Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shortbread Cookies

These are sweet, sandy shortbreads that dissolve in the mouth. They also crumble in the making and require the patience of Job. But it's a religious season, so make like Job and be patient. For brown-sugar shortbread with a crunch, like my Scottish grandmother used to make, see Rebecca Reilly's Gluten-Free Baking, and roll the dough thin.

1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup gluten-free icing sugar
1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup butter

Sift cornstarch, sugar, and flour together. Add butter and mix with hands until a soft dough forms. Refrigerate at least one hour. Shape it into 1” balls. This might require patience, since the dough is super-crumbly and might need to warm in your hands before it will hold together. Place cookies 1 1/2” apart on a parchment-paper or silicone-sheet lined unrimmed cookie pans. Flatten very gently with a fork dusted with rice flour, if the cookies are not already too crumbly. Bake at 300F for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

These are really special if you dip their tops in melted chocolate after they have cooled.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chocolate-Glazed Fruit Bars

These have a sweet and sticky fruitiness with a pleasing crunch, too. They also look pretty. Press them very, very firmly into the pan to ensure they hold together well enough to cut easily -- oh, and cut them small, since the dates make them quite sweet.

1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped apricots
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4 cups gluten-free corn flakes, crushed to 1 1/2 cups
3/4 cup chocolate chips

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter with sugar.

Add chopped dates, cook, and stir for 5 minutes, until thoroughly combined and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in raisins, apricots, almonds, and cereal. Press into a greased 9” square pan. Chill until set.

Melt chocolate chips and spread over squares. Chill again until ready to cut into squares.

Herbed Bread

This is slightly adapted from a very good gluten-free recipe from Canadian Living. They got the proportions of ingredients perfected, as they always do. I changed the flours to add more whole-grain and fibre and changed the herbs to suit my taste and the current contents of my cupboard. I then used the leftover egg yolks to make tapioca pudding!

2 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp instant yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup skim milk powder
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp herbes de Provence
1 tsp salt

Grease a loaf pan. Set aside.

Dissolve sugar in warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle with yeast. Set aside until frothy, about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together flours and starches, milk powder, xanthan, herbs, and salt.

Whisk oil, vinegar, eggs, and egg whites into the yeast mixture. Stir in flour mixture and beat well, until smooth and evenly sticky and unmanageable. Spread into pan evenly and set aside in a warm spot to rise to the top of the pan, about 1 hour.

Bake at 350F about 45 minutes. (This timing worked perfectly for my oven. Hooray!) Remove from pan and allow to cool before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf.

Two-Bite Brownies

These are rich and chocolatey and slightly chewy. Yummm. You could add up to 1 cup of chopped walnuts or more chocolate chips to stretch the batter to make more brownies. Whatever you do, be sure not to overcook the brownies. If you have great willpower, you can eat these brownies in four bites, but no one will fault you for eating them in just one bite.

1 cup sugar
3 tbsp amaranth flour
1 tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

Lightly grease and rice-flour 18 tartlet tins (more if you have added extras to the batter).
Preheat the oven to 325F.

Whisk flour, starch, xanthan, and sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place butter and cocoa in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Allow to cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in dry ingredients, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared tartlet tins, to about 2/3ish full.

Bake for 20 minutes, until set but moist in the centre. Allow to cool five minutes in the pan, then turn out on a rack to cool completely, or until their scent overcomes your willpower.

Makes 18 two-bite brownies.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bruti ma buoni (Almond-Hazelnut Cookies)

These are light and delicious Italian gluten-free nut cookies.

1 cup egg whites
1 3/4 cups white sugar
5 1/3 cups chopped blanched almonds
2 cups hazelnuts, skinned and chopped

Preheat oven to 325F. Let egg whites stand until room temperature. Beat the whites until lightly foamy. Add the sugar gradually as you beat. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold in the nuts. Transfer to a large saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and turns a little brown, about 10 minutes. Spoon the cookies onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets by the teaspoonful, about 1 to 1 1/2” apart. Bake about 22 minutes, or until dry. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.