Scandinavian Almond Bars, GF for Your Eating Pleasure!

Christmas cookies are everywhere in my kitchen. In tins, Tupperware and cookie jars. This year I tried 3 new recipes; this one is replicating a particular cookie called a Scandinavian Almond Bar. It is somewhat crunchy and somewhat addictive. My guy snuck a bunch of them while I was at church Christmas Eve! It is a traditional cookie and apparently quite popular. I don’t know how I missed them! If you are not gf just use all-purpose flour and leave out the xanthan gum too. This is one of those recipes that is yummier than it seems like at first glance. Of late, I like bar cookies; less work usually and can look very uniform if you wish.  Fussy complex cookies can be exhausting; this is easy despite the long list of flours.

Scandinavian Almond Bars

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice flour

¾ cup gf oat flour

½ cup tapioca flour

¼ cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp. kosher salt                                    

 Directions:     Blend all dry ingredients in a small bowl; use a whisk.

Next: In stand mixer bowl: place 1 cup sugar and ½ cup butter, softened; beat until fluffy. Add

1 lg egg at room temperature; beat until blended in. Add ½ tsp. almond extract (I did more like ¾ tsp)

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Topping: 1 Tbsp. milk, ½ c sliced almonds

Icing:  3/4 cup powdered sugar, ½ tsp almond extract, 1-2 Tbsp. milk

Directions: Heat oven to 325. Butter a 9×13 pan. Make dough and press the dough into the pan evenly; use a sheet of parchment paper to do this; it will be very sticky. Using a pastry brush; brush milk over the dough and top with the sliced almonds. Press almonds lightly into the dough. Bake 20-22 minutes.  Remove when just starting to brown at edges. Let cool for 5-7 min in pan, cut into bars with a sharp knife. If too soft; let cool a few more minutes. Carefully move them to a wire rack. Let cool completely and drizzle the icing over the bars thinly; too thick and it will be goopy, too thin and the icing will drip off. Let sit a while until icing is firm.  Can be frozen once iced.  Enjoy!

Almond Flour Chocolate Cake

My guy wanted chocolate cake for Valetine’s Day the other year. With chocolate icing. I don’t care for chocolate icing and was kinda tired of cake after the holidays. This cake has a more distinct crumb due to the almond flour…. the only other flour in it is tapioca starch so it is gluten free which I need. It is easy to make; no tricky process here plus it is dairy free which can be helpful to some folks. I made it but used half peanut butter icing and half chocolate: just made a half batch of each. It was a big it with my man; he took home the chocolate iced portion and I feasted on the peanut butter iced half.

Mine sunk a little in the middle; I think my 4 eggs were all kinda large; there is variation in a dozen eggs; try not to get the 4 largest from the box, live and learn. I did bake it the full time. The center was like fudge; quite yummy if squishy. The peanut butter icing was the bomb!!

So if you need a quick and easy cake this holiday season this one might be the one to please everyone!! Enjoy!

Chocolate cake ingredients:

1 1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal)

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1 1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup canola oil

4 large eggs at room temp

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions: mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl; I used a whisk. Spray a 9 inch cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, shelf for baking set in the middle. In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs until well blended, blend in the oil and vanilla until smoothly blended. Add in the dry ingredients 1/3 of it at a time; blend in and do the next third and then the final third. Pour into the cake pan. Let stand 5 minutes. Bake 30-34 minutes until tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes before turning out onto a drying rack. Ice when completely dry.

Chocolate icing (this is a half recipe)

1/4 cup room temp butter

2 tbsp. cocoa

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of kosher salt (about 1/8 tsp)

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. milk (may need another tsp)

Beat the butter with your mixer until fluffy, add the other ingredients and beat until fluffy; add extra milk if too stiff.

Peanut butter icing (half recipe)

1/2 cup creamy peanut btter

2 Tbsp. room temp butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. milk (may need another tsp or two)

Beat the peanut butter and butter until fluffy; add the rest of the ingredients and beat until fluffy; add extra milk if too stiff.

Ice half the cake with the chocolate icing and the other half with peanut butter. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Cheese Dinner Pie

If you have a nice head of cauliflower, you can put it to good use in this vegetarian entrée. I love the cheesy cauliflower flavor of it, pretty substantial served with a yam and a beet salad; a great meal. It isn’t that difficult to construct; the crust is shredded raw potatoes mixed with an egg and some salt and pressed into the pie pan. You bake it for about 45 minutes and then gently lay in some shredded cheese, then the cooked veggie filling, top it with more cheese, pour on the egg custard and sprinkle it with paprika before baking it to a crispy tender pie that should serve 6 unless you are piggish; then 5 large slices!

The no traditional pie crust makes this easy to create. Nothing tricky at all in this recipe. Just a few steps to put it together. It is pretty much naturally gluten free, just a bit of rice flour to dust the pan with; I dusted the excess right into the shredded potatoes. Just a bit of flour in the pie pan and in the crust.

Sauteed onions, herbs and garlic

Cauliflower Cheese Pie

Mixed together cauliflower filling

Ingredients:

Ready to bake; yes, that is a chunk of cheese on top! The end of the block; don’t want to grate my fingers; it will melt nicely into the pie.

POTATO CRUST: 1 tsp. sea salt

1 lg egg, beaten

1 -3 tsp. gf flour, divided

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees.  4 large potatoes; washed. I left them unpeeled but you can peel if you prefer to do that. Grate each whole potato on coarse side of a box grater. I did it right into a large mixing bowl. I like to press a couple paper towels on top to soak up any excess liquid. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Press into a pie tin sprayed with cooking spray and then dusted with rice flour. I used a big spoon to lay it around the pan and then a fork to press it into the shape of the pie tin. I left a bit above the glass/metal rim to form a nice rim of the crust. Spray the potatoes all over with the cooking spray.  Bake 40-45 minutes. Make the filling while it bakes.

CAULIFLOWER FILLING:

About 3 cups cut up flowerets of raw cauliflower

1-2 Tbsp. mild olive oil or sunflower oil

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ tsp dried thyme

¼ tsp. dried basil

Directions: Cut up the cauliflower; it was about ¾ of the head. Heat a ½ inch of water in a large sauté pan. Add the cauliflower, put a lid on and cook 5-6 minutes until just tender. Gently pour the pan into a large colander to drain well. Then heat the oil in the same pan. Add the chopped onion; sauté on low 5-6 minutes, I like to add a couple Tbsp of water to let it steam; then add the garlic, and then the dried herbs. Stir and let cook another minute. The onion should be soft, cook longer if needed.  When done, turn heat off; gently add the drained cauliflower and a quarter to a half tsp sea salt. Mix gently. While the crust is still baking make the custard.

CUSTARD:

3 large eggs

½ cup whole or 2% milk

1 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese: I used mostly sharp cheddar with a bit of Monterey Jack cheese too.

Directions: beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl until fairly blended, add the milk.

When the crust comes out turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Pour half the grated cheese into the hot crust, distributing it evenly. Gently spoon the cauliflower filling on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Pour the custard in all over the top. Sprinkle well with paprika and bake 40 minutes; until the custard looks done. Let set 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

A slice straight from the fridge; just need to warm it up in my trusty microwave! Lunch is served.

It keeps 4-6 days in the fridge; well wrapped. I heat a slice at a time in the microwave. A lovely lunch indeed!

Nut Tassies….Tasty Addiction

Nut tassies are a local favorite here in eastern Pennsylvania. They look like a tiny pecan pie, about the size of one giant bite! I have eaten them at many people’s homes, heavenly delish and best made with pecans.  In all fairness, I never made them when I could still eat all purpose white flour. Perhaps it is that I was able to just snag them off a cookie plate at someone’s holiday party. Now that such was no longer a possibility, I started looking and found a great recipe on food.com, a classic tassie recipe complete with cream cheese dough pie crust and a filling almost identical to the traditional filling. And it was gluten free for folks like me…eureka!

I whipped up a batch of these gf tassies for a family Christmas gathering a few years ago.  Even after chilling the dough my crust was very crumbly and with trepidation, I rolled a ball a bit over an inch in diameter and it held together. Then I dropped it in my mini muffin tin and used my finger to spread it out and up the sides.  It worked and the tassies were simply delish!

As to the pecan filling, I didn’t chop my nuts really fine; left some in chunks to give a bigger texture which I prefer. The filing is so simple; chop the nuts, then dump the sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl, add the softened butter and the vanilla and nuts; stir and it is ready to spoon into the little crust cups you just created.

Here is the link to the recipe I used: http://www.food.com/recipe/gluten-free-pecan-tassies-105371

They are easy to make and totally yummy to devour.  I find it takes me 2-3 bites to down one of these treat.  Happy baking folks!

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Originally posted December 2016. Minor text changes.

GF Chocolate Chip Cookies To Love!

Years ago I searched for the holy grail of GF baking: home made chocolate chip cookies.  Bet you thought I was going to say some sort of bread!  That’s another post entirely.  Anyway, when I went GF almost 9 years ago I made a batch of chocolate chippers that were gf. They were rather sweet and didn’t taste all that great.  I keep looking for something that would approximate the real deal cookies I loved all my life.  Recipes I came across seemed to require that I buy weird vegetable shortenings or use Crisco. I draw the line at Crisco. Or they used odd flour blends and I feel it’s just not worth it to me to add another flour mixture just for one cookie recipe.  So I had not made chippers in years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones I tried were small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricey. Until I went to King Arthur’s website and looked in their cookie recipes.  There it was: cookies made with the same flour blend I use and made with butter, one of my few chosen shortenings.  Glowing reviews and advice; said to make them and refrigerate a day or better yet, freeze them formed and ready to bake in a few minutes.  Comments about how much they are like Tollhouse cookies, great texture and flavor.  Bingo, this seemed so hopeful. So…Less than a week later I made up a batch; Goal scored; perfect brown sugar nutty flavor and texture; not too hard or too soft. I am a happy chocolate chip cookie lover at last! Lots of you probably bake chocolate chip cookies for Christmas so I decided to reblog this cookie so you could easily make a batch.

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When I first made them I put some in my cookie jar, closed it tightly and 4 days later those cookies (what remains) were still delicious. That is pretty long for a gluten free baked good. By the fifth afternoon my last cookie in there was getting soft so suggest not holding them for more than 4 days in a jar. A big bonus I love isthat they can be frozen ready to bake in like 12 minutes.

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This is my go to basic chocolate chip cookie recipe; none other will do. I love that I can freeze them ready to bake and in 12 minutes I have warm fresh gooey cookies!

So, if you are still looking for a great gf chocolate chip cookie look no further:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.  Enjoy!

Originally published in 2016. Minor text changes.