Category Archives: gluten-free

Nutella Macarons

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Macarons are incredibly finicky. Sometimes, they develop those cute little feet and are just perfect. Other times, the feet are all over the place! I’ve tested out a few different recipes, and while some tips do help, some of the common “rules” around making macarons can be disregarded. The ideal macaron should be a perfect circle, with “feet” along the edges, where it has risen in the oven. They should comfortably slip off your baking mat. They also should be slightly chewy, yet crunchy, and they should taste like heaven.

Here is what I believe is most important during the baking process:

  • Kitchen scales are very useful for making macarons, as proper measurement of the ingredients ensures the best results. They’re also relatively cheap. That being said, I usually make macarons with cup measurements, and have been successful , so it is not a necessity!
  • I highly recommend buying a silicone baking mat, they’re amazingly useful, easy to clean, and last forever.
  • Use almond meal (finely ground almonds)! It’s not worth grinding up your own almonds. This will save you quite a bit of time, and clearning. Random note, if you do chose to grind  your own nuts, you can use different types of nuts! Common replacements include pistachios and hazelnuts.
  • Most recipes tell you to add the granulated sugar into the egg white gradually, but it’s a LIE! I’ve gradually added, and dumped all the sugar in at once, with no difference in my end product.
  • Aged egg whites are not a must. I’ve made macarons with egg whites at room temperature for about an hour or two and they have turned out just fine
  • Double stack your baking sheets to ensure that the pans heat evenly.
  • Use a piping bag with a round tip. I already have these on hand because of the cakes I bake, but they are pretty cheap to buy if you don’t! Piping bags and tips allow better control when piping the circles onto the mat for baking. You can use plastic bags, as long as they are the sturdier, freezer-type bag. Just cut a hole in the corner about 1 inch wide.
  • If you are going to color your macarons, use gel food coloring instead of liquid. Liquids can mess with the consistency of the macarons, and ruin the texture. Also, make sure you add the coloring  to the egg mixture while beating in the sugar, to ensure even distribution of the color.
  • When you are beating the egg whites, most instructions tell you to beat until glossy/stiff. I’ve found you should take it one step further, and beat them until they literally don’t move when you turn your bowl over. You should be able to hold the bowl over your head, and have NOTHING move. That’s when you know the egg whites are ready!
  • When folding the egg whites with the almond meal and sugar, use a flexible spatula. Make sure you’re folding motion is gentle, and that you repeatedly scrape around the bowl and move batter towards the middle. DO NOT OVERMIX. You should make no more than 50 folds. Many recipes say the consistency should be of lava, but if your mixture resembles runny pancake batter, you’ve gone too far.
  • After piping the macarons, tap the tray against your countertop on the sides of the tray, to make sure any air bubbles are released.
  • After piping the macarons, let the tray sit out for at least 25 minutes, until the tops of the macarons look dried out and are no longer spreading. This is the skin that needs to form in order for the “feet” of the macaron to properly develop.
  • When the weather is humid or rainy, it can negatively affect the macaron shells. The extra moisture can interfere with the development of the skin that should form during the resting stage.
  • Halfway through baking, rotate the pans in the oven. In my experience, my oven heats a bit more on one side more than the other. Most ovens do not bake perfectly even, and this will help ensure consistency throughout your final product.

I  have tried out a lot of online recipes for macarons, and this one has worked the best for me. I have continued using this recipe as a base, altering it to test out different flavors.

Macaron Base:
  • 1/3 cup sugar plus 1 tsp
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 3 tsp. almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 4 tsp. powdered sugar
  • Gel food coloring (pink and lavender)
  • pinch of salt

Filling: 1 jar of Nutella, sea salt (if desired)

Begin by preheat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or a silicone mat.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an hand mixer until they form peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar, while constantly whisking. Add in the gel food coloring. Whisk until the mixture becomes glossy, and is very stiff. Divide mixture evenly between two bowls, coloring one with pink food gel, and coloring the other one purple.
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Sift the powdered sugar and almond meal into a bowl. Gently fold this mixture into the meringue mixture, until everything is just incorporated.Pour the batter into a piping bag with a 1cm opening (I used a plastic bag and cut off the corner) and pipe 1 inch rosettes (using a closed star tip) onto a lined baking tray. Pipe from one side, at a 45 degree angle. Tap the tray firmly against the table, to remove any large air bubbles. Set these aside until the the tops of the macarons have developed a skin (about  30 minutes). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the bottom of the macarons are firm. Feet should have developed around the base of each cookie. Due to the rose shape of these macarons, the feet developed at interesting angles, but were there none the less!
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Once the macaron shells have cooled, spread the Nutella onto the shells. You can also use a buttercream, or jelly. The options of fillings, flavors, and colors are endless 😀
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No-Bake Protein Granola Bites

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As I slowly attempt to get into Ironman Shape (or rather good enough shape to begin the training plan for my Ironman next year), I wanted to make some healthy snacks that I can easily refuel with after training. I’ve made a lot of date bars in the past, but I was ready for something a bit more….oatey 😀

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (or chopped-up m&ms)
  • 3/4 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, mixing gently so the crispy rice cereal doesn’t get crushed. Mix until well-combined.

Using a cookie scoop (or roll small amounts in your hands), drop rounded tablespoonful-sized portions onto a parchment or wax paper lined cooking sheet. I used my cookie scoop and then rolled the scooped portion out between my palms. Let the granola balls firm up in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Once hardened, place in a large tupperware-type container or ziploc bags to freeze or refrigerate. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week or for a few months in the freezer.

They taste AWESOME! I love the crispy texture that the cereal adds, and that they are so protein packed 😀

Gluten Free Almond Cupcakes

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Another cupcake flavor I’m testing out for my friend’s wedding is a Gluten Free Almond cupcake. The bride has Celiac Disease, and I really wanted her to be able to eat her wedding cupcakes! So we decided to make these almond cupcakes gluten-free.

Almond Cupcake Batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2  tsp baking soda
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Almond Buttercream:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Serving: 14 cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Bake Time: 13-14 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius), and line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Whisk together the dry ingredient in one bowl, and mix together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing between additions. Stir until fully combined. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 13-14 minutes, until the tops are just beginning to brown, and tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pans, and let them cool fully on a wire rack.

As the cupcakes cool, prepare the almond buttercream. Beat the butter until fluffy, then slowly mix in the powdered sugar. Mix in the almond extract, and salt. Add cream as needed, until desired consistency is reached. Pipe the frosting onto the fully cooled cupcakes with a large round tip, and garnish with slivered almonds.

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Almond Butter Cups

Peanut butter cups….a gift from the heavens above. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to peanuts! One of these poor souls is one of my best friends, Robert. He is able to eat almond butter, so I decided to make him a close substitute, Almond Butter Cups! They taste great, and are actually healthier than traditional PB Cups. They also are insanely easy to make 😀

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped and melted

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Set time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 Almond Cups

Combine the first four ingredients, and mix until fully combined. Press this mixture into the bottom of a mini-cupcake tray, filing each cup 1/2 full. Don’t worry about spraying the tins, the oil from the almond butter will allow the cups to pop out once they are set. Place the trays in the fridge for about 5 minutes, Remove, and pour the melted chocolate over the top of the almond mixture, filling each cup to the top. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt onto the top of each cup, then place back in the freezer for another 20 minutes. Once set, use a sharp knife to pop the cups out of the cupcake tray. Let the cups sit out for about 5 minutes before serving, to allow the chocolate to soften slightly.

 

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Skinny Salted Caramel Banana Pudding (dairy-free)

Banana pudding is such a perfect summer dessert. It doesn’t require any time in oven, it takes minimal prep time, and it isn’t too heavy! Especially this version. I lighted it up by swapping out the heavy cream for lite Cool Whip, and mixed the almond milk with the pudding. I also increased the ratio of bananas to pudding and wafers. These little changes make a big difference, and leave you feeling great!

Pudding Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1 package vanilla pudding (4 oz)
  • 4 large bananas, sliced
  • 1 container cool whip
  • 3 cups Nilla Wafers, crushed

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Combine the chilled almond milk with the pudding, and whisk until fully combined. Let the pudding chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the pudding chills, prepare the salted caramel sauce. Pour the sugar into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and whisk until completely melted. The sugar will clump in the beginning, but don’t worry…it will melt completely with time. Allow the sugar to cook until it turns a beautiful amber color, and has a nutty aroma. I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I go completely by visual cues. At this point, remove the mixture from the heat. Whisk in the butter, then the cream. The mixture will bubble up, so be careful during this stage (I burned my finger!). The last step is to stir in the salt. Let the caramel cool to room temperature.You can store leftover caramel in a mason jar (I had about 3/4 cup left over). It will last in your fridge for about two weeks.

One the caramel is cool and the pudding has set, layer the pudding. I like to use mason jars, but a giant trifle container or stemless wineglass would work great too. Begin with a layer of pudding, followed by crushed wafers, banana slices, caramel sauce, and cool whip. Repeat until the jars are full, or you run out of ingredients 😀

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Pink Velvet Ruffle Cake

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I won’t lie, I’m still a little scared of gluten-free baking. But what’s life if you don’t face your fears?? I tried out my first gluten-free recipe last weekend, when I made these rainbow cupcakes, and they actually turned our wonderfully! So when I got my first order for a gluten-free cake, I embraced the challenge, and made this GF Pink Velvet Cake.

Pink Velvet Cake Batter:

  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 squirts pink gel food coloring
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon instant coffee, dissolved in 1 Tbsp boiling water

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
  • 1 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • dash salt
  • pink gel food coloring
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Preheat oven to 325. Grease and lay a strip of parchment paper in 9 inch round cake pans (see pictures). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and pink food coloring. Stir in the coffee, and white vinegar. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, until justcombined. Divide the batter evenly between desired number of cake pans.Bake on the middle rack for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Bake time will vary based on how thick of layer you bake, but if you opt to use a 9 inch pan, and make 3-4 layers, this should be an accurate bake time. Keep a close eye on the cakes, you don’t want them to over bake! the layers also will continue to cook as it cools. Let the layers cool in the pan for about five minutes, then remove them from the pans onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan.

While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Combine the softened butter, cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and powdered  sugar in a large bowl. gently mix by hand, then finish combining with a hand mixer. Whip until the frosting is fluffy.

Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting when the cakes have cooled completely. Lightly frost each layer, and then cover the entire exterior of the cake. Make sure to alternate the layers top up, top down, to help the cake remain level. Let this crumb coat harden over night, and reserve remaining frosting. Color in fading shades of pink, and finish frosting the following morning.  I decided to use my petal tip, and make fading ruffles. 

(Raw) Carrot Cake Truffles

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There aren’t many thing in life I love more than dessert… so when I can put a healthy twist on one of my favorite desserts, I am one happy girl! I discovered how versatile dates can be when I made lemon date bars last month, and I’ve been dreaming up new flavor combinations ever since. These taste just like a carrot cake cake pop, but without all the cream cheese and sugar! In fact, they’re VEGAN! I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with how they turned out.

Carrot Cake Truffles:

  • 12 oz. pitted dates
  • 1 cup almonds
  • The zest of one small orange
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 2 medium carrots, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
  • additional shredded coconut and almond meal for coating

Inspiration: A Tasty Love Story

Servings: 25

Nutrition per serving:

carrot cake truffle nutrition

Add everything besides the carrots in a food processor and blend until you have a well mixed dough. Add the carrots and pulse until the carrots are mixed into the dough, but still has some texture.

Refrigerate for 1 hour, then gently use your palms to shape 3/4 inch balls. Roll the balls in whatever topping you prefer, I tested out grated coconut and almond meal. I liked the coconut coating best!

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I thought the truffles tasted wonderful. They definitely taste healthier than my normal treats, but I like that these can satisfy my sweet tooth AND leave me feeling great!

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