Chocolate Spice Quickies

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These chocolate spice quickie cookies work very well gluten-free.  With the egg and all the chocolate, which I doubled from the original recipe, to give the dough structure, they hold together very nicely, with a slightly sandy texture from the almond bits.  Dorie Greenspan suggests using them for ice cream sandwiches, so with the weather warming up, now is a good time to indulge!

 

Chocolate Spice Quickies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 25-30 cookies

  • 3/4 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds (whole, sliced or slivered)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of ground allspice OR cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Just under 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

 

  1. Put the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking powder, spice, and salt in a food processor and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the almonds are finely ground. Turn the ingredients out onto a sheet of wax paper or into a bowl.
  2. Put the sugar and the butter into the processor and whir for a minute, then scrape the bowl and process for another 15 seconds; the butter and sugar should be smoothly blended.
  3. Add the vanilla and egg and process for 30 seconds, the scrape and process for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chocolate and pulse to blend.
  5. Finally, add the dry ingredients and pulse until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a soft, fudgy, very malleable dough.
  6. Scrape it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into oblong.
  7. Using the plastic wrap, roll the dough into a log 7 to 8 inches long and 1 inch in diameter.  Twisting the ends of the plastic wrap firecracker-style to tighten the roll.
  8. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Because the dough is so malleable, the log will flatten out while chilling.  After about 1 hour, you can re-roll it to make it round.  (The logs can be wrapped airtight and refrigerated for up to 4 days or kept frozen for up to 2 months; slice and bake the frozen logs without defrosting – just add a minute or two to the baking time.)
  9. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  10. Using a thin knife, cut the logs into 1/3-inch-thick rounds and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving at 1 inch between rounds.  (The cookies don’t spread much.)
  11. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 7 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly puffed and their tops look dry. Transfer the sheet to a rack and wait 1 minute before carefully lifting the still-fragile cookies onto a rack to cool to room temperature.
  12. The cookies can be kept in a tin for about 4 days.
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Cheese Muffins

Credit for these delicious cheese muffins goes to my friend Amanda, who experimented with and modified the original recipe extensively before coming up with these!

Original recipe

 

Cheese Muffins
Adapted from Genius Kitchen

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum, if you have it
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, butter, egg, spices, baking soda, cream of tartar, sugar, and salt.  Mix well.
  3. Add flours/starches and xanthan gum (if using) and mix well.
  4. Mix in cheese.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.

Ginger-Jazzed Brownies

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If you like brownies and ginger, then you should try this recipe!  Like most dense, chocolate-y recipes, it converts well to gluten-free-ness, and the little ginger bits add an interesting, spicy kick.

Baking Note:

  • If you don’t have enough unsweetened chocolate, you can use 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate plus 4 ounces dark (72%) chocolate, and cut the sugar to 3/4 cup.

 

Ginger-Jazzed Brownies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 16 brownies

  • 3/4 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup OR agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, butter the foil, and place the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk the flour, salt, and ground ginger together.
  3. Put the minced fresh ginger and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar in a small bowl, stir, and set aside.  (If you do this a day ahead, cover the bowl with plastic wrap; if you do it several days ahead, cover and refrigerate.)
  4. Melt the chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, or melt them in a microwave oven; keep the heat low so the chocolates do not get very hot.  Set aside to cool.
  5. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and creamy.
  6. Beat in the corn syrup OR agave nectar, then the remaining 1 cup sugar, and continue to beat for another 2 minutes or so, until the butter is smooth again and the sugar is incorporated.
  7. Add the vanilla.
  8. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each one goes in and scraping the bowl down as needed.
  9. Beat for 1 minute more, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the macerated ginger (and any liquid), then the dry ingredients (mixing only until the flour disappears if you’re using all-purpose flour).
  10. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, gently and thoroughly stir in the melted chocolate.
  11. Scrape the batter into the pan.
  12. Bake for 30-35 minutes; a thin knife inserted into the center of the brownies should have streaks of moist, fudgy chocolate on it.
  13. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
  14. When the brownies are completely cool, turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board.  Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 1/4 inches on a side.
  15. Wrapped well, the brownies will keep for 2 days at room temperature (during which time the ginger flavor will become a little more pronounced) or for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Orange-Flavored Baked Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

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Happy Chinese New Year!  This is a variant on the vanilla-flavored nian gao that my mom makes (recipe here), inspired by flavorings from this recipe.  It has an intense orange flavor.

 

Orange-Flavored Baked Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)
Recipe from my mom and Woks of Life

  • 1 lb sticky rice flour (I like to use a Thai brand, Erawan)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter (or margarine), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups milk
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon molasses

 

1. Preheat oven to  350°F.  Grease a 9″x 9″ baking pan thoroughly.
2. Beat the butter until creamy, then beat in all the other ingredients.  The batter will be runny, and it’s fine if there are little pieces of butter floating in it.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Don’t worry if a tester comes out with nian gao on it still; that’s expected.  It’s also difficult to over-bake – you’ll just get a crackly, crunchy layer on top that has a great texture.  When done, the cake will be sort of jiggly and (what else?) sticky.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

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For anyone who didn’t get enough pumpkin during the holidays, here is a pumpkin cheesecake!

Original recipe

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Paula Deen

Yield: 8 servings

For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, homemade or store bought (for example, Pamela’s Gluten-Free Honey Grahams)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar OR 3 tablespoons granulated sugar+dollop molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Add melted butter and stir together.
  4. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.
  6. Beat in pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar, and spices.
  7. Add flour and vanilla and beat together until well combined.
  8. Pour into crust and spread out evenly.
  9. Bake for 1 hour.
  10. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce

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A friend of mine made panna cotta with raspberry sauce and was very happy with them!  This is another recipe that requires no alterations to make gluten free.

Original recipe

 

Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce
From Natasha’s Kitchen

Yield: 6-8 servings

For panna cotta:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

For berry sauce:

  • 2 cups berries, divided
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Make panna cotta:

  1. Off the heat, place 1 cup milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle the top with 1 packet gelatin. Let stand 3-5 minutes, or until gelatin is softened.
  2. Place pan over medium-low heat and stir until gelatin dissolves and mixture is steaming, about 4-5 minutes (do not boil).
  3. Add 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
  4. Continue stirring about 5 minutes until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is steaming (do not boil).
  5. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.
  6. Place sour cream in a medium bowl with a pouring lip. Whisking constantly, gradually add warm cream.
  7. Once the mixture is completely smooth, divide it into 6 wine glasses or 8 ramekins. Refrigerate until fully set, 4-6 hours.

Make berry sauce:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup berries, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons sugar.
  2. Bring to a low boil and cook 4-5 minutes or until syrupy.
  3. Stir in remaining 1 cup of fresh berries and remove from heat.
  4. When syrup is at room temperature or just barely warm, spoon it over the top of chilled panna cottas.

Rasmalai (Sweetened Cheese Disks in Saffron Milk Syrup)

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A friend of mine had rasmalai or ras malai in a restaurant and enjoyed it so much that he wanted to try making it.  This is an Indian dessert consisting of soft cheese disks boiled in cardamom sugar syrup and served in thick saffron milk syrup, garnished with chopped pistachios.  Although the recipe looks complicated, it only took us a little over 2 hours and turned out to be very tasty.  If you have leftover milk syrup, you can even mix it with rum to make an eggnog-like drink!

Original recipe

 

Rasmalai (Sweetened Cheese Disks in Saffron Milk Syrup)
From HealthyIndianRecipes

Yield: 4 servings

For rabri (thickened milk):

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)

For chenna (cheese):

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice OR vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 4 cups ice water OR ice cubes

For sugar syrup:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cardamom powder

For topping:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios OR sliced almonds (optional)

 

 

Make rabri (thickened milk syrup):

  1. Pour 3 cups milk into a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add saffron (if using) and sugar when the milk comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium.  Stir every 2 to 3 minutes to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom.
  4. When a layer of cream forms, just push it aside.
  5. Boil until the milk thickens and reduces by about half.  Set aside to cool.
  6. When the milk has cooled completely, chill it in the fridge.  (Alternatively, put in freezer to cool faster, but check frequently to make sure you don’t freeze it.)

Make chenna (cheese disks):

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring 5 cups milk to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together lemon juice OR vinegar and water.
  3. Add diluted lemon juice OR vinegar to the milk and stir until the milk curdles completely.  Pour in more lemon juice or vinegar if needed, but too much of it will make the chenna hard.  The leftover liquid (whey) will look greenish.
  4. Turn off heat, then add ice water or ice cubes to the pot and set aside for 2 minutes.  This will help keep the cheese soft.
  5. Line a colander with cheesecloth and drain curds and whey through cheesecloth.
  6. Squeeze out excess whey, gather together the edges of the cheesecloth, and tie a knot.
  7. Rinse under the faucet to remove the taste of lemon OR vinegar.  Squeeze out excess water.
  8. Hang it over a bowl for about 45 minutes to 1 hour for the excess whey to drain off.  The cheese will be just moist, with no dripping water.  It should not be sticky.
  9. Transfer the cheese to a plate. Knead well (squeeze with hands) for about 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and no longer crumbly.  Do not knead so long that the cheese begins to release grease or fats.
  10. Make 12 equal balls and flatten them to make disks. If the disks are slightly cracked on the sides, roll the sides gently. Cover and set aside.

Make sugar syrup:

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine 3 cups of water with 1 cup sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Bring to a boil, then add cardamom powder.
  3. Add the cheese disks to boiling syrup gently.
  4. Cook covered for 8 minutes on a medium-high heat.  The disks will double in size.

Assemble rasmalai:

  1. Remove the disks one by one and cool on a plate.
  2. Squeeze them gently between your palms to remove absorbed sugar syrup.
  3. Add these to the pot of chilled, thickened milk.  If desired, simmer for 1-2 minutes on low heat so cheese can absorb milk.  However, do not overcook or the disks will break up.
  4. Allow to rest for few hours if desired.
  5. Chill and garnish with chopped nuts (if desired) before serving.