Monthly Archives: February 2012

Funnel Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Sauce

Soooo… I got a deep fryer for Christmas.  I can admit it.

I can admit it NOW, that is… in February.  It’s been hiding under the bench in my kitchen.  I’ve secretly wanted to get one for years but I didn’t want to be that lady.  The lady that deep fries oreos and wears a mumu.  You know who I’m talking about.

Anyway, my mom (who got me my deep fryer, btw) had one of these when I was a kid.  She only used it once in a long long while.  And to my knowledge she only ever made one thing with it – funnel cake.

Did your eyes just light up thinking about amusement park/county fair funnel cake?  With the powdered sugar and maybe a little chocolate sauce drizzled all over it???

If they didn’t I have to say I doubt your claims of American citizenship.  You know you love it.  And if you’re here because you’re gluten free then breathe a sigh of relief because you can do this too.  As good as doughnuts but so much easier.  And yes, this is a “sometimes food” to be sure…

But folks, let’s do this in honor of Fausnaught Day! (Coincidentally my mom’s favorite holiday as a child.  More on that in some other post…) It’s the German version of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/the day before Catholics give up something for lent.  It literally means “doughnut day”.  And it’s this Tuesday so let’s make some funnel cake people!

It would just be wrong not to.

The basis for the funnel cake is a basic pate a choux dough, the same stuff used to make cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles, gougeres, etc.  It works well gluten free because it mostly consists of eggs, water, and butter and not a whole lot of flour.

Start by pouring one cup of water into a small saucepan.  That picture is from when I made a double batch.  Unless you’re feeding like 25 people just do as I say, not as I did.

Add in a half teaspoon of salt.

…and a stick of butter.  (I know.  Grab your Rosaries now.)

Bring that to a simmer over high heat.

Once simmering, turn the heat down to medium and quickly stir in 4 oz of flour.  Gluten free or regular flour a mi no me importa.

The flour will soak up the water quickly, leaving you with a glistening weirdly elastic dough that pulls away from the sides of the pot when you stir it.  Remove the pot from the heat for a couple minutes.  We want our dough to cool down just a bit before we add our eggs.

This is what happens to your dough after whisking in 4 extra large eggs one at a time.  Actually I used large eggs ’cause that’s what I had.  You use extra large though, okay?  Thanks.

Now for this next part you do NOT need a deep fryer.  If you have one that’s great.  Set it to 350 degrees.  Otherwise, just grab a large, heavy-bottomed pot and fill it with at least 2 inches of oil.  If you have a deep fry/candy thermometer to monitor the temp so much the better.  Canola oil works well here.  Don’t use olive oil (in case you were thinking about making this “healthy”).  It has a low smoke point and cannot be used in this case.

I used a spoon to drizzle my batter in but you could always just pour it from a pyrex with a spout or you could try piping it in.  All fine for this purpose.  The great thing about funnel cake is that it’s supposed to look like a big ol’ mess!  Cook it until it’s golden on all sides (being careful, as always, around hot oil – that means kids out of the kitchen!)

Ooooh!  So excited!

Grab a…what are these called again?  A sieve?  A strainer?  (Is this what happens as you get older?) One of THESE – and dust with powdered sugar.

Now for the extra fun/naughty part.  Grab some cream and that jar of Nutella sitting in your cupboard.  PLEASE tell me you keep a jar of Nutella in the house at all times!  If you just said “no” I beg you to put it on your grocery list immediately.  I promise you won’t regret it.  (Unless you’re allergic to hazelnuts, dairy, or chocolate of course!  Then you can just skip this last section altogether.)

Mix equal parts Nutella and cream.  I think I have about a 1/2 cup of each here.  Microwave for about 15 seconds…

…and mix until it becomes a glorious, warm, chocolatey sauce.

Now you could just drizzle the whole thing in the chocolate hazelnut sauce.  That would be wonderfully messy.  Or you could keep the bowl out and just let everyone dip.  That’s what we did.

If there is a heaven, I have to believe there is a guy there selling funnel cake…for free.

Happy Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Fausnaught Day everyone!

And enjoy!

Funnel Cake

1 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick butter

4 oz (weight) AP GF Flour Mix (or regular flour)

4 extra large eggs

powdered sugar for dusting

canola oil for frying

Instructions:

In a small saucepan heat water, salt, and butter over high heat until simmering.

Turn down the heat to medium and quickly whisk in flour.  Remove pot from the heat and let sit a couple minutes to cool slightly.

Add eggs in one at a time, stirring after each to incorporate before adding the next.

If using a deep fryer, follow the instructions that come with the machine and set at 350 degrees.  If using a large, heavy pot, fill it at least 2 inches deep with canola or peanut oil and heat to 350 degrees.  A deep fry/candy thermometer is a lifesaver here!  Otherwise it’s a guessing game trying to keep your oil at the temp you want it.

Pour/spoon/pipe in batter in swirls and cook until golden, flipping once very carefully.

Dust with powdered sugar

For the Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce:

Mix equal parts Nutella and cream (heavy/light it doesn’t matter).  Microwave on high for 15 seconds and stir to combine.  Serve alongside funnel cake for dipping.

Makes 2-3 good size funnel cakes.

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Cakes

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I don’t often claim to have made the “best anything ever”.

This is the notable exception.

These cookies are PERFECT.  They are soft and chewy with just the right amount of butter and sugar – if you didn’t know they were gluten free you would still say, “Man, that’s a damn good cookie.”

I have to admit I vacillated on whether or not I would put these up on the blog.  Whether I have said it explicitly or not, my end goal is to go into business for myself making gluten free baked goods.  These will definitely make the cut when that day arrives.

If you have ever bought a box of Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (or any other GF cookie mix for that matter), you know the unique joy of trying to squoosh together masses of semi-dry crumbs into little piles so they can kind of resemble cookies in the end.  I’m not trying to be down on Betty, quite the opposite actually.  I applaud the company for catering to the gluten free community.  But the formula for their cookies could have been better.

Way better, as it turns out.  The difficulty with gluten free cookies is that non-glutenous flours cannot support as much butter as regular flour can.  I figured out how to get around that dilemma by accident.

I sent my husband to the store a few weeks ago for just a couple things including a box of pudding (for what purpose I don’t even remember).  Anyway, he came home with four boxes “just to be safe”.  Having all that pudding in front of me reminded me of seeing a recipe for “pudding cookies” a long time ago.  I made a glutenous batch for the kids and they turned out really great.  My best friend told me afterwards that she always puts pudding in her cookies to make them puffier.  Who knew?

So after the glutenous ones came out so well I knew I had to try it with GF flour and they came out amazingly.  The pudding keeps the cookies from spreading out all over the cookie sheet (who here has had that happen?!?).  It also gives the flour a structural boost, allowing us to put in an appropriate amount of butter making for truly excellent cookies.

Alright, enough yappin.  Let’s get into the kitchen!

Here’s what we need to start – butter, (sugar, not shown, see edit below), brown sugar, AP GF flour mix, baking soda, salt, a box of instant butterscotch pudding mix, and chocolate chips.  Oh, and two eggs.  Duh.  All ingredients should be room temperature – that means get those eggs and sticks of butter out an hour before you plan to start.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream two sticks of butter and a cup of firmly packed brown sugar (EDIT:  I now use half a cup of brown sugar, half a cup of white.  I like them better that way.).  My butter looks funny because I accidentally bought 1 lb blocks instead of sticks.  Oops.  It’s actually best if you beat the butter first and then add the sugar but not all of us have the wherewithal to remember that every time…

With the mixer running, pour in the eggs in a steady stream.  I beat mine first (obviously).

Next, turn the mixer down to low and add in the pudding.  Mix until incorporated.  Your cookie dough is now a strange orange color.  That’s okay.  The cookies won’t be orange in the end.  They also won’t taste noticeably “butterscotchy”.   Trust me – for a chocolate chip cookie – butterscotch is perfect.  The brown sugar (in the pudding and in the dough) is what makes it all magic!

In a small bowl, measure out 280 grams of AP GF flour mix.  Or if you’re using regular flour, 280 grams/2 cups of that.  I actually ran out of my regular flour mix before I hit 280 grams so I filled in the rest with potato starch and it worked really well.  I think I might use a 50/50 flour/starch mix for all my sweet goodies from now on.  (The mix I usually use is 60/40 flours/starches.  For more info on GF flour mix composition see here)

Add in a teaspoon of baking soda…

…and a half teaspoon of salt and whisk to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, mixing on medium speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

I swear kids can smell chocolate from a mile away.  Once your dough is together, add in your chocolate chips.  I only used 1 cup here.  You could use 1 1/2 cups if you like your cookies “chippier”.

Drop your cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

And bake 9-10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Here they are right out of the oven.  With chocolate chip cookies, you want to take them out of the oven when they are still a little glossy in the middle, just a little bit raw looking.  That’s because they continue to cook once they’re out of the oven.

And here they are after cooling a few minutes on the rack.  Nom.  P-E-R-F-E-C-T.  Chewy and soft and sweet and buttery and chocolatey.  My kids love them.  I love them.  I can’t eat just one they’re that good.  For anyone you know who has recently gone gluten free and is freaking out because they think they’re never going to get to eat real cookies again – make them these.  They will be so happy they will hug you and cry and hang on you until you give them the recipe.

Uh oh.

Babies like cookies too.

Enjoy!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

2 sticks butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2  cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs, room temperature and beaten slightly

1 (4oz) box Instant Butterscotch Pudding Mix

280 grams AP GF Flour Mix (or 2 cups regular flour)

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter until fluffy.  Add sugar and brown sugar and cream together until well combined.  Pour in beaten eggs slowly with mixer running on medium speed.  Turn mixer down to low and add pudding mix.  Mix until well combined.

In a small bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Whisk to combine.

Add half the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low until combined.  Scrape down the bowl and repeat with the second half.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes.

These are best if eaten warm out of the oven but will keep well for a few days, tightly covered.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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Banana Bread

You know how they say you’re supposed to wait until the banana bread is cool before you try to cut into it?

Yeah, we can never wait either.  I very carefully cut that banana bread up there straight out of the oven.  I had hungry little people in my kitchen.

I made this banana bread last Sunday morning.  Best time of the whole week in my book.  It’s about the only time I get to be in the kitchen, by myself, baking whatever I please.  And last Sunday I had a bunch of very dark bananas that were begging to be mushed up and baked into a wonderfully fragrant, moist banana bread.

There she is!  Fresh out of the oven 🙂  Not as domed as a wheat based quick bread but otherwise almost identical in both flavor and texture.

If you are gluten free and you love banana bread count yourself lucky.  Quick breads are one of the EASIEST baked goods to replicate without gluten.  I have used a lot of different recipes for gluten free banana bread over the years.  There are lots of good ones.  This is the best one I’ve developed yet.  Is it the last one I’ll ever use?  Probably not.  But nonetheless, this is a great recipe that can be easily converted into a number of other breads or muffins.  The batter is very thick, more of a dough, really, which means it can support lots of yummy additions like blueberries for blueberry muffins or, hee hee, chocolate chips for chocolate chip banana bread!

Oh, and the other great thing – if you’re reading this and don’t do gluten free, just use regular flour in place of the gluten free flours.  That’s it.  I just made a bunch of jumbo blueberry muffins using this recipe with regular flour and they came out fabulously.  So either way – you’re good to go!

Oh…and…we all know how to make quick bread right?  Mix the wets, mix the drys, mix the two together and bake?  Good, glad we got that out of the way because I didn’t take step by step pictures this time.

Nom. So so good.  You’ll notice in the ingredient list a flour I haven’t used on here before.  Teff flour is made from the smallest grain in the world.  When it bakes it just about dissolves and gives the baked good an almost gelatinous quality.  I use it in conjunction with my all purpose flour blend for quick breads and muffins because it gives them that squooshy texture that we love.  You can find it in the gluten free aisle if you have one in your grocery store.  I buy the Bob’s Red Mill brand, I think.

Don’t let those black bananas go in the trash!  Go make some banana bread stat!

(And as always, you’re gonna need to grab that kitchen scale.  If you don’t have one go get one!  They’re not expensive and they are indispensable if you bake a lot.  Especially if you bake gluten free a lot.)

Banana Bread

1 stick butter, melted

6 oz sugar (3/4 cup)

6 oz (weight – not volume) sour cream

2 large eggs

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 medium – it totally depends on the size of your bananas so use the measuring cup this time.  This is one thing I’ve just never measured on the scale.)

1 tsp vanilla

7 oz All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend

1 oz Teff Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a large loaf pan with oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  (If you’re doing this with regular flour, just sub in 8 oz all purpose flour).

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, sour cream, eggs, mashed bananas, and vanilla.

Combine the wet and the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Little lumps are okay.

Use a rubber scraper to move all batter into prepared pan.  The batter will be very thick.

Bake 45-50 minutes, until a tester stuck into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Allow to cool before cutting (…ideally).

 

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast