Peanut Brownie Sables

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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

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. Add sugar and salt, and beat for 2 minutes.
  4. Add yolks one at a time, beating 1 minute after each one.  Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  5. Mix in baking powder.
  6. Turn off mixer, add all the flour, and stir it in partway so it won’t fly everywhere.
  7. Beat in flour on low speed.  (If you’re using all-purpose flour, beat only until flour is almost all incorporated.)
  8. Add peanuts and mix on low speed until dry ingredients all disappear and peanuts are evenly distributed.
  9. Scrape dough into another bowl and set aside.  Don’t bother washing the mixer bowl.
  10. Make the brownie batter: Using a rubber spatula, stir together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in mixer bowl or large bowl.
  11. Add brown sugar OR white sugar+dollop molasses.  Pulse mixer to combine.
  12. 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.
  13. Add beaten egg and mix on low speed until batter resembles fudge frosting.
  14. Add chopped chocolate and pulse to mix it in.
  15. Scrape sable dough back into the bowl with the brownie batter and mix on low speed until homogeneous.
  16. Drop dough in rounded tablespoonfuls on baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Cool cookies completely on baking sheet on a rack.  They will firm as they cool.
  20. Repeat with second batch.
  21. 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.
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Creme Brulee

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This is one of our favorite dessert recipes ever.  It’s both straightforward and fun to make, because who doesn’t like attacking their food with a blowtorch?

Baking note: You can bake the custards in a pan of hot water, which will make the surface come out smoother.  However, since you’re going to cover it with a layer of melted sugar anyway, this step seems unnecessarily complicated.

Original recipe

 

Creme Brulee
Adapted from All Recipes

Yield: 6 servings

For the custard:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • grated peel from 1 lemon (optional)

For the topping:

  • 4 tablespoons sugar

 

  1. Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Place 6 shallow heat-proof dishes on a baking sheet.
  2. Beat egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.
  3. Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to boil.
  4. Remove the cream from heat immediately and stir into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.
  5. Pour cream mixture into the top pan of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.  If desired, stir in grated lemon peel.
  6. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into dishes.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
  8. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  9. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons sugar evenly over the 6 dishes of custard.
  10. Oven method:
    Preheat oven to broil. 
    Place dishes under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to burn.

    Blowtorch method:
    Hold a blowtorch so the tip of the flame touches and melts the sugar.  Keep the flame moving over the surface so the sugar doesn’t burn.

  11. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  You can refrigerate the dishes to set the custard, but I usually eat it as soon as the sugar crust has hardened.  You can check this by tapping it lightly with a spoon.

Sable Cookies

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These French cookies are very buttery and have both a crumbly and tender texture.  I’ve never had the non-gluten-free version, but my friends and I all enjoy the gluten-free type, so that’s a good sign!

Sable Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt (but normal salt is just fine)
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • Decorating (coarse) sugar
  1. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy.
  2. Add sugars and salt and beat about 1 minute.  Only beat until the mixture is smooth; you don’t want it to be airy and fluffy.
  3. On low speed, beat in egg yolks.
  4. Stir in flour partially, then finish beating it in on low speed for 30 seconds.  Beat just until flour is completely incorporated and the dough looks uniformly moist.  The dough won’t come together in a ball.  It will look moist and clumpy and feel a little like Play-Doh.
  5. Scrape dough onto work surface, gather it into a ball, and divide in half.
  6. Lay each half on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 9 inch-long log.
  7. Wrap logs tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.  (They can be frozen for up to 2 months.)  To help keep a log round, you can slit the cardboard tube from a paper towel and store the log inside.
  8. Preheat oven to 350ºF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Beat an egg yolk in a small bowl.
  10. Remove one log from refrigerator and unwrap it, leaving it on the plastic wrap.  Brush yolk all over the log.
  11. Sprinkle entire surface of log with decorating sugar.
  12. Slice log into cookies that are 1/3-inch thick.  To help keep log round, rotate log a little with each slice.
  13. Place cookies on baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart.
  14. Bake for 17 minutes if gluten free OR 17-20 minutes if not.  When done, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges, and pale on top.  If you touch the top, they will still feel tender.
  15. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes.  Using a wide metal spatula, carefully move cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.  The gluten-free cookies are prone to cracking and crumbling, so handle them carefully.
  16. Repeat process with second log.

Coconut Cream Pie

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In honor of Pie Day, here is another pie recipe with a new pie crust!  I thought this crust worked very well gluten free.  It did crack when I was moving it into the pie tin, but patching it up was simple, and it tasted delicious with the coconut cream filling.

Coconut Cream Pie
Adapted from The Little Pie Company’s Pies and Other Dessert Favorites

Crust
1 1/4 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
a little over 1/8 cup cold milk

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons tapioca starch OR cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups cold milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Topping
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Make the pie shell:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (if using).
  3. In a separate bowl, combine vegetable oil and milk.  (You don’t need to stir them together.)  Pour into the flour mixture.
  4. Stir pie crust mixture until flour is completely incorporated.  It will look crumbly.
  5. Press dough into a round, flat disk.
  6. Place dough disk in between 2 sheets of 12″ x 12″ wax paper.
  7. Roll out the disk into a 12″ circle, flipping the wax paper-dough “sandwich” over a couple times during the rolling process.
  8. Remove the top sheet of wax paper.
  9. Carefully lift the bottom sheet of wax paper by the top corners and invert the dough into a 9″ pie tin.
  10. Remove wax paper and gently press dough into the tin.
  11. Trim edges to 1/2″ of overhang and fold under the edge of the tin.  (Don’t worry if the gluten-free dough is too crumbly and breaks when you try to fold it under.)
  12. Prick the bottom and sides of pie shell with a fork.
  13. Bake for 6 minutes.  Remove pie shell from oven and prick the dough anywhere it has puffed up.  Bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and let it cool.

Make the filling:

  1. While pie shell is cooling, stir together sugar, tapioca starch OR cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan.
  2. In a bowl, stir together egg yolks and milk.
  3. Stir yolk mixture into sugar mixture, scraping sides with a rubber spatula.
  4. Cook mixture over medium heat on stove, stirring constantly.  The mixture will thicken and boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook and stir for 1 minute longer.
  6. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract.
  7. Mix in 3/4 cup coconut.
  8. Press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper onto the surface of the filling so a skin won’t form as it cools.  Let filling cool for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  10. Spread 1/4 cup coconut on a cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, stirring several times.  The coconut will look golden brown.  (It’s a little over-toasted in the photo above.)
  11. Pour cooled filling into the pie shell and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
  12. Sprinkle toasted coconut over filling.
  13. Cool pie to room temperature.
  14. Refrigerate pie for 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled.  Do not cover pie before it is completely chilled.
  15. Serve pie the day you make it.

Chocolate Mousse

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Chocolate mousse is relatively easy to make and great for dinner parties.  You can use nice plastic glasses if you’re bringing them to a friend’s house.  Also, if you happen to have leftover egg yolks from another recipe, now’s your chance to use them!

Original recipe

Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from RealSimple

Yield: 10 servings

8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (chocolate chips work too)
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar (divided into 4 tablespoons and 2 tablespoons)
2 cups heavy cream (divided into 3/4 cup and 1 1/4 cups)
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

  1. Melt chocolate in a large bowl in the microwave, checking on it and stirring every 20 seconds or so.  Stir melted chocolate until smooth and let it cool.
  2. Stir together egg yolks, 4 tablespoons sugar, ¾ cup cream, and espresso powder if using in a small saucepan.
  3. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.  Do not let mixture boil, or the egg yolks will begin to cook.  The mixture is done when it lightly coats the back of the spatula.
  4. Strain egg mixture into chocolate (or if you don’t mind a few small lumps, just pour it in).
  5. Whisk or stir mixture until smooth.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool completely.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat 1 ¼ cups cream and 2 tablespoons sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  8. Carefully fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture, 1/3 at a time. Fold just until you don’t see any more streaks.
  9. Divide among 10 glasses if you want the mousse to look fancy (if eating it yourself, just pour it into one big container to save washing extra dishes).
  10. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to cool completely.  You can leave the mousse in the fridge longer, but if so, bring it back to room temperature before serving.