When made with different colors of jam, these little cookies are reminiscent of a pretty collection of jewels. They satisfy both the need for something nutty and crisp and any desire for big fruity flavors — all in one bite. The combination of whole-grain flours, ground coconut and maple complement the assertive flavor of toasted hazelnuts perfectly. Choose your favorite jams and try experimenting with unconventional flavors like fig and black currant or with citrus marmalades.
One of our favorite special-treat meals is crepe night. We whip up a few batches of crepes and make an entire meal of them, starting with savory ham-and-Gruyere crepes (perhaps topped with a fried egg, called a “complete” crepe in French) and finishing with sweet versions — either lemon, butter and sugar, or the classic chocolate-hazelnut with sliced banana. In a throwback to our pre-kids life in Paris, our crepes are all served “street-style,” folded into large triangles and slipped into some parchment or laid on a paper plate. The family gathers around the kitchen island on barstools, and I play the short-order cook, serving crepes as they are ordered.
One of my daughters has become gluten-intolerant, however, so over the past year I’ve had to navigate the waters of a gluten-free world — learning swaps, and testing and retesting my old recipes in new gluten-free versions. And I’ve learned when to let go and accept that I simply cannot re-create a credible version without gluten (yes, I’m talking to you, croissants). Crepes fell into a category somewhere in between. We could make a passable version, but since the kids were on spring break and I was taking most of the week off to spend time with them, I figured I had the time to (finally) nail the gluten-free crepe. And I did.
Here is a cake worth adding to your repertoire — it’s super-fast to put together, pleases many dietary requirements (it’s free of gluten and dairy) and can either be dressed up or down depending on how you serve it.
Each brand of cookie was rated on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). The cookies were evaluated on taste, nutrition and ingredient quality, with special attention paid to the types of sweeteners and fats used in the all-important filling.
In this week’s news: California takes a hard stance on soft drinks; marketers realize there’s more bread to be made in the gluten-free aisle; and an amino acid in spinach gets the spotlight.
California to Bust Soda’s Bubble?
Along with several medical experts, a California state senator proposed adding a warning label to the packaging of sodas not unlike what now appears on cigarette packaging. The wording — developed by a panel of national healthcare leaders — would read, “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” According to data cited, one soda a day raises an adult’s chances of being overweight by 27 percent and a child’s by 55 percent.
No need for a box of chocolates to signify Valentine’s Day this year. Instead, just look to your pantry for a sweet-salty idea that will melt anyone’s heart. This dessert combines comforting chocolate chip cookies and tempting dulce de leche, which makes up the molten center. The fact that these stuffed cookies also happen to be gluten-free — that’s the sweetest part of all.
Gluten-free dreams really do come true. The Girl Scouts have added a new cookie to their lineup — bite-size, certified gluten-free Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookies. The good news for many parents of gluten-intolerant kids is that their Girl-Scout-badge-carrying daughters can now actually eat the cookies they sell as part of the Girl Scout Cookie Program, which generates $700 million annually based on 200 million boxes sold.
Made with a basic gluten-free flour blend of rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, potato starch, xanthan gum and guar gum, the new cookies contain no artificial flavors or colors, high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils — unlike most of the Girl Scout cookies. However, the cookies do contain other common food allergens, like dairy, egg and corn, as well as GMOs.
What I like most about creating gluten-free baked goods is combining a range of flours, particularly whole-grain and nut flours, to replace the wheat flour that one would normally find in a cake or muffins. Small amounts of quite a few flours help achieve a better texture than just a single variety.
Millet is a golden-colored, gluten-free whole grain that tends to be a little dry when cooked, like rice or quinoa, but becomes soft and creamy when simmered with extra liquid. The addition of coconut milk complements it perfectly and gives porridge a luxurious texture and richness that really is a step up from your average winter breakfast cereal.
Wheat flours are an obvious no-no for gluten-free baking, but gluten is also commonly found in other baking staples like some brands of oats, as well as candies and leavening agents, so it’s important to read labels carefully. It’s also helpful to experiment with recipes ahead of time and find a good standard all-purpose gluten-free baking flour, like Bob’s Red Mill or Trader Joe’s brand.
If you follow a gluten-free diet or are just cooking for guests who do, here are some holiday sweets.