Category Archives: desserts

Gluten-Free Hanukkah Sugar Cookies

gluten-free sugar cookies

Cut-out gluten-free sugar cookies are fun to make, and to frost, for any holiday.

After a heavy meal of potato latkes for Hanukkah, it’s nice to have a lighter dessert, like these gluten-free cut-out sugar cookies — perfect for any holiday. For our family Hanukkah celebration this year, I contributed a big batch of unfrosted gluten-free cookies, along with bowls of colored icing for frosting the cookies. The kids frosted the festively shaped cookies at the party, providing lots of fun entertainment and only minimal mess.

This recipe makes about four dozen gluten-free cookies — good for a large crowd. The dough holds together well when rolled out, and the cut-out cookies retain their shape nicely. (I wish I could say the same for my shape.) The cookies have a delicate shortbread flavor that is nicely balanced by the smooth, sweet frosting.

Hanukkah Blog Party logo

I’m very excited to participate in the first-ever Hanukkah Blog Party, hosted by Leah of Cook Kosher and Miriam of Overtime Cook, who have put together a fabulous array of Hanukkah-themed recipes, treats and crafts from Jewish bloggers all over the world!

Scroll down for links to delicious Hanukkah treats from other bloggers, and for information on a cookbook giveaway – which you can enter by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post!
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Gluten-Free Chocolate Layer Cake

gluten-free layer cake

H with cake

We celebrated my older daughter’s birthday recently with a four-layer gluten-free chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache frosting and filling. I have to admit, it looked and tasted amazing.

I recently took a baking boot camp at Kendall College in Chicago, which gave me inspiration for creating this cake. In the class, we made an opera cake, but my daughter wanted chocolate, so I improvised from there. I started with my favorite King Arthur gluten-free chocolate cake mix. I don’t usually use mixes, but the King Arthur cake is so intensely moist and fudgy that it always elicits raves from kids and adults.

To make chocolate ganache, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in a saucepan until the cream starts to steam. Then pour the cream over 10 ounces of semisweet or dark chocolate chips. Wait two minutes, then stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Set aside some ganache for frosting the top of the cake. Whip the rest in a stand mixer to make whipped chocolate ganache for the filling.

To make the thin layers, I baked the cake for 15 to 18 minutes in a jelly roll pan or half-sheet pan (18 x 13 x 1-inch) lined with parchment paper. I then cut the cooled cake into four equal-sized rectangles, stacked the layers on top of each other while smoothing whipped chocolate ganache between the layers, and topped it with chocolate ganache that had not been whipped. For a distinctive presentation, freeze the cake for 30 minutes and then evenly trim the sides.

Now that’s a happy birthday!

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Gluten-Free Meringue Ghosts

gluten-free meringue ghosts

Gluten-free, dairy-free meringue ghosts

Here’s a trick that’s a treat: Turn meringue cookies into spooky gluten-free, dairy-free meringue ghosts. I made these ghosts this weekend and should have posted the recipe earlier, but this spirited dessert is pretty easy to whip up with ingredients you have on hand.

I used my trusted gluten-free meringue cookie recipe, and then my kids piped the meringues into ghost shapes, dipped a toothpick into melted chocolate, dotted on eyes and mouths and placed the little ghosties on a bed of crushed gluten-free chocolate cookies (we used KinniToos chocolate sandwich cookies) for a ghoulish effect.

The hardest part is piping the meringues. Check out this Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn video about piping techniques. Happy Halloween!

Meringue Cookies

(gluten-free, dairy-free, pareve)
By Gluten-Free Nosh

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Using a mixer, beat egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt, and beat until stiff. Add sugar gradually and continue beating. Beat in vanilla extract.
  3. Use a pastry bag to pipe the meringues into three-tiered ghost shapes on the parchment paper.
  4. Bake for one hour. Allow meringues to cool.
  5. Melt a small amount of chocolate. Dip a toothpick in the chocolate and dot eyes and a mouth on each ghost. Place meringue ghosts on a bed of crushed gluten-free chocolate cookies.

Yield: 45 meringue ghosts

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A New Take on Gluten-Free S’mores

smores-edit

Gluten-free s’mores with chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows and peanut butter cups.

A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids camping for the first time. Everything went surprisingly well, especially sleeping together like four sardines tucked into a tiny tent. The highlight, of course, was campfire cooking. We enjoyed hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and baked beans. (Camping has a healthy image, but really, is all that unrefrigerated, smoky, burnt food good for you?) No surprise, but the campfire desserts were our favorites, especially our chocolate-chip-studded banana boats and warm, chocolaty gluten-free s’mores.

Kinnikinnick’s S’moreables are good gluten-free graham cracker substitutes (for tips on making s’mores in your kitchen, rather than the campfire, see my Please, Sir, I Want S’mores post). But, honestly, the S’moreables are a little small and fragile when sandwiched around a jumbo marshmallow.

Inspired by a Time Out Chicago Kids article on alternate s’mores, my older daughter came up with some creative new ideas for gluten-free s’mores. My favorite, pictured above, was a circular s’mores sandwich, with a flame-kissed kosher marshmallow and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup sandwiched between two Enjoy Life Gluten-Free Crunchy Chocolate Chip cookies. It was the perfect combo of oozy marshmallow, melty peanut butter and chocolate, and substantial chocolate chip cookies. (I have to say, I’m not a fan of the small, soft-baked Enjoy Life cookies that go stale quickly, but I like their new, big crunchy gluten-free cookies.)

And about those banana boats … based on a suggestion from our Girl Scouts leader, we made a vertical slit in a banana and its peel, stuffed some chocolate chips and marshmallows into the slit, and put it on the grate above the campfire to cook. (Or wrap the stuffed banana in tin foil and put in the coals.)

Now that’s what I call a successful camping trip.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

peanut butter cups

Homemade peanut butter cups -- naturally gluten-free!

Recently, I made gluten-free Girl Scouts Tagalong cookies, or peanut butter pattties. We had leftover peanut butter filling, so my daughters and I decided to make homemade peanut butter cups, like miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups — naturally gluten-free and naturally delicious!

My friend Chris had sent me a recipe for homemade chocolate candy cups, with a choice of either a peanut butter or peppermint filling, and I realized we could adapt her recipe using our leftovers. I had previously bought some mini baking cups (like miniature cupcake liners) at the dollar store, so we had all the ingredients on hand for this easy gluten-free chocolate candy.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups, Gluten-Free

(gluten-free, dairy-free)
By Gluten-Free Nosh
Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used processed peanut butter, not natural peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, powdered sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips or dairy-free chocolate chips
  • mini baking cups or candy cup liners, about 1.25-inches in diameter

Method:

  1. Place mini baking cups in a mini muffin tin. (Note: It is fine if the mini baking cups are smaller than the muffin tin compartments.)
  2. In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, powdered sugar and a pinch of salt until well combined. Use your hands to roll peanut butter mixture into 1/2-inch balls; roll balls quickly so your hands don’t get sticky. Set balls aside on a plate.
  3. Place chocolate chips in a large bowl. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute on half-power (such as power level 5). Stir chocolate thoroughly. If not melted, pop bowl in the microwave for subsequent 30-second intervals, stirring until chocolate is melted.
  4. Place a dollop of melted chocolate in the bottom of the mini baking cups, so the chocolate covers the bottom of the cup. Drop peanut butter balls in the middle of the mini baking cups. Spoon dollops of melted chocolate on top of the peanut butter balls. The melted chocolate should surround the sides and top of the peanut butter balls, evenly covering the peanut butter and leaving a smooth chocolate top.
  5. Stick the mini muffin tin in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, so the chocolate hardens. Enjoy your homemade candy!

Yield: I’m sorry — I forgot to note the yield, but it probably makes around 20 to 24 mini peanut butter cups.

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Gluten-Free Tagalongs, or Peanut Butter Patties

gluten-free tagalongs

Gluten-free version of Tagalong Girl Scout cookies

My daughters always have fun selling Girl Scout cookies – who can resist two enthusiastic, cute kids? I’m impressed that they sold 58 boxes each. But above all, I’m impressed that my younger daughter never complains that she can’t eat Girl Scout cookies, because they’re not gluten-free. This year, we decided to make our own gluten-free version of Tagalongs, or Peanut Butter Patties, so all of us could enjoy them.

Tagalongs were one of the girls’ top sellers this year – behind Thin Mints, of course. Tagalongs are a rich treat: a shortbread cookie topped with a peanut butter layer and enrobed in chocolate. Last year, we made gluten-free Thin Mints, so this year we decided to tackle Tagalongs. It’s a labor-intensive process — first you make the shortbread cookie dough and chill it, then bake the cookies, prepare the peanut butter topping, dip it all in melted chocolate and let it cool — but the results are worth the hassle.

My 10-year-old, who can eat gluten and who has quite a discerning palate, dubbed our homemade gluten-free Tagalongs better than the real deal. “The peanut butter is more peanut buttery, and the chocolate is more chocolaty,” she declared. My mother-in-law agreed.

On a side note, my friend Melissa (Hi, Melissa!) was upset that the cookies are called Tagalongs instead of Peanut Butter Patties. Apparently, there are two companies that bake Girl Scout cookies, and Little Brownie Bakers calls them Tagalongs, while ABC Bakers calls them Peanut Butter Patties. Glad we resolved that mystery. Next year, maybe we’ll tackle making a gluten-free Samoa!

Update 3/27/12: If you have leftover peanut butter mixture, use it to make mini gluten-free peanut butter cups, like mini Reese’s cups. See recipe for Homemade Peanut Butter Cups.

Click for Gluten-Free Tagalongs recipe

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Mint Fudge: The Easiest Gluten-Free Dessert Ever

gluten-free mint fudge

Gluten-free fudge is easy to make without any special ingredients.

Fudge seems rich and decadent, the kind of special-occasion sweet you might have during the holidays, or on a summer trip to the shore. I couldn’t believe how simple this recipe was and how many raves it elicited. Plus, fudge is the easiest gluten-free dessert ever. It has no flour, and no special gluten-free ingredients, so just about anyone can make it for their gluten-free guests. Another fudge fact: The recipe is egg-free, making it a good treat for friends who are allergic to eggs.

My kids had fun making this fudge, as the recipe doesn’t require any stovetop cooking (just the microwave). There was quite a lot of squabbling about whose turn it was to stir the chocolate, but we’re used to refereeing those arguments on a daily basis. My kids love mint, so we made mint chip fudge. But if you’re not a fan of mint, use 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract instead of the peppermint extract, and use white chocolate chips or chopped nuts instead of the mint chips.

No matter how you make it (or who stirs it the longest), the dense chocolate flavor will have you clamoring for more. Cut the pieces small, so you won’t feel guilty for having more than one. You know you will.

Gluten-Free Mint Fudge

(gluten-free, egg-free)
By Gluten-Free Nosh
printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup mint chips (I used Andes creme de menthe baking chips, found at Target)

Method:

  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or waxed paper, and set aside.
  2. Place chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl (no plastic!), and heat for 2 minutes on half power. Stir the chocolate well. If there are still lumps of chocolate, heat for an additional 30 seconds or 1 minute on half power and stir until smooth.
  3. Mix in sweetened condensed milk and peppermint extract, until combined. Add mint chips and stir until chips are evenly incorporated.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan. Pat it smooth using a square of waxed paper. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Remove fudge from pan, and cut into 1-inch squares.

Yield: 64 small pieces

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