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Gluten Free Brownies with Chocolate Chips and Espresso

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Yes, I have been away for QUITE some time. This year has started off with a bang or two and so I have been trying to stabilize my schedule, and my life. I’m slowly starting to get back into the swing of things, but in terms of cooking and baking, well, I’ve been going out more. Mostly because it’s fun, and it kills time, and also because it’s been so damn hot in Los Angeles lately that I can’t turn my oven on even for five minutes without the A/C yelling at me at making its’ job easier. 

Onto why I am finally writing after all this time. I stumbled upon this gluten free brownie recipe a week ago. Today was the day that I just had to try it out. I will be bringing it to work to determine if others liked it as much as I did, but I have no doubts. I didn’t taste like anything I’ve ever tried that has been “modified”, or anything less than fluffy, gooey goodness. 

What I found really interesting is that this recipe calls for some ground coffee, instant. Although I added instant espresso, I thought that it added a deeper richness, that most brownies don’t have. It wasn’t overly sweet, and the cocoa powder and semi-sweet chips add just the right balance so you’re not trying to drown yourself in milk after just one bite.

Overall, I’d say this is a keeper and then some. 

 

Also, wordpress has informed me that over 9 days ago it was my blog anniversary. Who knew!? I guess chocolate brownies were just the thing to post, in celebration. Happy Belated Breakfast Socks!

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Coffee Brownies

Taken from Snixy Kitchen

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ chocolate extract (if you don’t have this, just double the vanilla extract measure).
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules (I used instant caramel latte mix because that’s what I had!)
  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, melted using a double broiler
  • ½ cup almond flour (or almond meal)
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons good-quality cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 Pyrex baking dish with parchment paper (or grease & flour with brown rice flour).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, chocolate extract, and coffee granules. Add the melted chocolate chips and whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix together the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just until completely combined.

Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips evenly on top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean or only with a few crumbs.

Let cool for about a half an hour before serving to prevent them from crumbling (I cut mine into rectangular pieces, and got 6, the bigger the better).

 

Enjoy!

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Rhubarb Cardamom Muffins

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I woke up today with this weird feeling. I wanted to make something, bake something to be exact, however I wanted it to be simple. And I didn’t want to use my stand mixer. Don’t ask me why I wanted these things specifically, but I did. And so this Saturday morning I decided to make these easy Rhubarb muffins.

I adapted a few small things from the original recipe, though the original is delicious as well! But I wanted to make something that was slightly healthier than what was listed. I subbed in nondairy milk (see below) and got rid of the topping. If you want the original recipe, follow the link.

Recipe adapted from A Farm Girls Dabbles

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Cardamom and Rhubarb Muffins

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. milk (I used almond coconut blend, unsweetened, from Blue Diamond)
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil (I like canola)
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 c. chopped fresh rhubarb
  • 6-7 cardamom pods

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line your muffin pan and thoroughly spray with cooking spray (I used PAM).

Mix egg, milk, and oil in small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir. Do not over mix. Fold in rhubarb. The batter will be sticky, this is okay.

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Spoon into muffin tin and let rest a few minutes while you prepare the cardamom ( this batch made 9 muffins for me).

Place your pods on a flat surface, and with the jar they come in, or with a mug, gently push down, crushing the green shells. Open up the shells and remove the seeds. They will be black or tan/brown in color. Sprinkle them all over the muffins.  The original recipe calls for a cardamom crunch topping, but to save on the extra carbs and calories I opted to just add in the seeds for the flavor and non of the extras I didn’t really need.

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Place pan in oven and bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. The muffins are best the day they are baked, but morning after was quite delicious as well.

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Train Rides and Nutella Muffins

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This weekend was pretty darn close to perfect. I went on a vintage train with Boyfriend and we got lots of time to do homework together, do errands together, and even pretty up my apartment… together! We did everything together and I must say it was a great and lovely time.

Fillmore and Western Railway Train

Inside the amazing and old train

we were on a “scenic” weekend tour… it was a lot of farm land and trailer parks

LOOSE CABOOSE mini chicken farm

This fan is probably older than my grandfather!

 

I even looked after a friend’s doggies this weekend. My first time pet sitting for someone that isn’t my mom and Miss Kitty Cat. I’m excited to say that they are very healthy, well fed, and happy. I hope my friend doesn’t mind me showing off her pooches, they were really adorable. And a little insane cause of the lack of attention. Nonetheless, you can see they were still fun.

 

 

As a result of this very fruitful and amazing weekend I decided to clean and bake for the first time in about two-three weeks. The fact that I’ve been too busy to bake has been astonishing for me, the person that would sometimes bake cookies or muffins and a cake in the same day to have “variety” for the rest of the week.

I’ve had a small sweet tooth for warmth lately. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but that’s what I’ve been craving: cinnamon, apples, brown sugar, caramel, all those amazing things.

I’ve had this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction pinned on google chrome for a while now. And the last time I baked something I used one of her recipes, so I figured now is as good at time as any to get on the nutella train, knowing what I’d make would be delicious.

 

 

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

makes 8-9 muffins

  • 1/3 cup (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk, but regular is fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp Nutella

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425F.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed.  Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  DO NOT overmix – stir until *just* combined.

Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter into muffin cavity.  Layer with 1 tsp Nutella in the center and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top.  If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok.  They will not overflow.  Repeat layering batter + Nutella into each muffin tin.  I got exactly 8 muffins.

Bake at 425F for 5 minutes.  Reduce oven to 350F and bake for an additional 13-17 minutes until batter is set. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.

While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping.  Melt the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Stir and stick back in microwave if not fully melted.  In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.  Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Swirl them around in the cinnamon-sugar a bit to make sure you get a thick coating. Set upright on cooling rack.  Enjoy!*

 

 

*I didn’t make the streusal topping because I added a bit more nutella and I didn’t want them so sweet that I wouldn’t eat them, so I sprinkled some raw sugar over the top instead.

Hazelnut Biscotti

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a bit obsessed with biscotti. They’re a pretty great cookie, really. Nothing more lovelier, even on a 100 degree So. Cal. summer day than some hot tea (or coffee) and biscotti to chew on. Since my first biscotti was so successful, I’ve decided to go ahead and make another one.

I’m sure I’ll be making my own biscotti for years to come.

This recipe was easier when I omitted servicing the nuts. Simply because I don’t mind a bit of roughage which the skins provide, and I enjoyed that slight bitter edge it gave the biscotti, contrasting nicely between the sweetness of my teas. Overall, two thumbs up!

 

Taken from Homemade and Wholesome’s TWD post

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unblanched (raw) hazelnuts

*I skipped this step, my nuts weren’t skinned, and were totally fine.

  • 1  2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or brandy
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Preparing the Nuts– To skin the hazelnuts, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the baking soda and the nuts, and boil for 3-5 minutes, until the water turns black. To test if the skins have loosened sufficiently, drop a nut into a bowl of cold water and rub lightly against the skin- if the skin just slides off, the nuts are ready to go. Turn the nuts into a colander and run cold water over them. Slip off the skins, toss the nuts onto a towel, pat dry, and transfer to a jelly-roll pan.

Place the pan in the oven and toast the nuts, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until evenly browned. The best way to test for total toastiness is to bite into a nut- it should be brown to the center. Remove the nuts from the oven and cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.

When the nuts are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them and set them aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and reserve until needed.

Making the Dough– Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk just to blend. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, liqueur, vanilla and sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Add the nuts and continue to mix, just until well incorporated. (Since the dough is stiff, sticky, and hard to stir, you might find it easier just to reach in and mix it with your hands.)

Flour your hands and lift half of the dough onto one side of the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat and squeeze the dough into a chubby log 12 to 13 inches long. Don’t worry about being neat or smoothing the dough- it will even out as much as it needs to in the oven. Repeat with the other half of the dough, leaving about 3 inches between the logs.

I decided to only use one log simply because I was lazy and I like biscotti that’s wide and thin.

First Baking– Bake the logs for exactly 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. At this point, the logs can remain on the pan overnight, if that’s more convenient for you.

Second Baking– Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2 inch thick slices, cutting straight across or diagonally. (You can make the biscotti thinner or thicker, as you wish, and adjust the baking time accordingly.) Lay the biscotti on their sides on a cooling rack- you may need to use a second rack- the place the cooling rack in the 300F oven, directly on an oven rack. (Baking the biscotti like this allows the oven’s heat to circulate around the cookies, so there’s no need to turn them over.) The cookies may need to bake for as long as 15 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking them after about 10 minutes. When the biscotti are golden brown, dry and crisp, remove the cooling racks from the oven. Let the cookies cool to room temperature before packing them for storage.

Tea Party II: Honey Pistachio Orange Cake on Thursday

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I got this recipe from Baked Bree. I’ve never made a simple cake like this before. The closest I’ve ever come would be coffee cakes, or tarts. In any case, as this was my first go I didn’t alter it at all, however, I think I added a bit more pistachios than necessary, but that’s never a bad thing.

Next time I think I’ll be adding orange juice into the batter, with some cranberries, or some other dried fruits. Anything would be great, which is why the versatility of this cake was as alluring as the promise of honey and pistachio goodness.

I would also recommend you try this with all-purpose gluten free flour from King Arthur as it’s only got 1 cup of flour in it. It shouldn’t change the recipe at all, not the flavor or texture. The cornmeal is gf as well as the rest of the ingredients. So it’s a winner no matter what your dietary needs!

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup honey, separated into 1/2 and 1/4 cups respectively
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, ground (I chopped mine up to add some more texture, and I added double the amount of pistachios)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • orange zest (about half an orange)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk, it was all I had and it turned out just lovely)
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice (to go with the 1/4 cup honey for a glaze)

**For the cream (optinal):

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese or mascarpone (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 pint berries (raspberries or strawberries)

Cream together butter and 1/2 cup honey until light and fluffy. While the butter is creaming, combine flour, cornmeal, pistachios, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, and add the orange zest. Add most of the flour mixture to the bowl. Add the milk, and then add the rest of the flour.

Pour the batter into a 9-inch cake pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

For the glaze: melt together the remaining 1/4 cup honey and orange juice over low heat. Using a toothpick, poke holes in the cake while the cake is still warm, and brush the honey mixture over the cake.

**To make the cream, beat the mascarpone or cream cheese for 30 seconds. Add the cream and honey. (I added a little more orange zest, I can’t resist zest.) Whip until soft peaks form.

Love of Pistachios and Tea: Chocolate Covered Biscotti

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything lovely and delicious. It’s been a very long, slow, and mostly, workless summer. The latter is the reason why I’ve been scrimping and not producing anything delectable. However, being well stocked in the pantry as I am, I realized that most of the recipes I wanted to try and make over summer were very do-able. I had everything necessary to make them all along!

It’s sort of like that moment in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy realizes she’s had the means to go home all along, but she was never told– which is not only unfair, but sneaky, and a little cruel.

I digress.

The reason for this lovely number is a desire to turn British, in a way. I’ve no desire to move to London, start saying “Bloody Hell” (that’s the only slang that comes to mind at the moment, sorry), etc. but I’m every eager to start drinking afternoon tea. According to my research (google and wiki), the three points in the day when drinking tea is acceptable is 11am, 2:30pm, and 4pm. Otherwise, you’re just pushing you’re luck.

But I’m in America, and I’ll be taking my tea at noon, or 1:30. And if I’m feeling very risky, perhaps even 8pm!

This is my first batch of biscotti, and one of many recipes that go well with tea, or are classics to be expected at a tea party.

As it was my first attempt they were a great experience. And while I had a few doubts and tried out a lot of different things, I was glad they came out wonderfully.

Makes 12 Biscotti (for me)

Slightly adapted from Buttermilk Party Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • seeds from 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 egg (for egg wash), optional
  • raw sugar, approx 1/4 cup, optional

*1 tbsp milk (I used coconut) if too dry

 

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, I used semi-sweet
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix your dry ingredients with the sugar and honey. Beat the eggs and add them into the dry mix a little at a time, until a wet dough forms. Then mix in the pistachios, lemon juice and zest, and cardamom seeds. If you’re dough isn’t wet enough, go ahead and add in the tbsp of milk. Mix, and with hands coerce  into a log.

Turn the dough out onto a very well floured surface, and roll it into a log shape. It’s ok if it won’t stay perfectly cylindrical—the log will flatten out a little.

 

For a bit of color, I added some egg wash on top.

 

Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment at 300 degree  for 30 minutes,  then remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Cut the cooled log on the diagonal, in about 3/4 inch slices. Arrange the slices back on the baking tray, adding egg wash if desired (I also added on some sprinkled raw sugar just for fun), and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the biscotti over and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Dip into chocolate ganache if desired.

For the Ganache: in a microwave safe bowl add the chips and cream and heat on high for 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat through in 20 second bursts till melted through. If it starts to thicken, pop into the microwave. This isn’t a traditional ganache recipe, but it’s close enough; I wasn’t patient enough to do the double boiler thing this time around.

Amaretti Cookies: Italian, Soft, Almond Gems

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The first time that I heard about these cookies was when I was 15 years old and I saw Nigella Lawson use them on Nigella Bites for some sort of syllabub recipe. Since then I’ve been looking for these cookies to make the recipe, and tons more like it from the numerous Nigella cookbooks. In any case, last week I went to the grocery store, and behold my luck! I found the cookies! I haven’t been able to make the recipe I want with them yet, but the prepackaged ones in the stores don’t expire, so there’s not rush.

Two days ago I found the recipe for the cookies to make myself. It’s been a very lucky month for me, this June. In any case, to test which ones will be better, store-bought or homemade (in terms of flavor, consistency, and air whipped goodness).

Even better, my friend which suffers from Celiac disease gets to test them out as well. She hasn’t been feeling well lately, and I figured there’s nothing better than giving her some cookies full of almond sugar goodness.

bagged and ready to go

This recipe comes from Grace’s Sweet Life. I believe she also has a cookbook out recently, which features all the lovely Italian desserts that she prepares. Check it out, I know I will!

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/3 cup caster (superfine granules) sugar
  • 1.1 pounds, about 2 1/7 cups almond flour, whole blanched, very finely ground (I used organic courser ground from Trader Joe’s)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling

In a large bowl, using a large balloon whisk beat the egg yolks.  Gradually add sugar, whisking until well combined.

Add the almond flour; whisk to just combine (do not over mix).

In a separate bowl, using a large balloon whisk (clean and dry) beatthe egg whites to barely a soft peak (do not over beat).

Using a large flexible spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the almond mixture (this will loosen the almond mixture).  Fold in remaining egg whites just to combine (do not over mix). Don’t worry, the mixture will be very sticky, this is how it’s supposed to be.

Cover and refrigerate amaretti cookie batter for at least one hour (I had in the fridge for about 2.5 hours).

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Line baking sheets with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mats, set-aside.

Roll amaretti dough into roughly 1 tsp sized balls, coat in confectioners’ sugar.  (Do not flatten cookies).  Roll 20 amaretti cookies per baking sheet.  Chill dough in between baking times.

Bake until lightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes about 6 dozen amaretti cookies (I got 45 cookies).