25 March 2014

Grain Free Triple Chocolate Muffins

Attention chocolate lovers who may or may not enjoy gluten and grain-free fare once in a while or all the time: there's a muffin you need to know about and I'm here to re-emphasize this. Though I didn't come up with it myself, they are Sara from Vanilla Bean's creation, I made one or two tiny additions, and I want to broadcast that we love these muffins. The verdict is, yes you can have a chocolate muffin for breakfast or a snack and not have it be a sugar bomb. You will be choco-satisfied and also feel the wholesomeness and antioxidant cacao power (if there is such a thing) all in the package of a portable muffin. Plus there's a bit of coffee in there so they are totally breakfast fair game.

The recipe for the Triple chocolate espresso almond muffins can be found at Sara's blog linked above.  You've got your usual suspects of almond flour and honey for that wholesomeness, but she goes and kicks it up a notch by adding some cocoa powder, takes out an egg and adds a bit of strong cold coffee and baking powder and sprinkles the tops with cocoa nibs and raw sugar. Oh are they good. And excellent the next day toasted for a minute with a little honey on top.

I just made a few changes to her game plan: I greased rather than lined my pan, and I made them a bit bigger and got exactly 6 instead of 9, (and that wasn't a bad thing), thus my bake time was around 20-23 mins, two, I mixed all the dry together (baking soda and powder with flour) instead of separating them as I didn't find it necessary last time I made these (yes this is the 2nd time) three, for the chopped chocolate part, I used about a third of a Chocolove salted almond dark bar because that is what I had around, and loved the little almond shards in contrast with the almond flour. And four, I went ahead and added a teaspoon of natural cane sugar to the batter in addition to the honey. 

That's all for today folks. Xoxo MN

18 March 2014

Salted Flourless Peanut Butter, Milk Chocolate + Peanut Cookies

If I have learned anything about making cookies this year (besides the wonders of freezing dough), it's that the difference is in the details. In both technique and ingredients. A peanut butter cookie is not a peanut butter cookie is not a peanut butter cookie. Ok, didn't mean to get all Buddha on you. It's just cookies after all...or is it?

A few months ago I shared a recipe for flourless almond butter chocolate chunk cookies, perfect for lazy days, a formula where nut butter acts as both flour and fat and produces a pretty great cookie. 

Well, needless to say, there's the peanut butter option, too, which is widely popular over the Internet. In fact I almost asked myself why bother posting about it? Well because they are so good and so hassle-less and based on the trends over on Pinterest, we can never run out of time-saving, one-bowl, 20-minute activities to share.

For these flourless cookies, I started from the chocolatier Michael Recchiuti's recipe. Which is the best, I think. Going back to those details, he adds both chopped peanuts and chopped chocolate. Now I'm mostly a dark chocolate girl but when I started putting good milk chocolate in my favorite floured peanut butter cookie recipe, I decided to groove in that direction from now on. So to tap into Michael's flavor bomb without buying a bag of peanuts, I opted to use one of my favorite Chocolove bars, the Salted Peanut + Milk Chocolate, imagining that would create the whole Reeses-cup-smashed-into-a-cookie effect with some added crunch for textural difference from the nuts, as Michael intended. Again, details. And you can probably guess that the tiny chunks of  bar swirled into that peanut butter dough pretty much took it up a few good notches. Because even if you're going low maintenance on the whole, you might as well put on a few killer accessories.

I also like this recipe because of the proportions. There is a little less baking soda and sugar than the standard formula out there, and I have to imagine that makes the difference. When someone takes a bite and says, "these are flourless?"...that's what you want. 

It is also worth mentioning that I nearly always divide the original recipe by four, and I have recently begun freezing the un-baked balls. So whenever we want these, which can be decided very shortly before eating them, I make a quarter batch of dough, bake off three and freeze the other three. I usually bake the frozen ones off within a few days though, so I don't know if they store longer. Quality control, people. 

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies with Peanuts + Milk Chocolate

Adapted from Recchiuti

Note: You can use all granulated sugar, but I went for a mix. The entire recipe will yield 24. I nearly never make that much. All the quantities are easily halved or quartered, just use half or a quarter of the bar.

1 cup (240 grams) organic unsalted peanut butter
1/2 cup (~ 95 grams) granulated cane sugar
1/4 cup (~ 40 grams) light brown sugar
1 large egg (50 grams), slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 Chocolove Salted Peanut bar, chopped
Flakey salt such as Maldon to finish.

Oven to 350. Line a sheet with parchment. In a bowl, stir together peanut butter, sugars, baking soda, salt and egg, until combined. Drop in the chopped chocolate and stir until just worked in. Don't worry if the dough seems wet. Scrape the dough onto some plastic wrap. (optional but recommended: lightly form into a sausage and pop into fridge for a half hour or so)

Pinch off tsp size balls, each around 21 grams, and place with a little room apart on the sheet. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through the baking time, until lightly golden and spread to a puffy mound, about 12-14 minutes. Sprinkle with a few grains salt. Let cool on the sheet 5 minutes then on a rack completely.

12 March 2014

Martha's (pimped) gluten free oatmeal cookies

Biting into this cookie, I heard a sing-song-y voice in my head go, "my oh gee, I can't believe it's gluten free!" 

It wasn't that I doubted the batter... littered with oats, toasted walnuts, dark chocolate, brown sugar, Irish butter, vanilla and cocoa nibs...but often we forget that we don't always need the wheat flour for structure. And this was a confirmation that we need not forget that.

Ah, Martha. I could just see you in your apron responding with a smile and a wink, wooden spoon in hand, "Yep, that's right, honey, it's gluten free."

At her best, Martha is always trying to make it easier for you. The flour and the oats in this oatmeal cookie come from the same source; the oats themselves, divided. Well you can guess I was happy about that. A quick measure and a whiz in a grinder of just under half of them gives you the flour that binds here. But I suspect the little pinch of cornstarch also helps.

I found the texture wonderful. Slightly crisp on the outside, with some chew in the center and crunch from the nuts. Puddles of deep dark chocolate. I even froze some of the dough in scoops and baked it in the days after I had made it. Baked from frozen, they were even a little thicker than when made from room temp dough. Either way, you have a good number on your hands here, but I do like that the cold dough plumped these a bit. 

If you want to try a gluten-free cookie recipe but want to avoid the chemistry and cost of multiple flours and unfamiliar binders, try this one. I'd almost call it foolproof....but I always advise paying attention during baking. And hey, since it's all about the oats here, that means it can be breakfast, too, right? 

Well I personally prefer them to hold me over during a long afternoon, preferably with a long auburn-colored coffee.  

Martha's (pimped) gluten-free oatmeal cookies
Adapted from Martha

Notes: below amounts are halved from the original recipe, and I halved it even once more, to get about 12, but next time would make this amount and keep the dough balls on hand to bake for another week or two.

  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free old-fashioned oats, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  •        Heaped  1/4 c Walnuts, toasted and chopped
       Heaped 1/4 c Dark chocolate, chopped  and 1 Tbsp Cocoa nibs

Oven to 350

Grind about 1 scant cup of the oats until fine, to make the oat flour. A food processor or coffee grinder will do the trick. Whisk oat flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 mins, then add egg and vanilla, scrape down.

With mixer on low add the flour mix two additions, mixing until just combined, then gently add the rest of the oats and chocolate and nuts, and mix low for a few seconds until the dough just comes together. 

Now scrape the dough into a mass and use a 2 T scoop to form balls. Either bake right away or flash freeze and store in a bag. Bake on a parchment lined sheet, spacing 2 inches apart, for 15-17 minutes, cool on pan 2 mins, then on a rack completely

I think they are best the day made, after cooled amply, which is why freezing raw is good. You may need to add a minute to bake time. Just set the balls on the sheet while the oven preheats.

07 March 2014

Brown butter raspberry rye muffins with cacao nibs

Look, just say the title of this post a few times and you'll know what I mean. I have a good thing on my hands here.

I may be sitting in my kitchen, listening to a slightly ABC Family teen-show sounding 'favorite coffeehouse' mix on Spotify this morning, but I am certainly not envious of being at an actual coffee shop. I've got beans from our favorite joint down the road, and, these muffins.

Brown butter raspberry rye muffins with cacao nibs. I am swooning. Perfectly sweet, just a tad alternative, and the kind of thing that came together in no time, baking up while I made the bed, washed my face and ate two grapefruit slices. I have my man's appetite to thank that they happened. See, I'd made a little batch of these almond flour and chocolate muffin beauties yesterday with the intention of saving two for breakfast but lo and behold only one remained in the tin this morning. And it was certainly Ed's on-the-go dibs.

That was fine. Alone, I was about to try the famous oatmeal going around the blogosphere, when I heard an alliteration of a muffin flavor in my head. Raspberry rye cacao...raspberry rye cacao.

Bakers tend to have a little obsessive thing about getting to enjoy the first muffin just when it's cool enough. It's a small sacrifice of fiddling around first thing in the a.m., for a sensory reward. So if I can help it, I try to avoid making anything but pumpkin, banana and bran muffins/breads which age well, in advance and save the more delicate berry stuff for the day of.

A few Saturdays ago, I really wanted to make a simple, rye-based muffin and I hoped for inspiration from Kim Boyce. She has one in the book, but it involves banana and cooked oats--not what I was after, so I hunted a bit...and I didn't find much! I mean, I was surprised. Then I got a little more stalkerish (well not really, it's easy to find) and found a recipe in the Oregon Live that Kim had contributed, for blueberry rye coffeecake muffins. Bing-go. So I made those a Saturday or two ago, as I showed you. After, though, I realized I could have fussed less.

So I gave it my own spin. The base recipe of brown butter, yogurt and half rye flour would be kept, but I would nix the chopping of nuts in the a.m., cinch the sugar a little, and use up the handful of raspberries I had. Then a shower of cocoa nibs and brown sugar. This was much quicker, and using less berries helped them puff a little more. I also altered the temp a bit to 375 for the first 10 minutes, then about 355 for the last 15. Every other well filled, they popped out of the amply-buttered tin, then I let them cool on their sides a la Kim for an un-soggy bottom. I tell you, this woman has taught me so much.

And no, the cacao nibs are not optional...well, I suppose, if I were out of nibs, I'd try shaving some bittersweet dark chocolate over the tops with the raw sugar with potentially good results. I've done that before. But really, don't deprive yourself of the nibs, and get a good brand. You'll start dreaming of all kinds of things to throw them into. When cooled, I coaxed them into the freezer double wrapped. I have a feeling next week, they will make mornings a little more delightful.

Brown butter raspberry rye muffins with cacao nibs
Adapted from Oregon Live
Makes 5

Notes: Don't have raspberries? I've also tried this with 1 oz chopped dark chocolate and chopped oven-dried pear, 1 tsp orange zest and a squeeze of it's juice in addition to the nibs.

1/2 cup / 57 grams rye flour
1/2 cup / 63 grams all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon  
2 ounces (55 grams/1/2 a stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup /120 ml whole milk plain yogurt (I was low, so I used about 75% yogurt and 25% buttermilk/ sour cream mixed to equal 120 ml- worked fine)
1/2 an egg, beaten (25 grams or 1 oz)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/4 cup raspberries, sliced in half if large
1 T/15 g cacao nibs
2 tsp coarse sugar and/or brown sugar

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

First  brown the butter. Cut in a few pieces and add them to the pan. Allow the butter to melt, stirring occasionally, until the foam has subsided and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan and browned (don’t let them get too dark). Remove from heat and immediately pour browned butter, including flecks, into a heat-proof bowl to stop the cooking.

Put your raspberries, sliced if large, in the freezer for a few minutes, to help them stay intact. Measure your nibs and sprinkling sugar.

In a large bowl, stir together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon.

Whisk yogurt, egg and vanilla extract together, then add the cooled butter to it. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and gently stir to just combine. Add in a just a few raspberry pieces and sprinkle of nibs, reserving the majority. Of both.

Scoop the batter into greased muffin pans two-thirds of the way full. Alternate filling every other space to ensure the muffins bake evenly. Drop a few berries among each muffins, aiming for the sides not the center and sprinkle the nibs/sugar generously over the top.

Bake for about 25 minutes. 10 minutes at 375, and lower the temp to 355 for 15 more minutes, or until golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly touched and a skewer comes out almost totally clean.

Let the muffins cool slightly in the tin, then pivot them onto their sides  to ensure a dry, not soggy, crust. Continue to cool by themselves on a wire rack.

05 March 2014

While the iron is hot

I've been making it a point to move recipes from my To Make Pinterest board to the Have Made and Liked board. This is what we do in this century. There's a lot out there. Just because I added walnuts to something someone else came up with, it doesn't need it's own photo spread on here. But then again, would you look at that photo? I'm starting to think just-baked waffles are the baby pix of food photography; always glowing and inherently appealing.

So today instead of a recipe I'll tell you what I've been making. Two days In a row, waffles. Above, Buckwheat Waffles from London Bakes. I loved these because it's just buckwheat flour and a tiny bit of cornstarch to keep them gluten free, with ample buttermilk for moisture. She hints them with vanilla and doesn't bother to whip any egg whites into the mix. They were easy to mix up on a Sunday. I halved her recipe and got two nice sized waffles, and we topped with plenty of maple syrup, and toasted walnuts. The next day, the grain-free Almond Banana Waffles from Roost, which I've already told you about, made another appearance. 

As far as savory goes, here's a dressing to keep around. Again from food52. This miso dressing is the kind of thing that will serve as a shortcut for your dinner side salad or lunchtime main for a few days. The ingredients aren't too complex; even a pantry-rationer like me had all Asian condiments at my fingertips simultaneously. I loved it on lettuces with avocado, or tossed with cold soba noodle and blanched asparagus, or both of these things in the same bowl.

Have a great week, all. I will be back in a few days with a delicious gluten-free cookie so stay tuned.