Back in fifth grade, my Japanese-American teacher gave us this recipe for a red bean coffee jelly dessert. It’s simple, delicious, and pretty with its two contrasting layers, and we’ve continued to make it over the years.
Note on pan size: The original recipe calls for a 9″ x 11″ pan, but any pan with a similar surface area will work. Actually, any pan will work – it will just change the thicknesses (and aesthetics) of the layers and the amount of time the dessert takes to chill and set.
Azuki Coffee Jelly
From my fifth grade teacher
Yield: 9″ x 11″ pan
- 4 envelopes (about 4 rounded tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 cups boiling water
- 3 teaspoons instant coffee
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can tsubushi-an (sweetened red bean paste with beans)
- In a large bowl, place 1/2 cup cold water, sprinkle in gelatin, and mix well. This step prevents lumps from forming.
- Stir in 2 cups boiling water.
- Stir in instant coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and tsubushi-an.
- Lightly grease a 9″ x 11″ pan (or a pan with a similar surface area) and pour in coffee-gelatin mix. The tsubushi-an will settle to the bottom in an even layer.
- Cover and place in refrigerator to chill overnight, or until set.
The applesauce spice bars are a nice, cinnamon-y snack to have around. I’m not sure why all the apple bits migrated to the center of the pan while baking, but regardless the bars taste fine.
Applesauce Spice Bars
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
Yield: 32 bars
- 1 1/4 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar OR 1 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon applejack OR brandy OR dark rum (optional)
- 1 baking apple (such as Rome or Cortland, but I used a Fuji and it worked)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
For glaze (optional):
- 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream OR 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar OR 1/3 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
- 2-2 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar OR light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with aluminum foil and butter or spray with cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet.
- Peel, core, and finely dice or chop apple. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
- Add brown sugar OR white sugar+molasses and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
- Remove pan from heat.
- Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended.
- Add applesauce, vanilla, and applejack/brandy/rum (if using), and whisk until ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in dry ingredients. If you’re using all-purpose flour, mix only until they disappear. If you’re using gluten-free flour, don’t worry about over-mixing.
- Mix in apple, raisins, and nuts (if using).
- Scrape batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake 25-28 minutes if gluten free, 23-25 minutes otherwise. The cake should just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. For the gluten-free version, the central area of the top of the cake might still look moist, but that’s okay.
- Transfer baking pan to a rack and let cake cool.
- If desired, make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine cream OR milk, sugar, butter, and agave nectar OR corn syrup. Put pan over medium heat and bring mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking frequently. Reduce the heat so glaze simmers for 5 minutes, stirring and whisking frequently. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla, if using.
- If desired, glaze bars: Pour hot glaze over the bars in the pan, spreading it evenly over the top with a long metal icing spatula. The glaze cools and begins to solidify relatively fast, so work quickly while it is still runny. Let bars cool to room temperature before you cut them.
- Remove cake in aluminum foil from pan and careful peel foil down from edges. Cut cake into 32 rectangles, each about 2 1/4″ x 1 1/2″. Carefully lift off foil.
- The bars can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
If you’re searching for a light, fluffy, gluten-free chocolate cake, look no further! Since whipped egg whites provide the structure for the cake, the lack of gluten is not noticeable. I can barely taste a difference from chocolate chiffon cake made with cake flour. If you want to get a little fancy, you can crumble a couple almond crackle cookies and sprinkle the bits over the top of the cake.
- Separate the eggs when cold, then allow the whites to come to room temperature before beating them.
- The gluten-free cake dries out fast compared to regular cake, so frost it as soon as it cools to seal in moisture. Then store it in an airtight container.
Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Inspired by Taste of Home
Yield: Two-layer 8″ cake
For the cake:
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup baking cocoa
- 1/4 cup+2 tablespoons boiling water
- 3/4 cup+2 tablespoons gluten-free OR cake flour
- 3/4 cup+2 tablespoons sugar (divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup+2 tablespoons)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the whipped cream frosting:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
For the filling:
- After separating, let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together cocoa and water until smooth. Cool for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325°F and set aside an 8″ round baking pan with 3″ sides. If using gluten-free flour, line it with aluminum foil to make cake removal easier.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, oil, and vanilla.
- Add egg yolk mixture and cocoa mixture to dry ingredients. Beat or stir vigorously until well blended.
- In another large bowl, using clean beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until they form soft peaks.
- Gradually add 1/4 cup+2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.
- Add a large scoop of the whipped egg whites to the yolk mixture and mix gently but thoroughly to lighten the batter.
- Add the remaining egg whites in 3 additions. Gently fold into the batter using a large wire whisk, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl frequently.
- Gently scrape batter into pan and gently smooth top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes without opening the oven door during this time. Increase heat to 350°F and bake an additional 15 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or when the surface springs back immediately after pressing on it with a finger.
- As soon as you remove cakes from oven, lay 2 thick wooden spoon handles (or chopsticks) across the top of each pan and place a shallow bowl upside down on top of the handles/chopsticks. Invert each arrangement and cool cakes completely upside down. This step is important, because otherwise the cakes will sink. It looks like this:
- Unmold cake carefully, because it is fragile, and slice in half horizontally.
- Using a mixer on medium speed, beat together heavy cream and powdered sugar until whipped cream holds stiff peaks.
- Scoop about 1 1/2 cups frosting into a small bowl, and fold in 1/3 cup marmalade to make the filling.
- Place one cake layer cut side down on a serving plate and spread with the filling. Top with the second layer cut side up.
- Frost first the sides and then the top of the cake with remaining whipped cream.
- Refrigerate the cake in an airtight container if you’re not serving it immediately.
Almond crackle cookies are deliciously crunchy and fragrant, as well as amazingly easy to make. In the time that your oven preheats, you mix together three ingredients and then dollop the batter onto baking sheets. Voila – cookies!
- Dorie Greenspan also gives instructions for making the cookies in muffin tins, which leads to a prettier shape, but getting them out of the tins is finicky. Perhaps I shouldn’t have let them cool for longer than 10 minutes, but by the time I tried to remove them, all but five (pictured above) were stuck fast. The good news is that if you soak the tins in the sink, the cookies will soften and you can clean out the tins. The bad news is that you won’t have many cookies.
- If you bake the cookies on cookie sheets, they will be thinner and more crunchy, which I personally prefer.
- The batter is fairly robust: The second time I made the cookies, I only had 1 cup of almonds, so I cut the sugar to 5 tablespoons and kept the full egg. The cookies still tasted good.
Almond Crackle Cookies
From Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies
Yield: 20 cookies
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cups sliced almonds (blanched or unblanched)
- Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Have a small cookie scoop or a teaspoon at hand.
- Whisk sugar and egg together in a bowl for a minute or so, until well blended and just a bit thick.
- Add the almonds and whisk until evenly coated with the mixture. You need to use the batter right away — it separates as it stands. In fact, it’s good to give the batter a stir or two as you’re spooning it out.
- Each cookie needs 2 teaspoons of batter. Scoop the batter onto the baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches of space between the mounds of batter, and flatten each mound with your fingers or the back of a fork.
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Rotate the pans front to back and top to bottom midway through baking. The cookies should be toasted-almond beige, and dry and crackled on top.
- Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes.
- Carefully lift cookies off sheets with a wide spatula. (If you used parchment paper, they release very easily. You probably don’t even need to use a spatula.)
- If your kitchen is cool and dry, you can keep these in a tin or paper bag overnight. Keep them longer, and they might soften, a condition easily reversed: Place the cookies on a lined baking sheet and warm them in a 350°F oven for about 6 minutes; cool on the sheet.
I was very happy with how well these cookies worked gluten free. They don’t spread out much as they bake, and helped by the peanut butter, chopped peanuts, and chopped chocolate, they hold together very well. Like sables, they have a sandy texture; like brownies, they’re a little chewy in the centers. I personally like them best fresh out of the oven, when the chocolate is gooey and the cookie soft, contrasting nicely with the crunchy peanuts.
Peanut Brownie Sables
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies
Yield: 36-40 cookies
For sable dough:
- 1 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut (peanuts-only) butter, smooth or crunchy
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel OR pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped OR salted peanuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
For brownie batter:
- 2/3 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel OR pinch of fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar OR 1/2 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Make sable dough first: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter and peanut butter together on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and salt, and beat for 2 minutes.
- Add yolks one at a time, beating 1 minute after each one. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
- Mix in baking powder.
- Turn off mixer, add all the flour, and stir it in partway so it won’t fly everywhere.
- Beat in flour on low speed. (If you’re using all-purpose flour, beat only until flour is almost all incorporated.)
- Add peanuts and mix on low speed until dry ingredients all disappear and peanuts are evenly distributed.
- Scrape dough into another bowl and set aside. Don’t bother washing the mixer bowl.
- Make the brownie batter: Using a rubber spatula, stir together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in mixer bowl or large bowl.
- Add brown sugar OR white sugar+dollop molasses. Pulse mixer to combine.
- Add butter bits and mix on low speed until ingredients are fully blended, about 2 minutes. The mixture looks a little like damp sand, and you might have some crumbs and clumps.
- Add beaten egg and mix on low speed until batter resembles fudge frosting.
- Add chopped chocolate and pulse to mix it in.
- Scrape sable dough back into the bowl with the brownie batter and mix on low speed until homogeneous.
- Drop dough in rounded tablespoonfuls on baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.
- Use either your fingers or the bottom of a jar or glass (covered in plastic wrap) to press each cookie down gently, just enough to level the tops of the mounds.
- Bake cookies one sheet at a time, 12 minutes if gluten free, 10 minutes if not. They will be set at the edges and soft in the centers when prodded lightly with a fork. They will look uniformly dull.
- Cool cookies completely on baking sheet on a rack. They will firm as they cool.
- Repeat with second batch.
- Cookies can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Packed airtight, they can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.