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Gluten-Free Passover Meringues

meringues

I’ve posted a couple of variants on meringues, but these were our prettiest yet, deserving of their own post. Plus, these meringue cookies make for a quick and easy gluten-free, dairy-free Passover dessert, requiring no special equipment or ingredients — pretty much just eggs, sugar and a mixer.

When I first started this blog in 2010, I posted a recipe for chocolate-chip and double chocolate meringues, with a really ugly photo, before I learned that you never, ever want to use a flash for food photography. And I also previously posted a recipe for cute ghost meringues for Halloween.

Piping these meringues seemed like a pain, so my daughter and I originally started by scooping spoonfuls of meringue and flinging the sticky meringue onto a baking sheet. But we found out that piping actually was so much easier and prettier. All you need are disposable pastry bags and a large star tip — OK, and some practice piping, because it does take a while to perfect the skill. (I highly recommend taking a cake decorating class if you foresee making a lot of gluten-free birthday cakes or desserts in your future.)

Meringues are true sugar cookies because the main ingredient is, well, sugar. My youngest daughter is crazy for them.

My oldest daughter is trying a low-FODMAP diet to help with her non-celiac stomach issues, so these meringues are a good low-FODMAP dessert. (FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates that are sometimes poorly digested by the small intestine, causing irritable bowel symptoms like pain, bloating and gas when they pass into the large intestine. … Sorry if I just killed your meringue sugar buzz, but it’s good to know about FODMAPs because they will be increasingly in the health news.)

Gluten-Free Passover Meringues

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

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. Gradually add sugar and continue beating. Beat in vanilla extract.
  3. Put a large star tip on a disposable pastry bag. Fill the bag with the meringue mixture and twist the top to close. Pipe the meringues onto the lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for one hour. Allow meringues to cool and store in an airtight container.

Yield: About 24 meringue cookies

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Random Acts of Udi’s

udi's gluten-free

A box of Udi’s gluten-free products, some new and some old favorites.

Recently, the folks at Udi’s sent me a box of gluten-free goodies as part of their “Random Acts of Udi’s” promotion. They sent bloggers different sampler boxes of Udi’s gluten-free treats to use or to give to friends and then to describe their experiences.

Although we were initially tempted to keep the goods to ourselves, it was a lot of fun to share them with our gluten-free friends. I always feel an instant bond with anyone who has celiac, so we were thrilled to be able to share the love.

Because I divvied up the products — giving friends baggies of different items, instead of giving them a whole box to take home – it was hard for them to keep track of what was what. If I had to do it again, I would have given them the whole box and not divided it into “bits and bobs,” as my British friend would say. That’s our fault for being greedy and wanting to try a little bit of everything.

In the box were some new Udi’s products, like boxed cookies with a gourmet flair, like Salted Caramel Cashew Cookies (one of my younger daughter’s favorites), Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies and Coconut Peanut Butter Cookies (the coconut taste really comes through). The cookies say “soft baked” but they were a regular crisp cookie texture, which was fine with us. In the plastic tubs of cookies (usually found in the freezer section of the grocery store), we enjoyed the Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip Cookies (another favorite among friends) and the Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites. My daughter liked the surprise of finding mini chocolate chips in the moist brownie bites — another of her faves. The tubs of cookies say “soft and chewy,” and they were.

Our kids and our friends also liked the new Udi’s chips, with ancient grains like millet, amaranth and quinoa and fun flavors that pop in your mouth. The Jalapeno Cheddar chips were quite spicy and flavorful, and we also liked the Aged Cheddar ones. The new “Active” granolas were good, too, with a few added nutrients (missing from some gluten-free diets) like zinc. I have to say, though, that the Mighty Bagel with millet, flax, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds didn’t appeal to most people. I am a traditionalist when it comes to bagels — even gluten-free bagels.

Overall, it was fun to share the items, and our friends had fun testing them out. As my father-in-law noted (thanks, Pop), the exciting part is how much more tasty and complex gluten-free foods are getting. Udi’s has added some fun flavors, ancient grains and nutrients to spice up gluten-free products, giving them more pizzazz, for which we are thankful.

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Gluten-Free Products: Kind Bars, Trader Joe’s Cookies and Leo’s Pasta

I’ve come across some good gluten-free products lately and wanted to share some of them.

– I’ve tried a bunch of different gluten-free snack bars and it’s hard to find the elusive bar that is crunchy, but not hard; sweet but not sugary; soft but not crumbly. KIND has mastered that mix with bars full of nuts, fruit and not too much else. I like the texture — you can taste the various ingredients, instead of them being blended together.

My favorite KIND bar is the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew bar. I’m a chocoholic, so I love the combination of dark chocolate and moist cherries. It tastes like candy, but it’s healthier than a Snickers bar, so I feel justified in having one for a snack.

The kind folks at KIND sent me some bars to review a couple of months ago, but I haven’t managed to get the post up till now. In their “Nuts and Spices” line, two new bars (well “new” as of a couple months ago – sorry about that) have an intriguing salty, spicy, sweet mix, with nothing artificial and 5g of sugar or less per bar (qualifying them as low-glycemic).

kind-chocolate-chili

kindmaplepecan

In the Dark Chocolate Chili Almond bar, the dark chocolate provides a balance to the nuts, while the cascabel, ancho and habanero chilies provide a slightly spicy kick that lingers but is not too overwhelming. The Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt bar contains almonds, peanuts and pecans. The overall taste is of salted peanuts with a touch of maple syrup. Expect some new bars from KIND in the near future.

joe-joes

Trader Joe’s has some new gluten-free treats. I’ve read some raves about the gluten-free Joe-Joe’s, a gluten-free version of an Oreo cookie. While I do like the Joe-Joe’s (especially their low price and easy availability at Trader Joe’s), my favorite gluten-free Oreo-type cookie is still KinniKinnick’s KinniToos chocolate vanilla sandwich cookies.

tj choc chip cookies

My favorite new product at Trader Joe’s are the Gluten-Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies. These crisp cookies have a delicate, buttery homemade taste, like you pulled them out of your oven earlier that day. They are a knock-off of Tate’s Bake Shop Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, which also taste homemade but are much harder to find, at least in my neck of the woods.

lemon cookies

Also, I love Italian lemon knot cookies, so I was excited to see Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Iced Lemon Rounds. These are soft, slightly lemony cookies with a drizzle of icing and no grainy taste.

— Recently, I was walking on Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood and stopped at Conte Di Savoia, an Italian deli/grocery. I was excited to discover Leo’s Gluten-Free frozen ravioli, gnocchi, fettuccine and other gluten-free pasta. I was particularly excited about the gluten-free ravioli, because it’s hard to find. The butternut squash ravioli was fantastic, with a tender pasta pillow and tasty butternut squash filling. The ravioli also comes in four-cheese, spinach and cheese, and Portobello varieties. Their gluten-free stuffed gnocchi is filled with asiago cheese, spinach and cheese, or Portobello mushroom fillings. The folks at Leo’s Gluten Free spent two years perfecting their gluten-free pasta and just started selling it to stores and restaurants in April. The pasta is made in their dedicated gluten-free facility in Franklin Park, Ill.

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Gluten-Free Passover Foods 2013

Because wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats aren’t allowed on Passover (unless they’re in matzo or matzo meal), Passover can be a great gluten-free holiday. You can find gluten-free versions of foods that you can’t find the rest of the year, like gluten-free matzo ball mix, blintzes, cookies and cakes. But be careful to avoid my eternal mistake (when will I ever learn?), and don’t overbuy Passover products. Passover foods are almost always expensive, but they don’t always taste great.

Many foods are labeled “gluten-free” and some are labeled “non-gebrokts” (which is basically the equivalent of gluten-free). Non-gebrokts foods are increasing in popularity because of the growing Hassidic population and gluten-free population.

passover-2

– My top recommendation is Lieber’s Knaidel Mix. This gluten-free matzo ball mix makes light and fluffy matzo balls (called knaidlach in Yiddish). My guests have asked for seconds, unaware that the matzo balls were gluten-free. Another gluten-free matzo ball option is Frankel’s Matzo-Free Balls. These premade frozen gluten-free matzo balls (six to a package) are convenient when you want to take individual gluten-free matzo balls to a relative’s house to drop in their chicken soup.

passover-3

– Don’t let the “breaded” fool you, Spring Valley Breaded Chicken Pattie Nuggets (sorry, I can’t find an online link) are coated with potato starch – a great find, since it’s hard to find gluten-free kosher chicken nuggets. Make sure the bag is labeled kosher for Passover and non-gebrokts. I also bought Spring Valley Frozen Stuffed Chicken Rolls — a good gluten-free kosher quick lunch. Also, it’s hard to find gluten-free blintzes during the year, so I stock up on gluten-free Spring Valley Blintzes, which come in cheese, apple and blueberry flavors. Make sure the box is labeled kosher for Passover and non-gebrokts, as only the Passover blintzes are gluten-free, not the ones they produce the rest of the year.

– Frankel’s makes a frozen gluten-free Passover cheesecake that’s great, as well as gluten-free potato knishes and gluten-free blintzes.

– Gefilte fish often is part of Passover meals, but most gefilte fish contains matzo meal. For the past few years, I’ve bought Kedem Gourmet Gefilte Fish, which is made without matzo meal, is gluten-free and does not contain MSG. This year, I also spotted Rokeach “Gourmet Sweet” and Rokeach “Heimeshe Sweet” gluten-free gefilte fish. Also, some of the frozen gefilte fish loaves are gluten-free.

– Most macaroons are gluten-free, including Manischewitz and Streit’s macaroons, which also use sulfite-free coconut. This year, Manischewitz introduced a frozen gluten-free macaroon dough.

– There has been a debate the past few years about whether quinoa is kosher for Passover. Quinoa is not a grain, but some want to count it as kitniyot and not permit it. Other rabbis say it’s fine for Passover. For a discussion of quinoa, see this article, “Quinoa, ‘mother of all grains,’ may (or may not) be kosher for Passover” published by the JTA news service, which has a quote at the end from me. (To save you the suspense, here’s the quote: “It’s a tiny powerhouse packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, and it’s an important grain alternative, especially on Passover,” Becker said. “It’s great to have it on Passover instead of the usual potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. Most of the Passover foods just end up tasting like Passover, so we rely on quinoa to be that side staple.”)

– I’ve already discussed gluten-free matzo-style squares and gluten-free oat matzos in other posts, so I’ll be brief here. Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares are tasty, gluten-free matzos that taste like crispy flatbread crackers. Yehuda also offers a toasted onion flavor and a fiber-enriched version, as well as gluten-free matzo crackers. I still haven’t tried to cook with Yehuda gluten-free cake meal, but some readers have told me that they haven’t been successful with it. This year, Manischewitz came out with its own Gluten-Free Matzo Squares along with gluten-free Passover crackers.

– New this year is a seasoned version of Jeff Nathan Creations Gluten-Free Panko Flakes. I used the plain panko flakes last year as a gluten-free crumb coating for chicken and fish and liked their texture. But they didn’t have much taste, so I’m happy to see a seasoned version.

– I hate it when I open a bag of tapioca starch and get coated in a puff of white powder. So I like the fact that Gefen Tapioca Starch comes in an easily reclosable canister. I also like the reclosable canisters of potato starch from a few Passover brands.

Dr Praeger’s offers some nice gluten-free options year-round and even more during Passover. I bought “Potato Crusted Fishies,” though now my kids have informed me that they will not eat fish sticks. Go figure.

passover food-1

– You can now buy so many gluten-free cookies, crackers and cakes throughout the year, it doesn’t make sense to buy the Passover versions, which are generally less nutritious and less tasty. Sometimes I’m tempted to buy the boxed bakery-style cookies, though most tend to be expensive and sugary. Still, it is sometimes nice to keep a box or two in the freezer. Shabtai Gourmet, a kosher bakery, is dedicated to baking gluten-free Passover goodies year-round. Oberlander’s , Schick’s and Hagadda also have a selection of gluten-free, bakery-style Passover cakes and cookies. I skip the Passover cake mixes; they’re generally not great. There are some frozen cake loaves that can be worthwhile, such as Osem marble cake and pound cake, which are small and easy to keep in the freezer.

– Generally, I skip the Passover noodles, pizza, pancakes and waffles. They usually end up mushy and gummy. Although this year I did buy frozen Heaven and Health gluten-free potato gnocchi.

– I’m always tempted by snack foods. I love all the boxes of chocolate available at Passover, though check the ingredients — not all are gluten-free. For snacks this year, I bought Guiltless Gourmet Crunchies nut squares and Paskesz Soft Crunch granola-style bars.

Click here for my shortened, printable gluten-free Passover shopping list.

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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!
Continue reading

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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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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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Gluten-Free Thin Mint Cookies

gluten-free thin mints

Gluten-Free Thin Mint Cookies

This year was my younger daughter’s first year in Daisies, the first-grade Girl Scouts group. She sold 48 boxes of Girl Scout cookies with enthusiastic endorsements: “They freeze well.” “They make good gifts.” “Thin Mints are the most popular.” But, because she has celiac disease and is gluten-free, she has never, ever tasted a Girl Scout cookie, nor will she.

I didn’t want her to be left out of the Girl Scout cookie feeding frenzy. So this year, I developed my own recipe for gluten-free Thin Mints, with a tender gluten-free chocolate cookie enrobed in a minty chocolate coating. It’s just the right combo of chocolate and mint, gluten-free of course.

Although it is expensive, use peppermint oil rather than mint extract, because mint extract often contains both spearmint and peppermint oils. You don’t want the spearmint taste in these cookies, just the peppermint. This recipe is a good chance to use teff flour (which I love for its high protein and fiber content), as teff works well with the chocolate flavors and the slightly dry biscuit base.

This recipe is a bit tricky, in that the batter is very soft, making it hard to form the cookies. Keep the batter chilled so it’s easier to cut out perfectly round circles. Also, chilling the cookies on the tray before baking helps them to keep their shape and reduce spread.

Enjoy!

Click for Gluten-Free Thin Mints recipe

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Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

These easy-to-make gluten-free peanut butter cookies are sealed with a kiss – Hershey’s Kisses placed on the cookies while they are still warm from the oven.

The bonus: The cookies are naturally gluten free, with no flour at all, making them good crowd-pleasers. Plus, the peanut butter packs a protein punch, which we’re always looking for in our house. Thank you to my friend Rebecca who provided the flourless peanut butter cookie recipe. I just added a kiss.

Peanut butter jars can easily become contaminated by bread crumbs spread on a sandwich knife. We always have two jars of peanut butter and two jars of jelly in our house, marked in permanent marker: GF ONLY and NOT GF. My mother has a squeeze bottle of jelly, so crumbs don’t get in the jar.

I’m a crunchy, natural peanut butter fan. True, natural peanut butter is a pain. The oil separates, so you need to plunge your knife into the jar to mix it up, inevitably resulting in an overflowing mess.

Still, one look at the ingredients and you’ll be convinced to go natural. Most peanut butters contain sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Even mainstream natural brands like Skippy Natural and Jiff Natural contain added sugar, palm oil and salt.

By contrast, Trader Joe’s organic crunchy unsalted peanut butter has one ingredient: peanuts. And the Whole Foods 365 Everyday PB has two ingredients: peanuts and salt (though, curiously, their 365 Organic brand has added palm oil).

While you’re at it, check your jam or jelly. Most contain high-fructose corn syrup. Who needs that? Buy a brand that contains simply fruit or is sweetened with other fruit juices.

Click for Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies recipe

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