Monthly Archives: December 2011

Coconut Milk Creme Brulee – Easy, Spot-On and Dairy Free!

How time does fly!

This recipe is from 2011, and it’s still one of the most popular ones on this site. It produces a quick, thick creme brulee that’s great for beginners. Want something a touch above? Try my updated version with Chef Joe Murphy as part of my Pro Pastry, Gluten (and dairy!) Free series.

And for the adorable original text, scroll below the recipe.

Happy torching!

– Jacqueline

Crunchy crust and lightly lemon scented biscuits

This recipe made FoodBuzz’s Top 9 on December 29th! Thanks for all the buzzing love!

Dairy-Free Creme Brulee

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped

Equipment:

  • 4 5oz ramekins
  • glass or ceramic baking dish
  • kitchen torch

Method:

Preheat oven to 300° F.  Set a pot or kettle full of water on to boil.

In a medium bowl whisk eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until creamy and smooth.  Add coconut milk and blend until smooth.

Pour into ramekins.

Place in ceramic baking dish and pour hot water until it comes halfway up the ramekins.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until just slightly jiggly in the middle.

Cool until ready to serve or chill until cold.  When ready, sprinkle with about 2 tsp white sugar and torch until crispy and brown.

Notes: It’s a bit dense.  I based the recipe on one that used lemon to cut the thickness.  But unlike some other dairy-free creme brulee recipes you won’t have to worry about it not setting.  While I was totally pleased with this turnout, you could probably omit one yolk and still find success.

Also, HERE’S THE TORCH I HAVE. You’ll use it more than you think you will. Charring marshmallows and browning meringue are just two fun things…

Life is delicious.  After a packed weekend of family and amazing food and lit fires and lots of hugging, I sat back at a desk Monday morning, worked the day away, then packed Mitra and my Christmas loot into my little blue Subaru and booked it back to NYC.  Because I had a guest coming over.  A man.  Who was cooking me dinner.

I’m not the easiest person to cook for, having this whole gluten and dairy free diet thing.  My last two boyfriends were great eaters and practically non-existent cooks (Ruark, three bf’s ago, makes a meat sauce to die for).  Being domestically bent, I easily fall into the role of kitchen wizard (so a friend once called me) in relationships.  I now have a “no cooking for you before the 4th date rule” (a loose rule, but there nonetheless).  So a guy offering to come to my place to cook on our second date… was a first.

(Side note: I’m getting distracted writing up this post because there’s a horrible holiday movie my roommate recorded playing and while it’s truly wretched Mark-Paul Gosselaar is a-DOR-able. Definitely aging well.)

While I made some fancy cocktails (ginger ale, fresh sweet lime and zested ginger with bourbon for me and vodka for him), date man made us an incredible dinner.  Flavorful, tasty, relaxed, and much appreciated.  I made dessert.  A dairy-free creme brulee with loads of vanilla and a perfectly torched crust.

We didn’t end up eating it.  Cocktails with neighbors led to a late evening and full bellies.  So tonight my under-slept self enjoyed the crap outta it while watching Mad Men (and said horrible/adorable Christmas movie)  and cuddling the dog.  Neighbors upstairs got the rest.  It’s dense and just sweet enough, with the perfect little crunch.  Using vanilla bean gives it an incredible punch.  I’ve so missed creme brulee, and now I’m satiated.

Let me know if you make it, who you share it with, how you adapt it, and what you think.

Cheers to second dates, Christmases full of goodness, Mad Men, and little dogs.

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Gluten-Free, Milk-Free Gingerbread

Gluten-Free, Milk-Free Gingerbread

Years ago I inherited a gingerbread recipe that sent my taste-buds flying.  It was a dear friend’s mom’s, and I remember the first time I made it for a group of friends.  Back then, I was relatively unfamiliar with basic cake techniques, and the idea of “starting and ending with dry” seemed practically scientific.

The cake got raves.  But after that first time, I couldn’t eat it.  My milk allergies had gotten worse.

Fast forward ten years later and I made the recipe my own.  I think actual ginger-bread is too often overlooked in favor of its cookie-d cousins.  Which, trust me, I enjoy thoroughly.  But there’s something so homey and warm and New England holiday about it that I particularly love.

Substitution ingredients are below, but this blend of ingredients produced a moist, perfectly sweet, highly-spiced cake that I ate way too much of as soon as it was cool enough to slice.

Notes: I used butter, but not milk, substituting with unsweetened almond milk.  To make completely dairy-free, substitute the melted butter with melted butter-flavored Earth Balance.  You can use regular all-purpose flour (2 cups) if you don’t have gluten problems, or substitute with a gluten-free mix of your own.  I use less xanthan gum in this recipe than you might expect – if you want to omit completely, just add 1 Tbsp of flax meal. 

Another time I made this recipe I used 1 cup white rice, 1/2 cup tapioca, 1/2 cup sorghum and 1/4 cup millet and it worked well too!

Top with unsweetened coconut milk whipped cream for a special holiday treat!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch / flour (or arrowroot starch)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (or melted Earth Balance to make dairy-free)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar and enough unsweetened almond, soy or cow’s milk to make 1/2 cup of liquid total
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan (preferably something thick like a Pyrex dish), set aside.
  • In a measuring cup, heat the milk and vinegar so that it’s slightly warm.
  • In a large bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), add flours, tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, baking soda, xantham gum and spices.  Stir/mix/whisk quickly to combine.
  • Make a well in the center and pour in this order: molasses, maple syrup, melted butter, egg, and milk/vinegar mixture.
  • Stir/mix together until combined.
  • Add hot water and beat until combined.
  • Pour into pan and bake for 40 minutes or until slightly browned on top and slightly springy when you press it with your finger.
  • Cool for 15 minutes, then loosen from the pan with a knife and invert onto cooling rack.
  • Cool completely before slicing.

Decorate with sifted powdered sugar and whipped cream (either cow cream or coconut milk are delish!)

Classic Butter Cutout Cookies (gluten free) – the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I’m gonna get a sentimental for a moment.

I have a very clear memory of my first Christmas with Lyme Disease, when I was 12 or 13 years old.  I was upstairs in my room, having been excused from the dinner table.  It was a cold winter.  I was in a lot of pain.  I hadn’t eaten much food, because I could barely digest anything at that point.  I had been carried upstairs, as I had lost almost my entire ability to walk.  I could hear laughter, and smell delicious things, and I felt very alone and very sad.  I cried, all bundled in bed, and listened to Windham Hill Artist’s A Winter Solstice, which my mother would play to comfort me.  The song “Gift” has always stuck with me – a gentle bit of comfort when feeling ill and lonely.

I pulled out of that bout of Lyme, and two others, and walked again.  My ability to move from point A to point B is something I will never take for granted, and a reason I so fully love walking in the 60-mile Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure.

Changing my diet is what healed me.  Yes, I’ve taken a lot of antibiotics in my 18 years of battling Lyme.  But every time I’ve gone through treatment it has not been until I’ve worked with a nutritionist of some sort and been put on a strict diet with lots of supplements and vitamin drips that I’ve seen results.

As a child it was obviously hard.  There weren’t cookbooks and blogs on gluten or dairy free baking.  There was one alternative for gluten free bread, and it was horrid.  Rice Dream was no substitute for ice cream, and the only offering.  Whole Foods did not exist, at least not in Connecticut.  There was almost no “alternative baking”.  It was a huge adjustment for my parents.

So this holiday season I’ve found myself overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and a feeling of community.  In one weekend I participated in three cookie swaps.

The first, the NY Cookie Swap organized by Three Many Cooks for Bloggers Without Borders, benefited Cookies for Kids Cancers.  Obviously any way I can help other children fight their illnesses, I’m in.  I remember how hard it was for my parents, seeing me sick as a child, a college student and as a full adult, and how my father sometimes tears up to this day, knowing I will never be as free of illness as he wishes I could be.  On a crisp Sunday afternoon dozens of bloggers met for some barbecue, margaritas and cookie swapping.  It was a joy to put faces and voices to the blog names I’ve seen all over the web.  And there was an entire table set aside for gluten-free cookies.  Awesome.  (Getting misty-eyed).

My monthly Burwell General Store Swap went up that Sunday as well.  Every month I join a group of 25 or so bloggers in adapting a recipe to our heart’s content.  Mine, of course, are gluten free.  I love this group of talented home and professional chefs.  For the NY and Burwell swaps I made Mesquite Gingerbread Men (recipe soon) and Chocolate Almond Biscotti, the recipe of which was chosen for FoodBuzz’s Top 9!

And then there’s this: the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which required me to ship out 1 dozen cookies each to 3 bloggers I had been paired with – all gluten-free eaters.  In return I’d get three dozen different cookies as well! Awesome, no?

I am so very thankful for my ability to walk, my ability to eat what some see as a limited but I see as an incredible diverse and dynamic scope of food.  And I’m so thankful to have grown with a community of those who need to eat the same way, who pool information and resources, and to be able to teach some of what I have learned in my 18 years of living this way.

While I look back on that first Lyme Christmas as a blue one, the only blue snowflakes that are falling for me now are the ones I’m dunking in my almond milk.

Thanks to Three Many Cooks for the NY Cookie Swap and Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for organizing the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

I don’t have pictures of the beautiful gluten free cookies I received in the swap because as soon as they came in they were either in my mouth or on a plate and out the door with a collection of others.  They were so delicious and looked so nice alongside others that I had made for gifting, and, well, I’ve seen myself on camera lately and I have to WATCH MY COOKIES.

Julie from Swim… Bike… Running on Empty sent some deliciously moist gluten, corn and dairy free vegan pumpkin bites that were laced with nuts and chocolate as well.  The perfect soft cakey-cookie.  Check out her blog for healthy living tips including balancing all these cookies with exercise (which some of us need to incorporate more, note to self).  Follow her Tweets, people!

Maria from Gluten-Free Girl in Chicago‘s White Sugar Cookies with Pecans reintroduced me to the love of dipping cookies in milk.  Don’t know why, but I’m as excited about this practice as if I’d just discovered the combo myself.  Her crisp, delicate cookies were made with Earth Balance Coconut Spread (which I’d never heard of) and Better Batter All Purpose Flour.  So two new things for the DB.  I’m making them asap.  Since I have a big thing of almond milk waiting for me in the fridge.  Also check her out on Twitter.

Lastly, Clean Eating Chelsey’s Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies were just the perfect way to round out this trio.  I loved how they weren’t that sweet.  I find a huge difference between gluten-free and/or vegan eaters: we generally use less sugar. When adapting some recipes I’ll think something is WAY too sweet and my regular eating friends will disagree.  So these soft, chewy cookies (also perfect in almond milk) with big chunks of vegan chocolate and a strong coconut oil flavor were divine.  Follow her on Twitter too.

Classic Butter Snowflake Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen large snowflake cookies

Ingredients:

Adapted from the Classic Sugar Cookies by Saveur

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • 1 cup quinoa or millet flour
  • 3 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (3 sticks), soft
  • 2 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp Meringue / Egg White Powder
  • 1/2-1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, cinnamon etc.)
  • Gel food coloring
  • Colored sanding sugar and edible glitter

Method: Cookies

Whisk the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (especially when using organic sugars or sucanat, you need to mix longer as they don’t break down or dissolve very well).  Add the eggs, one a time, beating thoroughly between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.

Slowly add the flour, and mix until the dough just pulls together and the flour is blended in.

Divide in four, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for 45 minutes or until a bit firmer.

When ready to cut and bake, preheat oven to 325°.  On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with 3 inch snowflake cookie cutters (or cutters of choice, of course).  Bake for 15 minutes or until just brown at edges.  Cool for 5 minutes on sheet before removing to cooling racks.  Cool completely before icing.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: It’s easier to re-roll gluten-free cookies than regular cookies because you don’t have the presence of the gluten protein to make them tougher.  However, the softer the dough gets, the less crisp and crumbly it will be.

Method: Royal Icing

To make the icing, place sifted powdered sugar and meringue / egg white powder in bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add 1/2 cup of warm water and mix on medium low to incorporate.  If it is very dry, add a bit more water.  Increase speed to high and beat until glossy and stiff, about 6 minutes.

Now, some people freak out with royal icing.  I find it fun.  Because if you need thinner icing for piping a trillion cookies smoothly, just add warm water a teaspoon at a time until you get to the consistency you want.  Mix gel food colorings in a desired amount in small bowls.  This mixture makes about 3 cups, which is plenty for this batch of cookies.

Have fun with icing tips to pipe thick frosting on the snowflakes, and immediately sprinkle with shimmery sanding sugar or edible glitter as you go.

Teff Crepes (high-protein, gluten free and so easy!)

High-Protein Teff Crepes

The last time I made gluten free crepes, the man I was dating at the time said “I love you” for the first time.  Like, he was in love with me.  It was a very special moment.

He said it not because we were eating the crepes.  Not because they reached out to his French Canadian homeland.  But because, in my excitement, I called him over to his stove to show him that they worked!  I had made gluten free crepes!  Seeing my giddiness he blurted it out, seemed shocked with himself, gave me a hug and returned to the couch.  Two minutes later, he came over and said it again while looking into my eyes.  Then I said it back.

It’s incredible how a recipe can bring back some crazy strong memories.  Though we’re no longer dating, I wish him the best, and cherish the moments like that, when he was so supportive and enthusiastic about who I am and what I love.

Now, I’m not suggesting that these crepes are going to always inspire such reactions.  But the satisfaction of mastering a simple but elegant dish is infectious, and the joy of sitting down to brunch with someone you love and some good friends with a healthful, tasty meal is universally delightful, no?

I played with the flours a few more times before coming up with this one, which I’m particularly thrilled with. It’s perfect for a savory breakfast or dinner crepe, and has the delightful chew of a traditional French crepe while keeping light and flexible.  You can make them ahead of time (as I did with the filling for my breakfast today), or fill as you go and serve to a large crowd.

Teff flour is not one many are familiar with, but a gluten free powerhouse I highly recommend keeping on hand in the kitchen.  The grain is incredibly fine, and higher in protein and fiber than many other flours.  Because an incredible amount of the grain can be grown in a small space, it’s been fundamental in staving off famine in the countries of its origin.  It has a very slightly bitter taste to it, so I use it in savory recipes or those that call for strong flavors like molasses, chocolate or cinnamon.  I wouldn’t recommend using it as a main flour, but more as an accent (1/4 of a cup or so per cup of flour in a recipe).

In the crepes, it worked phenomenally.  They cooked smoothly and evenly, were strong enough to wrap without being at all tough, and gave some incredibly earthy flavor to the lighter veggies I filled them with.  After mastering a few steps, this entire process is incredibly easy.

Savory brunch crepes

Gluten-Free Teff Crepes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 3 Tbsp butter or butter flavored Earth Balance, melted (or 3 Tbsp oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup Teff flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour

If making crepes for a sweet filling, add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 Tbsp sugar to the final step.

Method

In a blender, spin the eggs on low for about 30 seconds.  With the blending running continually, add milk, then stream in melted butter.  Stop the blender and add flour and salt.  Blend on high for about 1 minute so that the flours fully incorporate.  Pour into a 2-cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup or small pitcher.  If possible, let sit for 1-2 hours.  This helps the flour dissolve fully and brings all the ingredients to room temperature.

When ready to cook, have large skillet with an 8″ base, cooking spray, a small spatula for loosening the edges (I used a small icing spatula), a large turner and a large plate at the ready.

Place the skillet on medium/low heat.  When hot, spray lightly with cooking spray.  With one hand, hold the skillet completely off the heat.  While swirling the pan, pour about 3 Tbsp of batter on.  Continue swirling until it covers the base of the pan evenly (this takes some practice).  You want the crepe as thin as possible, but shouldn’t be able to see through to the base of the pan.

Cook until the edges just start to bubble and dry slightly.  Then use the small spatula to loosen the edges.  Until you get the hang of it, use the turner to flip the crepe.  I often just loosen the edges and then flip with my fingers.  Cook for about 30 seconds on the other side, until the crepe has lightened in color slightly but is by no means dry.  Remove to large plate.

Continue with remaining batter until you have 8 full cooked crepes.

Tips: Play with your heat levels. I find medium-low works best so that the batter doesn’t cook too quickly when I pour it on.  This way I can swirl until it’s evenly coated.  Also, don’t overcook the crepe: it will make the edges brittle and the body of the crepe too hard to fold.  Some use butter to grease the pan: I find it sometimes creates too much steam and liquid, so I prefer cooking spray.

Filling

I filled these with thinly sliced zucchini that had been sauteed in onions, garlic and lots of fresh rosemary, Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil and Herbes de Provence, and raw, thinly sliced endives.  I then drizzled them with a very strong balsamic, sprinkled with fleur de sel and topped with some more endive, rosemary and a blot of goat yogurt.

I don’t often blog savory cooking recipes because I usually don’t cook with recipes, unless there’s a technique or specific dish I’m trying to make perfect.  But I will say that this combination worked splendidly because of the contrast in textures, flavors and temperatures.

Crepes are so versatile: fill em’ up!

Wishing you many first “I love you’s”, happy brunches with good friends, and a sweet, sweet life,

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Almond Biscotti – A Recipe Swap!

Toll House Chocolate Almond Biscotti

It’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap time again! And a holiday swap at that!

Quick catch-up for newcomers: About 13 months ago Christianna over at Burwell General Store started a recipe swap with Lindsay of Rosemarried, where she gives a recipe to a group of bloggers and we all change at least 3 things about the recipe.  With the coming of the second year we’re now a group of about 25 bloggers and just changed over to our second book, “The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places”.  While I’ve cherished “All Day Singin and Dinner on the Ground”, there’s something momentous about changing books.  The swap has been one of my favorite discoveries since starting this blog, and I look forward every month to seeing what the group has come up with, as well as connecting regularly on what’s inspiring us in and out of the kitchen.  Check out their posts on the little frog link below, and my Recipe Swap category for more!

New year, new book!

This month, with the craziness of the holidays, Christianna gave us something classic: the Toll House Cookie.  I got all mushy and sentimental when I saw the recipe.  Because for as long as my little dusty heart can remember my mother has kept her recipes, in bits and pieces, in a Toll House recipe book.  Its plastic brown cover contains so many recipes that we played with over the years, and many that are still favorites in our family.  Before the internet food world, before this blog, before I knew of single-origin chocolates, the science of baking gluten free, and became what some people might call a “food snob”, there was that book.

December's recipe: look at the adorable bit of history!

One of my favorites as a youngster was my momma’s biscotti.  Crisp and full of mini chips, she made several variations for her abundant plate of holiday cookies.  As I had to gluten free myself, she started adapting some of the recipes.  Or, at least, she tried.  It was sort of a running joke for a while between my siblings and I that she would attempt to make foods that I could eat, and then upon running down a list of ingredients she’d slap her head and go, “ah, sh*t!”.  Including the first time or two she made me “gluten and dairy free” biscotti; then realized she used regular chocolate chips.

But, as I did, she practiced and learned.  And now hers is one of the few houses I can go to and know I will eat, and I will eat well.

Mom and the Dusty sibs, Christmas 2009

So I wanted to take this classic Toll House Cookie recipe and make it into a biscotti.  And while no other biscotti will ever give me the same satisfaction as one made by my mom, these are pretty perfect.  Crispy, flavored with almond, perfect for dunking in sweet wine (an Italian recently told me that’s the way to do it), coffee or a glass of chilled almond milk (or cow, for you lucky dairy people!).

Happy Holidays, Swappers.  And, thanks, mom.  I love ya more than my luggage (10 cookies if you name that movie).

Mom and me at the end of the Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!

Oh, and mom, if you read this… Christmas is coming… hint hint.  And yours, please, not mine.

– Jacqueline, The DB

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Makes 18, Adapted from the Toll House Cookie and Toll House Biscotti recipes, with some dusty love.

Notes: I grew up with denser, harder biscotti, so to replicate that I baked the roll until it was slightly underdone, then cut and toasted it.  If you want yours crispier and a bit drier, bake completely before toasting.  I’ve made this recipe both ways with success.  Also, you can swap so many things in and out of this recipes: try cranberries, dried fruits, other nuts, go wild!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups starch-heavy gluten free flour (mine was 1 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup millet and 2/3 cup arrowroot)
  • 2 Tbsp Sweet Rice Flour, plus more if the dough seems sticky
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (or 1 Tbsp flax seed if you’re avoiding xanthan)
  • 1 Tbsp Mesquite flour (totally optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft
  • 5 Tbsp white sugar
  • 5 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat, or lightly grease.

Pour almonds on a second, dry, sheet and toast in the oven while preparing the biscotti.  Check occasionally so they don’t burn, and remove when slightly golden in color. (They will look all pale one second and like Troy after the horse in the next, so keep a close eye. A toaster oven works too.)

In a medium bowl combine flours, gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally.  Add eggs one at a time, beat to incorporate.  Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.  With the mixer on slow, add flour and beat to combine, increasing speed to incorporate.  Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.

With floured hands, roll into a 12-inch log and place on prepared sheet (or longer if you want smaller cookies).  Round top slightly.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cracked on top and slightly firm.  It shouldn’t be cooked completely, so the center should seem a tad underdone.

Remove to cooling rack and cool for at least 10 minutes.  Slice into into 1/2 inch slices and gently slide onto cookie sheet, cut side down.  They will be a bit crumbly, so use a spatula to gently flip them on the sheet.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until crisp and brown.  Cool completely before serving.

Enjoy with or give to someone you love!

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