Category Archives: Sweet Things

Gluten Free Grasshopper Cupcakes: Mint-Chocolate & Chocolate Chip

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Gluten Free Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes
Gluten Free Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes

A couple months ago, a colleague brought me some small gluten free cupcakes from a local bakery.  They were “grasshopper” cupcakes, she told me.  I was curious.  She handed me the box and smiled.  Said because they were gluten free, she snapped them up as she “knew someone” who could enjoy them.  I’m the lucky someone, I told her.  I thanked her profusely for thinking of me and promised to give them a try at lunch time. (It was 7AM, after all, when she delivered them.)  The school day started with the rush of students, papers, lessons, activities, things to manage, etc and soon lunch arrived.

I opened the box of cupcakes.   There were FOUR of them.  Four?  Hot dog!

And then I looked more closely.  Egad…they were CHOCOLATE!  I know this sounds ridiculous, but I am really NOT a fan of chocolate cake.  I am fairly certain my aversion to chocolate cake and ice cream stems from a not-too-fun incident when I was 6.

We had just moved in to our new house on the East Coast when my family noticed a birthday party of little girls in the nearby cup-de-sac.  Since they were all my age, I was encouraged and “included”…. and petrified.  I didn’t know any of them – but my anxiety tends to display itself as super-social behavior.  I guess it fit the birthday party mode.  What didn’t fit was the superhuman consumption of chocolate cake (GIANT portions with major frosting) and chocolate ice cream (HUGE SCOOP).  I …. well…. ended the party ill.  And never socialized with the little girls in the nearby cul-de-sac again.  (Way to kick off a new school/new school year with a reputation, huh?)

Needless to say, I was bummed to see chocolate cupcakes.  Since I had told my colleague I would let her know what they were like, I forced myself to take a small bite of one.  And wow.  They were good cupcakes!  They were light, had an airy crumb and tasted nicely.  (They were a bit crumbly…but hello? Gluten free!)  I shared the other three cupcakes with 3 of my students who are also gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease.  (It’s amazing to me the number of kids who are gluten free now – we even have a “gluten free club” in the high school!).  They were a hit with everyone.

And I thought about going down to pick up more cupcakes from that bakery another day.  So about 2 weeks ago before Valentine’s Day, I brought the girls down there to pick up some cupcakes for Valentine’s dessert.  Everyday the flavors offered change (apparently) and I was bummed to discover that the gluten free cupcake “of the day” was not Grasshopper.  To boot, each standard (as in what you would make at home = smallish cupcake) cost $2.50 – or “$30/dozen)  (Ummmm..hello?).  Needless to say, I will not be a cupcake-purchasing Momma again for a while.

And the girls?  Well, one of them ate the frosting off their cupcake and the other took 3 bites of the cake before declaring she was “done”.  Next time I will buy one for them to split and save myself the wallet-busting heartache when I tossed the uneaten cupcakes into the trash.

But I still couldn’t get over the cupcake my colleague had given me.  So I set out to make one myself.

Recipe Testing

Recipe testing

I’m happy to report that I ditched the ratios, squashed the “dense cupcake” dilemma and discovered the best cupcake I’ve had in a VERY long time.  I have thoroughly tested this recipe (have made it at least 6 times in the last two weeks) and sent samples out and about in the world with a wide variety of testers: (1) gluten intolerant/celiac “used to the gluten free baked good” crowd, (2) my non-gluten free  but utterly wonderful colleagues who have tasted a dozen + recipes for me without complaint but great tips; (3) the toddler/youngster set in the house and with my friends; and this time – I dared request testers from my could-be-professional cake-baker buddies.  Really.  One of my colleagues could easily retire and bake cakes for big bucks for people.  (PS.  And she’s grossed out by gluten free stuff…ha!)

All of my testers have report HAPPY and DELICIOUS results.  I hope you will too.  Even the pro-baker-to-be has requested the recipe for when she may need a gluten free go-to cake. She said, and I quote “I would have NEVER known that this was a gluten free cake.  It was perfect.”   (Yes!)

A recipe tester

 

GFGrasshopperCupcakes

I hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much we have.  If you noticed, I’m trying to figure out the best recipe-print plugin for my new blog format.  Forgive me for playing around a bit until we figure it out. :D

Happy cupcake baking – I’m on to my next task:  converting this recipe for a lighter, airy non-chocolate version.  So far?  So good!

~Kate

Last minute cinnamon rolls

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Last minute cinnamon rolls

Made just in time for coffee and a playdate.

Winter break from work was FULL!  We were super busy with the “have-to-do” doctor appointments, dental visits, etc but even better was the fact that everyday we had a playdate or outing or event planned with friends.

We even ventured to “Zoo Lights” for the first time (so much more enjoyable with little people in tow).  I am such a wimp that I almost started to cry too.  Okay, not at Zoo Lights, but on the silly school bus “shuttle” ride from the parking lot up to the Zoo.   Good thing it was night-time and no one but myself realized that I was getting weepy at the thought of having the good fortune of being able to ride a school bus with the Littles on their first ever school bus ride! (I know, I’m a dork.  I even took pictures.  Pictures only a mom would love….and post online .  LOL)  I would have to say that the bus ride was one of their favorite things about Zoo Lights too (easy to please kids).  They also love the fact that the aquarium was open.  We spent a long time searching for The Octopod (from the UK cartoon called the “Octonauts” – it’s an obsession here) in the shark tank.

I’ve found a few websites online that show how to make an Octopod out of plastic salad bowls…. that might be a project around here soon as the toys are not yet in the US for sale.  But crafting is totally not on the agenda yet.  Finals are coming up and I have HUGE pile of papers needing to be grades.  Egad.  I hate grading. :S

One late morning play date during break, I had time to make something scrumptious.  I didn’t really have a plan but  I ended up making a small batch (seen above it fed two adults and three toddlers) of cinnamon rolls to go along with our coffee.  Our guests were of the gluten-eating variety and I’m fairly certain these were the first gluten-free goodies she & he had eaten.  I don’t think this recipe is perfect.  In fact, I’m posting it just to show you a recipe in the works.

This is what I like about this recipe:

  • quick
  • easy
  • not totally bready
  • tasty

This is what I want to work on with it:

  • maybe a little more bready?

See the problem? LOL!

I think because I’m making cinnamon rolls that it should match the idea that most people have:  heavy on the bready side.  But honestly, I rather liked these little ones.  I didn’t top it with a frosting or drizzle as I think there was plenty of sugar with just the cinnamon-sugar mix and crunchy bottom for my tastes.  The little-size meant that they were quite friendly to a late morning coffee treat and a snack for little people.  (I admit that I could have devoured this pan by myself without witnesses, but there were people about so I shared.)

Anywho…. what kind of late morning treat do you like?  I adore muffins (more than cupcakes)and I think that is next on my to-be-tackled list.  I want to make a fluffy carrot cake-muffin.  :D  And you?

Here’s this recipe so you can play along.  I wonder how it will evolve for me over time.  It’s one of the last pages in my notebook (the one I use to record recipe development) so I hope it gets a good work out before I figure out how to transfer these ideas into a collection of sorts for myself.

A small batch:  Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Printable recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups GF Flour (I used my blend)
2 T. buttermilk powder – or dry milk powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 T. honey

Topping:
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon (or more to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer.
  3. Dump on all wet ingredients.
  4. Mix until well blended and there are no lumps.  Dough should come together and be pliable but not super sticky.
  5. Scrap into a ball shape.  Lay two sheets of parchment paper out on the counter.  Dust the top of one with GF flour mix. Shape the ball into a disc with lightly floured hands.  Place the disc onto the lightly floured parchment paper surface.  Dust the top of the disc with a bit more flour.  Top with the remaining parchment paper.  Roll the dough out until it is a large shape that is about 1/4-1/3 of an inch thick.  Remove the top parchment paper.
  6. “Frost” the top of the dough with the softened butter evenly.  Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Shake/sprinkle the top of the dough with all but 2 Tablespoons (or so) of the mixture.
  7. Roll the dough up into a long tube.  Cut into 6-8 small pieces.  Place on parchment paper into a baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon sugar mix.
  8. Bake at 350F for 16-23 minutes until baked through – browned on top and will reach a temperature of 195F on a thermometer if you hit the dough and not the molten sugar. :D

What recipes are you working on perfecting in your kitchen?
~Kate

Christmas Cookies

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Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

So it’s December?  Or should I say it’s almost 2013?!  Not like you need me to state the obvious, I’m just reflecting on how much of my “life” seems to be under different categories.  I’m obviously not able to keep up with every thing (this blog included) but I’m not quite willing to let it go.  I really enjoy posting recipes and more times than not, I’m thinking about what I’m making as a blog post (after the fact) but then I never get a chance to catch my breath or write it up.  Ah, but there are such worse things in life.

After a soon-to-never-be-released comic strip on Mommy-Plans-Gone-Wrong marathon of errand running yesterday and bath time, etc, I did manage to not only make the cookie doughs but I rolled out the roll out cookie and gingerbread between pieces of parchment (4 large pieces each) and slid them into the fridge.  That way today I merely had to pull the pre-rolled dough out and put it in front of the kids for them to cut out shapes; decorate and go.  Honest to goodness, it was the best choice ever.  What two or four or forty-three year old has the patience for cookie making?  Not me, I tell ya.  But thanks to my kids, I don’t think all of my Christmas cookies will be naked from here on out.    Today we made three different kinds of Cookies:  roll out cookies, GF Joe’s Gingerbread Cookies and PB Kiss Cookies (the no flour version).

Not too shabby.

Tomorrow, me/myself/I will attempt to gather 3 toddlers and a wonderful 8-year-old around a table for the royal icing to decorate the gingerbread men.  I think I will lose my mind.  Or not.  It could be the messiest fun I’ve had in days! :D

Hope that life is treating you well.  May you have many messy happy moments this season.

We could all certainly use them. :D

Merry Christmas, All.

~Kate