Cranberry Panna Cotta

I made this creamy, sweet, and refreshing dessert twice during the holidays, and have been asked for the recipe multiple times. Once I served it at a dessert buffet with salted dark chocolate cake. The two flavors played off each other well.

This recipe is really easy, can be made a day ahead, and can easily be modified with other toppings. I’m trying chocolate next.

Cranberry Panna Cotta

Thanks to Nancy Jo Newman for the original recipe.

In a small saucepan, heat until sugar is disolved and liquid begins to simmer:

1 and 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream (if there are clumps of cream clinging to the sides of the carton, scrape these out and use them…the richer, the better!)
1/4 cup sugar (I used xylitol for a low-glycemic sweetener; maple syrup would also be wonderful)

Mix together in 1 qt bowl:

1/4 or so of the hot cream
1 packet gelatin (2 and 1/2 tsp.) Read more about gelatin in this post.
The gelatin will disolve. Use a wire whisk to beat until smooth, adding the rest of the hot cream. Then beat in:

1 cup whole milk yogurt (I used Trader Joes Organic European Style Whole Milk Yogurt)
1 tsp. vanilla

Pour into a 9X12 inch pan, or 8 sorbet glasses. Refrigerate for a few hours until set.

Cranberry Sauce

Simmer in a clean saucepan:

4 barlett pears, cored, pealed, and cut in chunks
1 cup black cherry juice (I used Knudsons Just Black Cherry)

When pears are soft, mash them in the pan, and continue to simmer. Then stir in:

1/3 bag fresh cranberries, cut in half each (this avoids the skins from bursting off and rolling up into those little spears in sauce)
sugar to taste (I used 1/4 cup xylitol)

Simmer/stir for 5 minutes more, then cool for about a half hour on the counter before layering over the set cream. Refrigerate until serving.

Cookie Exchange: The Perfect [GF] Chocolate Chip Cookie

Are you ready for this one? A perfect (as in the real deal) Chocolate Chip Cookie, in GF form.

It’s taken me awhile to attempt this classic. I made it today for a Christmas Party/Desert, and I knew I’d succeeded when I heard those words from a surprised guest:

They’re gluten-free? But they are so good . . . I would never have known.

GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whisk together:
2/3 C. brown rice flour
2/3 C. sorghum flour
1 and 1/3 C. tapioca flour
3/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a separate bowl, cream:
1 cup organic butter, softened* (see note below)
3/4 C. packed organic brown sugar
3/4 C. organic granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg

Add half of flour mixture to wet mixture, work in with beaters, then work in the rest of the flour. Add:

1 bag (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Drop in rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet (I use my baking stones). Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or when you begin to see the edges browning. Remove from oven and let stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to racks to cool.

Yields 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on how large you like ’em. (I make mine like prizes: 3 dozen is all I got out of one batch.)

* The key to perfect cookies is to have butter at the right temperature. Leaving butter on the counter for about an hour will cause the butter to be soft enough to cream yet firm enough to hold the cookie in shape while it bakes. Melted butter is a disaster: flat cookies. Cold butter won’t cream.

Apfel Struessel Kuchen

What better way to end a full German meal than Apfel Struessel Kuchen? I made a gluten-free version of this classic today, and it was delicious. My [non-gluten-free] husband was in heaven.

Here’s what I did (original recipe from my sister-in-law, Kirsten):

Apfelkuchen Sehr Fein
1 stick plus 1 TBS Butter
1/2 plus 1/8 cup Sugar
3 eggs
1 and 3/4 cups My Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (if you eat gluten, then 1 and 3/4 cups white flour, and delete the xanthan gum)
1 shy tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 vial of Bittermandel flavoring (this is a potent flavoring from Germany; substitute 2 tsp. almond flavoring)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2.5 Granny Smith apples – peeled and cut into chunks (less than inch cubed)
Cream butter and sugar in one bowl, and whisk dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Then add the dry ingredients, flavoring, and eggs to butter and sugar and mix all together. Add the apples to the dough; it will seem that there is barely enough dough to cover the apples. Smooth into a greased 9 x 12 pan, and add streussel on top.

Streussel

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp butter
Mix together with mixer first and then kneed with your hands ~ you may need to add more butter or flour to get the right consistency to form the streussel. Clump with hands and strew onto the cake, leaving small clumps.
Bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool before serving.

Good Fat Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookie to Die For (Gluten Free!)

I just made the most fantastic, tender yet crisp-edged and crumbly, peanut butter cookies. They are gluten free. They also have good fats. (And they do have sugar in them, so they are a “once in a while” treat.)

OK, so fat has a bad reputation, but the healthiest peoples of all time have savored fats and oils. We all need a balance of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. The difference between good fats and bad fats is the processing.

  • boiled and bleached coconut oil: bad
    VS.
    virgin unrefined coconut oil: good
  • butter from stall kept/medicated cows: bad
    VS.
    butter from grass fed healthy cows: good
  • Olive oil from sprayed fruit, heated process: bad
    VS.
    organic cold pressed olive oil: good

And of course, your kitchen is the final process: if you heat your oil above what it can handle, it quickly becomes a toxic fat. To read more about fats, check out this article on the Weston A. Price site: The Skinny on Fats.

So, give me the peanut butter cookie recipe already, right? OK, here it is:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Preheat convection oven to 320 degrees, or set it at 345 degrees if your oven is like mine and automatically heats the oven 25 degrees less when in convection mode. Why 320? Peanut oil should not be heated above this temperature.

In medium bowl, mix together:
1 cup organic sugar
1 TB molasses (or decrease sugar to 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup brown sugar, and omit molasses)
1/2 cup organic creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
1 stick organic butter, at room temperature (or 1/2 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, and over-measure the salt)
1 large pastured egg

In separate bowl, whisk together, then add to wet ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups Bronwyn’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (see below)
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum, heaping
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2  tsp. baking powder, non-aluminum
1/4 tsp. unrefined fine salt, such as RealSalt

When fully mixed, spoon out tablespoon sized pieces of dough, and roll in the palms of hands just until round (don’t handle too much or they begin to melt). Then roll tops in:

extra organic sugar for rolling

Two happy cookie-rolling helpers!

Place sugar side up on a baking stone. Use a fork to press a criss-cross pattern in the tops. The whole roll/ sugar/fork process is really fun for kids to help with!

Place full stone in your oven. Again, the oven should be 320 degrees and blowing, for an “equivalent” temperature of 345. This will not actually damage the peanut oil, but will allow the cookies to bake correctly. Leave them in for 10-12 minutes, or until you can see the edges starting to turn golden. Remove from oven, and leave on baking stone/tray for at least 5 minutes, until they have set, then move to cooling racks.

Makes approximately 30 cookies. Enjoy with a tall glass of cold, fresh, raw milk!

Bronwyn’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

1 part organic brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca flour

Xanthan Gum is required in all recipes with this flour, and should be whisked in prior to adding the flour to other ingredients. Here are the amounts needed for different types of baked goods.

Add per cup of All Purpose Flour used:
1/4 tsp. for cookies
1/2 tsp. for cakes
3/4 tsp. for muffins and quick breads
1-1 and 1/2 tsp. for breads
2 tsp. for pizza crust

I am linking to linky parties at theinspiredroom and at FunkyJunkInteriors.

Sweet Treats: Unrefined Sweeteners

It’s holiday time again, and if you’re like me, you’re thinking about making some sweet treats for family and friends.

Surprisingly, there are a bunch of great recipes which can be successfully made (and enjoyed!) with honey and maple syrup (and other whole food options) as the sweeteners, rather than white sugar. I have several which are my favorites . . . I’ll have to share them in time. For now, I’m excited to tell you about a blog my friend Krista writes: http://thenourishingapron.blogspot.com/ .

Every recipe on her blog is made without cane sugar, and she does a beautiful job of presenting her methods, always with a picture to get your mouth watering!

I just made her Protein Bars yesterday. They were super easy, no bake, and gluten free. Were they good? Well, they’re GONE! (Answer: Yes.)

Happy treat making!