last forever.

We don’t do a lot of “fancy” breakfasts around here.  Greek yogurt (for him) and gluten free granola or cereal (for me) with coffee seem to be the norm these days. But every once and a while, one needs a special breakfast during the week. I foresee these pancakes also making it into our “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) rotation that we do from time to time.  Go ahead, indulge a little :) 

p.s. Don’t be alarmed at how liquid the batter is--they’ll turn in to one of the best textured pancakes I've ever made at home. But I do think the smaller pancakes turn out better than the larger ones!  

Blueberry Pancakes with Lemon (GF)
adapted from Martha Stewart
yields 8 medium pancakes

2 Tbl Granulated Sugar
Zest of 1/2 a small lemon (add more zest if you prefer a more noted lemon flavor)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
4.4 oz Gluten Free Flour (I used Jeanne's GF AP Flour Mix, or substitute regular AP flour if not GF)

1 large egg
2 Tbl Vegetable Oil (or could substitute butter that has been melted and cooled)
1 c Milk

Blueberries (I used Frozen Wild Blueberries)
Cooking Spray (or butter or additional vegetable oil) for greasing the skillet.
Butter & Maple Syrup, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 F. (I use my toaster oven)  
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar with the lemon zest to infuse the lemon flavor into the sugar. Add the powder, salt & GF flour. Whisk to combine. 
  3. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the egg with the vegetable oil.  Add the milk & mix.  Add the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined (if using regular flour, be careful to mix only until just combined). 
  4. Heat a small skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Grease the skillet well.  Pour between 1/8 c and 1/4 c batter into the skillet.  Immediately drop frozen blueberries over the surface of the pancake.  Cook until the top has lost it's sheen and begins to look dull, and the bottom of the pancake is golden brown. Flip & continue cooking until golden brown on the other side. 
  5. Transfer the cooked pancake to the preheated oven & repeat the process with the remaining batter. Grease the pan between pancakes. 
  6. Serve the pancakes with butter & maple syrup (or a blueberry syrup would be lovely). Store any leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.