Dessert

Milk Bar Mondays – Cinnamon Bun Pie (Gluten and dairy free)

I was nervous, then I was excited, then I was nervous again.

“Mother dough” may sound pretty awesome in the gluten-full world, but in mine any recipe that swears it can be used as a bagel, brioche, focaccia or croissant dough – as well as one ready for a sweet filling such as this – sends up too many red flags.

Gluten-free and bread dough are not casually made connections.

Yet, in the spirit of the Milk Bar Mondays swaps, I’d learned to question little and go forward with strength and spirit.  My Carrot Cake Truffles? Um, delicious.  The Apple Pie Layer Cake? Worthy of a sister’s birthday and one of the most fun things to disrobe.  Confetti Cookies? In my attempts to control my sugar levels I gave away most of the batch, both with a swing in my step since I was gifting such an outstanding cookie and with the regret at having gifted away such an outstanding cookie!

This pie?

Well…

The filling is outta this world… cinnamony, sweet and creamy.  Oh, and of course gluten and dairy free.  Well, almost, because I used butter and not Earth Balance or coconut milk… but close…

The dough rose and got puffy when it proofed, which is always fun to watch…

…but then it hardened while baking, and got the trademark look and mouth-feel of an adolescent, gluten-less bread dough.

My suggestion?

Rock on with the filling, but put it into one of my gluten free pie crusts (maybe this one, or the one linked below).  Or wait until I get off my tush and start making gluten-free bread for real.

Oh, and rock on hard with the filling, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my budding relationship with Tosi, it’s that you can’t go wrong with liquid cheesecake and brown butter.

Happy Milk Bar Mondays, folks.

Meet the Ladies!

Host Erin of Big Fat Baker (go to her site for the original recipe)

Meagan of Scarletta Bakes

Cassie of Bake Your Day

Audra of The Baker Chick

Nicole of Sweet Peony

Krissy of Krissy’s Creations

and welcome to Averie of Averie Cooks!

Follow the group on Twitter!

Gluten Free Cinnamon Bun Pie

Components:

  • 1 recipe my pie crust (I adapted the Mother Dough recipe from the original, but it’s not worth writing home about… on the list now)
  • 1 recipe Dairy-Free Liquid Cheesecake
  • 1/4 cup brown butter (microwave in a heat-proof container with a lid for about 5 minutes, until the butter pops and gets all caramely and brown)
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 recipe Cinnamon Streusel (recipe follows)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll out dough to fit a 10″ pie plate, and flatten within.

Spread half of the brown butter into the bottom of the pie plate.

Gently layer on 1/2 of the liquid cheesecake, then a second layer of brown butter.

Scatter the brown sugar on top, then tamper it down with a spoon or the back of your hand.

Sprinkle on the salt and cinnamon.

Gently layer the 2nd half of the cheesecake, then the entire batch of streusel topping, patting it into place.

Bake for 40 minutes.  Serve warm.

Cinnamon Streusel:

  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats (not quick cooking or whatever)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, coconut oil or Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients thoroughly.  Pour in melted butter etc. and vanilla.  Stir thoroughly into large clusters.

Gluten-Free Pastry Puff Party!

photo Brent Herrig

I’ve been obsessed with a gluten-free cream puff recipe.

Having gone without gluten for almost twenty years (minus the occasional succumbing to a bowl of homemade pasta passed to me or the gloriousness of a chewy piece of bread on my family’s island in Portugal just last week), delicate, precious things like filled pastry puffs had long been far from my food thoughts.

But when I sourced a bakery for gluten-free Easy Eats magazine’s Sweet Surprise column in our most recent issue, those thoughts shifted.  As I assisted the food stylist on the shoot I fell enamored of the smooth, thick dough that puffed into crackly rounds.  I was amazed by how such seemingly simple ingredients and a rather quick process could make something so delightful.

So my proposal for FoodBuzz’s 24×24 dinner party – where 24 bloggers from around the world host and post on the same day – quickly centered around the thought: how much can I play with this in one meal?  The owner of the bakery and creator of the recipe, Geri Peacock, had mentioned that, growing up as a child, her mother and grandmother filled the shells with things both savory and sweet.  It was a bit of her heritage that she had adapted for the gluten-free community years later.

So I rounded up some friends, checked in about their dietary issues and cultural backgrounds, and set them in the living room with some cocktails and a really random mix of music, and got to stuffing.

The pastry recipe is below, with my thoughts about how to make each batch spot on.  Click on the images for links to the other recipes.

And please check out Easy Eats magazine for the original recipe and other beautiful gluten-free recipes, lifestyle tips and stunning photos – and my most recent feature of five gluten free pasta recipes! Oh, and coming out in May, my feature of six top-notch chefs give us their own food thoughts and easy-to-execute classic recipes made gluten free (two of the chefs even put gluten-free options on their menus after!).

Oh, and mucho thanks to my photographer, Brent Herrig, for plating and snapping away.  All images are his.

Brent Herrig © 2012

Gluten-Free Pastry Puffs

Makes about 36 puffs, depending on size

The original pastry recipe took a teeny tiny bit of playing with – things like the position of the oven rack and sheets used made a huge difference in how one sheet would either rise and become too thin or remain deliciously eggy but too dense.  Luckily they are rather quick to whip up, and once you get the hang of it you can start swapping flours and fats with relative ease.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, Earth Balance or lard
  • 2 cups Cherbourg Bakery flour blend
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • dash of salt

Method:

Heat oven to 400° with rack in the center / one notch down from center.  Line 3 baking sheets with Silpat (the original recipe says ungreased cookie sheets but mine continually stuck that way – could be my ancient oven).

In a small pot on high heat, bring the water and butter (once it’s melted) to a full boil.  Lower the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix thoroughly, using a combination of smearing together and folding to completely incorporate the flour into the liquid.  Cook until a smooth ball forms.  Immediately transfer to a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Beat in eggs one at a time, starting on a low setting then raising to incorporate.  About halfway through, beat until smooth, and then continue with the rest of the eggs.  Once all are in, beat for about one minute on medium-high speed.

Drop on sheets in smooth lumps, about one tablespoon for smaller puffs (what I used for dessert) and twice the size for larger ones.  Bake one at a time for 30 minutes (I was lucky to use a neighbor’s oven as well).  Once you put the puffs in, don’t open the oven for a good 25 minutes to check – they need the heat to rise properly.  Cool for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Depending on the sturdiness of the puffs, I cut out small tops and filled them or sliced them in half and used them in a slider-type of way.  As they’re light, eggy and rather flavor-neutral, they worked well with strong savory and sweet flavors equally.

Puff Pastry Party Menu

Piri Shrimp

This is the one dish for which I’m not posting a recipe, because I totally cheated and just threw 1 pound of ethically caught shrimp (as in not from Thailand and labeled with certain standards) with 1 bottle of Very Peri Mild (I was sent some to test out and it’s quite delightful).  I marinated it overnight and then threw them in a hot pan with the juice of one fresh lemon.  YUM!

Lamb Stew

Garden Chicken Salad

Jerusalem Artichoke and Kohlrabi

Mini Banana Split with Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes with Dairy-Free Liquid Cheesecake


Mini Gluten-Free Pastry Puff Strawberry Shortcakes

Brent Herrig, 2012

Fruit and cream are two of my favorite things to smash together, but since I’ve been dairy-free for almost 20 years (save for butter, which as such little protein in it I can indulge), it’s not a combo I get too often.

In dreaming about what sweets I could fill into gluten-free puff pastries other than the traditional cream for my FoodBuzz 24×24 party, the combo naturally came to mind.  Why not do a mini take on a strawberry shortcake to compliment my cool and minty Mini Banana Splits?

This combo is quite adorable – full of flavor and texture, nostalgic and simple.  And look how cute and romantic.

I’m all smiles.  Love.

Mini Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Strawberry Shortcakes

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe gluten-free puff pastry, baked with about 1 Tbsp each for a small size
  • 1 quart of strawberries, chopped small
  • 1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake, baked an additional five minutes to set almost firm
  • 2 Tbsp organic sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint, plus 12 small leaves for garnishing
  • Powdered sugar

Method:

Combine the strawberries, chopped mint and sugar in a small bowl, and stir to combine.  Refrigerate a few hours or overnight to let the flavors meld.

To serve, cut a small hole in each of the pastries.  Fill with strawberries.  Use a mini cookie scoop to scoop out a round of liquid cheesecake.  Tuck mint leave in between layer.  Top with pastry top.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Mini Pastry Puff Banana Splits with Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Brent Herrig, 2012

I love food, I love to eat, and I love to host.

So my FoodBuzz 24×24 Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Party was a whole lot of fun.

But no matter the occasion, I always scheme up dessert first.  I want my desserts to look pretty and be layered with as many flavors and texures as possible.  A friend at the party (a private chef whose job I may be taking over) told me my savory flavors are spot on but I have to work on my plating.  Rightly so.  I find cooking as comfort and, while I savor the artistry in what others do with it, it’s medicine and sustenance to me.  Dessert is where I play.

I wanted two gluten and dairy free dessert recipes for my shindig, and decided on tiny takes of both a banana split and a strawberry shortcake.

Both results made me extremely happy.  Like, tiny dance of joy when no one was looking happy.  They’re incredibly simple, and nostalgically delightful.

As spring has finally come to NYC, it was also time to store the crockpot and bring out my little ice cream churner, a yearly move I always look forward to.  I decided on a dairy-free mint chocolate chip ice cream for this go around, but my Coffee, Honeybun or Pomegranate Lime variations would be fun too – all dairy-free, of course.  And the basic coconut milk to egg mixture and method would obviously work with a whole slew of flavors.

Sweet.

Brent Herrig © 2012

Gluten-Free Mini Puff Pastry Banana Split

Makes 12 mini splits

Components:

  • 1/2 recipe gluten-free puff pastry
  • 1 recipe Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream (recipe follows)
  • 2 bananas, cut into thirds lengthwise and then into six wedges
  • nuts, chocolate chips and fruit for garnishing

Um, you know how to make a banana split, right?  Have fun tossing things together.  I used a small cookie scoop to portion out the ice cream, with two scoops on each split.  Adorable.

Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk (about 3 cups)
  • 8 yolks from large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch,
  • 1 3oz bar of dark, dairy-free chocolate, chopped (I used Endangered Species, which I love)

Method:

In a bowl, beat the egg yolk with the honey.

In a medium pot, bring 3/4 of the coconut milk up to a steam / very low simmer, then turn off heat.  Temper the egg yolk by slowly whisking in some hot coconut milk, about 2 Tbsp at a time, until it’s thoroughly warmed (basically you’re trying to heat the eggs without cooking them).  Add the egg mixture to the milk, and begin to heat on low.  Whisk the cornstarch with the remaining coconut milk, then whisk into the egg/milk mixture.  Whisk in extracts and salt.  Continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken into a soft custard, about 5-8 minutes.  It won’t get fully thick, but should get to the point where it will coat a spoon.

Remove to a bowl and chill until thoroughly cold.

Add to ice cream maker and churn until thick, about 20 minutes, adding the chopped chocolate as soon as the mixture begins to thicken and freeze.  Remove to freezer until frozen.

Blueberries and (Dairy Free) Cream – Burwell General Store Swap

It’s Burwell Recipe Swap time again – check out my past swaps for more info about the group.

So…  I had plans to make something that would blow my mind.  Something I learned from Alton Brown, who’s tied as my favorite brain crush with Brian Lehrer (all you WNYCers know what I’m talking about).  Something that I figured I could mix and measure and adapt as necessary.  I even wrote the post out last night.  It was brilliantly witty.  Pinky swear it was.

And while the experiment worked up to this point…

… that beaker of coolness was as far as I got.  They were to be these beautiful pearls of dark red wine that I had simmered with some really potent dried ginger, honey and gelatin sheets.  Dropped into chilled oil, they were to separate easily when rinsed clean.

I tried several variations – still think I need more gelatin.

So, in a pinch – what could I make?!?!  Because the recipe we were given, the one that we were to try to keep close to, was this:

Honestly, reading it invoked a reaction of reverse peristalsis in me (probably the only phrase I remember from high school biology).  Look at that ingredients list: really?

So what I took from it was: fruit, gelatin, ginger.  My original idea for the swap was to be a take on Charlotte Russe, which I’ve been wanting to adapt since I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn again a few months ago.  But for the same reason that this recipe makes me gag, I couldn’t do it.

So the result was a relatively healthy, bi-blueberry dessert served with a gluten-free lady-finger.  I did not make them.  If you want to make your own, I suggest this recipe from Krissy’s Creations.

This is definitely not my most proud swap.  But as this post goes up I’m not even near NYC at all, but on an island off of Portugal touring a vineyard, cooking food in the ground, interviewing chefs and chasing dishes around the island while my recorder runs and my photographer clicks away.  In prep for the trip I’ve been working like mad to meet deadlines.  And as I gobbled this up, I realized sometimes even last-minute creations come together when you need them.

Now please go check out my fellow swappers for, I’m sure, a tasty combo of creations!


Blueberries and Cream

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • Scant 1lb of fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dark red wine
  • 1 tsp dried ginger (less if you don’t like too much spice)
  • 2 sheets gelatin, bloomed (soak in cook water for about 5 minutes to bloom)
  • 1-8oz container cream cheese or alternative (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 slices candied ginger
  • 16 ladyfinger or Madeleine cookies

Method:

  • Rinse and separate the blueberries, and reserve 1/2 cup.  Put in a small pot on medium heat with the wine and dried ginger.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, crushing some of the blueberries with a fork.  Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin.  Whisk in slowly, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Turn off heat, and remove 1/4 cup blueberry liquid.  Add remaining 1/2 cup blueberries to pot, and stir in – these will soften a tad but give the jam a nice texture.
  • Remove the pot to refrigerator until chilled.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1/4 cup blueberry liquid.  Stir until completely incorporated.  Return to fridge to chill until firm.
  • When ready to serve, scoop the cream cheese mixture into a small ziploc bag.  Snip the corner, and pipe onto the flat side of one cookie.  Sandwich with another cookie.  Spoon about a tablespoon of chilled jam onto plate, then rest cookie sandwich on top.  Garnish with candied ginger.

Gluten-Free Confetti Cookies – Milk Bar Mondays

It's a friendly little cookie, no?

I have a feeling if Christina Tosi ever knew what I do with her recipes, she might wanna punch me in the neck.

My gluten-free Carrot Cake Truffles and Apple Pie Layer Cake from the last two swaps were, yes, divinity.  But in my allergy-friendly adaptations for this lovely group of swappers, I went one step further with this swap, and tried to swap certain ingredients with their slightly healthier cousins.

Because while I think Tosi is a dessert genius, there are just some things I can’t use: milk powder and liquid glucose being two of them.  I gave in a little and swaped agave for the glucose.  And I just omitted the milk powder and did a little dance of prayer in my kitchen, hoping they’d come out (it was a cross between how silly I look chanting kirtan and a rain dance I made up when I was little and wanted to be Pocahontas – no joke).  I love her book, and really admire her recipe writing style.  So I hope neck-punching isn’t in my future.

These cookies are exactly what Tosi intended them to be – the best confetti birthday cake in cookie form.  It truly tastes like the vanilla Betty Crocker cake mix I remember from days of yore, rolled up in a snicker-doodle-esqe base with a touch more salt.

They’re incredible.  The Birthday Cake Crumb adds that extra touch of awesomeness, and the design is just fun!

Now head over to Cassie’s Bake Your Day for the original recipe and go say hi to the Milk Bar Ladies!

Meet the Milk Bar Ladies!

Gluten-Free Confetti Cookies!

Ingredients:

  • 225g / 2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g / 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 50g / 2 Tbsp light agave nectar

——

  • 2 eggs
  • 8g / 2 tsp vanilla extract

——

  • 100g quinoa flour
  • 150g arrowroot starch
  • 50g sorghum flour
  • 100g brown rice flour
  • 9g cream of tartar
  • 6g baking soda
  • 5g kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 40g rainbow sprinkles (my grocery store brand had no gluten ingredients)

——

  • 1/2 recipe Birthday Cake Crumb (recipe below)

Method:

  • Combine butter, sugar and agave in bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Paddle for 2-3 minutes on medium/high.  Scrape the side of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla, and paddle on medium/high for 7 – 8 minutes, when the mixture is incredibly pale, light and fluffy and has doubled in size.
  • Reduce the mixer to low and add in the flour / sprinkle mixture.  Mix until it just comes together, less than one minute.  Do not over mix.
  • On low speed, stir in the Birthday Cake Crumb, just until it’s incorporated.
  • Scoop onto parchment or Silpat lined sheets – I made 12 large cookies by doubling my cookie scoop, then another 12 small cookies by single-scooping.  Either way, make sure there’s a good 3-4 inches between each on the sheet, and press down with your fingers to flatten (this version will not spread that much).  Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 1 week before baking – do not bake directly, these must be chilled!
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°.  Bake large cookies for 18 minutes and small ones for 14 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the centers are just starting to show color.
  • Cool completely on sheets before removing to plate or container.  Can be kept at room temp for 5 days or frozen for 1 month.
TheDustyBaker

Birthday Cake Crumb

Birthday Cake Crumb:

Once again this whole crumb thing blew me away.  It adds a bit more texture and salt to the recipe, and a lot more flavor.  These crumbs are a tad more healthful than the original, but are addictive nonetheless.  Use your fingers to press the crumb into little clusters if paddling doesn’t do it.

Oh, and I grabbed my bin of “dog-knows” gluten-free flour, where I’ve basically thrown whatever cookie flour I have leftover from a recipe into the bin.  I used that for the 90g below, but a fair estimate is that it’s 1/3 starch, 1/3 brown rice and 1/3 white rice flour with 1/4 tsp xanthan gum.

Ingredients:

  • 100g palm sugar
  • 25g light brown sugar
  • 90g gluten-free flour (see note above)
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 2 g kosher salt
  • 20g rainbow sprinkles

——

  • 40g coconut oil
  • 12g vanilla extract

Method:

  • Heat oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment.
  • Combine the top ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment and paddle until completely combined.
  • Add wet ingredients and paddle again until clusters appear.  When all the moisture is absorbed, use your fingers if necessary.
  • Spread the clusters on the sheet and bake for 20 minutes, tossing half-way through.
  • Cool completely before using.

Mocha Nib Torte – Gluten-Free Boxed Cake Makeover!

So dark and dreamy... I'm in love.

I cannot tell a lie: this feels like cheating.

A cake from a box? Moi?  How dare I post a recipe using a cake from a box!

But hear me out:

1. Wednesday I film a 10-episode series on gluten-free recipes for EHow: Food.  Basically after I got the gig the producer and I checked recipes off they need shot.  Upon hearing that I have to shoot all 10 in one day, I chose a few quick ones (boxed cake, pancake, pumpkin cookies) to balance out ones that take a tad longer (cupcakes, biscotti).  So of course I had to test a few ideas out, pimping out the recipe as much as I could without actually adding time to what is supposed to be a simple, time-saving procedure.

2. One of my upstairs private chef-friends had recently mentioned that he sometimes uses a boxed cake mix and elaborates on it (layering with chocolate mouse and dark chocolate shavings, adding Meyer lemon zest and juice to a white cake etc.) when scrunched for time.  He’s an amazing cook and makes mad money at his gig.  If he can, why not I? (Also, if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow… I ask that too).

3.  I’ve been gluten free off and on for almost 20 years.  At some points, I was extremely strictly gluten free (now I only eat gluten as a treat every few months with a really good piece of bread or an icy beer at a ball game).  I was on this diet long before gluten-free boxed cake mixes ever existed.  I never had the luxury of a quick cake… I actually just went without cake completely for a long while.  So now and then it feels awesome to live it up… yes, with a boxed cake.

Thus ends my defense for why I’m posting a recipe featuring a boxed cake mix that uses… gasp!… instant pudding mix, amongst other things.

Here’s why this cake is so stellar:

  • The pudding mix I used is gluten and dairy free.  It adds extra chocolate fudginess without actually adding the weight of chocolate.
  • Using raw cocoa nibs ads crunch and an extra boost of awesomeness.
  • Coffee gives it a punch and deepens the flavor panel.
  • Baked in a tart pan or in individual cake pans it makes an elegant presentation.
  • Because it’s so rich and dark, it pairs incredibly well with fresh fruit and cream.

I ate far too much of it (curse my roommate for going on vacation!).  I made one 11-inch tart: one of the neighbors instantly ate a quarter of it.  I gave him the rest after shooting this piece.  Because along with the tart I made two individual 4″ cakes, one which I immediately ate.  The other I stuck in the freezer so I couldn’t nibble off of every time I went in the kitchen.  It’s really, REALLY delicious.

Enough with the explanations, Dusty.  Here’s the recipe.

Horribly, addictively moist and mocha-y.

Mocha Nib Torte

I used a “Decadent Chocolate Cake Mix” from Gluten-Free Pantry.  It’s mostly white rice flour and potato starch, so not the healthiest.  Because of the rich chocolate and coffee flavors, you can be liberal with whichever cake mix you use.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box gluten-free chocolate cake mix, such as the Gluten-Free Pantry or King Arthur Flour
  • 1 packet of chocolate pudding dry mix (some are dairy free; check labels for gluten and dairy ingredients)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao nibs (or ground walnuts, if you don’t have access to cacao).
  • Raspberries or strawberries, whipped cream and powdered sugar, as desired
  • Eggs, oil, butter, etc., as your box cake requires
  • cocoa powder, for dusting pan

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease an 11″ tart pan and dust with cocoa powder.
  • Make cake according to box instructions, with substitutions as necessary.  For example, I used unsweetened almond milk instead of buttermilk/yogurt.  If desired, use coconut oil instead of butter to make dairy free etc.
  • Add the chocolate pudding and cinnamon to the cake mix, and the vanilla and instant coffee into your wet ingredients (if using some sort of milk, add then to completely dilute).
  • When batter is mixed, fold in 1 Tbsp cacao nibs.  Pour into pan, then sprinkle with remaining cacao nibs.
  • Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before serving.  This cake tastes even better on day 2.
  • To serve, sprinkle serving plates with sifted powdered sugar.  Garnish with a few strawberries, some cacao nibs, and a dallop of whipped cream if desired.

Milk Bar Mondays – Apple Pie Layer Cake (gluten-free, dairy-optional)

The cake layered and frozen, ready for birthday love

It’s a Milk Bar Monday, folks, and I couldn’t be more tickled pink than to have it coincide with my Lil Sis’s birthday.  A whopping 26 years old (cough), Lil Sis is one of my favorite people on the planet, and a very dear friend.  She massages my weary, arthritis-laden body when I’m sore (awesome having a massage therapist in the family), gave me my first lessons in pasta making in preparation for my upcoming Easy Eats magazine feature, Mitra runs up to her full of love, and she’s instrumental in helping me cope through those big, life-changing moments we all love to fear so much.  Lil Sis claims to be moving to Virginia or North Carolina or something like that in May.  I choose to remain in a state of denial.

Me and Lil Sis, circa 2011

On top of being a truly loving, creative person, Lil Sis has somewhat recently started a gluten-free diet.  I had this CRAZY layer cake to make for this round of Milk Bar Mondays, where a small group of incredible lady bloggers bake out of Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook.  I’m the alternative baker of the bunch, and was immediately sold on the awesomeness of the swap when my Carrot Cake Truffles were quickly hailed as one of the best things I have ever made.

Because the cake had to freeze and defrost before being plopped in the car to Connecticut and stripped of its acetate mold before being presented, I don’t have great pics of the final product, or us enjoying it.  Head to the other ladies in the swap for some stunning photos of their creations, all which look too amazing for words:

Host Nicole at Sweet Peony has the whole recipe too!

Cassie at Bake Your Day
Erin at Big Fat Baker
Krissy at Krissy’s Creations
Audra at The Baker Chick

Follow the Milk Bar Monday ladies on Twitter! 

Follow the Milk Bar Monday board on Pinterest!

Happy Birthday Lil Sis!

Now, this cake is a little insane.  A brown butter cake layered with Liquid Cheesecake, Apple Pie filling, Pie Crumb and Apple Cider Soak, then topped with Pie Crumb frosting.  Tosi might be a bit insane, but she’s a genius. There were layers of “wow” going through my family as we all tasted, it being proclaimed an incredible combination of coffee cake and apple pie.  It is extremely sweet.  If I ever make it again I’ll cut some of the sugar from the apple pie filling and cheesecake, because it’ll still be plenty sweet with a little omission. But it is ridiculously, amazingly, scarily delicious.  Don’t be afraid of the many steps – it comes together brilliantly.  Just plan ahead a bit (I made most of the components in one day then made the cake and built and freezed it a second), and it makes a stunning presentation.

Happy Birthday Lil Sis.  I love you up to heaven, down to earth.

– Jacqueline

Apple Pie Layer Cake – Gluten Free, Dairy Optional

My version is gluten free, and while I used butter in the cake itself it can be made dairy free as well by substituting the brown butter with melted Earth Balance.  Adapting Tosi’s recipe to be gluten free didn’t work, as there was far too much fat and gluten-free flours can be heavier than all-purpose wheat.  So I made my basic vanilla cake with brown butter instead, and got the same taste results with a better texture.  The key to this cake is making sure that the oven is hot, the ingredients are all at room-temperature or warm, and that you whip the eggs to at least twice their size before folding in the rest of the ingredients.  This way you get an incredibly spongey cake that’s full of flavor and doesn’t risk sinking when you take it out of the oven.

Special Equipment:

  • Quarter sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • 6-inch cake ring
  • Acetate strips (2 strips 3″ tall and 20″ long)

Components:

  • 1 recipe Brown Butter Cake (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake (click on title for link to recipe under Carrot Cake Truffles)
  • 1 recipe Pie Crumb (recipe below), divided equally in two
  • 1 recipe Apple Cider Soak (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Apple Pie Filling (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Pie Crumb Frosting (recipe below)

Building the Cake:

  • Use the cake round to gently cut 2 circles of cake from the pan.
  • Place cake ring on a piece of parchment on a sheet pan.  Insert one of the strips of acetate securely into the ring.
  • Pile the scraps of cake cut around the circles into the bottom of the cake ring and use your hands or the bottom of a glass to press into a flat layer.
  • Wash the cake layer with a healthy dose of the Apple Cider Soak, about 1/2 of the recipe.  Use a spoon to evenly spread 1/2 of the Liquid Cheesecake on the layer.  Spread 1/3 of the pie crumbs, pressing them into place.  Spread 1/2 of the apple pie filling as equally as possible over the crumbs (for a firm cake, don’t use the more liquidy part of the filling).
  • Gently insert the 2nd ring of acetate, overlapping about 1/4 of an inch to make an almost 6-inch ring.
  • Gently place one of the rounds of cake in the ring, and repeat with equal amounts of filling.
  • Top with second round of cake, and frost completely with Pie Crumb frosting.  Sprinkle with remaining pie crumbs.

Brown Butter Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8oz (1 stick) unsalted butter  or Earth Balance
  • 8 oz white sugar
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3oz white rice flour
  • 3 oz tapioca flour
  • 2 oz millet flour
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a quarter-sheet pan with parchment paper and do not grease the edges.
  • If using butter, makes it all deliciously brown and nutty by microwaving it in a heat-proof bowl (Pyrex is great) closed with a heat-safe plate for 6 minutes.  You’ll hear the butter bubble and pop, and it should be dark and golden when you (carefully) remove the plate.  If it’s melted but still yellow, nuke it for another minute or so. If using Earth Balance, simply melt it over the microwave or on the stove until thoroughly melted.  Either way, allow the melted fat to cool while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
  • Weight our your dry ingredients into a medium bowl.  Prep a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk the eggs and sugar until the sugar is completely melted and the mixture is slightly above body temperature (do not let the egg cook, you’re just warming them so that they whip up more easily).  Immediately pour into standing mixer and begin whipping on medium/high-speed until the mixture more than doubles in size and becomes light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  • Remove from mixer, and fold in flour mixture.
  • Fold in melted butter.
  • Immediately pour into pan and bake for 30-38 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool completely before building the cake.

Apple Cider Soak:

Whisk together 1/4 cup apple cider, 1 tsp tightly packed light brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved.

Apple Pie Filling:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or Earth Balance
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar (this could be cut to 1/3 in my opinion)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  • Fill a bowl with cold water and add lemon juice to it.  Peel the apples, then half and quarter them.  Remove the core, then cut each piece lengthwise into thirds and crosswise into fourths, so that you have 12 small pieces from each apple quarter. Move them to the lemon water to keep them fresh while you cut.
  • When all the apples are ready to go, strain them and toss them into a small pot with the rest of the ingredients.  Put on medium heat and bring up to a boil.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the apple are soft but not getting mushy.
  • Pour into a container and refrigerate until completely cold. (Can be kept in fridge for a week, but do not freeze)

Pie Crumb:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter or Earth Balance, melted
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp water

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a half-sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat.
  • Combine flours, gum, sugar and salt in bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment and paddle on low-speed until well mixed.  Add the butter and water and paddle on low-speed until mixture starts to come into crumbles.
  • Pour onto baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, checking them occasionally to break them up.  The crumbles should be golden brown but not hard – they’ll seem to crumble when you press on them, but as they cool they’ll harden a bit.
  • Let the crumbs cool completely before using for the cake (you’ll use half the recipe for the frosting and the other half for the layered cake).

Pie Crumb Frosting:

This makes enough for 2 cakes but Tosi says it’s really hard to make a single serving, so make double and use the rest for snacking or cake-truffle-ing!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe Pie Crumb
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used hazelnut milk to bring out the nuttiness in the brown butter cake.  Unsweetened almond milk or your milk of choice will work well too)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I found the frosting to be a bit salty, so I’d suggest cutting down to 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 Tbsp Earth Balance or unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free confectioners sugar

Directions:

  • Combine crumbs, milk and salt in a blender and blend for about 3 minutes on medium/high-speed until it’s smooth and homogenous.  Scrape under the blade halfway through to make sure the entire recipe mixes completely.
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, begin paddling the Earth Balance / butter and confectioners sugar until fluffy and pale, about 2-3 minutes on medium/high-speed.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  • On low-speed, paddle in the milk mixture.  After a minute, bring up to high-speed and whip for another 2 minutes. If mixture is not fully uniform, very pale and fluffy, scrape the bowl again and paddle for another minute.
  • Use immediately, or store in fridge for up to one week in an airtight container.

Double Dark Chocolate Cake Truffles for my Valentines (gluten and dairy free!)

For my Valentines... love Jacqueline

Shy confessions, Bloggereaders,

  1. I can be accidentally romantic.
  2. I haven’t been single on Valentines day in over 10 years (Big Sis said, “cry me a river”).
  3. I am reluctantly thankful for cake pops.

Valentines Day is not a huge marker in my book.  For the majority of those 10+ years Ruark and I went in and out with celebrating depending, honestly, if we felt like it or not.  We had started dating when we were so young, and found plenty of moments to show each other how we felt.  And in general I’m not a big fan of commercially-fueled tokens.  Two years ago the man I was with was away for work and had his friend stop by with a huge bouquet at the theatre I was working at.  Last year new boyfriend and I had no plans until mid-morning, when he called where I was out of town working and sweetly said, “I’m thinking it’s Valentines Day and you’re my Valentine, so we should be together tonight”.   I trained it back to NYC.

So this year, being single, I’ve been more contemplative about the love in my life in general.  Not at all mournful, just reflective.  I have so much love, so many people I’m surrounded by who have full, generous hearts, that I feel more in love than ever.

Oh, the 3rd point up there?  A few months ago I had to develop a gluten-free recipe for Valentine Cake Pops for Easy Eats.  Two weeks ago I made 75 chocolate chip and lemon zest cake pops in the shape of Winnie the Pooh honey pots for a baby shower.  They were cute, but not as adorable as I’d wanted them to be for the mom-to-be.  And they took me eight hours! Lastly, for the first Milk Bar Mondays swap last week I made Carrot Cake Truffles, which are essentially cake balls (and one of my favorite super-sweet recipes).

In the beginning of this road with cake pops, I was often cursing, whining, or whinging.  But the result of all the frustration?

Moments of joy this morning as I deftly baked, blended, dipped, flipped and formed these truffles.  I had some cake I’d been experimenting with (a new flour blend), some leftover liquid cheesecake, some bags of chocolate and lots of fun things to toss truffles in.  I found myself smiling in the silence of my kitchen, thinking about those I’d be wrapping and gifting these for.  They look so cute all ribboned up.  And, they were actually pretty easy.  I enjoyed making them.

While made of cake, these truffles taste a bit more ganache-y because of how dark, rich and buttery they are.   I tossed them in ground walnuts, dark cocoa powder, raw cacao nibs, and some candy hearts I had leftover from the Easy Eats recipe.  It was a very romantic morning in my kitchen.  I was in love with the natural light pouring through my windows and my ancient camera that was snapping away.

I hope you have a lovely Valentines Day, Bloggerreaders.  But more than that, I wish you much peace, love and sweet, sweet life… always.

– Jacqueline

Freshly rolled truffles

Double Dark Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 30 truffles

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter-flavored Earth Balance
  • 10 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free flour (my blend was 1/3 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup tapioca starch plus 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ground raw walnuts (optional)

For the Truffles:

  • About 4-6 Tbsp liquid cheesecake or prepared frosting of choice
  • 6oz dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • Ground nuts, candies, cocoa powder, crushed cookies or cacao nibs for coating

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Grease an 8×8″ cake pan (I prefer glass)
  • In a small pot on medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in cocoa until smooth.  Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly while you continue.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat eggs on high until creamy, about 45 seconds.  Add the sugars and beat until thoroughly incorporated with no traces of sugar, 2-3 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly stream in butter/chocolate mixture.  Beat until incorporated.
  • Slowly add flour and salt.  Mix on low until incorporated.  Stir in walnuts.
  • Pour into pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out relatively clean.
  • Immediately turn out onto a baking sheet and break up into pieces.  Allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, return to standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Paddle on medium/low until completely broken up.  Add liquid cheesecake or frosting 1 Tbsp at a time, until the cake comes together and you can easily roll a piece into a firm ball without it falling apart.
  • Roll batter in quarter-sized balls, placing on cookie sheets lined with wax paper.  My batch made 30.
  • Place all toppings in bowls (shallower and wider the better).  Melt chocolate in the microwave, first for 1 minute, then stirring to melt completely, then for another 30 seconds if the chocolate isn’t smooth enough (it should be fluid but only warm to the touch).
  • Quickly use your fingers to lightly coat each ball in chocolate, then toss into topping bowls, up to three in each bowl.  Shake / lightly toss the truffles to coat completely, then return to wax paper-lined trays.  Repeat with remaining truffles until done.
  • Refrigerate at least 10 minutes before packaging.
  • Share with those you love.  Or freeze them and slowly eat them by yourself, one by one…

I heart you Bloggerreaders

Milk Bar Mondays – Carrot Cake Truffles (gluten and dairy free)

Carrot Cake Truffles

Around the holidays, I was at Barnes and Noble flipping through cookbooks for my chef roundup feature coming out in March for Easy Eats magazine.  Content with a decaf Americano, the rain pouring out over Union Square and my shared table stacked high with books from Blue Ribbon, The Meatball Shop, Frankies Sputino, Eleven Madison Park and such NYC food havens, I merely flipped through Christina Tosi’s Milk book.  Tosi has almost a cult following (Chef Stephen Collucci admitted to calling one of her creations so good it was “stupid, it’s just dumb”).  I’ve never partaked.

Because milk – a featured ingredient along with sugar and glutenous flour in Tosi’s work – will send me into a flu-like state for days if I accidentally imbibe.  Not that I don’t admire and respect what she does, at all, but I remember setting the book aside thinking, “there’s no way I can even adapt 1% of these recipes”.

Enter the Milk Bar Monday swap.

This title intimidates the crap outta me

A few weeks ago Meagan of Scarletta Bakes emailed me asking if I’d consider participating in a bi-weekly swap, all of recipes from the Milk Bar book.  I was walking to a date on 9th avenue and literally my heart started shaking as if I had just swallowed a Tbsp of white sugar.  I was scared.  Tosi’s recipes have a ton of steps to them like soaking cereal in milk and then using the milk in recipes (or drinking it straight, according to some of my friends in the know).  Adapting was gonna take planning.  But I really admire the ladies of this swap, and when something scares me, it usually means I should do it.  So of course I concluded, “this is gonna be awesome”.

Welcome to the first installment of Milk Bar Mondays, folks!

Meet the Ladies!

Meagan of Scarletta Bakes

Erin of Big Fat Baker

Cassie of Bake Your Day

Audra of The Baker Chick

Nicole of Sweet Peony

Krissy of Krissy’s Creations

Follow the group on Twitter!

I have to say I am particularly enamored by this collection of bloggers.  Just check out their sites for today’s creation and for their work and writing style in general.  Stellar photos, clever ways with words, mouth-watering recipes… I’m truly psyched to be in such company.

And now… the recipe.

I have to hand it to her, these are goooooooood.  Like, so good they are indeed stupid good.  I’ve passed them along to friends who all had an eyebrow raise when they started chewing.  Dumb.

If you follow me on twitter you may recall that last weekend I spend hours making (and cursing over) cake pops for an event.  They came out adorably, but hurt my soul in how long they took and at how little skill I have with white chocolate and craftiness.    But everything happens for a reason, and last weekend made this one actually a cinch.  Because Tosi’s truffles are actually cake balls.  And since these didn’t require sticks, double dipping, dyed chocolate or lettering, I felt like a pro.

For this swap in general I’m going to try to keep as much as I can to the original recipe, making versions of Tosi’s recipes that gluten and dairy-free eaters can enjoy without putting my own spin on things.  So for this I simply used gluten-free flour, almond milk and Earth Balance in the cake, soy cream cheese in the liquid cheesecake and dark chocolate instead of white.  For the milk crumbs I used crushed Classic Butter Cutout Cookies I’ve had in the freezer for just such an occasion.

Voila.

Carrot Cake Truffles (gluten and dairy free)

recipe adapted from Milk by Christina Tosi

Ingredients: Cake

  • 8Tbsp / 1 stick butter flavored Earth Balance, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, grated carrots

Directions: Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 6×12 inch cake pan or a quarter baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment or Silpat.
  • In the bowl of  a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium/high until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, add the eggs, and beat another 3 minutes until fluffy and smooth.  Scrape down sides again, turn the mixer to low, and slowly stream in the oil.  Return to medium/high and beat about 6 minutes until the mixture is almost doubled in size and looks almost like Fluff.
  • Meanwhile, combine flours, starch, powder, soda, gum, cinnamon and salt in a bowl ad whisk to combine.
  • Turn mixer to low and slowly add in flour mixture.  Mix to combine.
  • Remove from mixer and fold in carrots.
  • Pour into pan and smooth top.  Bake for 25 minutes, until it is puffy and almost doubled in size.  The edges of the cake should be springy and the center soft but not jiggly.  Bake another 3 minutes if it’s not at this point.
  • Cool completely.

Ingredients: Liquid Cheesecake

  • 1 8-oz container “Better Than Creamcheese” Tofutti cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg

Directions: Liquid Cheesecake

  • Preheat oven to 300°.  Line a 6×6″ baking pan with plastic wrap – yes, with plastic wrap. I had never done this before but it worked just fine.
  • Beat “cream cheese” on medium/high speed in bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment until soft and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and beat again for another 2 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch with salt, then add 1 Tbsp milk and whisk to combine.  Add 2nd Tbsp and whisk to combine.  Add egg, and whisk thoroughly until smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, stream in egg slurry.  Return speed to medium/high and beat for 4 minutes until mixture is smooth and loose.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the edges are set but the middle of the cake is still loose and a bit jiggly.
  • Cool completely so that the cake has time to set.

Ingredients: Truffles

  • 6oz 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 cups crushed sugar cookies (I used this recipe from Christmas and had them in the freezer, then ran them through a food processor so they were incredibly fine)

Assemblage:

  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment beat the cake and 2 Tbsp liquid cheesecake. If you can shape it into a ball, it’s good to go. If too dry, add more cheesecake 1 Tbsp at a time. It should be a tad moister than a cake pop combo, if you’ve made them before.  I found this cake already quite soft so I only needed 2 Tbsp.
  • Roll into balls a tad bigger then a tablespoon, and set on wax paper.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir to completely incorporate and melt chips.
  • Place the cookie crumbs in a second bowl.
  • Roll each ball in a thin layer of chocolate then in two coats of cookie.  Set back on wax paper and chill until hard.

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