Thumbprint Cookies. 2.0 GF and Delish!

As children we each had our favorite cookies to make, this was traditionally my next older brothers’ to bake but once grown up I began to make them ‘cause they are addictively tasty.  I love it made with apricot jam, you can used chopped slivered almonds instead of walnuts for that version.  But, any flavor good quality jam will work, pick what you like.  I used two flavors this time; homemade peach jam and some store bought but excellently flavored raspberry jam. Like getting two cookies out of one batch of dough.

xmas cookies 003xmas cookies 002

A few  Christmases ago a dear friend gave me a new cookbook “Gluten-Free Christmas Cookies” by Ellen Brown.  I have tried several recipes and all were fantastic including this one, I swapped the candied red and green cherries for jam, but you can go old school and use those freaky candied cherries.

Jam and Walnut Thumbprints

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup white rice flour

1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

2 sticks unsalted butter cut into thin slices

1 lg egg

1 tbsp. whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

½ cup jam; raspberry, peach, strawberry

INSTRUCTIONS: Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl food processor, steel blade, blend briefly.  Add butter to work bowl and process off an on until it resembles coarse meal.

Combine egg, milk and vanilla in a small bowl; whisk. Drizzle into the work bowl, pulse about 10-12 times until it forms a stiff dough.  If it doesn’t come together, add more milk a tsp. at a time. I added a tsp. more of milk to get the dough to form up.

Chill the dough for 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put racks in the middle of the oven. Place chopped walnuts in a wide shallow bowl and roll 1 1/2 inch balls of dough.  Roll them in the chopped walnuts, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Press an indent in with a finger and fill with about ½ tsp. jam.  Bake 14-15 minutes, until just firm but not browned.  They will be very delicate to the touch.  Let cool 2-3 minutes on sheet before carefully moving them to a cooling rack using a metal pancake turner. I bumped a couple and they just fell apart on the sheet; very fragile while hot.  They will solidify once they cool.  I store mine in cookie tins or Tupperware containers.  They won’t last as long as wheat cookies but they get snapped up fast so that shouldn’t be a problem.  I supposed you could freeze them for a week or two if necessary.

They are not too sweet and so delicate, great with a cup of tea or coffee.  As good, if not better, then when I made them with all purpose wheat flour years ago before I had to go gluten free.  Your family will be amazed that they are gf, no one you serve them to will ever guess.  Totally tasty and fun to make with your kids! Enjoy.

 

Holiday Cookies: Nut Tassies…Terrific!

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

The first time I made them: for a family Christmas gathering and I whipped up a batch of these tassies.  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.

 

 

Reposted from December 2016.

Alsatian Apple Tart; Deliciously Creamy

 

I bought a great gf cookbook a few  years ago.. I have been too busy to do much fancy baking plus my wrist has made it impossible to roll out pie crust; this is my first rolled out crust since last June. Annalise G. Roberts wrote my favorite gf cookbook “Gluten-Free Baking Classics”.  In “ The Heirloom Collection” she re-creates many classic recipes we all love but in a gluten free version. Eighteen cakes, thirteen muffins, scones and quick breads, sixteen cookies, twenty breads as well as eleven tarts. And some other misc. baked goods. SO many yummy looking things to bake. All gluten free. And knowing Annalise Roberts, all yummy!  Of all I have made from it this is possibly my favorite recipe. I know you will enjoy it too.

She starts with a section on how to take a wheat flour based recipe and make it gluten free; very interesting: I have a few cherished recipes I would love to convert.  She is such a reliable and careful baker; all her recipes turn out exactly as promised. With so many great looking recipes and if you have any of her other cookbooks you will definitely want this one.

Anyway back to my tart: I was looking for an apple recipe that only needed a few apples, cause that’s all I had and this tart caught my eye. I had everything I needed and I remember how delightful it was last time. My brother ate two slices and his wife ate my crust happily; apparently she never does that.  Aiden loved it as well.  Definitely a hit.

It was a very easy recipe; make the tart shell and while it pre-bakes, peel and slice the apples and mix up the custard. Arranging the apples took me 3-4 minutes and another 30 seconds to pour over the custard and carefully place it in my oven for a transformational baking.alsatian apple tart 002

This tart has a lovely texture; the apple slices are soft but held their shape and the custard is silky and subtle. The long baking makes the crust very crisp. No ice cream needed; this is perfect just by itself.

alsatian apple tart 007

After making this tart the first time I noticed that this is the baked good featured on the back cover of the book; a place of honor for a fantastic apple treat. So freaking good; you must try it even if you use a wheat crust. Alsace-Lorraine is an area in Germany close to France; over the years it has been passed back and forth a few times. One of my ancestors is from this area so I was thrilled to find a recipe my great great grandmother might have baked!alsatian apple tart 004

Alsatian Apple Tart
6 large slices or 8 skinny ones

Crust:
1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 Tbps. granulated sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks
1 lg egg
2 tsp fresh orange, lemon juice, even lime juice works

Spray a nine – ten inch tart pan that has a 1 ½ inch side with cooking spray, set aside. I use a ceramic ten inch pan but if you have one of those tricky deep tart pans with a removable bottom that would work perfectly.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of a stand electric mixer. Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal. Add egg and juice. Mix until it comes together into big chunks. Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes.

Roll out the flattened ball into a pie crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! I like to sprinkle a bit of my flour mix on the crust as it gets thinner so it doesn’t stick to the pie bag/wax paper. Peel off one side of paper and place in the tart pan, be sure to center it. Remove other slice of wax paper. Crimp edges all around. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes until light brown.  Let cool.

Filling:

3-4 medium to large sized apples, yellow delicious work particularly well as they don’t squish down too much. I have used Fuji in the past as it also doesn’t get too mushy.

Peel apples, quarter, cut out core, slice into 1/2 inch thick slices (8 for a medium apple)

Mix in a medium mixing bowl with:

6 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs; stir well
Add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, ¼ tsp. cinnamon.

Arrange the apple slices in the warm/hot tart shell, squash them close together. Pour the custard filling over the apples.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50-55 minutes until the custard is set and the crust is light brown

Cool the pie at least 1 hour before serving. You can sprinkle the slices with confectioner’s sugar if you like to gild the lily; not really necessary in my mind.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur GF Flour mix)
2 c brown rice flour, finely ground
2/3 c potato starch (Not potato flour)
1/3 c tapioca flour

This recipe is from Annalise Roberts’ great cookbook: Gluten-Free Baking Classics – The Heirloom Collection.

Originally published in November 2015, minor changes to text.

Banana Custard Pie, 2.0

 

My mom used to make a similar banana custard pie when I was in my thirties and I moved back to PA – lived close enough to come home some weekends; for some reason she never made it for us as kids.  I remember cutting up and setting the banana rounds in the baked pie shell for her.  The contrast of the rich custard, the flaky crust and the fluffy cream with the delicate banana flavor is just so memorable.    Today I used a shortbread crust for first time and it was very well received.  My grandson said it was my best pie ever! Easy as can be too!

Notes: I will freeze the egg whites to make angel food cake this winter. Waste not want not!!  In a past version I used a slightly different egg custard – both are delish!  This one might be slightly easier to construct and it sure got firm; I have had one or two failure custards that never did fully gel. I suppose you could use a box custard but this is infinitely superior.

Nonna’s Banana Custard Pie

Make the custard first as it takes a while to cool down. Next do the crust.  Don’t do the bananas until you are ready to pour the custard. The whipped cream should be make right before you use it.

Filling:

4 egg  yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup corn starch

½ tsp sea salt

2 cups whole milk or 2 percent, no lower fat than that

4 egg yolks beaten lightly

1 tbsp. butter cut into small cubes.

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 large ripe bananas

Directions: Beat the egg yolks until thick; add the sugar in a slow stream. Heat the milk in a 1 ½ qt sauce pan, add the cornstarch and salt to the egg/sugar mix; then add the hot milk in a slow stream beat/stir with a metal whisk as it heats. Pour it all back into the saucepan and cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Once it reaches a boil; turn heat down to low and time it for one minute, STIRRING CONSTANTLY.  Add the butter and stir as it melts, then the vanilla, stir.  Pour into a mixing bowl, let cool a bit and then put a film of plastic wrap on the top; press it down onto the custard.  Chill at least an hour before using. Do not use until cold.

CRUST: I am still not rolling out pie crust;  so I made a crumb filling like shortbread cookies using my stand mixer:

1 cup KA all purpose gf flour

¼ c sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Mix in stand mixer and add 5 Tbsp. cold butter cut up in 6-7 pieces; blend until crumbly and press in pie pan

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 17-18 minutes until the crust is light brown.  Cool at least 30 minutes.

Cut peeled bananas into 1/3-1/2 inch rounds and cover the bottom of the pie crust with them close together.  Pour the custard over the sliced fruit and smooth the top.

Chill pie 1- 4 hours before slicing and serving cold topped with a big dollop of whipped cream.  Note: I confess we didn’t do this step of chilling it; we ate it right away as there was no time for chillin.

Whipped cream: Beat cold whipping cream with an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks; add 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar and ½ tsp. vanilla.  Do not beat any more, just stir the sugar in. I didn’t bother with vanilla; made this part in my mom’s assisted living room; left the vanilla bottle at home. Still great.  banana custard pie

I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more than 12 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crust will get soggy if too much time passes. Mine was still very good the next day; just not as great as when really fresh.

Note: I froze my egg whites for later use in a cake. No wasting them, that’s for sure!

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur GF All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Almond Frangipane Tart

I still am not rolling out pie dough so I did my favorite shortbread cookie crust made in my stand mixer in a few minutes with no real work. This simple press in crumb recipe by Annalise Roberts is sweet and has a perfect texture. And so easy… There were still apples from our fall picking expedition so that seemed to be what I could plan a family dessert around.

I had a bag of whole almonds that needed to be used up.  So, I went with the classic frangipane filling under thin slices of Granny Smith apples. I used the almonds to make my own almond paste (the recipe is a blog post by me last year) but you can buy some if you prefer. I pre-baked the crust as I feared the almond filling might make the raw crust

The tart was a rousing success; the crust tasted delicious; the almond filling fused the skinny apple slices into the crust as a cohesive whole that was delightfully almondish!

Notes: I used Granny Smith as they hold their shape under oven heat; some baking apples can mush down too much. Don’t change that or you might end up with a saggy top.

apple tart with frangipane filling only

apple frang tart with applesapple frang tart bakedApple Frangipane Tart with Cookie Crust

 

Ingredients:

CRUST:

1 cup gf flour (King Arthur basic gf blend)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. cinnamon

5  Tbsp. cold butter

FILLING:

8 oz almond paste

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 butter, softened

2 eggs

3 Tbsp.  KA basic gf blend

3 cups of peeled, cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples (3 large  apples)

1 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tbsp. coarse sugar for topping

DIRECTIONS: Crust: use a stand mixer; put dry ingredients in bowl, add cut up butter and mix on medium until crumbly. Spray 9 inch tart pan with cooking spray and press in crust, heat oven to 375 degrees.  My pan has a removable bottom but I don’t see why you couldn’t use a plain pan.  Bake crust 6-7 minutes; let cool while you make filling.

Filling: Mix filling in medium bowl; put almond paste (break up if chunky: can grate it if hard) and sugar. Mix a bit, add butter; mix well, add eggs one at a time, beat well between eggs and 3 minutes after second egg; add flour; chill. Gently spoon into tart pan on cooled crust, fan out apple slices in circles or any pattern you like, brush with melted butter and sprinkle top with coarse sugar.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake on lowest shelf in oven, 35-40 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool at least 30-60 minutes before serving. Best eaten within 2 days; I thought it was actually even better the next day. Vanilla ice cream is great with apple tart! Enjoy. apple frang tart slice

Apple Tart…Veganized But Still Yummy

 

My assignment was to make a vegan (and gluten free) dessert to take to a small gathering out of town. I have to confess I am not particularly fond of some vegan desserts I have tried: the mouth feel is sometimes odd and the texture can be heavy especially icings. But I felt those things could be avoided. There were still plenty of apples from our picking expedition in October so that seemed like a great place to plan from. I am not yet rolling out pie dough plus it has an egg in it so that’s a no…so I did a shortbread cookie crust made in my stand mixer in a few minutes with no real work. I really didn’t miss the rolled out crust; this simple press in crumb recipe by Annalise Roberts is the very best crust for sweetness and texture. And great for gimpy folks like me!

The tart was a complete success; the crust tasted delicious and not weird. All gone in moments; silence as everyone inhaled their slice. Shortly thereafter two other non-vegan guests sidled up to me and quietly thanked me for a great dessert; they were probably glad there was no weird icing involved, LOL! This could be an excellent holiday dessert if you need one that is vegan.  It travels great; I have a pie saver – big diameter, low cylinder tupperware meant just for pies and tarts.

Notes: I used a mixture of baking apples; some golden delicious and Jonagold. Any baking apples will work (Not red delicious as they are best eaten raw) …no honeycrisp either; best raw.

vegan apple tart unbaked

vegan apple tart baked

I forgot to take a picture of my slice before devouring it: sorry; it was great looking, everything held together perfectly.

Apple Tart with Vegan Cookie Crust

Ingredients:

CRUST:

1 cup gf flour (King Arthur basic gf blend)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5  Tbsp. cold Earth Balance (sold in sticks just like butter)

FILLING:

3 -4 cups of peeled, cored and sliced cooking apples (4 good sized apples)

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. Tapioca flour or KA basic gf blend

1/3 c sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. coarse sugar for topping

DIRECTIONS: Crust: use a stand mixer; put dry ingredients in bowl, add cut up Earth Balance and mix on medium until crumbly. Spray 9 inch tart pan with cooking spray and press in crust, heat oven to 375 degrees.  My pan has a removable bottom but I don’t see why you couldn’t use a plain pan.

Filling: mix dry ingredients in a small bowl, Mix filling in medium bowl; dump in apples, sprinkle with lemon juice and then sprinkle over all with all of the dry mix. Gently place into tart pan on crust and sprinkle top with coarse sugar. I took the time to arrange mine in a pretty pattern but you can just pile it in if you are in a rush.

Bake on lowest shelf in oven, 35-40 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Remove from oven and cool at least 30-60 minutes before serving. Best eaten within 24 hours. Vanilla ice cream is great with apple tart! Enjoy.

Note: You can use the convection setting; takes about 25-30 minutes to bake.

Blueberry Tart 2.0; Cookie Crust

 

Well, still got a cast on right arm, no can roll out pie dough. So, great option   is a press in cookie crust make in stand mixer. Perfect fit in my blueberry tart, with almond crumble topping.  It was tender and held together well. It was not soggy. Best eaten within 24 hours if humid and hot.  Have to say it was still rather tricky to get out of my oven due to my cast and the inability to lift much with my right hand. I did the almonds but honestly I think next time I’m ditching them, just wanna taste the blueberries! It was delish as mde but I want simpler next  tart/pie. I did freeze a slice for Joe who wasn’t around  to enjoy any.

blueberry tart with cookie crust unbaked

Before baking – sorry for rough quality, blame my freaking cast!

 

Make sure you was the blueberries and pick out any bad ones, buy top quality, matters always. 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! Hah!

blueberry tart baked, cookie crust

Blueberry Tart with Cookie Crust

 

Ingredients:

CRUST:

1 cup gf flour (King Arthur basic gf blend)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. cinnamon, optional

5  Tbsp. cold butter

FILLING:

3 1/2 cups blueberries

2 Tbsp. Instant Tapioca

1/3 c sugar

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

CRUMBLE:

3/4 cup gf flour

5 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup sugar

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup sliced almonds (optional)

 

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

Mix filling in medium bowl; dump everything in and let stand while you make crumbs. Standing helps the tapioca dissolve. Pour into tart pan on crust and sprinkle top with crumble to mostly cover fruit;

Mix crumbs: use stand mixer: no need to clean bowl. Dump in flour and sugar and cinnamon, mix, blend in butter and then sprinkle 1 ¼ cups on tart; top with almonds

Bake on lowest shelf in oven, 35-40 minutes until lightly browned and blueberries are bubbling. Remove from oven and cool before serving. Best eaten within 24 hours. Vanilla ice cream is great with blueberries! Enjoy.

blueberry tart, slice , cookie crustNote: I used convection setting; took about 25 minutes to bake.