Chocolate Cloud Pie…Oh My!

I have a fantastic cookbook, all pies, nothing else. By Farm Journal, published in 1981 but it has the vibe of the 1950’s. Lots of interesting combo fruit pies and chiffon pies like you never heard of. If you are tired of the same old pie for Thanksgiving try this recipe: a chocolate cloud pie. The pre-made cookie crust would sub in for a traditional pie crust which the original recipe called for. I had all the ingredients except the crust ….but I thought it sounded tasty and worth a trip to the grocery store for the crust cookies, gluten free of course! And it works well with a premade graham cracker crust. My guy actually liked it better that way. I especially loved the version I made once with a mixture of chocolate cookies and ginger snaps. Do any crust you like.

chocolate pudding

It is not hard to make either. I throw it together in three easy steps. It was one of those recipes where the sum of the ingredients is far tastier than the components would lead one to believe. The first time I made it everyone devoured their slice. some took slices home. My mom was eager to keep a second slice….for tomorrow. This enthusiastic audience caused me to mention it on facebook. I got all these likes and a few hungry comments. The buzz of happy responses led me to decide to share my version of chocolate rum pie. I have renamed it Chocolate Cloud Pie. That was six years ago….

The name came from the fact that it is as light as a fluffy cloud and from my love for my older sister who died over seven years ago. Margie’s love of pie was renown in our family and I am absolutely sure she would have adored this pie. Whip some up this week and woo your family with chocolaty goodness that should please everyone. choco cloud pie slice (2)

Notes: I used french brandy instead of rum as I was out of dark rum. I think cognac would be nice too. I have used bourbon too; works fine! I used 3/4 cup almonds as that’s all I had; worked great; I put 2 Tbsp. aside for topping and rest went on top of the baked cookie crust. You can just buy a crust.

I originally osted this back in the spring of 2014 and hadn’t made it for a while; a matter of just forgetting how amazing it tastes.  Like eating a chocolate cloud….with puffs of cream and the crunch of toasted almonds. I used a hybrid crust when I made it a couple of years ago; I was tired of my gf oreos; so I scraped out and discarded the filling and crunched up the cookies, I thought I was a bit short on cookies so I added 7-8 gingersnaps I still had from my last cookie crust. Crunched up and mixed with butter, baked into what became a flavor delight of a cookie crust! One of the best pies I have ever made. And I make a lot of pies….

Chocolate Almond Cloud Pie

Ingredients
1 pre-made chocolate cookie crumb crust, GF
1 pkg chocolate pudding, the kind you have to cook
2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cocoa

1 tbsp dark rum
1 cup slivered almonds, divided
1 1/3 cup heavy cream, divided

4 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Pour the almonds into a frying pan, no oil and toast them, stirring constantly. Alternately you could do this in the oven at a low temperature but I prefer the frying pan. Stop when they are medium brown, try not to let them get black on the sides.

Cook the filling; put 2 cups whole milk into a medium sized and heavy sauce pan, Then add the dry pudding mix, the corn starch and the cocoa. Stir with a whisk as it heats. Once the mixture is bubbling all over the surface turn off the heat and add the rum. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill until cooled. Take ½ cup heavy cream and whip. Add this to the pudding and whisk until blended. Take 4 tbsp of almonds and set aside for garnishing the pie later. Sprinkle the rest of the toasted almonds over the chocolate pie crust Gently spoon the filling into the pie shell on top of the toasted almonds. Chill at least 2 hours until set and cold. Whip the rest of the heavy cream in a chilled bowl, adding the sugar near the end of the whipping. Gently put dollops of it all over the pie top. Sprinkle the reserved almonds on top. Enjoy!

choc cloud pie

Originally posted March 2014. No changes to recipe.

Dutch Apple Pie with Shortbread Crust

A year ago in November, I  had a rigid plastic brace on my on right arm and very limited strength, I just could not roll out pie dough. So, a great option for me was a press in pie crust make in stand mixer. Perfect fit in my Dutch Apple Pie, with crumb topping.  The cookie crust was tender and held together well, wasn’t soggy. Best eaten within 2 days.

If you are not into making a rolled out crust this is a perfect solution for you if you want to make a delish gf crust. I really didn’t miss the rolled out crust; this simple press in crumb recipe by Annalise Roberts is the very best crust for one handers or crust novices!

I used a mixture of apples; a few golden delicious, some granny smith and a few Jonagold.  Using 2-3  kinds of baking apples is the best plan for flavor and structure (doesn’t mush down too much or not enough). This was definitely a great mixture. I am making a Thanksgiving apple pie next week and I will probably use a similar mixture of varieties.  The pie went in tall and settled nicely into a tightly woven pie filling. One thing: please don’t use red delicious; they are not baking apples.

Dutch Apple Pie with Cookie Crust

Ingredients:

CRUST:

1 1/2 cup gf flour (King Arthur basic gf blend)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

7  Tbsp. cold butter

FILLING:

6-7 cups peeled and sliced apples; don’t leave them too fat; thinner is better

2 Tbsp. Tapioca flour

1/3 – 1/2 c granulated sugar

¼ c. brown sugar; packed

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

CRUMBLE:

3/4 cup gf flour

5 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS: Make crust in stand mixer; put dry ingredients in, add butter and mix on medium until crumbly. Spray 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray and press in crust, heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix filling in large bowl; dump in apple slices.  Mix the dry filling ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and then the dry mixture. Stir and let stand while you make crumbs.

Mix crumbs: use stand mixer: no need to clean bowl. Dump in flour and sugar and mix, then blend in butter and blend well. Gently pour fruit into pie pan on top of crust and sprinkle top with crumble to mostly cover fruit. sprinkle about 1 ¼ cups of crumb mixture.

apple pie in oven

Bake on lowest shelf in oven, 55-65 minutes until lightly browned and applies are bubbling. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving (at least 2 or 3 hours.) Best eaten within 24-36 hours. Vanilla ice cream is a perfect combo with this pie! Enjoy.

apple pie done

apple pie slice

Trader Joe’s Mandarin Oranges

Trader Joe's Dried Fruit SOFT & JUICY MANDARINS Dried Orange Fruit 4 6 OZ  BAGS | Dried fruit, Dried oranges, Orange fruit
So yummy!

A few weeks ago, I got to shop at a Trader Joe’s and I discovered a delightful and relatively healthy treat; dried mandarin orange sections.140 calories for 12 pieces. Sweet and tangy. Delightful and I love that I can eat just one or two sections for a tiny treat. Hard to eat half a muffin, half an orange or just a few tortilla chips…. Too bad they are all gone. I live over an hour away from the nearest Trader Joe’s. Longing for the day the move into my area. We are a large population center in Pennsylvania. Kinda mystifying why we don’t have one…. come on Trader Joe’s!! We NEED you here in the Lehigh Valley ASAP, for nothing else, for my addiction to these tangy tasty crescents of citrus flavor.

Demystifying GF Flours for Holiday Baking Fun

Thanksgiving is upon us. I have my plan pretty much set. My usual sides and stuff we love. Just us two…covid style! Everything must be gluten free for me. Big turkey in the freezer as we love leftovers. Probably making a bread based traditional stuffing with lots of fresh herbs in it. Of course there will be real mashed potatoes and turkey gravy made in the roasting pan. I am sticking with my spicy yam casserole; it is so delicious and fairly healthy for a yam dish as so many are loaded with butter, sugar and marshmallows. Debating a corn casserole. I know that will please my guy. Just us two though…. I am probably going with a pie for dessert; apple vs pumpkin…oh sweet dilemma!

Ready to bake apple pie

Anyway, I am writing this post for a friend who wants to cook gf dishes for someone in her family for the holidays. I want to go over the flour issue particularly for someone new to cooking gf meals. It is slightly tricky so I am going to try to make it clear for everyone: here goes.

you could use this rice flour for gravy making

There are individual gf flours like rice flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, potato starch, cornstarch, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, etc.! A bewildering array of choices as almost any grain can be ground into a flour. Flour can then be processed to create a starch, which tends to be nearly flavorless but often has a big purpose in gf baking. I rarely use just one flour in a baking recipe. Why? Because a single flour is often missing an important characteristic of what we want in a baking result. A mixture has different kinds of flours to replicate all purpose flour (wheat based) or whole grain flour (also wheat based). With out the gluten there are a number of ways to make it a useful blend for cooking or baking. That said, I use just single flour blends in sauces. Just for sauces people!

I usually use blends for baking, 2-6 flours that work together to mimic wheat-based flour in different applications like bread, cake, cobbler, cookies, pastry or pasta dough. I have a number of them but my favorite is one you can buy in most stores.  King Arthur’s Basic GF Blend; made of a proportional blend of brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch.  I use it for over 90% of my baking and cooking needs. There are a number of blends available from companies like Bob’s Red Mill or Jeanes. There are many, many blends provided in gf cookbooks.  It can be a lot of jars/cans/zip lock bags of blends labeled and stored in your freezer or fridge.  Some of these blends have a gum like xanthan gum included. The gum helps your finished bread/cookie/cake hold together – in wheat based recipes it is the gluten that is the “glue” that holds things together. My blend doesn’t have it so I add it based upon my recipe. Doesn’t take much xanthan gum; ½-1 tsp is often enough.

I have used this blend and had good results.
Amazon.com : Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, 44-ounce :  Grocery & Gourmet Food
Bob’s Red Mill calls it 1 to 1 Baking Flour; same idea as measure for measure.

In recent years measure for measure blends also called 1 to 1 or cup for cup have appeared. They have a different use; they are for when you want to make a normally gluten based recipe but use a gf flour. FYI: most gf recipes have been altered from their original recipe or are created just for gf flour. If you want to take those cookies you can’t enjoy and sub in gf flour these new measure for measure blends are perfect to do that. You don’t need to alter your recipe or add gum. The flour blend is made to mimic regular all purpose flour. It is not interchangeable with things like the Basic GF Blend from King Arthur that I mention above. Don’t use measure for measure in a gf based recipe. King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill or a few other companies have a measure for measure blend so get that if you want to take your gluten based recipe and change it to gf.

King Arthur Flour Baking Mix, All Purpose, Gluten Free | Flour & Meals |  Edwards Food Giant
I used an image for King Arthur baking mix as this is the only premade mix I have tried. It works great!

One more thing, many companies now have baking mixes that can be used to make muffins, cookies, cates, etc. They are different from the blends described above. Do not substitute those blends for a basic blend like the one I use. These blends already have gum, baking powder, salt, etc. added to the flour. They are very convenient and there are lots of recipes for using them.

To repeat; there are single flours, there are blends with or without gum added, there are measure for measure blends for use in gluten based recipes you want to recreate as a gf dish and there are baking mixes that can be used as a starting place for a quickly constructed baked good like a cake, cookie or muffin. I know, it seems complicated but read your recipe carefully so you get the right kind of flour to make it successfully. The wrong flour will give you a poor result as gf baking is relatively unforgiving of big errors like that.

pie made with King Arthur Basic GF flour blend

My recipes generally tell you which flour blend I used. You cannot sub in measure for measure for a basic blend.  Nor can you use a baking mix for anything but a recipe meant specifically for a baking mix. Get the right flour and you will have a great start towards a delicious result. I hope I have educated you on this issue so you can be successful if you need to bake gf this holiday season. Have fun baking!

Roasted Cauliflower and Spicy Oil With Pasta

I love to eat seasonally and fall is cauliflower season. A large fresh head was bought at Valley Farm Market and I ate nearly quarter of it raw, dipped in homemade green goddess dressing, tasty. Eventually I felt a pasta dish might be great comfort food to use the rest of the head for. I was right! This is definitely a winner.  Roasted cauliflower was my starting place but something without too much sauce. This version has olive oil scented with garlic and red pepper flakes. It is topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Delicious.

I used gf penne from Aldi’s but you could use any pasta type or shape you want. I also roasted half an onion for more flavor. Up to you. More red pepper; sure. Less garlic…sure.  If you hate onions; leave that out.  I used walnuts as I had no pine nuts. I toasted them for more flavor. They worked fine. I think this would be nice accompanied by a butternut squash soup. Great fall meal.

Pasta and veggies in the pan before cheese gets grated on top.

Roasted Cauliflower and Spicy Oil Over Penne

3-4 servings

Ingredients:

CAULIFLOWER ROAST

1 small head cauliflower; about 4 cups of large flowerets.

½ a large onion cut top to bottom into thin wedges

1 large garlic clove minced

1-2 Tbsp EVOL

Scant ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

¼ tsp. sea salt

PASTA

1 1/3 cup penne

3 Tbsp EVOL

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 large garlic clove smashed

3 Tbsp coarsely chopped walnuts

 1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

¼ C freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Turn oven up to 450 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into med flowerets; don’t be afraid to cut across the middle of a big clump.  Place on large sheet pan with the onion slices. Drizzle EVOL over them, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt and squeeze garlic clove over. Roast 15 minutes, turn over cauliflower and onion and roast 10 more minutes; if browning too much turn oven off and let it coast the last few minutes.

Heat 2 quarts of water in a big pot; salt well. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain; save 2-3 Tbsp of pasta water.

While that cooks, heat 3 Tbsp EVOL in mini wok or fry pan. Add smashed garlic; cook 2-3 minutes; do not brown too deeply. Take out and let cool. Dump in red pepper flakes and cook a minute. Brown the walnut bits in a dry frying pan. Add the cauliflower, pasta, walnuts, fried garlic which you chopped fine and the parsley. Stir well; add the 2 Tbsp water if you want more liquid. Top with parmesan cheese. You can add more red pepper flakes and parsley if desired. Enjoy!