Tag Archives: Chocolate

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

GF: Fabulous, Quick Brownies

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Quick, easy and delicious: GF Brownies!

Quick, easy and delicious:  GF Brownies. Photo by Kate Chan.

The holidays are over (but my tree is still up until Saturday).

My parents have left  (leaving my Chicklet at a loss for her beloved Grammy and Grampy).

My work?  Still not done, but at least the pile is neater well… still visible and now sporting a “to-do list” sticky note.

The New Year has begun and I am so very thankful to have had some time with my parents.  My dad is tired (chemo, anemia and a variety of other ailments), my mom is amazingly steady and continues to demonstrate grace, and I am still just figuring it all out as it comes.  Sometimes it’s strange to me to think of all of our ages and that I have KIDS!  What?!?!  Kids?  I’m a mom?  Get out! I still feel like a kid myself!  Who knew that this is the way it really would be.  Certainly makes me appreciate this bizarre phase of life more.

I am realizing all the things my parents did for and with us that I don’t remember.  Raising kids is a bit like raising a future amnesia patient.  :D  I will remember all of our lovely little snuggles, games and conversations, but they won’t.  It’s definitely eye-opening and character building.  It’s sad that we don’t remember these tender moments with our parents as we grow up.  But I’m happy I don’t remember teething, etc!  Blech!  Some things are definitely meant to be forgotten after the experience is over.

Experience is also what makes me able to remove myself from the high school drama that swirls outside my classroom door (and sometimes sneaks through the doorway in whispers, glances and clandestine text messages).  Thank goodness none of us have to relive that again, huh?  But really, the beautiful part about experience is the sincere appreciation of my parents and their gifts to me.

There are too many instances for me to name, but I will just say this:  we are much more like our parents than we will ever know. :D  (And in my case, that is a great thing! I’m lucky.)

My folks just left on Tuesday.

On Monday night, I decided to whip up some brownies for a lunch meeting on Tuesday.  I started at 9:45.  By 10:20, the brownies were done.  But my mom had already gone upstairs to bed (or so we thought) while my Love and I visited with my Dad at the table.  As my dad excused himself to join my mom, I went up to say goodnight to her.  I didn’t want to miss my chance as I wasn’t sure if she would be up when we left the house early in the morning heading off to daycare/work/school.

I found her at the top of the stairs – holding her laptop and sniffing the air.  “Are the brownies done yet?” she asked.

Oh yea.  You have to love her. :D

She came downstairs to make the great sacrifice of taste-testing.  I had the brownies cooling on the counter (laying on parchment paper but out of the baking dish).  When she and my dad entered the kitchen, they were both whispering about brownies.  My dad asked her what she was doing and that he thought she had gone to bed.  She laughed and said nope – not when there are fresh brownies in the house.

And then he asked, “Brownies? Where?”

“Yes!” she said, “I can smell them but I don’t see them!”

I chuckled from the other room.  Busted by my giggle, my parents laughed too.  And then we cut into the delicious, fudgy warm brownies and talked about the quality of them.  Oh, chocolate.  If not for love to bind our family, I’m sure chocolate would do.

——————–

And now that there are a few more gluten-free buddies at work (for a few reasons), I have even more taste-testers.  The mistake I made, I guess, was bringing the brownies in from the car before lunch.  Why?  Well, because they never actually made it to lunch.  They were eaten for breakfast.  :D Oh yes, it was a sacrifice indeed.

My normal breakfast it typically a cup of coffee and a banana.  This time is was a mighty chocolatey banana with a fabulous coffee kicker and a side of brownie.  YUM.

I guess I will just have to make another batch for my meeting on Saturday (8:00AM until 2:00PM, anyone?).  Something tells me they might just end up as a Saturday brunch item during our meeting, but I know my chocolate-loving colleagues.  They will be all-over the idea of that!

And I know some of you are doing the appropriate thing:  avoiding sugar after so many yummy treats during the holidays.  But chocolate is like air sometimes:  you just GOTTA have it!  And besides, my wild rice dish that I am making in the crock pot tomorrow will more than make up for it.  :D

If you get a hangering for some fabulous brownies, try these.  When they are warm, they are rich and fudgey.  When they cool off, they are still fudgy, but get more cake-like.  Either way, they are delicious.  And if you don’t want to make your own, you are more than welcome to come to our curriculum planning meeting on Saturday morning to try some of mine. :D

Gluten Free Quick Brownies
Makes a 6″ x 10″ oblong or 9 inch square pan.

Ingredients:
2 eggs, beaten together in a small bowl
2/3 c. GF flour mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional – but adds a great layer of flavor)
1/2 cup sugar (use 2/3 cup if using all bittersweet chips)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons water
2 cups chocolate chips (1 cup bittersweet, 1 cup milk or semi-sweet)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line your baking pan with parchment paper (or oil tin foil).
  2. Beat together eggs in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and chili powder and set aside.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, place the sugar, water and butter.  Melt in your microwave (30 seconds +, depending on your microwave).  Take out and stir.  Then put back into the microwave and bring it to a boil.  (About 2 minutes more – again, depending on your microwave).  (PS.  This step can be done on your stovetop in a small saucepan too, if you would prefer.)
  5. Stir the chocolate chips and vanilla extract into the hot sugar/water/butter mixture.  Stir until the chocolate chips have all melted (leaving a few chunks is okay).
  6. Add dry ingredients plus eggs to the mixture and stir well.  (Do this quickly so the eggs don’t begin to “cook” in the hot chocolate goodness.)
  7. Pour your batter into the parchment lined baking dish.  Bake for 20 – 26 minutes or until the top shines and is dry.
  8. Remove from the oven.  Lift the parchment out of your baking dish and set it on a cooling rack to allow the brownies to cool.  Cutting in to warm brownies will give you fudgey dense brownies.  Allow them to cool completely for a less dense-fudgey brownie.  Store in an airtight container or a plastic food bag until all have been devoured.

Happy GF Chocolatey Goodness!
~Kate

 

Dear Santa

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Chocolate Caliente a la español

Chocolate a la española/Spanish Hot Chocolate Photo by Kate Chan

A tidbit off my facebook posting just to help you get the context for my chocolate craving:

Dear Santa –

Please forgive my little imp’s exclamation of “Oh, shit!” when the gas fireplace burst to life the other day. And, well, her “What the hell is that, Momma?” query while we drove home and she saw strange sights through her side window in our quirky little town. After all, she did just give me the biggest, unrequested snuggly hug after her bath tonight.

And besides, we both know Momma and Papa deserve the coal for these infractions. But can you make my coal caffeinated at least? I need to keep up with her after all.

xoxoxoxo
~Kate

Get the picture?

Yes.  Tonight required much more than Calgon.

It was a hard-core, bring on the chocolately goodness that you have to sip off a spoon because it is slightly thickened and to-die-for.

Drink up.

Sip it all.

Lick the spoon and then ever crevice of your serving cup.

Sigh.

And post the recipe for someone else’s long day.

You won’t have any regrets.  Just delightful thoughts of chocolate, warm and toasty family cuddles and deep winter sleeps.

It’s HOT CHOCOLATE SEASON!  Wahooo!

Spanish-style hot chocolate
Serves 1.5 chocolate lovers or 2.5 chocolate sippers (if those types exist.  LOL)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half
4 ounces chopped chocolate (semi-sweet OR dark chocolate)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cold water
vanilla extract OR peppermint (that…would not be Spanish but it would be good!)

1. Heat milk and cream over medium-low heat until warm. STIR constantly to avoid scalding milk.
2. Stir in chocolate pieces and continue stirring until completely melted. Add the extract of your choice.
3. Mix together water and cornstarch until it is smooth. Add to chocolate. Continue to stir until the hot chocolate thickens to a thin pudding. Remove from the heat.
4. Serve with whipped cream (ideally) or mini-marshmellows (if necessary).

If you use dark chocolate, people in Spain have been known to sprinkle a little sugar on top for added sweetness.

Recipe serves 2-3 in demistasse cups OR just one if they have a huge chocolate craving!

Happy Gluten Free Chocolate Days, all!
~Kate