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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     My friend went to Hawaii for her niece’s destination wedding.  “I got a big bag so that you can bake with them!”, she excitedly told me as she handed me a 4-cup package of Macadamia nuts.  I got excited too.  I have never baked with macadamia nuts. I guess they are quite expensive here on the East Coast.  
     I went browsing recipes on the internet.  Most recipes were white chocolate with macadamia nuts. I am somewhat of a chocoholic and really?...how did white chocolate get to be called chocolate?  As you can imagine from that last statement, I was not about the make anything that did not have dark or milk chocolate in it.   
     My friend loves chocolate chip cookies.  These are not my favorites so I actually do not have an old recipe on hand.  I Googled “world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe” and read some reviews of various recipes.  I settled on one from Food.com called World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies by Karen.  The glowing reviews assuring me that the recipe’s name was well deserved sealed the deal for me. 
     I converted the recipe to GF, added some almond extract and then reduced the sugar to my taste.  Most cookies tend to be sweeter than I like.  Taste the creamed sugar and butter (or margarine) mixture and add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter cookie, but keep in mind that the chocolate chips will add to the sweetness of the final product.
     Success, she loved the cookies and said that they were the best she ever had.  Everyone else also loved them.  The cookies are tender with a texture balanced perfectly between crisp and soft. I made them yesterday and just tried one (one must sacrifice for the blog) to see how the cookies are a day old...they are just as good.  

Makes about 40 1-1/2” (two-bite) cookies

1/4 cup Sugar - I use evaporated cane juice crystals sugar
6 Tbs. Brown Sugar - I used brown evaporated cane juice sugar
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter - For Dairy-Free use non-hydrogenated, nondairy stick margarine such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks.
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Almond Extract
1 Egg
3/4 cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Chickpea Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 cup Chocolate Chips - (for Dairy-Free use non-dairy chips) You can use whatever type of chocolate chips you prefer-even white, I used semi-sweet.
3/4 cup Macadamia Nuts - lightly roasted and coarsely chopped.  You can use other nuts such as walnuts, pecans or almonds instead.

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare baking sheets by lining them with silpat pads or parchment paper.
     Place macadamia nuts on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes until lightly roasted.  Cool.
Toasted macadamia nuts coarsely chopped.
     In a bowl add the flours, salt, baking soda and xanthan gum.  Mix until well blended and set aside.
     By hand or with an electric mixer cream the butter or margarine and sugars until fluffy.
     Add the egg, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix until well blended.
     Add the flour in three batches and mix in well after each addition.
Cookie Dough after all the dry ingredients are mixed in well.
     By hand, stir in the nuts and chips. 
Nuts and chocolate chips mixed in by hand.
     Using a scoop that measures 1” across scoop out the dough onto the prepared baking sheets.  Space the cookies 2-inches apart.
Dough scooped out onto a baking sheet lined with silpat.
     Bake 10-12 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges and the center is not raw.
The dairy-free cookies spread out more than the butter cookies.
     Cool completely on racks before storing in an airtight container. Eat them within 1-3 days.  Best eaten warm out of the oven...just saying.... 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I have been wanting to make this cake since December.  I had not made this recipe for years. I used to make it for family holiday dinners, but since it has eggs and cream I knew that I could not make it for my vegan son.  Usually our entire holiday meals are vegan (and GF and soy-free) except for the meat.  I used to make two different types of gravy and stuffing and desserts, etc., but then I just decided that enough was enough and make one of everything plus a vegan main dish.  My whole family is happy and even my finicky sister looks forward to tasting the vegan main dish.
     To make a vegan version I could have easily replaced the whipped cream with coconut whipped cream, but making a cake that relies on whipped egg whites to get its’ proper texture was the part I could not figure out. Maybe tofu whipped?...but not now that my daughter-in-law is allergic to soy....help!  Making the recipe GF was easy though.  
     The texture of the cake is great, moist and springy like what I remember the original recipe was.  No GF changes were necessary with the filling or glaze.  The recipe was a Hershey’s one that  I found in a magazine (1984).  I really like Hershey cake recipes.  They come out a deep dark chocolate if you use Hershey’s cocoa and I like their texture too.  I actually used Trader Joe’s brand this time and this cocoa is not as dark and needs sifting before you use it (and is less expensive).  The cakes taste just as good, but I prefer the darker chocolate look.



4 Eggs
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
3 Tbs. Tapioca Flour
1 Tbs. Chickpea Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
1/3 cup Water


1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Confectioner’s Sugar  (I used 2 Tbs. as half the amount of sugar was perfect for my taste.  You can adjust the sweetness to your taste.)
1/2 tsp. Mint Extract (or 1/4 cup finely crushed peppermint candy)
Few Drops Red Food Coloring (optional)


2 Tbs. Butter (unsalted)
2 Tbs. Cocoa 
2 Tbs. Water
1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1-inch jelly roll pan by lining it with aluminum foil.  Grease the foil well.  Prepare a clean smooth dishtowel by dusting it well with confectioner’s sugar.  You will need this right after the cake is done baking.
     Separate eggs.  Whip the egg whites until foamy and gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
     Beat the egg yolks and vanilla on high speed  for 3 minutes using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer.   Add 1/3 cup of sugar and beat 2 more minutes.  
     In a separate bowl combine the  cocoa, flours, baking soda and powder, salt and xanthan gum.  Mix together until well combined.
     Combine 1/3 of the flour mixture with the egg yolk mixture, alternating with 1/3 of the water.   Continue combing the dry ingredients alternating with the wet ingredients until they are all mixed in.
Just starting to fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped egg whites.
     Using a large rubber spatula fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped egg white mixture until there is a uniform light chocolate color and no large blobs of egg white are visible.
What the batter looks like after the chocolate mixture is completely folded into the egg whites.
     Spread the batter evenly into the foil lined pan.
The batter spread out in the foil-lined jelly roll pan.
     Bake for 12-15 minutes until the top springs back when lightly touched.
Hot cake inverted onto the dishcloth sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.
Starting to peel off the foil while the cake is still hot.
     Immediately invert the cake onto the dishtowel dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  Starting at the narrow end, roll the cake up in the dishtowel and place the rolled cake still in the towel on a rack to cool completely.  Be sure to keep the seam or open edge side down when the cake cools, so that the top will look nice and smooth and rounded.  I line the rack with wax paper or foil to keep the cake from getting the lined impressions from the rack.  You cool the cake in a rolled position so that the cake will keep its shape and not crack or break when unrolled and filled and re-rolled.
Rolling up the hot cake in the dish towel.
The hot cake cooling on a piece of foil on a rack.
     While the cake is cooling prepare the filling.  Whip the cream until slightly thickened.  Add the confectioner’s sugar to taste and also add the peppermint extract or crushed candy.  Continue to beat until stiff.
Completely cooled cake unrolled.
Cake with whipped cream filling spread evenly over it.
     When the cake is completely cooled unroll it.  Spread all the whipped cream mixture over the cake and then reroll the cake.  When this is done you can prepare the glaze.
Cake rolled up.  The edges are never even.  You can trim each side if you like.
     To make the glaze melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the water and cocoa.  Stir this mixture constantly over a low heat until it thickens.  Do not boil.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly.  If it cools completely it will make a thick spreadable frosting so only allow it to cool slightly so that the glaze will pour over the cake.  Add the vanilla and the confectioner’s sugar and mix well.  
Chocolate glaze getting thick on the stove.
Slightly cooled chocolate with confectioner's sugar added.
     I put the cake on a plate that I lined with two pieces of wax paper so that I could remove the paper when the glaze was set and have a clean looking plate.  You can pour the glaze this way or place the cake on a rack over a baking sheet to catch the drippings and then use a spatula to transfer the cake to a plate.
Cake with ends trimmed.  There are two pieces of wax paper underneath
 to catch the extra chocolate glaze.
(One piece on each side so that I can pull them out easier.
No matter how careful you are it will still be necessary to
 wipe the plate with a wet cloth to clean up the chocolate smears.)
     Pour the glaze over the cake.  You can leave it as is with the dripping look or you can use a small spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the entire cake.  Some people like to leave the ends unfrosted.  Do whatever you prefer.
Glazed cake roll with the wax paper removed.
The glaze has not yet set.
     Keep the cake chilled until ready to serve and store leftovers in the refrigerator.  You can wrap the entire cake and freeze it or you can slice the cake into pieces and wrap and store the pieces in the freezer to use at a later time.  When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator for several hours before eating.  


Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

      My wife loves shortbread.  I have been buying her the Walker brand that is made with lots of gluten.  I decided to make some gluten free ones so that we could save some money and so that I could also have some cookies. I looked on line and found a comment that said ‘this recipe was just like Walker’s shortbread’, so I picked that one.
     Evidently,  there is somewhat of a controversy about whether or not to use vanilla in shortbread.  Some say it is not real shortbread with it and others say shortbread is better with it.  I decided to look at the Walker box and there was no vanilla so I left it out.  There was also some contention about what kind of sugar to use, brown, white or confectioner’s.  Again, I looked to the Walker box for guidance.  Regular sugar it is.  Then some recipes urged the use of corn starch and or rice flour for authentic Scottish shortbread.  I figured that with GF baking I would be using tapioca flour anyway which is  equal in texture to cornstarch and then decided to use some sweet rice flour in the blend with sorghum flour as well. 
     Usually GF dough is wetter and harder to work with than wheat dough, but this recipe was easy to form and roll.  The instructions called for kneading the dough for ten minutes.  I could not figure out why this was necessary so I kneaded it just enough to get it to together.  I rolled the dough out between two sheets of wax paper.  Some other recipes called for pressing the dough into the pan by hand.
     My only worries were how long to bake the shortbread.  The time varied so much in the various recipes from 40 minutes to an hour.  The instructions were to bake them until hard in the center and just golden brown on the edges.  I was afraid to go by the color as GF dough is not the same color as wheat flour dough and it is tricky to tell if it is just brown enough before you really go too far and it is overdone.  I watched it like a hawk after the first 30 minutes of baking.  I peeked at least every 5 minutes.  At 40 minutes I pulled it out of the oven.  It looked golden enough for me.  Though the center was not completely hard, I knew from my baking experience that often a butter cookie will harden more after cooling.
     The cookies smell wonderful and taste as good as they smell.  The warm cookies are  crisp yet tender and a bit crumbly.  Once cooled completely they remain tender and hold together well.  I am told that the Walker cookies are much harder in texture and require a firm bite to eat them.  These cookies require only a gentle bite.

     *Just wanted to add that it does make a difference what type of butter you use.  I made it with regular unsalted butter and it was good, but with a good quality butter (I used Organic Valley brand) these cookies are absolutely amazing.



1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Sugar - I used evaporated cane juice crystals
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
3/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum

     Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a 7” square baking pan by lining it with a 7” wide strip of parchment paper that hangs over 2 sides of the pan.  This paper will make it easy to remove the cookies without breaking them.  It will also protect the bottom of the pan from marks when you cut the cookies into shapes with a knife. 
7" Square pan lined with a strip of parchment paper.
     In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle blade, or by hand, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. 
     In a separate bowl add the flours, salt and xanthan gum and mix until well blended.  Add the flour mixture, all at once, to the butter mixture and mix with a fork or with the paddle blade of the mixer until just mixed.
Flour mixture just mixed into the butter mixture with an electric mixer.
     Gather the dough into a ball and knead until it comes together well.  
Dough kneaded until it holds together.
     Place the dough on a piece of wax paper and shape it into a flattened square of sorts.  Top with another piece of wax paper and, with a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 7” square that is 1/2” thick.  You can also press the dough into the bottom of the pan and flatten it with your hand.
Dough rolled out between wax paper.
Using a ruler to slide the dough edges into a square. 
Dough formed into a square about 1/2 inch thick & ready to be put into the pan.
     With a sharp knife cut the dough into the desired sized cookies.  I made 3 equal rows with 8 bar shaped cookies in each row.  
Raw dough in the pan, patted down evenly and cut into 24 bars.
There are 3 rows, each with 8 bar-shaped cookies.
     Using a skewer make holes  in the cookies.  Be sure to push the skewer through until it hits the bottom of the pan.  You can also use a fork to make the holes.  I used the skewer so that the bars would look like the Walker cookies.
Making lots of holes with a wooden skewer.
Make sure you push the skewer to the bottom of the pan each time.
Raw dough with all the holes and all the bar shapes cut.
     Bake for about 40 minutes or until the cookies get golden brown on the edges.  When done, remove from oven.  While still quite warm recut the lines with a sharp knife to separate the cookies.  Use the parchment paper to lift the cut cookies out of the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.
Baked cookies in pan.  The lines are all cut again with a sharp knife
while the cookies are still pretty warm.  
     Each cookie is 2 Weight Watcher points if you cut the entire recipe into 24 equally sized cookies.


Monday, April 8, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     Gefilte Fish is a fish cake appetizer. Traditionally eaten on Holidays such as Passover, on the Sabbath and anytime. This is the first time I made Gefilte Fish, usually I buy it from a store. It is not gluten free though so I don't have any, I just serve it to other guests. This year I was not able to get to the place where they make the best Gefilte Fish, Kosher Island in Staten Island, New York, so I decided to try to make a GF version. The fresh made gefilte fish cakes were really delicious.
     It is much easier than I thought it would be, especially with a food processor. Usually the fish is ground in a meat grinder. Fishmongers will do this for you if you live in the right neighborhood. I do not. In fact, I could not even find the typical type of fish that is used in the recipe, so I just bought the type of white flesh fish that was available. I read on-line that some people even use salmon (my favorite fish). I guess I wanted to stay with white fleshed fish in order to make it most similar to what I think of as gefilte fish.
     For gluten free I replaced the matzo meal in the recipe with raw Cream of Rice cereal. This produces a very similar texture to what I remember matzo meal having in foods such as Matzo Balls. If you can not eat rice just use potato starch or tapioca flour instead. Store made recipes use more filler than this recipe and next time I may add more cereal than called for to resemble the store made texture better.  
    Also, I was afraid to grind the fish too much in the food processor and left some larger pieces. These tasted fine, but the texture was more fish cake-like than gefilte fish cake-like, so I may grind it more finely next time. Just saying, don't be afraid to grind it too much.
     I was also a bit worried that the cakes would not stay together when boiling, but, to my delight, they stayed intact and did not adhere to each other.
     My guests and I all enjoyed the home made gefilte fish and I will definitely make it again, instead of buying it. I am especially motivated to make it myself, because I can actually eat it now with the GF ingredients.


1 lb.
Fish bones and head, with some skin. (These are from the White Fish and Yellow Pike.)
5 cups
2 medium
Onions, including the brown skins
2 large
1 stalk
2 tsp.
Sea Salt
1 tsp.
Black Pepper
1 tsp.

1 lb.
White Fish (meat and bones) (½ lb. meat only)
1 lb.
Yellow Pike (meat and bones) (½ lb. meat only)
½ lb
Carp (meat only)
½ lb.
Cod (meat only)

(If you can not find these fish use a total combination of 2lbs of fish meat from any white fleshed fish.)
5 0z.
1 large
1 stalk
2 tsp.
Sea Salt
1 Tbs.
½ tsp.
Black Pepper
2 large
2 ½ Tbs.
Raw Cream of Rice Cereal (I may use ¼ cup next time.)
¼ cup
Tapioca Flour

2 Carrots
3 Tbs. Chopped Fresh Parsley

     First make the fish broth. Remove the dirty outermost brown layer of onions, but use the brown part in the broth. Add extra brown skins from the onions for the fish cakes. Cut up the onions, celery and carrots. Place the onions, celery, carrots, fish heads and bones and skin, salt, pepper sugar and water in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about an hour, uncovered. Remove any scum that rises to the top and discard. When done pour the stock through a sieve. Reserve the liquid and discard the fish and vegetables. Clean the stock pot and pour the reserved fish broth back in. Return the broth to a simmer.
     While the broth is simmering, make the fish cakes. Cut the fish into large chunks and place in the food processor. Grind the fish coarsely in the food processor and then transfer the ground fish to a large bowl. If you were able to have the fishmonger grind your fish meat for you, skip this step and place the ground fish in a large bowl.
     Coarsely grate the peeled carrots, celery and peeled onion.
     Add salt, pepper and sugar to the ground fish and mix in well. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, Raw Cream of Rice cereal, tapioca flour and grated vegetables. Mix well.
     Wet your hands and form the ground fish mixture into oval shaped cakes and place on a platter or baking tray until ready to cook. The mixture should make 20-22 cakes.
Raw GF Gefilte Fish Cakes on baking tray.
     When the strained broth is simmering again, place the fish cakes, one-at-a-time into the pot. Also add the two whole peeled carrots to the broth. The whole carrots will later be sliced and used as a garnish on top of the fish cakes when serving. To prevent the cakes from sticking to each other shake the pot from side to side after all the cakes have been put in the broth. Cover the pot and cook for 1 ½ hours on low heat. Occasionally check that the tops are not drying out and pour broth over the tops or gently turn the cakes over if necessary.
GF Gefilte Fish just after all the cakes were put into the pot of broth.
     When done, gently remove the cakes with a slotted spoon, one-at-a-time, from the pot and place on a platter or baking tray to cool.
Completely cooked GF Gefilte Fish.

     If you like, strain the broth again, discarding the solid pieces and reserving the broth. Then cook the remaining broth down until 2 cups of broth remain. The remaining broth, when cooled, will have a jelly-like consistency. I did not strain and reduce the stock again, because I like the pieces of fish that remain in the broth. The strained mixture looks prettier when served with the fish
     Place the cooled fish and broth in the refrigerator to cool completely for several hours or overnight. Traditionally gefilte fish is served cold. I had a warm 'tasting' portion and it was really good warm too.
     To serve, place the fish on a platter. Slice the cooked carrots and place a slice of carrot on each piece of fish. Garnish with some chopped parsley and pour some jellied broth over the fish. White and red (with beets) ground horseradish is the usual accompaniment.