Tag Archives: desserts

The Last Pie of Summer

strawberry rhubarb crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble: Even Easier Than Pie

One of the best parts of summer is fruit that bursts with juice, dripping with sunshine. Or a fresh pie, with fruit that becomes even sweeter and more fragrant with baking. But, to tell you the truth, I’ve always been intimidated by pie crust, let alone gluten-free pie crust. So this summer I took a classic strawberry rhubarb pie and turned it into a gluten-free strawberry rhubarb crumble, with no crust and a sweet crisp topping that everyone loves. Plus, if you substitute margarine (I like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks) instead of butter, it easily becomes a delicious, would-never-believe-it vegan, gluten-free dessert.

The crumble topping uses pure gluten-free oats. For a discussion on gluten-free oats, please see a story I wrote, Feel Your Oats, for Living Without magazine, a great magazine for people who are gluten-free or have food sensitivities.

Click for the recipe for Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

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The perfect summer birthday dessert: gluten-free ice cream cake

gluten-free birthday cake

gluten-free ice cream cake

Ideal for a summer birthday, this gluten-free ice cream cake is an easy favorite.

We welcomed summer this year with a crafty birthday party for our 7-year-old in our back yard, topped off with a delectable homemade ice cream cake — gluten free, of course.

At the party, the kids enjoyed making bottlecap magnets, sock puppets and pet rocks. They also enjoyed eating the ice cream cake, a gluten-free adaptation of my mom’s recipe. With a crushed cookie crust, Heath bars, ice cream and chocolate sauce, it’s a dessert that’s easy to make and even easier to devour.

My mom makes the cake with a combo of chocolate and coffee ice cream, but for the kids I went with chocolate and chocolate chip. Feel free to use your favorite flavors. I buy Breyers ice cream, as the company says it labels if gluten is present. For the cookie base, I use Mi-Del’s Gluten-Free Arrowroot Cookies, which are staples in our house. (Mom uses Nilla wafers, but those are NOT gluten-free.) Please be aware that Heath bars contain almonds, so if a guest has a nut allergy, skip the Heath bars and simply use a cookie base.

The cake can easily be made a week ahead of time (and definitely needs to be made at least one day ahead of time), saving you pre-party prep. Decorations can be kept simple, with some candles on a stick and themed cake toppers.

Click for Gluten-Free Ice Cream Cake recipe

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Noshin’ on hamantaschen

hamantaschen, gluten-free

Gluten-free, dairy-free hamantaschen

Name a Jewish holiday, and there’s usually a special food associated with it. That’s certainly the case with Purim, which is coming up this weekend. I made gluten-free, dairy-free hamantaschen – triangular, jelly-filled cookies — using the recipe I posted last year.

I found the recipe so easy to work with last year, but a bit more difficult to cut out the circles this year. It helped when I chilled the dough in the freezer then liberally sprinkled rice flour on the wax paper when I was rolling out the dough. Go figure. There is so much that goes into baking — the smallest changes in ingredients, temperature, etc., end up making a big difference.

My kids love shaping the hamantaschen and doing a “magic” trick: taking the circles of dough and turning them into triangular cookies. They also love thinking of crazy fillings to put in the hamantaschen. This year we tried marshmallows, white chocolate chips, Nutella and mint M&Ms, along with apricot and raspberry jam. I actually like the traditional prune and poppy seed fillings, but I did not have the ingredients on hand.

Check out this cute, short video of my older daughter shaping hamantaschen, and turning circles into triangles. Yes, she really does say to “gently, carefully, tenderly” fold up the dough!

The full recipe is posted here.

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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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Luscious Gluten-Free Lemon Squares

gluten-free lemon squares

Luscious Gluten-Free Lemon Squares

Before my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, I loved to bring lemon squares to family gatherings. People would fight over the last lemon square. I loved the buttery shortbread crust combined with the mouth-puckering tartness and compelling sweetness.

After my daughter’s celiac diagnosis, I mourned the lack of gluten-free lemon bars. Little did I know that lemon squares are easy to make gluten-free. The density of gluten-free flours helps make a firm crust (I used sorghum and amaranth flours to boost nutrition). And I only needed to substitute cornstarch in the lemon filling to make it gluten-free.

My friend Jennifer told me she makes lemon squares with a crushed macaroon crust during Passover. I definitely need to try that next year!

Lemon squares are easier to cut when they are frozen, since they won’t ooze under the knife. Plus, they taste divine cold, so I store them in my freezer and simply transfer to the table when it’s dessert time.

Click for Gluten-Free Lemon Squares recipe

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Please, sir, I want s’mores

gluten-free s'mores1

gluten-free s'mores2

It was cold and rainy in Chicago the other day, on our bumpy path toward spring. When my kids came home from school, they asked for hot chocolate and gluten-free s’mores. I was happy to oblige, because I had a couple packets of hot chocolate mix that I wanted to use up and I had gluten-free graham crackers in the cabinet.

Gluten-free graham crackers are hard to find. I’ve yet to discover one that comes close to the sweet, nutty taste of whole wheat graham flour with a tender texture that crumbles in my mouth.

S'moreables

In the past, I’ve bought Jo-Sef’s Square Cinnamon Cookies, which are chunky, cinnamon-flavored gluten-free graham crackers, and Health Valley Rice Bran Crackers, which are thin cookie/crackers with a graham taste. Recently, I bought Kinnikinnick’s S’moreables, which have a honey-molasses flavor and are sturdy enough to stand up to s’mores (though there were quite a few non-sturdy broken crackers in the box).

While all of these store-bought cookies are good for snacks or s’mores, I wouldn’t use them in a graham cracker pie crust. They’re too expensive and too sugary. For a graham cracker crust, you’re better off with crushed gluten-free gingersnaps or crushed gluten-free animal crackers. Or bake your own gluten-free grahams with a recipe from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

S’mores — toasted marshmallows and melted chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers — are campfire favorites that are so good that you beg for “some more.”

One of the best things about camping is skewering a giant marshmallow on a long stick, holding it over the campfire and watching the marshmallow puff up and turn golden brown (or thrusting it into the flames and watching it catch fire, with flames leaping into the night sky and charring the marshmallow charcoal black).

It’s much tamer to watch the marshmallows turn a pleasant tan in the toaster oven, but you’ve got to take what you can get.

Marshmallows are generally gluten free, but check the ingredients to make sure. When we made our s’mores this week, I had only mini marshmallows on hand, but the bigger ones ooze more (and oozing is good). Hershey’s chocolate bars, the classic chocolate for s’mores, are gluten-free. But I had only dark chocolate chips at home, so I used those, though chocolate chips don’t melt as well.

Click for Gluten-Free S’Mores recipe

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