Gluten freedom, caramel conundrums and Mexican madness

21 Apr

Hello! Bonjour! Hola! to you all. This post is very much about my recent food adventures, rather than anything linguisticky, which is appropriate given that it’s the end of a luscious long Easter weekend. Since my last post, I have been experimenting with a few different recipes. Partly because there have been a few social occasions for which I wanted to supply sustenance and partly because I love experimenting (and, ahem, eating). One of my friends is trialling being gluten free at the moment and finding she feels much better for it so, since she was coming over to visit, I thought I’d make some treats that she could eat. The first was a raw food recipe for chocolate fudge and the second was a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

The fudge is sugar free, vegan and gluten free and comes from the fabulous Chocolate Covered Katie site, where you will find lots of recipes for healthy treats. I’m quite interested in the whole raw food movement and especially the recipes which remove sugar in favour of healthier alternatives. This recipe uses stevia instead of sugar, but you can add a different sweetener if you choose to. I used honey. It didn’t exactly turn out like fudge. It was more like a mousse, but I think perhaps I didn’t get the quantities quite right and therefore it didn’t set as it should. I also didn’t have any coconut butter, so I just left it out. I’m sure this would have made quite a difference to the consistency.  Nevertheless, it was gobbled up appreciatively by my Book Club girls. Another handy tip: I poured the mixture into an ice cube tray, so we could pop out individual pieces, rather than having to cut it up. Since it didn’t quite set properly, this turned out to the best idea I’ve had all year!

The cookies were from the Yammie’s Gluten Freedom site. I didn’t have oat flour, so used some maize flour, which made for some pretty tasty cookies. Again, these were popular with the girls… and their partners :). Note that these ones are not vegan. They were crumblier than regular cookies, with a taste akin to shortbread. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to add more chocolate. I used Whittakers dark chocolate as it is apparently gluten free, whereas other popular brands are not.

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I enjoyed testing these recipes out as, even though I didn’t have all of the right ingredients, they turned out well and were very easy to make. It’s good to know that I can cater to friends with particular dietary needs so that they can participate in the wonderful experience of sharing food with friends, without worrying if they will feel poorly for it later.

I have also been busy on the not-so-healthy snack front. For a recent Mexican themed party, I thought about making churros with chocolate sauce, but it sounded far too messy and complicated. So, I opted for a twist on a traditional recipe and made some Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes. The only change I made was to add cayenne pepper, but not chilli powder, as I thought this might be too overpowering. Plus, I didn’t have any in the house. Are you seeing a trend here? 🙂 The cupcakes were deep chocolaty, spicy and scrumptious and were a point of difference on a table that was otherwise overloaded with corn chips, salsa and guacamole. The icing also has some spice in it, which was a little bit different, but it worked.

Caramel cake update: I experimented with making a caramel madeira cake, which turned out quite well. It was moist, light and very moreish. I used a regular old madeira cake recipe, but substituted brown sugar for white and stirred in some tinned caramel. Once baked and cooled, I iced it with a caramel flavoured icing, but it would have been just as delicious un-iced. Still not the ultimate caramel cake I was hoping for, however, so my experimentation continues. I don’t have a link to the recipe as it’s an old family one, but there are plenty on the interwebs, such as this NZ one and this one from Nigella.

And, finally, I made chocolate cupcakes for Easter using this cupcake recipe, but my own icing. These were delicious and will mean that there is much more bootie to work off at Boot Camp, but it’s worth it! I also made blueberry muffins for the non-chocolate eaters. Whaaaat?! There are people who don’t eat chocolate?!?! I know. I don’t understand it either. Happy Easter and Happy Eating!

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