Category Archives: Desserts

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Poppyseed Cake

lemon poppyseed cut cake blog

You know those cloudy, dreary, sometimes wet days that come with springtime? The ones that leave you wanting to snuggle on the couch with a blanket all day?

We’ve been having a few of those here lately. I’m thankful – we desperately need the rain – but it doesn’t mean that I don’t wish for sunshine as well. But when the sunshine won’t come from outside, we have to make it ourselves. And what better way than to make something with lemon?

I had a gorgeous large Meyer lemon in my refrigerator, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to become something great. Apparently, it was destined for cake. Not a fancy, extravagant cake, however. This lemon wasn’t destined for a birthday or a holiday. Instead, it was destined for something humble. You can make this cake anytime it feels dreary out and you’d like to brighten someone’s day. It’s an “everyday” cake – the type my grandmother often bake when we would come visit, so we had a special treat to enjoy after lunch. It’s not too sweet, and there’s no fancy frosting or layers. But there is a light lemon flavor, the pop of the poppyseeds, and a tender, moist crumb. It’s also great with an afternoon tea, or even for breakfast.

In my mind, it’s a happy-making cake. And on any spring day, dreary or otherwise, who couldn’t use a little happy?

Print Recipe

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Poppyseed Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

2/3 c sweet white rice flour (I like Mochiko)

2/3 + 2 T c superfine brown rice flour (I like Authentic Foods)

2/3 c tapioca starch

1 T baking powder

1/4 t kosher salt

1 1/2 t unflavored gelatin (I like Great Lakes)

2/3 c milk (dairy or non-dairy variety of your choice)

1/2 c olive oil (any variety)

1 t vanilla extract

3 eggs, room temperature

1 c + 2 T granulated sugar

1 T Meyer lemon zest (from one large or two smaller Meyer lemons)

1/3 c Meyer lemon juice (from one large or two smaller Meyer lemons)

1 1/2 T poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with brown rice flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and gelatin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, olive oil, vanilla, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until well-blended and a bit frothy.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until smooth. Add the poppy seeds and whisk again.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Rap the pan against the counter once or twice to prevent bubbles in the cake. Place on center rack in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.

Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Can serve slightly warm.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes

mint choc chip brownie cupcakes

Last weekend, I decided I would make something green for my coworkers in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not normally one to really celebrate the holiday in any grand style (Not Irish, and I’m not the biggest celebrator of holidays anyway, save a few. Just call me a big fuddy-duddy.), but I made an exception this time.

It started with a superb little pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream that I enjoyed a few weeks ago. I went back to the freezer to have another small helping only to find it was gone. (Teenagers in the house means this happens more often than I’d like – c’est la vie!)  But since then, the idea of these cupcakes, made with brownies and topped with frosting reminiscent of mint chocolate chip ice cream, just stuck in my mind until I decided to make them.

And so I did.

I opted for brownie base rather than just a regular chocolate cupcake because, let’s face it: brownies are better than regular cake. It’s just a fact. At least it is in my mind. Besides, I’ve always found that making brownies gluten-free is so simple, as the flour is not as much of a star ingredient in a brownie as it is in cake – instead, sugar and eggs play a chief role. And of course, the cocoa powder. Because chocolate is the chief-est of all chief roles in brownies! (Yes, I totally just made up the word “chief-est”. Let’s just go with it and move on.)

Once the brownie-cupcakes were baked, I made the frosting. It was super-simple, and because of the chocolate chips stirred in, I opted to simply smear on the frosting rather than try to carefully pipe something out. Definitely a time-saver, and it saved me from my otherwise perfection-driven tendency to spend far too long trying to execute perfectly piped frosting.

The end result was delightful. A sweet, chocolate-y treat with the pleasing, but not overpowering flavor of mint. The brownies were rich and full of fudgy chocolate. And that frosting? It was truly like my ice cream I was craving.

So even though St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, I felt this treat just had to be shared with you. Because mint (and green food) isn’t just for March 17th. I think this would be a great treat for any time of year. I hope you agree.

Print Recipe

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes (gluten-free, dairy-free options)

For the cupcakes:

1/2 c unsalted butter (can use vegan buttery sticks for dairy-free)

1 c granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T sweet white rice flour

3 T tapioca starch

3 T superfine brown rice flour

1/2 t unflavored gelatin

1/4 t kosher salt

 

For the frosting:

1/2 c butter, softened (can substitute vegan buttery sticks for dairy-free)

About 4 c powdered sugar

2-4 T milk (use almond or coconut milk for dairy-free)

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

5-8 drops each yellow and blue natural food coloring (or until desired color is reached)

1 c mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is gluten and dairy-free)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 9 cupcake liners.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat, stirring until completely melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, vanilla and peppermint extracts, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, gelatin and salt, and whisk those into the butter mixture until completely blended.

Portion out the batter equally into the lined muffin tin (about 1/4 cup of batter each). Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center still brings out some chocolate, but the centers are set and no longer jiggly. (You don’t want to wait until the toothpick comes out clean or the cupcakes will be dry.) Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth and start adding in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. Add the milk and beat until the texture is stiff enough to hold but still creamy, adding more powdered sugar or more milk until desired texture is reached. Add the extracts and food coloring and beat well. Stir in half of the chocolate chips.

Frost the cupcakes with the frosting once they have cooled. With the remaining chocolate chips, microwave in a small bowl 30 seconds at a time, and stir until melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the frosted cupcakes.

Store in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. Makes 9 cupcakes.

 

 

 

Chocolate-Covered Cherries

chocolate covered cherries

Growing up, one of my Dad’s favorite treats was a box of chocolate-covered cherries. I loved them too. Biting into the chocolate shell to reveal the sweet maraschino cherry inside was like opening a delicious present. But over the years, the boxed chocolate-covered cherries of old became less appealing. The quality went down, and they were more often a cheap chocolate shell filled with cherry-like goo. Next-to-none of the real thing.

While I certainly could have sought out a higher-quality confection from one of the fancy candy stores, I opted instead to attempt my own. I’ve made other candies – chocolate coconut candies, fudgepeanut butter cups, chocolate pecan pralines and more – so why not these?

Turns out, they were easier than I’d imagined. Making the fondant was a cinch, and without the testy nature of boiling sugar (like there is with pralines or caramels and such), this was a project I could do at my own pace and while working on other things in the kitchen without fear. The most difficult part in my opinion was remembering to set the cherries to dry out a bit the day before I wanted to make these – which really isn’t that difficult at all!

So whether you want to treat your Valentine this year to something special, or you just want to play candymaker in a new way, I encourage you to make your own chocolate-covered cherries! They’re sweet and delicious and well worth a little work.

Print Recipe

Chocolate-Covered Cherries (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

About 20 maraschino cherries (I used an 8 oz jar of these, as they have no dyes or corn syrup)

2 T butter or vegan buttery sticks (don’t use the vegan spread, as it has too much water), softened to room temperature

2 t agave nectar

1 1/2 T reserved cherry liquid

1/4 t almond extract

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

8 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate (I used Guittard)

The day before you want to make your chocolate-covered cherries, drain the cherries from their liquid (reserving the liquid) and pat dry. Set on a wire rack inside the refrigerator to dry overnight.

The following day, to prepare the fondant, add the butter/buttery stick, agave nectar, reserved cherry liquid, and almond extract and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar, and mix on low speed until everything comes together in a ball around the paddle. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of cherry liquid. Too sticky, add a bit of powdered sugar. You want the texture to be a soft and malleable dough, but not sticky.

Scoop a small ball with the dough (about the diameter of a quarter) and roll in your hand. Flatten out the dough into a circle, and place a cherry in the center. Wrap the cherry with the fondant so that it covers the cherry completely, and roll between your hands to get rid of any seams or wrinkles and make it as round as possible. Place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining cherries. Place sheet of cherries in the refrigerator or freezer for about 30 minutes while you prepare the chocolate.

Temper the chocolate: Prepare a double boiler. Once water is simmering, add chocolate to the top bowl/pot. Allow to melt and come to about 113-120 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Scrape chocolate onto a cool marble slap, and using a scraper, smooth out the chocolate and move it around the slab to help it cool. (alternatively, you can reserve some “seed chocolate” and add it to the warm chocolate to cool it down.) Once it’s about 80 degrees F, scrape the chocolate back into the double boiler. Allow to come to about 90 degrees F, stirring occasionally, making sure not to warm it too much. Then it’s ready for dipping.

Dip each cherry into the chocolate, rolling around to coat completely. Place the cherry back on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cherries.

You can store the cherries in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Over the next few days, the fondant will soften and liquefy a bit (this will slow down considerably in the refrigerator). My photo shows them still with a solid fondant – they’re still delicious that way too!

Makes 20 chocolate-covered cherries.

 

 

50 Gluten-Free New Year’s Eve Recipes

NYE collage

clockwise from top left: Swedish Meatballs, Chocolate Dipped Stuffed Dates with Spiced Nuts, Roasted Beet “Hummus”, and Chipotle Butternut Dip

Whether you’re hosting a big New Year’s Eve party or just banging a few pots and pans at midnight with your family and a few close friends, you’re going to need some grub. And New Year’s Eve grub has to be special – something a bit more than just ordering a pizza and calling it good.

Am I right?

And if you are a gluten-free household or have some gluten-free guests, you’ll want to be sure the munchies are something that’s friendly for everyone to eat. Hopefully, after browsing through this collection, you will have found just the perfect thing!

Beverages

Cranberry Glogg (grain-free, dairy-free)

Pomegranate Prosecco Spritzer (grain-free, dairy-free)

Reindeer Antlers (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Amazingly Good Eggnog (gluten-free, soy-free)

Chocolate Donut Hot Chocolate (grain-free, vegan)

Hot Cider Rum Punch (gluten-free, vegan)

Appetizers/Snacks

Green Pea “Hummus” (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Sweet and Spicy Pecans (grain-free, soy-free)

Sweet Ginger Sriracha Roasted Cashews (grain-free, dairy-free)

Hot Artichoke Dip (gluten-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free)

Creamy Chipotle Butternut Dip (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free)

Spicy Chocolate Popcorn with Quinoa Clusters (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

Naturally Gluten-Free Pizza Dip (gluten-free, dairy-free option, nut-free)

Perfect Guacamole (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Roasted Beet “Hummus” (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free)

Fire-Roasted Tomato Almond Dip (grain-free, vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

Rosemary Caramel Almond Popcorn (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

Spinach Balls (gluten-free, nut-free)

Stuffed Mushrooms Two Ways (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, nut-free)

Guacamole Bacon Bites (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)

“Cheddar” Salsa Stuffed Cocktail Tomatoes (grain-free, vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

Hold the Cheese! Jalapeno Poppers (grain-free, easily vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

More Substantial Fare

Mushroom Pesto Pinwheels (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Almond Flour Pizza Crust (grain-free, dairy-free)

Lamb Liver and Wild Game Terrine with Pistachios and Cranberries (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

“Texas Red” Beef Chili (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

Swedish Meatballs (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Simple Quinoa Pizza Crust (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Wings with Mole Sauce (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Thai Chicken Wings (grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free)

Gluten-Free Mezze, including Baba Ganoush, Hummus, Falafel, and Lamb Kofte (gluten-free)

Pork Satay (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Pierogi (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

Bison Sliders with Honey Caramelized Onions (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Sweet Treats

Mint Chocolate Whoopie Pies (grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

Maple Syrup Sweetened Marshmallows (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free)

Italian Cream Cupcakes (gluten-free, soy-free)

Coffee Sugar Pie (gluten-free)

Cream Puffs with a Pomegranate Cheesecake Filling (gluten-free)

Candied Orange Peel (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Drunk Blondies (gluten-free, nut-free)

Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting (grain-free, dairy-free)

Oreo Cookies (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Coconut Oil Kettle Corn (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, nut-free)

Cheesecake Pops (gluten-free)

Coffee Toffee (gluten-free)

Dairy-Free Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Pistachio Cupcakes in a Jar (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Chocolate Fudge Pecan Tart (gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

Chocolate-Dipped Stuffed Dates with Spiced Nuts (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free)

 

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Gluten-Free Desserts of Christmas Past

chocolate-dates1

Chocolate Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts

Typically each year I have more than one holiday recipe shared with you. This year, not so much. I feel terrifically behind this year, and haven’t even planned out my menu. All my presents haven’t even arrived yet (I ordered a lot online), and nothing is wrapped. I’ve purchased nothing for Christmas dinner. I suppose I should get on it before this weekend, when I’ll need to do my shopping along with the masses.

But if you’re ahead of me, as I’m sure many of you are, you’re finalizing your menu. Maybe you’re making Christmas cookies and treats with family this weekend. If so, here is a little round-up of past holiday favorites for your baking pleasure. As for me, I need to get back to my planning!

Spicy Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake Balls

Chocolate Almond Fig Biscotti

Chewy Apple Cider Blondies

Candy Cane Marshmallows

Cranberry Multi-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Coconut Candies and Peanut Butter Fudge

Nanaimo Bars

Chocolate-Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts

Dairy-Free Fudge

Maple Pecan Freezer Fudge

Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pralines

Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Candy Cane Marshmallows

candy cane marshmallows

I was enjoying a hot chocolate the other night, and felt it was missing something. Sure, it was delicious and rich, but still, it needed a little more. Seeing as how it’s December and time for all things candy cane, I decided I would whip up some marshmallows. Candy cane marshmallows, that is.

These are easy to make. If you’ve never made or eaten homemade marshmallows, you’re in for a real treat. They’re naturally gluten and dairy-free. But unlike the bags of uniformly cylindrical Stay-Puf variety at the store, these aren’t stale and lacking in flavor. Homemade marshmallows are a real treat. A candy you would genuinely eat by itself without a second thought.

Of course, I enjoy them best on top of cocoa, coffee, or dipped in chocolate fondue (something we often do for New Year’s Eve). Typically I just make vanilla marshmallows, or if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll throw a tiny bit of almond extract in them as well. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

But crushed candy canes take them to a whole extra level of holiday cheer. They’re light, fluffy, and have a delightful peppermint essence that welcomes winter with a smile.

Toss a few in your hot chocolate, or simply munch away. I won’t tell if you just sneak a few. It’s the holidays, after all.

Print Recipe

Candy Cane Marshmallows (gluten-free, dairy-free)

About 1/2 c powdered sugar

2 T unflavored gelatin (I like Great Lakes)

1/2 c cold water, divided

1 c granulated sugar

1/4 c maple syrup

1/8 t kosher salt

1 large egg white

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

3 candy canes, crushed (I like Surf Sweets)

Oil the sides and bottom of an 8X8 inch metal baking pan and dust with powdered sugar. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer pour 1/4 cup of the water and sprinkle the gelatin over.

In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, maple syrup, remaining water, and salt over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Heat over medium-high heat, boiling (don’t stir) until temperature of sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees F. Remove pan from heat and carefully pour hot sugar mixture into the bowl of the standing mixer. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.

Beat mixture on high speed until white and thick and until it’s nearly triple in size, about 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a hand mixer, beat the egg white in a medium bowl until just stiff. Pour the egg white and extracts into the sugar mixture and beat until combined. Add a third of the crushed candy canes into the mix and stir to combine.

Scrape the mixture out into the prepared baking pan, trying to spread out as evenly as possible. (Don’t worry if you can’t scrape all of it out – marshmallow gets quite sticky!) Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy cane and powdered sugar.

Store in refrigerator for at least 3 hours to set.

Remove and using a thin knife, go around the edges of the pan to release the marshmallows. Invert the pan over a cutting board. Sprinkle with more powdered sugar as needed, and using a pizza cutter, cut into squares.

Store in refrigerator until ready to be served. Keeps for about a week, although I doubt they will last that long.

Apple Pie Spice “Un-Popcorn”

thanksgiving popcornI can’t believe I’ve never managed to share this little gem of a holiday recipe with you. I will admit, I’ve made it several times already. You’ll have to forgive me for not doing so sooner.

You see, typically the Thanksgiving holiday is a whirlwind for me. I’m often working at the ol’ day job up until the Wednesday before, and we usually have around 20+ people to feed. I try to do as much advance preparation as possible, but it’s still a busy, busy holiday.

Let me tell you, when I finally sit down after dinner, the glass of wine I decide to enjoy is often the best glass of wine ever.

Somehow, in that whirlwind, I’ve never made this pre-dinner Thanksgiving snack far enough in advance to share. Well, friends, this year is your lucky year. I’ve made it already, and so I can share it with you.

But why “un-popcorn”?

Truthfully, I love popcorn. I don’t eat it often, but when I do, I thoroughly enjoy it. You can certainly make this with popcorn. But I have some family members that cannot tolerate corn products. For those family members, I have opted to make a popcorn alternative. I promise you, it’s just as satisfying as the real deal. What do I use?

Why, rice cakes, of course!

I’ve done it before, in this “granola“. Crumbled rice cakes make an excellent stand-in for popcorn. They’re light and airy, and hold up perfectly to the caramel-y topping. I’m a big fan of Lundberg’s rice cakes – they’re gluten-free and they have versions that are lightly salted, which are my preference for a recipe such as this. And no, I’m not paid to tell you that – I just like their products.

This “un-popcorn” is easy to make – just crumble rice cakes, and then simmer maple syrup and spices, pour, toss, and bake. The result is a sweet and salty, crunchy mixture that just feels like Thanksgiving, thanks to the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The dried cranberries and walnuts definitely help out that Thanksgiving feel as well. My personal favorite, however, is the black pepper. It’s a perfect foil to the sweeter spices, and keeps it in that “appetizer” category and away from feeling too much like a dessert.

Whether you make this with real popcorn or faux, I encourage you to add this to your Thanksgiving menu. It’ll keep the hungry masses at bay while you make the finishing touches to the big meal, and it’s very more-ish. I’m certain it’ll be a hit that will keep you coming back to it, year after year.

Print Recipe

Apple Pie Spice ”Un-Popcorn” (gluten-free, vegan)

1 package Lundberg lightly salted rice cakes, crumbled

3/4 c chopped walnuts

1/2 c dried cranberries

2 T coconut oil

3/4 c maple syrup

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground cardamom

1/4 t ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the crumbled rice cakes, walnuts, and dried cranberries and toss.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt to a boil. Add the black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and whisk in. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 4-5 minutes. Pour over rice cake mixture and stir well, making sure everything is evenly coated.

Divide mixture between the two prepared baking sheets and spread out into an even layer. Bake on the lower and upper racks for 5 minutes, and then swap the baking sheets and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Break into smaller chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Pear Buckwheat Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve made a rustic cake like this. Something that could be as welcome at a breakfast or brunch table as after dinner. Something your grandmother might make. Something unpretentious; something that just says “Hey, it’s late summer, sit down and enjoy some pear cake.”

I’d picked up some small pears at the farmer’s market, and they sat around in my kitchen for about a week. I knew I wanted to do something with them, but wasn’t sure what. I wasn’t up for making jam. (Although I need to sometime before pear season is over – I’m out of habanero pear from last year!) I opted instead for cake. After all, who doesn’t like cake?

Buckwheat happened to be the perfect compliment to the subtle sweetness of the pears. Now, I am not really a fan of store-bought buckwheat flour. It’s really strong in flavor. However, if you take raw buckwheat groats and grind them (I use my Vitamix), the flour that results is much lighter in flavor – something that’s more readily accepted by the gluten-eaters. It also doesn’t overwhelm the pears. And even if your flour isn’t powder-fine (mine wasn’t), there’s no residual gritty texture once the cake is baked. Buckwheat flour isn’t for everything, but in this cake, it was lovely.

Of course, if you don’t have access to raw buckwheat groats, you could simply substitute sorghum flour or superfine brown rice flour. I haven’t tried these substitutions myself, but since they are similarly weighted flours, I imagine they would substitute pretty well. Don’t have pears? Apple slices would make an equally delicious cake. The beauty of a cake like this? It’s opportunistic. What you have available is what you use. (That’s often how many recipes appear here, to tell the truth!)

Print Recipe

Pear Buckwheat Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

6 T vegan butter, softened

¾ c plus 2 T sugar

1 large egg

1 t vanilla extract

¼ t almond extract

½ c buckwheat flour (raw buckwheat groats ground)

¼ c sweet white rice flour

¾ c arrowroot starch

¼ + 1/8 t guar gum

2 ½ t baking powder

Pinch salt

½ c coconut milk

1 T grated lemon zest

About 1 lb pears, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced

Confectioner’s sugar, for serving

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch springform pan and dust with sweet white rice flour.

Beat the butter and ¾ cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat for about a minute on medium.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, guar gum and salt in a bowl. Add the flour to the butter mixture a little at a time, alternating with the coconut milk, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for at least another minute or until everything is well mixed. Add the lemon zest and mix in.

Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread out evenly with a spatula. Arrange the pear slices in a circle on the top of the batter, starting at the edge of the pan and standing them on end with the narrow point in the batter. Fill the center with as many slices as you can fit. They should be close together. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake (not the pears) comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack, removing the outer ring after about 10 minutes. Once completely cool, serve, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.

Dairy-Free Coffee Panna Cotta

I’m definitely a fan of coffee in desserts. Okay, let’s face it: I’m really just a fan of coffee. I love using it in unexpected places – in rub mixes for meat, for example. I’ve used it before in brownies. I love it in ice cream, and lately, I’m really digging starting my morning commute with a jar of cold brew coffee. I figured I’d go ahead and continue with my coffee routine, and make this unbelievably easy dessert with a coffee flair - panna cotta.

Panna cotta is one of those desserts that are excellent for dinner parties. They’re make-ahead, and really only take a few minutes to prepare. Then, they keep in the fridge until ready to serve, and you can whip them out, add any finishing touches you desire, and you’re ready to go. I don’t know about you, but that’s the way I like to do things. I’m not very good at playing hostess and putting together something complicated in the kitchen at the same time. I have to concentrate in the kitchen. So when I have guests, I try my hardest to plan my meals so that I can do as much preparation as possible before they arrive, making things easy for me while I’m hosting.

Anyway, back to this panna cotta. It’s creamy. It’s not overly sweet. In fact, it’s a perfect treat after a late summer dinner – creamy and cool. The coffee flavor is definitely there, but it’s not overly strong. In contrast to many of my favorite foods, this isn’t one of those in-your-face flavor punches. It’s gentle, a little rich, somewhat subtle, but especially satisfying.

You can certainly serve this with garnishment – some shaved chocolate or a chocolate or vanilla sauce. I preferred to keep things simple for the time being, and served mine unadorned.

Print Recipe 

Coffee Panna Cotta (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free)

2 T + 1/2 c strong brewed coffee, cooled

1 1/2 t unflavored gelatin

1/4 c coconut palm sugar

1 1/2 c full-fat canned coconut milk

Pinch of salt

4 panna cotta molds, bowls, or dessert dishes

Pour the 2 tablespoons of coffee into a bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin. Let stand until softened.

Pour the remaining coffee into a small saucepan along with the coconut palm sugar, coconut milk, and salt. Stir until dissolved, and place over a medium heat. Allow to warm until just before it comes to a boil (when there are bubbles just starting around the edges). Remove pan from heat.

Scrape all of the softened gelatin into the pan and whisk until it has fully dissolved.

Divide the mixture equally among the 4 molds or dessert dishes. (You may wish to first pour the mixture into a pitcher or measuring cup for ease of pouring.) Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until set. Allow to sit out at room temperature around 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Squares

I’ve been thinking lately about how we are all in back-to-school mode. I’ve been browsing a bunch of lunchbox recipes on Pinterest lately. My step-kids don’t live with us, and so I don’t get to experience that fun/stress, but I can certainly empathize. Heck, it’s tough enough just packing my own lunch every day!

What I am good at, however, is coming up with an after-school treat. Most of the time, it would be something nutritious, like apples and peanut butter, dehydrated apple slices, some cut up raw veggies and a tasty dip, or even a trail mix. But sometimes, it’s fun to have a real treat. You know, something with chocolate.

Of course, the presence of children is not a requirement to make these. They’re equally satisfying for those of us wishing to speak to our inner child. Or inner peanut butter and chocoholic. Whatever.

They’re a cinch to make – not much more difficult than a rice crispy treat, really. There’s no baking required, making them perfect for late summer, when it’s still too hot to turn the oven on. Just a little stovetop magic, and a brief nap in the fridge, and they’re ready to impress a crowd with their crispy combo of sweet and salty peanut butter and rich chocolate.

Print Recipe

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Squares (gluten-free, dairy-free)

6 c rice Chex (you could substitute gluten-free crispy rice cereal)

1 c agave nectar

1 c coconut palm sugar (you could substitute cane sugar)

1 1/2 c natural peanut butter

A pinch or two of salt (depending on how salty your peanut butter is)

3 c semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is a dairy-free brand)

Lightly oil a large bowl and pour the cereal in. Oil a 9 X 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the agave nectar and coconut sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring, just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and salt until smooth.

Immediately pour this mixture over the cereal and stir in until evenly distributed. Transfer this into the prepared baking dish, pressing out evenly with the back of a spoon.

In a bowl set over a small saucepan filled with an inch or two of simmering water (or a double boiler), place the chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until melted. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top of the peanut butter-Chex bars. Place baking dish into refrigerator for an hour or until everything has cooled completely. Cut into squares.

Makes 40-60 bars, depending on how large you cut them.

What gluten-free after school treats do you like to have handy for when the kids come home hungry? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!