Friday Breakast Dash

Not every day is full of home crafted breakfasts. I’m a realist. Some mornings it’s a quickly scarfed bowl of cereal and a dash for the door. Of my five kids, the two still at home are teenage GIRLS, which implies countless hours of wardrobe revisiting and last-minute hair tweaking. Mundane things like properly fueling your body before school and nutrition, pale in comparison to the smallest strand of bangs that isn’t cooperating. Cereal is our breakfast staple on days such as these.  Use the “milk” product of your choice and have on hand peeled hardboiled eggs, fresh fruit, raisins or juice to accompany the cereal, and you’ve at least shoved some fast nutrition down the gang.

Two quick cereal options for gluten-free kiddos (and adults):

Kix: Newly reformulated without oats, Kix seem to be well tolerated by most GF individuals. Although not made specifically in a dedicated gluten-free environment, which means cross contamination is always a possibility– the ingredients themselves are appropriate for gluten and dairy free diets. As with anything, if you’ve not tried these before, use caution and read the label to be sure you’ve not picked up an older product before the oat-free revamping.  Kix, while not organic, is  vitamin fortified, and fairly low in sugar compared to many other mainstream cereals, so I can comfort myself it’s not a total wash when we eat this item.  (1  1/4th cup serving has 45 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron and 50 percent of folic acid. )

Option 2 is our new favorite- Bakery on Main  Gluten-Free Granola. Reaching a corporate milestone this summer by satisfying their 100,000th  satisfied customer, it’s easy to understand when you peer at the labels. Rainforest Granola (my personal favorite) as well as the other flavorful options are all made with ingredients from reputable suppliers, contain superior products and are as natural as you can get.

 I’m not sure why non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil tastes better (or even why it is better period)…but this granola possesses an impressive array of ingredients that when combined, are pure yumminess…:) Other GF flavors include, Apple Raisin Walnut, Nutty Maple Cranberry, Extreme Fruit and Nut, Cranberry Orange Cashew.  Says Bakery on Main, “We use corn and rice to create a hearty breakfast cereal that is free of gluten and also makes a great snack by itself or on yogurt or ice cream.” And it’s true! 

Although some ingredients do warn, “Manufactured on equipment that also processes milk proteins, eggs, and peanuts” — we’ve not had a problem with any of their products. (I believe that warning is only on the Tropical variety, not the other granola varieties) Again, use caution and read labels and test out in small quantities. But these are seriously the best granola products I’ve ever stuffed in my face.  The company also makes “grab and go” gluten-free bars and snack sized packages. I’ve written and asked for samples, since these aren’t available here in my local stores. When/if I get these, I’ll add a review post-consuming. I live in the Midwest and actually found the cereal in my natural food section of the supermarket, so it’s likely you can find this product in most mainstream grocers and health food stores.  However, you can also find Bakery on Main products on Amazon and through the Gluten-Free Mall, as well as direct through the manufacturer.  With a philosophy that, “food that’s good for you, should taste good, too” –Bakery on Main does deliver on their promise. No unnatural items, no refined sugar and no trans-fat, and 100 delicious.

Rainforest Granola Product Description: Real dried bananas and roasted sliced brazil nuts with coconut flavor. Made with unrefined sugar and Non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil.  Ingredients: Corn flour, water, evaporated cane juice, rice flour, rice bran, raisin juice concentrate, honey, salt, non-gmo canola oil, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, banana, sesame seed, flax seed, natural vanilla flavor, natural coconut flavor, natural brown sugar flavor, sea salt.

GF Bisquick For Breakfast Sanity

Need boundless breakfast choices on the fly for gluten-free eating?  New options from Bisquick can be your salvation.

I’m somewhat non-creative in the morning. It takes my brain a few hours and at least 2 pots of coffee to engage properly. And frankly, one of my pet peeves is beginning the day with a giant mess in the kitchen, even though I love a home cooked breakfast. If there is anything worse than crawling out of a warm bed, it might be the thought  of creating catastrophic kitchen destruction within minutes of waking. Ewww. I’d be willing to offer room and board to a stranger  just for this very reason, but sadly, haven’t located a homeless waffle chef yet in my county.

In the meantime, Betty Crocker’s newest addition to their specialty product line, “Gluten-Free Bisquick” is just the ticket.  Gluten AND dairy free, it brings the same comforting feeling  of the traditional Bisquick yellow box that was a pantry staple of our moms and grandmas. I call it, “creativity in a box.”  Yeah, I know- Bob’s Red Mill and a host of other companies offer GF pancake mixes. But few, in my opinion, do the thinking for you like Betty Crocker.  Savory banana nut waffles, blueberry sour cream pancakes (along with old dinner favorites, like “Cheeseburger pie”) await you.  Hop on Betty Crocker’s GF website and you’ll find a nice assortment of recipe ideas that unleash culinary genius with minimal thought and limited mess. Total cook time- 20 minutes and 5-6 ingredients on average. Even I can do this in the morning

If you are casien free, simply substitute dairy-free, soy items for the sour cream, butter or cream cheese in these recipes. (We like the Willow Run Soy Margarine for a great tasting butter substitute btw.) You can also make your own dairy-free sour cream to have on hand for mornings such as this with this recipe.

Here are three easy options from the Betty Crocker website for making breakfast on the fly– without trashing a kitchen too horribly and without engaging your brain too much.  If you try these, leave a comment and let me know how you like them. While you can’t substitute cup for cup with GF Bisquick in all recipes (it’s a bit dry in some recipes) it’s pretty close. Make sure you use level cups of Bisquick and are accurate in your measurements. I sift mine quickly and then measure to lighten the mix a bit. Yeah for Betty Crocker!

Impossibly Easy Breakfast Bake (Gluten Free)

Prep Time 20 Minutes

Total Time 55 Minutes

Makes 12 servings

1 package (16 oz) bulk pork sausage (make sure it’s GF label)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes (Ore-Ida are gluten-free)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 oz) (or use soy cheese)
3/4 cup Bisquick® Gluten Free mix
2 cups milk (or milk substitute, soy or almond)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 eggs

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, cook sausage, bell pepper and onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Mix sausage mixture, potatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese in baking dish.
  2. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour over sausage mixture in baking dish.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake about 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 

Banana-Pecan Waffles (Gluten Free)

Prep Time 10 Minutes

Total Time 35 Minutes

Makes 5 waffles

1 1/3 cups Bisquick® Gluten Free mix
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 ripe medium banana, mashed
1/3 cup chopped pecans
  Maple syrup, if desired
  Sliced bananas, if desired
  Chopped pecans, if desired
 
  1. Heat waffle maker. (Waffle makers without a nonstick coating may need to be brushed with vegetable oil or sprayed with cooking spray.)
  2. In large bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, oil and egg with whisk or fork until blended. Gently fold in banana and pecans.
  3. Pour about 1/2 cup batter onto center of hot waffle maker. (Check manufacturer’s directions for recommended amount of batter.) Close lid of waffle maker. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with syrup, bananas and pecans.

 

Blueberry-Sour Cream Pancakes (Gluten Free)

 

Total Time 20 Minutes

Makes 4  servings

Top these gluten free pancakes with butter and pure maple syrup.
1 cup Bisquick® Gluten Free mix
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream (use substitute if dairy free)
1 cup fresh blueberries
  Butter, if desired

In large bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, oil and egg until well blended. Stir in sour cream; gently fold in blueberries.

  1. Heat griddle to 375°F or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. (To test griddle, sprinkle with a few drops of water. If bubbles jump around, heat is just right.) Grease griddle with vegetable oil if necessary (or spray with cooking spray before heating).
  2. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto hot griddle. Cook pancakes until dry around edges. Turn and cook other side until golden brown. Serve with butter.
Bisquick Ingredients: Click here.

Wake up to Orange Poppy Seed Goodness

I’m convinced the key to living gluten-free isn’t as much changing your lifestyle, as much as it’s about adapting.  While I have some great gluten-free cookbooks and often use specialty diet products, I rely for the most part on mainstream recipes and “tweak” them to our dietary needs. The benefits of this approach are many.

For one, you’ll quickly see that a gluten-free diet isn’t about doing without. We eat sandwiches and pasta, bake cookies and consume pizza. I use the same family favorite recipes on a gluten-free diet.  If you are going to live GF for more than a few weeks, you need to adapt and evolve your baking and cooking so you don’t feel limited. You can still gobble your grandma’s coffee cake recipe. All you need to do is learn to  alter or substitute a few items.  You’ll enjoy life without wheat if you can evolve.

Another benefit is saving cash. It’s a lot cheaper to eat gluten-free if you can temper buying mixes and pre-made items. Yeah, we love Shabtai Bakery’s GF and dairy free devil’s food cake, creme filled Ring Tings, which are remarkably “Ding Dong-esque” and yummy. Shabtai’s creation might be better than the real Hostess item, I believe.  And I order boxes of the confection to fulfill our cravings here. And we do use prepared items for “on the fly” cooking here, which I regularly review. But if you know that you can make at least most of your gluten-free daily diet  delicious in your own kitchen,  you’ll be able to limit spending for the items that are truly worthwhile or  necessary.

Modeling the adaptive lifestyle rubs off on GF kids and helps them understand how to tweak recipes and make lifestyle choices that fit their diet. Someday they will grow up and have to make choices to fit in a wheat-based world. While GF is more mainstream, it’s a far cry from the “norm” in many parts of the country.  Your kids will have to adapt, watch pennies while on a GF diet and enjoy eating. 

Pull out those old tried and true recipes and start revising for your GF diet. You might have to tweak a bit and it might take a few attempts for real success, but you’ll quickly learn the ropes.

This week, I’ve been spotlighting  breakfast ideas and items. The recipe below is our family favorite that I’ve made for nearly 25 years frequently. Just a few changes made it as moist, flavorful and delicious as it’s always been. You wouldn’t know it’s gluten and dairy free. While it’s not a “low-calorie” option, it makes a great way to start the day. I use almond extract in lieu of vanilla often, by the way, as it’s more flavorful and blends nicely with gluten-free flours, but you can substitute vanilla if you’d like with good results. Make this the night before, as it’s best the next day. Keep all gluten-free items tightly wrapped to prevent drying.

Good morning!!!

Gluten-Free Poppy Seed Bread with Orange Glaze

Makes 2 loaves

3 cups GF  flour mixture ( see below)

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon xanthen gum

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk (or substitute almond milk or soy milk)

1 1/2 cup oil

3 teaspoons poppy seed

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 tablespoon almond flavoring

***GLAZE***

1/4 cup orange juice

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1-2 teaspoons almond flavoring

Grated orange peel

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat granulated sugar, eggs, oil and milk/milk substitute in large bowl.

Combine GF flour mixture, salt, baking powder and xanthen gum. (I use a wisk to mix well)

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Beat well with mixer till combined, while scraping bowl. (GF flour is heavy and sinks to the bottom, so you’ll want to keep stirring well)

Stir in poppy seeds, orange  and almond extract.

Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For Glaze:

Blend glaze ingredients in bowl.  Brush onto baked loaves while warm.

Using all of the glaze will keep the loaves moist and extra flavorful, and avoid the dried out effect you often get with gluten-free baked goods.

Flour Mixture:

1 part brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca starch

Or you can try these options for flour mixtures.

Easy & Healthy Snacking with Iron-Rich Brownie Balls from Snack-Girl

Finding healthy, delicious AND quick snacks that appeal to everyone in the family isn’t always an easy task. When you add “gluten and casein free” to the list of snack requirements, the choices can seem pretty scanty, especially if you are just getting started on the path of gluten-free living. Many gluten-free sweet snacks require baking or a bit of effort in the kitchen and time. At least for me– time is pretty minimal most days. While in my mind, I envision meeting my kids at the door with a plate of warm cookies (sans wheat and dairy, of course) and a completely clean, peaceful house – the reality is often a few frantic minutes scratching my head, peering into the  cluttered fridge, wondering how to concoct something edible in five minutes before the children come clamoring in. 

I turned to Lisa Cain, my new friend, who is a culinary scientist and nutrititional guru, for advice.

Some of you might know Lisa  from her amazing and inspirational website, “Snack-Girl.com,”  – the mecca of spots on the net for healthy, believable and easy-to-do snack foods. What sets Snack-Girl apart, is the combination of  Lisa’s professional background as a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and her down-to-earth personality. Her yummy food stuff is the product of the science of nutrition, and  is overflowing with warm, upbeat details. Cain describes herself as “an avid snacker” and her zeal for nutritious snack-food stuff shines through with each blog post.

Lisa regards snacks as “mini-meals,” hence her recipes aren’t the typical, “chips and dip” or “Twinkie” fare most American’s regard as snacking.  Conceivably, you could consume a diet solely of Snack-Girl food and be healthier than average. Don’t forget after reading this post to sign up for the Snack-Girl newsletter and let the reinventing of “snacks-as-healthy-foodstuff” continue in your life daily.  While not a “gluten-free” website per se, Snack-Girl has an ample amount of items you can glean or make simple substitutions to incorporate into a GF and dairy-free diet.

The recipe below, takes (seriously) 10 minutes to throw together, doesn’t require baking and is low-calorie, as well as chock full of goodness for gluten-free folk. Many gluten-free individuals are low on iron due to malabsorption problems and a diet without enriched grains. Dates — the  key ingredient in Snack-Girls’s  “Brownie Balls”– are chock full of iron, topping even the iron content of a 3.5 ounce serving of beef. (A cup of dates has 5.3 mg of iron, compared to 2.6 mg in the average cut of beef)  Brownie balls add a healthy dose of iron, and by taking most of their sweetness from dates, only contain a scant amount of added sweetening.

My kids went through 2 batches the first day we made these. With a mere 5 healthy ingredients, you can easily feel like “Mother of the Year” every day. (PS, also a VEGAN recipe with an easy substitution)

Brownie Balls? What’s not to love with a name like that? Here’s what Lisa Cain– AKA Snack-Girl– has to say:

Is it possible to create a gluten-free healthy brownie? A regular brownie contains oodles of butter, sugar, eggs, and chocolate. They are a confection of MEGA calorific proportions and should be eaten as a treat. But, if you have a food processor, you can whip something up in minutes that tastes delicious. The key is to use healthy replacements for the butter, eggs, flour, and sugar. In this recipe, which I created in my test kitchen (ahem, my kitchen), I used dates and almonds. You can find dates next to the raisins in most grocery stores (I bet you haven’t even noticed them).

Roasted almonds are just one choice for this recipe. You could use raw nuts or any kind of nut that you like. I used roasted because roasting makes the almond taste stronger. I rolled these balls in confectioner’s sugar and cocoa. My tasters (friends) thought that the cocoa ones were too bitter. I actually liked them better, so give them both a try. You can add more honey if you find these lacking in sweetness. These would be a great party snack too! You can make them ahead and just artfully arrange them on a plate. Or do what I did, and just put them on a plate 🙂 Kids will also love  making these as they get to use their hands in making them. They come out of the food processor the same consistency as play dough. To make these brownie balls vegan – use maple syrup or agave syrup.

Gluten Free Brownie Balls

(15 balls)
15 pitted dates
2/3 cup cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
1 cup roasted almonds (no salt added)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water
confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Add almonds to food processor and pulse until ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, honey, and water. Mix until it just forms a sticky mass. Wash hands and attempt to make a ball with the dough (it may need more water to get to the perfect consistency). Put a tablespoon of cocoa or confectioner’s sugar on a plate. Roll balls in your hand and then roll in sugar or cocoa (or both). Eat! These can be store in the fridge for a week.

Recipes from Cupcake War Winner Lisa Cowden and Tips on GF Baking

Lisa Cowden: Pastry Chef and Winner Cupcake Wars

Who says we can’t have gourmet fare on a gluten-free diet? Certainly not the Food Network Cupcake Wars winner, Lisa Cowden. In a recent interview, Lisa discussed her own food intolerance and shared a bit of her extensive pastry chef expertise with me. Cowden who crafts yummy treats daily at Gluten-Free Creations in Scottsdale, Arizona- where all 8 top allergens are catered to- understands both personally and professionally the need for GF food that isn’t “second best.”  While her Food Network recipe won with traditional flour, it’s easily created into gluten-free (and casein free as well) -without losing flavor.  Added perks that Cowden attributes to winning, are the natural ingredients that make these cupcakes prize worthy in your kitchen as well.    

Here’s what Lisa says, “You’ll want to substitute a gluten-free mix for the flour. A good mix should be able to substitute cup for cup for the traditional wheat flour.” Her suggestions for GF mixes include using ones that contain sorghum flour- a component used in the Gluten-Free  Creations Bakery for such items as cakes, cookies and other sweet fare. Gluten-Free Creations also has a mix you can buy that’s well worth considering, as it contains not only the exact proportions for baking, but also added vitamins that we – in the gluten-free community- often lack.    

 Below you’ll find further “tweaking” for making the Chocolate Carmel Cupcakes casein-free as well,  based on Lisa’s expert advice. Since about a third of those who have celiac disease have issues with casein or lactose (including my daughter) making items such as ganache – which is heavy on cream- requires further adaptations. Lisa offered two suggestions for casein-free, gluten-free ganache. You’ll find the second ganache option in this earlier post.    

 I was thrilled to find these cupcakes, while somewhat labor intensive for mere kitchen slobs such as me, turned out to be some of the most tasty and delicious items I’d made in the history of my home culinary events- or as Lisa said, “drool-worthy.” And you’d never know they are gluten-free. (seriously). In a spirit of adventure and kitchen mass destruction- we made both this recipe and the original winning recipe on the same day. I wasn’t disappointed in either variety. This one below, given to me by Lisa Cowden, was by far the easiest and was truly stand alone delicious. The original winning recipe  “Rich Chocolate Carmel Cupcake” as it appeared on Food Network, I tweaked for gluten/casein free diets again using Lisa’s tips. It was a bit more work, but the creme filling was well worth the added steps- you can find it here in this post.    

Chocolate Carmel Cupcakes from Lisa Cowden  

Gluten Free Baking Flour Mix (See link below for recipes)     1 ¾ cups  

Zanthan or Guar gum (if not included in your gluten-free flour mix) 1/2 tsp  

Sugar 1 ¾ cups  

Cocoa powder ¾ cups  

Baking powder 1 ½ tsp.  

Baking soda 1 ½ tsp.  

Salt ¼ tsp.  

Buttermilk 1 ¼ cups (If casein intolerant, substitute lactose free milk ,soy milk, or almond milk mixed with 1 tsp cider vinegar- but be sure to add the vinegar for chemical reaction with baking soda)  

Whole eggs 2  

Vegetable oil 4 Tbsp.  

GF Vanilla 1 tsp.  

Hot water 1 cup  

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix. Add the hot water while mixing well, until smooth. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Bake at 350F 15-20 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back in the center when touched.  

Caramel Filling  

Sugar 1 ½ cups  

Water ¼ cup  

Agave nectar 1 Tbsp.  

Heavy Cream 1 ¼ cup (Substitute heavy coconut milk for cream if casein intolerant. Cream is easier to scoop out if can is chilled in fridge first. Use only the cream part. Discard liquid)  

Butter, softened chunks 2 ounces (1/2 stick) (See this post on butter and casein. Since butter is usually 99 % casein free many people can tolerate butter. But you can substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run)  

GF Vanilla ½ tsp.  

Boil the sugar, water, and agave until it takes on a caramel color and smell. Add the cream slowly, whisking in to avoid boiling over. Whisk to loosen any hardened caramel and melt it all smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into a squeeze bottle and chill to thicken.  

Ganache Frosting  

Heavy cream 16 ounces (Substitute heavy coconut milk as above, discard liquid and use only the cream portion)  

Dark chocolate chips      16 ounces  

Heat the cream in a pot until it steams. Pour in the chocolate chips and let sit to melt. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let sit 2-3 hours to set up slightly, or chill in the fridge to firm up, stirring frequently.  

*****  See this post for gluten-free flour mixes to whip up at home.

*****  See this post about additional ganache options for casein-free diets.

***** See this post for original Cupcake Wars winning recipe in the gluten and casein free version.

  

Winning Cupcake War Recipe Tweaked to Gluten and Casein Free

This is the original Food Network Cupcake Wars recipe that’s been tweaked by me. I’ve used the tips gleaned from pastry chef Lisa Cowden, who won the Cupcake Wars: Survival of the Fittest with this slam dunk treat. You’ll find another version she kindly offered to me here.  Even those as under developed in culinary skills- as I am- can bake this recipe successfully. Albeit, the kitchen was quite destroyed. And I’m reasonably certain the Board of Health would not approve the cat licking agave drippings from the table whilst the baking process proceeded…but even lacking the prowness of a pastry chef- these were beyond delicious.

Rich Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes by Lisa Cowden

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups gluten free mix (plus 3/4 tsp xanthan gum if not included in mix)
  • 11/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 9 ounces unsalted butter, softened (See this post on butter and casein. You can also substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run or butter flavored vegetable shortening)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (If casein intolerant, substitute lactose free milk ,soy milk, or almond milk mixed with 1 tsp cider vinegar – but be sure to add the vinegar for chemical reaction with baking soda)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon GF vanilla extract
  • Caramel Cream Center, recipe follows
  • Ganache, recipe follows
  • Prepared blue rock sugar, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 30 regular-size cupcake or muffin cups with paper cupcake liners or line 6 dozen (72) mini cupcake or mini muffin cups with mini cupcake liners.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Sift the cocoa powder in a separate bowl. Whisk the hot water into the cocoa until smooth. In bowl of electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and add the cocoa mixture. Beat just until smooth. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4-full and bake the regular-size cupcakes for 20 minutes, or until cooked through or bake the mini cupcakes for 19 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely. Fill with Caramel Cream Center and top with Ganache Frosting and the prepared blue rock sugar.

Caramel Cream Center:

  • 6 ounces egg whites, from about 5 whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 12 ounces to 1 pound unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces ( Or substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run)
  • 1/2 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
  • 1 batch Agave Caramel Sauce, recipe follows

Warm the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, stirring the egg mixture until the sugar dissolves and the mixture feels warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and whip until medium-stiff peaks form. With the mixer running, gradually add the softened butter and vanilla until thick and smooth. Fold in the Agave Caramel Sauce until fully incorporated. Place the Caramel Cream Center in a pastry bag fitted with pastry tip and fill the cooled cupcakes.

Cook’s Note: The yield for the Caramel Cream Center is more than needed. The extra can be used as frosting or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and stir, before using.

Agave Caramel Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 ounce sugar (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 5 ounces cream (Substitute heavy coconut milk for creme if casein intolerant.Use only the cream part. Discard liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened – (or substitute soy margarine such as Willow Run)
  • 1/4 teaspoon GF vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat the water over high heat until hot but not boiling. Add the sugar and the agave and stir gently to dissolve. Bring the mixture to a boil, and heat to 330 degrees F, or to a warm brown color. Add the cream slowly, whis

Lisa's Rich Chocolate Carmel Cupcake

king constantly, the caramel will bubble and rise. Add the butter and continue whisking over the heat until the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Chill the mixture to thicken.

Ganache:

  • 3 cups heavy cream (Substitute heavy coconut milk for creme if casein intolerant. Use only the cream. Discard liquid)
  • 24 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (recommended: Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • Ice bath, in shallow bowl

 In a saucepan, heat the cream to scald. Add the chocolate chips. Stir the mixture until smooth. Chill on the ice bath until a spreadable consistency, stirring frequently. Frost the filled cupcakes with the ganache and garnish with the prepared rock sugar.

**** For gluten-free flour mix recipes check here
**** Alternate recipe from Lisa Cowden
**** Additional ganache options for the gluten and casein free diets

Gluten-Free Flour Mixes for Baking

Photo by Emily Carlin

 

You’ll find three options here for making your own gluten-free flour mixes. I opt for keeping two kinds on hand. We like the first recipe for cakes, cookies and lighter fare. The sorghum adds a nice texture and imparts a very good taste  without being overpowering. I substitute cornstarch for tapioca at times, with no real noticeable differences.  At times I’ll try out another cake-like variety and I’ll mix up a big batch of the middle recipe. As far as the latter recipe, we like that for breads, pizza crusts and biscuits or heavier or denser items. You’ll find masa harina in the Mexican section of most grocery stores and it’s wonderfully cheap (a boon for the budget of GF families.) You must store all GF flours in the fridge or freezer, as they can become rancid at room temperatures rather quickly. Keep them covered in large, tightly covered containers or ziplock bags. 

Gluten Free Cake Flour Mix -From Gluten-Free Cooking School
1 part brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca starch 

Gluten-Free Cake Flour Mix- From Gluten-Free Bay 

3 cups brown rice flour (fine ground)
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 teaspoons guar gum ( I used xantham gum with equally good results) 

Sift ingredients together, combining thoroughly. Use in place of flour in cakes and other baked goods. Store in airtight container or ziploc bag in refrigerator. 

All-Purpose Gluten Free, Soy Free Flour Mix – From Gluten-Free Cooking Cooking School 

3 parts brown rice flour
3 parts cornstarch
2 parts sorghum flour
1 part masa harina or corn flour 

When baking gluten-free,  it’s likely you’ll need to add xanthan gum or guar gum to the recipe for the “elastic” quality that simulates normal consistency of baked goods-unless of course, the mix already has this added to it. (If you use a commercially made mix, check the package prior to using it in a recipe, as you definitely do NOT want to accidentally double or delete this ingredient.) 

It’s wise to keep some on hand for converting regular recipes. I opt for xanthan in my home. Though it seems pricey, a little goes a long, long way…A word to the wise- you’ll seriously ruin your baked goods by overdoing the xanthan or guar gum inclusions. I added 1 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp (doubling it by mistake) only to find my cookies were…almost “slimy” (eewwww).  Thankfully, it’s a texture you don’t experience much in the kitchen otherwise.  We don’t like guar gum here, because it’s got some interesting laxative properties that only exacerbate some people’s existing digestive issues – but it might work for you and not offer the same ill effects it does here. As a rule of thumb, you can usually replace one for the other in the exact quantities specified.  

Though some recipes or GF chef’s will use a higher percentage of xanthan gum, I opt for the sage advice below – culled from “What’s Cooking America.”  

“Most gluten-free flours will require the addition of xanthan or guar, a substitute binder used to compensate for the lack of gluten.  The amount needed to add will depend on the type of product and it’s reliance on the gluten structure. Breads rely heavily on gluten for their structure, cakes to a lesser extent, and cookies almost none. Typically the starchier and/or more refined the crumb, the less the reliance on gluten.   Xanthan gum tends to be almost three times as expensive, and in the US is grown off of corn syrup (but tests out corn-free in the lab after processing).  Some gluten-free groups discourage the use of guar because of the higher fiber (and therefore possible laxative effect) of large amounts of guar gum use.  Try both and see.  If these gums are not appropriate for you, some suggest the use of mung bean (AKA green bean) flour (1/8 of cup to every cup flour) or pre-gelled potato flour.” 

“Suggestions for the addition of xanthan or guar: For every cup of wheat-free/gluten-free flour use:
 
½ teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for cakes
 
1 teaspoon Xanthan/guar gum for breads or pizza
 
½ teaspoon to no xanthan/guar gum for most cookies.”
 

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