Gluten Free Picnic Fun

The end of May was a busy time for the Fruit Tart household — a farewell party, a reception for visiting friends, an end-of-year picnic for preschool, the blog’s birthday, and Tartlet 3’s birthday. For two of these I made trifle. At the end of April I made a trifle with Alton Brown’s angel food cake, but in May I made one with a store bought angel food cake and the other I made a gluten free angel food cake, based on Alton Brown’s recipe and method.

It didn’t have quite the same texture as a regular angel food cake, and it browned faster, but since I was tearing it up to make trifle anyway, the texture wasn’t a big detractor. I thought it had good flavor and because I didn’t use any rice flour there was no grittiness in the texture. I would definitely make this again for gluten free friends, but I might tweak the ratios of flours and use more tapioca and less potato starch or use a little white sorghum. Still, it was very popular when layered with Cool Whip and fresh fruit (strawberries, blackberries, mango, kiwi, and blueberries), and most people didn’t realize it was gluten free.

Gluten Free Angel Food Cake (adapted from Alton Brown’s Angel Food Cake)

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 c. potato starch
1/3 c. tapioca starch
1/3 c. corn starch
1/2 t. xanthan gum

12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor or blender spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt, starches and xanthan gum, setting the remaining sugar aside.

In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, extract, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to stand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the starch mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the starch mixture is incorporated.

Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).

Gluten Free Love

Today was the Valentine’s party for Tartlet 4’s preschool class. There is one sweet little girl in the class who is allergic to gluten and I’m so glad I’ve been able to make a few treats that she can have too, so she doesnt’ feel left out. Unfortunately, last time I wasn’t clear enough about the fact that one tray had regular cupcakes and the other had gluten-free and she had a little bit of a regular one (but only a little bit and didn’t get sick, thankfully).

Determined to make this week’s treat completely gluten-free and wanting to avoid the grit of rice flour, I decided to play with something a little different. I read ingredient lists on packaged gluten-free cake mixes and saw that several listed sorghum, sugar, potato flour, and tapioca flour as the first four ingredients and in that order.  Mine isn’t quite that proportion, and possibly it would have been less dense had I used more sorghum and less potato and tapioca flours.

I modified this Whipping Cream Cake recipe and used a vanilla bean and orange for flavoring. While my result has more of a pound cake texture than the light and fluffiness of the regular whipping cream cake or Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake, it was very good and all my Tartlets liked it. I tried piping some Cool Whip into the center, but the density of the cake didn’t leave much room for filling.

Gluten-Free Whipping Cream Cake (adapted from Betty Crocker, 1969)

1 1/2 c. chilled whipping cream

3 eggs (1/2 to 2/3 c.)
1 vanilla bean
grated zest of one orange or 1 tsp. orange extract

1 c. white sorghum flour
1/2 c. potato flour
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. xanthan gum
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

In chilled bowl, beat cream until stiff.

Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Fold eggs, the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and orange zest or extract into whipped cream.

Stir together remaining ingredients; fold gently into cream-egg mixture until blended. Batter will be thick and stiff. Spoon into muffin cups.

Bake 20-25 min or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Frost as desired. (I used an orange buttercream.)

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Truffling With Your Affections

Today was the farewell for Mrs. V. The astute reader may remember there was a farewell last fall but only Mr. V. left us for TX at that time. Now their house has finally sold and they will be reunited (*yay!*) but we are sad to see them leave (*boo!*). Once again I wanted to make something that would suit her particular list of allergies. I made truffles.

You may be saying to yourself, “That doesn’t seem allergy friendly at all,” but I made several kinds. I saw some recipes online for goat cheese truffles, from several sources so I don’t have a specific link, and decided to play with that concept a little to make it edible for our friend. For the savory batch I simply copied a recipe I saw repeatedly — smooth some goat cheese around a grape and roll it in ground pistachios, all foods Mrs. V. can eat!

For the ‘sweet’ ones, I used agave syrup for the sweetener and used both unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder to flavor the cheese. I rolled some of these in pistachios and some in cocoa powder.

In addition, I made some non-allergy friendly cold s’mores. I rolled a large marshmallow (small ones would have been nice, if I had some) in chocolate ganache (heat whipping to simmering and add chopped chocolate, stir until melted and smooth), allowing the ‘excess chocolate’ (is there such a thing?!) to drip off before rolling the marshmallow in graham cracker crumbs. I made some ‘regular’ truffles as well.

And now I leave you for a week while we go play at the beach, my most favorite week of the year! I have a little something in store for you next week while I’m gone, so hopefully you won’t miss me too much. 😉

Chocolate Goat Cheese Truffles

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
5 Tbsp. agave syrup
2 Tbsp. canola oil
5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
12 oz. plain goat cheese

In a small bowl, stir together chocolate, agave syrup, oil, and cocoa until smooth. In a medium bowl, beat the goat cheese for 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and beat well. Roll into balls and toppings of your choice.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a good night to end 2007 and ring in 2008, whether that meant going to bed early, watching Dick Clark in your bathrobe, or partying ’til dawn. We had our annual New Year’s Eve Party/Open House event.

We never know from year to year exactly how many people will come and how long they will stay — I think our largest crowd at midnight was around 21, our smallest was just our family b/c everyone went home by 11 PM! When we were listing our RSVPs, Tartlet 1 was jumping up and down in excitement that it looked like the kids were going to outnumber the adults — at one point we had 32 adults and 32 kids on the list and then she asked if I had included us. No. WHOO-HOOO! She cheered. Neenerneenerneeeeenee! But one family left two of their kids at home and another left all four kids at home, but then an adult couple called to cancel . . . our final count, including our family, was 33 adults, 32 kids. She pouts. 😦 Boooooo!

So, given that for our guest list, I tried to pick some things that would suit all palates. We had a lot of repeats. I made the perennial favorite with both adults and kids, mini calzones/pizza pockets, PBJ cut out sandwiches (using cookie cutters to make shapes — crustless sandwiches in fun shapes are always popular with the little crowd), and industrial meatballs from Sam’s in the crockpot served with bottled sauces — sweet and sour, BBQ, and marinara. We also had cheese plates with crackers, chips and salsa and guacamole, veggie plate, beef skewers with balsamic vinaigrette marinade, chicken skewers in both peanut butter/yogurt and garlic lemon flavors, and bruschetta. And my favorite artichoke dip, which appears every year, usually in better focus than here. Even though I fully understand, I was a little disappointed that by the time I was done bringing the waves of hot food out of the kitchen around 8:30, many of the people were already heading home with their little tykes.

For desserts I often make some spectacular new thing, but that didn’t happen this year. Instead we had some of these repeats, with filberts instead of almonds, and some of these repeats in both orange and an experimental mint version. C doesn’t like her chocolate dark. At all. But she loves Andes candies. So, for her sake, I made some with melted Andes candies on top instead of unsweetened chocolate and then sprinkled them with chopped bits. It got a thumbs up approval. I also made baklava using pistachios instead of walnuts and I used lemon in the syrup, as well as some cheesecake squares, some of which I topped with canned cherry pie filling. We had a platter of fresh fruit — pineapple, honeydew, and cantaloupe. And I made some special brownies for Mrs. V, who can now eat cocoa again!! Now there’s something to say ‘Whoo-hoo!’ about because carob? What, is that short for caribou dropping or something? Blech. Her brownies were made with cocoa, rice flour, sorghum flour, honey, egg, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, baking soda, and pistachios. They were a little weird in the baking — I think my oven was running very hot 😛 so the edges were getting burnt while the middle turned out rather fudgy.

Once I closed down the kitchen and joined in the action of the party, after more than half the people went home, we got a telephone pictionary game going, followed by a couple rounds of Catch Phrase. I *LOVE* telephone pictionary, which seems very odd to me. I mean, normally I’m the sort of person who likes to think about things for a long time and not be very spontaneous so a game in which you have 30 seconds to either write a phrase from a picture or draw a picture to match a phrase, with all sorts of surprises along the way, seems like a game I would normally avoid. But I’ll join in a telephone pictionary game any time. This time around I think the funniest twist (certainly the most macabre) came from Abram’s phrase of ‘one giant step for mankind’ which ended with a picture of a person being run over by a train. The more adjectives and adverbs you use, the more likely your phrase will distort by the time it gets back to you . . . and then there are players like my Tartlet 1 who didn’t know what to write or draw a couple of times so she just made something up — as in totally unrelated! There are those who play the game trying to keep it as close as possible to the original version and there are those who play to see twist wildly . . . and seriously, which is more fun? The twisted ones, of course! But especially when the animals are misinterpreted and actions are poorly illustrated.

When I was in college I had a very good friend, the best friend I’ve ever had. In fact, it seemed like we shared a brain. Unfortunately, she always had it while I was in calculus, but we played regular Pictionary like you wouldn’t believe. One of us would start to draw a line and the other would guess it almost immediately. The other people would say — how on earth does that line look like ‘hopping on one foot’?! And we’d just shrug — I knew what she was drawing. The trouble with telephone pictionary is you need 14 people (in our game last night, anyway) who can do that to keep the phrase the same throughout the round.  Anyway, thanks to all those who joined us for the night, however much of it you were able to share with us, and I wish you all a very happy new year!

Making Mud

Mud Pies, that is. Today is Mrs. V’s birthday and, even if birthday celebrations lose a bit of their thrill after a while (does it peak around age 7?), I think everyone should still get to have cake. When you have a long list of allergies that gets a bit more complicated, but, after the baking success stories from the Ladies’ Retreat, I was feeling confident to tackle a cake-ish recipe.

I made three separate mud pies. One for the people without allergies, one for Crystal without wheat or egg, and one for Mrs. V without gluten, sugar, or chocolate. They look very similar, except the carob one is darkest.

The recipe I used is modified from the General Mills cookbook for kids: Alpha-Bakery (M is for Mud Pie). In each case, I used a 10-inch pie pan.

Regular Mud Pie

3/4 – 1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs
1 c. chopped nuts (optional — I left them out this time)
1/4 c. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
Cool Whip or sweetened whipping cream

Heat oven to 325 F. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with non-stick spray.

Mix sugar, applesauce, flour, cocoa, salt, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in nuts, if using. Pour into pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes, wooden pick in center should come out clean but center will be very moist.

Immediately prick holes in pie with a fork or knife, then spread with chocolate syrup. Cool completely.

Spread Cool Whip over top. Drizzle with chocolate syrup, if desired. Store pie in refrigerator.

I reduced the sugar from the original recipe and I think it’s actually even better at the lower range I’ve given b/c the chocolate syrup and Cool Whip add enough buzz. This is definitely a recipe that is easy to reach the ‘sickeningly sweet’ level.

Eggless Mud Pie

3 t. Ener-G egg replacer
4 T. warm water
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. spelt flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1/4 c. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
Cool Whip or sweetened whipping cream

Heat oven to 325 F. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with non-stick spray.

Mix egg replacer with warm water and stir until smooth and well mixed. Mix sugar, applesauce, spelt flour, cocoa, salt, vanilla, xanthan gum, and egg replacer in a medium bowl. Pour into pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes, wooden pick in center should come out clean but center will be very moist.

Immediately prick holes in pie with a fork or knife, then spread with chocolate syrup. Cool completely.

Spread Cool Whip over top. Drizzle with chocolate syrup, if desired. Store pie in refrigerator.

This came out darker than the one with egg but tastes very similar.

Gluten Free, Non-Dairy, Carob Mud Pie

1 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. sorghum flour
2 T. white rice flour
2 T. arrowroot powder
1/2 c. carob powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
Coffee-carob sauce (see below)

Heat oven to 325 F. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with non-stick spray.

Mix agave nectar, applesauce, flours, carob, salt, xanthan gum, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl. Pour into pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes, wooden pick in center should come out clean but center will be very moist.

Immediately prick holes in pie with a fork or knife, then spread with coffee-carob sauce. Cool completely.

Coffee-carob sauce
2 T. canoleo
2 T. carob powder
2 T. agave nectar
1 t. vanilla
strong coffee

In a small pan, heat canoleo, carob powder, and agave nectar, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla and coffee to desired consistency.

I’d love to be able to tell you how this tastes but coffee really, truly does make me nauseous and even vomit. 😛 TMI, I know. Sorry.