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!
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
By Gluten-Free Nosh
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
By Gluten-Free Nosh
- 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)
- Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or waxed paper, and set aside.
- 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.
- Mix in sweetened condensed milk and peppermint extract, until combined. Add mint chips and stir until chips are evenly incorporated.
- 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